Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Progressive Update--06/13/2007

Presidential Candidates—With eighteen months to go, we are already being flooded with news stories of the candidates—who is raising the most money, who is ahead in New Hampshire polls, etc. There are periodic debates which offer you the ability to hear several of them speak to issues that matter to you—the Occupation of Iraq, healthcare reform, restoring integrity to government. There are ‘debate parties’ where you can join with others who like your preferred candidate. Every candidate has at least one website where you can find out their positions on issues, how to contribute, and how to volunteer.

I asked my friend Matt Kerbel, professor at Villanova University, to comment on the current crop of candidates (both Democratic and Republican) and, like always, he has wonderful insight:

It's too early to say anything with authority about the individual candidates, although it's clear from any number of measures that there is real excitement and satisfaction on the Democratic side and resignation on the Republican side. In my view, the field of Republican candidates, taken collectively, is the weakest either party has assembled since the Democrats offered the "seven dwarfs" in 1988 (the Dukakis debacle). This is in line with the extreme disarray we've been seeing on the Republican side, the result of Bush doing to conservatism what he has done to Iraq. It's hard to know what conservatives stand for at this point, and that's evident when you listen to the candidates debate. I don't think there is a single president in the lot -- Fred Thompson included.

Although Hillary continues to lead national polls, perhaps the most significant inside baseball story thus far is her failure to knock out her opponents with superior fundraising. Obama almost outraised her in the first quarter, and word is he will do exactly that in the second quarter, drawing on a larger base of small contributors. Without that knock-out punch, there is room for others to compete -- Obama for sure, but don't rule out Edwards, who continues to lead in Iowa. Gore was and is the big wild card. I still wouldn't be surprised if he gets in, and if he does I think it's his to lose, because he'll command a powerful combination of grassroots and institutional support. Although I can see the appeal of Obama/Gore [PSB: I raised this with Matt earlier], he would never take the number two job again. Gore/Obama, on the other hand, has tremendous appeal.

National Issues—The ACLU is organizing a Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice, on June 26th in Washington. For more information go to There are free buses leaving from Delaware.

I imagine that, like me, you are frustrated that despite the clear voice of the voters in November, and a Democratic party majority in both houses of Congress, we seem no closer to ending the Iraq Occupation. I agree with Howard Dean, that we won’t be able to end the madness until the country places a Democrat into the White House. There are too many Republicans continuing to ‘stand by their man’, the Failure in Chief, and the Democratic majority isn’t strong enough to override Bush’s vetoes. Jeff Feldman, author of FrameShopIsOpen (see next paragraph), notes that the party is rightly taking the necessary first step of reclaiming Congress’ share of the federal government’s power, power which the Republican party surrendered to Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush for six years, and that this step needs to be successful before and end can be found for the Occupation.

Next week, from the 18th to the 20th, there is a progressive conference in DC, the Take Back America 2007 conference. It has most of the Democratic candidates speaking, along with many, many liberals. I read about it at where you can learn more, and register.

There are a wide range of progressive issues at the national level (the increasingly political Supreme Court reversing its own precedents to move towards re-criminalizing abortion, for instance), and I don’t mean to neglect them. My recommendation is that you 1) find the issues that matter most to you, 2) learn what you can about them, to help you frame your viewpoint, and 3) share your view with your legislators and the media. To find your legislator, go to, and enter your nine-digit zip code on the top left side panel. You get the names and contact information on your national and state elected representatives.

Delaware Legislation—The News Journal ran an article or two this past weekend on the Delaware state legislature’s pattern of desk drawer vetoes, the manner in which committee chairs let bills die in their committee by never letting their committee consider them, and in this manner never letting the House or Senate decide on the issue. This pattern is alive an well in Dover this year.

Open Government--Democratic-backed House Bill 70 (simple, clear, effective) is in the House House Administration Committee for the past three months (the legislature only works six months a year). Republican-backed House Bill 60 (innumerable loopholes) is in the same committee. These two bills are designed to remove the exemption that the House and Senate currently have from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Senate Bill 4 is even stronger, including caucuses, and it, too, is dieing a slow death.

Lobbying Reform--Democratic Representative John Kowalko's House Bill 68, which forbids senators and representatives from working as a lobbyist for 1 year after they end their service is in the House House Administration Committee, has been stuck in committee for three motnhs.

Equality--There are two bills designed to provide equal rights for all, and there is an event planned to support these bills. Come to Dover on Thursday May 3rd starting at 12:30pm, for Lobby Day.

Senate Bill 10, which provides healthcare and other employee benefits to domestic partners has been stuck in the Senate Finance Committee for over four months. Senate Bill 9 is not yet introduced, would make it illegal in Delaware to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation. Senate Bill 57 has passed both houses, and awaits Gov Minner’s signature. It 'would expand eligibility for Protection from Abuse orders to those in substantive dating relationships and al cohabitating couples.' House Bill 187 permits hospital patients to designation permitted visitors, including domestic partners. It came out of committee yesterday, and awaits a House vote.

Stem Cell Research--Senate Bill 5 passed the senate on March 29th, and emerged from the House Health & Human Development Committee on May 2nd. There is much information supporting this effort at, which is also the site where you can donate to support this effort. The site includes an About Senate Bill 5 section, that busts many of the myths that the opponents are spreading. SB5 awaits House vote.

Prison Reform--House Bill 71, which replaces mandatory sentences for drug offenders with empowering judges to set sentences, has been stuck in a Senate committee for two months, having already passed the House. has more information on how this can help 'reduce the injustice, elevated incarcerated population, and excessive cost risked by one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws.'

Insurance--Senate Bill 37 is designed to empower the state Insurance Department to review health insurance premium rates just as they do for auto, homeowner, etc. It passed the Senate last week, and is now in a House committee. Senate Bill 31 would forbid insurance companies from using credit scores in setting auto insurance rates. A Senate Substitute (bill) 1 for SB 31 has been introduced, passed by the Senate, and sits in a House committee for more than a month. Senate Bill 6 will establish a statewide health insurance pool for individuals and small businesses to obtain more favorable rates, was passed by the Senate in April, and sits in a House committee. All of these bills have been introduced in the past and have been blocked by the Republican House, and all have been championed by DE Insurance Commissioner Matt Denn, who is running for Lieutenant Governor next year. House Concurrent Resolution 6 urges Congress and the President to enact a comprehensive universal health insurance act, and has been stuck in committee for over two months.

Poverty--House Concurrent Reslution 16 (by Terry Schooley) seeks to establish a Child Poverty Task Force to study and develop a plan to reduce child poverty in Delaware by 50% in the next ten years. It made it through committee, but sits in the House for over a month.

National Guard--House Joint Resolution 4 urges Congress and the President to pass Senate Bill 513 and House 869, which returns control of the Delaware National Guard for domestic purposes from the President to the Governor. It passed the House in May and the Senate in last week, and awaits Governor Minner’s signature.

Volunteering--Go to for information on volunteer opportunities in Delaware.

Paul S Baumbach

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