Friday, January 29, 2010

01/29/2010 - Joe Sestak for US Senate from PA

Meet Congressman Joe Sestak, Candidate for U.S. Senate

Philadelphia Jan 29 - West Chester Jan 31 - St. Davids Feb 1 - Glenside Feb 1

A Plan for PA Families Event with Joe Sestak
Friday, January 29 - 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Bricklayers Local 1 Union Hall
2706 Black Lake Place
Philadelphia, PA 19154

A Plan for PA Families Event with Joe Sestak
Sunday, January 31 - 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
West Chester University
Sykes Student Centre, Room 252
West Chester, PA 19383

Kitchen Call with Joe Sestak
Monday, February 1 - 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Eastern University
Harold Howard Center, 2nd Floor Atrium
1300 Eagle Road
St. Davids, PA 19087

Kitchen Call with Joe Sestak
Monday February 1 - 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Glenside VFW Post 676
2519 Jenkintown Road
Glenside, PA 19038

"I always enjoyed 'Captain's Call' with those I served with to discuss important issues."
- Joe Sestak, former Navy Admiral

More event information:
RSVP to email or call the office at 610-891-8956.
Joe Sestak for Senate:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Second Letter from Haiti -- 01/28/2010

January 22, 2010

To our dear friends and supporters who have been so present through this difficult time. I feel like I have a wall of love and protection around me knowing that you are all holding Haiti in your thoughts and prayers. I apologize for not having written for the past few days, it is partly that life here is so hectic and fast paced and partly because I find that writing about the situation brings all my emotions to the surface and brings me to a vulnerable space that can be rather overwhelming. That said, I so want to be able to share with all of you what we are experiencing and the important difference we have been able to make as a result of your generosity.

When I first arrived in Port au Prince I spent a day at the UN compound by the airport where NGO’s, doctors and soldiers swarm around talking on satellite phones and running from meeting to meeting. I learned about the massive amounts of food aid that arrived in the first week and was stockpiled at the airport. I learned of the aid trucks filled to the brim with supplies blocked at the border and sitting idle at the ports. Since that day I have not returned to the aid compound and chosen instead to go into the streets, into the camps where people hide from the sun, huddled together under tattered tarps waiting for the food that has yet to come, into the alleyways littered with the rubble of fallen dreams and the spirits of those we have lost.

I know that some of these stories of aid not reaching the victims are beginning to filter into the international media but I wanted to see if I can shed some light about why this is without casting blame. Everyone who has come here is devastated by this disaster, everyone wants to help but the slowness in distribution is not a question of intentions, it is a question of long standing fears and the security structures put in place in response to these fears.

A few days ago I got an email from Nicolas Kristof of the New York Times asking me to comment on the supposition made by many (not Nicolas himself) that Haitians have received large amounts of aid money over the years and have somehow squandered it. I responded to him by talking about fear, this same fear that is slowing the distribution of aid during this crisis. For centuries Haiti has been portrayed as a dangerous country filled with volatile and threatening people, unsafe for foreigners. This supposition, this fear and misunderstanding, has very deep implications for foreign aid and cross cultural understanding.

I have been amazed to visit friends working with large NGO’s in Port au Prince only to learn that they are forced to operate under security restrictions that prevent any kind of real connections to Haitian communities. One friend showed me the map, used by all of the larger NGOs where Port au Prince is divided into security zones, yellow, orange, red. Red zones are restricted, in the orange zones all of the car windows must be rolled up and they cannot be visited past certain times of day, even in the yellow zones aid workers are often not permitted to walk through the streets and spend much of their time in Haiti riding through the city from one office to another in organizational vehicles.

The creation of these security zones has been like the building of a wall, a wall reinforced by language barriers and fear rather than iron rods, a wall that, unlike many of the buildings in Port au Prince, did not crumble during the earthquake. Fear, much like violence, is self perpetuating. When aid workers enter communities radiating fear it is offensive, the perceived disinterest in communicating with the poor majority is offensive, driving through impoverished communities with windows rolled up and armed security guards is offensive and, ironically, all of these extra security measures actually increase the level of risk for aid workers.

