The Bookworm Beat 12/12/14 — Grabbing at headlines edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingI was talking with a friend of mine about the totally false alleged rape epidemic on America’s college campuses. While the epidemic may be false, the destruction wrought on young men is very real. Moreover, as false accusations crowd out the real ones, those young women (and men) who are genuinely raped are going to have an infinitely harder time getting taken seriously.

Thinking about this, I told my friend that past generations were probably wise to insist that sex wait until marriage and that, before marriage, young women should be chaperoned, rather than left alone with young men. It wasn’t just to protect the women’s virtue, it was also a way to protect the men’s honor. After all, since time immemorial, the truth about what happens between two people tends to be a mystery.

My friend had a better idea. Harking back to Obama’s recent insistence that all police have body cams, he suggested that all college students have body cams! I liked that idea.  Moreover, if the students can’t have a body cam, perhaps the next best thing (certainly for young men who don’t want to be falsely accused of rape) is the “Good2Go” app that makes explicit consent as easy as participating in an Instagram conversation.

We live in strange times. But as I often say, strange and difficult times make for good writing — so I’ve got a lot of good writing to bring to your attention:

[Read more...]

Thoughts on racism and race in America

You’ve already heard, I’m sure, about Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old World War II veteran who was beaten to death by two black teenagers.  The police are assuring everyone that there’s no need to get worried, because this wasn’t a race crime.  Instead, it was Delbert’s own fault.  According to the police, when the boys tried to rob Delbert, he had the temerity to fight back, leaving them with no other option than to beat an old man to death.

A friend of mine noted that, using this reasoning, if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that the race-hustlers are correct and it was Zimmerman who started the fatal encounter with Trayvon, then Trayvon was responsible for his own death because he had the temerity to fight back by climbing on top of Zimmerman, raining punches on his face, and trying to turn Zimmerman’s head into Silly Putty by smashing it repeatedly into the pavement.  My friend is right, of course.

But I’ll add something else to the mix.  The police are desperate to avoid saying that the white on black crimes that are flooding the news lately arise because blacks are — gasp! — not merely racist in Obama’s hystically race-conscious America, but aggressively so.  They don’t want to admit that the aggressive focus on race that surrounded Obama’s election didn’t destroy forever the linger vestiges of racism in America — the presumed outcome of a nation open-minded enough to elect a black man to its highest office — but, in fact, created an aggressive form of black-on-white racism.

Here’s the problem:  the new black-on-white racial motivation, although disgusting, is an intellectually recognizable reason for vile conduct.  If you deny its existence, all you have left is the admission that American blacks have become feral.  That is, they’re not killing for political reasons; they’re killing because they have an animal’s blood-lust, without a human’s self-control, morality, or reasoning skills.

And so, let’s talk about two recent local news stories that the MSM is assiduously ignoring.

In Anderson, Indiana, a 17-year-old black teenager assaulted and raped a 93-year-old woman.  This is what Iquise Taylor did to Amelia Rudolf:

Police say the youth lived within in a block of the woman’s house. Investigators say he broke into her home by kicking in the back door and then sexually assaulted her.

The 93-year-old had been sleeping at the time and awoke to find the youth in her bedroom.

Apparently elderly white women are quite the hot commodity amongst the non-racist blacks, because a similar event occurred happened in Poughkeepsie, NY.  That’s where 99-year-old Fannie Gumbinger had the misfortune to cross paths with 20-year-old Javon Tyrek Rogers, a black man who is a career burglar.  Well, Mrs. Gumbinger didn’t actually cross paths with Rogers.  It was more a case of his entering her house and killing her.  Why would one kill a frail 99-year-old lady (and believe me, because of my Mom’s retirement home I know precisely how frail 99-year-old ladies are)?  Well, it wasn’t a “hate crime,” of course, because blacks don’t commit hate crimes.  That means, as Wolf Howling put it, that it was a “feral” act.

The race hustlers have repeatedly put themselves in the position of conceding that black Americans are feral, whether it’s because they say that Damian King couldn’t help trying to beat Reginald Denny to death in the wake of the Rodney King riots, because he was “caught him the rapture” of the moment; or the two teens who couldn’t help killing an 88-year-old because he fought back; or a 17-year-old who couldn’t control his lust for an 93-year-old woman (who his lust for power over a 93-year-old woman); or a 20-year-old who had to murder a 99-year-old lady who was interfering with his burglary; or the five young blacks who tortured a random white couple to death in such a horrible way that I can’t bear to right about it.  If these young black people (and they’re all young products of America’s thirty years of institutional Progressivism) acted without a motive, no matter how disgusting that motive was, then the only thing left is to concede that they are either evil incarnate, which argues a certain moral knowledge that the actor deliberately ignores, or that they are so inhuman that they have become like animals.

Even likening them to animals, though, seems to me to be too generous.  Animals kill to eat or to control territory.  Animals do not waste their energies, nor do they put themselves at risk, simply to indulge in blood lust.  That type of act is seen only in rabid animals that have been rendered insane through infection.

So what disease has affected our black underclass to the point at which it has parted ways with humanity and entered dimensions in which, normally, only infected animals dwell?  I leave you to think up your own instance.

Incidentally, I do not write this post as an overarching indictment of blacks, God forbid.  I am not a classic racist, in that I do not believe that one race genetically inferior to another race.  I recognize differences (skin color, musculature, bell curve spread over such traits as book-oriented intellectualism or physical stamina, etc), but I consider those differences virtuous, insofar as they provide a wonderful range of human abilities, with no one quality trumping any other — although there are times, whether through natural- or human-caused events, when certain traits may help one group survive better than another group.  I consider myself a “values-ist,” meaning that I judge people by their values, not their skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc.

