Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Demos in; Rumsfeld out!


What a night! Democrats rocked the House and maybe have even taken the Senate. We are keeping our fingers crossed over Virginia. Yes, some of these Dems are from the Republican wing of the Party, but at least there's a shift.

And what better way to acknowledge it than to dump Rumsfeld? George had to admit he took a thumpin' from the Dems. But watch out. He and Cheney are not gone yet. And if the Senate splits, then Cheney gets to cast all those deciding votes. The Dark Side is plotting, you can be sure.

On the local front, one of the best progressives we have in Marin, Frank Egger, lost his bid for a seat on the MMWD to a newcomer, a "water manager" for San Francisco. Could there be a conflict brewing?

We shall see as the saga unfolds. The voters seem to have a thing for so called "experts" when they vote for boards that cover specialty areas, such as Health Care District (progressives lost here, too, as the voters put two more doctors on the board, and one of those had been recalled from the very same board years ago!) and water board.

Two years ago Richard Rubin, another well qualified, well known contender was trounced by a nobody with "water engineer" after his name.

Go figure. At least Jennifer Rienks was elected as the third Health Care District board member, probably because she had "health policy analyst" after her name, not because she's a progressive community activist.

The Progressive Caucus of our own California Democratic Party is hoping to make some gains in Party leadership this year. Watch this space for news of of our Progressive Plan, the progressive 58 County Program for California.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


What I would like the Democrats to be saying about now is that we have lost more American lives in Bush's uncalled for, unneeded, disastrous War in Iraq, than were lost in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. In fact, this has been the case for months. World Trade Center deaths 2819 or 2823, depending on whose account is more accurate, the Americans' or the British.

Iraq War deaths as of October 30, 2006 - 2834. So, say what you will how the World Trade Center happened, we know George Bush is responsible for the Iraq War deaths, and for no reason that has become discernible over the years.

Not to mention at least 21,000 wounded Americans and countless non-combatant Iraqi deaths.

Hammer this point home Democrats. Cheney is out scaring people with Halloween talk of how a Democratic victory in Congress means the terrorists win.

Bush and Cheney are the terrorists. It's them or us. It's all war all the time, or it's fight back now.

Got it? Now, let's put those sneering Republican death's heads back in the closet until next Halloween.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I don’t usually resort to cancelling my subscription to publications over their editorial stances or election picks, especially ones that purport to be news outlets (and ones with such enlightened columnists as Mark Morford and Jon Carroll). But the Chron’s editorial endorsing Schwarzengger for 4 more years made me gag up my breakfast oatmeal and had me all but reaching for the phone to so I could say “Stop the presses, cancel my subscription and go F*** yourselves!”

It wasn’t the endorsement so much as the headline accompanying it. Arnold to “Stay and the Course.”

"Stay the Course?” Has that insidious Bushism about the continuing the disastrous Iraq policy made its way so deeply into the lexicon of American press that they use it almost cavalierly to tout endorsements? Or is there something more venal at work?

In this week’s New Yorker there’s a telling article about conspiracy theories, how they start and why they find such currency among true believers. I’ve always tried to stay away from them, but this is too much. Is “Stay the Course” dropped into a headline supporting the popular body building champ turned politician a not so subtle signal that the Chronicle supports the present administration and its Iraq War?

Sure Angelides has been a big disappointment. No, his handlers have; they represent everything that is old and tired and wrong about the Democratic Party (Hey, I’m old and tired, but I like to think mostly right about political strategy.)

Like the Reps, the Dems “stay the course” in their lackluster campaigns. Kerry did it, ignoring his progressive base and the “practical aspirations of the American people” to borrow a phrase from Dennis Kucinich, one of the few Presidential hopefuls who chose a different course in his campaign – taking the message to the people and eschewing the hackneyed play-to-the-middle strategy of his peers. You say he didn’t get very far, but that’s because all the course-stayers and their moneyed friends hogged the resources and scared the public the same way the Bushies did over who can keep you safer.

Kerry bristled at being called “Bush lite” by some of his progressive supporters. But after the campaign, it was that accusation that stuck.

Why can’t the Democrats be more like Democrats? This year they have the chance and still, amidst all the anger and frustration and grief over the failed Bush Iraq war, scandals in Congress and policies that threaten our very existence on the planet, “Stay the Course” is the phrase of the hour.

Could it really be that Stay the Course means nothing more than “Take the path of least resistance?”

