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#DNCinPHL:Day 5 2nd attempt


Something just happened to my draft blog. I just lost everything from 10 am until 6:30 pm. I’ll post the pictures I took later, but all of the text is gone!

This morning,  my credentials were once again unavailable.  Mitch Kates, PA’s Political Director of the Pa Democratic Party, once again scrambled and found a delegate pass for me by 12:30 today;  I picked it up and headed to the Wells Fargo Center at 2 pm.

On the Convention Floor

So first, I just got a selfie with Madeline Albright!

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Madeline Albright and me!

These are not all of the speakers,  just highlights of the ones that started speaking after 6:30 pm. To make sure I don’t lose this again, I’m  publishing this as I add new content. So please keep coming back.  Thanks.

The Women of the US Senate 

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Madeline Albright and me!

  • Barbara Mikulski – MD.  I was the first. I wanted to have more to have our voices heard. One of them was Hillary Clinton.
  • Patty Murray – WA. Hillary and the Senate women are calling upon the FDA to make decisions based on science,  not politics.
  • Debbie  Stabenow -MI. I was with her in Bejing when she said,  “Women’s Rights ate Human Rights  and Human Rights  are Women’s Rights.”
  • Maria Cantwell – WA. Hillary is for paid sick leave
  • Amy Klobuchar — MN. It was too noisy to hear what she said.
  • Claire McCaskill –MO. She was with me when I was getting cancer treatment
  • Jeanne Shaheen — NH. It was again too noisy to hear what she said.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand  -NY. Hillary believes that if you don’t stand up and fight,  who else will? She’s  continuing to stand and fight.
  • Tammy Baldwin – MO. I am a strong advocate for healthcare and healthy families.  So is Hillary.
  • Mazie K. Hirino – HI.  I’m an immigrant.  She understands our families and us
  • Elizabeth  Warren – MA. Hillary knows how to fight back against dangerous bullies. Śhe fights back
  • Barbara Boxer -CA. We worked together on the environment. And when Ground Zero occurred,  she made sure they (first responders) got the care they needed. And when Super Storm Sandy hit,  she reached out to the people who were affected.  We as the women of the Senate, therefore, we stand with Hillary. 

Andrew Cuomo

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He is the Governor of New York. He eloquently talked about coming together as one. “E Pluribus Unum.” United, we are one.

Nancy Pelosi

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We must be smart and strong.

  • For the sake of the 90+ people killed each day, we must break the NRA gridlock.
  • We need to have Economic  Justice – equal pay for equal work and paid sick leave.
  • The future of America needs to be decided by the voters, not by the monied. Overturn Citizens United.
  • Everyone should pay their fair share.

Onward to victory!

Due to a low battery, I’m temporarily signing off until Chelsea and Hillary come on and will attempt to recharge.  Back in a bit.

I’m  back.

Chelsea Clinton

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Chelsie Clinton!

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Chelsea Clinton, All Grown Up!

Our daughter Charlotte is two years old, and she just loves face-time with Grandma. Our son Aden is 5.5 weeks old.

Whenever Mom was away for a while [when I was a kid],  she left dated messages for me. I treasured then.  At dinner, they’d listen to me first. They cared about my thoughts.  That feeling of being valued is the calling of my mother’s life for everyone.

Another thing she taught me is that public service is about service.

I saw her fight for universal health care. We all know she failed. But she still felt she could make a difference and got back to work.  Because she never forgets for whom she’s working.

  • For first responders
  • For women around the world to be safe.
  • For all in need.

She has a heart full of love.  She’s spent her entire life for us.

She knows that

  • Women’s Rights are Human Rights
  • LGBT  Rights are Human Rights

So everyone watching, she’ll  make us all proud as the next president of the US.

And here she is!

Hillary Rodham Clinton 

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Madeline Albright and me!

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Hillary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton

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Madeline Albright and me!

Thank you, Chelsea, for becoming the woman you’ve become.

On Tuesday night I was glad to see my Explainer-in-Chief was still explaining.  We have heard both from the man from Hope – Bill and from the man of Hope – Barack Obama.

I want to thank Bernie Sanders.  Bernie inspired millions of Americans, particularly millennials. Thank you for your focus on economic justice. We wrote the progressive platform together; let’s make it work together.

Our founders embraced the truth that we are stronger together.

Just as with the founders,  it is up to us.  We need to work together to grow together.

Donald [Trump] has taken the Republican party from Morning in America to Midnight in America. FDR said it best.  “We have nothing to fear but fear itself. ”

[As Democrats,]

  • We will not ban any religion.
  • We have the most tolerant and generous young people in the work
  • Freedom, Justice, and Opportunity.  We should be most proud of these words and ideas.

Don’t believe anyone who says “I alone can fix ít.” Those words are dangerous.  Hasn’t he [Donald Trump] forgotten our troops, our first responders, our teachers, our police, our entrepreneurs…?

Twenty years ago I  wrote “It Takes a Village.” Working together is what I  mean by a village.

My father worked in  Scranton for 40 years. My mother told me to do whatever you can do for however long you can. She taught me that you have to change both hearts and laws.  Like, every child with a disability has a right to go to school. We changed our laws to make this happen.

I focus on policy to make these things happen.

Over the last four days, you’ve met some of the people who inspired me. The child who wore a brace. The first responders who got sick after 9/11. I will continue carrying your stories to the White House.

I will be the President for all – Democrats, Republicans, Independents.

