Monday, November 30, 2015

The latest on high-speed rail

Judge Kenny (Rich Pedroncelli, A.P.)

The California Constitution guarantees the people the right to legislate directly by way of the initiative process. That remedy is available when the State Legislature fails to do what the people think should be done.

How about High-Speed Rail? Despite continuing revelations that the state's High-Speed Rail project is mismanaged and poorly conceived, neither the governor nor the legislature (nor the High-Speed Rail Authority itself) have been willing to be honest with the public about massive construction problems in Southern California and about $9 billion in anticipated cost overruns. The Authority's failure to disclose has attempted to hide the utter and monumental absence of adequate construction funds needed to finish even the very first High-Speed Rail segment.

CC-HSR reported on those issues in its last Community Report. If you need a refresher, click this link.

So, what can be done? "Taking the initiative" is one way to respond, and this bulletin is to let you know about THREE initiative measures that could mean the end of the state's ill-conceived High-Speed Rail Project.

First, an initiative has qualified for the November 2016 ballot that will require a vote of the people whenever the state proposes to use revenue bonds for a project costing over $2 billion. General obligation bonds require a vote of the people, but revenue bonds don't, and that has provided a loophole for boondoggle projects like High-Speed Rail. Click here for the text. If it passes next year, this initiative will plug a loophole that the High-Speed Rail Authority could use to raise money for its project without voter approval. That's good news!

Second, there is more good news in proposed Initiative #2: This initiative has not yet qualified for the ballot, but after receiving an official title and summary from the Attorney General, it will move to the streets for signature gathering. Fewer signatures will be required than will be required for Initiative #3, described below, since this Initiative #2 proposes "statutory" as opposed to "constitutional" changes. This should make it easier to qualify this initiative for the ballot. Initiative #2 would wind down and terminate the state's High-Speed Rail project. Click here for the text. If this initiative qualifies for the November 2016 ballot, the voters will finally have a chance to express their opinion about High-Speed Rail now that it has become so totally clear that the current project is a huge boondoggle.

Finally, consider proposed Initiative #3: This initiative must also receive a title and summary from the Attorney General before signatures can be gathered. It would take unspent funding allocated for High-Speed Rail by Proposition 1A and transfer that money to water projects. If Initiative #3 qualifies for the ballot and passes in November 2016, this Water/High-Speed Rail initiative might well terminate the state's High-Speed Rail project as a practical matter by depriving it of its major funding source. The initiative, which proposes changes to the California Constitution, would have impacts going beyond High-Speed Rail. Click here to see the text.

The Judge who is overseeing the Tos case, which will go to trial next February, will allow the petitioners to use the latest revelations about cost overruns and construction problems in their legal attack on the state's compliance with Proposition 1A. The new evidence is devastating, clearly showing how the Authority has not met the requirements of the Bond Act.

The petitioners' brief has been filed, and here is what the attorney for the petitioners has said: "It's understandable why the Authority wanted this evidence kept hidden. It directly contradicts the cost estimates in the Final 2014 Business Plan. The Business Plan's deceptively lowered costs successfully pulled the wool over legislators' eyes. Two months later, they gave the Authority billions of dollars in a multi-year gift of climate change mitigation funds. It's hard to believe that would have happened had they known what a bottomless money pit the project had become." In this case, the Authority's deception strongly supports the petitioners' arguments, and may lead directly to a decision against the project.

Rob's comment: 

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Creating gridlock on the waterfront

The folks at Meter Madness/ENUF forward this message from Jennifer Wade:

As you probably know, the owners of the Golden State Warriors are hoping to build a new arena at Mission Bay, right across the street from UCSF's hospitals. Since this project has the blessing of Mayor Lee, it has sailed through multiple reviews, but is now subject to final approval by the Board of Supervisors and will be discussed at their December 8th meeting. If the board approves the project, the only thing that will be able to stop it is a lawsuit. Thus, it is critical that we let our voices be heard in the next 2 weeks! One way you can do this is by e-mailing your supervisor. The Mission Bay Alliance has put together a web-based form with a conveniently pre-written message of opposition that you can modify as you like and then send. It can be found here: It would also be great to have as many people at the Board meeting as possible. I will be there.

