Thursday, October 22, 2009

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of Chicago. The Great One adorned our fair city for one magnificent day of fund-raising this week. Two major events were held at the Saint Francis Hotel on Union Square. And in keeping with the vows of poverty taken by all saints, Democrats and Messiahs, these were very expensive affairs, indeed. I incorrectly reported earlier that the dinner cost $34,000 per plate. It was actually a mere $30,400 per plate. The general reception beforehand was a pauper's dream. Tickets ran a mere $500 to $1,000 per person, but you didn't get dinner or a photo op with The Great One.

NOTE: The Great One was introduced at both events by San Fran Nan. She flashed her best botox grimace at each event. At the dinner, populated largely by Silicon Valley high tech execs, Nan effused over Obama's understanding of their usefulness to the party and said: "In this room you see a great collection of intellectuals, entrepeneurial spirit, idealism, integrity. . . and they have a full appreciation for what you have done." She forgot to mention what any of those things "he has done" might be. And she surely didn't explain how Obama's socialism squares with entrepeneurial spirit in any way. And she entirely ignored the need to explain how the most scandal-ridden administration within memory would know anything about integrity.

For the poor folks in the cheap seats, Nan said: "Mr. President, you give us hope, you make us proud. Thank you, Mr. President, for giving us hope, thank you for being with us so soon after the Nobel Peace Prize." She forgot "thank you, Mr. President for being so sleazy that you would actually allow yourself to be introduced by a doctrinaire political hack like me twice in the same day."

The Most High, out-grinning Nan, returned the compliment. "I just want to say a little bit about her toughness--Washington unfortunately over the last several years has been engulfed with a climate that is increasingly partisan." He then described the highly-partisan Republicans (no Democrat would ever be partisan, you know) as practicing "slash and burn." "Having now known Nancy, I can tell you that, day in and day out, she faces down some of the toughest problems, and she doesn't break a sweat (her sweat glands are clogged up with botox). And she is willing to stare folks down and tell them how things are going to be (in that inimitable nonpartisan way of hers)."

After the great stroking of Nan, "Obama appeared energized, upbeat (so says the San Francisco Chronicle)." He was unaffected by the surprisingly large spontaneously-gathered crowds outside the hotel holding picket signs saying "no cap and trade" and "no government health care." Those groups were considerably better-behaved than the Code Pink contingent with anti-war signs and chants. Since none of these people ponied up the $500 to $30,400 to be inside, they had to stay outside and be irrelevant to the festivities at hand. We're still waiting to hear the comments from the usual denizens of City Hall and the State Capitol who were not told of the visit in time for them to present themselves at the airport to greet his holiness. They were victims of a last-minute "change." That only left them with "hope" that they could get into the hotel without having to pay the fare. That hope faded quickly.

Obama announced to the attendees that "I'm not tired. I'm refreshed. And we're not going to stop." Stop doing what? Destroying the economy? Imposing soft socialism on the nation? Giving us Euroweenie health care? Grinning like a moron while making vapid, meaningless speeches? Or collecting approximately $3,000,000.00 for a couple hours work?

"What was exciting about the presidential campaign (which he endlessly re-lives as if he were still running for office) was that the American people were hungry to take responsibility for trying big things, for stretching out of our comfort zone. We decided we were not going to shy away from the tough stuff." By big things he must surely mean "big government socialism," and "stretching out of our comfort zone" can only refer to how uncomfortable most Americans get when told by the government how to live their lives and raise their children. He's right--that's a tough sell in America.

"If we stopped today, this legislative session would have been one of the most productive in a generation (see "the big lie"), but we didn't want to stop. We were tired of going to town hall meetings and hearing stories about parents who are worried about their children's health care coverage, about families going into bankruptcy" Oh, really? If you're so tired of it, why do you continue to stage these sob stories at every opportunity? What you're really tired of is those pesky people who have the nerve to question the Obama Doctrine of socialism and group grievance.

I'm starting to feel queasy, so it's time to move onto another subject.

NOTE: Police chief William Bratton in Los Angeles is one of the most vilified chiefs in Los Angeles history. At least vilified by working cops. He is a purely political appointment, put in office by the leftist politicians and anti-police organizations such as the ACLU and NAACP. So why am I talking about the Los Angeles Police Chief in a San Francisco Diary? Simple. This guy is so left-wing and crime-illiterate that he has skipped right past the local candidate for Attorney General (the moderate and very proven Rocky Delgadillo, Los Angeles City Attorney) and endorsed San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris. As City Attorney, Delgadillo is responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor crimes in the City of Los Angeles. He is a disciple of James Q. Wilson's "Broken Windows Syndrome" which worked so well for Rudy Guiliani in New York City. He is a tough prosecutor who has criticized judges for being too willing to "break down" felony charges to misdemeanors.

