Thursday, August 13, 2009

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

The permanently smiling Nancy Pelosi has returned to her home district for the August Congressional recess. Unlike many of her colleagues in Congress, she came back to a hero's welcome (I felt "heroine's welcome" was sexist, and "heroin's" welcome was too accurate, so I stuck with the politically-correct "hero's" welcome).

YouTube and cable news shows have been picking up demonstrations by angry constituents all over the country. They range from fairly quiet question and answer sessions to angry shouting and shoving matches. Proponents of the health care bill, mostly Democrats with a smattering of Republicans, are used to having very dull town hall meetings. But this is a horse of a different color. Many people attending the town hall meetings have only read what showed up in the newspapers. Many more have read all or major portions of the health care bill, which is more than most of the Congressmen and Senators can say.

"Trust us, we know what's best for you" isn't working this time. The group that seemed to come out of nowhere in full force, astounding the Congress critters, is the senior citizens. Don't tick off the old folks. The elected representatives all seemed entirely unaware of the huge cuts in Medicare being proposed in the bill in order to defray the cost of cradle-to-grave, citizen-or-not medical coverage. The Democrats who have never before cared about fiscal responsibility now are looking to manage costs on a "risk/benefit" basis. That inevitably means spending money on surgery for a 25 year old that will not be spent on a 70 year old, since the former is more "cost-effective." Well, that 25 year old didn't pay into Medicare for forty years, only to have the medical carpet pulled out from under him just when he needed it. The seniors could figure that one out. The liberals couldn't.

Many of the Representatives and Senators are canceling town hall meetings, or sending videos of talking-points rather than making personal appearances in front of the people who pay their bloated salaries. The few left with the guts to show up and endorse the crazed health care plan cannot understand how people can't see the wisdom of it all. Snarlin' Arlen Specter has shown himself to be as nasty-tempered and arrogant as a Democrat as he was as a Republican. And heading the entire health-care strike force is Nancy Pelosi, who calls opponents of the government takeover of health care un-American, Nazis, storm troopers, and astroturfers.

So how has Nancy suffered since returning to her home district? Huge rally of support at San Francisco's Mission Bay. Another happy town hall-type gathering at a Potrero Hill event. Many dinner parties (public not invited) in Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights. She repeated her claim that "these disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views--but of the facts themselves." Not a single constituent to shout "what facts, you idiot?" "Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American" says San Fran Nan. Hard to imagine any such drowning-out of opposing views happening in San Francisco unless you're a conservative, or a Republican, or a normal human being.

NOTE: George Gascon has been chosen as San Francisco's new chief of police, after a lengthy and contentious selection process. He was the Chief of the Mesa, Arizona force until the selection, and previously an assistant chief in Los Angeles. I have to ask myself if he made any unofficial trips to San Francisco to look around before accepting the post. At least two of his statements in the last couple of days lead me to believe he hadn't. Apparently, he was one of those outsiders who thought that most of the things said about San Francisco are exaggeration. Sorry, Chief, they're not.

Before he was sworn in, he took a quick tour of The City. A more reasonable man would have said "I was just kidding, I'm going back to Mesa." But he is either very brave or very foolish. "I was surprised--I saw a drug deal right in front of me" said Gascon in his first press conference. Big surprise, Chief. We locals wouldn't be surprised to see a drug deal go down at the altar during Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral. Seeing one go down on the street is about as unusual as seeing a homeless person rolling in his own filth, or a Supervisor picking out a pretty new dress for his boyfriend.

"They knew we were there. There was quite a bit of activity going on. How do we deal with that particular problem that is unique to the Tenderloin District?" More news, Chief. Apparently nobody has introduced you to Bayview, Hunter's Point, Chinatown and Polk Gulch. And wait 'til they tell you about the very public and very open sex acts in the Castro and at the Folsom Street Fair. The ones that occur in broad daylight, in full view of uniformed, on-duty San Francisco Police officers. Your plan to make San Francisco "the safest large city in America" is about to run afoul of the most entrenched leftist anti-law and order government in America. Only one of you will walk away from this without crippling injuries. I'm putting my money on the Mayor and the Eleven Dwarves waving you a fond farewell within six months. Hope you got a big golden parachute for your departure.