So if it’s not genetics, it must be culture — and black culture is Leftist culture or, rather, black culture is the victim of elitist Leftist culture.  It’s the Leftist ruling class, in government, in the media, and in education, taht thinks so little of blacks that these elites are content to accept that young blacks normally exist in a diseased, feral state, because it seems right and natural to the affluent Leftist eye.  If, Gaia forfend!, they concede that blacks are endowed with the same moral and intellectual abilities as whites, then these same elites must also concede that blacks do not need to be perpetually dependent upon the states for all their needs, a status that assumes racial inability.

Democrat-ruled Oakland, California, targets news crews

For decades now, the Left has been excusing crime with the old “root causes” argument:  criminals are made, not born, and they’re made by a confluence of poverty, racism, peer pressure, etc.  Because white Leftists feel guilty about this, they’ve tended to give ghetto-based criminals a pass.  It’s not their fault they’re criminals; it’s our fault, so we should not judge them harshly.

Of course, regardless of its cause, the problem with giving criminal behavior a pass is that it takes away disincentives for crime.  Anyone with a lick of sense knows that you have to attack crime at both root and branch, with the branch being those disincentives.

I mention all this because the media has been one of the major purveyors of the “pathetic criminal” meme, which is consistent with the media’s 90 Democrat demographic.  But the one thing these Lefties forgot is that revolutions always eat their own.  And that’s why we get this story coming out of Oakland, the city next door to Berkeley, with a population made up of rich white liberals and poor blacks.  Municipal government hews Left even by California standards, which may explain the abysmal poverty in which many of Oakland’s blacks live — and the crime.  Hitherto, the media has been somewhat sympathetic to the crime.  I wonder, though, if that’s all about to change:

The violent robbery of a television news crew outside an Oakland school last week was the latest in a series of similar incidents in a city where the rate of strong-arm robberies and holdups is surging.

But the brazenness of the attack – which occurred during a live broadcast in the middle of the day – has brought fresh urgency to the problem.

Union officials who represent reporters at most of the Bay Area’s major television and radio stations said Tuesday they had asked the broadcasters to immediately hire security guards to accompany news crews when they are in Oakland. At least one station has already enlisted guards, and others are considering it.

You can read the rest here.

I suspect that what brought “fresh urgency to the problem” isn’t a criminal act in a violent city, but the fact that the reporters were the targets.  (Shame on me for being so cynical.)

 

 

Found it on Facebook — misconstruing Mitt’s correct statement about marriage and gun violence

Here’s today’s Facebook find:

This poster, of course, comes from a liberal.  What the liberal doesn’t realize is that Mitt was riffing right off the liberals’ own beloved New York Times when he said that the best way to deal with gun violence is to promote marriage.  Just this July, the Times ran an article acknowledging what conservatives have known intuitively, which is that two-parent families are much less likely to live in poverty than one-parent families:

The economic storms of recent years have raised concerns about growing inequality and questions about a core national faith, that even Americans of humble backgrounds have a good chance of getting ahead. Most of the discussion has focused on labor market forces like falling blue-collar wages and lavish Wall Street pay.

But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

The next analytical step is to recognize that there is a strong correlation between poverty and crime.  Even Barack Obama acknowledged this in an ugly, back assward way when he said that “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but rich people are all for nonviolence. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve got what they want. They want to make sure people don’t take their stuff.”  The corollary to Obama’s class warfare statement is that rich people don’t take other people’s stuff either — they buy it.

So a root cause of crime is poverty and, as the New York Times admits, a root cause of poverty is single mother parenting.  That means that Mitt didn’t say something stupid; he said something smart.  Only people in deep, deep denial would deny the wisdom of his statement that we deal with violence, not by getting rid of the Second Amendment, which is our bulwark against government tyranny, but by reaffirming traditional middle class values.

While I’m on the topic of marriage, poverty, and crime, I’ll just throw one more thing into the mix:  Daddies.  Studies show that Daddies matter when it comes to boys and crime (and boys commit vastly greater numbers of crimes than girls do).  Interestingly, it’s not clear that this Daddy statistic applies as well to two Daddy families.  Still, two Daddy (and two Mommy) families are still going to be economically more stable than a single parent family, and the single parent trap is what I believe Mitt was addressing.

Facebook is just a wellspring of clever misinformation aimed at credulous, emotionally charged liberals.

Moral hazard and martial arts — and was I making any sense at all?

It all started when my sister and I got to talking about the up-coming Olympics.  I used to enjoy them when ABC presented each day’s events as a tightly packaged three-hour narrative, complete with villains (usually the Russian, French, or East German judges) and myriad heroes, whether they were the known champions who saw years of hard work paying off, or the dark horses who surprised everyone by appearing out of nowhere. While I may not like my news packaged, I don’t mind it at all when it comes to my Olympics.

Now that the Olympics seem to be 24 hours a day, with a fairly random presentation, I’m overwhelmed and, barring something spectacular (such as Michael Phelps’ amazing run of gold medals), I don’t have the patience for it.

Having determined to our mutual satisfaction that we both feel the same way about the Olympics, my sister offered me an interesting factual tidbit:  “I’ve heard,” she said, “that they’re thinking of adding Mixed Martial Arts to the Olympics, but the people opposing it say that it’s little better than dog fighting.”

My hackles went up instantly — not at her, but at the people who would say that.

“First off,” I said, “professional MMA is a voluntary activity.

“Second, these guys perceive themselves as warriors victims, not victims warriors.  [That was a heck of a dyslexic mistake, wasn't it?]

“And third, while they get a lot of injuries, I bet the injuries are less serious than football.  It’s the whole ‘moral hazard’ thing — the more you insulate people from known risks, the more dangerous their behavior is.

“Think of the difference between football and rugby.  The rugby guys get seriously trashed with superficial injuries to most parts of their bodies, but the lack of helmets mean that they don’t lead with their heads.  You therefore don’t hear about head and spine injuries with rugby players.

“With football players, though, the helmets and padding mean that the league has relied on increasingly large players, who use increasingly aggressive pressure on the opposition.  The injuries can be deep and profound.

