Thursday, October 1, 2009

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

San Francisco has been going through some weather crazy enough to match its politics. Record daytime heat followed by record nighttime cold. But our much beloved fog is back. Al Gore's hot air had driven it away for many years, but it seems to be making a comeback. My assistant, Kitty Kelly, is alternating between panting under the ceiling fan during the day, and purring next to the heater during the night. She's not getting any work done. What good is an assistant when I have to do my own typing?

Note: It appears that our golden boy mayor is now officially in big trouble in his bid to become governor of California. Former Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, who is currently attorney general and previously Mayor of Oakland, has abandoned his pretense of running for attorney general again, and opened a Brown for Governor campaign exploratory committee. That is not just a political decision. It is also a practical monetary decision. By filing papers for the governorship he is entitled to raise nearly four times as much per individual contributor as he was allowed in the attorney general race.

So Gavin Newsom is one step closer to a real fight. Since Brown so far has not declared his formal candidacy, the exploratory committee is a financial formality, but it certainly appears that Brown is serious. A current Rasmussen poll puts Brown well ahead of Newsom in the Democratic primary. California has a two-term limit for governors, but Brown is exempt since the law was passed after Brown completed his two terms before the new law was passed. And even while filing originally only for the attorney general post, Brown had already raised $7.3 million to Newsom's $1.2 million, and Newsom was not raising funds under the same restrictions because he filed in the gubernatorial contest originally.

During his tenure as governor, Brown made some of the worst judicial appointments in California history. The appointments were politically-correct before political-correctness had become the order of the day. Nearly half his appointments were either removed from office for misconduct or simply defeated at the next election. One of his appointments was given the choice of leaving her hair-dye matched French poodle at home or leaving the bench. She left the bench. His lesbian appointment was removed for showing clear injudicial hostility towards male prosecutors. Another of his appointments was removed for refusing to wear clothing under his robes. Yet given the choice between Brown and Newsom, I think Brown is the safer bet.

Note: Newsom has more than just Jerry Brown to worry about. Newsom is getting a taste of Obama's second favorite left wing harassment cadre, the SEIU. The mayor has ordered 500 layoffs of city clerical workers and nursing assistants in an attempt to get San Francisco's financial head above water. The SEIU doesn't like that. Robert Haaland, a spokesman for the violent and disruptive union said: "We plan on dogging him on the campaign trail." When asked if that included Newsom's upcoming visit with Bill Clinton in Los Angeles, Haaland replied: "That's the plan." The mayor has had to cancel or move several official city functions because of the interruptions and menacing behavior of the SEIU. And he won't get any help from Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, who intensely dislikes Newsom.

It's fun watching the chickens come home to roost. Even the ultraliberal mayor is being called a racist. The SEIU's major complaint is that the layoffs will affect mostly minority women. Well, at least they didn't say it would hurt the children. But they also neglected to mention that a substantial portion of those "minority women" are also illegal immigrants who are not supposed to have jobs with the City in the first place. Details, details.

Note: One of the best musical entertainment venues in San Francisco (located in one of its worst neighborhoods) is off the hook with the state regulatory authorities. The Great American Music Hall, located in the heart of the war-zone Tenderloin district, was under threat of suspension for allowing under age persons into a nightclub. Of course, that only means the state was applying a ridiculously stringent statue with multiple possible interpretations. A nightclub technically serves alcohol during the entertainment and in the same room. But the law has always been interpreted to mean that "nightclubs" which have entertainment, serve food, and incidentally serve alcohol were merely clubs, which can allow minors inside the main room. Some puritans in Sacramento from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board just decided that this time they would interpret the law differently. They lost in court, and the Great American Music Hall remains in business.

Note: Our smaller twin across the Bay, Berkeley, just produced another first. It became the first city in the United States (and possibly the world) to agree to enforce International Human Rights treaties. I can't wait for the first court case in which Berkeley attempts to enforce one of those UN treaties which have not been ratified by the United States government. Treaties are a strictly national affair, and the federal government has the sole authority to ratify or enforce those treaties.