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Bikes will never replace cars

From Nick Schager in the Daily Beast (Why bikes can never replace cars):

Cities are congested with cars, and Bikes vs Cars’ answer to that problem is to do away with them—and to replace them with bicycles. Even if rising population numbers will make automotive travel a gridlock nightmare in the coming years/decades, Fredrik Gertten’s documentary forwards no cogent argument in favor of replacing fuel-based vehicles with bikes, for reasons that are painfully obvious. Cars allow people to travel tremendous distances (for work, for recreation, for basic life needs) at great speeds. They allow people to transport things with ease. They let people travel in numbers in a safe and efficient manner. And they afford people the opportunity to get around in horrible weather, cleanly—all things that are not possible, at least in any real way, with bicycles.

Nonetheless, Gertten’s film would have you believe otherwise, positing two-wheelers as the solution to a mounting crisis that, as one Sao Paulo bicycle activist opines, is leading to the collapse of the modern city. Those who live in major metropolitan areas might disagree with the dire view that our urban meccas are on the verge of total ruin. Yet such is the alarmist tone struck by Bikes vs Cars. When not sounding the siren about the imminent demise of our car-infatuated culture, the film lurches to and fro in search of different, barely related arguments to make against the car industry and the global misery and devastation it breeds.

That’s the film’s first shortcoming—namely, that it doesn’t really make a single, lucid point. The director begins by detailing the discontent of a few bike riders in São Paulo as well as an architect in Los Angeles, who lament cars’ status as the dominant mode of transportation in their cities...


City government as a jobs program

Quentin Kopp

From Quentin Kopp in the Westside Observer:

The City of Los Angeles is the largest employer in a population of over four million people, with 41,000 full-time employees, averaging $78,139 per year in salary before overtime or bonuses are added. San Francisco, with some 840,000 people, employs almost 35,000 full-time employees, without a peep from the media or almost all neighborhood associations.

Good point. But according to the State Controller, it's worse than that: San Francisco now has 35,771 employees making $80,575 a year.

Kopp is also good on the Central Subway and high-speed rail boondoggles.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Salon censors Sam Harris

Sam Harris

Sam Harris about Salon:

...Salon published a bowdlerized version of my interview, cutting out the parts that were critical of the website. I don’t blame [interviewer Sean]Illing for this. He was a pleasure to correspond with and appears to have made his best effort to get the whole text of our conversation published. And I’m actually happy that his editors decided to help make my case for me by further demonstrating their lack of integrity. Salon is irredeemable. I urge the few talented writers left there to flee a sinking ship.

Salon would have its readers believe the following:

"[Harris’s] remarks were edited merely for clarity and length. No substantive changes were made to the text beyond those considerations."

Rob's comment: Salon's statement above is evidently a lie. Below is what Harris says Salon left out of its version of the Sam Harris interview:

As long as we’re talking about the regressive Left, it would be remiss of me not to point out how culpable Salon is for giving it a voice. The problem is not limited to the political correctness and masochism I’ve been speaking about—it’s also the practice of outright deception to defame Islam’s critics. To give you one example, I once wrote an article about Islamist violence in which I spoke in glowing terms about Malala Yousafzai. I literally said nothing but good things about her. I claimed that she is the best thing to come out of the Muslim world in a thousand years. I said she is extraordinarily brave and eloquent and doing what millions of Muslim men and women are too terrified to do, which is to stand up to forces of theocracy in her own society. I also said that though she hadn’t won the Nobel Prize that year, she absolutely deserved it—and deserved it far more than some of its recent recipients had. And in response to this encomium, Salon published a piece by the lunatic Murtaza Hussain entitled, “Sam Harris Slurs Malala,” which subjected my views to the same defamatory and dishonest treatment that I’ve come to expect from him. And this sort of thing has been done to me a dozen times on your website. And yet Salon purports to be a forum for the civil discussion of important ideas. 

Most readers simply don’t understand how this game is played. If they read an article which states that Sam Harris is a racist, genocidal, xenophobic, pro-torture goon who supported the Iraq war—all of which has been alleged about me in Salon—well, then, it’s assumed that some journalists who work for the website under proper editorial control have actually looked into the matter and feel that they are on firm enough ground to legally say such things. There’s a real confusion about what journalism has become, and I can assure you that very few people realize that much of what appears on your website is produced by malicious freaks who are just blogging in their underpants.