As I said, this wall of fear is not a new phenomenon and it has had very serious implications for the distribution of the millions of dollars of aid that have been flowing into the country for the past 10 days. Despite the good intentions of the many aid workers swarming around the UN base, much of the aid coming through the larger organizations is still blocked in storage, waiting for the required UN and US military escorts that are seen as essential for distribution, meanwhile people in the camps are suffering and their tolerance is waning.

Over the past 5 days I have been grateful to work with a small organization unhindered by bureaucracy and security restrictions. I am so thankful to work with a courageous team of Haitian community leaders and a respectful and fearless group of Americans. Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters SOIL has raised approximately $30,000 for immediate relief efforts and we are committed to providing that relief as quickly as we can get the money into the country. The most striking thing I have noticed while visiting the many camps throughout the city is the level of organization and ingenuity among the displaced communities. Community members stand ready to distribute food and water to their neighbors, they are prepared to provide first aid and assist with clean up efforts, all that they are lacking is the financial means to do so. When the quake struck people’s savings were buried under the rubble of their former homes, banks are closed and no one has been able to access their accounts. Food and water are available for sale in the streets but no one is able to purchase them.

Our hope is that SOIL, AIDG and other small organizations will be able to help provide communities with the means to meet their needs in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, bridging the gap during the time it takes for the larger organizations to mobilize. I am honored to know a network of brave community leaders throughout Port au Prince whom I met during my human rights work from 2004-2006 and our team has spent the past several days visiting the camps with them and helping to distribute the resources that we have at our disposal. Each day we have been purchasing water trucks to deliver to camps that have yet to receive water, giving money to community organizers who are then able to purchase food from local businesses and distribute it to the areas most in need, bringing doctors and medical supplies into zones of the city that have none, providing our generator to community cyber cafes so that people are able to contact their families, driving patients from the camps to medical clinics that can receive them.

The magnitude of this tragedy is unimaginable and we are aware of our limitations and our inability to help touch more than a small percentage of those affected. While it breaks my heart to think about those we cannot help, it also fills me with hope to see the impact that we have been able to make. Each day I am awed and humbled by the dedication and compassion of my colleagues, both Haitian and international and touched by the outpouring of love and support that we have received from around the world. Please keep your love and donations flowing and we will do everything in our power to funnel that love and aid to the communities that need it the most.

With love from Port au Prince,

Letter from Haiti -- 01/28/2010

This is from a friend of a friend of my sister. She is in Haiti, and in her emails she shines a light into what is really happening in Haiti, not what the media is reporting:

This afternoon, feeling helpless, we decided to take a van down to Champs Mars (the area around the palace) to look for people needing medical care to bring to Matthew 25, the guesthouse where we are staying which has been transformed into a field hospital. Since we arrived in Port au Prince everyone has told us that you cannot go into the area around the palace because of violence and insecurity. I was in awe as we walked into downtown, among the flattened buildings , in the shadow of the fallen palace, amongst the swarms of displaced people there was calm and solidarity. We wound our way through the camp asking for injured people who needed to get to the hospital. Despite everyone telling us that as soon as we did this we would be mobbed by people, I was amazed as we approached each tent people gently pointed us towards their neighbors, guiding us to those who were suffering the most. We picked up 5 badly injured people and drove towards an area where Ellie and Berto had passed a woman earlier. When they saw her she was lying on the side of the road with a broken leg screaming for help, as they were on foot they could not help her at the time so we went back to try to find her. Incredibly we found her relatively quickly at the top of a hill of shattered houses. The sun was setting and the community helped to carry her down the hill on a refrigerator door, tough looking guys smiled in our direction calling out “bonswa Cherie” and “kouraj”.

When we got back to Matthew 25 it was dark and we carried the patients back into the soccer field/tent village/hospital where the team of doctors had been working tirelessly all day. Although they had officially closed down for the evening, they agreed to see the patients we had brought. Once our patients were settled in we came back into the house to find the doctors amputating a foot on the dining room table. The patient lay calmly, awake but far away under the fog of ketamine.