“MMA’s the same thing — the guys tear up their knees and shoulders, which is a bad thing, but not life threatening.  It’s a risk they ought be allowed to take.  And they’re grown men, which means that they’re probably getting a lot less trashed than all those little gymnastics, who have been taking enormous risks with aerial activities, not to mention the bone stress and eating disorders.”

Clearly, I was on a roll.  Fortunately, I was preaching to the choir, since my sister just said, “Well, you know that the safest communities are those with the least police presence.”

“That sounds right to me,” I responded.  “After all, no one is going to care as much about protecting you and your loved ones as you are.  Provided, of course, that the authorities haven’t taken your weapons away.  You know that old saying:  when seconds count, the police are minutes away.”

“Yeah,” she answered.  “Look at Chicago.  They have this insane crime rate and they already have one of highest ratios of police officers per citizen in America.  So the City is going to hire more than a thousand police officers, as if that’s going to work.”

“It’s just like teachers, isn’t it?” I offered.  “We keep being told that our failing schools will get better if we hire more teachers, even though there’s no evidence that this approach works.  More than that, it ignores the fact that, back in the day when you and I were in school, our classrooms routinely had 35-40 students per teacher, and our test scores and overall education was just as high as now, if not higher.”

“That’s right,” said my sister.  “They never look at whether the teachers are teaching a smart way, or whether politics is interfering with education.”

She and I ended our conversation then, quite satisfied with each other.

But here’s the problem:  Were we right about anything we said?  Is rugby safer than football when it comes to serious (brain and spine) injuries versus superficial (teeth, nose, elbows, knees, etc.) injuries?  Are the safest communities in America those with the least police presence?  Does Chicago really have one of the highest rates of police per citizen?  And do today’s students really know less than students in the 60s and 70s, or have our expectations gone up since then?

These are good questions and we probably should have known the answers before we started talking.  As it is, I’m simply too lazy today to check whether my facts are right.  And in keeping with my previous post, “When ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”  Since every issue resolved itself so neatly, why in the world would I want to mess up my nice little conversation with actual, possibly different, facts?

A quick morning round-up — and an Open Thread *UPDATED*

If you’re on the ball, this week you have the opportunity to bid on a great sounding book, get an iPad, and help Soldier’s Angels.

Everyone’s wondering why multiple New Yorkers just walked by as a good Samaritan bled to death on the sidewalk in front of them.  The intelligentsia has jumped on the usual suspects:  violent video games.  I think, though, that we’re simply looking at life in the big city, in which people cultivate the mindset of “it’s not my problem; someone else, preferably a City employee,” will fix it.  And in the last shot of that deeply depressing video, one sees New York’s own come driving up to carry away the corpse.  It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that urban dwellers vote overwhelmingly for big government.  Living in the City means never having to take care of things yourself.

Speaking of cities and government, it’s clear that one city’s government knows how to take care of itself.  It turns out that 1 out of 3 San Francisco employees is earning in excess $100,000 annually on the taxpayer’s dime.  (Here’s an example of a teacher feeding at some government’s public trough who can’t possibly be worth whatever money they are paying her.)  I suspect that, if you had a picture of sheep being led to the slaughter, and San Franciscans walking down the City streets, the images would be indistinguishable– except that the sheep earn our sympathy because they, at least, are not complicit in their own demise.

And speaking of sheep, Michael Barone thinks that some sheep may be lining up for rebellion and will start demanding spending cuts, not tax increases.  They will be met, naturally, with cries that, should such cuts go into effect, there will be people starving in the streets.  Funnily enough, those statements will echo precisely the arguments made back in 1990s, when the debate was on about “ending welfare as we know it.”  We did end welfare as we knew it, and Armageddon failed to occur.  What a disappointment to the doomsayers.

I’ve spent a fair amount of blog time this week talking about the danger of identity politics.  The trigger for me was the gay softball team stripped of its championship because some of its players weren’t gay enough.  The world of sports, though, is too small a stage for sexual identity politics, and the same argument is now playing out on the Pennsylvania political scene:  “Just how bisexual is Gregg Kravitz? His political career may pivot on the answer. Kravitz is a 29-year-old former stockbroker from Philadelphia, who is running for the Pennsylvania statehouse. He claims to be a bisexual. [para.] His opponent in the Democratic primary, incumbent Babette Josephs, says Kravitz is lying about who he sleeps with in order to curry favor with gay voters. Josephs claims she met a woman at a fundraiser who identified herself as Kravitz’s girlfriend. “I outed him as a straight person,” Josephs announced.”

Lastly, although I can’t find a graceful way to tie the following in with my snippets, above, I wanted to bring your attention to the hatred directed at the Tea Partiers.  While the media may be very busy trying to paint peaceful constitutionally-oriented protests as potential bloodbaths, that’s not where the ugliness lies.  (Warning:  bad language and potential scary nightmares lie at this link.)

UPDATE:  Since this was a post that leaned heavily on government worker issues, this Saturday Night Live sketch seems apropos:

Another victim of liberal policies that keep crazy people on the streets

One of the reasons I started souring on liberalism a long time ago, was its insistence that manifestly crazy people couldn’t have their civil rights infringed by institutionalizing them.  (And yes, I know de-institutionalization started out from both the political left and the political right, but by the 70s, the Left, especially the ACLU, owned it.)  I thought it was an insane policy because people who are paranoid and delusional might not be capable of making smart decisions.  If you think you’re being attacked by Martians, it might make sense to you to eat out of garbage cans, never bathe, drink and do drugs, and live on the streets, periodically attacking bypassers who might be those Martians.

Aside from being insanely cruel (pun intended) to people incapable of caring for themselves, the policy has been dangerous for others.  Here is just the most recent case in point:

A homeless man with a history of violence has been arrested for allegedly attacking a stranger on Market Street who died hours after being assaulted, San Francisco police said Monday.

Matthew A. Adams, 38, was found dead Saturday night in his room at 1169 Market St. by his girlfriend.

The woman told police that a man attacked Adams without provocation as the couple were walking near Seventh and Market streets at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, said Lt. Mike Stasko of the police homicide detail.