I’m not saying that everything that Salon publishes is on the same level, and I have nothing bad to say about what you’ve written, Sean. But there is an enormous difference between honest criticism and defamatory lies. If I say that Malala is a total hero who deserves a Nobel Prize, and Salon titles its article “Sam Harris Slurs Malala,” that’s tabloid-level dishonesty. It’s worse, in fact, because when one reads about what a nanny said about Brad and Angelina in a tabloid, one knows that such gossip stands a good chance of not being true. Salon purports to be representing consequential ideas fairly, and yet it does this sort of thing more often than any website I can think of. The latest piece on me was titled “Sam Harris’ dangerous new idiocy: Incoherent, Islamophobic and simply immoral.” I don’t think I’m being thin-skinned in detecting an uncharitable editorial position being taken there. Salon is telling the world that I’m a dangerous, immoral, Islamophobic idiot. And worse, the contents of these articles invariably misrepresent my actual views. This problem isn’t remedied by merely publishing this conversation.

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Our Southern heritage: Racism

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

See also this and this.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Metcalf: Everything "is going to be OK"

Gabriel Metcalf

Since SPUR's Gabriel Metcalf assured us yesterday---he said it three times!---in an op-ed in the Chronicle that everything is "going to be OK," it's now official: working people, poor people, and everyone who isn't well-off are fucked in a rapidly gentrifying San Francisco.

Metcalf zeros in on our problem: "It's not the economic miracle that's hurting people; it's our housing costs." No shit! As if the cost of housing is not mostly because of the booming city economy!

Metcalf's solution:

We have to let a lot more housing get built, while at the same time investing in affordable housing...the way we have made this place so expensive is that neighborhood after neighborhood, in city after city, decided that they didn't want to be inconvenienced by more traffic or more people or taller buildings.

This is a claim made periodically by Metcalf and his ideological allies, C.W. Nevius and John King. Except for recently in the Mission, there's been no such neighborhood resistance to housing in San Francisco (see this and this).

"Affordable" housing in SF is not affordable for most people.

Metcalf has been selling highrises in San Francisco for a long time:

People love to live in highrises. Rincon Hill and Transbay are the first attempts to create a whole new neighborhood on that concept. I think it's absolutely the right thing to be doing for the environment. Instead of sprawling outward and making people drive, we're going to build homes for people at extremely high density, where they can walk to work and walk to the store and finally grow up and embrace their urbanity.

Metcalf thinks the chronic traffic jam called Octavia Blvd. is somehow leading us to a "transit-rich community":

But replacement of the freeway with surface road along Octavia Boulevard has provided an early manifestation of post-highway land-use policies that could eventually lead to a rehabilitated, transit-rich community. Octavia Boulevard was rebuilt in a way that divides faster-moving from slower-moving traffic with rows of trees in its center. “It’s still an arterial,” said Gabriel Metcalf of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. “But it provides a transition between the car-centered space of the highway and the pedestrian-centered space of The City."

Metcalf tries to look on the bright side:

We're digging a new subway. We're adding bike lanes all over. We've got a bunch of great new buildings going up.

Yes, the wasteful Central Subway boondoggle and big, dumb bike projects on Masonic Avenue and Polk Street. I see a lot of buildings going up, but they're just big, not "great."

Naturally, Metcalf supports the foolish high-speed rail project.

With yesterday's op-ed, Metcalf is in the lead for my Pangloss of the Year award (John King has won it twice: here and here)

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San Francisco: Roommate capital of the US

Thanks to Priceonomics


Cameron on Labour's leader, Jeremy Corbyn

Thanks to Harry's Place



On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin was published on this day 156 years ago.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Where would Jesus park?

Tim Redmond opposes Sunday parking privileges for church-goers.

The Bay Guardian is returning.

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What really happened in Dallas

Amazon Books

An excerpt in Salon from the new book by San Francisco's David Talbot:

Those resolute voices in American public life that continue to deny the existence of a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy argue that “someone would have talked.” This line of reasoning is often used by journalists who have made no effort themselves to closely inspect the growing body of evidence and have not undertaken any of their own investigative reporting. The argument betrays a touchingly naïve media bias—a belief that the American press establishment itself, that great slumbering watchdog, could be counted on to solve such a monumental crime, one that sprung from the very system of governance of which corporate media is an essential part. The official version of the Kennedy assassination—despite its myriad improbabilities, which have only grown more inconceivable with time—remains firmly embedded in the media consciousness, as unquestioned as the law of gravity.

