Friday, September 28, 2007

Progressive Update--09/28/2007

Politics Still Stinks in DelawareJust when you thought that it was safe to feel good about living in Delaware

Crusty, conservative ‘Democrat’ James Vaughn announced on Wednesday the 26th that he was resigning his seat as the 14th district state Senator. He has worked with fellow crusty, conservative ‘Democrats’ Thurman Adams and Nancy Cook to prevent Delaware’s state senate from serving the people. The three ‘crust-kateers’ for years have ruled by iron fists. Adams assigns bills he dislikes to committees chaired by his two buddies, who issue a ‘desk drawer veto’, preventing them from being heard by their committee, and therefore preventing them from reaching the senate floor for a vote. Adams and his buddies continue to vote down a change to senate rules to stop this awful practice.

This oligarchy has permitted good progressive legislation to be held up by a Senate that on paper is in Democrat’s hands, including removing the legislature's exemption from FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act. The Senate isn’t really in Democratic hands, it is in the hands of Adams and his conservative cronies, who have corrupted the entire concept of democracy.

There was hope. Vaughn has been ill for many, many months. He was unable to campaign last fall, and he never made it a single day to work at Dover this year. While I am sorry for his medical problems, and the stress on him and his family and friends, this clearly brought hope that a more reasonable ‘replacement’ could be found. There is a parallel to China, where the population had to wait years until Mao’s generation of leaders had to die off before the next generation of leaders could emerge and offer an alternative vision of the future for the country.

We’re still waiting in Delaware. A few hours after Vaughn submitted his resignation, a joint meeting of the three Representative Districts making up the 14th senatorial district met and unanimously selected state representative Bruce Ennis to run for the vacated seat. Out of the fire, into the frying pan. Did I mention that Ennis was essentially hand-picked by Vaughn, that he is a good buddy to Thurman Adams? I criticized Wayne Smith, the Republican House Majority Leader who resigned to take a job (the next day) as a lobbyist, handpicked his neighbor to run for his seat. Fortunately, the voters of his district rejected this chutzpah and voted in Democrat Bryon Short. Vaughn and Adams have lowered themselves to Smith's level, and continued 'the Delaware way' of backdoor politics at its worst.

Why wasn’t there some public notice for this important meeting where a candidate would be selected, without a primary, to run as ‘the Democrat’ for this seat? The Democratic Party’s rules must be changed to open up this process. Go to your RD committee and push for this, or else we'll be stuck in this time warp for years to come!

I am incensed that Delaware’s state senate can be run by old-guard professional politicians arguably as bad as President Bush’s worst cronies. I had hoped that when Vaughn eventually resigned, a ‘real Democrat’, one who believes in representing the people, not his power brokers, would replace him, and would help tilt the Senate, finally, towards democracy. I had hoped that soon the state senate would truly reflect and represent today's Delaware. These hopes were dashed this week.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, stated that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. That was not the case this week in Delaware.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

09/26/2007--James Vaughn finally resigns has the article noting that state Senator James Vaughn is resigning, effective Friday. His health has prevented him from fulfilling his duties this year.

Delaware Grapevine has an article on the resignation at and another article from last election season on Vaughn at

While a Democrat (in name), Vaughn has held up important legislation for years, including legislation prohibiting discrimination in Delaware based on sexual orientation.

There will be an election in a month or two to decide the person to serve as senator from Vaughn’s district 14, in Clayton. The Grapevine notes “The 14th Senatorial District, which spans New Castle County and Kent County along the Delaware River and takes in Delaware City, Middletown, Townsend, Smyrna and parts south, favors the Democrats in registration.”

Progressives should plan to work hard in the next two months to help a 'real Democrat' win the Senate seat for the 14th district.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Progressive Update--09/24/2007

Do-Nothing Democratic Congress—I’ve been hearing a bunch about how the Democrats have not delivered on their promises made before the November 2006 election, that this is a Congress that can’t accomplish anything. Hogwash.

Let’s remember one very important fact, Democrats follow the Constitution. This is in sharp contrast to the current Administration. The Constitution requires that it takes six years for every Senator to be up for re-election. We only had the opportunity to consider one-third of Senators in 2006. The next wave comes up in 14 months.