A barrier has fallen today with the first woman elected as the presidential nominee.

  • I believe that the economy thrives when the middle class thrives.
  • We will pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United
  • I believe that Wall Street should never be able to overturn Main Street
  • I believe there is climate change.

If you share these beliefs, this is your campaign. Join us.

If the minimum wage should be a living wage, Join us.

If you believe in affordable healthcare, Join us.

If you want to expand Social Security,  have equal pay, and protect a women’s right to reproductive healthcare, JOIN US.

Whether it’s a trade job or a college education, we should make this happen.

If doing paid family leave or getting quality child care is dealing the “women’s card,” then deal me in!

Keeping our country safe is important.  So I  support the control of Iran’s nuclear weapons program without a single shot. I support Israel’s right to exist.

Our president should respect the service of all of our members of the armed forces, including Tim Kaine’s and Mike Pence’s sons – both Marines. That’s not true of Trump.

I’m not here to take away your guns.  I just want to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.  We need common-sense gun laws.

We also need common-sense treatment of people of all races. Let’s give our support to our police to make them safe as well.

We will protect all rights. Civil Rights. Women’s Rights.  Immigrant Rights. Disability Rights. LGBTQ Rights. Veteran’s Rights…

None of us can do it alone. Progress is possible.  I’ve seen it when people who have fallen who get back up. I’ve even done it myself.

We need to stand up to bullies. We’re drawn together when we work together.

Thank you.

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Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine

And finally to end the convention, we had the traditional balloon drop. Balloons large and small.

Hope you enjoyed this week as much as I did!

Picture of Joanne Tosti-Vasey watching the balloons drop from the ceiling of the Wells Fargo Center

Yours Truly watching the balloons drop from the ceiling of the Wells Fargo Center.

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#DNCinPHL: Day 4

Yesterday my delegate tickets disappeared.  The PA Dem Party scrambled to find a replacement.  So I  was unable to attend Tuesday morning’s events. This morning, the were able to get me a pass for today and they are working on tomorrow’s pass.

So my first event today is an SEIU “Low Waged and Engaged”panel discussion at Philadelphia  City Hall.

Low Waged and Engaged Panel Discussion

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Luis Figueroa was the 1st speaker. He talked about the 64 million low-wage workers. Many, but not all, work in the service sector. Much of SEIU’s work is focused on The Fight for 15 and unionizing. Several questions were asked.

How do you engage low-wage workers in politics?

Steve Rosenthal did a PowerPoint commentary.

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Low-wage workers are disproportionately concentrated among women, blacks, and Latinos

Using North Carolina as an example, he noted that low-wage workers are less likely to vote.  But when they do vote,  they are more likely to vote Democratic.  The problem is getting them to vote. Reducing their vote via things like voter Id is a Republican focus. Democrats  need to place more focus on low-wage workers and not just on the people who donate money.

Shakira Stewart talked about the airport worker’s strike that was supposed to be held during the DNC Convention.  As a result of the politicians coming into town, American Airlines agreed to negotiate and the airport workers called off the strike – a win.

Nelini Stamp talked about what other types of workers are low-wage workers and what are their issues.  She talked about unfair work hours and lack of access to Workers Compensation. She then talked about how to assist low-wage workers to be politically engaged.  She said you need to talk about raising the minimum wage and ways to fight for decent and fair hours. And you need to deal with the intersectionality of low wages and race; you need to work with the #BlackLivesMatter actions and look at how the criminal justice system impacts these workers.

Susan Ray was then asked, “How do you change people’s behavior?” Her response was accompanied by another PowerPoint. She said you need to speak to their emotions and…

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General outlook on organizing

Where are they coming from?  Common perspective. ..

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So you need to say the personal is political…

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And make sure the goal looks winnable. And make it fun, inspirational and rewarding .

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Finally..

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Q and A followed.

What is the Fight for $15? SEIU says that in some states  it requires state passage. In others it can be done at the town level. So it depends on where you live.

We can focus on the electorate.  How do we deepen the struggle to head into the 2018 elections? Steve Rosenthal talked about  investing resources in communities  so that people are there (boots on the ground); we need to work with allied organizations and to be keep active within communities.

I’ll post this now and keep updating this throughout the day. Keep checking back…

Disability Council

My next session was a seminar on disability. The 1st speaker was Timothy Shriver . His main message was that we need to look at and speak  out about how people with disabilities are talked about. There has been a lot of pushback when we ask people to take down offending material. You need to persist and eventually you can be successful . And that we need to recognize is that everyone has a gift and we need to let the public understand that people with disabilities have a lot to offer. The important fact is that we need to get people with disabilities  registered and get them out to vote.

Zack Baldwin from AAPD spoke next. AAPD is a national cross-disability organization  whose mission is to increase the political power of people with disabilities.  Part of their work is to register people and to get media and politicians to talk openly with people with disabilities. To achieve this, they found it helpful to partner with local groups to make sure that access to voting registration and discussions are based on the idiosyncratic differences in each state. Also, it  was helpful for AAPD to get local municipalities to honor and proclaim that National Disabilities Voter Registration Week is important;  this event helps raise the issue that people with disabilities have a right and a need to register and vote. He noted that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as the general public, then there would have been 12 million more voters in 2012. Check out their Rev Up program here.

The Americans for Democratic Action commemorate the 1948 civil rights flag with representative John Lewis and Representative Keith Ellison

I’ve been waiting for this event all week. It is so full. I ended up in a seat in the hallway outside of the auditorium.