In fact, many people have talked during the past half of a century—including some directly connected to the plot against Kennedy. But the media simply refused to listen. One of the most intriguing examples of someone talking occurred in 2003, when an old and ailing Howard Hunt began unburdening himself to his eldest son, Saint John.

“Saint,” as his father called him, was a loyal and loving son, who had suffered through the upheavals of the spy’s life, along with the rest of his family. Late one night in June 1972, at the family’s Witches Island home in suburban Maryland, Hunt had frantically woken up his eighteen-year-old son. “I need you to do exactly as I say, and not ask any questions!” said Hunt, who was in a sweaty and disheveled state that his son had never before witnessed. He ordered Saint John to fetch window cleaner, rags, and rubber gloves from the kitchen and to help him rub away fingerprints from a pile of espionage equipment, including cameras, microphones, and walkie-talkies. Later, Saint helped his father stuff the equipment into two suitcases, which they loaded into the trunk of his father’s Pontiac Firebird. Hunt and his son drove through the darkness to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, where the spook got out and tossed the suitcases into the murky water. On the way back home, Hunt told Saint that he had been doing some special work for the White House, and things had gone south.

It was the beginning of the Watergate drama, in which Howard Hunt played a starring role as the leader of the “White House plumbers,” the five burglars who were arrested while breaking into the Democratic Party’s national headquarters. All five of the men had a long history with Hunt, dating back to the earliest days of the underground war against Castro, and at least two—Frank Sturgis and Virgilio Gonzalez—were rumored to have played roles in the Kennedy assassination...

Cited in the Salon excerpt: John Hunt in the Rolling Stone in 2007 and his book, Bond of Secrecy.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bill Maher on the end of the world

Thanks to Patheos

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Programs for "publicly accessible" art

Do you feel "enriched"?

The City has two Percent for Art programs, in which a percentage of capital project costs are allocated to art. The San Francisco Arts Commission administers the 2 Percent for Art program, which requires that the City’s publicly funded capital projects spend two percent of the project costs on artwork. The Planning Department administers the 1 Percent for Art program, which requires some private developers, mostly in the downtown area, to acquire or commission publicly accessible art equal to one percent of the development’s hard construction costs. The intent of the 1 Percent for Art program was to enrich large building projects with publicly accessible works of art in the downtown area.

There's a whole lot of "enriching" going on, mostly of so-called artists. For the money numbers, see pages 3, 4 and 6 of the Review of Public Arts Programs by the Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office, the subject of a recent SF Examiner story (Development art fee not living up to potential).

Turns out that few downtown developers are contributing to the Public Art Trust Fund. Instead, they can commission art---or "art"---on their own to "enrich" their projects:

For some, it’s a missed opportunity to have desperately needed revenue to counter the displacement of artists and preserve The City’s creative spirit. The revenues could bolster art organizations and assist artists being squeezed by rising real estate costs. If the trend continues, the fund won’t see any of the $19.1 million expected in art fee revenues from 94 developments underway or in the approval process, based on the report by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose. Instead, developers will meet the mandate by paying for on-site art, such as placing sculptures in lobbies, according to the report...[Supervisor]Kim questioned whether a developer installing public art was really a public benefit, since it arguably benefits the development and the community has no say on how those fees are spent, unlike other development fees like transit and open space.

In short, Supervisor Kim and others want a say in how all that money is spent. (It's of course not about the quality of the art that's supposedly "enriching" us, the public.) 

They're going to have to write new legislation to grab some of the money, since there's no reason now for private developers to contribute both to the trust fund and pay for their "art."

The San Francisco Arts Commission's first artist in residence created the piece below:

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Friday, November 20, 2015

"I stand with Paris, but..."

Israel Matsav

By Patrick West on Spiked:

Weasel words abound today. ‘Inappropriate’, ‘hurtful’, ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘problematic’ all sound harmless, but they are snide tools employed to silence voices, words and ideas. They are passive instruments of evasion, cowardice and censorship.

