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October Newsletter  - Volume 4, Issue 2 



Upcoming WDC Events

Upcoming Advocacy and Campaign Events

Paul Begala's Political Manifesto: Adapt or Die! 

Recap of October 21 Immigration Reform Forum

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, Lucy Freeman, Ed Kimmel, and Joyce Lipman 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, November 7

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, November 15   


CR Headshot.jpgNovember Luncheon with guest speaker, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards


12:00 p.m.

Pooks Hill Marriott

5151 Pooks Hill Road

Bethesda, Maryland
Members:  $25    Non-Members: $30


Cecile Richards is a nationally respected leader in the field of women's health and reproductive rights. She'll be speaking to us in her capacity as president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative advocacy, voter education, and grassroots organizing to promote the Planned Parenthood mission.  


To RSVP, send your check to Judith Heimann, 6900 Marbury Road, Bethesda, MD 20817 or reserve online at http://www.womansdemocraticclub.org by noon Tuesday, November 12. Questions? Call Natalie Bouquet at 301-907-7856.




WDC is hosting Obamacare house parties in each of the County's legislative districts.  
Information for the final house party is below. If you missed the house party in your legislative district, but want to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, please come to this house party!

Wednesday, November 20  


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 Elly Shaw-Belblidia, 340 Tschiffely Square Rd, Gaithersburg, 301-216-9549.

Please contact Elly Shaw-Belblidia at mirinor@aol.com to RSVP




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.

Saturday, November 2: 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 12:00 - 3:00 p.m., 3:00 - 6:00 p.m., and 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 3:  12:00 - 3:00 p.m., 3:00 - 6:00 p.m., and 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Monday, November 4:  9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 12:00 - 3:00 p.m., 3:00 - 6:00 p.m., and 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, November 5:  7:00 - 10:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., and 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.


1. HIGH NEED: 1854 Griffith Road, Falls Church

2. Medium Need: Campaign Office ,6888 Elm Street, McLean




PAUL BEGALA'S POLITCAL MANIFESTO: ADAPT OR DIE!                                     
                                                                                   by Joyce Lipman

Paul at podium 2.jpgThe Republicans, according to Paul Begala, are getting hammered in the polls because they do not know the first law of government: evolution.  Not the strongest, but the most adaptable, survive. Speaking at the October Women's Democratic Club luncheon, the political consultant/commentator (CNN) offered both laughter and insights in discussing the political repercussions when "one faction of one party, one half of one chamber, in one branch of government" causes our government to lock down and become dysfunctional. The story of the Democratic Party in his lifetime, he told us, is that "we meet the changing times and we embrace them."

The Republicans, on the other hand, have "driven themselves into a ghetto" in their fear of our country's changing demographics. Having grown up in Texas with and among conservatives, about whom he regaled us with stories, Mr. Begala understands this fear behind the "march to the right." He in fact doubts that Eisenhower would get a vote from today's Tea Party. During the FDR era, at the onset of modern politics, our population was 95% white. Sixty years later that figure had dropped to 88% and is now down to 72%.

This change, according to our speaker, "makes us smarter, more diverse, better," as time and demographics are on our side. It is also why President Obama cannot back down, although it is in his nature to compromise. At the time of the luncheon, the Republicans will not even agree to pass a budget they have devised, one that cuts such Democratic priorities as cancer research. But Speaker Boehner feels he has no choice but to go along with the Tea Party's intransigence or lose the speakership.

So, said Mr. Begala, "it's not a pretty picture." It is one painted in fear and hate. Because they cannot fathom the change happening around them, the Tea Party rallies around slogans like "I want my country back." They hate Obama. They hate Nancy Pelosi, symbol of a woman in power, even more.

So what do we do about it? "We," in Mr. Begala's words, "need to outwork them and outthink them," as President Obama did in the last election. Our speaker cited three demographic groups we need to continue targeting: Latinos, single women, and young people. A clear signal of the importance of Latinos is the fact that Jose is now the number one boy's name in Texas. But the message this population hears from the Republicans is "I hate you," and that does not bode well for the GOP in future elections, especially if Democrats do their job and get out the Latino vote. Single women are trending Democratic because traditionalist Tea Party rhetoric rejects them. They also "do not see Medicare as an infringement on their rights. It's medical care for their mothers."

Young people have voted for Democrats in great numbers when Obama was on the ballot, but simply did not show up when he was not. They thus offer particular challenges to our efforts to keep them in the fold.  Similar lack of participation lost the Colorado recall vote. So, because diehard Tea Party members do vote, our task is to reach out to our natural constituencies and get them to the polls.

The fundamental question for us, said Mr. Begala, is Biblical: "Am I my brother's keeper?" He believes the answer to that question determines our choices, both in our everyday lives and in our politics. For Mr. Begala, that means going back to our country's classic, welcoming immigrant story and celebrating diversity.  Moral America, he concluded, is a "place where people take a chance on a maid [like his immigrant mother, who got to meet a president!] or the son of a Kenyan sheepherder."

