WDC Banner

September Newsletter  - Volume 4, Issue 1  



Upcoming WDC Events

Upcoming Advocacy and Campaign Events

Recap of OFA Montgomery County's Climate Change Town Hall 

Chief Correspondent Dan Balz mesmerizes attendees at September Luncheon

Obamacare House Parties  

New Newsletter Feature - INTERVIEW  

Join or Renew Now 

Facebook Page    

Political Book Club

Volunteers: It Takes a Village 

Suggestion Box 


You may click on one of the above titles to go directly to that subject, or simply scroll down the newsletter.     


Thanks to Sybil Cantor, Teddi Pensinger, Bonnie Wicklund, Linda Kolko, Marian Kisch, Neeta Datt, and Carmela Cowgill for their contributions to the newsletter.




Mark your calendars now for these upcoming events. For more information on locations and registration, watch for future e-mails and daisy cards - or visit our website at www.womansdemocraticclub.org.   

Thursday, October 10

Happy Hour    

5:30-7 p.m.  

Lebanese Taverna

7141 Arlington Road, Bethesda


Want to meet new people and talk politics?  Join us at the next WDC Happy Hour. Every second Thursday of each month, Democrats who are passionate about politics gather to relax and network with WDC members and their guests. Whether you want to meet elected officials, make new friends, form new business contacts or just have fun, the WDC Happy Hour is the perfect place to meet and greet fellow Democrats.    



Friday, October 11   - Just scheduled


October Luncheon with guest speaker Political Consultant Paul Begala.

12:00 p.m.

Courtyard Marriott

5520 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase


Paul Begala is a Democratic political consultant and CNN political commentator. He was a chief strategist and counselor to Present Bill Clinton, has been involved in numerous successful campaigns and is a trusted advisor to Democratic candidates and elected officials at the highest levels.  Author of several books, he currently serves on the faculty of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute. He is also a top advisor to the McAuliffe for Governor Campaign in Virginia. 





Monday, October 21

The Immigration Reform Program

7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Silver Spring Civic Building

Veterans Plaza, One Veterans Place


We have a broken immigration system.  More than 11 million people are living in the United States without legal status.  Will reform help our country? Will reform help our families?  How do our Montgomery County immigrants fare?  What services are offered to them?




Crystal Patterson:  Director of Communications for Immigration at the Center for American Progress. Crystal will discuss immigration from a national viewpoint--who are the immigrants, what they offer our country, challenges they face, state of current legislation.


Gustavo Torres: Executive Director , Casa de Maryland.  Gustavo will address immigration and services from our Montgomery County Hispanic perspective.


Josephine Garnem:  Chair of Montgomery County African Affairs Advisory Group.  Josephine will focus on immigration and services for Montgomery County's African immigrants. 


Co-Sponsors include: District 39 Democratic Club, Montgomery County Young Democrats, African American Democratic Club, District 20 Democratic Caucus, District 16 Democratic Club and the Hispanic Democratic Club.


To RSVP: Contact Lucy Freeman at 301-654-8115 or dorset4708@yahoo.com 




WDC is hosting Obamacare house parties in each of the County's legislative districts.


Information for the October house parties is below:

Wednesday, October 9


Going Into Practice: Implementing Obamacare in Maryland  

Speaker:  Leni Preston, Chair, Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform

7 - 8:30 p.m.

Home of Carmela Cowgill, 14309 Shoreham Drive, Silver Spring


Please contact Carmela Cowgill at cacowgill@yahoo.com to RSVP.


Wednesday, October 30


Going Into Practice: Implementing Obamacare in Maryland     

Speaker:  Leni Preston, Chair, Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform

7 - 8:30 p.m.

Home of Beth Tomasello, 7010 Hillcrest Place, Chevy Chase


Please contact Beth Tomasello at bethtomasello@rcn.com to RSVP.





The campaign canvasses daily, with an emphasis on weekend canvasses.Phone banks are weekday evenings.  The office address is 6888 Elm Street in McLean (Corner of Elm and Dolly Madison).  The office is open 7 days a week.  For more information, please contact Jon Sheehan, Field Organizer for the McAuliffe Campaign in McLean, Great Falls, and Falls Church.  His email address is  jsheehan@vademocrats.org. His phone number (cell) is 240-888-4770.

Phone Banks


Mondays: Phone bank at 6508 Monique Court (Home of Jalmeen Soni) 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm.  


Tuesdays: Phone bank at 6888 Elm Street (Campaign office) 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm.   phone2


Wednesdays: Phone bank at 6816 Crutchfield Street in Falls Church from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm (Home of Kris Gregory) and 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm at the Starbucks in Great Falls (Georgetown Pike and Walker Road).