I will continue to read the Chronicle; because the path of least resistance is to cancel my subscription, throw my hands in the air and give up. They’re not going to get me to do that, just yet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Eminent Domain in Reverse

There's a Proposition on the November ballot in California deceptively called "Protect our Homes." Proposition 90 is supposed to be about eminent domain reform, prohibting the government from taking private property for other private use, in the name of economic benefit. That would be a good thing, as far as it goes. But Proposition 90 goes much farther. It contains a provision that would require compensation for any government regulation of land use, including such useful tools to protect the environment and protect neighboring homeowners as height limitations, zoning changes and even regulations on mining and other destructive activities.

Proposition 90 goes too far in the wrong direction. What we really need for the protection of our communities is Eminent Domain in Reverse. Now, local governments can take your property, the small business you earn a meager but satisfying living from or the bungalow that your grandfather worked and slaved at the factory to buy, and give it to big business for a new industrial mall or shopping center.

They say this is for the public good because it will create jobs and bring economic benefit into the area. Your neighborhood, which has now been declared blighted, like some slum full of rats and boarded up windows.

You are mad and rightly so. Your neighborhood isn't blighted. It's just lived in. Well, how about this? We start a movement in this country for Reverse Eminent Domain. We need courageous legislators to do this and a population "mad as hell" and not willing to take it any more.

Then we get the legislators to enact a law that allows us, We the People, to take the property of big busines and corporations and the McMansions their CEOs live in and give them to the working people and those who would be working if they could really get a job at that factory, which is all automated now, with customer service outsourced to Pakistan.

Reverse Eminent Domain would be about real public benefit to the real public. Not some nameless faceless corporate stooges.

But, wait, it sounds good, it sounds American, people standing up for what is rightfully theirs. People standing up to Government abuses.

But it sounds like something Homeland Security might find suspicious. It would be declared a terrorist plot, and denounced from pulpits and Fox news shows. Honest hard working Americans would be put into detention centers and called traitors and liberals.

They'd say the next thing we'd want would be socialized medicine and free lunches. And you know what? They might be right. Because once people are free of powerful corporate greed and corrupt governments, they can start making decisons for themselves and the good of their communities. What a concept!

So, think about it, Reverse Eminent Domain. It might be the wave of the progressive future.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Leave Your Liquids at the Gate!

Talk about knee-jerk reactions. First it was terrorists on airliners with boxcutters, so we had to relinquish our sharp objects, nail scissors and files, letter openers and those cute Swiss Army knives every one kept tucked in their purse. Airport security checks were filled with little old ladies in wheelchairs being searched for contraband.

After a while, the ban on nail clippers was lifted. And did you notice they took away the metal knives from the airline meal, but left you a metal fork with all those sharp tongs intact?

Then it was some wacko trying to light his shoes on fire, so we all have to put our footwear in plastic bins before we go through the metal detector.

Now it's liquid. Not that they haven't known for years that explosives can be made from liquid. Liquid fertilizer, liquid nitroglycerin, not to mention all the easily obtainable flammables: gasoline, kerosene, propane. How interesting that the day after Lieberman's defeat in the Democratic Primary in Connecticut, a terrorist plot to blow up planes from London to the US was uncovered. A plot using liquid explosives.

So now, it's hand over your baby bottles, contact lens solution, toothpaste and Evian.

I predict it won't be long before they've outlawed chewing gum (plastique) and eyeglasses (can be used by junior Al Quaeda scouts for starting fires).

Oh, yeah, what about Snakes on a Plane? That would surely cause a commotion. Better leave your boa constrictor home.

Seriously, the point is, anyone can use anything as an agent of terror or disruption. So what's the point of waiting until someone tries something new, and then confiscating whatever object they used from everybody else?

And seriously (and cynically) again, did you hear Bush using this opportunity to trot out his trusty war rhetoric? "This just shows that we're still at war with the Islamo Fascists" said our fearless leader, never missing a chance to push his all war all the time agenda.

Or as Randy Rhodes, of Air America puts it, "Perpetual war for pertpetual profits."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Yes, it's that time of year again for the Practical Politics class at the College of Marin. The next session is Saturday September 16, 2006, from 10-4 PM. Anyone running for office, thinking of running for office or working with a campaign are especially invited to join us.

We will, as always, go over some basics for activists, that can be used in campaigns or in your neighborhood battles.

Email me with any questions:


How YOU can be an Activist for Your Community

"All politics is local" -Tip O'Neill

Dotty LeMieux’s community activist training class will be held at the College of Marin, Saturday September 16, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Learn how to be a more effective activist for your cause.

Environmental: Are you reviewing an EIR for a project in your neighborhood, fighting big box retail or struggling to preserve wetlands?

Social: Would you like your local government to be more responsive to community needs in the areas of affordable housing, transit or other pressing neighborhood issues?