Adams refused medical treatment at the scene, police said.

“He said he was OK,” Stasko said, “and he walked home from where he was assaulted.”

Adams’ girlfriend left later that morning. When she returned to his room about 8:30 p.m., Adams was dead.

The man who attack Adams was a murder waiting to happen:

Stasko said Holloway has a history of attacking people on the street without provocation. He also has a long criminal record in Los Angeles and San Francisco for theft, drug offenses and public intoxication, the lieutenant said.

In March, police arrested Holloway on suspicion of felony assault after he allegedly hit another homeless man in the leg with a baseball bat and slammed a can of beer into the side of his head, authorities said. The district attorney’s office dismissed the case because the victim was unavailable to testify against Holloway, records show.

Holloway was arrested again later in March on Sixth Street for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon, but prosecutors discharged the case “in the interest of justice,” records show.

In May, Holloway was arrested on a domestic violence charge stemming from an incident at Turk and Taylor streets in which he allegedly stabbed a former girlfriend in the hand in a dispute over $30, records show.

I know that what we, as kids, used to call “insane asylums” were often horrible places, in which the inmates were neglected and abused. Still, some inmates were there for very good reasons — both for their own protection and for society’s safety — and it would have made infinitely more sense to improve the asylums, rather than to do away with them altogether. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Britain outlaws a homeowner’s self-defense against intruders

One of the most basic principles of Anglo-Saxon common law is a homeowner’s right to defend himself against intruders.  Oh, wait!  That’s not quite true anymore.  In England, which practically gave its name to the notion that “a man’s home is his castle,” homeowner self-defense is against the law (emphasis mine):

Myleene Klass, the broadcaster and model, brandished a knife at youths who broke into her garden – but has been warned by police that she may have acted illegally.

Miss Klass, a model for Marks & Spencer and a former singer with the pop group Hear’Say, was in her kitchen in the early hours of Friday when she saw two teenagers behaving suspiciously in her garden.

The youths approached the kitchen window, before attempting to break into her garden shed, prompting Miss Klass to wave a kitchen knife to scare them away.

Miss Klass, 31, who was alone in her house in Potters Bar, Herts, with her two-year-old daughter, Ava, called the police. When they arrived at her house they informed her that she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an “offensive weapon” – even in her own home – was illegal.

Mind you, the above rule is separate from the fact that the UK’s strict anti-gun laws have cut off completely one way in which homeowners can defend themselves against intruders.  The inevitable, is that burglars feel free to break and enter occupied houses, since they needn’t worry about staring down the wrong end of a gun barrel.  (Crime, too, has sky-rocketed.)  What’s different about the rule announced in the above article, is that it isn’t just about removing the homeowner’s most effective instrument of defense; instead, it’s about destroying entirely even the thought of self-defense.

I think Miss Klass is to be highly commended for doing whatever she could to defend herself and her daughter against these intruders.  After all, if she ever cracks open a paper in England, or turns on the news, she knows that Yob violence is out of control.  Britain has successfully turned itself into Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange-vision of a nation equally divided between compliant victims, on the one hand, and brutal psychopaths, on the other.

Thank goodness that, at least in Oklahoma, people are still allowed to defend themselves against home intruders.  Otherwise, one very brave and frightened woman, instead of having successfully and with great physical and moral courage defended herself, could be as dead as the average British homeowner:

(You can hear the whole 33 minute long 911 call here.)

San Francisco: America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

A quick, and personal, history of San Francisco’s decline from the 1960s to the present

I was born and grew up in San Francisco.  My very earliest memories of the City just predate the advent of the hippies.  At that time, the City was a solid amalgam of working class people, middle class people, and a nice handful of the very, very rich.  Barring the inevitable slums (and all cities have them), San Francisco was a well-maintained, fairly safe place.  Trips downtown (usually triggered by a visit to the doctor in the medical building at 450 Sutter) always ended with a visit to the beautiful City of Paris department store to admire the rotunda (which you can still see in the new Nieman Marcus on the same site), a stop at the marble bathrooms in I. Magnin’s (where Macy’s stands now), and treats at Blum’s Restaurant.  Women and men still wore hats in public places, and the women usually wore gloves too.  The sidewalks were clean, and there were no beggars.

I remember, too, when the hippies came along.  Initially, at least from a child’s point of view, it was kind of fun.  During the Summer of Love in 1967, colorfully dressed young people would be dancing in Golden Gate Park, waving banners, blowing bubbles and handing out flowers to all who passed by.  Of course, when they left the Park at the end of these pretty love-ins, the grass was torn to shreds, the flower beds were destroyed, and a few overdosed teens always lay scattered in the detritus left behind.  Soon, though, the magic (such as it was) vanished, and all that was left behind was the miserable slum that was the Haight Ashbury.

Because San Francisco was notorious for her hippies, whenever out-of-town friends came to visit, they’d insist on a tour of the Haight.  As a child, therefore, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I often found myself in that blighted neighborhood.  The streets were filthy, covered with a disgusting mixture of garbage, urine and feces.  Collapsed on the sidewalks, holding up the walls, were the drug addicts — stringy-haired, bleary eyed and smelly.  Because sidewalks are hard and cold, a lot of the druggies would migrate to the green strip of the Panhandle or into Golden Gate Park itself.  While the Panhandle quickly became off limits for us children, we still went to the Park quite often — but were always carefully warned about needles in the grass and bums in the bushes.

The hippies weren’t just an aberration.  They were the beginning of a deep rot that set into the City.  Some of them remained as anchors for the homeless who still pepper San Francisco’s streets, making those streets unsafe or just very, very unpleasant for ordinary people.  Others reformed their lifestyles, but kept their Leftist, SDS influenced politics.  They grew up, got jobs, bought homes, and became people of influence in the City.  Their influence wasn’t immediately obvious.  During the 1970s, the City just drifted along.  Self-realization and self-actualization and general self-involvement hit the middle class with a bang, with the result that everyone was running around seeking his bliss, pausing only periodically to do some navel gazing.

