Friday, March 26, 2010

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

Behold--the Mighty Chron! This picture of the San Francisco Chronicle Building was taken shortly after it was finished in the early 20s. It replaced the old building which had been largely destroyed by the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Still located at Fifth and Mission Streets, it hasn't changed appreciably since the photo was taken.

Its headlines haven't improved much since then. It was a running joke for years that five out of seven Chronicle headlines would have the word "big" in them. When I first arrived in town in 1962 as a wet behind the ears freshman at Berkeley, I picked up the Sunday Chronicle. There was a large photograph on the front page of King Kong clinging to the spire of the Empire State Building, with the headline "Camp--A New Dimension." Well, at least it wasn't a big new dimension, so I guess that was something.

If you've seen the movie All The President's Men, you may remember the scene in which some investigative reporters go into the office of managing editor Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post. They have some cockamamie story based on lousy information and defective sources. Bradlee growls: "Go sell it to the San Francisco Chronicle. They'll print anything." The paper became very liberal by the mid-60s, and competed with the ultraliberal Examiner. In the long run, Hearst Corporation money and a few price wars left the Chronicle teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. A few years back, Hearst's maneuvers worked, the Examiner was sold to a local political family, and the Chronicle was taken over by the Hearst Corporation as the Examiner in disguise.

And now, for a Chronicle headline from late last week leading a story about Obamacare: "Costly Bill Seen as Saving Money." The first paragraph read: "Many people find it hard to understand how the health-care legislation heading for a decisive vote Sunday can cost $940 billion and cut the horrendous federal deficit at the same time." Yep, and I'm one of them. The headline should have read: "Big Lie About Obamacare." I don't have to belabor the story itself, since most of our readers know a red herring when they see one. I just wanted those of you who wonder why San Franciscans are generally certifiable to realize where many of them get their information.

NOTE: Republican newcomer Meg Whitman now has a big lead over her Republican rivals for the June California primary. But polls also indicate for now that she's slightly ahead of the once and possibly future governor, Democrat Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown. Early in the preliminary maneuvers for the nominations of the two parties, Republicans worried about the huge $14 million dollar war chest that Brown had accumulated even prior to announcing his candidacy formally. That war chest is beginning to look like a child's piggy bank. Whitman has already spent $46 million on her primary campaign, much of it her own money. And according to inside sources, she has not yet begun to spend.

As the fates of Democrats seem shakier all the time, Whitman now has not only her own considerable bankroll, but the money from those big bucks sources which have remained largely on the sidelines in recent elections is coming into her campaign coffers. Labor's contributions to the Brown campaign have already gone into the Democrat coffers, though there will be much more to come as forced dues are used for political purposes instead of the legal use for membership protection. It looks like the Hollywood crowd is going to have to conduct plenty of fundraisers and kick in some of their own money if Brown has any chance of catching up with Whitman at the bank.

Brown has already started talking about the horror of Republicans attempting to buy high office with their own money. Sour grapes. He doesn't have that kind of personal wealth, and she does. Yet somehow Brown hasn't mentioned Democrat Al Checchi spending $40 million of his own money in an unsuccessful primary run in 1998, or Democrat State Controller Steve Westly spending $42 million of his own money on his failed bid for governor in 2006. Trust me, Whitman will do exactly that when the right time comes.

So the wishful-thinkers at the mainstream media are now buzzing about "over-exposure" in relation to Whitman. Considering that just a few months ago, nobody in California had ever heard of her, it seems like a weak dream. Besides, it worked for Obama, didn't it? Whitman's face and ads are everywhere. And her lead over her main Republican rival, Steve Poizner, seems to increase every time one of those ads runs. Likewise, she has gone from being "who?" to running ahead of Brown who has had family name-recognition since his father was governor in the late 50s and early 60s. He has never been out of the public eye, as California Secretary of State, Governor, Mayor of Oakland, and currently California Attorney General. For Whitman, public exposure is almost everything. And so far, it's working.

