The streets of San Francisco (or, this is Nancy Pelosi’s city)

Writing a couple of years ago about the streets of San Francisco, in a post I called “Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco,” I had this to say:

Last week, I had occasion to make four separate trips to the City.  Each was unpleasant.

The first trip, I got a flat tire from broken glass in the street.  I know that can happen anywhere, but it’s more likely along the Market Street stretch I had to travel.

The second trip, I found myself at a corner that boasted both a stop sign and a red light.  This was ludicrous, confusing and, therefore, dangerous.  This is manic control run amok.

The third trip, I almost got a ticket when I parked at what appeared to be a non-metered space.  Half the block had parking meters; half the block, the part where I was parking, didn’t.  It was only because a nice pedestrian warned me that I learned that there was an electronic kiosk about 25 feet away from my car that sold parking passes for the car’s dashboard.  Other than that word of mouth tip, there were no signs at all warning that, while half the block had old-fashioned meters, the other half had switched to a computer system.

The fourth trip, my husband and I were walking down Gough Street towards the Opera House at dusk.  Between the failing light and the broken and dimmed street lights, it was impossible to avoid the hazards of pitted, jagged, broken uneven sidewalk.  It was only because we’re in good shape, with decent balance, that the two of us avoided a painful tumble.  I won’t even describe the smell of urine and sewage that kept wafting up towards us as we walked along.

Welcome to Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco.

Well, San Francisco has made this disgrace official, by naming a street after Nancy Pelosi.

Proving, as he so often does, that a picture is worth a thousand words, Michael Ramirez has nailed this most recent San Francisco development.

Just Because Music: The New Seekers “I’d like to teach the world to sing”

I remember the hippies as dirty, drugged-out, pathetic human beings lying on the streets in the Haight Ashbury.  Their continuing legacy is one of drugs, sexual self-indulgence, and mindless statism wrapped up in equally mindless slogans of “love” and “fairness,” as if a government is capable of giving love or imposing fairness from above.

However, the bells and whistles with which the hippies dressed up their drugs, sex, and Leftist fantasies were often quite lovely.  One of my favorite childhood memories is of a rainbow themed art exhibition at the de Young Museum (this one, not this one), an exhibition that would never have happened but for Flower Child imagery.

Likewise, there was something charming, albeit manifestly naive, about the notion of universal brotherhood.  I thought as a child, and still think now, that one of the prettiest, most harmonious, expressions of that naive belief was The Seeker’s I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing:

And for those of you who remember the Coke commercial:

(And don’t you just love the all-Americanism of a vapid hippie philosophy being co-opted by Madison Avenue and a multinational corporation to market a caffeinated sugar drink?)

San Francisco Chronicle columnist warns city’s rational thinkers not to roll in the mud with one specific fringe group

Here’s the lede:

The great thing about living in San Francisco is that it is socially and culturally responsible. The bad thing is, a city that is so socially and culturally responsible can’t resist taking the bait when a fringe group tries to provoke a reaction.

In a non-Bizarro world, one might think that the columnist, C.W. Nevius, is advising San Franciscans to ignore the OWSers camped out along the Embarcadero.  What better way to avoid the drugs, feces and vomit?  Except that can’t be right take on that lede because even San Francisco, with its seemingly endless tolerance for all things Progressive, cleared out the OWS camp a couple of months ago because it was a public health hazard.

Or maybe Nevius is advising San Franciscans to avoid the antisemitic/anti-American hate fest that occurs whenever the Progressive crowd takes to the streets of San Francisco to oppose the wars the U.S. is fighting against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Nope.  Can’t be that.  Those protests ended when Obama took the White House, even though it took another three years for one war to wrap up and the other is still going strong.

Hmm.  Maybe Nevius is telling San Franciscans to stay away from the annual Up Your Alley Fair, an open air celebration of pretty much unlimited debauchery.  Or the annual Folsom Street Fair, which features less nudity, but more whips and chains.

I mean, frankly, when it comes to “fringe groups” that are trying “to provoke a reaction,” San Francisco certain has more than its fair share.

This being San Francisco, however, Nevius had something even more fringey in mind, something so horrifying that even San Francisco’s usual crew of protesters, the ones who will take off their clothes to protest anything, including their right to take off their clothes, are being warned away lest they get damaged by contact with this extremist organization.  What is this diabolical gathering, the one so out there that San Franciscans need to hide in their homes rather than validate it with confrontation?

The 8th Annual Walk For Life, which will be held on January 21, 2012, in San Francisco.  Last year, this “fringe” group managed to gather around 40,000 people, all of whom frightened ordinary San Franciscans by wearing normal clothes, walking peaceably, and carrying signs that support life.  (Zombie has an illustrative photo essay from the 2010 walk.)