So why would a police chief not endorse his local law-and-order guy? Bratton is a social engineer who believes in "relating to the communities" rather than chasing down criminals. But he has two other reasons for supporting Kamala Harris. First, Harris adamantly refused to seek the death penalty for a cold-blooded cop-killer who executed a San Francisco Police Officer gangland-style because the cop was getting too close to catching some of the gang members in the act of committing multiple deadly felonies. Second, Harris is very cozy with one Barack Obama, another fellow who believes that all criminal prosecutions are actually simply disguised racism.

NOTE: A study by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) discovered that approximately 10% of all riders on the city buses and trains are not paying their fares. They find it shocking. So do I, since I would put the figure at closer to 20%. But what do I know? If their figure is even close to correct, that means a daily loss of $140,000 per day to a municipal agency that is even farther in the red than the City itself.

And what is Muni worried about? Is it the huge loss in daily revenue? Is it the huge number of charges of racism raised by the fact that no white person who was not obviously homeless was ever allowed on a Muni bus without paying? Maybe it's the fact that the most notorious fare-skippers are gang members, teenage rowdies traveling in packs, or drunks, junkies and other assorted derelicts? Naw, it's none of those. "As essential as Muni is to San Franciscans, there is a widespread perception that many of its customers do not pay their fare to ride the system. This perception has a negative impact on Muni, reducing public confidence in the system and making it more difficult to increase public funding (i.e., raise fares and taxes) and implement new initiatives for service improvements). "Service improvements" usually means hiring more union drivers who don't have to show up for work if they don't feel like it, and buying "green" buses which save on fuel because they're in repair most of the time, are never cleaned and stink to high heaven after less than a week in service.

Many drivers reported that they do not feel comfortable forcing people to pay fares "for fear of being assaulted." City transportation Chief Nathaniel Ford called the study "groundbreaking." He pledged that "Fare evasion is simply not fair to our paying customers, and we are doing everything we can to stop it." Apparently "everything" includes conducting expensive studies to find out what everybody already knows, but not putting plainclothes police officers on the buses and trains to stop the ongoing criminal activity.

NOTE: My alma mater across the Bay has come up with a brilliant solution to rising tuition at UC Berkeley. The university was founded to produce a world-class university devoted largely to smart, enterprising academic California citizens who could not afford to attend the private universities. Since it was designed to be a major cosmopolitan university, it would certainly make room for out-of-state and foreign students, and charge them accordingly for the privilege of attending a prestigious institution with more Nobel Prize winners (real Nobel Prizes) than any other university in the world.

Somehow, the original mission statement got lost. Tuition at UC Berkeley and UCLA have approached those of Stanford and USC in the past few years. But the cute part is that out-of-state students are still charged a higher tuition, but several special classes of foreign students, most particularly illegal aliens, are granted in-state tuition privileges. That resulted in even higher economic losses than previously in hard economic times. The increase in useless majors (ethnic studies, women's studies, urban studies) has decreased the ability to fund genuine hard academic majors (at UC, mathematics, physics and the sciences particularly).

And now comes the final blow. Next semester, Berkeley will admit 600 fewer "unfunded" California citizens in order to bring in out-of-staters and rich foreign (largely Saudi) students. Blaming Sacramento for the problem (instead of looking to their own foolish politically-correct academic standards), the Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced that the 600 highly-qualified California students who have not yet obtained scholarships or student loans will have to kiss their dream of attending Berkeley good-bye, while less-qualified out-of-state students with plenty of bucks will be taking their place. On the other hand, there has been no change in the policy of allowing "unfunded" illegal aliens to pay in-state California citizen tuition.

To give you an idea how distorted the whole concept of the world-class university for California students of moderate means has become, when I was admitted to UC Berkeley, I came from a moderately well-off family which suddenly found itself without its major source of income when my father (and his business) died unexpectedly. But at the time your academic record was 99% of your entrance requirement, and scholarships were available only for those who had demonstrated academic excellence. So my tuition was paid for by a California State Scholarship, and my incidentals were covered by my working twenty hours a week or more and a National Defense Education Act Loan (which they expected you to pay back, with interest unless you became a teacher for a minimum of four year). Since I was going on to grad school, I had to pay the loan back. I did so, a year early.