Political: Have you thought about running for office yourself or working for a candidate or ballot measure to make changes in your community?
This training may be just what you’re looking for. Meet like minded people and hear their stories. Gain new allies and learn new techniques in working for your cause or candidate Topics include:

• Telling our stories, campaigns won and lost, what you are doing now in your community!
• Frame that issue: How to get your message just right
• Tracking the elusive volunteers
• Getting the Press to pay attention
• Creating effective materials to carry your message to the streets, City Hall or Washington
• Finding likely and unlikely allies. Learn why "The enemy of my enemy is my Friend."
• Yes, you CAN raise money! Tips to help you get over your fear.
• Planning your next steps; An activist's work is never done!

Successful students of past classes have won elected office offices, led citizen petition drives and become effective at getting their message across in public hearings and in the press.

It would be helpful, but not required, if students read George Lakoff’s Don’t think of an Elephant before the class. Binders with class material provided to each student.

Yes, you CAN make a difference!

Go to

to register

Friday, July 14, 2006

Democrats Get Spine - Will they now dump the DLC?

What happened to those Democratic internet ads showing flag draped coffins, among other images of years of failed Republican policies that have drawn criticism from the right?

Did the Reps get them removed? Or was it the DLC, those Reps in donkey's clothing? Crying foul, Republicans pretend to be shocked that the Democrats would "politicize" the war dead. Really, it takes some nerve to be outraged that someone tells the truth about the outrages that you commit.

No wonder they want the dead to come home from Iraq in secret and the wounded to quietly languish away from publicity. An administration that believes it is above the law, any law, even when the Supreme Court says otherwise, is living in their own fool's paradise.

Unfortunately, we're living in it with them. It's about time the Democrats got some spine and told it like it is. While they're at it, they ought to point out we're not in a war, we're an occupying army following an invasion on a soveriegn nation. And the dead in those coffins died in vain. I hope those ads are shown again and often on TV.

Meanwhile the DLC is up to their old tricks, of pretending to run to the "middle." Folks, wise up! The DLC is NOT the Democratic Party. And the middle is not even the middle any more; it's way off in right field. To get to the middle you have to turn left.

That's not a lesson the DLC is ever going to get. They don't want to. They represent the right wing of the Democratic Party and it's time people started saying so, and calling out the Democrats who continue to hew the DLC line.

It's interesting that we have the DLC and there is no like organization in the Republican Party, no RLC that leans to the left. The DLC is what is dividing the Democratic Party, not the progressives. Let's start exposing them for the closet Republicans they are. And purge the Party of the dividers.

Until we do, we will not have a united left, or even a middle worthy of the name.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Sad Day in California

It's time to update you all on yesterday's Senate Judiciary Hearing on the California Compassionate Choices Act, a bill supported by an overwhelming number of Californians, a Bill which would have brought the right to end-of-life choices to terminally ill patients suffering intolerable pain. A Bill which has enjoyed 8 successful years, with no reports of abuse, in the State of Oregon.

A Bill which was derailed by an otherwise Progressive Democrat. This fact alone saddens me most. Here is the message I sent to my team of supporters this morning:

Yesterday was a sad day for the rights of terminally ill patients, their friends and families and for all Californians who believe in the civil right to choose the manner of our death at a time of inescapable suffering at the end of life.

Yesterday's Senate Judicial Committee hearing brought to an abrupt and unexpected halt a year long positive campaign to bring death with dignity to California. Senator Joe Dunn, who I am ashamed to say is a Democrat, cast the deciding vote, joining the Committee's two Republicans. His rationale was tortured and painful to listen to as he explained his fears that a future legislature, influenced by "big money" might expand this right to people suffering but not terminal, or terminal but not suffering. Although claiming to reject the "slippery slope" argument of the opponents, Dunn's comments used their contorted logic, which flies in the face of eight years of empirical evidence to the contrary in Oregon.

Some people commented later it appeared as though Dunn essentially caved in to "big money's" opposition, which came primarily in the form of the California Medical Association and the Catholic Church hierarchy, two vocal and well financed opponents whose lobbyists spoke against the Bill in the hearing.

A legislator of Joe Dunn's stature claiming not to trust the legislative process, is the height of cynicism, at least to this observer.

Our two years of advocacy for this Bill are over, but a new push will soon begin. The form is not certain but the cause is: the right of all to make our own medical decisions, with the counsel of family and physician.

I will update you as things progress in the weeks ahead. Thanks to everyone for all your support for this measure.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Quick and Dirty Election Summary

Hi all,

Here's my Quick and Dirty election summary. I take that back, Quick, but not Dirty, we've all had enough of that.


In the 6th Assembly race the keyword was Message. I know conventional wisdom has it that the keyword was Mail and too much of it. And yes, there were a lot of wasted trees. Mostly from PACS carrying both positive and negative messages.

