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Elections – Green Dragon
Oct 112014

It’s that time again, Green Dragon patrons! Elections are coming up, and here are the house recommendations.

Please note that I don’t endorse in races where I don’t feel I have enough knowledge to make a call. I have been out of circulation from most municipal-level politics for awhile now. I encourage you to check out, where you can find report cards on incumbent local officials and endorsements of candidates in races where I haven’t made one.

Federal and State Offices

GOVERNOR: JERRY BROWN. Though some are grumpy about it, I feel that Brown has been smart and sensible about not going overboard with new expenditures as the state’s budget has recovered from the Bush Recession. I’m not a big fan of his concepts of “realigning” incarceration and child care to local governments, nor some of his labor votes, but overall, he’s done a great job.

STATEWIDE OFFICES: vote for Democrats. The California Republican party has gone far out on the loony-tune Tea Party limb, and none can be trusted to serve the public interest. Of those running, I particularly recommend KAMALA HARRIS, who has been a terrific Attorney General.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2nd District: JARED HUFFMAN. Huffman has been simply stellar. Not only is his voting record superlative, he has proven capable—as he was in the state legislature under Schwarzenegger—of moving legislation even when he needs opposition support to do so. His bill protecting a large swathe of the North Coast as wilderness was the only such bill to pass the House this year.

STATE SENATE, District 2: MIKE McGUIRE. This is Noreen Evans’ seat, and those are big shoes to fill. McGuire, let’s be clear, will not fill them. McGuire was an adequate Supervisor, especially given the historically conservative district he represents. I’d hardly give him rave reviews, but the fact is that in the Senate he will be more beholden to progressive voices than he is now, and McGuire is young—perhaps he will learn. This is a safe Democratic seat.

ASSEMBLY, District 2: JIM WOOD. If his very cautious, don’t-make-waves tenure on the Healdsburg City Council is any indicator, Wood will not be much of a leader, nor a progressive, and he lacks the political savvy of Wes Chesbro, who is terming out. That said, if he wants to get anything done in Sacramento he, like McGuire, will have to partner with progressive Democrats who are the majority there. This is a safe Democratic seat and Wood will be the next Assemblymember.

Ballot Propositions:

1: NO. Although this measure improved considerably in the final days before the Legislature put it on the ballot, it is still a wrongheaded approach to solving the state’s water woes.

2:  YES. Prop. 2 would ensure that the State manages its finances more wisely instead of every budget surplus being the cause of a free-for-all over who will get the money. While opponents claim to be speaking for schools, even the President of the California State Board of Education supports it.

45: :YES YES YES!!  This measure gives the California State Insurance Commissioner real authority to force insurance companies to PROVE that they need to raise rates before they can do it. It’s that simple.

46:  NO. The state cap on medical malpractice awards is grossly out of step with the actual harm it causes, and that is the heart of this measure. The prescription database, also, is a good idea. The drug testing, however, is a poison pill. California is already short on doctors and many will simply retire or move out of state before they will be subjected to drug testing. It’s a dumb idea and makes this measure unworthy of support.

47:  YES YES YES!!  “Three Strikes” and other draconian sentencing policy have been a social, budgetary and judicial DISASTER for California. Limiting such harsh sentencing to violent and serious offenders will save money and prevent the wholesale injustice that is happening now.

48:  NO. Tribal gaming is out of control in California. Any opportunity to prevent yet another casino from being built is a good idea.

Local elections:

Supervisor, 2nd District: Shirlee Zane. Zane has done a good job, and has been particularly strong on health and mental health issues. She deserves another term.

Supervisor, 4th District: DEB FUDGE. Deb has been an exemplary leader on the Windsor Town Council and was my pick four years ago. She’s fantastic on the environment, urban planning and transportation, and a real listener who cares about her constituents. You couldn’t do better.

Ballot Measure M: YES. Our libraries have been crushed by budget cuts. This measure will allow us to have a public information-access system and library we can all rely on and be proud of.


