Thursday, April 15, 2010

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

The charming picture shows the Burdette Building, a survivor of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, located at Second and Mission Streets. The Chronicle took time to invite tourists and locals to visit this historic site. At the time of the quake, the building was a saloon. All the buildings around it were destroyed either by the quake or the ensuing fire. I wonder if there's a lesson there.

NOTE: The same edition of The Chronicle had an article on the gunfight and death of one man and serious injury of three other locals near Second and Minna Streets, which is less than half a block from the Burdette Building. Apparently, The Chronicle didn't see the irony in promoting history and live-action entertainment at the same time. It would have been helpful if The Chron had suggested that it would be a wise idea to visit the historic site some time before dark. Alternatively, it could have suggested that the activities at Second and Mission are strictly BYOG (bring your own gun). The Burdette Building article pointed out that nothing in the saloon was broken during the quake, save one small chartreuse glass. I wonder how well the saloon would have survived hot lead.

NOTE: Three men from the nearby East Bay suburb of Hayward have been accused of shooting a man in the face with BB gun in San Francisco's Mission District. They admitted they did it because they thought the man was gay. In San Francisco, you would expect that to be treated as a near-capital crime. But the District Attorney's office has agreed to delay the arraignment of the three, who freely admitted that they had come to The City solely to shoot gay people. The original charges were assault with a deadly weapon, negligent discharge of a firearm, attempted mayhem, and the added enhancement of a hate crime.

The District Attorney's office announced that they requested the delay "to see if there can be some resolution that would meet all the interests of the communities and parties involved. We've communicated an offer to the defendants, and they're considering it," said Deputy DA Victor Hwang. Aha, you say. What could there be that could cause the San Francisco DA to consider lesser charges in a city that prides itself on being the biggest gay-friendly city in the nation--the city of Harvey Milk and other gay icons?

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions. But before I do that, let me introduce you to the names of the three defendants: Shafiq Hashemi, age 21; Mohammad Habibzada, age 24; and Sayed Bassam, age 21. The defendants reportedly targeted nearly a dozen victims that evening, and recorded the shootings on a video camera which the police have taken into evidence, along with the rifle. The DA also doesn't seem to be asking the police to do any further investigation into the identities of the other victims, and so far, none have come forward.

NOTE: An eighty-three year old man was arrested at the Sun Valley Mall when his gun discharged inside a local 24 Hour Fitness Center. I have no further comment, but I do have a lot of questions. What the heck is an eighty-three year old doing at a public gym? Couldn't he just take a good walk occasionally? Was he there to pick up girls? What kind of gun does he own and what was its condition that it went off from being dropped with his gym bag? And for the legal beagles, how can someone be charged with willfully discharging a weapon in a negligent manner? Is that gross negligence, or merely gross stupidity?

NOTE: Contrary to popular belief (mine included), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is not entirely crazy. The Court in San Francisco ruled that infamous attorney J. Tony Serra's lawsuit demanding that prison inmates be paid minimum wage for their prison labors was entirely without merit. It was even a 3-0 decision, believe it or not. This was not entirely a defendant/advocate lawsuit. Serra himself was serving time in the federal prison at Lompoc for tax-evasion. He calculated that the time he spent watering the prison's flowers was compensated at the unconscionable rate of 19 cents an hour, while the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Serra alleged that the payment violated UN standards (sound familiar?). Since UN standards can only be applied to Americans if there is an existing treaty (which there isn't in this case), the court denied Serra his back wages.

Serra is best-known for his successful appeal on behalf of Huey P. Newton in a notorious Black Panther murder case. He was also loosely portrayed in the 1989 movie True Believer in which James Woods played the slightly-crazed defense attorney who managed to convince a jury that his Korean murder client was innocent because the jurors couldn't distinguish a Chinese drug dealer implicated in local crime from his Korean client. Serra had, shall we say, a personal interest in keeping cocaine dealers in business.

The court also held that a long line of cases distinguishes convicted prisoners from the general populace, and added that it is within the discretion of the imprisoning authority to decide if prisoners should be paid for their labor at all. The court reiterated that incarceration has nothing to do with "involuntary servitude." The Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery specifically carved out an exception for convicted prisoners. Serra had been convicted previously for tax-evasion, but allowed as how it was easier to pay the taxes than to keep losing court battles over his non-payment. But getting back wages was worth a shot, I guess. At least he would have paid the taxes on his income this time.