But the messages got through. For the top three vote-getters, here are the messages I think the voters got in their mail:

Jared Huffman - It's the environment Stupid!

Pamela Torliatt - I'm the hometown Progressive

Cynthia Murray - Yes, I am in the pocket of developers.

Murray's two biggest mistakes, I think, were her eschewing the cap on spending, thereby giving at least the perception to the voters that she was for sale, and her last minute attack on Jared. One trick pony? Yeah, that both highlighted his environmentalism and showed her to be out of touch.

Coupled with the many mailers from Unions and consumer attorneys pointing out her developer "buyers," what looked to many at the outset as an easy victory turned into certain defeat.

Both Pam and Jared stayed positive and on message. giving them both resounding victories in their home counties. Pam's campaign could easily have been an outright win, in my opinion, if her strategy to play to Sonoma had been supplemented by a stronger push in Marin. She got off on the wrong foot at the College of Marin debate when she took someone's bad advice and failed to express opinions on many of the crucial issues.

That undercut her ability to find strong backing from Marin progressives.

Jared stayed on message from day one.


The 6th Assembly race was positively pristine comared with the Democratic governor's race. Steve "self made millionaire" Westly was down and dirty from the get go, prompting Phil "proud to be the son of immigrants" Angelides to strike back. In this race, the he's paid for by develop message didn't work. Why? because Westly got caught in multiple exaggerations of the truth, if not outright lies.

Phil stayed on track with his Anti-Arnold message as well as his tax the rich to pay for education theme. And it seems to have paid off. (Also that scary drawing of Steve Westly in his last mailer may have done more harm than good; he looked like a demented boy scout.)

Now phil has to stay on message and not run to the right to try to capture the moderate vote. He must be Anti-Arnold. I want to see him in a cape! Don't forget us Progressives, Phil. And if anyone doubts Phil is a progressive, iI have a photo of him signing up at our very first meeting of the California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus in April 2005. Check the blog for April 17, 2005.

We should all be prepared to remind him of that, if he strays.

More later!


Thursday, May 25, 2006

George Bush Spies on Himself

In a bold move for the Unitary Presidency, George Bush announced today that he was opening a dossier on himself.

"No one is immune from the law, even if it's not the law," said Bush, as he tentatively inserted an electric probe in one ear.

"we are in a War," he continued, scowling slightly as the wire probed deeper. "Now, you see, if I want to spy on Congress because they are a bunch of terror lovers, I git to do that. And if I want to spy on myself, 'cause I'm not to be trusted, well, then, I cin do that too."

He squinted and twisted his head from side to side, slightly as the probe went ever deeper into the ear canal.

"Ouch, that hurts," he said, "But it's fer the good of the country. There might be some terr'ists in there. Got to clean them out." He kept on grimacing as the probe went ever deeper into the President's head, until it popped out the other side.

"That's better!" he exclaimed, beaming, "Now I cin hear outa both ears. Things are gonna be a lot better around here from now on. No one can sneak up on me and sleep in my brain. Sleeper cells you know, sneak into your body parts and take over the molecules."

With that, Dick Cheney approached with a flashlight and began examining the space between the President's now open ears, then mumbled, "all clear" and made a big check mark in the ledger that he carried.

President Bush kept right on smiling for the cameras.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Now I can see why it took a small child to state the obvious in the famous story: "The Emperor is naked as a Perdue chicken!" No one, not even said Emperor himself wanted to acknowledge that lack of body covering, as he strutted down the avenue before the admiring crowds.

Were there no Democrats in the crowd that day? you may ask? Only sycophantic members of the Emperor's own party?

No, I don't think that's it. There were Democrats. I have it on good authority; they stood to the rear, silently staring, maybe with a wink and a nod to each other, but no loud outcries, no exclamations of Emperorial nudity to shock their constituents.

They were biding their time, for what, the History books do not say.

The small child, taken on an outing to see the majesty of Democracy in action, didn't know about timing, or political correctness or incorrectness. He couldn't even spell the words. He just saw this silly little naked guy parading down the street in the altogether.

He wasn't particularly outraged by moral considerations, or trying to score points with the opposition; he was no revolutionary.

Just a small child, who, like many small children, pointing out embarrassing family secrets to their friends about their mothers' mustache or their fathers' taking up residence with the family dog (embarrassing to the adults in question, of course, not their truth-telling offspring), was merely stating a fact as the fact paraded past him.

Democrats coughed into their hands, while members of the Emperor's party clucked and shuffled their feet.

Politics is a game played by grown ups, and often played long after the winning die is cast.

So it takes a child insisting that his truth is THE truth, to fianlly get the ear of the press and all flashbulbs break loose.