Santa Rosa:

Measure N: Yes. For complicated reasons, this modernization of the city’s Utility Tax will actually increase revenue while also cutting the tax paid by current ratepayers, as it expands the tax to VOIP and mobile phone customers who should be taxed at the same rate as everyone else. It’s a reasonable idea and should be approved.

City Council: CHRIS COURSEY. Coursey was certainly a mixed bag as a Press Democrat columnist—fair disclosure, he did a hatchet job on me as I left Conservation Action, and I haven’t forgotten it—but I think odds are better than 50/50 he will be a neighborhood-oriented vote rather than a Chamber of Commerce rubber stamp. Because of his name recognition, he has more latitude than many others in voting as he believes rather than as a given political camp wishes.

Many progressives are also supporting Curtis Byrd and Lee Pierce along with Coursey. I don’t know anything about Byrd, but Pierce was unimpressive when interviewed for an endorsement many years ago. Since, he has served a term and been burned by the Chamber of Commerce crowd who expected him to be One Of Theirs—he may therefore have a new perspective on politics.


Mayor: DAVID GLASS. Glass has been an exemplary Mayor; his opponent, Mike Harris, who has been a lackluster city council member who has appeared primarily to be driven by personal ambition rather than any set of values or vision for the city.


Local Measure Q (forever sales tax increase): ABSOLUTELY NOT. A slush fund without accountability for how it will be spent.


UNA GLASS is a friend, and was appointed to replace her husband, the former mayor, who died suddenly this past spring. I think she deserves a full term to develop her ideas for the direction of the city.


SAM SALMON has been a terrific vote on the Town Council for many years, and deserves a return to office.


Go vote!

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Nov 082012

“We need Latinos”.

That’s the only consensus conclusion being drawn by Republican talking heads after watching their candidates walloped on Tuesday. Seeing the Latino vote climbing steadily, GOPers today all seem to be nodding soberly and agreeing that, yep, they need them some Latinos.

(Well, okay, except for Viagra Rush and Bill-O the Clown. Those guys are just fulminating about the end of “traditional America”, apparently simply shattered at the prospect of a pluralistic society not ruled by old white guys.)

So: what’s wrong with that? The thing about the Latinos, I mean.

Well, to begin with, Republicans who are soberly talking about the urgency of getting with some brown people today are seemingly operating out of a stereotype of the Latino voter as Juan Valdez: a simple, hardworking and basically conservative Catholic, who is only backing Democrats because of the immigration issue.

They don’t seem to understand that Latino voters are Americans. In fact, millions of them were born and grew up here. They went to American schools, grew up in American society and, remarkably enough, they are not bewildered and amazed by smartphones and indoor plumbing. They have opinions on issues other than immigration. They’re no more stupid or gullible than any other segment of the population.

So that’s the first problem: your cutting-edge assessment that maybe you should be, I dunno, a little less racist, maybe, is rooted in assumptions that are…racist.

Not to mention the strategic problem, of course, that budging on immigration policy will make the Tea Party and Southern white racists’ heads explode. But on that, I just say boo effing hoo: you cultivated them, now you’re stuck with trying to keep them.

As I see it, the real mistake the Republican hand-wringers are making is in completely ignoring the real lessons of having lost two Presidential elections in a row and failed by every standard in this one despite a weak economy and limitless money faucet: their policies are unpopular and don’t work, and they have been deliberately deluding themselves that this isn’t so.

Republicans are in a bubble. They are only talking with or listening to people who think exactly like themselves, surrounded by an infrastructure of fable-tellers—conservative media, right-wing think tanks—which feed them a constant stream of fauxformation that reinforces their delusions about policy alternatives, about Democrats, and about what voters really want. That’s why they are all so danged shocked that the polls turned out to be right, that Nate Silver’s math outperformed Peggy Noonan’s gut feeling in predicting election outcomes.