Half way through the surgery we heard a clamor outside and ran out to see what it was. A large yellow truck was parked in front of the gate and rapidly unloading hundreds of bags of food over our fence, the hungry crowd had already begun to gather and in the dark it was hard to decide how to best distribute the food. Knowing that we could not sleep in the house with all of this food and so many starving people in the neighborhood, our friend Amber (who is experienced in food
distribution) snapped into action and began to get everyone in the crowd into a line that stretched down the road. We braced ourselves for the fighting that we had heard would come but in a miraculous display of restraint and compassion people lined up to get the food and one by one the bags were handed out without a single serious incident.

During the food distribution the doctors called to see if anyone could help to bury the amputated leg in the backyard. As I have no experience with food distribution I offered to help with the leg. I went into the back with Ellie and Berto and we dug a hole and placed the leg in it, covering it with soil and cement rubble. By the time we got back into the house the food had all been distributed and the patient Anderson was waking up. The doctors asked for a translator so I went and sat by his stretcher explaining to him that the surgery had gone well and he was going to live. His family had gone home so he was alone so Ellie and I took turns sitting with him as he came out from under the drugs.

I sat and talked to Anderson for hours as he drifted in and out of consciousness. At one point one of the Haitian men working at the hospital came in and leaned over Anderson and said to him in kreyol “listen man even if your family could not be here tonight we want you to know that everyone here loves you, we are all your brothers and sisters”. Cat and I have barely shed a tear through all of this, the sky could fall and we would not bat an eye, but when I told her this story this morning the tears just began rolling down her face, as they are mine as I am writing this. Sometimes it is the kindness and not the horror that can break the numbness that we are all lost in right now.

So, don’t believe Anderson Cooper when he says that Haiti is a hotbed for violence and riots, it is just not the case. In the darkest of times, Haiti has proven to be a country of brave, resilient and kind people and it is that behavior that is far more prevalent than the isolated incidents of violence. Please pass this on to as many people as you can so that they can see the light of Haiti, cutting through the darkness, the light that will heal this nation.

We are safe. We love you all and I will write again when I can. Thank you for your generosity and compassion.

With love from Port au Prince,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Progressive Update--01/26/2010

It’s been awhile, so I will ramble a bit in this post.

President Obama Update—Let me begin with my premise that Democrats who are disappointed in what the President has done in the past year may have forgotten Obama’s campaign slogan, and most importantly the middle third. Yes, WE Can. Obama has not lied to us, or failed to get good health care reform passed, WE have, thus far, failed. WE have failed to have our US Senators act responsibly. WE have failed to define and execute a strategy to handle the Republican Party of NO.

So what do WE do? You can choose to be an ostrich. I refuse. I am committed to ensuring that my actions are worthy of the hopes and dreams that this country selected in November 2008. I begin tomorrow night at 7:45pm, when the President will give his State of the Union speech. I’ll be going to Timothy’s restaurant in Newark, which is an Organizing for America event ( Find (or better yet host) an event that’s convenient to you at

We have long understood that the media is largely a waste of time. One of the fictions they have been spreading is that the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate (until this month). That is false. There are two or three liberal Democrats (Franken, Feingold, any others?), about thirty moderate Dems, about twenty conservative Dems (BlueDogs, including Delaware’s Tom Carper who never met a lobbyist he didn’t like), and a few sellout Dems (such as Nelson) who are quite willing to threaten to withhold their vote on a core Democratic issue in order to extort money from the US treasury for their state alone. Don’t get me started on Lieberman. The US Senate is not led by a majority party of Democrats. Rather there is a loose coalition of factions, and lately it’s been quite ugly.

I don’t know the solution, but I know the problem. I believe that we need to 1) get better Democrats elected to the US Senate, and 2) to be clear about the impact that the Republican Party of NO is having on the country. Come to Timothy’s tomorrow night, and let’s discuss your ideas for solutions!

Delaware’s US Senate Race—We found out yesterday that Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden will run for re-election this November, and will not run against Republican Mike Castle for the US Senate seat. I expect that we will shortly hear of a leading Democratic candidate for US Senate, perhaps New Castle County Executive Chris Coons. I like Chris, and hope that he runs. Chris is smart and sharp, and won’t be afraid to call Castle on his Republican party-line voting record as our US Representative, despite his self-description as a moderate.

