Norma Schatz March 2020 Letter

To Plymouth Harbor Democrats…and others who care                   March, 2020

    Presidential Primary is March 17. Vote By Mail Ballots have been sent our to voters.  If you want and have not received one, call 941/861-8618.  NOTE: if you have a VBM ballot and decide to vote in person, be sure to bring that VBM ballot with you or you will not be allowed to vote.    
    Some thoughts in tax season.  The Trump tax bill of 2017, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, gave one percent of Americans 83% of the benefits. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that this year that one percent will get an average tax cut of around $50,000.  CEO pay jumped 7% while typical workers at all of the top 500 U.S. corporations received a 3% pay increase.  Federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, with an estimated 17% drop in purchasing power.  Federal tipped minimum wage is still $2.13 an hour! Sixty profitable Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes on billions in profits in 2018, some even received tax rebates.  In addition to the cut in the corporate tax rate, most tax breaks and loopholes were left in that legislation; the wealthy still had their tax havens. And the budget for the IRS has been cut, making staffing and investigation more difficult. Current proposals  include recalculating the poverty line to lower the number of people the government would classify as poor with access to assistance and health programs, changing the basis on which Social Security is calculated, and changing the law on Medicaid to a program of limited state grants.
    That 2017 tax bill included the so-called Opportunity Zones. Lauded by Trump as revitalizing low-income and impoverished neighborhoods, in practice the gentrification of neighborhoods in too many areas has pushed out old neighbors and mainly benefitted real estate investors and developers. (The Inspector General of the Treasury Dept has opened an inquiry into this program.)
    The Trump Federal Budget for 2021 is unlikely at be approved by this Congress, but gives a clear road map to the direction he and the GOP would take the country if reelected.  The military gets another increase with some of it ($2 Billion plus $8B from the current military budget) going to the border wall.  To make up the trillions lost to the Treasury from the tax bill,  the cuts in his budget include $850 Billion from Medicare, $135 Billion from Medicaid; $70 Billion from Social Security (where already offices have been closed and staff reduced).  Some further cuts include 21% from the State Dept,, 26% from Environmental Protection (by eliminating 50 of its programs and cutting Research and Development in half), 75% from the Office of Energy Efficiency and elimination of the Dept of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects, reduction in financial aid for college, most of Land and Water Conservation Fund.    In the Trump/GOP lexicon fraud and waste occur only in safety net programs but not in the Pentagon budget.  A frightening policy implication is the very large allocation to Departments of Defense and Energy for nuclear weapons and a decrease in investment in diplomacy  

    The Supreme Court on March 4 will hear June Medical Services v Gee that puts women’s reproductive freedom at risk.  Though a similar case was declared unconstitutional in 2016, Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are now on the Court.  

     In Tallahassee, thoughts and prayers abound but bills to ban assault weapons and close gun show loopholes will die. Before the session ends March 14th, the Republican Senate and the Republican House will try to compromise on budgets and issues  that include verifying immigrant worker status and increased pay for teachers.  Florida is 47th in the nation for teacher pay and faces a teacher shortage. No permanent resolution yet in the fight between Gov. DeSantis and the Court on allowing ex-felons to vote.  Still alive and under consideration: the Parents Bill of Rights  allowing public school parents to opt children out of a course or class that they don’t approve of; limiting abortion; revising/relaxing professional licensing; limiting citizen generated initiatives.   For specifics and status of bills go to Legiscan.com/fl. Click on Search and enter the subject that interests you and search will list any bills related to that subject.
    
    Some tine to volunteer?  Go to www.sarasotadems.org or call 941/330-9400.
    Norma H. Schatz…x360…nrma520@yahoo.com

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Vote in Florida as a Snowbird

How to Vote in Florida even if You are a Snowbird

 

LBKDC_Logo_2.jpgDid you know that you can register to vote in Florida even if you do not spend six months and a day here? The so-called  183-day rule is one used by many states for taxation purposes -- but has nothing to do with voter registration in Florida.

Looking ahead to the critical election of 2020, your vote is likely to be much more important in Florida than in a so-called “blue” state:  Whoever wins Florida is likely to win the presidency.

If you own or rent property in Florida and intend to be a resident, you can register to vote here.  According to Florida law, what matters is where a person intends to make his or her permanent residence for purposes of voter registration.  You can be both a legal voting resident of Florida and a taxpaying resident of another state. (You must give up your right to vote in your alternate state.)