Here’s what the program book says about the 1948 civil rights plank:

At the 1948 convention, the Civil Rights flag was adopted as a Minority Report to the party platform on a highly contested, late night though. The southern delegation strongly opposed to civil rights Plank and some Alabama and Mississippi delegates walked out when it was adopted. Two weeks after the convention, President Harry Truman, whose civil rights program was the basis of the Civil Rights Act, issued executive orders desegregating the military and providing equal opportunity in federal employment. Southern Democrats responded by replacing Truman on the ballot with Governor Strom Thurmond of the States Rights Democratic Party. These “Dixiecrats” carried four states and 39 electoral votes. None the less Truman won the four-way election with 49.55% of the popular vote and 303 electoral votes. The Dixiecrats continued to oppose and black civil rights and Congress through the 1960s.

In the contentious election year of 1948 comma many Democrats and liberals, including Truman’s orders, we’re concerned a strong position on civil rights in danger the Democratic party’s chances of election in the fall. Republicans had won control of the House and Senate in the 1946 midterm election. ADA Founder, Hubert H Humphrey, at the time the 37-year-old mayor of Minneapolis and candidate for US Senate, was convinced to make the case for the Civil Rights Act. Humphrey rose and delivered one of the great convention speeches of all time in support of the plant that affirmed his reputation as a great orator. Some of his most powerful words:

My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are one hundred seventy-two years late. To those who say that the civil rights program is an infringement on states rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of states rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

After the late-night adoption of the Civil Rights Plank and the close of the convention in Blue Ball Pennsylvania, Humphrey and the other ADAers retreated to the North Philadelphia home of one of the ADA leaders to celebrate.”

It started about 50 minutes late.The two main speakers are Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) & Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Keith Ellison rates 100% by the ADA, just like John Lewis

Kareem Abdul Jabar was a surprise speaker.  He thanked the Dems & the for their fight for civil rights. He then focused on the need to provide education regardless of gender, color, or orientation.  It is the equalizer from kindergarten through college. We have to reduce the 1.3 trillion dollar debt that students are bearing for higher education. He then thanked Rep. Lewis for his stance on civil rights.

Rep. Ellison then spoke.He summarized the passage of the 1948 Civil Rights plank and Hubert Humphrey’s involvement in this passage. Hubert Humphrey wasn’t concerned about splitting the country; instead, he was concerned about the uniting of the country.  He believed this plank would do that. He showed how Donald Trump is a throwback to the Dixiecrats—touting hate and segregation. He then thanked Bernie Sanders for helping make the 2016 platform the most progressive Democratic platform “ever.” At that point,  he then introduced John Lewis.
Lewis spoke about his history.  About the public library refusing to give him a library card when he was a child; it was almost 40 years later that he got that library card from that same library.

He was proud to say that the segregation signs have been relegated to the history books. But now we are having efforts to bring those signs and behaviors back out on our streets, into our businesses, and  homes. We have to be vigilant and make sure this doesn’t happen.

He then said that voting is the strongest tool for pushback.  We must be the spark plug.  We must be a pilot light for democracy – stay lit and continue to keep democracy alive.

There is no such thing as an illegal human being.  We must respect the dignity and worth of every individual.  Doesn’t matter if we are black, white,  Asian, Muslim, gay or straight— we are all one people.

He then told the story of a rainstorm that occurred at the shotgun-style house he lived in when he was 4 or 5. They were fearful of the house blowing up because the storm was so strong.  His grandmother then said,  no matter what,  never leave the House. Hold it down, even when the wind blows. And if you do it right,  we can change the world.

THANK YOU, JOHN LEWIS for this call to action.

At the Convention 

I have been blogging for the last hour.  Unfortunately,  everything since I arrived somehow disappeared when I started taking some pictures. Hoping this doesn’t happen again.  So onward for the evening.

People from across the country came on stage to show the world our diversity.

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People representing the diversity of America

Jessie Jackson then talked. He said we need to ban assault weapons now. The shootings of young black men must stop. Black Lives Matter.  The shootings of police officers must stop. Ban assault weapons now.

The journey for civil rights started in 1948. When women win, women and children win. When Asians win, all races win.  It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. Keep hope alive. Thank you.

Mayor Karen Weaver, Flint Michigan

Mayor Karen Weaver of Flint, Michigan spoke next. Flint is the city that lost control of their water, resulting in the lead poisoning of the water. They still can’t drink the water. They expect lifelong problems from this disaster.  Many in Flint have joined Clinton because of her commitment to repairing the infrastructure in Flint and across the country.

The  Congressional Black Caucus  then stood on stage…

I’m  going to have to skip a bit of blogging. My phone is running out of its charge. I’m going to temporarily log off and try to recharge for some of the later speakers…

…I’m now back.

Martin O’Malley

At 7:30, Martin O’Malley spoke, saying that Trump thinks too much of himself.

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Governor Martin O’Malley

Climate Change

Climate change was next on the agenda. Rising food prices.  10 million acres of land burned in wildfires last year. Floods. Drought.  The thermometer isn’t Democratic. It isn’t Republican.  There is climate change.

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Renewable energy is the solution to climate change

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Governor Jerry Brown

Gun Violence

Ending Gun Violence is also important. Lee Daniels said 33K people die each year from gun violence. Enough is enough.

