Thursday, February 21, 2008

Letter to the Editor--02/19/2008--McDowell short on facts

Submitted to Wilmington News Journal, 2/19/2008 17:15

State Senator Harris McDowell wrote a Delaware Voice letter on the 19th. In it he attempted to explain the reasons that his Senate committee has called for yet further hearings on the wind power contract, hearings that the News Journal staff has rightly identified as unnecessary foot-dragging. His letter contained significant mis-information.

He claims that the four state agencies were unable to agree to approve the contract in December. Actually, there were three state agencies, which all support the contract, and the Controller General, who answers to ‘the leadership’, including Senator McDowell himself. Why did these ‘leaders’ compel the Controller General to disagree with the experts, and stall this process?

McDowell claims surprise at objections to public hearings. What he fails to mention is that there have already been a number of public hearings and staff reports. He appears to feel that hearings that he failed to attend did not occur. I am disappointed that Senator McDowell would prefer to grandstand than to take the time to read the transcripts and reports.

McDowell also misleads when he discusses how much the wind power will cost. He mentions cost estimates two to ten times what the PSC analysis concludes (again, I certainly wish he would read their reports). He intentionally confuses the cost of wind power (which is known) with the difference in cost between wind and fossil fuel (which is unknown, due to the variable, and rising, cost of fossil fuel).

Bluewater’s wind power contract is like a fixed-rate mortgage, while natural gas is like an adjustable rate mortgage. Which mortgage is best depends on future interest rates (fossil fuel prices in this case), which can only be projected. This is why HB6 was written in the first place, to begin to insulate Delaware a bit from these rising fossil fuel costs.

I trust that Senator McDowell understands this—it is a shame that he prefers to confuse the issues rather than illuminate them.

Progressive Update--02/21/2008

It’s been a few weeks, so here we go.

Presidential Primaries—There is a debate tonight, and several primaries on March 4th which could end or prolong this horse race.

I would like to apologize to readers who feel that I came on too strong, perhaps even implying that ‘no good progressive would support Hillary Clinton’. I did not mean to imply that. I only wanted to share I decided to strongly support Barack Obama, and to share some of the reasons, not to criticize those who prefer Hillary Clinton. In this email list/blog I will resume my fevered, unrestrained level of support when a clear party nominee is identified (although I likely would be understandably more restrained if the party nominee has the initials HRC).

I was selected as an Obama delegate by my representative district (RD) to go to the state-wide caucus in Dover on April 5th. This was due in no small part to the help that several of my friends offered at the RD caucus (especially Joe, Julia, and Carol, but also others). The state caucus will determine who will serve as delegates at the national convention in Denver in late August. If you are, or know, a state-wide delegate from suburban New Castle County, who supports Barack Obama, I would really appreciate your support. If you would like to chat, send me a line. I currently put the odds of making it to Denver at 20:1, but they could improve with your help.

There are a few RDs (districts) that have not yet held their caucus, and which still have openings for people to participate. To see the schedule, go to If your RD’s caucus has not yet met, and you’d like to know whether you can still participate, call DelDems HQ at 328-9036 (NC County) or 800-685-5544 (Kent & Sussex).

I use website to track the primaries. They are a bit liberal-leaning, but not enough to affect the value of their presentations. If you’d like to know recent polls from upcoming primary states, this site has them. The data on this site convinced me in late January that Obama would win many more Super Tuesday states than expected, and would clean up later this month, as he has repeatedly and reliably closed the gap with Clinton when given the chance to campaign in each state. I expect that the worst that Obama will do is to split 50/50 the March 4th delegates, which will leave him 100 or so delegates ahead, but more likely, he will widen the gap (that was restrained, wasn’t it?)

Superdelegates—I expect that one way or the other, the race will be decided by the end of April (the PA primary is on 4/22). By that time I expect that one candidate or another will have an irreversible lead in normal delegates (and in the popular vote), at which point it appears that the ‘party leaders’ including Pelosi, Dean, and Gore, and perhaps Edwards, will 1) encourage the #2 candidate to gracefully withdraw, and 2) encourage the superdelegates to jump in force on the wagon to support ‘the people’s choice’. The last thing that they want is for there to be a back-door candidate, selected in a smoke-filled room in Denver. It will be time to focus on McCain rather than swiping at each other. Don’t you agree?

Wind Power—State Senator Harris McDowell has joined with Delmarva Power on a massive mis-information campaign. I have submitted a letter to the News Journal this week identifying several of McDowell’s distortions and lies; I am hopeful that it will be published shortly. For good information, go to where Tom Noyes collects some great information on the BlueWater Wind contract.

Governor—You likely know that I support Jack Markell for governor. You can find out more about his position on the issues at

I was asked to let people know that John Carney, who is running against Jack Markell, will be at the VFW in Newark (behind City Hall on Elkton Road), on Thursday the 28th at 6pm for a Q&A session. If you want to know more about John Carney’s positions, plan to attend. I believe that light refreshments will be served.