Do we have to wait for the children of the land to call out, "look Ma; the President's got a Nuke; shouldn't we duck and cover or something?"

OK, so this parable is just a round-about way of saying, Democrats, be like the little children (if you're religously inclined, remember Christ said "A little child shall lead them," or so I recall from my early Bible toting days) and shout out the obvious.

This President is stark naked and stark raving mad on top of it, and he's holding a giant Nuke over Iran.

If kids can see what's not there, we in the Democratic Party should be able to see what IS right in front of our noses. This Emperor has got to go. Let's not wait for the bomb to fall; for the Republicans to be the first to open their eyes, although God love 'em when they do!

You want to win the Congress back this year? Speak out. Naked Emperors carrying nukes are bad for children and all living things.

Shout it out. Shout it loud. Remember regime change begins at home.

Monday, February 20, 2006


It's that time again. The Practical Politics seminar at the College of Marin is Saturday, April 1, 2006. Below is the course outline. For information on registration go to:

Practical Politics: Grassroots Campaigning
for the Local Candidate or Activist

"All politics is local." Tip O'Neill

Learn effective political techniques whether you are running for office, lobbying elected officials or raising awareness (or money) for your cause. Topics include:

* Running for office: How to decide if the job and timing are right

* Frame that issue: Sound bites and more

* Recruiting and training volunteers

* Getting the Press you deserve

* Creating effective campaign materials

* Identifying natural and unlikely allies

* Know your opposition: Research, Research, Research

* Dialing for dollars: Learn to enjoy the job everyone hates!

* Planning your next steps; An activist's work is never done!

Handouts and a bibliography will be available. Read George Lakoff's Don't Think of An Elephant before class if possible. Widely available in paperback. Handouts and bibliography will be provided. Please bring a bag lunch.

Dotty E. LeMieux has more than 20 years of grassroots activism under her belt, and currently runs progressive political campaigns and trains grassroots activists throughout Northern California. She served as California Political Director for Dennis Kucinich's Presidential Campaign.

Saturday, 10am-4pm
Apr. 1
Kentfield Campus
Physical Education 22
Fee $37 (Includes $7 materials fee)
Course #8440 EC

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Life and Death with Dignity for All:

Hi All you Green Dogs. Here is a very important Valentine's message for you all. It speaks to our hearts and our progressive political beliefs, family values, and human dignity.

It's the California Compassionate Choice Act, AB 651, now in the Assembly, also known as Death with Dignity. This Act, introduced by Assembly members Patty Berg of Sonoma and Lloyd Levine of Southern California, will allow terminally ill patients the means to make end of life choices. It is similar to the law passed in Oregon in 1997 and recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The entire Bill can be read at
California stands poised to become a leader in the movement to allow freedom for all people to have control over their life and their death. This Bill provides safeguards for those with disabilities or elderly people to prevent any abuses. Only those diagnosed with six months or less to live, having requested a lethal prescription orally and in writing from their physician, found to be mentally competent and capable of taking the final measure themselves, qualify.

My Life, My Death, My Choice:

This Bill is about choices in medical decisions free of governmental interference. That is why leading physicians, nurses, clergy and other caring professionals have endorsed it. Organizations such as NOW, ACLU, Senior and Hospice groups are listed as supporters.

Major newspapers, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, the LA Times, San Jose Mercury and Sacramento Bee have editorialized for the measure.

Both Democratic candidates for Governor are in support. They all know that when it comes to end of life decisions, just as when it comes to a woman's right to choose, only a patient and his/her doctor are in the position to determine what is best.

This bill will end needless end of life suffering for countless Californians, while respecting the rights of those who wish to prolong life. It is Your Life, Your Death, Your Choice.

Your Help:

Although right now, things look good for passage out of the Assembly, there is a long way to go and we expect a backlash from the Right. That's why this campaign is so urgent for us all to support with our time, energy and dollars. The lead organization, Compassion and Choices, is a non-profit out of Portland Oregon, helping people with end of life decisions, and advocating for legislative changes all over the country.

They are focused now in California, putting their staff and Board energy into getting this Bill passed. That means raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few months to pay for outreach materials, educational and lobbying drives and positive advertising to promote the legislation.

You can read about the organization and the campaign at

If any of you want to help in any way, let me know at I will be calling some of you to discuss this in more detail soon.

And please, pass this on to your lists and write or call your Assembly member to ask for their support. Thanks!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Union of the State

Is it a Police State yet?

Last night's State of Union Address, despite its modulated tone and small sops to Democratic issues (health care, education, alternative energy) sounded the same old themes:

War, war and more war.

Wiretaps will protect us from the Enemy.

Terr'ists are comin' to getcha.