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Lee Daniels

Christine Leinonem, mother of one of the 49 people who died in the Orlando gay bay mass shooting. She said the weapon that killed her son shoots 33 bullets a minute.  “How is this common gun sense? This is why I support  Hillary (and not Trump).”

 

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Christine Leinonem leaving the stage with three of her son’s friends

Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed on December 14, 2013. She said that there are too many legislators who stand behind the NRA. What we need are leaders who will stand up to the NRA.  Someone like Hillary.

 

 

Then former Philadelphia Chief of Police Chuck Ramsey called for common-sense gun laws. To stop the murder of citizens. To end the killing of cops. We need good community policing, comprehensive background checks, and a ban on assault weapons. Vote for the person who will work with communities and police. Hillary will help build this bridge and not an [increasingly violent] wall [between the community and the police].

 

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Former Philadelphia Chief of Police Chuck Ramsey

Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard are two of the  mothers of shooting victims in Charleston,  SC: In summary, they said, “We choose love. Together we can heal.”wp-image-1520613046jpg.jpg

Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard

 

Then we heard from Retired US Navy Captain Mark Kelly. He spoke about common gun sense. Hillary knows we can save lives by keeping guns out of the hands [of violent people].  Then his wife, former Representative Gabby  Giffords joined him on stage…

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Captain Mark Kelly

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Representative Gabby Giffords

Broadway singers and actors then came on stage to sing “What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love” in honor of the victims of gun violence.

And another break to charge some more…

And now it’s Vice President  Joe Biden’s turn…

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Vice-President Joe Biden

He congratulated Michelle Obama for her work and her speech on Monday.  He honored his son Bo Biden who died of cancer a couple of years ago. He then honored

  • Teachers who use their hard-earned money to buy her kids pencils.
  • Hillary for her passions – college education, health care, decent pay, elder care

We will all, especially our daughters, be so proud when she walks into the Oval Office.

And Donald Trump?

  • He confuses bluster with defense
  • He belittles everyone
  • He’s dangerous

We have the strongest economy in the world. And if given a chance,  we will endure. We don’t succumb to fear. The 21st century will be the American century because we will empower ourselves and the world for the better!”

Michael Bloomberg

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Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

TIM KAINE

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Vice-Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine

I “humbly accepted” the nomination for the position of Vice President of the United States.

I was the  70th governor of Virginia. Even my father in law, former  Republican  VA governor Holton is voting Democratic more and more often because “the party of Lincoln has moved too far to the right.”

Issues of concern that he raised during his speech:

  • Quality education
  • Investments in transportation and communities
  • Care for our veterans

We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So we need to do all that you can for others/

¡Si se puede! Yes! We can!

Why do I trust Hillary? She’s consistent.

  • She’s consistently worked for kids and families.
  • She delivers too. She battled the Republicans to get healthcare for 1st responders.
  • She was not afraid to stand up to bullies like Osama Ben Laden
  • I trust Hillary with my son’s life (who deployed overseas two weeks ago).

Even Barbara Bush is troubled about Trump. She said, “I don’t know how anyone could vote for Trump after his comments about women.”

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Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton

And finally, President Barack Obama… He was introduced by 80+-year-old Sharon Belkofer of Rossford, OH,  a gold-star mom.

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President Barack Obama

President Obama  highlighted his accomplishments over the last 8 years

  • Healthcare is a right. I got the ACA (Affordable Care Act) passed. [My personal opinion on this: The ACA was  a decent start, but we need to go further so that everyone has healthcare and that means single-payer healthcare / Medicare for All]
  • We are working to save this planet for our children.
  • Marriage equality is now real across the land
  • Education has improved

We need to make:

  • Our streets safer
  • Correct the criminal justice system
  • Create equality for all
  • There are pockets of the country that haven’t recovered.  We must do better.

What’s  right about America. We believe we are stronger together and we reach out to each other.

And it will continue with the next President — Hillary Clinton

And I agree with that hope for the future…

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YES! WE CAN!

YES! WE CAN!

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#DNCinPHL: Day 3. It’s Nomination Time

Today’s events started off with honoring the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The Call to Order highlighted this.

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Call to order honoring the 26th anniversary of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Then Mike Mollena lead us with the national anthem.

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Mike Mollena

Senator Tom Harkin then spoke about the ADA, his brother, and what the ADA means for America.  He then taught us the sign-language symbol for the United States — fingers intertwined and moving your arms in a circle. United one and all is the meaning of this symbol.

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Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) honoring the 26th anniversary of the ADA. He calls upon Congress to pass the Disability Integration Act that Clinton has said she will sign into law.

The nominations began.

First off was Bernie Sanders.

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Executive Director IBEW Local 2222 seconds Bernie’s Nomination

Then Hillary Clinton’s name was put into nomination.

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Senator Barbara Mikulski, MD placing the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton for President

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Representative John Lewis seconding Hillary Clinton’s nomination for the Democratic candidate for President.

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Na’ilah Amaru, an adoptee and Iraq veteran seconding Hillary’s nomination for President

Roll call:vote followed.