Our speaker then replied to audience questions on such topics as:

1.      Money and politics-We unfortunately have to participate in practices we do not believe in to keep up with the other side. He fears the Supreme Court will make the situation worse, but thinks Congressman Van Hollen's "sunshine" bill will help.

2.      Tea Party-The shutdown will not get people "off the Tea Party bandwagon" because these people hold different ideas in their heads simultaneously; e.g., they believe in Medicare but hate government. In the present confrontation, "they must be broken," though perhaps given small concessions. Both sides are not at fault here. But to move forward, we must find common ground and, to quote Senator Barbara Mikulski, "meet people where they are." (He noted her background as a social worker). We need to understand their adherence to the "rugged individualist" strain in our society, just as they have to recognize the communitarian one we espouse.

3.      Gerrymandering-Some states like Iowa and California are looking at creating equal, square districts.

Mr. Begala left us with the hope that the "backlash against the backlash" will take root across the country, as in Pennsylvania, where anger against the Tea Party agenda led to a turnaround.



                                                                                                        by Linda Kolko


Josephine Garner speaks to the group, while Crystal Patterson and Gustavo Torres listen.
The WDC held a very lively and informative Immigration Forum on October 21st at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Over 70 people were in attendance, representing the diversity of Montgomery County.  Several State political leaders attended the event including Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20), Delegate Tom Hucker (D-20), Representative Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-18) and Representative Susan Lee (D-16).


After a welcome by WDC president Beth Tomasello and speaker introductions by Lucy Freeman, the speakers got down to business.   


Crystal Patterson, Director of Communications for Immigration at the Center for American Progress, gave an excellent overview of the status of the current Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill.  Crystal thinks CIR may pass because Congress needs to pass something and this bill may be the most feasible. The 1986 immigration bill which became law was under 100 pages while the 2013 Senate bill is 1200 pages.  The CIR debate has brought together a broad coalition of conservatives (even Grover Norquist!), business leaders, unions, faith communities and most economists. All House Democrats and 80 House Republicans support CIR.   Why?  Because of the need to bring the 11.4 million undocumented workers out of the shadows; net migration has been zero; the increasing diversity of the U.S.  population, our shifting demographics, and because immigration is a net positive for the U.S.  


The Center for American Progress completed a study in March 2013 on the 10-year economic impact of immigration reform.  If the Senate bill is passed, in 10 years, the U.S. gross domestic product of GDP will grow by an additional $832 billion. For a copy of the report, click here


What would the new CIR law mean for American workers? The immigrants bring different skill sets and once they can work legally, there will be a demand for more goods and services which produces more jobs.   Every part of the U.S. border is monitored at enormous cost to the country. In addition to pushing unauthorized immigrants underground, their housing is very transient and few own homes.  This alone is a great economic loss for the U.S.
Besides the positive economic impact, why should we support comprehensive immigration reform? More than half of the foreign born persons living in the U.S. are home owners. Children of immigrants are more likely to go to college than are native born Americans. 

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland, gave a spirited presentation from an activist perspective.  CASA is 28 years old and currently provides the following services: three welcome centers with over 1000 students in their English classes, enrollment of people in Obamacare, employment legal assistance, computer training, job placement services, and Spanish literacy classes. The majority of workers at CASA's welcome centers are now Africans. Eighteen percent of the population of Montgomery County is Hispanic. However, 60% of Marylanders voted for the DREAM Law and more than1,000 Dreamers are now starting college in Maryland.  Allowing people to obtain a driver's license without proof of legal residency is the most important issue to undocumented immigrants because it gives them an identity. During the Obama administration, over 2 million people have been deported. On the other hand, President Obama signed an executive order in 2012 called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") which grants young undocumented immigrants two-year employment authorization, which can be renewed.  Gustavo advised the audience that no one is going to stop advocating until CIR is passed. There is currently a push for DACA for adults, which President Obama can authorize with an Executive Order. CASA is also promoting the living wage bill.   


Josephine Garnem, Chair of Montgomery County African Affairs Advisory Group, spoke about the African immigrants in Montgomery County. One-third of the African immigrants in the U.S. are from West Africa. Continental Africans comprise 3% of the U.S. population and the majority were not U.S citizens in 2007.  Forty percent of African born immigrants have college degrees. Most African immigrants came to the U.S. because of political strife, and more are deported than other immigrant groups. The Continental Africans have the highest unemployment rate of any immigrant group, despite the fact that a large portion of Africans arrive with a high level of education and professional skill that they cannot use because of restrictive professional licensing requirements in the U.S. Many come from countries where there is a great mistrust of their governments. Some African immigrants have temporary status in the U.S. because of their political situations back in their home countries. The African Affairs Advisory Group works closely with CASA de Maryland.Josephine ended her presentation by asking the audience, if we want to be a stronger, more diverse America, to pass CIR.