NOTE: San Francisco actually followed the example of more fiscally responsible cities and laid off hundreds of its city workers in order to cut $576 million from its deficit budget. Nevertheless eighty-nine city workers who remained sucked up more than $30,000 each in overtime for a total of $67.2 million (including those who didn't get into the $30,000 bonus round). That's a 23% reduction over the same period of 2008, which gives you an idea just how much excess overtime the city has been paying in the past. Only half as many made the $30,000 level. Now admittedly some of the biggest overtime earners are police and fire personnel, but most are just plain clerks. In most towns, clerks don't make $30,000, let alone that much extra in overtime.

The big earners didn't even get it in the actual form of overtime. Two police captains who were recently demoted received $139,000 and $73,000 because of a contract provision requring the city to buy out their previously accrued comp time, vacation time, and unused sick leave. For that much money, I'd take two demotions. A retiring police captain received $83,000. One Muni Transportation supervisor received just over $60,000 in overtime for making sure the buses never run on time. But it is an improvement. Last year, one Christian Kitchin, a nurse at the County Jail raked in $183,000 in overtime pay. In the first six months of 2009, he only got $975. How much do you want to bet the care this year was no worse than last year?

NOTE: BART strike still looming. So stop looming, already. 128 days and counting. Loom, loom, loom. But there has been some progress. The low-skilled workers represented by the SEIU (at least those who are not showing up at town hall meetings and beating up the opponents of Obamacare), voted to accept BART's offer. They must have figured that the public wasn't going to pay more than $22 an hour for people to push brooms and pick up trash. The drivers are still holding out for a raise during this major recession. You remember--the drivers who are actually unnecessary since the system is entirely automated and can be run with no drivers at all.

NOTE: And what Diary entry would be complete without a word from the noisome and verbose writer for the Chronicle, Mark Morford? In an article entitled "Marijuana, gateway drug to Jesus--does pot lead to total enlightenment? Rehab? Scientology? Let's find out!" he again uses long discredited studies, plus a new one that parrots the old ones to prove, once and for all, that marijuana is not a gateway drug. Are you ready for another one of his lead sentences? Here goes:

"Behold! I believe I have found it, a flawless specimen, a place where it all collides and coheres and comes together in a madcap, slapdash, whirlwind hellstorm of entirely bogus hype and spin and half-truths, intermixed with hope and despair and Jesus and not just a little methadone, all of it so wonderful and confusing it makes you want to shut it all down, run a hot bath, light up a joint and chill the hell out."

He's referring to the studies which disagree with some of the findings of the new/old University of Pittsburgh 12 year study which found that in many cases marijuana is not a gateway drug. Big whoop. So have lot of other studies, most of which had the decency to consider factors other than the qualities of the marijuana itself. But Morford of course states that the study categorically concluded "for the billionth time, that marijuana is not a gateway drug at all. Not even a little." That's not what the study actually showed. It determined that marijuana is mildly addictive, but in and of itself does not automatically lead to use of more dangerous drugs. But in his zeal to paint everybody who doesn't approve of marijuana usage, particularly those crazy Christians, he distorts the actual findings.

First the ridicule. "Did a bunch of kids who smoked pot in their teens go on to become addicts and criminals and Libertarians? Did they ruin their lives via meth and coke and sundry other delicious demons in anything resembling dangerous or enlightening percentages?" The answer, unfortunately for Morford is "yes." The study merely determined that pot usage, not the pot itself, was the determining factor. The behavior of smoking an illegal substance, however harmless it might be, does create a sense of lawlessness, particularly among those who don't run in the pampered and protected circles Morford seems to love so much. For most elitist college students and their even more elitist professors, they will never have to go to the source where most marijuana is actually sold. And the street dealers are not particularly choosy about which drug they are selling at any given moment, or who gets hurt in the process.

Then the slam (which actually has little to do with marijuana studies, and much to do with despising people who have legitimate arguments which disagree with his). "Pot is not the least bit dangerous." That's a leap from the study concluding it was not a gateway drug, but OK, let's move on. He goes after the Foundation for a Drug-Free World. And discovers it's a cover for Scientology. End of argument. Anyone who agrees that marijuana has its negative impacts is now as crazy as the Scientologists. He ridicules a video which most of us would ridicule equally. But for someone who hates Christianity and Judaism, and God (except when she's gay), the parallels are too delicious to pass up.

The Foundation does exactly what a Scientology project would be expected to do. It claims to cure all drug addictions, real or imagined, for a considerable fee or a pledge to join the Tom Cruise brigade. The video is a very slick version of what we all laughed at years ago--"Reefer Madness." It's full of bogus claims, phony science, and horror stories from recovered Thetans who found L. Ron Hubbard and gave up demon pot. But you dear Christian or Jew, cannot possibly understand how goofy this all is unless you are also a pot smoker who believes God is a lesbian.