Alabama 59 C, 9 S, 1 abstenstion

Alaska 6 C, 14 S

American Samoa  8 C, 3 S

Arizona 51 C, 34 S

Arkansas 27 C, 10 S including 1 vote by Bernie’s brother

California 330 C 221 S

Colorado 26 C, 41 S, 1 abstenstion

Connecticut 44 C, 27 S

Delaware 23 C,  9 S

Democrats Abroad 7 C, 10 S including one vote by Bernie’s brother

District of Columbia . 39 C, 5 S

Florida 163 C, 72 S, 1 abstenstion

Georgia 87 C, 29 S 1 abstenstion

Guam 9 C, 2 S, 1 abstenstion

Hawaii 15 C, 19 S

Idaho 7 C, 20 S

Illinois 98 C, 74 S

Indiana 48 C, 43 S, 1 abstenstion

Iowa 30 C, 21 S

Kansas 14 C, 23 S

Kentucky 33 C, 27 S

Louisiana 45 C, 14 S

Maine 12 C, 18 S

Maryland 84 C, 36 S

Massachusetts 68 C, 46 S, 1 abstenstion

Michigan 81 C, 66 S

Minnesota 42 C 47 S, 4 abstenstions

Mississippi 33 C, 7 S, 1 abstenstion

Missouri 49 C, 35 S

Montana 14 C, 12 S

Nebraska 13 C, 16 S, 1 abstenstion

Nevada 20 C,  16 S, 1 abstenstion

New Hampshire 16 C, 16 S

New Jersey 90 C,  45 S, 7 abstenstions

New Mexico 27 C, 16 S

New York 181 C, 108 S, 3 abstenstion

North Carolina 70 C, 48 S, 2 abstenstions

Norh Dakota 7 C 14 S, 2 abstenstion

Northern Marianas  9 C, 2 S

Ohio  98 C, 62 S

Oklahoma 20 C, 22 S

Oregon 34 C, 38 S, 2 abstenstions

Pennsylvania 126 C, 82 S

Puerto Rico 44 C, 23 S

Rhode Island 19 C, 13 S, 1 abstenstion

South Carolina 46 C, 13 S

South Dakota 15 C, 10 S

Tennessee 50 C , 23 S, 2 abstenstions

Texas 179 C, 72 S

Utah 8 C, 29 S

Vermont passes

Virgin Islands 12 C, 0 S

Virginia 75 C, 33 S

Washington 32 C, 74 S, 2 abstenstions

West Virginia 19 C, 18 S

Wisconsin 47 C, 49 S

Wyoming 11 C, 7 S

Back to  Vermont 4 C, 22  S

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Senator Sanders asks the convention to suspend the rules to accept Hillary Rodham Clinton as the 2016 Democratic candidate for President of the United States.

Sanders then speaks and moves to suspend the rules to nominate Hillay by acclamation. Clinton is declared the Democratic Nominee. Total is not announced and Hillary will speak on Thursday  evening.

For your edification,  here is the final vote count:

  • Hillary Clinton 2874 votes
  • Bernie Sanders 1865 votes

Governor Tery McAuliffe of Virginia  then speaks on behalf of fellow Virginian Tim Kaine. Also spoke of his friendship with Hillary

Then the women of Congress came on stage.  They are 1/3 of the Democratic Congressional delegation

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A panorama of the diversity of Democratic women elected to Congress from across the country. Several of the women then spoke on how Democrats and the voice of women have changed the conversation in Congress. I estimate that there wer 55 women on stage. About 10 of them spoke.

Following  the women, we had a video from Jimmy Carter.

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Senator Shumer talks about 9/11 and how Hillary championed the need for healthcare for the first responders. America shall  and can break down barriers and shatter ceilings. But this can only be done if we get a Democratic Senate majority.

Others begin to tell Hillary’s  story.

She worked with burn victim children.  She worked with kids with disabilities.  She helped insure that kids in South Carolina  no longer were jailed with adults. As first lady of Arkansas, she played major role in improving education in the stae. She worked on adoption  issues so that older kids could find a “forever” home. She continued her fight for children  when she was in the Senate; she reserved an intern position for a person who was raised in foster care.

Then Donna Brazile  spoke. She’s  Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee.  She spoke about segregation in the South. Then she spoke of Hillary’s work with the Children’s Defense Fund.

Agter several other speeches, Cecile Richards, the Executive Director  of Planned Parenthood. She touted the Supreme Court decision in Whole Womens Clinic v Hellerstedt that TRAP laws are unconstitutional . But if Trump is elected,  then women’s lives will be in danger.

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Cecile Richards, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood

Then a surprise  (to me). Senator Barbara Boxer of California talked about her personal relationship with Hillary. Her son-in-law is Hillary’s nephew. This was a segway into how parenting, families broadly defined, and the right to choose are basic to Hillary’s view of America.

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Then the conversation turned to healthcare for all. For me that means Medicare for All, aka single-payer healthcare.  As a result  of Bernie’s push for single-payer healthcare,  the platform has improved and now advocates for healthcare as a human right.

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Former Presidential candidate Howard Dean, with his background as a medical doctor talked about the view that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.  He talked about Hillary’s support of the public option and why he believes that Hillary will  help expand acces to healthcare.

At this point, my sister — who was able to obtain a guest pass for the day — decided to leave and head back to the hotel. So we ended watching  Bill Clinton wrap up the day. He gave a personal, family-oriental  picture of Hillary  and how she wrapped policy with her family responsibilities.

#DNCinPHL – Day 1

In June I was appointed as a pledged Bernie Sanders Pennsylvania Public Leader/Elected Official Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  The convention is being held in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (for the Caucuses) and at the Wells Fargo Arena for the main events.

The convention officially starts on Monday July 25.  For delegates and their guests, travel to Philadelphia and welcoming parties started on Sunday.

