Our First Stand: Rally to Save Health Care

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer along with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi have called for a national day of action, with rallies being organized across the country, including in Philadelphia. The goal is to stop GOP efforts aimed at destroying the Affordable Care Act and taking health insurance away from 30 million Americans, privatizing Medicare and making massive cuts in Medicaid.

The Philadelphia rally is being organized by Reps. Dwight Evans and Bob Brady, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). RSVP here to attend. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Waking Up to a New World: A New President Is Elected

We awoke this morning to a new world. Of course, whenever a new president is elected, one can anticipate changes, if not in substance then in appearance, style and nuanced differences. But the change we anticipate today requires us to consider the notion of “a new world” more literally. [Read more…]

Meet the Delegates: Joe Smallhoover – Democrats Abroad

Joe SmallhooverJoe Smallhoover is the Chair of Democrats Abroad France. We tried unsuccessfully to find some time together during the convention, but finally a mutually workable time a few days afterwards.

While he lives in Paris now, Joe was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Upper St. Clair, PA. He attended Washington and Jefferson College and Duke University. He holds an MA in Germanic languages from the University of Virginia and did advanced studies in Europe on a Fullbright, as an exchange teacher before returning to the US to obtain a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He has lived in Paris since 1985, and has practiced law in France, Belgium and Germany.

DocJess: Where did you get your interest in politics?

Joe Smallhoover: I have been involved since I was in diapers. My grandfather was the Chair of the Allegheny County Commissioners from 1934 until the late 1950’s and active in the Democratic Party all his life. I grew up in that household and was treated to seeing state and local dignitaries on a regular basis and learned the ins and outs of politics.

DJ: Democrats Abroad is a group of ex-pats…

JS: Let me stop you. Often people say “ex-patriots” instead of “expatriates” as if we are not patriotic Americans. We certainly are patriotic, and one of the ways we show that is by voting. We just happen to be living outside the country and prefer to be called Overseas Americans or Americans Abroad.

DJ: Sorry, I meant no disrespect.

JS: I know. It’s a common theme we deal with.

DJ: So. If I lived outside the country, how would I join Democrats Abroad? What exactly do you do?

JS: Democrats Abroad (DA) is recognized as a state party by the Democratic National Committee and we even have our own primary. The French and English groups are the oldest within the umbrella of DA, both chapters having been formed in 1964. We have committees in 41 countries, active but less organized committees in another 20 countries, and members from 160 countries.

If you are an American abroad, you can vote in the state primary of the state you lived in just prior to moving overseas, or you can participate in the Democratic primary as a part of DA.  Democrats Abroad, by the way, also participates directly in the DNC, with seats on various committees.

DJ: Is that true for the general election?

JS: Overall yes, in most cases. Federal law says that Americans living abroad can participate in Federal elections. There is a Federal ballot that can be used, or in some states, Americans abroad can file an absentee ballot for that state which would include all the offices on all the other ballots for that state.

However, some states will make you pay state income taxes if you vote on the state ballot because it establishes part of a residency requirement. Some states won’t charge taxes. It’s a fluid situation as states do change their rules over time. I lived in California just before I moved to France, and it used to be that you had to pay state taxes to vote absentee in state and local elections, but that was changed a few years ago.

Many states have an overseas ballot that is a Federal ballot. These ballots are both for civilians overseas as well as uniformed (military) voters. The rule is you can file one ballot or the other, not both.

DJ: What do you do to encourage voting?

JS: In France, we have an event every week across the land. We have multiple talks on issues that affect people. We also have caucuses, such as the Minority, Women, LGBT, and Youth. We have programs to discuss topics like the environment, economy, etc. We hold dinner debates, as well as social events. We are active and embedded in the American community overseas.

I started an internet site close to 30 years ago, before it was popular, after someone complained he couldn’t find Democrats Abroad. It was a nascent, flat site, but it was a start and I saw the benefit of early adoption. Now, we’re active on our websites, and we leverage social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to do as much outreach as possible so people can find us easily.

DJ: Do the Republicans have something similar?

JS: They tried, but they were more about fundraising. They’ve dissipated. They’re smaller than DA by at least a factor of 10, and they are not active in as many places. We have precincts and wards and a “county/state” structure while the Republicans have some elections but they’re relatively small, and most of their folks are involved by appointment and not election.

DJ: Was this your first convention?

1928-democratic-national-convention-ticket-valueJS: No. A member of my family has been present at every convention since 1928. I have attended all the conventions since 1996.

DJ: What did you think of Philadelphia?

JS: Each convention is a little different because of the dynamics of delegates, candidates and the city itself. Philadelphia was very welcoming. It was a wonderful feeling, being a native Pennsylvanian. The convention was smoothly organized. There were very few glitches that make being and attending difficult. Except meals were difficult. The lines were long and once you were in the arena there weren’t any other nearby options. But that’s to be expected and taken in stride.

The convention itself was absolutely spectacular. The speakers were tremendous and there were a number of surprises like Khizr Khan. When he held up a copy of the Constitution, it was one of the most powerful things I’d ever seen at a convention.