My personal view is that if Whitman is going to be harmed in the long-run by her aggressive campaigning it will be if it starts to appear that she's "piling on" her Republican rival. Poizner is a gazillionaire as well, so it's not as if she's beating up on the little guy. But there comes a point where it's time to tone down the criticisms of her Republican colleague and start to focus on the big picture--defeating Jerry Brown. The more exposure she (and Brown) get, the better for her.

NOTE: Our new police chief is gaining lots of points with the locals (including me, by the way). After years of a police force run by a woman who doesn't look like she could ever have taken down an out-of-shape five year old, we have a chief who actually cares about law enforcement more than diversity training. Chief George Gascon was chosen for his efficiency, but it didn't hurt that he had been somewhat liberal in his past positions in other cities. I think San Francisco mugged him by proving what happens if you put liberal police theory into practice.

He has also proven himself to be a plain-spoken advocate of reform that will give the SFPD the ability to be actual police in a city that enforces the law. He has made it clear he will stand by his cops instead of running for cover every time the ACLU or the NAACP shouts "racism" or "police brutality." He proposes ordinances that run against the grain of the leftist Board of Supervisors (most recently an anti-bum ordinance forbidding sitting or lying on public sidewalks). He has gotten into many heated debates with crypto-commie Supervisor Chris Daly, most recently over police use of tasers.

Best of all, if he has an issue that would improve law enforcement, he doesn't wait for anyone's permission to go public with it. He took on Supervisor Mirkarimi when the Supe opposed reestablishing foot patrols in the neighborhoods. Gascon was very pointed in his criticism of a weak-kneed Board that knows nothing about law enforcement. The battle was ugly, but the people supported Gascon, who is now being rather gracious toward Mirkarimi since the foot patrols will be on the June ballot.

Naturally, the San Francisco Police Commission is also comprised of non-working cops and leftist citizens. Police Commissioner Petra De Jesus bitched loudly that Gascon regularly brought issues to the newspapers, TV and directly to the public without having his comments vetted by the Commission first. Gee--I wonder why. The immediate public reaction to De Jesus's wail was to tell her to shut up and let the man talk. She has been amazingly quiet ever since, perhaps for the first time in her big-mouth life.

More importantly, the loyalty flows both directions. For instance, once Gascon began his campaigns to get the people involved, Park Precinct Captain Teresa Barrett (located in Mirkarami's district) contacted the media to support the foot-patrols. Mirkarimi went ballistic, but realized he'd been out-maneuvered, and called for meetings which resulted in the ballot measure. Mirkarimi expected his usual armchair liberals to show up for the meetings, but was greeted instead with a whole lot of angry local citizens who supported the chief and the captain. Even in San Francisco, the people can scare the professional politicians.

NOTE: The Regents of the University of California have issued an apology (for what and to whom is unclear) in the wake of a hanging noose, a swastika etched in a Jewish student's door, and anti-gay slurs scribbled on university walls. They've acknowledged the problem, but are unable to identify why it's happening. But they think they might have an answer. There are too many white, Jewish, and Asian students at the elite campuses. "We as a board failed to provide a nurturing environment. We didn't intend to, but we have failed." A nurturing environment! ? ! ? Is that what an elite university is supposed to produce? That's what mommies of small infants are supposed to provide. I thought the university was supposed to nurture intellectual discipline and coherent thought among self-sufficient young adults who have top-notch academic qualifications.

So how's that diversity crap working out for you, Regents? When I attended Berkeley, the student body was largely white because the population was largely white. But an important note to all of this is that the percentage of black students attending and succeeding at the university was considerably higher than it is today. Asians were not a big portion of the student population, but they were still heavily "over-represented" and in a school where academic excellence was the only criterion, nobody complained. Then, as now, the children of legal immigrants and native-born Hispanics (including my lifelong best friend) was in almost direct proportion to the population. Everybody pulled together, racial incidents were rare and racial animosity was even rarer. The attitude toward open homosexuals was tolerant. Not faux tolerant. Genuinely tolerant.