Sundays: Phone bank at 6508 Monique Court (Home of Jalmeen Soni) 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm.



Weekdays anytime from 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm from the office at 6888 Elm Street.

Saturdays: 10:00 am - 1:00 p.m., 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm., 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm from 1605 Maddux Lane in McLean (home of Linda Burchfiel).
Sundays: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm from 1854 Griffith Road in Falls Church (home of Sue Boucher).

**The campaign also will need volunteers who can help with GOTV (Get Out The Vote) activities on November 2, 3, 4, and 5 (ELECTION DAY).

Note: If any members have children who would like to intern, or volunteer, the campaign we would love to have them.



Climate Change On August 1, 2013, the Montgomery County chapter of Organizing for Action started to change the conversation on climate at the hugely successful Town Hall meeting. With over 500 attendees, the success of the event proved that there exists a huge groundswell of opinion in favor of effective action on climate change. "This needs to translate into action in Congress. We need to continue to press till the political will to legislate on Climate Change is achieved. There is much work to be done, and we need to continue to make our voices heard and to organize around the President's agenda on Climate Change, " said Neeta Datt, the organizer of the event and the Chapter Director of Organizing for Action - Montgomery County.

Woman's Democratic Club, one of the event's supporters, handed out material and recruited new members. "Climate change is the most important issue in our generation," said Donald Boesch, the president of the Center for Environmental Science at the University of Maryland. "We have a special responsibility and opportunity to lead. Pushing for more clean energy in the state has the potential to create jobs," said Boesch. "We don't need to invent anything, all we need is more policy," said Mike Tidwell, the director of Chesapeake Climate Change Action Network.  

"The fossil-fuel industry is allowed to treat our atmosphere as a sewer. Because of climate change, cases of asthma and heart attacks are increasing in the U.S.," said Cindy Parker, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins who is on the board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility.  "Health is the only thing that has the potential to engage everyone across the political spectrum on climate change; everyone cares about their health, their family's health and their neighbor's health," said Parker.   

Katherine Magruder, the executive director of the Maryland Clean Energy Center, encouraged people to share books they're reading about environmental topics with people who are doubtful of climate change. Speakers focused on the president's plan, but also encouraged action on an individual level. Congressman Chris Van Hollen gave an update on the challenges and opportunities surrounding climate change legislation in the 113th Congress.     




                                                                                                     by Carmella Cowgill


The Woman's Democratic Club featured Dan Balz, the chief correspondent at the Washington Post and one of the country's foremost political reporters at its September monthly luncheon.  Mr. Balz discussed his new book, Collision 2012:  Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America, in which he compared the campaign of 2008, inspiring and compelling, to that of 2012, discordant but also compelling in a different way.  He found that the campaign of 2008 culminated in a sense of hope and inclusion, generally leaving the electorate "feeling good" even if their personally favored candidates lost.  The story of Barack Obama as the winner of the election tells the story of "the most unlikely presidential prospect in all of American history".  In his analysis of 2012, however, Balz finds the turbulent campaign compelling in a negative way, telling us more of the current state of American politics and the growing struggle to determine the direction of future American elections.


Mr. Balz described Collision 2012 as a series of colliding factors including:


The collision of Obama's electorate with the Republican right-wing electorate which coalesced during the 2010 mid-term elections;  


The collision of two divergent governing philosophies which become more strident with each emerging social and economic question especially those concerning  the size and scope of government and;


The collision of two personalities coming from totally different socio-economic backgrounds and sharply divergent perspectives.


Mr. Balz drew on multiple sources in coming to his conclusions.  He interviewed in "real-time" many of the candidates, strategists and sources deep in the campaign organizations of the candidates.  His decades of experience covering American politics gave him a unique perspective on the information he gathered.  He assessed the campaign from the "inside out".  While he did not personally interview President Obama, he continued his interviews of major players during and after the elections to find out "new things" about the events that had occurred.


The interviews included a 90 minute interview of Governor Romney in which Balz  explored Romney's initial reluctance to run, Romney's assessment of the strength of his potential candidacy, the reversal of his initial decision not to run, and some of the missteps of his campaign.  In his interview of Governor Christie, Balz probed the process by which Christie reached his decision not to run even, in the face of the apparent support he had garnered among Republican party leaders at the time.



Balz reviewed the role played by debates during the election including the lackluster performance of President Obama in the initial debate.  Even though the President had a full grasp of the issues and had been dealing with them daily, he had not engaged in the dynamic of a one-on-one debate in virtually four years.  Ironically, it was Vice President Biden who restored the campaign's momentum during his debate after being urged by President Obama to "be himself", something which he had not been told for the previous four years!