The City’s gays, contrary to the film Milk, weren’t in a perpetual state of political activism during the 1970s.  Instead, they were glorying in the hedonism that was part-and-parcel of escaping the dark closet in which they’d lived for so many years.  I can’t say that I blame them — it was a giddy feeling to be free to express a long-hidden sexuality — but the results were deleterious.  It’s not healthy for a City to have a neighborhood that’s dedicated to sex, a rather obvious principle that is entirely separate from the fact that the Castro and its myriad bathhouses proved to be perfect Petri dishes for a burgeoning fatal disease that would soon sweep the world.

I was gone from San Francisco during much of the early and mid-1980s, returning to the City only in the late 1980s.  Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was living a wonderfully self-absorbed yuppie lifestyle, but I still managed to figure out that several things had changed since I’d last lived in San Francisco.  The most obvious change was the presence of homeless people, not just in the Haight and in Golden Gate Park, but everywhere.  The City was no longer making any effort whatsoever to control the homeless problem.

A walk down Montgomery Street, the main artery in San Francisco’s business district, meant one was perpetually under siege from panhandlers, most of them odoriferous and many of them crawling with lice and fleas.  Many, if not all, were obviously mentally ill or deeply in thrall to drugs or alcohol.  I couldn’t blame them for being where they were.  The City’s temperate climate and unenforced vagrancy laws made San Francisco a natural environment for such people.

As for me, I’ve always thought it’s the hallmark of a civilized society that it doesn’t leave its sick and deranged people begging on sidewalks and sleeping in doorways.  The ACLU, however, begs to differ.  And yes, I know that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the idea first came to de-institutionalize the inebriate homes and insane asylums that were once part of the American landscape, it was an unholy alliance of both the Left and the Right that led the charge.  In the years since, however, as the damage to urban areas from de-institutionalization has become clear, the ACLU has come to own the issue, and has routinely insisted that America must allow the helpless insane to live in the street and grub in the garbage.  Apparently Leftist civil rights include ensuring that those least able to care for themselves get no help from the rest of us.

The City had also lost what limited control it once had over the worst neighborhoods in town.  Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in the area surrounding the venerable Cow Palace.  Admittedly, that area was never a very nice one, but I remember as a child going frequently to events at the Cow Palace, going to gymnastic meets at the neighborhood schools, dining on delicious Middle Eastern food at a family-owned restaurant, and visiting people’s houses in the area.  Although I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time, looking back I would characterize the neighborhood as lower working class.  By the late 1980s, it was just plain scary, with the housing projects dominating and blighting the area.  (The worst of those housing projects, incidentally, became so unsustainable that the City eventually destroyed them in an effort at urban renewal.  Those that remain are still appalling.)

By the late 1990s, I had left San Francisco for the Marin suburbs, and I’ve never looked back.  Marin is ridiculously overpriced, but it’s also beautiful, exquisitely well-maintained and very safe. Although separated from the City by only 12 miles and one bridge, it is another world.  The people here may be politically liberal (voting overwhelmingly Democratic), but they’re hardheaded, NIMBY-esque pragmatists when it comes to preserving their own expensive lifestyles.

For the first decade of my Marin life, my visits to the City were very targeted because of the children:  I pretty much went only to Golden Gate Park and the Marina District.  The Marina District has always been lovely, remaining peculiarly untouched by the City’s ongoing turmoil (perhaps because large parts of it have been under Federal control).  There are few things nicer than walking from the Marina waterfront to Fort Point.  Also during those years, Golden Gate Park, while unpleasant around the fringes, underwent a renaissance at its center that begin with a completely rebuilt De Young Museum, and ended with a completely rebuilt Academy of Sciences.  At times, the City, as Herb Caen would say, still knows how.

San Francisco establishes itself as the cutting edge city of America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, I find myself in the City more and more often.  I don’t visit the well-maintained spots that still charm tourists, though.  Instead, my children’s activities take me to parts of town other than the little Potemkin neighborhoods, neatly preserved for the tourists or the affluent liberals concerned with preserving lovely enclaves for themselves.  On these journeys, consistently, I am appalled by what I see.  The City has morphed into a crazy combination of anarchy and Leftist totalitarianism, all neatly wrapped into a package called “political correctness.”  This matters, not just because we’re witnessing the death of what used to be one of the most beautiful, desirable cities in the world, but because it perfectly represents the American Leftist paradigm.  In other words, San Francisco is the future of American Leftism, and it’s a very scary future indeed.

Before I go further, it’s useful to define some of the terms I’ll use here, particularly as they apply to San Francisco.  San Francisco would characterize itself as a “liberal” city.  “Liberal,” of course, is a misnomer.  Modern liberalism completely rejects the notion of individual freedom that is inherent in the linguistic root of the term (from the Latin līberālis, from līber, free).  Instead, today’s liberalism is a socialist movement that is predicated on placing all power in government.  And when all power resides in the government, you end up with totalitarianism or, as some people call it, fascism.

People who aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in the U.S. today think of totalitarianism solely in terms of Nazi Europe, Fascist Italy or, if they’re being honest, Soviet Eastern Europe.   If you play a word association game with most Americans, especially American liberals, and feed them the words totalitarian or fascist, they’ll come back with references to concentration camps, gulags, Gestapo and KGB agents.

Jonah Goldberg, however, in his splendid book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, figured out that modern western totalitarianism, of the kind practiced by Western European and American progressives/liberals has a more maternal cast than that practiced in Germany, the Soviet Union, China, or other non-Western countries cursed by all-powerful governments.