I will be taking pictures and notes of what I see and hear at my very first convention and will share them with you.  So here’s my first day.

picture of Joanne wearing a Bernie Sanders t-shirt holding a Single-Payer healthcare baseball cap bedecked with political pins

I left home this morning for Philadelphia. But before I left I had Joe take this picture of me in our back yard in my Bernie regalia next to our very own “Liberty Bell.”

Instead of driving to Philadelphia and spending $47/day for parking, I took the Amtrak train from Lewistown, PA.

Varity Show at Kimmel Center for #DNAmtrak's Pennsylvanian #42 pulling into the train station at LewistownCinPHL Welcome Par

Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian #42 pulling into the train station at Lewistown.

picture of the Amtrak engine pulling the passenger cars at the Lewistown train station.

My couch awaits me!

On Board Amtrak

The train was full.  Many of the people on board were delegates, media personnel, and people generally interested in attending the events surrounding the convention.  I met people from Wisconsin, New York, and of course Pennsylvania on board Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian #42, the once-daily eastbound train from Pittsburgh to New York City by way of Philadelphia.

Picture of Ruth Pastore, Jean Mllko, Angie Gialloreto, and Norma McCuen holding up two t-shirts that say "Clintonettes H for Hillary" on the front and "Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Allegheny County 2016" on the back.

The “Clintonettes” from Pittsburgh. These are people I know from the Pennsylvania Democratic State Party meetings I attend three times a year. Left to Right: Ruth Pastore, Jean Mllko, Angie Gialloreto, and Norma McCuen.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, was our first stop where we changed engines.

picture of downtown Harrisburand showing the employee parking lot and Chestnut Street

A brief glimpse of Harrisburg looking down Chestnut Street from the train station.

picture of staircase and the coach cars of my Amtrak train in Harrisburg, PA

The coach cars of the Pennsylvanian at the Harrisburg Amtrak station.

Picture of the staircases and

We sat at the Harrisburg Amtrak train for 30 minutes while the diesel engine was switched to an electric engine for the rest of the trip.

Then we were off again for the last leg of the train trip.

Picture of Chris Dietz and Alexander Reber

Chris Dietz and Alex Reber joined us in Harrisburg. Chris is Millersburg Borough Council President. I first met them when Chris ran for the state legislature several years ago.

Philadelphia – We’re Here!

The train arrived at the 30th Street Station and we took a shuttle over to the Doubletree Inn in downtown Philadelphia.  What should have been a 10-minute ride turned into an hour’s excursion of narrow roads and circling blocks in an attempt to get to the hotel.  Part of the reason for the long drive was a parade down Broad Street near City Hall in support of Bernie Sanders.

Picture of a larger than life-size Bernie sanders blow-up puppet marching down Broad Street with 100's of his supporters.

“Bernie Sanders” joins the parade in his honor. Feel the Bern. Photo courtesy of Linda Tosti-Lane; she took this picture from our corner room at the DoubleTree Inn.

We have a great view from our 19th floor room as you can see above.  We are also set for staying here for 5 days. 12 sets of towels came with the room!

Picture of our pile of towels.

We’re ready for anything this week! LOL!

After settling in we went to our first party.  It was a welcoming party to the DNC convention for several states including Pennsylvania, California, Colorado and several others. It was held at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Food and a wonderful variety show wrapped up the day for us.

picture of City Hall as seen from the balcony of the Kimmel Center

City Hall as seen from the balcony of the Kimmel Center

picture of One of the live-action flower women at the Kimmel Center standing in a large flower urn waving her arms.

One of the live-action flower women at the Kimmel Center

Picture of the stage at Verizon Symphony Hall at the Kimmel Center with yellow spotlights on the variety show stage.

#DNCinPHL Welcome Party Variety Show at the William Way hosted by Cheryl Lee Ralph. Her husband is PA State Senator Vincent Hughes.

Comparison of Political Parties through Congressional Interns

Pictures say it all… Intersectionality is the face of the Democratic Party. With the Republicans? It’s almost always white men. Women and people of color are essentially invisible.

Nel's New Day

Watching the GOP convention this week was painful on a large number of levels, one of them being the struggle to show minorities in both the speakers and the audience. Out of 2,472 delegates, only 18 are black–less than one percent. That’s down from the peak of seven percent in 2004. Only 20 percent of the 71 prime-time speakers are white. This is the party of Donald Trump.

The look of whiteness at the RNC is patterned in this photograph of GOP congressional interns, proudly taken by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

PaulRyan interns

Below is the photograph of Democratic congressional interns, thanks to Audra Jackson, an intern working for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). What an amazing difference!

democratic interns

According to Valcy Etienne, Johnson said that Jackson’s selfie was an “excellent idea” because the interns “represent the future of our party and where we’re going.” She added:

“I wonder if the Republicans…

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NOW's Keep abortion legal round

Oppose the Most Restrictive Abortion Ban in Country

Keep Abortion Legal NOW Round

Oppose the PA Abortion Ban

Pennsylvania is poised to pass what is seen as the most restrictive abortion ban law in the country.  The House has already passed HB 1948 and has sent it to the Senate. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed strictly along party lines. It has the most extreme restrictions placed on abortion in the country. A vote by the full state Senate is expected as early as this Wednesday, July 13. Please call your PA State Senator and tell her/him to OPPOSE House Bill 1948.