I also appreciated Gabby Giffords. I’d met her in Paris before she’d regained the power of speech, and to see her take the podium, and speak, well, all I could think was if she could do this with her limitations, imagine how much brilliance must be locked inside of her.

DJ: And Larry Sanders?

JS: We had all seen him tear up in private, and were overwhelmed by the pride he had for his brother. It was very powerful, and then, we got to see his brother react. It was a moment that won’t soon be repeated.

DJ: One last thing. Some of my readers either live overseas or have kids who live overseas. How do they connect with you?

JS: Our site is www.democratsabroad.org and if they need to register, they can go directly to www.votefromabroad.org/vote. As long as someone makes the deadline, which differs in the various states, a ballot should be automatically sent, although one can download a Federal write-in absentee ballot as a substitute. All the instructions are available on the website.

See our full series of delegate interviews.

Live Blog: The Democratic National Convention Begins

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is on site this week at the Democratic National Convention. Publisher Dan Loeb, President Bonnie Squires, Vice President Ken Myers and writer Jessica Weingarten will be providing reports, photos and updates. Follow below from most recent to earliest.

Please refresh this page frequently or follow our twitter feed for updated content.
[Read more…]

DNC Statement on Released Emails

Democrat-donkeyOn behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email. These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not — and will not — tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates. Individual staffers have also rightfully apologized for their comments, and the DNC is taking appropriate action to ensure it never happens again.

“We are embarking on a convention today that — thanks to the great efforts of Secretary Clinton, her team, Senator Sanders, his team, and the entire Democratic Party — will show a forward-thinking and optimistic vision for America, as compared to the dark and pessimistic vision that the GOP presented last week in Cleveland. Our focus is on electing Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and Democrats across the country, thanks to Democratic Party that is strong, unified, and poised for victory in November.”

Donna Brazile, Incoming Interim Chair
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Secretary 
Andrew Tobias, Treasurer 
Raymond Buckley, Vice Chair, ASDC President 
Maria Elena Durazo, Vice Chair 
Mayor R.T. Rybak, Vice Chair 
Henry R. Muñoz III, National Finance Committee Chair 

Sanders’ Israel-PA Peace Ideas Get Ignored

sanders-on-israeli-palestinian-conflict-e1460816333365— by Robert Tabak

Senator Bernie Sanders has focused almost exclusively on US economic policy and domestic issues in his presidential campaign. Numerous articles, including from writers friendly to the Vermont senator, have critiqued his lack of attention to foreign policy. For example, Yair Rosenberg, writing in the Jewish on-line journal Tablet Magazine on March 20, 2016, quoted Vox’s Max Fisher who wrote “Sanders appears to have no foreign policy at all.” Rosenberg continued, “A candidate who has deliberately not delivered a single speech devoted to foreign policy during his entire campaign was not about to start with Israel/Palestine.”  But Rosenberg was wrong.  Two days later Sen. Sanders’ talk was the one he hoped to give via video to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the large pro-Israel lobbying group meeting in Washington DC.  He was refused permission (unlike Mitt Romney four years ago). Much of the media attention, general and Jewish, focused on Donald Trump, attempts to boycott his talk (with limited success), Trump’s rousing reception, and the embarrassed walk-back from AIPAC leaders striving to maintain a bi-partisan veneer.  Hillary Clinton’s talk got some press, and the other Republican candidates received less coverage.   But most of these talks covered familiar ground, with each speaker claiming to support Israel.  In the Republicans’ case the candidates again opposed the Iran nuclear agreement, which AIPAC and the prime minister of Israel also opposed (despite polls showing most American Jews supported it).  All these AIPAC presentations had their expected applause lines. [Read more…]

Sanders Strips the Facts From Gaza

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) got it very wrong on Israel and Gaza. In an interview with the editorial board of The New York Daily News, Sanders absurdly claimed that Israel killed 10,000 innocent people in the 2014 Gaza War. After the Anti-Defamation League called on Sanders to correct his misstatement, the Sanders campaign issued a statement saying that Sanders was thinking of the number wounded, not the death toll, and that Sanders “immediately accepted” the interviewer’s finding that 2,000 Palestinians were killed. The ADL welcomed Sanders’ clarification, but Shai Franklin explains why Bernie-Come-Lately does no favors for Mideast peace.

There is no evidence in the record that Sanders accepted the 2,000 figure or that he acknowledged that the death toll included over 900 militants. Sanders’ ignorance of the death toll in Gaza demonstrates that he is not ready to be president and shows that while his heart might be in the right place, his head is not in the game.

Yair Rosenberg argues that Sanders’ “mistake had nothing to do with his being anti-Israel, and everything to do with his not knowing much about foreign policy.” Throughout the interview, Sanders showed his ignorance not only of foreign policy matters, but of domestic matters as well.

The American Jewish Committee correctly noted that Sanders still needs to clarify his “stinging and unjust” accusation that Israel’s self-defensive response was “indiscriminate.”

Compare Sanders’ views on the Gaza War to Hillary Clinton’s. Watch Hillary Clinton refuse to let Jon Stewart goad her into unfairly criticizing Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War. Hillary puts the blame squarely where it belongs: on Hamas.