So, today's tuition for Californians is $4,650 per semester, with all fees, including housing, costing $32,498.00 for a full academic year. For the out-of-staters, the total annual fees are $47,804.00. My tuition was $86.50 per semester (yes, you read that right), and all fees combined ran about $3,000.00 per academic year. At the annual rate of inflation, the academic year should be at a maximum of $15,000.00, not $32,498.00. So the University has not only been economically profligate and unwise in its academic choices over the years, but it has now abandoned its entire original purpose--to educate Californians to become solid tax-payers and useful members of the community. Money and political-correctness trump mission statement.

Note: Never allowing himself to enjoy some plain fun on a frivolous occasion, SF Gate columnist Mark Morford agonizes over his expenditures for Halloween. He starts out by reminding himself that his bloodshot eyeballs from last Halloween were a bit of a bust, so he'll have to do something different this year. This year he's sticking with the basics--"A couple of bags of shredded cotton spider webs, a bunch of plastic spiders, some black and silver insel stuff and, OK fine, one bag of marble-sized plastic skulls. Because you can never really have too many tiny plastic skulls. I mean, obviously. Last, but not least, I loaded up my gaping Target shopping cart (how does a shopping cart 'gape?') with nearly a dozen of those ridiculous pumpkin carving kits that are probably worth about 34 cents but costs $4 because you're a sucker and it says 'Pumpkin Masters' on it and claims to be 'America's Favorite,' and when you serve alcohol and everyone's laughing and half naked and well lubricated you want to have as many cheap plastic serrated knives that break in about two minutes as you can find. I mean, obviously."

So let's move on to the faux admission of feeling guilty pleasure in a fun but essentially useless endeavor: "Before you know it, I'm pressing 'OK' on my grand total of something like 75 bucks worth of what is essentially a pile of awesome landfill-ready Halloween decorations, most of which I can never really use again but will surely add color and joy to the slippery, messy, adult pumpkin-carving revelry to take place in my home. Mmm, consumption culture. It's what's for dinner." Ah, the guilt, the shame of it all.

And after a few more rambling paragraphs (or simply sentences that look like paragraphs), Morford finally throws the real message at us. "Of course, there is never a mention of the larger context; no discussion of the resources, the waste, the carbon footprint, the pollution, the politics, the overall numbing scale and sense of impending doom attached to it all. It's all just gee-whiz, eight-year-old-boy awe at how they make playing cards and hot tubs and artificial logs. Which is completely fascinating. And yet, also completely insulting, given how we never get a shot at the real action, a totally frightening tour of the teeming, grunting, hardcore Chinese sweatshop where Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, et al get their insane supply of addictive items for voracious American appetites."

Speaking of addictive items, I wonder how many of those Morford and his guests have to ingest before they can come up with the proper social message to justify having a few hours of simple fun. I feel very bad. He didn't invite me to his party. How can I get properly guilt-tripped if I don't have other socially-aware people around me? And I didn't even spend money on pumpkin carving kits. I use the more conservationist kit. A pumpkin and the knives I already have in the kitchen. And then I make pumpkin pie. But I've lived in San Francisco long enough to know that I should feel guilty about not feeling guilty.


Writer X said...

The Nan/Obama lovefest was reported in our Phoenix newspaper too, although not a peep about the protesters. And it's getting to the point where I have to turn the channel whenever Obama speaks. Has his voice gotten even more irritating? He seems to adopt this weird southern/folksy/baptist pulpit/drunk accent that I don't quite get.

Thanks for the Mark Morford fix. He was obviously never a kid. There should be police tape outside his house on Halloween.

Thanks for the SanFran update, LawHawk!

StanH said...

When Barry showed up in San Francisco, except for a few right wing crazies (Americans) I bet the city was in a state of orgasmic prayer for the “One.” Saint Francis Hotel was liberal Mecca, for a blessed while.

Lawhawk, bus fare is for other people.

UC Berkley sounds like it’s being run by hopeless leftist, whose business acumen wouldn’t qualify to run a fruit stand. Harvard, another bastion of liberal academia recently lost a cool half billion in derivative trading, higher learning in America, …aint it great!