In an apparent festival of self-loathing, Berkeley specifically aimed its legislation at, well, Berkeley. Berkeley's record on homelessness, achievement gaps by race in schools, and UC Boalt Hall law professor John Yoo were among the specifics mentioned. Yoo was the main architect of the memo regarding enhanced interrogation techniques during the Bush administration (for more on Professor Yoo, go here: Yoo Who?). Councilman Kriss Worthington said: "In our small and humble way, we can submit our own record. I think this is a wonderful thing for us to do." That's the most arrogant humility I have heard in some time. We could call it "flagellant grandiosity."

In an equally important move, the Council also raised metered parking fees to $1.50 per hour. Think globally, act locally. Hmmm.

NOTE: Columnist Yobie Benjamin has decided that Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) is trying to get the president assassinated. Starting with a loaded (and unverified) accusation, Benjamin asks rhetorically: "What exactly is fueling the unusually high number of death threats President Obama gets?" Then he (I think it's a he, I can't tell from the picture on the SF Gate site) answers the question: "The lunatic fringe of the right wing movement and the Republican Party." I'm waiting for the source and citation that shows that Obama is getting any more death threats than George W. Bush, but I guess we'll have to take his word for it.

And what prompted the question? Franks said that he opposed using federal funds for abortions. "A president who would do that . . . is an enemy of humanity." Well, case closed. Frank put a bullseye on Obama's head with that one. Obie then links to a crazed rant by a clearly unstable Obama-hater. You are expected to draw the immediate conclusion that the loony was perfectly sane and mild before hearing Franks's inflammatory rhetoric. Why are all the San Francisco writers such drama queens? Benjamin concludes the idiotic piece with "How far off is this guy from the edge or cliff of no return [the cliff of no return?]? Congressman Franks, are you trying to reach out to people like the man in this video? I think you're succeeding." Oh, horse manure!

NOTE: Columnist Mark Morford is almost back to "normal." His main article this week is entitled "First the candy, then the bullets--Good news, meet bad news--How do you parse and spit and swallow?" If the title leaves you mystified, perhaps an explanatory paragraph is in order. "How many snippets of ugly do you want? How do you sift and sort the various specious spitwads of untoward reality? The machine keeps churning, the news wires keep pumping and it's an endless cavalcade of hope and woe, pain and stupid, divine and beautiful, same as it ever was, except completely different. Shall we dance?"

I assume you understand now, although I admit I don't. I sort of think he is saying he likes bans on smoking, and doesn't like Wal-Mart. But by the time I had concluded that, he closed with the following two paragraphs:

"Wonder and joy, destruction and despair. The World Wildlife Fund recently revealed an enormous, dazzling array of 163 newly discovered species, all found deep in the Mekong River region of Vietnam (he wasn't clear on whether the Vietnamese themselves had noticed the "new" species). Bird-eating frogs! Leopard geckos! Breathtaking plants! Crank your sense of awe and wonder to 11, won't you?"

"But do it quick. Turns out climate change is already well on its way to wiping out most of these species before you can even say hi. Hey, look! An astonishing new creature that could tell us volumes about our wobbly planet and might hold the key to myriad secrets of evolution and medicine and what it all means and---Oh wait, never mind. It's gone. Who wants candy?"

So you tell me. Maybe the article is really about how he likes cap 'n tax, or hates your SUV. Or maybe he just really likes candy. Or maybe he just wants to have a chat with a bird-eating frog so he can increase his intellectual depth on the topics of evolution and global warming.


AndrewPrice said...

Call me crazy, but it just seems right that Gov. Moonbeam would preside over the last few years of California before the creditors repossess it. I'm throwing my endorsement behind Jerry. . . for all the wrong reasons!

As for Berkley, you're missing the opportunity Lawhawk. We should be encouraging their rush into crashland as much as we can. . . as a warning to others.

Writer X said...

With Mark Morford, hide the knives! His rant this week sounds like something you'd read in a teenager's journal, after too many frappuccinos. But that's probably an insult to teenagers everywhere.

Regarding Brown, I love these career politicians who can't do anything but run for office. Still, it'll be fun watching the show. They're like moths fighting for the light!

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: As they said of Seattle years ago, "last one out of town, turn off the lights."

Do you suppose they'll arrest Obama in Berkeley for crimes against humanity in Afghanistan if he authorizes the surge? Somehow, I don't.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: I never cease to be amazed by his stream of consciousness, I-don't-know-what-the-hell-I'm-talking-about style. He had let me down the past three weeks when he had merely slipped into bad composition and poor grammar. But I think he's back into full howling at the moon mode now.