SUMMARY OF HOUSE BILL 1948
House Bill 1948, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), decreases the gestational limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. It also bans Dilation and Evacuation abortions at any gestational age unless necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or prevent the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. There is no exception for rape, incest or fetal anomaly

TALKING POINTS

  1. My name is __________________ and I am a constituent from [your city]. I would like Senator________________________ to oppose HB 1948 that would restrict a woman’s access to abortion care services in an extreme and harmful way.
  2. All women should have access to a full range of health care options, including abortion care services, and live their lives free from violence and reproductive coercion.
  3. Every pregnancy is different and protecting women’s health and safety is paramount. I ask Sen. __________________ to stand with the women of this Commonwealth and vote “No” on HB 1948.
  4. More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade recognized a woman’s constitutional right to decide whether to continue or end a pregnancy prior to viability.  This ban is clearly unconstitutional and will cost taxpayers for the state to litigate a law that is unenforceable.  It also constitutionally violates the most recent Supreme Court decision as noted in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurring opinion in the June 2016 WHOLE WOMAN’S HEALTH ET AL. v. HELLERSTEDT case: 

Justice Ginsburg dismissed Texas’s argument about its interest in protecting “the health of women who experience complications from abortions,” by countering that “complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous.” She recites a laundry list of studies of how safe abortion is, and then she delivers the message: “So long as this Court adheres to Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992), Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws like H. B. 2 [and PA’s proposed HB 1948] that ‘do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,’ Planned Parenthood of Wis., 806 F. 3d, at 921, cannot survive judicial inspection.”

You can find your representatives by clicking here. Once you are on the page you may enter your address and your elected officials and their contact information will appear.

Meme that says "Even with the Supreme Court's Decision, Reproductive freedom is in a sorry situation in the US. Poor Women don't have a choice (Justice Ginsburg).." Then is says, 9 states tried to ban abortion in 2016; in the past 5 years, states have enacted nearly 300 laws restricting abortions; over 30 million women live near a shuttered clinic; and in red and blue states, nearly 15 clinics were shut down in the last five years [with] only 21 clinics opened."

Don’t Add Pennsylvania to the States that are Banning Abortions.

Don’t let Pennsylvania become the most restrictive state for abortion access in the country. Call your legislator TODAY!

(Thanks to the Pennsylvania Reproductive Health Coalition and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence for providing part of this information).

Picture of a gun with a knotted barrel with the words "Stop the Violence" surrounding the gun.

Lighting the Way: National Speakout

Picture of a gun with a knotted barrel with the words "Stop the Violence" surrounding the gun.

Stop Gun Violence

Congressman John Lewis is leading a national speak-out on gun violence. He put together this video to share with everyone why we need to come together and why the “Black Caucus Demands Congress Hold Vote After Shootings”


Organizers hope that folks who live nearby will come to the west side of the US Capitol and fill the mall with our bodies, signs and voices. You can rsvp for the rally here.  If you can’t make this rally, please find your Members of Congress when they come home from the break and ask them to support real gun safety measures before more people die. The killer in Dallas had been “less than honorably” discharged from the military and he should have failed a background check.

Democrats to Hold  ‘ Lighting the Way’

National Speak Out: The Path Forward on Gun Violence

 WHO: Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Representative John Lewis (D-GA), Congressional Black Caucus, and Members of the House Democratic Caucus

WHAT and WHY: The House will be adjourning for a VERY long recess and this rally is to point out that they have failed to act on bills to promote gun safety.  If miracles happen, this will be a celebration.

  • Ensuring Universal Background Checks H.R. 1217, Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act
  •  Enacting No Fly, No Buy H.R. 1076, Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act
  • Closing the Charleston Loophole H.R. 3051, Background Check Completion Act
  • Barring Firearm Sales to Hate Crime Offenders H.R. 4603, Hate Crimes Prevention Act

WHEN: Thursday, July 14th at 7:30 PM

 WHERE:  West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building

Picture of a gun with a knotted barrel with the words "Stop the Violence" surrounding the gun.

We Need to Save Both Blacks, Police

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said it all in her tweet:

“Black Americans shouldn’t be killed in routine traffic stops, and police shouldn’t be killed while protecting and serving their communities.”

Picture of a gun with a knotted barrel with the words "Stop the Violence" surrounding the gun.

Stop Gun Violence

Nel's New Day

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY) husband was killed in a mass shooting in 1993, the same horrific event that seriously wounded her son. Elected to Congress four years later, she fought for gun safety legislation. Not until 2007 did she succeed—in a small way. During the last session before winter holiday recess that year, Congress passed a law requiring federal agencies to keep up-to-date records on people who might be disqualified from purchasing guns such as those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for more than a year, and those with documented mental health issues.  Other than a vote to renew a ban on plastic firearms in 2013, that’s the last gun safety legislation that got through Congress. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have died because of firearms, and the number of mass shootings are drastically increasing.

After the 50 deaths…

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Three women holding up posters that say "Love it! Improve it! Medicare for All!"

Add Medicare for All to DNC Platform: My Testimony

Three women holding up posters that say "Love it! Improve it! Medicare for All!"

Advocating for Medicare for All – a universal, single-payer healthcare program. Photo Courtesy of National Nurses United.

The full Democratic Platform Committee is meeting this weekend in Orlando, Florida two weeks prior to the Democratic National Convention. I will be attending the National Convention in Philadelphia as a PA-PLEO (Public Leader/Elected Official) delegate.