After years of affirmative action, diversity-promotion, and special treatment for selected minorities (today, almost exclusively black, foreign-born and/or illegal immigrant Hispanic, militantly GLBT, and Muslim), the hatred in the air is palpable. Although Prop 209 forbade affirmative action, quotas and special categories based on race, the Regents and university administrators since passage have largely devoted their efforts to ignoring the law. Why does Berkeley alone have a highly-paid diversity officer with two highly-paid assistant diversity officers and a full staff if the law says "academic qualifications only?"

Berkeley has actually been fairly quiet compared to UC San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Davis. Said one regent: "The numbers [of selected minorities] are low because UC's admission system focuses so narrowly on test scores, grades, and academic extracurricular activities prior to admission that it often misses qualified students with a broader background of talents and interests." Aw, baloney. What other interests and talents? Acting sufficiently ethnic? Composing hymns to Obama? Organizing illegal voter drives? Promoting gangsta rap? (never mind, that one's for Columbia and the likes of pseudo-professor Marc Lamont Hill) The criteria for admission to the University of California are exactly right, and pretending otherwise is just disingenuous. The real problem is that the race hucksters and diversity pimps have been ignoring those criteria for years, creating racial animosities and resentments.

For instance, David Ritcherson, co-chairman of the Black Student Union at UC San Diego, said "black students have felt unwelcome at his school for years, not just weeks." Well, Mr. Ritcherson, if you hadn't formed a separatist black organization pushing for unearned admissions and special treatment while calling everyone who disagrees with you a racist, perhaps they might be more accepting of you. I know we certainly were back in the 60s when we knew that any black student there had been admitted on his or her academic achievements, not his or her color. Did you expect racial tolerance and equality while promoting black radical agendas?

Regent Yudov called for "alumni, friends of the university, and for all concerned Californians to raise scholarship funds for underrepresented minorities." And once again, that phony and dishonest expression "underrepresented minorities" becomes an excuse to spend more money, private and public, to promote the very "diversity" that has caused most of the racial unrest in the first place. Why not simply be honest and say: "Let's make sure we can raise enough money to insure the admission of unqualified students who are not Asian or Jewish (both minority, neither 'underrepresented')."

This UC alumnus contributes to Alumni scholarships. And I specifically contribute only to those which reward hard work, academic achievement, and contain no earmarks for race or ethnicity. I'm certainly not going to contribute money to any scholarship which will be devoted to admitting students who will spend the university's vast resources and top-quality facilities to learn how to spell racist correctly.


Joel Farnham said...


It seems that some of the citizens there have the tea-party fever.

Who would have thunk it?

Unknown said...

Joel: I've always suspected that there were large numbers of sensible ordinary people in town who have just given up. I'm beginning to see the importance of a gutsy leader, even in Sodom by the Bay. The locals have figured out that Gascon means what he says, won't cower away when challenged by the power-structure, and won't abandon his supporters when the going gets rough. That has produced a small, but determined grass-roots movement. It's a tiny start, but it is a start. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. More Biblically, if we just have the faith of a grain of mustard seed, we can move leftist mountains.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--"Camp--A New Dimension?" That was a real headline? OMG

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: I'm creative, but I'm not that creative. I had just come up from the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and we had always received the L.A. Times, SouthEast edition. I wrote my Subject A entrance exam at Cal about editorializing on the news pages, and used the Times as the perfect example. Then I saw that Chronicle headline, and realized that the Times was already a sophisticated urban newspaper and the Chronicle was birdcage liner.

AndrewPrice said...

Isn't it funny how money becomes a problem only when Republicans have it. I see Witman as Arnold-lite, but I have to believe she would be better than Jerry Brown -- anyone would.

So you had both a Great Earthquake and a great fire? Great. I wonder what's next? Maybe a great sea lion attack?

As fo the diversity officers, you can never have enough diversity officers! LOL! Actually, that tells me right there that the school is wasting money.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I am consistently amazed at how many suckers fall for the "rich Republicans versus average folks" Democratic mantra. The biggest millionaires in Congress are Democrats. The biggest buyers of votes are Democrats, sometimes with their own money, often with the public's money. The boards of the top twenty-five US registered corporations are heavily Democrat, and give much more of their own and their investors' money to Democrat causes. They've turned reality on its head. Republicans are the party of business, Democrats are the party of big business which passes out largess to the indolent solely to get votes.