When it comes to California politicians, I think it's more like maggots fighting over the carcass.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--You weren't the judge who got ousted for refusing to wear clothes under your robes, were you?

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: Don't be silly. I always wore at least a fetching thong under my robes. Actually, I was appointed during the final year of the Jerry Brown administration, and since I was a pro tem and a registered Democrat, there was no problem and no actual involvement from the state house. By my second appointment, Republican George Deukmejian was in office, and we had worked together on a couple of municipal matters when he was Attorney General, so that one slid through as well. By the third appointment, the rules had been changed, the county judicial council was the approving authority, and the governor's office was no longer involved. Since the conservative Republicans on the judicial council knew I was a closet Republican by then, it wasn't a problem.

Tennessee Jed said...

I have some limited familiarity with the Great American Music Hall, but I reserve my highest praise of the day for your use of the term "flagellant grandiosity."

LawHawkSF said...

Tennessee: Thanks. Sometimes those things just come out. I think I have a form of literary tourettes syndrome.

LawHawkSF said...

NOTE: I forgot one small item in my column. I'm not sure if I ran out of time, or just ran out of energy. But I know you're all dying to hear how the Folsom Street Fair went (aren't you?). Here's the Chronicle Headline: "Spanking With A Smile. 'Step right up!' exhorted a man in the cadence of a carnival barker. 'We've got the regular spanking bench, we've got the big chair, and of course, we've got the stocks.' It was a typical scene at the 26th annual Folsom Street Fair. Above (picture shown), Selina Raven flogs Sarah Novel at the fair, which organizers said appeared on track to top last year's attendance of 350,000 to 400,000 and last year's haul for charity of $340,000." No word on what those charities are, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.

CalFederalist said...

LawhawkSF - You never mentioned what you thought of the Republican prospects for governor in the gubernatorial race. Any predictions?

LawHawkSF said...

CalFed: I wouldn't hazard a prediction right now. The early Republican race includes two conservative males with so-so state identification, and one female semi-conservative silicon valley type with better name-recognition. This much I will predict. No matter which of them gets the nomination, if that candidate comes out loud and long about opening the irrigation valves and to hell with the delta smelt will win 90% of the votes of the entire Central Valley, and likely a substantial portion of moderates with any business sense. That should clinch a victory in what should be a Republican-leaning year in a very Democratic state.

You have to remember that for all their popularity in the Democratic Party ultra-liberal wing, both Brown and Newsom have strong negatives with the Republicans and undeclareds, and neither will stand up to their enviro-cuckoo wing for the Valley farmers and all the people who depend on agriculture. This time bread-and-butter issues work strongly in the Republicans' favor.

CrispyRice said...

You lost me somewhere in the thongs and robes...

I'm still amazed you can live there and stay sane!

StanH said...

Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsome, the clash of the ridiculous. If the Republicans can put someone forward with a pulse CA is winnable. I’m with Andrew if it’s a choice between Brown, Newsome, it’s gotta be Brown. Is he still married to Linda Ronstadt? …the perfect First Lady for CA, again, ha.

Berkeley seems lost in a “purple haze.”

LawHawkSF said...

CrispyRice: I almost forgot. I also wore a tie, which shows over the top of the robe. LOL. It really all comes down to keeping your sense of humor so you can keep your sanity. If I ever started to take this too seriously, I'd be ready for the rubber-room.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: Brown never married Ronstadt. She was what theater people call "a beard." Many thought he was homosexual, but I always thought he was just sexless. In 2005, he married his longtime friend, lawyer Anne Gust. Whether she's another beard, or he finally discovered sex at age 67, I can't say.

He lists his religion as Roman Catholic, and he attended Catholic seminary for awhile (it is part of why some of us thought he was "priestly" in his approach to marriage). But they were married by his good friend Dianne Feinstein in a civil ceremony. Since she isn't even a reformed rabbi, the religious part was kind of left in the dust. Frankly, I don't know what to make of that, or whether anything should be made of it. But it does seem like more of his new age, way-out-of-the-mainstream way of viewing the world.

We don't have religious tests for office, and we shouldn't. But I am suspicious of people who claim to be one thing, then act in a way totally inconsistent with that claim. But at least that would explain his belief that gay marriage is a good thing, since he obviously doesn't think there's any religious element to marriage.

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