Unlike their Asian, Latin American or Eastern European counterparts, modern Western socialist governments aren’t going to round us up and shoot us.  Instead, they’re going to love us to death.  They’ll control what we buy, what we eat, how we get our health care, how we educate our children, what we watch on TV, what light bulbs we screw in, what cars we drive, what phones we use, what shopping bags we use, etc., all with the most beneficent of intentions.  We won’t be murdered by gun toting government-funded thugs in concentration camps.  Instead, we’ll just be infantilized to the point where we’re incapable of functioning without a Nanny state at our backs — and our fronts and our sides, and wherever else the State can insert itself into a citizen’s life.  (By the way, if you want to know what that will look like, just cast your mind back to images of Hurricane Katrina.  The self-reliant middle class sat on their porches with shotguns, protecting their families and homes.  The welfare classes, destroyed not by their race but by their decades-long dependence on government handouts, were incapable of even moving off the side of the road.)

The one thing that Jonah Goldberg’s book misses is the fact that the New Age, crystal-gazing American socialist utopia does not allow itself to control all people within its political borders.  Instead, in the name of political correctness, American socialist cities have a two-tiered system:  law-abiding citizens are on the receiving end of heavy-handed government control, while politically correct protected victim classes are removed from any controls whatsoever.  The result is the worst of all possible worlds, with law abiding citizens beaten down both by their own government and by those whom the government allows to roam free.  San Francisco provides a perfect example of this Western socialist dynamic.

San Francisco’s intense hostility to capitalism

Some of the contrasts between intense government control versus anarchy are very obvious in San Francisco.  On the control side, the City’s mandates pry into every area of business and even personal life.  At a macro level, the City is very, very hostile to business.  It has its own minimum wage law (SF Admin. Code, Secs. 12P, 12R, & Appx. 68), which controls anyone doing business in or with the City of San Francisco.  The City apparently feels it’s not a big enough burden on businesses to have the feds set wages too.  The minimum wage laws are great for those who can get jobs; but lousy for those who discover that, as a result of the hostile environment, there are fewer businesses around to provide jobs.

San Francisco has long had stringent rent control laws (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 37.1).  This is one of those things that benefits renters in the short term, by forcing below market rates for rental property, but that is a disaster in the long term.  Because it means that landlords cannot make reasonable money on property, cannot alienate property, and cannot evict tenants, there is no incentive to be a landlord or, if one is a landlord, to maintain the property beyond the bare minimum.  By interfering in the marketplace, San Francisco has ensured that there are fewer properties available, and that those available are minimally maintained.  It’s therefore lousy to be either a landlord or a tenant in the City.

San Francisco doesn’t just stick its liberal nose into the real estate market.  In the name of political correctness, it also makes doing business in and with the City very, very expensive.  For example, in its endless effort to promote business that are owned by women and minorities, the City mandates that women and minority owned businesses, when bidding for City work, get the benefit of a special discount in the bidding process (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 12D.A.)  While this might have made sense as a short term incentive to allow new businesses to break into a field that had become limited to a few permanent, old-time contractors, it’s now become a permanent and costly boondoggle, funding politically protected businesses on the San Francisco taxpayers’ collective backs.

San Francisco’s need to control its law-abiding citizens

The City also likes to make sure that its residents are environmentally pure.  In 2007, the City banned plastic shopping bags, a sop to environmentalists, but a burden to ordinary people:

“We need to get rid of a hell of a lot of this stuff,” Ora Gosey, 56, said outside an Albertsons in the Western Addition. As the retiree spoke, she inched away from a case of grape soda she had placed on the ground as if it didn’t belong to her. It was double-bagged in plastic.

“I needed something,” she admitted, “because it’s so heavy.”

Plastic checkout bags are pretty convenient, Gosey and others said. You can carry them easily down the sidewalk or on a bus, and they’re less prone to ripping than paper. At home, they come in handy for packing trash. And in the park, they’re good to have when you walk the dog.

According to the Film and Bag Federation, a plastics industry group, the bags can also be used to keep things dry in a canoe, make Christmas wreaths and kites, and assist in the nearly impossible task of putting on a wetsuit.

I know that I, personally, never, never throw away those plastic bags.  They have more uses in my household than I can count.  If I stop getting them free from stores, I’ll just have to go out and buy heavier, less environmentally-friendly plastic bags to use for the same purpose.  And sadly, that may be my future too, since Marin is planning on banning both plastic and paper bags.  I’ll soon have to become one of those crazy Marin bag ladies who marches into a grocery store carrying an armful of mismatched, costly, inconvenient bags of my own, all of which I have to remember to return to my car once I unload my groceries.  Feh!  I don’t mind it when serious-minded conservationists, whether liberal or conservative, do this because they want to.  I just don’t want to be forced to do so.

The City reserves special animus for smokers.  Now, I have to confess here that I loath the smell of cigarette smoke.  I don’t have a problem with a person making the decision to smoke, although I think it’s a foolish decision, both in terms of expense and health, but I’m still enough of a libertarian to allow people to make their own bad decisions.  The problem with cigarettes, though, is that the smoke doesn’t stay near the smoker.  If I’m in a room with you, and you’re smoking, I suddenly find myself enveloped in that foul smelling stuff, which makes me crazy.  Even when you leave the room, I can’t get rid of the smell, which has permeated my clothes, my hair and my skin.  I therefore don’t have a problem with San Francisco’s original smoking ban, which banned smoking in the workplace.  (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 8.)  The problem is that the Nanny City, not content with protecting me from your smoke (which I find reasonable), is now intent on protecting you from your smoke, which I find unreasonably intrusive.  Thus, a proposed new law would shut down smoking in the great outdoors too (among other venues within the City’s borders):

San Franciscans would see a bevy of more “no smoking” signs in The City if legislation introduced Tuesday is approved.

As The Examiner reported in November, Supervisor Eric Mar reignited the stalled legislation that would forbid smoking in a slew of new settings, adding to existing bans in bars, restaurants, parks, transit stops and taxis.

The bill would expand no-smoking zones to include farmers’ markets, outdoor seating areas of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, and common areas of multiunit housing complexes.

Smokers would have to light up farther away from entrances, exits, windows and vents of all buildings. And smoking would only be allowed at the curb of sidewalks, streets and alleys. If there is no curb, smoking would be prohibited within 15 feet of entrances or exits, according to the bill.