Seriously, the Dems were suckered on this one. There were three times when the appropriate Democratic response was to rise from their seats: at the beginning when Bush noted the passing of Coretta Scott King, when the fallen soldier was honored and when he noted the end of Sandra Day O'Connor's tenure on the Supreme Court.

They should have done so silently with heads bowed on all occasions.

Health Care Savings Accounts

Instead, they let Bush sucker them into rising when he mentioned the demise of his Social Security plans of last year; then went on to detail his new plans for bankrupting the American workers: the use of so-called Health Savings Accounts.

These are nothing more than ways for employers to shirk their duty to provide health care coverage to their workers, for insurance companies to jack up their premiums and deductibles, and to leave even more working Americans un or underinsured.

As David Lazarus said in today's Chronicle: "[H]ealth savings accounts can be a nifty financial tool as long as you're rich or don't get sick."

At one point Bush stated that "our generation" would be fighting "a determined enemy" for a long time. That future Presidents of both parties would be in the battle. I think he meant the "war on terr'ism" but I dunno, maybe he meant the war on wrinkles or midriff bulge. Maybe that's why Hillary Clinton rose and applauded, even as those around her stayed seated. Somehow I don't think so, and joining Bush's "wars" is not a auspicious beginning for a Democratic Presidential campaign.

"Intelligence" Gathering

Bush's defense of his warrentless wiretaps, saying we all want to know if Al Quada is calling, and suggesting that if we had had wiretaps in place before 9/11, we could have foiled the attack on the world Trade Center, did not pass the Straight Face test.

He did not mention the August 2001 memo suggesting just such a scenario, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States." He did not listen to those who warned that some of the later-identified 9/11 hijackers were taking lessons in flying but not landing airplanes, and he ignored warnings of his own advisors on increased "chatter" between known terror suspects.

They were listening then. They had the tools to do something about it and they failed. Spy on yourself George.

Don't even get me started on what he had to say on Iraq, where the sun is always shining and great strides are being made. Oh, and pigs fly.

What about Them Dems?

And what about those Dems? Couldn't they find anyone more alive than the pasty faced Patrician Governor of Virginia to give their (our) response? I mean, come on. Where was the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party last night? Howard Dean would have done. Charles Wrangel. Even Nancy Pelosi.

No wonder we lose elections. Come on Dems, this is your wake up call. Russ Feingold for President anyone?

Monday, January 30, 2006


Year of the Dog

2006 is the Year of the Dog. This Green Dog takes that to mean it's a good year for Progressives. Come November, will we take back the House? It's up to all good Green (and Yellow) Dogs to make it happen.

But first a look at this Green Dog's 2005:


Most of you know about my business, Green Dog Campaigns, which specializes in Democratic and progressive non-Partisan candidates and issues. This year, we helped with Fairfax's Measure F, a parcel tax to fund public safety, infrastructure and after school programs. The measure, led by Fairfax's long term Councilmember Frank Egger and a dedicated volunteer group, passed easily in a July special election.

We also helped with two campaigns in the November election. We partnered with Kathleen Russell Consulting to help elect Derek Knell to the Novato School Board. Derek's come from behind victory diwas not final until two weeks after election Day, when late absentee votes were counted. This shows the strength of the permanent absentee voter in Marin County, and the importance of reaching out with mail and phone calls the last crucial week.

Mary Ann Maggiore won a seat on the Fairfax Town Council, garnering a broad base of support. Mary Ann will be a bright addition to the Council, bringing her negotiating skills and experience on the Planning Commission to bear. Her Victory Celebration and Retire the Debt Party is this Friday, February 10, 5:30-8 PM at the Green Fusion Design Studio, 14 Greenhill Avenue, San Anselmo, at the Hub. $25 for food, fun, and friends!


In April and again in September, I gave a day long workshop at the College of Marin for community activists and people considering a run for office. Four of my students went on to win races in the fall: Two mentioned above: Derek Knell and Mary Ann Maggiore, as well as Greg Brockbank (winning his re-election to the College of Marin Board of Trustees) and Jeanne Thompson elected to the Ross Valley School Board.

The next class is scheduled for April 1. More on that later.

I also joined with the Mendocino Democratic Party to train activists in that County. Thanks to Susan Savage for inviting me to help out.

I made presentations on grass roots activism to two groups fighting powerful forces in their bids to protect the environment. In McCloud, near Mt. Shasta, a citizen's group is battling the giant Nestle Corporation which threatens to undermine the local ground water system with a new bottling plant. Closer to home, the No Wetland Landfill Expansion group, a coalition of Marin and Sonoma County citizens, is challenging the expansion of the Redwood Landfill In Novato. Plans for the Landfill will incrase traffic and threaten the Petaluma River and Marsh with runoff from an expanded use.