In the meantime, there are still a bunch of obstructionist Senators, those who believe that President Bush should continue to wage an Occupation of Iraq, or more accurately to defer to the military to make decisions of whether to continue the Occupation of Iraq, Senators who believe that our Reservist soldiers deserve to be in a foreign nation more than to be with their families (or even state-side), Senators who believe in preventing a vote on other critical legislation. These Senators are not wrong, they merely out of touch and no longer reflect the country’s majority. Unfortunately for 160,000 soldiers and unfortunately for every Iraqi citizen, it will take much more time for the country to vote them out of office. That is how our system works. Think of them as lame duck Senators, like our lame duck President. Annoying sons of guns, aren’t they?

Until we clear enough of them out, Congress will move slowly. This is not Pelosi’s fault or Reid’s. It is George Washington’s fault and James Madison’s fault, and the fault of the other framers of the Constitution. Or perhaps, it is bitter medicine that is good for us. I am hopeful that it will serve as a lesson to our country, less we permit our country to be bamboozled again by faux-patriots, and faux-values politicians.

Socialism, Communism—In two very diverse environments this summer, I heard a policy being described as representing or leading to socialism. A nutcase testifying before the Delaware Senate committee claimed that passing legislation that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation is a step towards socialism and communism. A pundit or editorialist claimed that Hillary Clinton’s healthcare program was a step towards socialism.

I suspect that some right-wing think-tank discovered the Socialism is a hot button term for swing-voters, and that they plan to paint all progressive policy as pushing the country towards Socialism (and Communism, it appears that the right-wingers use both terms interchangeably). This appears to be the theme of the scare-tactics that they rely on, now that they can no longer use terrorism and Iraq (since the American people have finally wised up to that strategy).

So what can we do? Again, let’s go back to basics. The preamble of the US Constitution points out that its mission (the constitution) is to, among other goals, to promote the general welfare. I guess that Washington and Madison were Communists well before Karl Marx was born.

Progressives need to hit this head-on. When someone raises that a Democratic presidential candidate’s health care plan (since there are no health care plans by Republican presidential candidates) will lead us to Socialism, don’t be quiet. Ask whether Social Security has helped their parents and grandparents. I know that it did for me, and I appreciate the country standing up for our older citizens. My father died when I was an infant, and I received Social Security benefits when I was a child. This helped to enable me to become a full partner in our society. A social program is not Socialism, rather it is a program designed to benefit society, all of society.

Progressives advocate for social programs such as health care for seniors, for children, and for all Americans, so that fewer Americans fall through the cracks of financial ruin due to the heavy burden of medical care on the uninsured in this country. Progressives believe that our country is strongest when we all stand together, and help each other when one of us stumbles. Progressives further believe that universal healthcare permits our country to better compete in the 21st century, when every major country other than ours provides universal healthcare, and our out-dated, regressive, conservative patchwork healthcare system puts American jobs, productivity, and growth in jeopardy.

The Democratic presidential candidates have a variety of plans, some stronger than others. Let’s not quibble over the details, if this quibbling reduces the likelihood of a Democrat with health care reform making it to the White House next year. Let’s celebrate that every leading Democratic presidential candidate recognizes that Americans demand a change of our current health care system. And let’s celebrate our Democracy (not Socialist system) that permits us to vote to support programs that benefit society, that Promote the General Welfare.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Progressive Update--09/18/2007

New Attorney General—I’m no legal scholar. My day job is as a financial advisor. I smiled when I read a description of how the White House selected the current Treasury Secretary—‘scraping the top of the barrel’. The prior Treasury Secretary was a disaster, despite being a loyal Bushie. The current one actually has some credentials!

It appears that Michael Mukasey, Bush’s nominee for Attorney General, while not found at the top of the barrel, was certainly not found at the bottom of the barrel with the loyal Bushies.

Mukasey is not someone that a Democrat and/or Progressive would have selected. He has some troublesome positions on civil liberties. However on the issue of law versus politics, he appears to place the law on top. This is an extremely refreshing approach after the Gonzalez years.

Senator Leahy is suggesting that the confirmation will require not only information on Mukasey, but also material requested in the past year regarding the US Attorney firings and domestic wiretapping, material that the White House has refused to release, stonewalling the Senate. That certainly sounds reasonable to me.

You MUST Read This—I’m kidding. When you read that headline, aren’t you tempted to skip it? I am. As a culture, we detest being force-fed anything. Why don’t politicians get this?