Smokers also would have to be at least 20 feet from transit shelters, boarding areas and ticket lines, including those for cable cars.

The legislation would ban smoking while waiting in lines at ATMs, theaters, athletic events, concert venues and cab stands.

Another way in which the City makes life difficult for the law abiding is parking.  It costs two dollars an hour to park at a downtown meter, which means carrying around a lot of quarters.  The high cost is necessitated, in part, by the fact that the City has handed out so many handicapped parking waivers, many meters make no money at all.

As it happens, the insanely expensive meters are the least of the parking problem.  The City is also hell on wheels for parking because of all the signs.  I’ve driven down blocks that have six or seven different parking control signs per block.  Clipping along at 25 or 30 miles per hour, trying to read all the signs, it’s impossible to tell whether you’re going to be barred from parking by the sign limiting parking to residents, the sign limiting parking to businesses, the sign limiting parking to certain hours of the day or night, or the sign limiting parking to certain days of the week because of street cleaning.  Decoding the signs might eventually tell you that it’s okay to park on the northern end of the block, but woe betide you if, at the wrong hour of the day, you park at the southern end.  And all this doesn’t even count the signs hidden in untrimmed trees, so that you have to guess as to what they say.

As part of its relentless drive to purify itself into a “liberal” paradise, the City also keeps trying to outlaw guns (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 73), ban the Blue Angels, bar the military from San Francisco schools (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 74), shut down JROTC (although a few stalwarts have managed to hold the line), impeach Republican administrations (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 76), and generally work to shut down avenues of protection or expression for any but the most liberal residents.

San Francisco extends special protections to law-breakers

While piling law after law after law onto the already law-abiding, San Francisco goes out of its way to protect the law breaking.  It refuses to enforce laws against marijuana (SF Admin. Code sec. 12X), a bit of civil disobedience by the city that ensures that every drug dealer within miles views San Francisco as a sort of commercial Mecca.  Whether one believes anti-drug laws are a good thing or a bad thing, I think all reasonable people recognize that, when a single city carves itself out as a dealer’s paradise, it’s setting itself up for drug usage problems of a more serious kind.  The same guy who comes here peddling pot isn’t going to leave his harder drugs far behind, since he knows that the wise police officer will ignore everything rather than get into a politically correct wrangle.

More seriously, San Francisco refuses to enforce federal immigration laws.  It has classed itself as an official “City and County of Refuge.”  (SF Admin. Code, sec. 12H.)  The practical effect of this is that, in the City’s own words,

No department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals in the City and County of San Francisco unless such assistance is required by federal or State statute, regulation or court decision.  (Sec. 12H.2.)

The City has effectively announced to the world that anyone whose first act upon entering America is to break American law is welcome in San Francisco.  As with the City’s refusal to enforce drug laws, people whose crimes go beyond “merely” entering the country illegally know that they are also welcome in San Francisco.  Anyone with half a brain (meaning no one on the SF Board of Stupidvisors) could have figured out that this sanctuary policy would end in tragedy.  The latest, and most horrible example, of the inevitable tragedy occurred when Edwin Ramos, who came to San Francisco illegally from El Salvador, committed a gangland murder against a father and his two sons, Anthony Bologna, 48, Michael Bologna, 20, and Matthew Bologna, 16, all three of whom were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at Ramos’ time.  The real horror wasn’t even Ramos’ illegal status.  It was that the City knew about his illegal status and his criminal propensities, but did nothing because of the Sanctuary Law:

The case prompted public outcry after it emerged that Ramos was convicted of two gang-related felonies when he was 17, but local officials did not contact federal agencies to determine his immigration status.

The Bologna family — or, I should say, what’s left of it after Ramos’ massacre — is suing.  I wish them luck, but even a lawsuit won’t change the City’s progressive mindset, one that, as a matter of political ideology, elevates lawbreakers over the law-abiding.

When San Francisco does have laws aimed at making life better for the ordinary citizen, it ignores them.  Although it has an official ban against aggressive solicitation (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 25, 69, which the voters forced on the City), that ban is seldom enforced, and the failure to enforce occurs entirely for PC reasons.  For example, on an annual basis the local paper reports about the Hell that is Haight Ashbury, a miserable situation that results, in large part, because of the aggressive homeless:

Haight-Ashbury may be its own worst enemy. The neighborhood that hosted the Summer of Love 40 years ago has developed a nasty edge. Sleepy stoner panhandlers have given way to aggressive street punks who stand in the path of pedestrians and demand payment. Park Station police Capt. Teresa Barrett suggests watching “Haight Street” on YouTube to see the mind-set. One kid says if you have the money to shop on Haight, you’d damn well better kick in $20.

The problem with the Haight isn’t lack of funds, or lack of laws.  Instead, the neighborhood is besieged because of the “liberals” who have bought into the whole root cause ideology when it comes to crime.  These anarchic nanny staters are certain that the bad behaviors that distress the Haight’s residents and visitors alike are a result of the malefactors’ victim status, and have nothing to do with the fact that the City puts no brakes on crime and brutality:

But the city – particularly Haight-Ashbury – has clung to its image as understanding and tolerant. Attempts to install a sit/lie law that would prohibit camping on the sidewalk for hours at a time have gone nowhere. Too mean, too restrictive, critics say.

This kind of urban horror story isn’t limited to the Haight.  Golden Gate Park, which also never recovered from the Summer of Love, is periodically in the papers too, again because the Liberals in the City, unable to break away from the theory that the homeless are all victims who just need to be left alone,  just can’t bear to get tough on vagrancy, begging, and out-and-out crime.  Sure, there are the periodic crackdowns when things become too terrible to contemplate, but then the liberal cycle of letting “victim classes” run the show begins all over again.