If the Republican Party wants to remain viably competitive on a national scale, they have to become more like Eisenhower’s Republican Party: preferring a market-based, private-sector-centric approach to economics while recognizing that there is a legitimate role for governmental oversight and public works, and meanwhile standing for the liberty of the individual so long as that liberty doesn’t hurt anyone else. But rather than looking at this most fundamental of political problems and realizing that their dreams of a libertarian paradise or Jesusland or whatever the hell they’re trying to do are never going to happen, they just keep doggedly clinging to their increasingly discredited and unpopular policies, hoping to find some magical marketing strategy that will help them to sell America a s**t sandwich.

You don’t solve that by “getting some Latinos”. You solve it by facing reality. America is an increasingly heterogenous society. Women are a majority of voters. Young people are engaging in politics again. The middle class really has been nuked by Reaganomics. Climate change is real. Acceptance of civil equality for gay people is rising fast, and isn’t going to stop. Most people support abortion rights.

These are facts. Throwing a bone at a demographic while continuing to deny that your entire worldview is based in delusional fictions is not going to win you elections any more. Blithely lying about anything and everything is no longer persuasive: the public has caught on.

Predictably, however, the prescriptions being offered by leaders of the various Republican factions this week boil down to: get some of them Latinos, and move more in the direction of [INSERT FACTION HERE]. To head further into Crazyland.

You are now on the wrong side of both history and reality, Republicans. You can’t resolve that with some pretty packaging targeted at a group of people you have treated with naked hostility and contempt for decades. You solve it by starting to offer a product that seems to voters as though it might be useful in some way, instead of a pointless and irrelevant widget.

If you want to become nationally competitive again, you need to face facts, and tough your way through the inevitable civil war you must endure between your Plutocrats, Theocrats, and Teahaddists to a new agenda not rooted in delusion. Otherwise, the most you can possibly hope to do at the federal level is to serve as a spoiler now and again.

You don’t “need Latinos”. You need to wake the hell up.

On publication, the Dragon was KEEPING IT REAL

Sep 262012

One of the many strikes against Mitt Romney’s candidacy has been a regular drumbeat of complaint by movement conservatives like Redstate’s Erick Erickson that Romney isn’t sufficiently ideologically conservative, that he’s wishy-washy on their issues, that his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts shows he’s too liberal, etc. During the primary season, each of the Non-Romneys du jour took a crack at undermining the Mittster based on this critique.

Sorry, right-wing nutcases, but I’ve got news for you: Mitt Romney is precisely what your party stands for.

In fact, he is a carbon-copy of what your party has nominated in each of the past four Presidential cycles: a privileged, spoiled, morally blank, mean-spirited person driven solely by desire for self-aggrandizement.

Why does it surprise you that Romney will tell you what you want to hear, gainsay it ten minutes later and then deny the contradiction? Republican Presidents have been doing that since Ronald Reagan. At least he had the excuse of dementia (which was denied, of course), but that hardly extends to his many handlers and flaks, who lied cheerfully and liberally, daring the worshiping press to contradict them. Romney is no more mendacious than Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Dana Perino or Scott McClellan were on behalf of Dubya, or than John McCain is when throwing his supposedly stellar principles under the bus for political expediency (this week, it was Our Veteran Hero voting against the Veterans’ Job Act).

The current nominee’s only innovation in this regard is in having shortened the intervals between flip and flop, and not bothering to try some tortured rationalization for why the contradictions are somehow consistent.

This is what you get. This is the natural culmination of having steadily moved your end of the political spectrum away from facts and towards faith, away from thinking and towards ideology, away from public interest and towards self-interest, away from a pluralistic understanding that those who disagree must nonetheless work together to govern, and towards the idea of winning by any means necessary…and if you can’t, making sure the other guys lose.

Mitt Romney is the concentrated essence of what conservatism has become: a no-rules angler for his own interests, all other concerns secondary. A man who cares about nothing but himself.