NOTE: The California bullet train that is supposed to rush passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles (and eventually, San Diego) will not be leaving the station any time soon. California voters approved a $9 billion bond (yes, you read that right) to help pay for the high speed rail transit. Californians seem to have no idea how far the state is in debt, let alone how they got there. As jobs and money flee the state, why not further indebt ourselves for a high speed train to hustle us from one welfare office to another? Now, a state senate committee is looking into what could become the biggest transportation boondoggle in California history.

The original $33.6 billion price tag appears to be closer to $42.6 billion. It seems that the geniuses who put the plan together forgot to adjust for inflation. But what's an additional $9 billion to us rich Californians? It also appears that the fare, originally intended to be very competitive with airline fares, would have to be raised to $106 from SF to LA just to keep pace with current inflation. And even better news. That fare is based on ridership projections which totally unrealistically include stops along the way. One senator found the estimate of 24,100 daily San Francisco to Los Angeles commuters to be grossly over-confident. And he asked further about the projections about 4,700 riders from Gilroy, Redwood City at 3,900, or Merced at 5,300. Merced riders would have to travel 113 miles just to get to the bullet train station in San Francisco. It's only 250 miles from Merced to Los Angeles. Why not just drive to the station in LA and eliminate the middle-man?

State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) isn't buying any of the authority's excuses. Spokesman for the transit project, Richard Katz, told the senators not to worry, "You have to understand that for years the Authority had only a skeletal staff working for voter approval. But if the project doesn't go forward, the money will be used to upgrade and repair current rail infrastructure." Well, that's encouraging. Californians voted $9 billion dollars for a project which may never come to fruition to repair railways that are already underused and deep in debt.

Simitian countered with "Private sector investors are going to want a guarantee that they will get what they invested in, not some project they know nothing about and weren't sold on by the planners. It's hard to imagine how that guarantee will be provided." As a Democrat, Simitian should know the answer to that one. Another gigantic pie-in-the-sky state bond. But at least he is looking out for his constituents. Says Simitian, "Voters were told that we would be building a statewide system." In other words, not repairing existing systems.

Major community organizations in his district and much of the San Francisco Peninsula are also distressed by the haphazard plans for tearing up homes and businesses, dividing neighborhoods, and destroying the landscape by building the system at ground-level. Safety concerns were also raised, since the trains will be moving at 120 mph, and there are already regular fatal accidents on Cal-Train which travels at less than half that speed on very similar routes. In other words, the Authority was more involved in selling the concept of high speed rail than with the nuts and bolts of building it.

NOTE: And now, for another exciting update on the activities of the SF Board of Stupidvisors. Supervisor Chris Daly, made a New Year's resolution that he would make sure to drop an f-bomb at every meeting. He's been disappointing the public lately, but he's now back on target. He found something to get f-ing irate about. At a public meeting held in a Nation of Islam mosque (read "Black Muslims") in the Hunters Point District (read "murder central") to discuss blocking a local development, an attendee was forcefully dragged out of the meeting, handcuffed to a light post, and threatened with being shot.

That's enough to make any Supervisor f-ing angry, right? Well, this is San Francisco, and you've got it wrong. Daly is irate because the person dragged out of the meeting and roughed up while handcuffed to the light post was plainclothes security for the company the locals were protesting. Said Daly, as he was presenting his resolution to the Supes demanding an apology from the company and the guard: "In the Nation of Islam mosque on Third Street? This is a middle-aged white man, who is a former police officer, packing heat in the mosque. Are you f-ing kidding me?"

Lennar Corporation, the developer who wants to build a new shipyard project to replace the broken down slum dwellings and create new jobs for the area, wrote a letter of apology to the mosque, regretting that the incident occurred and promising that such an incident would not be allowed to occur again. The company explained that they sent the guard because in prior meetings in the neighborhood, supporters of the project had been pushed around and threatened. But that's not enough for the f-ing supervisor. He wants a resolution from the Board condemning the company. After all, the locals have a right to claim some nonsensical argument about the company producing dangerous dust during the demolition and construction process.

The complaints about the project originated with, and have been stirred up almost solely by the local thug bosses who fear that a new development and actual jobs might weaken their stranglehold on the neighborhood. The meeting was attended largely by locals who try to sleep with with one eye open and their ears plugged to dampen the nightly sound of gunfire. Some came to hear about the mystery dust, but many came just to hear more about the project.

As for the f-ing white security guard--he was in plainclothes, and the mosque officials said he was being very discreet, quietly slipping into the back row of the meeting hall. They all said that nobody representing the mosque ever saw his gun, for which he has a concealed weapons permit. Several of the persons attending the meeting said that they weren't even aware the guard was there. The guard said that after the group (which did not officially represent the mosque) dragged him outside and handcuffed him, they threatened to break his arm and shoot him. But who in his right mind is going to believe a f-ing white guy, particularly an ex-cop?