Here is what you need to do to register in Florida:

Complete the Florida Voter Registration Form, attached here, and mail it to the address for your county shown on the back of the form.

Question 5 - Provide the last four digits of your Social Security number, assuming you do not have a Florida Driver License or what is referred to as a Florida ID Card. (Most people don’t.)

Question 7 - “Address Where You Live” - Provide your Sarasota or Manatee address.

Question 8 - “Mailing Address” - State where you want the Voter Information Card sent.  The Supervisor of Elections (SOE) will mail your Voter Information Card to your preferred mailing address.

Question 9 - “Address Where You Were Last Registered to Vote” - Provide your most recent voting address so that the SOE can contact your previous jurisdiction to cancel your voter registration there.

To get your ballot mailed to you after you are registered, sign up to Vote by Mail.  In Sarasota County you may sign up to Vote by Mail at www.sarasotavotes.com or call 941-861-8618. In Manatee, go to www.votemanatee.com or call 941-741-3823, ext. 3. 

If you need more information, email Barbara Katz at barbara.katz@sarasotadems.org.

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The Campus Origins of Today’s Radical Right and the Crisis of American Democracy

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LBKDC Luncheon Speakers - October 2019 through March 2020

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE OCTOBER 4TH LUNCHEON WITH DALE ANDERSON STARTS AT 11:00 a.m. AT THE SARASOTA YACHT CLUB.  ALL OTHER LUNCHEONS BEGINNING IN NOVEMBER START AT 11:30 a.m.

 

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Mike Himowitz Presented on Threats to a Free Press

Former News Editor Mike Himowitz Spoke on Threats to our Free Press at the LBKDC March 12 Luncheon

 

Board Member Lucie Lapovsky introduced Mike Himowitz, who spent 34 years at the Baltimore Sun papers as state news editor, Washington correspondent, Baltimore County Bureau Chief,

Science, Medical and Technology editor and other positions.

Mike_Himowitz.jpgMike spoke to us on the topic of Roosevelt, Trump, Craigslist and the Media in Peril.  How do I dare mention Donald Trump and FDR in the same breath?” he asked.  Both understood the importance of new technology.  Roosevelt’s fireside chats were used to promote a radical agenda, The New Deal.  He spoke directly to the American people using radio.  Trump bypasses the traditional media and speaks directly to the American people by using Twitter.  Trump’s Twitter account has, according to CNN over 50 million followers.  Sadly, the traditional media feels obliged to repeat Trump’s Twitter rants regardless of how trivial some of them may be.  As the press criticizes Trump, it feeds on his paranoia.

“My sole credential is that I lived through the drastic changes that have transformed the media over the past few decades.  There have been many sad trends in news reporting. The market penetration of print media is much lower today than it was years ago.   “This has not been a good decade for reporters,” he told us.  There have been huge layoffs of reporters, and today’s reporters cannot get rich on a median salary that, as of 2017, is lower than school teachers who are underpaid.   When I began, the newspaper industry's profit margin was 40%, today it is 10%.   Market penetration of the print media has dropped drastically.  Large numbers of newspaper reporters have been laid off since 2007.  These sorry trends have occurred across our country.  From my own standpoint, he said, despite all of these stressors, I loved journalism because I got paid to satisfy my curiosity.

The Sun, like many other papers, was clueless with regards to the Internet. The internet, which has nurtured propaganda vehicles, has in many ways replaced the traditional news media.  We can now pick our news sources in the Cloud to support our biases.  Internet news has become an echo chamber host for propaganda machines, Fox News for Republicans and MSNBC for Democrats.  Millennials get much of their news from Facebook where there are no checks on accuracy.  Cable caused young people to begin to abandon print media in the 1980s.  Many print media sources have closed since the beginning of 2000.  The New York Daily News has laid off over half of its staff.  Companies that own both internet news sources and print news have sold off their print news.

In the old model, stories were written by experienced reporters and checked for accuracy by editors.  News reporting was separated from opinion columns.  This separation has increasingly been blurred and all but disappeared on the internet.  There is no way to totally eliminate bias from news reporting, but editors did their best to separate fact from opinion.  The free access to large volumes of shared information on the internet has nurtured malicious actors and fake news sites.  Today, anyone with a web address can become a publisher.  All of this has coarsened the quality of discussion and led to greatly heightened polarity in our political environment. And, it is easier for foreign countries to interfere in our politics.