The weasel word of 2015 par excellence has been the simple ‘but’. We heard it after the Charlie Hebdo murders: ‘I condemn violence, and I’m all for free speech, but…’ You know the rest. In the war against the barbarians, the word ‘but’ has become shorthand for ‘it’s the West’s fault’; ‘we are reaping the whirlwind’; or ‘Muslims are all tetchy, mental infants anyhow so we mustn’t provoke them’.

After the most recent slaughter in Paris, ‘but’ has resurfaced from the mouths of liberal-left flagellants, Islamist apologists and students with room-temperature IQs. But what about French foreign policy? But what of our interventions in the Middle East? Didn’t we bring this on ourselves?

It’s all so predictable. So, too, are those who believe that disasters have a hierarchy of grief. ‘I see this whole Paris thing’, one British Muslim told The Times on Tuesday, ‘and think what about Beirut? What about Yemen and Libya and Syria and Palestine? Where are the tears for these places and those people?’

Asking ‘where are the tears for the people in Yemen?’ is like asking ‘Why did you cry when your father died, but not when mine did?’ The closer something is to home, literally and figuratively, the more it’s going to affect you. You or I could have been victims of those attacks. These were people like us: listening to music, eating pizza or watching football on a Friday night out. That’s how shock, horror and disgust work. These are instinctive emotions beyond the governance of reason. And remember that Paris is a global city, and France the most popular tourist destination in the world.

The ultimate defence among those who seek to rationalise Islamism is that it’s ‘perverted’ or ‘twisted’: it’s not ‘true Islam’. One can forgive this argument from Muslims, most of whom are appalled by these gun-toting jihadists who murder in the name of their faith. But it’s not excusable from secular folk who know better. It is another form of evasive servility.

There’s no such thing as ‘twisted Islam’, because there’s no ‘true Islam’ either. Faiths, which have no external referent, are merely what their believers believe them to be. Those kindly, aged Methodists down the road from you are just as Christian as the Crusaders who butchered their way through the Holy Land in the Middle Ages. They just live in a different time and space.

Much of the secular liberal-left and imbecile Twitterati don’t understand or won’t admit to non-material reasons for people’s behaviour. It must be about ‘poverty’ or ‘inequality’. Similarly in sections on the right, there’s the temptation to dismiss these Islamists as inveterate criminals or psychopaths.

Poverty, personality and Western interventionism may be aggravating factors, but they are not the spur to Islamist barbarity. These attacks on Paris were spawned by a sense of righteousness, by a love of power and lust for violence, and the promise of the afterlife.

If this was about poverty and inequality, why aren’t white Frenchmen shooting strangers? If it’s about foreign policy, why do no world leaders, generals and statesmen live under a fatwa, but writers, artists and activists do? What do you think was behind the motives of those who killed people in places where sexes could mingle, drink alcohol and listen to infidel music? Why was the liberal, cosmopolitan 11th arrondissement attacked and not an instrument of the French state? Paris, say IS, is ‘the capital of abominations and perversion, the one that carries the banner of the cross of Europe’.

The West fought alongside Muslims in Afghanistan during the Cold War. Before 9/11 we bombed a Christian country, Serbia, to protect Muslims in Kosovo. Today the attempted genocide of the Yazidis and the destruction of Ancient Syrian temples aren’t ‘our fault’. These actions are the product of a viral ideology possessed of self-righteousness, resentment and a sense of victimhood: the heady ingredients for a hideous mindset that is beyond reason and material considerations...

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Revisiting two planning failures: The de Young Museum and Octavia Blvd.

Herzog de Meuron's mistake

In the last week, the Chronicle's John King has revisited two significant city planning failures of the past ten years: the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and Octavia Boulevard in Hayes Valley. 

King fell in love with the awful Octavia Blvd. long before it was completed, and he defended the boxy, warehouse-like de Young building as "a splash of innovation in the staid local architecture scene." (See also this and this.)

King only mentions the de Young in passing but has this to say about designers and planners:

The familiar is the sense that today's world is being sold a bill of goods by design professionals who pontificate as if only they can see tomorrow---the ones who roll out chilly glass towers as a hot trend...

King was an early buyer of the highrise bill of goods and was still buying it a few years ago.