Morford’s faux guilt, he still is going to have his little “party.” So much for the carbon footprint and the poor little people in sweatshops producing his party favors, hypocrite much!

AndrewPrice said...

I think it's funny how even the Democrats don't want to be seen in San Francisco -- they want the money, but not the publicity!

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: I wondered if I was the only one who noticed that Obama has donned that folksy accent. And yes, it has gotten more irritating. I'm waiting for him to start punctuating his sentences with "y'all."

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: It was a surprisingly quiet visit. I didn't know he was coming to town until I saw it on the evening news the night before he arrived. It was pure fund-raiser, no peasants allowed. The protestors outnumbered the Obamaserfs outside. Inside, of course, the story was different.

As for Morford's alleged guilt-feelings, I was raised to think that if I'm going to feel guilty about something, I shouldn't do it. I'm no saint, so I failed occasionally (OK, regularly). But I didn't then go out into the public forum, rend my garment, heap ashes on my head, and celebrate my wrongdoing.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: A little known truth about San Francisco is there are plenty of powerful, wealthy Republicans who showed up for Bush fundraisers. But Bush was at least real, and didn't make any pretense about being the champion of the poor and downtrodden. On at least two occasions I can think of, W. swept into town, and left with more cash than Obama did on this visit.

Interesting sidelight: The local TV news stations showed quick clips of Obama speechifying and grinning, but none that I saw showed Pelosi's intros.

The speeches were typical meaningless feel-good babble. Wouldn't it have been refreshing if he had said "Anyone who can afford to come to this event is making too much money, and we're going to find as many ways as possible to tax you for being wealthy."

HamiltonsGhost said...

I really loved Obama's "I'm not tired, I'm energized." That sounds like whistling past the graveyard. What he really meant was "I just woke up to the fact not a whole lot of people are not buying my bull, and I'm really wide-awake and pissed."

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: And as Writer X mentioned, he said it with that annoying folksy pseudo-Southern accent. "He's energized." Fear will do that to you.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - you thought you were getting queasy; my god man. Of course he outgrinned her, Nan's grin is pretty much frozen at one size. I had this image of him blowing smoke through his nostrils, then mistaking her creamy wrinkle free forehead for an ashtray. He did say "y'all" by the way. I'n not sure who's faux countrified accent was funnier, Barry's or Hillary's.

This crappola with p.c. police chiefs actually makes me just as queasy, truth be told. As for "muni" drivers saying they don't feel comfy asking gang bangers to pay their fare, I say "no duh!" Let's go green with the bus.

As far as CAL Berkley, I think it may have to be "blown up" and re-started from scratch to ever remotely recapture it's mojo. Morford probably dserves the old flaming bag of poop in a paper bag on the doorstep. Great post, Hawk.

LawHawkSF said...

Tennessee: To give you an idea how crazy politicians in San Francisco come up with "creative solutions," Willie Brown came up with a brilliant plan when he was mayor. Certain Muni routes are particularly dangerous, including the #14 Mission. What was his solution? Put gang-bangers from rival gangs on the buses to keep the peace. Right!

I wrote a song for him, which somehow never got sung at any of his events:

Caught in the crossfire on old 14,

I don't know--the Crips or the Bloods.

Caught in the crossfire on old 14,

Tell da mayor dis program's a dud.

I thought it was charmingly folksy. Apparently, he didn't.

LawHawkSF said...

NOTE: In my October 8 Diary, I included a note on the bill pending before the Board of Supervisors to override current immigration policy and ordering the police to report illegal aliens to ICE only if they have been convicted of a felony. Today, the Board approved the ordinance by a vote of 8 to 0, with one Supervisor not in attendance.

The mayor will veto it, but will be overriden. A battle royal is about to begin. To his credit, Mayor Gavin Newsom, specifically including the murder of the Bologna family by an illegal alien who had been arrested multiple times, but still had two felony charges pending in court. Thus, prior to the mayor's executive order, an illegal alien's violent criminal record was never reported to the feds. The illegal immigrant killed the Bolognas while out of jail on his own recognizance. To his credit, the mayor has said he doesn't care what the Board of Supervisors does, the police department is under his direction, and he will continue to order the police to report all felony arrests of illegal aliens to ICE immediately. He actually questioned the City's sanctuary policy publicly, saying that maybe even illegal aliens who aren't being arrested or charged with a crime at all should also be reported to ICE. Somehow, he must have gotten hit on the head with reality.

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