Internet advertising services such as Craigslist, founded in 1996 by Craig Newmark, and eBay have also had a major negative impact on print media by replacing a primary source of revenue: classified ads.  Craiglist has 68 million users in the U.S.  Craigslist is free to most users.   

So, what’s left?  The largest print media newspapers are the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times.  Even these traditional news sources have cut their staffs and their profit margins are suffering. 

All this has made it more difficult for citizens to understand the reality of current politics and to evaluate the real performance of those that are elected to office.  The most disheartening aspect of all of this, Himowitz told us, is the dissolution of the boundary between news and opinion.  Even traditional newspapers, such as the Washington Post, have blurred the line between the two.   Although the traditional print media has faced its challenges for many decades, nothing compares with the drastic changes that have occurred over the past few decades, and especially the last decade.

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Organizing Corps 2020

Organizing Corps 2020 Program Overview:

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Thank you for supporting the Florida Democratic Party’s Organizing Corps 2020 and our efforts to build the talent and infrastructure needed to win in 2020. Together we’re investing in the next generation of local and diverse staff for the 2020 general election and beyond.

  • CORE PROGRAM: The DNC, the Florida Democratic Party and 6 other state Democratic parties, in partnership with 270 Strategies and The Collective PAC, have launched Organizing Corps 2020 —a new program, starting in 2019, focused on recruiting, paying, and training young people, especially people of color, to work on the 2020 presidential cycle!
  • APPLICATIONS: We are accepting applications on a rolling basis through April 8, and students can apply at www.organizingcorps2020.com
  • KEY DATES: June 10-August 2, and the program includes: a five-day national training kick-off followed by Corps members working with their local Democratic party to turn their training into on-the-ground learning through voter engagement.
  • PAY: Corps members can earn $4,000 while gaining valuable career skills in leadership, project management, and communication.
  • GOALS: Train 1,000 Corps members over the next year to join the team of the eventual Democratic presidential nominee and help elect Democrats up and down the ticket in 2020. Our first wave of the program targets college juniors this summer. We plan on running the second wave of this program for non-college students next year.




How You Can Help:

 

Below are the key things you can do to help us recruit corps members.

 

  • SHARE OUR FLYER to local colleges and youth groups.
    • Sample language: We are excited about Organizing Corps 2020, a program to recruit and train students and place them as field organizers in the key states needed to win in 2020!
    • Printable bulletin board flyer:

      Click to Download: Bulletin Board Flyer
  • AMPLIFY us on social media using @orgcorps2020 on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram
    • Sample Twitter content: If we want to beat Trump in 2020, we’ve got to build the infrastructure now to win — apply to @fladems @orgcorps2020! They will train and pay the next generation of organizers. Apply and RT so your friends will too! www.organizingcorps2020.com #oc2020 #democrats
    • Sample Facebook content: Calling all Florida college juniors: Do you want to help Democrats take back the White House in 2020? Apply for Organizing Corps 2020, our new program that recruits, trains, and pays young organizers. Learn more here: www.organizingcorps2020.com  
    • See all of the sample social media content at the top of this page.
  • RECRUIT other amplifiers to help spread the word and make sure as many people as possible know about this opportunity and apply here: www.organizingcorps2020.com
  • RECOMMEND students who have already applied by emailing  apply@organizingcorps2020.com

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Foreign policy expert, Gary Massel, presents at our February 12 luncheon

Gary_Massel_2.pngOur large attendance at the February 12 LBKDC luncheon enjoyed a timely and stimulating presentation on the Rise of Populism by Gary Massel.   Board member Robert Gary introduced Massel, who has a Ph.D in Physics, and held various high level positions in the federal government Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense before a successful career in private industry.   In the early 1970s he was a member of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) support staff. He currently teaches foreign policy at the LBK Education Center.

Gary Massel started by describing a “Populist” as a political leader who sees society in a simple way, divided into two opposing groups - the common people, and the corrupt “liberal elite”. The Populist leader claims to represent the will of the people.  Massel told us that the rise of populism poses a threat to the world order that has existed since World War II and has produced significant gains in economic growth, reductions in global poverty, and peace between the major powers. 

So, what are the principal drivers of the growth of populism and how does the current U.S. administration compare with other populist governments?

There are two types of democracy, liberal and illiberal.  In a liberal democracy citizens choose their government and that government guarantees the protection of individual rights as is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  In an illiberal democracy citizens choose their government, but that government does not then support the institutions and personal freedoms that ensure the government remains responsive to the people. 