Nevius, who sometimes distinguishes himself by being amongst the more sensible columnists by San Francisco Chronicle standards, embraces San Francisco’s amorality, however, when he says that the City, en masse, should ignore this pro-Life plague:

The best approach, of course, would be to let them [the pro-Life walkers] have their moment, ignore them, and then go back to real life in San Francisco. That’s the approach that will be taken by the local chapter of Planned Parenthood.

[snip]

Naturally, not everyone feels that way, and we can just about count on clashes between the two groups. There will be disagreements about the size of the crowds – protesters claim that the walk organizers overestimate the size of the march, and members of the walk claim that the number of protesters decreases every year.

At the end of the day, it comes down to a classic example of sound and fury signifying nothing. When the walk concludes Saturday, you can bet that no one will have changed his or her position, although everyone will be congratulating himself or herself for standing up for the cause.

I’ve done enough abortion posts for you guys to know that I’m conflicted on this subject.  I grew up totally pro-Choice, focused entirely on the woman’s needs and convenience.  As I’ve aged — and had children — I’ve no longer been able to deny that there is another life involved.  I want to deny it.  If, God forbid, my daughter shows up pregnant at 15, I want to say “Oh, never mind, darling!  I’ll just take you to the doctor and that’ll be that,” but I don’t think I can anymore.  It’s not a woman’s convenience versus a cell’s existence.  It’s a life versus a life.

So when C.W. Nevius says “[w]hen the walk concludes Saturday, you can bet that no one will have changed his or her position,” he’s plain wrong.  The walk may be the last link in the chain for someone who is struggling, as I struggle, with making a u-turn in a profound belief system, one that forces us to confront who we are and what value we place upon ourselves.

Christmas in San Francisco

San Francisco used to be charming.  Now it’s just kind of creepy — or, at least, large parts of it are.  For example, the OWSers are creepy.  Even creepier is what happens when the OWSers come together with the nekkid Santas.  And I have to ask, as I always do:  Why is it always only the ugly people who insist on taking their clothes off?

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, nude world — if you live in San Francisco

The City That Knows How, which is how long-time San Francisco columnist Herb Caen viewed his beloved adopted city, is at it again, this time with proposed legislation saying you can’t enter restaurants nude, nor can you, as a nude person, sit down in a public space without putting something under yourself first.  How about something completely different?  In the interests of decency and healthy sexuality, how about, you don’t let people wander around naked in public!

The human body is a wondrous thing.  To that end, I prefer to keep some of that wonder alive by seeing less of most people’s bodies, rather than more.  Economics 101 holds that, the rarer a commodity is, the more precious it is.  When you have wrinkled old hippies (link is not NSFW) and emaciated drug addicts wandering the streets showing their all, it tends to cheapen the premium we in the West have traditionally placed on God’s (or Nature’s) special design.

In a question and answer he set out in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, Woody Allen pretty much sums it up:  “Is sex dirty?  Only if it’s done right.”  Trying to make the human body as ordinary as yesterday’s newspaper is definitely doing it wrong.

Cross-posted at PJ Media

Dealing with government bureaucracies

I do not understand the liberal love affair with government.  Government is inefficient and it bullies people.  Had a business engaged in the same conduct as the City of San Francisco, it would have apologized profusely or found itself flamed to death.  A government, however, can act with impunity, because it holds the power.

I’m not advocating an anarchic system without government.  I’m just saying that people ought to think very carefully before they vest more and more power in government’s hands.  History shows repeatedly the truth behind Thoreau’s dictum that “That government is best which governs least.”

Only in SF is JROTC a “controversial” program

The news is good, at least for the time being, but I was rather amazed to learn that JROTC, which has been around since before WWI, all over America, is “controversial”:

The San Francisco school board gave the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps yet another vote of confidence Tuesday, ensuring that the controversial military leadership program will stick around for at least another two years in seven district high schools.

The board decided in a 5-to 2 vote to let JROTC students continue to earn required physical education credits through independent study, a decision that ensures the military program can maintain enrollment numbers.

The circumcision ban on the San Francisco ballot is driven by blatant antisemitism

I often say I’m shocked by something that crosses my computer screen, but that’s not really true.  I mean, I probably sort of shocked insofar as I’m surprised that someone has behaved according to type, but in an extreme way, or that something I’ve long assumed would happen actually did happen (or, in a surprising way, didn’t happen).  But I’m very seldom shocked to the core of my being.  Today, though, I was shocked, shaken really, by an email Zombie sent me.

Zombie has gotten hold of some of the campaign literature from those supporting the circumcision ban that made its way onto San Francisco’s November ballot.  I am not kidding when I say that the material is indistinguishable from something the Nazis would have prepared:

Go, read the whole thing, and prepare to scrape your jaw from the floor.  It’s horrifying, nasty, awful, evil stuff.  I read a headline today (and can’t, for the life of me, figure out where), stating that antisemitism is resurgent today in a way not seen since the eve of WWII.  This kind of garbage makes that claim — a claim I don’t doubt is true — resonate with real force.