Castle would like nothing better than to follow in Massachusetts’ Republican Senator Scott Brown’s footsteps, and to campaign without mentioning that he is a Republican. We need a candidate who is smart and aggressive, and who will call ‘shenanigans’ on Castle’s lies.

Castle is well-known by Delaware voters (even if most don’t realize the fiction of his ‘moderateness’—Castle has been as moderate as W was a ‘compassionate conservative’). Castle is also well-financed. For Delaware to avoid being a Massachusetts, and giving the Republican Party another NO voter in the US Senate (a NO to a real energy policy, a real education policy, a real withdrawal from Iraq), WE need to select our Democratic nominee for US Senate from Delaware and WE need to contribute time AND money to them. If in 2008 you said ‘Yes we can,’ then THIS MEANS YOU.

Campaigns—I have agreed to chair the campaign of Carol Boncelet, who is a Democratic candidate for the 3rd district of New Castle County Council. Expect to hear more about this in the future, including how you can help. Email me if you are interested in contributing time or money to this campaign.

Progressive Democrats of Delaware—I am co-chair of the endorsement committee of the PDD ( I am very excited about the current committee, and our plans to build upon the strengths of our efforts in 2008.

State Legislature—There is much going on in Dover in the coming months. We are hopeful that Governor Markell includes progressive ideals in his proposed budget, ideals that were largely absent in last year’s budget, which was largely inherited by Jack last January.

I am working on two initiatives, Senate Bill (SB) 20 ( would end the insane district gerrymandering, by establishing a non-partisan commission to update our state legislative districts. This would TREMENDOUSLY improve our government, by making our representatives much more responsive to their constituents, by ending the ‘safe seats’ that many now occupy.

House Bill (HB) 10 ( would provide benefits to domestic partners the same way that benefits are provided to spouses. In Delaware (at this point), same gender partners are forbidden from being ‘married,’ which makes such benefits unavailable to them. This is simply unfair. Until we permit marriage equality, we need to provide this equality of benefits to state workers.

Equality for All, Relationship Equality—We have made good progress in the past year in relationship equality, although we have also had some setbacks. Two groups that I really like, due to their work on this area is, and

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)—It appears that this is close to moving forward (repeal of DADT). There is a petition at A bill is in the works in Congress. This awful policy is WAY overdue to be eliminated. I hear that the word could go out in the coming months, at which time WE all need to speak up immediately and LOUDLY to help repeat DADT.

Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)—This bill will permit same-gender partners to sponsor their partner to become a US citizen, in the same way that an opposite gender partner can currently sponsor their partner (spouse) to become a US citizen. Visit Contact your Congress members and urge them to support the Uniting American Families Act in immigration reform. Make a donation to Out4Immigration or Immigration Equality so others can be informed of the issue and encouraged to work for fairness. Check with Tom ( if you are able to help bring equality to our immigration policy.

Keeping Up with Paul—It is much easier to update Twitter than to send out these emails. You can find me at, and if you’d like, you can ‘follow’ me, and get my postings emailed or text’d to you. I posted yesterday morning about Beau Biden’s decision to run for AG rather than US Senate.

I also am a regular reader of, and a frequent contributor. This website is dynamite for keeping readers informed on primarily state, but also national, issues, from a liberal perspective. The primary contributors are GREAT (the conservative trolls are mostly annoying but sometimes amusing/pathetic). I have begun infrequent reading of, which is a national liberal site. My (thus far only) posting can be found at . I plan to post on DailyKos in the coming week or two on how WE have thus far failed to deliver on OUR campaign promises.

I continue to post all of these blast emails to my blog,, and I also post there at times without sending emails, since sending blast emails is quite time consuming.

I therefore expect to stay in this current mode for now, posting regularly to DelawareLiberal (PBaumbach is my name there), Tweeting occasionally (twice a month?), adding to the blog (monthly?), and sending a blast email (every other month)? Given that, consider how you would like to be kept in the loop, if at all.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Health Care Reform--What To Do--01/05/2010

I just posted this on Twitter: "for needed fixes for current health care reform (#HCR) legislation, read, & go to & sign"