If you are not registered in Delaware as a Democrat, you will need to do so by March (I’ve heard both the 20th and 30th) in order to vote in the September primaries which will determine which Democrat is nominated to run for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Insurance Commissioner, and any other contested primary race position. You can register online by going to and follow the instructions.

City of Newark—There is a city council meeting this Monday at which the Newark Country Club project will be discussed. It sounds like we are stuck with what the developer is offering (unless we want another lawsuit against the city), which is disappointing, however we don’t have to take it quietly!

Ezra Temko is running for city council. Today’s Newark Post announced that he will have a competitor. To find out more about Ezra, go to his website at He also has a letter to the editor in the same edition of the Post.

Sierra Club/UUFN—The Sierra Club has joined with the Social Justice committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark (UUFN) to show ‘the Dioxin movie’ on Wednesday the 27th at 7pm at the UUFN ( for directions). DuPont executives may wish to skip this movie and discussion.

Paul S Baumbach

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Obama Update--02/06/2008--Super Wednesday

Thanks are due to everyone who voted, and who helped get out the vote yesterday. Roughly twice as many people voted Democrat yesterday than Republican, not that it surprises anyone reading this.

I was following the recent poll numbers, at, and was very pleased that not only did Obama take the majority of states, but he also took five states where he had been polling in second place: Alabama, Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, and (no surprise here) Delaware. Hillary did likely get some more delegates than Barack, however the gap is far smaller than it would have been if Super Tuesday was only 7 days earlier. The momentum is clearly with Obama. Why is this?

One reason that Obama’s chances of taking the nomination is that Super Tuesday worked against him, and from here on out, the odds are with him. Obama began the campaign an unknown, while Hillary was a household name. As anyone who has seen him can attest, Obama makes quite a positive impression when you see and hear him. A half-the-country Super Tuesday reduces his ability to get in front of as many voters as he’d like. From now on, he will be able to be seen and heard, and as we know in Delaware, that makes all the difference.

Remember rule number one for Obama—he can not win this alone—he needs each of us. Alone, he will lose, together, we will win.

If you are in a state that has had its primary, this does not mean that your job is over. I live one mile from the Maryland state line, and its primary is next week. Go to and enter your zip code and how many miles you are willing to drive to help Obama win, and you will find volunteer opportunities and events where you can help Obama win the nomination.

Unlike the Republicans, with their undemocratic winner-take-all approach, no Democratic state primary has a winner-take-all approach to delegates. This means that even in states where Obama takes less than 50% of the vote, he still is earning precious delegates. Every state is worth fighting for.

Let’s make this dream happen.

Yes we can, yes we can.

Paul S Baumbach

Monday, February 04, 2008

Progressive Update--03/01/2007--Super Tuesday Eve

If you live in DE (or NJ, or NY, or …) VOTE TOMORROW (especially if you vote for Barack Obama)

I heard the following from my friend Matt Kerbel, political science professor from Villanova University (and commentator on a local Philadelphia TV channel)

Hi, Paul. I don't know how much time I'll have tomorrow, but i can share a few quick "pre-game" thoughts with you today. On the Democratic side, the momentum is clearly with Obama, as I'm sure you know. We see this in the way he has closed the gap in national polls (which are relevant for the first time as the campaign moves into wholesale mode) and in a number of specific states. We see it in the size and enthusiasm of the crowds he is gathering and in the key endorsements he's been getting. I don't see any evidence that the debate last week slowed this momentum, which has been building since his lopsided win in South Carolina.

Remember that the calendar tomorrow favors Hillary. Both her home states (Arkansas and New York) go to the polls, along with states in her home region (New Jersey and Connecticut). She has an institutional advantage in California. Her plan was always to finish things off on Super Tuesday in the event that she wasn't able to finish them off in New Hampshire. But that won't happen, and if the Obama surge translates into huge turnout and the undecided voters break his way (which is indicated by the trends but not guaranteed), he could find himself in the driver's seat on Wednesday. Watch California. If Obama picks off a win there it will be stunning, and he will emerge as the new frontrunner (with a favorable calendar later in the month). If undecided voters break for Obama nationwide, this will become his race to lose. Like I said, it hasn't happened yet. But it wouldn't surprise me if it does.

On the Republican side, Huckabee's presence in the race is killing Romney (with voters and his kids, who feel he's wasting their inheritance on a fool's errand!), allowing McCain to edge ahead in primary states where he still has significant conservative opposition. But because the Republicans have so many winner-take-all states, McCain looks to win more delegates than his relative strength among supporters would suggest. If the Republicans played by the same proportional rules as the Democrats, McCain wouldn't be able to build a commanding delegate lead tomorrow. But they don't and he will. The one wrinkle in all this is California, where the Republican base is very conservative and where Romney has moved ahead in late polling. If he pulls it off and wins enough delegates elsewhere to maintain some semblance of viability, and if Huckabee pulls out after playing spoiler in state after state, Romney may calculate that he can go head-to-head with McCain and win. And he may be right, but the delegate numbers have to be there.