Whitman leans toward RINO on social issues, but at least she has actually run several successful small businesses and a few mega-businesses. Frankly, right now I want a governor who knows red ink is a bad thing, and I'll worry about gay marriage another time. And as we've discussed several times, I want to see an "R" next the the name of the governor of California.

The Chronicle probably called it the big earthquake and fire.

Unknown said...

LawHawk. Hate is unhealthy for children and other living things. And the solution at the University of California is so obvious. Simply get rid of all those whites, Asians and Jews, and it will be just one big love-fest. The gays can hug the Muslims (until the Muslims behead them), the illegal immigrants can change all the courses to Spanish, and the radical Muslims can further cull the crop by killing or subjugating all the infidels, all in the name of Allah's love. The closet-case Islamist gays and the fundamentalist Muslims can join together to get rid of all those meddlesome women, and the unconverted illegals can run for their lives. Paradise, actually. At least it would eliminate the expensive need for diversity officers.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - good architecture is still good architecture (or good architecture is as good architecture does; take your pick.) I am happy to hear a few bright spots are happening in the city by the bay, but oh my, it is so hard to respect Cal Berkley. What intellectual whores.

Unknown said...

CalFed: I'm sending the Alumni Association your suggestions. The faster this happens, the less need there will be for alumni scholarships, and they'll stop bugging me.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: Just like the angry voters in San Francisco, there are angry Cal alumni. We're still the minority, but who knows, maybe we'll be the majority some day. Despite everything, Cal has managed to maintain some pretty high standards, but this diversity nonsense is going to be another blow to both academics and campus racial harmony.

Are you a student of architecture? I'm not sure what category the Chron building fits into. It's post-Victorian, but they certainly didn't pick up the Beaux Arts style of the civic enter which is several blocks away.

Tennessee Jed said...

I would call myself more an interested observer than true student. The tower has a nice clean simplistic line. The original building is much more architecturally significant though, and recently restored perhaps?

That original building was designed by thearchitectural firm Burnham and Root. Daniel Burnham is one of the first architects to build skyscrapers. He designed the famous White City for Chicago's 1893 World's Fair. While this leads slightly off topic, I know this mainly because of a fantastic book by Erik Larson titled "The Devil in the White City. Larson has a way of making history read like the most compelling fiction.

There was a little known serial killer operating in Chicago at the time of the 1893 exposition and the book juxtaposes the murder mystery against the facinating story of the world's fair including how Burnham came to invent the skyscraper. It is absolutely one of the best reads I've had in the past ten years.

BevfromNYC said...

But LawHawk, how diverse are the diversity officers? Is there a Diversity Officers' Diversity Selection Committee that oversees the diversity of the Diversity Officers?

Unknown said...

Tennessee: Wow! Great explanation. I don't know of any restoration or repair work, but that doesn't mean they didn't do any. The building today looks very much like the picture. And I think I'll get that book.

Unknown said...

Bev: I'm sure there is such a committee. How else could these people get a job? Depending on which special pleader group you belong to, the makeup of the diversity officers is perfect, or racist, sexist and lookist. LOL

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - unfortunately, I can't find the post where Andrew explained how to do a link in the comment block, but if you google, there is a great picture of the original brick fascade of the Burnham & Root building under the banner "stunning renovation of the Chronicle Building. Apparently it was 2008. According to other sites that popped up on google, that original Chronicle building is now a Ritz Carlton. The clock tower was originally bronze. While searching google, I cam across a site with some stunning old postcards of San Francisco buildings.

I have to warn you though, if you do read Larson, you will probably get hooked on him. He also has written wonderful books about Marconi and the development of the wireless, plus one about the great Galveston hurricane and early development of the national weather service.

StanH said...

The political environment in CA is exciting indeed, though from what I’ve seen Whitman is a RINO, and will be another Arnold?

Good news with your police chief, it’s kind of like the difference in NYC with Dinkins to Guilliani, it was night and day, no pun intended.

It’s sad that the UC system has so much work to do. Diversity departments need to be eliminated!