And finally, I joined the Marin National Women's Political Caucus on its mentoring and training night. Several seasoned campaigners and elected officials offered advice to local candidates on topics as varied as what to wear to the debate and how to pick up the phone and "dial for dollars."


The high point of the year for this Green Dog was surely the ratification of the California Democratic Progressive Caucus by our State Party. Our first official meeting as a Caucus in April drew a membership of nearly four hundred Democrats. By October, our ranks had swelled to more than 600. We were instrumental in passing a resolution calling for the withdrawal of troops in Iraq at the State Convention, and this past weekend at the State Democratic Executive Committee meeting, we presented a panel on how to do just that, featuring former weapons Inspector Scott Ritter.

A self styled "conservative Republican," Ritter's advice is for Democrats to take back the house this year. It truly is going to be the Year of the (Green) Dog!


Last year I moved my office from Mill Valley to San Rafael. My new office is conveniently located opposite two of my favorite eateries, the Panama Hotel and Muffin Mania. If you need to meet a friend or colleague for lunch or dinner, check them out.

The new address is 496 B St. Suite D. It's up the stairs and past the dental lab. I hope to see you all when the rains stop for a Welcome to Spring Open House.


This year I finally put up a website. It's still in process, but you can view it here (and make suggestions please. But note, for some reason I cannot format this so you can click on it; you have to copy and paste the url.):

On the site are some of my sample campaign materials and articles I've written for Campaigns and Elections Magazine.

I attended my first Progressive Caucus meeting as a member of the Executive Board. My title is Member at Large. We have a great group and I'm so proud of us for putting on a sensational Iraq forum after Democratic Party events were over. Besides Scott Ritter, we had an excellent panel, including our own Harlan Hopgood, who has drafted a workable blueprint for getting out of Iraq soon.

The Caucus adopted a four point program for the year: Clean Money (passed by our California Assembly this week! Now on to the Senate) Living Wage, Out of Iraq and Single Payer Universal Health care.

In February I'm off to Fresno to join a campaign forum for the NWPC there. And April 1, I'm back at the College of Marin. I'll post the class agenda here soon. I hope some of you can join the class.

Since the year is young, I look forward to many campaigns and columns. The first is under way: I have joined the team helping to pass Compassionate Choices legislation in the State Legislature. This legislation introduced by the North Coast's Patty Berg and Southern California's Lloyd Levine, is similar to legislation passed in Oregon and recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court, allowing terminal patients the means to end their life, with physician's assistance and under stringent guidelines. You can read the full legislation here:

I look forward to talking with many of you about this legislation in the weeks and months ahead.

Your input on this and other Green Dog matters is always welcome.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Warrants; We ain't got no Warrants; We don't got to show you no stinkin' Warrants!"

George Bush came out fighting in his campaign to spy on the American people. "The polls are even" say the pundits, "half of all Americans say 'Spy on me, Mr. President. I've got nothing to hide.'"

And if you do have something to hide, better hide it well. Someone is watching you. This only works if people buy into the Administration's version of things.

For instance War. The Bushies say we're at War. War with Terrorists. Wrong. They are at war. War with the American people. War with the truth. War with the Constitution.

The Terrorists are not a tribe. They are not a Nation. They are not even a "they." Terrorism is a tactic, and we can all agree we don't like it one bit. It is not something you can declare war on. Or something that can declare war on us. The "Terrorists" did not attack us on September 11, 2001. A group of fundamentalist fanatics attacked the World Trade Center. Somehow that act, as horrible as it was, has been used to justify our governments declaring war on us and our way of life.

Think about it. George Bush says the terrorists hate us because they hate our way of life, and want to destroy it. If you substitute the word I for "the terrorists" you will see what is really happening here.

George Bush: "I hate the American way of life and I want to destroy it."

"I hate civil liberties and I want to destroy them."

"I hate free speech and I want to destroy it."

See the pattern.

It's like a Mad magazine fold-in cover. Fold in the edges of the page and you will see the real message.

"I hate Democracy and I want to destroy it."

So why, then, do we let our government use it against us?

Spying on you without a warrant is terrorism. I know, you have nothing to fear because you don't get calls from Al Quaeda. But what if you occasionally glance at an x rated site on the computer? They want to know that too. What if you go to a peace march, a pro-choice rally or a non-fundamentalist church?

Guess what, you might be fair game for George's peepers. And if you are Arabic, Muslim, or look like you might be, you, my friend, are a target. No, you do not have to be a terrorist to be treated like one.

And that is the insidious thing about terrorism. It gets inside your head and makes you fear. And fear is the best thing for those who want to terrorize. Especially if they can get you to fear someone or some thing else. That way they get to look like the guys in the white hats. Spy on me, Mr. President. I'm afraid of the terrorists. I'm afraid I might be a terrorist.