Balz' analysis of the election process and its aftermath focused on the insider information that he collected during discussion of the factors totally outside the players' abilities or actions that, in large measure, determined the outcome of the election.  He detailed four factors which he found compelling:

The economy's recovery, no matter how weak, was "just good enough" to neutralize the Republican criticism of the President's economic record;


The changing demographics of the country that was sufficient to tip the scale to a larger "Blue" population;    


The increasingly strident opinions and philosophies of Blue America and Red America that reflect the increased polarization of the electorate.  Balz concluded that the election of 2012 did not settle the direction of the country, nor was it compelling enough to quell the paralysis that has gripped government; and


The growing sophistication of information management and the importance of data mining and analytics in any effort to win elections.     


Balz uses his experience as a seasoned reporter to identify and analyze the factors that are reshaping the nation's politics.  Unless there is a sudden reversal of direction, the factors that caused the political collision of 2012 will impact future elections
Janet Lowenthal and Carmella Cowgill assist Dan Balz during book signing.




The District 20 house party was held at the home of Linda Kolko on September 26th . Leni Preston, Chair, Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform and lead advocate for "Getting It Right" in implementing health care reform in Maryland, briefed our members on how the Affordable Care Act of 2010 affects individuals and how Maryland is implementing it.   In a previous newsletter, Mary Lou Fox summarized Leni's briefing at an earlier house party.  We are repeating this important information below:


Some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are already in effect such as allowing dependent children up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents ' plan and the elimination of preexisting conditions for children. Beginning in 2014 affordable insurance options will expand coverage through state exchanges for:  

  • Medicaid expansion to cover adults up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL);
  • Advanced tax credits for adults from 138 - 400% FPL to help pay premiums;
  • Tax credits for small businesses to afford insurance for their employees.

Maryland's Health Benefit Exchange has been established and expanded by State law in 2011 and 2012 to offer all Marylanders the opportunity to buy insurance as individuals, as a family or as small businesses in a marketplace called the Maryland Health Connection  (www.marylandhealthconnection.gov).   Beginning with Open Enrollment in October 2013, individuals and families who are uninsured or who purchase their own Individual insurance can go to the Maryland Health Connection to view Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) that meet ACA standards . At that time, they may immediately enroll for insurance that will start on January 1, 2014.


These QHPs will cover all basic care - doctor's visits, hospital visits, maternity care, prescription drugs and more including mental health and substance abuse services.   Enrollment can be done on the website but there will also be Navigators or assistors to help people enroll as well as a Call Center.   During the enrollment process individuals and families will have the opportunity to see if they qualify for a tax credit or for Medicaid.   If so, they can be enrolled immediately. Projections are that 340,000 uninsured Marylanders will be enrolled in the first three years.


The ACA benefits all consumers as well as those with employer -provided insurance plans because pre-existing conditions can no longer be used to deny insurance coverage and women cannot be charged more than men. Also included in the ACA is Sen. Mikulski's amendment that women's preventative services will be available without co-pays and deductibles.   Existing health plans outside the new marketplaces will be "grandfathered" until they significantly change.  


After Leni's talk, Joan Riggs spoke about the efforts of a group of health care activists to spread the word about enrolling in the Maryland Health Connection.  They are talking to people at festivals, retail areas, clinics for the uninsured, and other venues to tell them about the new health exchange, and how to get more information and enroll starting October 1.  She showed them a flyer printed in English and Spanish which gives the web address of the Health Connection, and a phone number for the customer service center.  Volunteers are needed and welcome.  Please contact Joan Riggs at jmr607@hotmail.com to get involved.   


For more information, or to receive regular updates, see the Coalition website www.mdhealthcarereform.org.


INTERVIEW edited by Bonnie Wicklund


Janet Lowenthal


Janet Lowenthal is 1st Vice President, which makes her the official pinch-hitter and primary back-up for Beth Tomasello. She is also co-chair (with Riki Sheehan) of the Program Committee.


Janet has spent many years as a writer and fundraiser for numerous advocacy organizations, including the Center for American Progress, the National Environmental Trust, the American Constitution Society, the New Israel Fund, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (as executive director). She also has considerable overseas experience:  two years living in the Dominican Republic and three years in Peru, as well as ten years evaluating international development projects in Latin America and Africa.


In addition, Janet lived in Princeton for almost five years in the '70s, where she worked for Richard Falk - a brilliant, idiosyncratic professor of international relations, whom she credits with turning her into the political junkie she is today.


She now lives in the Town of Somerset with her partner, Jim Pines, and has two adult children in Boston - her own, much beloved home town. Despite her very conservative parents, Janet is a life-long Democrat and was an early and ardent fan of Barack Obama. When not politicking, she does writing and editing projects, reads a lot, and loves to travel anywhere that French or Spanish are spoken.