Because the City relentlessly defines the drug addicts, alcoholics, and crazy people as victims who can’t be touched, these people live on the streets in filth, eating out of garbage cans, terrorizing ordinary citizens.  Whether riding BART, walking down Montgomery Street, trying to catch a show at the Orpheum on Market Street, visiting the public library, going to City Hall, or going to Costco, the law-abiding, taxpaying Average Joe is assaulted by smells, disease, aggressive begging and, sometimes, actual assaults.  Still, in liberal eyes, it’s the perpetrators, not the solid citizens, who are defined as victim.

San Francisco ignores existing decency laws to protect sexual “victim classes”

The last thing in my litany of complaints about San Francisco’s reverence for law breakers and burdens on law abiders is the special status it accords licentious behavior.  In theory, the City has an obligation to enforce laws supporting public decency.  These are the laws that ban public nudity and public sex acts.  In fact, because the violations of these laws are routinely committed by gay men, the City turns a blind eye to them.  In the City, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals are a protected class, and that means that they get to break laws with impunity.  Incidentally, what follows is not meant to be a tirade against homosexuality.  The fact is that most of San Francisco’s gays are not running around naked, peeing in the streets (and on each other), or having sex in public.  Only a small percentage are doing so — but the kicker is that they do so because the City lets them!  This is, therefore, a tirade against a City that refuses to enforce public decency laws because of political correctness.

I’m not going to pollute this post with pictures of the truly appalling orgies that routinely take place in San Francisco’s streets.  Zombie has created long photo essays showing the Folsom Street Fair, and the Dore Up Your Alley Fair, both of which involve, not just nudity, but some perverse sexual practices I bet some of you haven’t even heard of — and all of them take place out in the open, on public streets.  The police are present (Zombie documents them), but it is obvious that they are under orders not to interfere.

It is possible (although difficult) to argue that two street fairs, which take place in a limited number of blocks in a carefully defined neighborhood should be ignored.  It’s much more difficult to ignore public licentiousness that takes over a long-standing San Francisco tradition, and that drags nudity and bizarre sexual practices right into Golden Gate Park.  Last year, my family went to see the crowd at the San Francisco Bay to Breakers race — a race that was started 96 years ago to commemorate the San Francisco Earthquake and that, for many years, was a fairly straightforward race, starting at the Bay, traversing the City (including Golden Gate Park), and ending at the Pacific.  About a decade ago, it became an occasion at which San Franciscans celebrate their joie de vivre, with many of them turning the event into a giant costume party.  Having heard about the fun costumes, my husband and I thought it would be fun to take the kids.  Boy, were we wrong!

What’s interesting about San Franciscans is that, when they get into costume, so many of them opt, not for charm or cleverness, but for perversion. Of course that doesn’t go for 100% of the race’s participants. It probably applies to only about 3% of them — but 3% of 100,000 is still about 3,000 people parading through San Francisco’s streets and parks celebrating their peculiar sexual fantasies.

That’s why, within seconds of entering Golden Gate Park, my children were confronted with the fascinating spectacle of an aged gentleman who had wrapped rings around himself, hugely inflating his scrotum, which he then proceeded to shake at the crowd. In a normal environment, he would have been arrested. Here, he was just part of the scenery.

This man wasn’t the only naked one. There were lots of naked people. Probably 90% of them had embarrassingly ugly bodies. Why is it always those with the most avoirdupois, the most pendulous breasts, the most bizarrely tufted body hair, the most mottled skin, and the smallest penises who feel this peculiar compulsion to parade around well-attended public spots in the altogether?

Was it any surprise then, that it was these exhibitionists, despite the vast array of porta-potties, who also felt the irresistible compulsion to pee in the bushes?

There was also a lot of drinking, lots and lots.

So, in the space of a few very painful minutes, we were confronted with public nudity, public urination, and public drunkenness — and the cops did nothing.

I don’t blame the San Francisco police officers for doing nothing.  Most of them, I know, are family people who probably find the spectacle of public nakedness, drunkenness and urination as off-putting as you and I do.  The fact is that they do nothing because they are instructed to stand aside and let politically correct classes — in this case, people who get a kick out of deviant exhibitionism — do their own thing without fear of civil retribution.  The fact that ordinary people are assaulted by the sights and the filth is irrelevant because, in the New Age, crystal gazing, politically correct Progressive world of American Leftism, ordinary people count for nothing.  They exist to be taxed and controlled, so that the others can live free.

Conclusion

This has been a really long post — the longest, I think, that I have ever written.  I write it as a tocsin, warning Americans that there is nothing benign about American Leftism, and that it is even more dangerous than the nanny state some people seem willing to accept as the price of living in the modern world.  Because American leftists are as committed to elevating the rights of the criminals, the crazies and the perverts as they are to taxing, quashing and directing the middle and working classes, we can anticipate the worst of all possible worlds:  an America in which ordinary people live under totalitarian control and socialist taxation, while the worst elements in every society are allowed to run rampant.

Keep this in mind as you head to the polling place in 2010.

You know it’s a really bad guy…

…When his defense attorney approves of the fact that that a policeman shot him to death:

A man accused of killing his girlfriend was shot to death in a Stockton courtroom Wednesday after he attacked the judge presiding over his murder trial, officials said.

David Paradiso, 28, was shot by a police detective after he left the witness stand and began attacking San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Cinda Fox during a break in proceedings, said Dave Konecny, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department.

Paradiso took the stand to testify around 2 p.m. and was quickly asked by prosecutors why he killed his girlfriend Eileen Pelt.

He responded: “Cause she deserved to die.”

[snip]

Karen McConnell, a county spokeswoman, said witnesses reported seeing Paradiso lift the judge and begin punching and possibly stabbing her when bailiffs ran to her aid and shots rang out. Lodi Police Det. Eric Bradley has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated, city spokesman Jeff Hood said.

“He was going after her jugular, just as he did to the victim in this case,” his [that is, Paradiso's] attorney, Chuck Pacheco, told the Lodi News-Sentinel. “He was not stopping stabbing her, going for her neck. Bradley did the right thing.” (Emphasis mine.)

Do you get the feeling that this attorney was afraid of his client?