Save me from myself.

"I am George Bush and I hate you and want to destroy you."

Friday, January 06, 2006


A Man Ahead of His Time

“Those who fail to learn from history are destined…”

“I want to stand up on my hind legs and not just admit but frankly holler right out that we’ve got to change out system a lot, maybe even change the whole Constitution (but change it legally, and not by violence) to bring it up from the horseback-and-corduroy road epoch to the automobile-and-cement-highway period of today. The Executive has got to have a freer hand and be able to move quick in an emergency, and not be tied down by a lot of dumb shyster-lawyer congressmen taking months to shoot off their mouths in debates. BUT – and it’s a But as big as Deacon Checkerboard’s hay-barn back home – these new economic changes are only a means to an End, and that End is and must be, fundamentally, the same principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice that were advocated by the Founding Fathers of this great land back in 1776!”

Quick, who said that? And when? No it wasn’t George W. Bush announcing how tapping our phones and emails will make us safe from terrorists. It was fictional Presidential candidate Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip in It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis, author of such American classics as Main Street, Babbit and Elmer Gantry. And it was written in 1935.

Nothing really ever changes. In the First World War, they called Sauerkraut Liberty Kraut and for a while, so goes the tale, even entertained the notion of renaming German Measles Liberty measles

So in 1935, with the rise of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe, Sinclair Lewis penned a cautionary tale of what could happen in our own country to a populace easily persuaded by a silver tongued orator disguised in humble garb, spouting rhetoric of what was in its own interest.

Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip is a blowhard Senator, anti-Semetic, anti- Negro, anti-woman rights, who wraps his lust for power in charming appeals to the working classes’ desire for a better life. He promises to rid the country of the yoke of (Jewish) bankers’ tyranny as well as the corruption of those presently in government. He’s the anti-government candidate for President, thinly based on real life Huey Long, whose Share the Wealth movement parallels Windrip’s League of Forgotten Men, both cynical ploys for votes calculated to thrust them into power.

Once elected, Windrip and his advisers, a Karl Rove double called Lee Sarasson, who seems to be the brains behind the maneuvering, and charismatic radio preacher Peter Paul Prang (based on Charles Coughlin, a fire-and-brimstone right wing evangalist, whose base included Pat Buchanan’s father), ditched the League of Forgotten Men for the American Corporate State and Patriotic Party and its henchmen, an untrained unpaid band of vigilantes known as the Minute Men. In a prescient moment, Lewis puts these words in Windrip’s mouth: “There are two parties, the Corporate and those who don’t belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck!”

The Windrip Corporate platform besides being anti-Semitic, was boldly racist and anti-woman. As for men, those unlucky enough to be out of work were sent to labor farms, where for a dollar a day they could hire out to the corporate bosses, who were only too happy for the chance to ditch their Union member workers for these low paid laborers, thus swelling the ranks of the unemployed even further.

Sold as an answer to the ravages of Depression, the new Corporate State led to rampant inflation and wholesale migrations to Canada until the Minute Men closed the border. Dismantling Democracy in the name of saving it came easy. Those in the other branches of government who disagreed either left their posts (several Supreme Court justices were quickly replaced with “surprisingly unknown lawyers who called [Windrip] by his first name’),’ or were put into protective custody (opposition members of Congress). One of the first bulwarks of Democracy to go was the press. Our hero, Doremus Jessup, an Everyman Vermont newspaper editor, is sent to a camp, then escapes to Canada to ponder how this happened and why even he, who saw it coming and warned his fellows that it can happen here, missed the seriousness of the takeover.

Early on in the book, Lewis elucidates Jessup’s observations: “Doremus Jessup, so inconspicuous an observer, watching Senator Windrip from so humble a Boeotia, could not explain his power of bewitching large audiences. The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his ‘ideas’ almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.”

Reading these words in 2006 is downright eerie. Whether it’s George Bush and his folksy smirk alternating with his sneering admonitions that “if you’re not with us you’re with the terrorists,” or Arnold Schwarzenegger, reinventing himself as the friend to the working man and woman, education and health care, two months after waging war on all of it with his November propositions, the warning is clear: Those who want absolute power will stop at nothing, will use any tactics, measures and lies to convince a gullible public they are on “your” side.

Thinking people would do well to be heed the lessons of the past, even fictional ones. Novels like It Can’t Happen Here are worth reading, especially now. This book was recently reissued, although I found my copy in ancient paperback form in a used bookstore. The Boston Globe reviewed it only last month:

And bloggers like me are joining in. Read it and be afraid. Be very afraid.