Delaware is WAY behind in recycling. One reason is that our legislators don’t get it. Their solution is ‘mandatory recycling’. Sure sounds like something I’d oppose. To state the obvious, ‘mandatory recycling’ is a phrase invented by opponents to recycling. Let’s stop being foolish! How about ‘universal recycling’? Words matter!

I heard some headlines about Hillary Clinton’s Health Care Plan this morning. One of the things I heard about her plan, is that all Americans would be required to obtain health insurance. HELLO. Hillary, find your chief health-care strategist and require them to resign.

I haven’t closely examined the specific health plans of the presidential candidates, other than to observe that Democratic candidates have plans, and Republican candidates have none. Before we hammer on one Democratic candidate’s plan let’s at least be thankful that the Democratic Party gets it—it’s Iraq and healthcare, stupid!

The Delegator in Chief—I like the irony of the self-described Decider relinquishing the responsibility of setting the strategy and goals for 160,000 US soldiers occupying a foreign nation. It’s absolutely amazing.

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group identified recommendations, including political, diplomatic, and military steps and goals. How is a general going to ‘bring success’ to this mess? A lame-duck president who isn’t answerable to the country is delegating to a general who isn’t answerable to the country to set policy and strategy for 160,000 troops? It’s madness!

The stated goal was to bring democracy to the Middle East. Well, a majority of Iraqis want us out of Iraq. At this time, we are clearly invaders and occupiers. A majority of Americans wants us out of Iraq. Can’t Bush’s masterful spinmasters turn an end of the occupation into Mission Accomplished—the Sequel?

Paul S Baumbach

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Progressive Update--09/11/2007

On this anniversary of 9/11, let us recommit ourselves to ensuring that this is the last time that politicians have been able to feed on Americans’ fears to mislead our country so very, very badly.

It has been almost two months since I sent out a blast, and updated the blog ( This is not because there has been any material, but rather there has been so much, and I’ve felt worn down, disappointed that many Americans seem to be falling for this ‘success and victory’ garbage, and by the awful job that the mainstream media (ABC, NBC, CBS, and don’t get me started on FOX) has done with sensationalizing ‘news’. The complete abdication of their investigative responsibilities by the media is abhorrent. If I spend too much time dwelling on it, I just get pissed off.

I will try to post one rant a week on the blog, and then send out an email once a month of the recent rants and perhaps new material. I do this primarily as therapy for myself. Let me know if it helps you!


I submitted the following letter to the editor to the Wilmington News Journal on Monday the 10th, and they ran much of it today (the 11th), at . Given that they edited it heavily, I list the original submission, and note in blue the sections that the paper struck.

Do you understand President Bush, or the commercials pushing for continuing the occupation of Iraq? I don’t. I don’t understand what victory can be had at this point. There is no army to defeat, merely civil war and chaos. I don’t understand what success can be had at this point. Bush has vetoed every effort to set conditions and timetables for success. Success that requires a blank-check, of time, money, and lives, is not success, but failure.

US citizens want to end the Occupation of Iraq. This past November we ejected 36 Republican Senators and Representatives who failed to hold Bush accountable, who gave him a blank check in Iraq. While a majority of Senators, including some Republicans, want to end the Occupation, there are not yet enough to override a certain veto by Bush.

Iraqi citizens want to end the Occupation of Iraq. In this week’s ABC/BBC/NHK poll of Iraqi citizens, two-thirds say that political dialogue, security in surge areas, security in other areas, and reconstruction and economic development are worse due to the surge, yes WORSE. 100% of Iraqi citizens polled in Bagdad and Anbar want US troops out NOW. It doesn’t get any clearer than 100%, except if you are Bush, the Denier-in-Chief.

Let’s look at the numbers: 27,767 US combat troops wounded, and 3,762 US combat deaths in Iraq. What has the surge accomplished? 222 more US troops were killed in Iraq in the first half of 2007 versus 2006. While 166,000 US troops served in Iraq for 31 days in August, 0 politicians served in the Iraqi parliament in August. In what fantasy world is this is a path to success, to victory?

As the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman has suggested, you can’t want peace for someone more than they want it themselves. US citizens would welcome a solution which brings order to Iraq, however the Iraqi people clearly don’t want it enough to end their civil strife, and feel that we are more a part of the problem than the solution. What they do want is for US troops to leave. Let’s succeed, by fulfilling the wishes of the US and Iraqi people—let’s end the Occupation of Iraq, now.