I can't wait to see how the Board finally votes on the resolution. Daly, who is white, is notorious not only for his constant dropping of the f-bomb at Board meetings, but for his race-baiting style that mimics that of Father Pfleger in Chicago. I wonder if the resolution will be called "The Chris Daly Resolution to Ban F-ing White Men from Attending Open Public Meetings in Black Neighborhoods." Fortunately, Daly is termed out this coming January. Of course, the mayor's job will be open at that time.


AndrewPrice said...

Holy Cow! So even in San Francisco, they won't stand up to Muslims who attack gays? Amazing.

I read a book on this called While Europe Slept, which was written by a gay guy who went to Europe because he thought it would be more tolerant only to discover that Europe does nothing to stop Muslims from attacking gays (and others they don't like). It's a very interesting and disturbing book about how far they've gone to accomodate truly evil conduct in Europe.

You would think they would at least stand up to them in San Francisco. After all, gays are a prime target for Islam. But I guess not. Unbelievable.

If someone wanted me dead, I wouldn't "tolerate" them.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I sure don't get it either. There has so far been not a peep from the gay community about this miscarriage of justice. But as you said about the Europeans, the same thing is now happening here. I have never heard a single protest from the San Francisco gay community about the gay holocaust in Iran, and scant criticism when Imadinnerjacket announced that there couldn't be a problem because there are no gay people in Iran.

Tennessee Jed said...

The picture of the Burdette Building is charming indeed, and, yes, I am certain there is a lesson. It kind of reminds me of Patrick Sullivan's Saloon here in Knoxville, a place dating back to the mid 19th century and once playing host to, among other celebs, Buffalo Bill.

I will confess to harboring thoughts of using a b.b. gun on the grackles who seem to have taken over the bird feeder. Maybe there is a lesson there as well.

Come on Hawk, give that 83 year young man a break! As always, fascinating.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: Glad you're feeling better. Maybe I'm just preparing my excuses so that I can get a "free" Hoveround twenty or thirty years from now rather than have to get my lazy behind in gear and walk to the gym. But either way, I'll make sure the hammer isn't cocked and the safety's on before I drop my gym bag on the floor. LOL

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--It sounds like a little flying dust would be an improvement in that particular neighborhood. Better flying dust than flying lead. After all, what's a little dust in exchange for a lot of jobs and decent-looking buildings?

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: Construction is always going to raise dust, and demolition is always going to produce some toxic pollutants in areas old enough to have asbestos insulation and lead paint. But it's not as if the developers hadn't thoroughly addressed the issue. It took forever to comply with SF's outrageously stringent standards for environment impact reports and mitigation measures. The developers had done all of those things, and multiple public meetings were held regarding the project. It's only a small minority of enviro-freaks and local "enforcers" who continue to object. Most of the residents go to the meetings either neutral, or just anxious to find out when the new jobs will be opening up. The biggest environmental problem in the area is a vicious form of mold, and the new buildings will be mold-free.

Joel Farnham said...


I think it has to do with Liberalism first, sexuality second. Liberals generally think that "If we only could talk to Bin Laden, et al, we would find common ground, in the mean time, don't get the Muslims angry. We deserve their hatred after all. We are Americans." Liberalism trumps gay sensitivity.

Writer X said...

I certainly hope the Muslim men who attacked the gay men were given Korans, ethnically prepared meals, prayer rugs, and Eric Holder's personal cell phone number. At least they were crafty enough to know they could get away with murder in San Francisco.

Unknown said...

Joel: I'm sure that's part of it. But there's an element of simple cowardice involved as well. Wild-eyed gay-haters like the Phelps people will go so far as to disrupt a funeral to make their point, but if you crack down on our friends from Araby, they'll retaliate by beheading you. These guys didn't even try to pretend they were innocent because they figured cultural-sensitivity combined with a yellow-streak down the back of the District Attorney would free them fairly quickly. You need to know that this District Attorney refused to seek the death penalty in the case of a cold-blooded cop-killing. Her deputies are of like mind.

Unknown said...

WriterX: I'm sure they got the royal treatment. I really feel sorry for the cops who try to do their job, only to have it undone by prosecutors who don't prosecute, juries that don't convict, and judges who hand down ridiculously lenient sentences.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree with you, but I find it totally amazing. How can they be so intentionally blind? And that's what it needs to be because their reflex is to make broad-stroke attacks whenever anything happens. . . except when the perpetrator is Muslim.