But Octavia Blvd. is the failure that has had the most horrendous impact. Shortly after Octavia Blvd. opened to traffic, it was carrying more than 45,000 motor vehicles a day through the Hayes Valley neighborhood to and from the freeway connection on Market Street.

Like other defenders of Octavia Blvd., King likes to conflate taking down the Central Freeway over Hayes Valley with taking down the Embarcadero freeway:

Getting rid of a freeway in an often-gridlocked region might sound foolhardy---it took the Loma Prieta earthquake to nudge San Francisco to raze the elevated freeways along the Embarcadero and through Hayes Valley that neighbors hated but drivers relied on.

But tearing down those freeway overpasses resulted in completely different outcomes: the Embarcadero already had a wide boulevard and was never primarily a residential neighborhood, while the Central Freeway used to take 90,000 cars a day over the Hayes Valley neighborhood, but now Octavia Blvd. brings 63,000 vehicles a day through the middle of the neighborhood.

Octavia Blvd. now creates area-wide traffic gridlock in that part of town for most of the day even before the 1,000 new residents occupy UC's massive housing project a block off Octavia.

More John King on Octavia Blvd: here, here, here, and here.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Evil in our time: Teaching children how to kill


Public opinion in 1939

Foundation for Economic Education


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Colbert tries to convert Maher


Expanding bike share at no cost to taxpayers?

Bikeshare's social equity problem

From a Bay Area Bike Share op-ed in this morning's Chronicle:

The Bay Area’s bike-share system is poised for dramatic expansion. It will come at no cost to taxpayers, thanks to an innovative public-private partnership led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and is supported by the forward-thinking government leaders of the Bay Area.

Heigh ho, our "forward-thinking" leaders are on the march! It remains to be seen how much this system will end up costing taxpayers.

On the other hand, bike share apparently has problems around the world, and San Francisco's system seems to have a habit of ripping off customers.

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Gun craziness in "a pretty typical week"

From the Daily Kos:

Halloween often brings out a little extra gun crazy. In the week ending on October 31st, 27 people accidentally shot themselves. Seventeen kids were accidentally shot, five people accidentally fired their weapons into the homes or property of others, four people accidentally fired guns they were cleaning, three people were accidentally shot at the firing range, and returning to another continuing tradition, two people were accidentally shot at a gun show (the second such accident in three years at the same Idaho venue). There were also five hunting accidents, and six police-involved GunFAILs (resulting in four law enforcement officers shot, along with two bystanders). In other words, a pretty typical week.

But let me tell you about the week’s top crazy. Let’s see. We had a gun selfie injury, a Pennsylvania man shot from over a mile away while walking in his parents’ back yard, a 9-year-old boy shot when an upstairs neighbor accidentally shot himself in the foot in the apartment above, and a Florida man who fired a shotgun in the air during an argument with his girlfriend, only to end up wounding himself in the neck.

We also had a string of three 2-year-olds accidentally shot in a three day period, two of whom fatally shot themselves with guns they found unsecured. The first such incident, incredibly enough, involved a loaded shotgun left on a bedside night table in an in-home daycare. Turn that one over in your mind for a minute.

And from the “maybe you just weren’t cut out for this gun thing” files, we have the Cortez, Colorado woman who, apparently frightened by someone at the front door, accidentally shot herself in the foot with a .45 caliber pistol, then sent a second accidentally discharged round through an interior wall, luckily just missing her sleeping roommate. The capper? She’d already accidentally shot herself in the same foot earlier this year.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The liberal/prog failure on terrorism

Like a lot of liberals, Hillary is in a muddle about defining who we are fighting. Why she can't just say "radical Islam" is mystifying, as if it's not obvious to everyone that not all Muslims are terrorists. 

But she is willing to say "radical jihadists." Since radical jihadists are all Muslims, it's a distinction without a difference. Maybe she's still in a cautious mode about terminology that being Secretary of State required when dealing with the Middle East. In spite of her semantic muddle in last night's debate, Hillary will surely be good on opposing terrorism when she's president.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists are now Muslims. Why should that be a controversial thing to say? Because to many liberals and progressives Muslims are part of their great rainbow, multicultural political coalition and any criticism of Islam must be muted or even feared, as if some great pogrom is likely to be launched against everyone of that faith. The FBI reports that hasn't happened in the US; black people, Jews, and gays are by a wide margin still the leading targets of haters. [Later: The FBI also reports that it has 900 open investigations of ISIS-type activities in the US.]