Unknown said...

Tennessee: Now I see the confusion. The original Chronicle building shown in the picture was in a different part of town. That building was in what is now called the financial district, around 3rd and Market/Montgomery. The "new" building is at 5th and Mission, near the Old Mint and the old federal courthouse. But you can certainly see the influence of the original building on the design of the "new" building, particularly the clock tower.

The "new" building at 5th and Mission is much less of a skyscraper because the area allowed the Chronicle to spread out horizontally instead of having to go straight up. Note that the old building was basically ten stories, plus the tower. The "new" building is basically three stories plus the clock tower.

Interesting historical note on the building at 3rd and Market/Montgomery. It was commonly called the Chronicle Building, but it was actually named the De Young Building. De Young was the founder of the Chronicle. The building at 5th and Mission has always been called the Chronicle building.

I'm looking forward to picking up Larson's book. Thanks for the tip.

Unknown said...

Addendum: Chief Gascon has ticked the politically-correct off again. Just after I posted the Diary on Friday, Gascón reportedly said: "The Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. is susceptible not just to an earthquake, but also to members of the city's Middle Eastern community parking a van in front of it and blowing it up.

The chief was addressing a crowd of about 150 City Hall officials and members of the building trades Wednesday and was one of several speakers discussing the $412 million bond to seismically retrofit a number of city buildings, including moving some Police Department functions out of the decrepit Hall of Justice and into a new Mission Bay facility." (from SF Gate/Chronicle online update).

Gascon later explained that he was referring specifically to an influx of immigrants from Yemen and Afghanistan who have been very active in radical Islamist demonstrations and other questionable activities.

Oddly, the first person to rush to his defense was Supervisor Mirkarimi, whose family is partially Persian immigrant. Mirkarimi stated that Gascon was not attacking Arabs, Iranian or Muslims, but was merely pointing out a very genuine possibility, given the activities of the two sets of immigrants (who obviously didn't come from Sweden).

The usual suspects were immediately shouting racism and getting into their routine hysterical mode.

Unknown said...

StanH: I'm liking this police chief more all the time. Given the political power structure in this town, he may not be long for this world, but he's definitely going to make his mark (see the addendum above for his latest politically-incorrect jab).

The problem with Whitman is she has no actual political paper-trail, just some very odd pre-candidacy views and friends. I tend to think she is at best a bit RINOish, but again, she's an "R" and numbers count.

As for diversity officers, I'm still trying to figure that one out. The people passed the California Civil Rights Initiative forbidding consideration of race as a qualification for admissions and/or hiring, so what the hell do they need them for? I don't just have philosophical objections, I have legal objections to their very existence.

Individualist said...


When I think of the people who have lectured us on diversity I begin to wonder.

Perhaps the purpose of diversity is to divert the public away from common sense.....

Unknown said...

Individualist: We are one of the most diverse and tolerant nations in the world already. What more do these fools want? It's not actually about diversity at all. It's about class and ethnic warfare and perpetuating the Democratic Party. And it's backfiring.

The best retort to "celebrate diversity" that I've seen thus far was "respect diversity, celebrate unity."

Writer X said...

LawHawk, interesting piece on Gascon shows just how different Arizona (Mesa, specifically) is to San Fran. He wasn't near as tough in AZ as the people wanted him to be and yet in San Fran he's looking pretty good. He does sounds like a major improvement over his predecessor, though.

Also, the Chronicle building reminds me a lot of the Luhrs Building in downtown Phoenix. The Luhrs Building is famous for being in the opening scenes in PSYCHO.

Also, what's next for Arnold? I presume he won't be campaigning for Whitman and please, dear God, no more Terminator sequels.

Unknown said...

WriterX: That epiphany was part of what I was getting at about Gascon. I figured he'd be OK, considering the Chief we've been stuck with for almost a decade. Something about the casual disregard for law among the street people and support for that attitude from the loony Board of Supervisors seems to have transformed Gascon from his former wishy-washy self into a law-and-order supporter of serious law enforcement and-in-your-face "take it straight to the citizens" proposals.

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