Tennessee Jed said...

good morning, Hawk. Always enjoy your diary updates. I do think that Pelosi is the most unlikable politician I have ever come across with the possible exception of Maxine Waters. This health care issue is the holy grail for liberals because if they gain control of it, they have us by the short and curleys. They may have gotten away with it this time too, but I think the way they slammed through porkulous put people on the defensive and more willing to demand "details."

Mark Morford appears to be an incredible dweeb. Like a lot of guys my age, I smoked my share of pot in my college days. Like most people, I tended to "grow up" and gain responsibilities that didn't fit all that well with the prior lifestyle. The government probably did lose some credibility in demonizing it via films like "reefer madness" which may have caused some to take chances with more dangerous substances. As you point out, guys like Morford with a specific agenda do nobody any good when they don't report independent facts rather than just the ones which support their agenda.

StanH said...

SNAFU in “The City by the Bay.” Don’t you just love the crusading Chief of Police, good luck, right. E…gad Nancy Pelosi, maybe the folks in the Red States can help you Lawhawk and flip the house back to Republican and then that witch can only terrorize her constituency, sorry Hawk Great report from the parallel universe that is San Francisco.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Mesa to SF sounds like it's going to be one heck of a culture shock! "We locals wouldn't be surprised to see a drug deal go down at the altar during Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral" -- LOL!

Frankly, I'm surprised SF still has a police force. Wouldn't an enlightened city just send those cops home -- cops cause criminals rights?

You could got from being the city of free love to the city of free stuff.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: I agree on Pelosi. Waters has only her own loyal ethnic constituency in one area of Los Angeles. Her race-baiting gets her things just because the rest of L.A. wants her to shut up and spin her conspiracy theories in the dark where they belong. Pelosi has a whole City to love her. Along with Feinstein and Boxer, the left has the whole Bay Area as their playground. They're crazy like a fox. Morford is just plain crazy.

StanH: Poor new chief. The guy seems genuine. He has a very good track record. His idea of getting desk jockey commanders off their duffs and back on the streets is a proven success in other cities. But San Francisco isn't other cities. This is a town that thinks that crime is cute, thuggish antisocial behavior is social protest, and common decency is an outmoded concept produced by oppressive old white males. I'm afraid he'll find himself shoveling sand against the tide.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I don't know how the new chief is going to enforce the law when the Mayor and the Board constantly thwart any serious effort at law enforcement. Rudy Giuliani and his chief cleaned up New York City by applying the concepts contained in James Q. Wilson's "broken windows" theory. San Francisco, on the other hand, has a Mayor and a Board of Supervisors who actively block the enforcement of "quality of life" laws. As a result, NYC's major crime rate, particularly murders, dropped through the floor while San Francisco's went through the roof. Chief Gascon is going to find he's expected to fight crime with a velvet glove covering a velvet glove. I know a lot of the local cops, up to command level. They're good cops, tough and ready to do their job. And they're hopelessly frustrated by years of being treated like third-class citizens who exist solely to spoil all the fun.

DCAlleyKat said...

I always enjoy reading you LawHawk, but when it comes to the Speaker of the House, lately just the mention of her name is enough to ignite my anger to just below the rage level. I lock myself in the bathroom, turn on the shower music and that 'primal therapy' stuff!

Unknown said...

DCAlleyKat: I have to scream into a thick pillow. Otherwise, the neighbors will hear me and call the Pelosi Patrol.

Monica said...

It may be just me, and no offense (which means I'm about to say something completely offensive), but do you guys agree that we have some seriously scarily ugly women in politics right now? And it's not even so much their faces as the horrible scowls they're constantly being photographed wearing. What happened to smiling? **Pretend I never mentioned this if I really am the only person thinking it.**

AndrewPrice said...

Monica, Politics seems to be going through a particularly nasty, angry phase right now and nasty is rarely attractive.

Unknown said...

Monica: Try living here. All three of my reps are among those females. Feinstein looks like one of those souls in hell on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Boxer looks like she's auditioning for the part of the wicked stepmother in a local stage production of Cinderella. And Pelosi looks like a fast-frozen shark. The RINO Republican ladies look positively jolly by comparison.

Unknown said...

Andrew: They say that politics isn't beanbag. Then why do my reps look like beanbags?

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