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Important Gun Bills in Florida Legislature

 

State Gun Control

The 2019 session of the Florida Legislature starts today. Continue to call your representatives and ask them to support HR135, the state background check bill.

Nation Gun Control
Last week was huge for gun violence prevention, with the House passing both the Background Check Bill (HR8) and the Charleston Loophole Bill (HR1112). Rep. Vern Buchanan did not vote in favor of the latter, but we continue to encourage you to thank him for being one of eight Republicans who crossed the aisle and voted in favor of HR8. His contact numbers are (941) 951-6643 in Sarasota, (941) 747-9081 in Bradenton and (202) 225-5015 in Washington. Rep. Greg Steube voted “no” on both bills, so if you’d like to tell him you disapprove, his numbers are (941) 575-9101 in Punta Gorda and (202) 225-5792 in Washington.
 
Now, on to the Senate, where you are encouraged to call three people and tell them you back S42, the Senate version of the background check bill: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he will not bring the bills to the floor; and our two Florida senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Remind them that there have been far too many mass shootings, single homicides, accidental shootings and suicides in this country and background checks are bound to stop some of them. While you’re at it, thank Sen. Rubio for filing a bill for national ERPOs (extreme risk prevention orders) on the national level. And tell McConnell that 97 percent of Americans support background checks and he owes it to all of us to let the bill be heard.
McConnell’s DC office: (202) 224-2541 (you can also contact him by going to www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=contact.
Rubio’s DC office: (202) 224-304. His Tampa office: (813) 853-1099.
Scott’s DC Office: (202) 224-5274. His Tallahassee office: (850) 942-8415
 

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Futurist David Houle Presented a Vision for the Democratic Party at our January 8 Luncheon

David_Houle_3.pngBoard member Robert Gary introduced David Houle, by quoting Spanish educator Miguel de Unamuno who said, “We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past.” Known as The CEO’s Futurist, our speaker has spoken to or advised 4,000+ CEOs and business owners in the past eleven years, and has published several books including Entering the Shift Age and The New Health Age.

Given our unease with the Trump Administration, our uncertainty as to who should lead our party going into the 2020 election, and the issues that we should emphasize, Houle’s presentation, “A Look at the Future of the Democratic Party Through the 2020 Election and Beyond” was eagerly anticipated by an overflow crowd.

“I am a Democrat, I grew up in Chicago with a love of politics and early-on was smitten with John F. Kennedy.”   Houle became a futurist in 2007 after a successful 20-year career in the media and entertainment, working at NBC, CBS,  MTV, Nickelodeon, and CNN Headline News.

He predicted that the Democratic Party on a national level is set-up to be dominant through 2028 provided that we do not become preoccupied with the past including the 2018 elections. The Republican Party is focused on the past and obstructionism.  Democrats must convince the public that their leaders can deal with enormous challenges that lay ahead.

Forecasting who our Presidential candidate will be at this point is a “fools errand”.  Who would have predicted, for example, well before the 2008 convention, that Senator Barack Obama, a black man, with little experience, and with a Muslim name, would be the 2008 candidate for the Democrats?

The Democratic Party should stay away from attacking Donald Trump, which Houle referred to as “small ball.”  He quoted Wayne Gretzky who, when asked why he was the greatest hockey player in history answered: “I skate to where the puck is going to be.”

We need to rethink what it means to be Progressive. Democrats should focus on the issues that will be critical in 2020, 2022 and 2024.  To do this we must be analytical, disciplined and prepared to take risks.   For example, despite our preoccupation with a growing aging population, the youth vote is critical.  By 2020 millennials will be a large part of the electorate, and thus demographics favor the Democrats if we can get the youth vote to the polls.  Houle told us that the 18-34 age-group voter turnout was very high in those states where marijuana legalization was on the ballot.

Our global economy is fragile and will continue to be so going into the next election and beyond. There is $270 trillion in debt in the global economy, which is larger than it was in 2008, before the last major recession.  The voting public is and will continue to be very sensitive to economic issues.  Voters will be looking for a candidate who they trust to turn around a recession, should one occur.   