The panelists and audience had a lively question and answer session with questions on a number of issues.  These include: County ESL programs in the schools (the Senate bill includes $100 million for English classes and civic integration) and what happens to the Social Security funds many undocumented workers are contributing (the Senate bill doesn't address this). How can we get our African community involved? People are afraid to come out of the shadows. The African Affairs Advisory Group is doing outreach in churches and  mosques to tell African immigrants that their voices matter.  The group felt that the Immigration Forum was  a great start as African immigrants need to be recognized  and become involved and engaged in the political process.     


Unions are in the forefront of CIR as they fought against the guest workers program because of the feeling that it can be a license to exploit workers.   Does the CIR bill facilitate a path to citizenship? Undocumented individuals can get green cards reasonably quickly but there is a ten-year path to citizenship. The speakers agreed that the Senate bill is pretty good but could be better as only 8 million will benefit.  What happens to 3 million who remain undocumented? Once the bill is passed, there needs to be a push for more progressive immigration policies.  The presenters received a hearty round of applause and the audience left energized to advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and appreciated the knowledge they obtained that evening.  WDC performed a great service to our community by sponsoring this event and we look forward to organizing additional timely and relevant programs that benefit our very diverse county.      




Gustavo Torres Speaks to the Attendees 








There were two Obamacare House Parties held during the month of October: one at Carmela Cowgill's home on October 9th and the other at Beth Tomasello's home on October 30th .

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


Linda Kolko


IMG_0151.jpegAs the third vice president of the WDC, Linda Kolko is responsible for organizing the candidate forums and assisting the program committee.  Originally from New York City, Linda earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Vermont, then served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize teaching mathematics.  She is now happily retired after forty years of federal service, mostly at the Inter-American Foundation and the Peace Corps, where she managed international development assistance programs in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.   Linda also owns a small business in Miami Beach.   


Coming from a good New York Republican family, Linda's first campaign was working for NYC Mayor John Lindsay, a charismatic, liberal Republican---perfect candidate for a teenage girl.  


Linda worked on President Obama's 2008 campaign in Virginia, and as the Takoma Park Neighborhood Team Leader for the 2012 Obama campaign, she coordinated closely with the WDC on many phone banking and canvassing events.  In 2012, after attending a WDC program on Obamacare and health care advocacy, she was so impressed with the program that she joined the club immediately.

Linda volunteers for various local organizations related to poverty reduction. She has lived in Takoma Park since 1986. Linda is a widow with three stepchildren and three grandchildren, two of whom live in DC and one who attends college in New York City.




I enjoy reading non-fiction, especially such well written books as Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts-a fascinating book about the U.S. ambassador to Nazi Germany in the early 1930's.  Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an outstanding account of life in a slum outside of the Mumbai airport.  I was so impressed with how she won the trust of the family she features in the book, so we get a truly in-depth account of their daily lives, local politics and the truly horrific conditions in which they live.



I love reading The New Yorker, The New York Times and of course The Washington Post.  



I just saw "Captain Phillips"-what an excellent movie-and was on the edge of my seat. It was nice for a change to feel good about the USA.   I also thoroughly enjoyed Woody Allen's latest, "Blue Jasmine"-a tough movie, funny at times, but so on target in his depiction of relationships.  Besides "Downton Abbey," I enjoy "Boardwalk Empire" (fascinating period piece-though very violent this season), "The Newsroom" and "Glee" (hey, I like the music and dancing!)  My favorite museums are the National Museum of the American Indian, the American Art Museum and the National Botanic Garden.  



I enjoy listening to the "Kojo Nnamdi Show" to get a pulse on the local scene; Michel Martin's "Tell me More" for diverse points of view, especially the Beauty and Barber shop segments; and "Car Talk"-always hilarious!  


My music tastes run from Bellini to Beyoncé with some Gipsy Kings and Matisyahu in between.



Since I am an avid recreational cyclist, I have enjoyed several bike trips to the Burgundy region of France, California wine country and Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.  A trip to the Galapagos Islands, where I was adopted by a University of Texas/Austin alumni group, was fascinating.   Get there soon--before the big cruise ships ruin the ecology of the islands.



I enjoyThe New Yorker James Surowiecki's insightful columns on the economy and Jon Lee Anderson's investigative reporting on the various rebel groups throughout the world. I am constantly amazed how he is able to get some of the roughest terrorists, rebel leaders and criminals to trust him enough to share their stories.  



My favorite politician is President Obama. I continue to be inspired by his life history, his oratory and how he is conducting his presidency during an unbelievably contentious time in our history.



I thoroughly enjoyed being a Neighborhood Team Leader for the 2012 Obama campaign, as I learned so much about community organizing, met so many absolutely  terrific people, and never worked so hard in my life-but it was worth every minute!


Most Urgent and/or Most Important POLITICAL ISSUE

I am very committed to comprehensive immigration reform and I'm quite disappointed with our House of Representatives, who won't even debate the Senate bill.  We are a nation of immigrants and the time is now for the 11 million undocumented workers to come out of the shadows and begin a path towards citizenship.






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 need a manager for our Facebook page and 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 .






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