Unknown said...

Andrew: It mystifies me as much as it does you. It can't even be pandering to the majority, since there are a lot more gay people in San Francisco than there are angry Muslims. There's some sort of psychological illness going on here. Some internal conflict where liberals struggle within their own minds over which "victim" is more deserving. So when there are real victims involved, they still can't distinguish them from perceived victims, and have to juggle the
"correct" response. Who's to say that the next time it won't be .44 slugs or machetes instead of BBs?

Where's all the indignation that accompanied the Matthew Shepard murder committed by a couple of drug-crazed white trash homosexual haters? He can't be blamed for his own violent death, but he had a tendency to put himself in harm's way, and the scumbags who killed him just took the opportunity available to them. But still, that isolated murder set off a firestorm of demonstrations about the "pervasive homophobia" and "ubiquitous" gay-bashing in America.

These victims thought they were safe on the streets of San Francisco, weren't in any way putting themselves in harm's way, and their attackers did what they did out of devotion to a hateful, blood-spilling theology, not just opportunism spurred by drugs.

So where's the righteous indignation? Where's the full force of the law, and where's the DA's office that has vowed to prosecute hate crimes? Like you, I just don't get it.

Unknown said...

The Tea Party protest here in San Francisco was about as expected. A few hundred attendees, and a dollop of aging hippie and tax-eating opponents. Very peaceful though. The big rally was in the East Bay suburb of Pleasanton. The news reports said a few thousand people attended, which means more than a few thousand. It was held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, which is extremely large, but the space was largely filled up by the Tea Partiers. Chronicle reporters here in San Francisco selectively interviewed the locals, so naturally the crowd was described as "old and white." I expected nothing less from the Chron. The biggest reaction from the crowds came when speakers announced that his Majesty, Barack I, was contemporaneously making fun of tax protests and announcing how he has actually cut taxes. Oh, brother!

Anonymous said...

As a long time transgender SF resident, I think that the left now considers Muslims the "most victimized group" in San Francisco's hierarchy of victims of alleged oppression. As such, they will not be meaningfully punished for harassing other, less victimized, groups.

When I moved to SF in 1995, LGBTs were slowly replacing Blacks as the most-favored victim group. Suddenly, Black ministers and community leaders who objected to homosexuality were marginalized and black-on-gay harassment prosecuted.

Since 9/11, the City has slowly decided that Muslims are the most oppressed, allowing, for instance, Muslim doctors to refuse to treat LGBT patients. Patients who complained were accused of racism.

In the aftermath of the BB gun attacks, SF's LGBT community leaders spent their time attacking the police chief for stating that Islamic terrorists could one day bomb the Hall of Justice.

StanH said...

“God watches out for drunks and idiots!”

Ahh…the Muslim mulligan. Man think of the rights you can have if you’re an illegal alien an Muslim. We should all consider becoming a citizen of Mexico and converting to Islam, you can shoot other people, pay no taxes, and not participate in Barrycare, and the list goes on.

It sounds like you’re dubious about the value of the high speed choo-choo!

Poverty pimps must keep the slaves on the Plantation, the same thing happened here before the Olympics, closing down the Carver Homes Housing Project, one of the oldest housing projects in America. They built new Sec. 8 development just outside of the city, you’d have thunk they were being moved from The Ritz to a Holiday Inn…just wow!

Unknown said...

Anonymous: That's a pretty accurate assessment. I remember when Supervisor Amos Brown, a black Baptist preacher, objected to some of the "hate" resolutions being introduced as being supportive of a lifestyle he personally didn't like and didn't feel belonged in the political realm. You'd have thought he was advocating the immediate rounding-up and murdering of every person who was gay.

A lawless physical assault is a lawless physical assault, and the police and district attorney should not be looking at the social status of either the victims or the perpetrators. That's the kind of selective law enforcement that Obama, Sotomayor and now Goodwin Liu believe in. It never comes out well.

Unknown said...

StanH: I'm not really a big fan of high-speed rail transit, and at least in America, I haven't seen any good evidence that I should be. But I could be convinced. When I was very small, we traveled between LA and Chicago on trains, and I vaguely remember loving them. My real objection is to conning the public into voting for multi-billion dollar state bonds to support what should be private enterprise, and which ends up bearing no resemblance to the plan originally sold to the public.

I wonder what would happen if the BB gun victims turned out to be both gay and Muslim. That would be good for a complete nervous breakdown for our illustrious DA.

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