He doesn’t care about your social issues. Neither did Reagan, or either Bush, or McCain. They mouthed the words and made occasional policy gestures while in office because they figured you were dumb enough for that to keep you on a string, and because they didn’t care about the people that got hurt in the process. There’s no commitment to values there: just Machiavellian pragmatism.

He doesn’t care about your economic philosophy. All he cares about is gaming the system to the greatest degree possible to personally benefit himself and his family. If that means raising taxes on the middle class so the wealthy pay even less, well, hell, let’s tee that right up. There’s no economic philosophy there: just greed.

He doesn’t care about integrity. If making appeals to racial prejudice, campaigning on obvious falsehoods cobbled from out-of-context edited quotes, and working to make it harder for some people to vote will raise his chances of success, he will of course pursue these strategies. There is no core sense of human decency there; Mitt Romney knows to his cold little core that he is The Only Person In The Universe.

There is a word for people like that. They’re called sociopaths. And your movement, your party, your articulated philosophies, your campaign tactics and, yes, your candidates all fit that label nicely.

Mitt hasn’t failed you. Mitt is the absolute essence of you. The mistake you make is in thinking he was supposed to stand for what YOU want, but you have missed the punchline of your own joke: he’s not there for you. He’s there for himself, and himself only.

Which is exactly the direction you have been trying to push the politics of the country for more than thirty years.

You were just too dumb to understand that you could be tossed out in the cold just like the blacks and the gays and the poor and the women and all the other people you don’t care about.

In a world run by sociopaths, you get betrayed just like everyone else. You’re not immune. You’re non-human non-factors whose feelings, interests and aspirations are non-relevant, too.

Welcome to Mitt’s world, suckers.

At publication, the Dragon was REFLECTIVE

Romney’s Shock and Awe

 Posted by at 12:44 pm  National Politics
Aug 042012

It occurs to me that in the 2012 Presidential, we’ve seen this movie before, produced by some of the same people. It’s the “Shock and Awe” strategy. And just like before, it isn’t working.

The Romney campaign and SuperPACs that support him operated under the assumption that their money would simply bomb the Obama campaign into oblivion…that their overwhelming advantage in ammunition would be enough to carry the day and sweep up “hearts and minds”, and they wouldn’t ever have to have a debate about the merits of their candidate.

They also assumed that the “real” campaign would happen in the fall, so they could spend months making the whole debate about the state of the economy and the need for a “business mind” to take over, figuring that Obama would want to talk about anything except the economy.

They did not expect that the Obama campaign would jump in early to define Romney before they could, doing as Karl Rove has done in the past: go after what appears to be your opponent’s strength, and turn it into a weakness. Polls tell us that Romney’s supposed business prowess has now been framed in the minds of a majority of voters as exactly the predatory, unaccountable Wall Street mindset that got the country into this mess.

The proof of this is that they are scrambling to change the subject, first with the disastrous foreign policy trip and now with the fact that they have started talking about Romney’s stint as Governor of Massachusetts again, which they have been fleeing for two years. They have learned that talking up “Romney the Businessman” has been taken away from them by smart, pre-emptive, surgical incisions.

But they can’t change the subject, because they can’t put the tax return issue to rest. It’s not going away. Try as he might, he can’t put it behind him without releasing his returns, and it seems pretty clear that he has something to hide, or he would have revealed them. Now Reid has upped the ante, and his only response is his now-familiar whining and apology-demanding (weak), and attempts to shout “squirrel!” and point elsewhere.

This is far from over. But recent polling in battleground states appears to be showing some stable daylight between the President and Romney. The challenger has very few ways of putting together a winning electoral map, while Obama has multiple ways to win (synopsis here)

Shock and Awe failed in Iraq, and it’s failing in 2012. However many weapons you have, the people you are claiming to “liberate” have been lost to you once they have formed a negative conclusion about your character. Barring significant vote suppression or an unforeseen calamity, it’s hard to imagine how Romney pulls this out.

At publication, the Dragon was CONTEMPLATIVE