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.