My biggest issue is access to health care for all. The Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2010 has gained access to healthcare for more people in the US.  But not for everyone.  It’s time to take the next step to build upon what is currently in place.

So as part of my advocacy for access to Universal Health Care, I wrote and sent in testimony to the entire Platform Committee and to the members of the PA members of the committee for whom I had an email address.

Here’s that testimony.  If the Medicare for All amendment isn’t added to the platform this weekend, I will do what I can to get it back in at the Convention in Philadelphia.

nighttime picture of the US Capita

We need Medicare for All/aka Universal or Single Payer Health Care at both the national and state levels. Picture of the US Capital courtesy of Rep. Katherine Clark.

Health Care for All Rally Harrisburg005

Advocates for Single Payer Healthcare Rallying in 2009 in Harrisburg, PA

Friday, July 08, 2016

RE: Adding Medicare for All Amendment to the DNC Platform: My Story

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m writing to ask you to add the Medicare for All amendment language into the Democratic Platform.  As I understand, the amendment language that is being proposed says,

“While making various changes would improve the ACA, the social insurance model, single-payer system, is our goal, and we will continue to fight for it. Health care is a fundamental human right and an important measure of social justice. Achieving universal health care will not come from mandating everyone to buy a health insurance policy from a private insurance company. Instead, we must build on the experience of Medicare, which shows that the most cost-effective and equitable way to provide quality care is through a single-payer system. “Medicare for all” would require updating and expanding the program’s benefits to fit the working population and children, as well as negotiating prices with physicians, providers, and with Pharmaceutical companies for medications that working families–and the country–can afford. Until we achieve a -payer model at the national level states should be allowed to implement universal, publicly financed health care coverage on their own so long as that coverage is affordable and provides a full range of benefits, commensurate with the requirements that apply to all states under the ACA.”

I strongly urge you to add this paragraph into the platform.  FYI, I have read the entire ACA (yes, I’m a glutton for punishment – J ).  I read the entire ACA when it was passed because I wanted to make sure that individuals who have to have a transplant would have both their treatment as well as the treatment of their donor covered without a fight amongst the insurance companies.    I almost died in 1989 because of such a fight – two insurance companies fighting over who would NOT pay for the donor portion of my bone marrow transplant and the hospital refusing to do the transplant until they were guaranteed payment by one or both of the insurance companies.

Here’s an excerpt of my story.  You can read the full story here on my blog — https://civilrightsadvocacy.net/2013/02/20/why-i-support-universal-health-care-a-right-not-a-privilege/.

My life was threatened by the multi-company, private health insurance system we currently have.

I received a bone marrow transplant in 1989 from my identical twin sister. Although I had no problem finding a match, I had to jump through many hoops and barriers put up by the two health insurance companies covering my sister and myself. In the case of my insurance provider, I was refused coverage of the donor portion of the transplant because my twin sister wasn’t on my health insurance plan. In the case of my twin sister’s insurance provider, they refused to cover her portion of the transplant because she “wasn’t sick.” Then the hospital administration said that they would not perform the transplant until this conflict between the two insurance agencies was resolved with a guarantee of payment by either or both companies. And my doctors said that if the resolution did not occur rapidly, I would be dead within the year due to the seriousness of the form of leukemia that I had.

According to Health Care for America, health insurance companies profit by denying–not by providing–healthcare. Health insurance CEOs of the top 10 health insurance companies today typically enjoy an average of $10,000,000 in annual compensation–salary, bonuses, stock options, etc.

Back to my story. I went into battle mode against the insurance companies when I was told that they would let me die because of their bottom line and attempts to deny coverage. Because of the support and advocacy I had through the organization where I self-purchased my health insurance (the National Organization for Women), we were finally able to get me the life-saving transplant that I needed. And I am here today.

This experience is why I became an advocate for a single-payer health care system rather than the current system that allows private companies the ability to deny critical health care to “save” their bottom line for profit only….

Other Reasons why I support a Universal Health Care Plan at Either the National or State Level.

  • It is the ethical and moral to treat all people, regardless of economics or status when they are sick….
  • Some statesare threatening people’s health care and lives based on decisions either by their legislature and/or their governors….
  • A Single Payer, Universal Healthcare program would cover everyone….

As a result of this experience I became actively involved as a member of the board of Healthcare for All PA Education Fund. This non-profit organization is advocating for passage of the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan (HB 1688) (prime sponsor, Pam DeLissio (D-Bucks County).

Thus, given my personal and passionate support for Healthcare for All, and the fact that the US spends 2.5 times the average of other industrialized countries, yet we don’t provide healthcare to everyone; and that Medical outcomes such as infant mortality and life expectancy, and equality of access, are much better in other countries; and that 58% of all Americans support Medicare for All, including 81% of Democrats, we hereby call upon the Democratic Party to adopt this amendment into the Platform of the Democratic Party

Thank you.

Joanne L. Tosti-Vasey, Ph.D.

PA-PLEO Delegate to the Democratic National Convention

Joanne standing in front of a bookcase holding up a sign saying "Rise" to action

Joanne advocating for Medicare for All. Help us advocate for this issue at the national convention through my GoFundMe account. See my PS.

PS. If you’d like to assist me and my friends to attend the Convention in Philadelphia, please check out my GoFundMe site at gofund.me/going2DNCnPhilly. This  will help in my ongoing advocacy for access to healthcare for all.  Thanks.