More on War—If you live in Delaware, call Congressman Mike Castle at 302-428-1902 to let him know that you have had enough of giving President Bush a blank check in Iraq, and you want Rep Castle to stand up for Americans, for the troops, and for the Iraqi people, and demand and end to the Occupation of Iraq. Call today!

There is a march on Washington DC this Saturday. For more information, contact Pacem in Terris ( at 302-656-2721.

A wonderful movie on Iraq, No End in Sight ( ), is playing the next three nights at 6:30 at the Newark Cinema Center 3. For more information, go to


Republican Senator from Idaho Larry Craig hit the headlines in August based on his actions in a Minneapolis airport men’s room. Some have questioned why his transgressions are newsworthy. Let me weigh in.

Guilt—He pleaded guilty to lewd behavior, a misdemeanor. He claims that he rashly chose to not consult an attorney. I find it extremely hard to believe that a US Senator did not understand the implications of not consulting with an attorney before pleading guilty.

Consenting adults—Some have asked how the alleged crime is criminal. I agree that sexual activity between consenting adults should not be prohibited, however most states prohibit soliciting such activity to be conducted in public places, such as public restrooms. This prohibition certainly seems reasonable.

Innocence—Many of us are learning that there is an entire ‘language’ for soliciting sex in men’s restrooms, and this language appears to be developed such that there can be no innocent miscommunication (when is the last time you moved your foot under the wall and tapped the foot of the person in the next stall over?). I conclude that Senator Craig knew exactly what he was doing when the undercover police officer caught him.

Duplicity—Me thinks the man doth protest too much. Craig has a strong anti-gay voting record in Congress. This raises both anger and compassion. I am angry that our culture, and the Republican Party in particular, forces politicians to put on a false, anti-gay public front. I am sorry that Senator Craig apparently had to hide his orientation from his wife, his adopted children, his colleagues, and constituents. This, to me, is the larger crime.

So What—Senator Craig’s problems this year compel me to work harder to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. In Delaware, Senate Bill 141 is designed to enable Delaware to join Maryland and New Jersey in making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation. If your Delaware state senator is Nancy Cook, Charles Copeland, or John Still, please let them know that you oppose such discrimination, and you would like them to vote to release SB 141 onto the full senate. If you are in another district, please contact your senator and ask them to support voting to pull SB 141 from committee onto the senate floor.

DEfogDEfog stands for Delaware For Open Government. This is a new bipartisan, grass-roots group that is dedicated to open up state government to the people. FOIA is the Freedom of Information Act. When FOIA was passed by the state legislature, they conveniently made themselves exempt. Convenient, isn’t it? Senate Bill 4 is designed to have the General Assembly covered by FOIA.

Jack Markell quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a meeting last night. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he distinguishes between just and injust laws. He states “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.” DEfog wants the General Assembly to follow FOIA itself. It is that simple. There is only one group that opposes this legislation—legislators. It is time to de-fog the Delaware legislature.

Like cockroaches, bad behavior and bad politics run from the light of day. Bring the light of day to Dover, and look for opportunities to work with DEfog to get Senate Bill 4 passed in Dover. Stay tuned for meeting dates and times.

Delaware Governor Primary RaceI heard state treasurer Jack Markell speak last night. I really like this guy. Disappointingly, he and another very good Delaware Democrat, state lieutenant governor John Carney are both running for the same position. I would not hesitate to contribute to a campaign in which Jack Markell is running against a Republican (or a Democrat whom I don’t like). I plan to contribute to the campaign of whomever wins the September 2008 primary, and if the Republican challenger is strong, I will volunteer for him. But I simply refuse to contribute to a campaign that is against a good Democrat.

There is only one way that I will support Markell or Carney in the primary race—if the other candidate turns negative. If that happens, and the opponent keeps on the high road, I will jump in. Thus far, both candidates are keeping it clean and constructive, which we appreciate and expect.

Election SeasonThe Delaware Democratic Party ( is beginning to gear up for the election season. They are looking for neighborhood captains, and to deepen their database of voters. The annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner will be on the riverfront on October 29th. It’s a great high-energy gathering of the faithful!

I will keep an eye out for areas of high need, house (or senate) election districts where we can grab a seat from a Republican, like we did in the 25th with John Kowalko in 2006, and Bryon Short earlier this year. I will also keep an eye out for county and state seats that need some extra help, and will let you know when I see these opportunities

Paul S Baumbach