I love fiction but am drawn irresistibly to non-fiction: biographies (most recently, Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman); political analysis (including the brilliant Winner-Take-All Politics, by Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker, and The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander); and quasi-sociological books, like George Packer's compelling The Unwinding.  In a lighter vein, I find Martin Walker's mysteries set in the Dordogne and revolving around "Bruno, the Chief of Police" to be highly entertaining and also educational regarding French village life and history.


Finally, I find The New Yorker absolutely indispensable, and also regularly read The Atlantic and MIT Technology Review.



Somewhere along the way, I somehow acquired the illusion that I was a part owner of France, and leap at any chance to go anywhere within that gorgeous country. I find its language, food, architecture, museums, churches, villages and markets endlessly appealing.  I also love Latin America, which really "gets into your blood" once you have lived there.  Spain and Portugal are favorite destinations as well. I believe strongly in the virtues of traveling less expensively but more frequently!




My vote for most outstanding political writer/columnist today goes to Tom Edsall, who appears every Wednesday online in the New York Times. He tackles political, social and economic issues with unparalleled expertise, and his insightful, carefully argued analyses are always backed up by hard data.   A second favorite, especially on issues regarding labor and income distribution, is the ever-articulate Harold Meyerson, syndicated in the Washington Post.



I don't watch daily TV, but I was as captivated as the rest of the country by Downton Abbey, House of Cards, and Homeland. Two other favorite series are both British:  Foyle's War, the brilliantly acted series about the home front during World War II, and The House of Eliott, a fabulous period piece featuring two sisters trying to make their way in London's fashion world of the '20s.


Favorite movies are Casablanca;  The Apostle, written produced, directed and starred in by Robert Duvall; and The Chorus, a truly touching film about a Dickensian boys' school in France.



1) Getting out the vote in Virginia's tidewater area during the last four days of the 2012 campaign, feeling the commitment and camaraderie of very diverse voters; and 2) sitting in the Rose Garden (with Susan Elwell, Lucy Freeman and Jim) in September, 2011, to hear President Obama deliver his first major speech on jobs. Truly unforgettable.



Raising the minimum wage or - better yet - ensuring a living wage for all workers, is for me today's overriding domestic issue. Creative ideas toward this end, from the AFL-CIO, the SEIU and others, bear close watching and support. If all full-time jobs paid enough to lift a worker above the poverty line, individual and family well-being would be greatly enhanced; rising demand would put the economy on a more sustainable footing; and family structure would grow stronger - because even low-skilled, less-educated men would become more "marriageable," and thus marriage (or at least co-habitation and joint child-rearing) would become a more attractive option.  More generally, it would be at least a step toward reducing the obscene inequality of income distribution that is now shamefully damaging political, social and moral life in this country.






All current members have received their renewal forms in the mail.  Please renew now!    Membership renewals were due on September 1, 2014.  All non-renewing members are purged from the membership and email list, so don't forget to renew now.  Click here to renew or join now.



facebookFACEBOOK PAGE        

  Don't forget to like us on Facebook; we're listed as Woman's Democratic Club, Montgomery County.



The November 20 selection is The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler in which David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal's implementation, became the linchpin in FDR's--and America's--relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the President's.


The book club meets the third Wednesday of every other month, 10:30 a.m. at members' homes. A facilitator leads the discussion for each book. Want to join the conversation? New members are always welcome! For more information, contact Estelle Stone at estelles@webtv.net.


If you're interested in seeing what other books have been discussed, please go to www.womansdemocraticclub.org and click on Political Book Club, which is listed under Events.  




 Help Wanted

 We need your help creating a vibrant Club and we solicit your ideas and participation. And the most valuable contribution you can make to the Club is - you guessed it - your time. Sharing your skills and expertise with us and joining a committee are fun ways to meet other members and make new friends while helping the Club accomplish its goals.


WDC is looking for members to help on the Communications Committee and on the Membership and Outreach Committee.  We especially need writers and photographers for our events.  Want more information?  Email Carmela Cowgill at cacowgill@yahoo.com.  You can also go to www.womansdemocraticclub.org and click on "Get Involved" then   'Volunteer" to complete the volunteer form.




Suggestion Box  

Do you have ideas for future programs? Do you know someone who would be a great speaker at a future WDC event?  If so, please send an e-mail to  wdcmcmd@gmail.com .






 Keeping members better informed, better connected and more politically effective since 1957      


                                                    Like us on Facebook 

Woman's Democratic Club
Beth Tomasello.President
www.womansdemocraticclub.org     wdcmcmd@gmail.com
Woman's Democratic Club
Sybil Cantor
Email Coordinator