My last word on the subject is that, in the 1930s, as now, socialism was politically dominant in the Western cultures that supported antisemitism, and Islam was (as has been the case for centuries) politically d0minant in the Middle Eastern cultures supporting antisemitism.

Antisemitism is a vile, virulent plague that will not die.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land, available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon, Smashwords or through your iBook app.

[This post has been amended from its original publication to include an image, and to remove the throwaway line that the San Francisco Chronicle failed in its investigative duty.  It didn't.]

San Francisco discovers free enterprise

San Francisco is definitely up in the top five when it comes to “most Progressively governed cities in America.”  No surprise, then, that the city’s finances are in a shambles.  What is a surprise is the fact that, faced with a looming budget collapse, the City has suddenly discovered capitalist incentives:  it’s offering the big employers tax cuts to stay in the City.

This is a smart move on San Francisco’s part.  (And I can’t believe I wrote that sentence about the City that doesn’t know how.)  The Leftists may call them “the rich people” or “blood sucking corporations,” but I have another name for them:  employers.  The City has discovered that if you constantly penalize employers, they go away.

As Obama’s vicious, dishonest budget speech shows, he hasn’t yet come to that little realization.  Nor, despite his intellectual common ground with Tom Friedman, has he seemed to realize that Friedman is right about one thing:  the earth is indeed flat.  In the old days, employers had nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide.  Now, the corporations can go to all the other socialist countries that have lower corporate tax rates than the U.S., while individuals simply bid a fond adieu to their natal land.

I realized today that what makes Obama’s class warfare even more disgusting is that he makes no attempt to pretend that he’s one of the little people.  As I read in Ronald Kessler’s In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect, when Jimmy Carter, the last president who presided over such a disastrous economy, paraded around carrying his own suitcase, it was pure theater:  the suitcase was empty.  Nevertheless, he made the effort.

Obama, however, doesn’t bother.  Even as he demagogues about the fat cats, stopping just short of demanding their heads on pikes, he openly revels in the kind of lifestyle only the very rich can afford.  While he lectures us about heat and air-c0nditioning, he keeps his White House digs at 75 all year round; while he tells us to trade in our tried and true cars for expensive hybrids, he and his family jet all over the world on exotic vacations, traveling in gas guzzlers everywhere they go; while he “commiserates” with our belt tightening, he and his family dine on lobster, Kobe beef, and foie gras.  His arrogance is so overweening that he assumes that he is entitled to these luxuries — at our expense, of course — even as he insists that we cut back, tone done, retrench and, of course, destroy our employer class.

Putz isn’t a strong enough word, but it’s the only one I’ll use on my PG blog.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

You get what you pay for with city government

One of my “crossing the Rubicon” moments came upon me about twenty years ago, when I went to the main branch of the old San Francisco public library (before it moved to its snazzy, very expensive new digs), and tried to check out a book.  I found myself standing in a line of about 60 people, all waiting to check out their books.

Standing on tip-toe (remember, I’m short), I was able to see that there were three active stations, each with a library employee checking out the books.  Considering that checking out books isn’t “rocket surgery,” I was at a loss to figure out why it was taking so long.  I discovered the problem when I got to the head of the line:  the clerks weren’t trying very hard.  To be honest, they weren’t trying at all.  Watching molasses drip on a cold day would be a more scintillating experience than watching these public servants processing the public.  To add insult to injury, they were rude too.

I walked out thinking this to myself:  “I doubt anyone of those clerks is paid more than about $28,000 per year, plus benefits.  That’s $84,000 cash per year, not including the benefits.  Why don’t they just hire one good person for $50,000 (plus benefits, of course), and get the job done right at a savings to the City of $34,000 per year, plus two unused benefits packages?  But of course, that couldn’t happen.  The unions would never go for it.  Their goal is to have as many employees as possible who, once they get their jobs, can never be fired, no matter how shoddy their work.  This isn’t about serving San Franciscans, this is about maximum employment for union members.”

I walked out of that library much more conservative than when I walked into that library.

This memory came back to me courtesy of an Instapundit post (hat tip:  Earl):

MORE ON THOSE UNDERFUNDED / OVERGENEROUS PUBLIC PENSIONS: Report: SF Pension Crisis Much Worse than City Claims: Adachi-commissioned analysis puts gap at $6.8 billion–not official figure of $1.6 billion. “The city’s pension fund is officially underfunded by $1.6 billion. Nation’s study argues that the pension fund is relying on a 7.75 percent annual rate of return that is unrealistic over the long term. The study argues for 6.2 percent, which it says was the average rate of return in the capital markets from 1900 through 1999.” Frankly, that “conservative” number looks overoptimistic to me. 4% is probably more realistic.