So that's what I'd look for tomorrow.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Progressive Update--02/01/2008 Obama & Delegates

Michelle Obama came to Wilmington and Dover Delaware yesterday, on January 31st, and she was spectacular. I met her at a reception before her speech at the Grand Opera House, and then sat in the 3rd row to hear her full talk. She captivated the entire standing-room-only audience.

I am sometimes asked why I back Barack Obama. Earlier this week I pointed to Caroline Kennedy’s Op-Ed on how Obama can be a President like her father, JFK. Caroline’s essay really captured my gut feel, that both Obama and Clinton have wonderful sets of policies, enough to make it a tie in my mind on that level. This forces me to examine the character, to examine what kind of president each would make. I would like to tell my grandchildren that I helped Barack Obama become President. I am not certain that I would be proud to say the same for Hillary Clinton.

Then I heard Michelle Obama. Her speech helped further crystallize this. Let me quote David Brooks (a seemingly Republican columnist for the NY Times): Obama is the one insistently calling on audiences to serve a cause greater than self-interest. He’s the one transcending partisanship and telling young people that politics can be the means to a meaningful, purpose-driven life. The Obamas won’t let us off the hook—they force you to ask what you can do for the country, and I like that, and the country does too.

I am tired of politicians telling us what we can not do, why we can not hope for better things. Obama inspires me to dream. Michelle Obama hit home another point—the road the Barack Obama lays before us is not easy, and he will not go it alone—it is much too difficult. The only way for us to make the changes he is laying out is for us all to work together towards these goals. This is hard, and a politician such as Hillary Clinton or John McCain have no ability to mobilize the country for something this hard. No one since JFK has had the ability to get so many people to say ‘where do I sign up?’

To sign up, first come to the rally on Sunday and get fired up. You will also have plenty of opportunities to sign up then.


Thank you to the twenty-plus friends who came to our Obama fundraiser on the 30th. We raised over $2,500 to help Obama win most of Delaware’s delegates, on the road to his nomination as the Democratic candidate for US President this November.

Please join Barack Obama at a 'Stand for Change' Rally in Wilmington, where he'll talk about his vision for bringing America together and bringing about the kind of change we can believe in.

Stand for Change Rally with Barack Obama in Wilmington

Rodney Square
Corner of 10th and Market Street
Wilmington, DE

Sunday, February 3
Gates Open: 11:30 a.m.
Program Begins: 1:15 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public but an RSVP is strongly encouraged, so sign up now:


For security reasons, do not bring bags. Please limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted.

I’ve attached a PDF file with the schedule of Representative District (RD) Caucus Meetings. If you turned in your delegate form by yesterday afternoon, then you are permitted to participate in your RD’s caucus. See the PDF file for date, time, and location for your meeting. Then show up! If you selected Barack Obama on your form, and would like to help me make it to Dover and then Denver, then if you are in the 23rd RD, vote for me on the 11th. If you selected Barack Obama on your form, and would like to help me make it to Dover and then Denver, but you are not in the 23rd RD, then ask your fellow caucus goers to send vote for you so that you can go to Dover on April 5th, and on April 5th vote for me to go to Denver.

The following explanation of the caucus procedure was distributed by the DelDems ( earlier this week.

· * The Next Step on the Road to Denver

If you filled out a delegate selection application and your presidential candidate received at least 15% of the February 5th primary vote in your representative district, you're eligible to participate in the representative district caucus.

At the caucus, you'll meet with other delegate hopefuls in your representative district who are supporting the same presidential candidate as you. You'll receive 1-2 minutes to explain to the others why you should represent the district as that presidential candidate's delegate at the state convention.

After everyone has had the opportunity to speak, both you and all of the people in the district supporting your candidate will vote on who becomes that candidate's delegates to the state convention at the Sheraton Dover Hotel on April 5th.

Each representative district will send four delegates and two alternates to the state convention.

Again, you cannot vote for delegates who are pledged to a presidential candidate other than the one you selected. You cannot change your presidential preference at any point after January 31st at 5:00pm. You are not allowed to "write in" anyone's name on the ballots distributed at the caucus.

Finally, you cannot vote in the caucus or be selected as a delegate in the caucus if your candidate did not receive at least 15% in the primary.

Go to the Delaware Democratic Party's website at to find the time, date and location of the caucuses.

If you have any questions or need to know in which representative district you live, please call Delaware Democratic Party headquarters at (302) 328-9036.

Paul S Baumbach

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