As I've pointed out before, many American liberals and progressives seem to assume that all the bad things happening in the world can be traced back to the United States. Somehow the massacre in Paris the other day is our fault and somehow Muslims in France are now victims!

Closer to home, look at the reaction to the Paris massacre on local blogs and websites as of 5:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon: 48 Hills, nothing. Beyond Chron, silence. Fog City Journal: more nothing. Hoodline, nothing. San Francisco Citizen, nada. SF Weekly, a story about Uber boosting rates in Paris during the slaughter. SF1st at least has a notice about a vigil in support of the people of Paris.

Recall the shameful silence in the local print media during the Danish cartoon crisis, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the silly kerfuffle over the anti-jihad ads on Muni buses. Dumb and clueless about the most important conflict in the world today.

See also this, this, this, and this.

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Bill Maher reminds white people they've still got It good

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Reality check in Paris

The late Christopher Hitchens warned us years ago about the reality we are facing:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it (emphasis added).

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Obama on the Paris attack

Gee, I wonder who is responsible for the attack? Could it be adherents of "the Religion that preaches Peace"?

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Katie Couric tours Planned Parenthood clinic

Thanks to Salon

Bias on the left

We rightly mock right-wing Fox News for its "fair and balanced" claim, but the left-wing Alternet, though not making a similar claim, often shows a crude bias, like this story (Poll Shocker: Bernie Sanders Leads Trump and Bush by Double Digits):

In the latest McClatchy-Marist poll, Sanders outpolls GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and establishment candidate Jeb Bush. Against Trump, Sanders leads 53 to 41. Against Bush, Sanders leads by 10 points, 51 to 41. The Vermont senator's lead is particularly large among voters 18 to 29; there, he leads Bush 57 to 38. Even among some of the most conservative voters in the country, in the South, he leads Bush 46 to 45.

What about Hillary? When you read the poll story on McClatchy, you learn that "Bernie Sanders lags far behind Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination for president..." 

Sanders is 22 points behind Hillary, to be exact---and she would beat Trump by 15 points.

Read more here:

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We got the bastard!

Jihad John shortly before he beheaded James Foley

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

High-speed slaughter at Hormel

Thanks to the Huffington Post


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

More on that Geary BRT meeting

I'm posting this video again to point out why the SFCTA didn't allow members of the public to stand up and have a say on the Geary BRT project: they didn't want a repeat of the public relations debacle like the meeting Ed Reisner and the MTA had in 2013 on the Polk Street bike project, when people from the neighborhood booed and hooted at Reisner's presentation.

The SFCTA is another city agency dedicated to "improving" city streets with various anti-car projects. The SFCTA has long pushed the idea of Congestion Pricing---charging people when they drive downtown---though that idea is very unpopular with city voters. That doesn't mean it won't happen. Like the Bicycle Plan, it will be done without ever being on the ballot, where it would be rejected by city voters.

There's growing opposition to tearing down the footbridges over Geary as part of the BRT project: see this, this, and this. Later: see also this.

And a typical Examiner story on the project by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, who talks only to city officials in support of the project, which is what he also did on the Masonic Avenue bike project.

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U.S. Soccer: New rules to prevent concussions

See also this, this, and this.

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Olague "turned on the mayor"?

Matier & Ross perpetuate a myth about Christina Olague's short stint as District 5 supervisor:

Pak and other Chinatown activists saw the selection[of Julie Christensen] as a slap in the face. The mayor’s advisers felt confident about the move, saying it showed Lee — still reeling from the Pak-backed appointment of Supervisor Christina Olague, who had later turned on the mayor — was independent and thinking of the city as a whole rather than catering to one group.

Olague's sin in the eyes of City Hall, C.W. Nevius, and Randy Shaw: her vote to allow Mirkarimi to be sheriff. The assumption was that, since she was appointed by the mayor, she was obligated to vote how Mayor Lee wanted her to vote on important issues.

Olague surely understood that she was already in a deep political hole in District 5 just because she supported Mayor Lee and was appointed by the "moderate" mayor to represent one of the most left-wing districts in the city.

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