The Democratic Party does not have a clear position on immigration, a huge challenge worldwide.  A position based on “We are a nation of immigrants” is not sufficient.  By 2025 immigration will be much greater than it is today, stimulated by world climate problems, population growth and conflicts between nations.  Houle asked, “How would we deal with five to ten million climate change refugees?”  Climate change refugees from Syria have already flocked into North America and Europe. As the numbers of immigrants grow, will we continue to be a nation open to immigrants?  We must have immigration laws that reflect this future reality.  The development of these laws will not be easy and voters are likely to be very divided on the solutions.

So, which of our candidates is prepared to deal with the global economy, geopolitical challenges, health care, climate change and  the myriad of problems facing our nation and the world over the next decade?  Who is prepared to take on the international "bad dudes" such as exist in China, Iran, North Korea and Russia?  Democrats should be the party to begin the discussion of 21st century thought. The Republicans are not prepared to do this.

Going forward, the Democrats must be The Vision Party.

Information about Futurist David Houle

Website: https://davidhoule.com/

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Political Reality in February, 2019 as Seen By Norma Schatz

To Plymouth Harbor Democrats...and others who care February, 2019

The fossil fuel giants will have their way with this administration – and threaten our beaches. From US News 1/15/19: Things are happening at the federal level that impact oil drilling and, potentially, Florida. In November, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued "incidental harassment authorizations" that will allow five companies to use seismic airguns to explore potential oil and gas fields off the Atlantic coast from Delaware to Cape Canaveral in central Florida. (The “incidental harassment” is to sea life.) Attorneys General from 10 states (but not Florida) and several conservation groups are suing the fisheries service and its boss, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in an effort to impede the seismic survey process... Meanwhile, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is about to grant drilling permits, authorizing action after the seismic surveys locate fertile fields. Also, if Congress does nothing to extend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, a moratorium on oil drilling and exploration, it will expire in 2022. Environmentalists say the subsequent legal vacuum would invite drilling in the eastern Gulf, close to Florida's west coast. Taking us further backward, Trump proposes allowing construction of new coal plants without any meaningful pollution safeguards.

And the swamp gets swampier. The nominee for head of EPA Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist, acknowledged he hasn’t even read the full report written by experts at his own agency on climate change – and plans to pursue deregulation of dangerous mercury emissions and relax fuel emissions standards. Scott Hutchins, nominated as chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be the third member of Dow AgroSciences’ pesticide and seed division to hold a high-level position in the administration’s USDA. Lobbyists from Big Pharma now in Health and Human Services, Boeing execs in Defense, fossil fuel and water industry lobbyist at Interior; our U.N. Rep is a former Fox News person. Factoid: EPA criminal action against polluters hit a 30 year low in 2018 in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution. Enforcement activities have also been curtailed at the Consumer Financial Protection Board, designed as a consumer watchdog agency. Are we moving more and more to a Government of and by the Corporations?                                                                                                Some good news: the U.S. House of Representatives will hold hearings on gun violence.

And in Florida – Gov. DeSantis wasted no time appointing three conservative judges to the highest state court (one not ever having been a judge but very conservative) and calling for a “Florida Deregathon”. One can only hope that what the Governor calls “hurting our businesses”, ”costly “ and stifling competition, some of the deregulation will not endanger the physical or financial health of the average Floridian when licensing requirements are relaxed. It's more than a month til the Florida legislature is in session for voting on bills. But committees are meeting, hearing and moving on proposals. In Education, requiring public schools to offer elective Bible courses and for the teaching of “controversial” science theories and concepts in a “factual, objective and balanced manner” (possibly challenging climate science and evolution). There has yet to be clarification as to whether the return of voting rights will be made difficult. Again religious and political rather than medical opinion are shaping women's reproductive rights and access to a legal medical procedure. Bills have been submitted to limit access to abortion to 20 weeks (federal law, now in jeopardy, is 24 weeks) and to 6 weeks (when a woman may not even know she is pregnant).

Some dates of interest: Feb 5 – 6 p.m. Selby Library; Dr. Dale Anderson on How Fascism Works; no charge. Feb 11 – 7 p.m. Dem Club of SRQ & Dem Environmental Caucus; Futurist David Houle on Climate Change; info & reservation: <www.sarasotadems.com>. Feb 12 – LBK lunch; info at <www.lbkdems.com>.. Feb 24 – Democratic Party King-Kennedy Dinner; info & reservation: <www.sarasotadems.org/event/kennedyking2019/>.

Your comments and suggestions welcomed here.

Norma Schatz...T-1501...x360...nrma520@yahoo.com

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