A really beautiful commercial

A few months ago, San Francisco humiliated itself by refusing to allow the Marines to film part of a TV commercial on San Francisco’s streets. Looking at what the Marines eventually did for the Bay Area portion of their shot, which was to use the Golden Gate Bridge as soon from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, I can tell that the City That Used To Know How totally cut off its nose to spite its face when it refused to participate in the commercial. The video is absolutely gorgeous and it ties the Marines in to vast swathes of the United States. Anyway, I like the Golden Gate Bridge shot they actually used because, instead of showing the City that turned its back on the Marines, it instead shows Marin County and, by squinting and lots of imagination, I can pretend I see my home in the distance.

Watching the video put me in mind of Marco Martinez, a former gangbanger who became a Marine and received the Navy Cross. He’s written a book about his experiences called Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero. I haven’t read the book, but I did hear Martinez interviewed on a radio show. He said that the transforming moment for him occurred when he was in high school (and, at that time, he was a really hardcore gangster) and saw a Marine recruiter walk through the halls. He was so impressed by the recruiter’s imposing figure, by his dignity, and by his perfect uniform, that he suddenly realized that there was life beyond the ghetto and the gangs. Perhaps other young men and women, seeing this new video, will have the same feeling.

UPDATE: I showed the video to my 8 year old son who, predictably, loved it, and made me show it to him 4 times. I say predictably because, yesterday, when we caught a big post-holiday sale at Barnes & Noble, my daughter came home with a puppy calendar and my son came home with an illustrated book on big weapons systems.

San Francisco’s demise continues apace

I grew up in San Francisco when Herb Caen, the famed columnist, was still calling it “the City that knows how.” Right now, the only thing it seems to know how to do is self-destruct, with the ultra liberal Ninth Circuit aiding and abetting:

A federal appeals court gave San Francisco the green light Wednesday to require employers to help pay for health care for uninsured workers and residents, and it signaled that it is likely to uphold the city’s groundbreaking universal coverage law.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed San Francisco to enforce its law and extend coverage to all uninsured adults while the city appeals a federal judge’s decision striking down a key funding provision.

That provision requires large and medium-size companies to offer insurance to their employees or pay a fee to the city for the cost of their coverage. The court said the city probably would win its argument that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White was wrong when he ruled Dec. 26 that local governments lack the power to force employers to contribute to a health care program.

That the ruling allows the law to take effect during the city’s appeal is unusual. Generally, appellate courts refuse to allow enforcement if a lower court has found part of a law invalid. In this case, however, the appeals court said it was granting San Francisco’s request for an emergency stay of White’s ruling because the city had a strong argument and because of consequences for people who cannot get health coverage.

“Otherwise avoidable human suffering, illness and possibly death will result if a stay is denied,” Judge William Fletcher said in the 3-0 decision.

Just last week, yet another small law firm that I know of left the City. The cost of doing business there was just too high, and the firm escaped to the more congenial suburbs.

I find what’s going on in San Francisco very sad. San Francisco always had a reputation for bohemianism, and it was certainly always more liberal than the rest of America — a reputation in which it gloried. Nevertheless, it was also a very civil city, with hallowed traditions and a strong sense of its own history. It’s not the same anymore — and this isn’t just my sense, but the sense I share with other San Franciscans, some much younger than I. It’s gotten dirtier and shabbier. The politics have gone from liberal to aggressive, with attacks against the military normative, not just on the streets, but in the political process. (See here and here, for example.) It’s also a City that is slicing its own throat economically. It’s one thing to be liberal politically. It’s another thing to make business so prohibitively expensive that business simply leaves.

Thinking about it, San Francisco no longer has a quirky West Coast American charm. It’s gone European. It’s white, it’s aging, it’s heavily taxed, it’s dirty, it’s hostile to the American military, it’s attempting to be gun free (although, possibly, not for much longer) and I’m glad I don’t live there anymore.

San Francisco’s JROTC reprieved

The San Francisco Board of Education gave the City’s Junior ROTC program a one year reprieve. That’s good, and a lot can happen in a year (one hopes). I found interesting, in a disgusted way, the comment from one of those trying to destroy JROTC:

Several people spoke out against the extension, reiterating the argument made last year that JROTC is a military recruitment tool.

“I’m really disappointed,” said Martha Hubert, a member of Code Pink who opposed the extension. Students “should have a choice of better things to do.”

It doesn’t seem to occur to her that the citizens of a free nation should have a right to have access to their military, and that their military should have a non-coercive right to have access to them. True to the liberal creed, she wants to shut down any opposition to her point of view.

The Bay Area, drugs and blacks

The San Francisco Chron has a long article about the fact that, in the Bay Area, blacks are locked up disproportionately for drug crimes, as compared to whites:

San Francisco imprisons African Americans for drug offenses at a much higher rate than whites, according to a report to be released today by a nonprofit research institute.

In a study of nearly 200 counties nationwide, the Justice Policy Institute found that 97 percent of large-population counties have racial disparities between the number of black people and white people sent to prison on drug convictions.

The institute, which is based in Washington, D.C., and researches public policy and promotes alternatives to incarceration, says whites and African Americans use illicit drugs at similar rates. But black people account for more than 50 percent of sentenced drug offenders, though they make up only 13 percent of the nation’s population.

San Francisco locks up a higher percentage of members of the African American community in drug cases than any other county in the study. In the county, 123 people out of every 100,000 are sent to state prison each year for drug offenses. Of those, whites are incarcerated at a rate of 35 per 100,000 white people, while blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 1,013 per 100,000 black people.

“It is not that San Francisco is sending a lot of people to prison for drug offenses, it is that the people they are sending are black,” said Jason Ziedenberg, executive director of the institute. “An average citizen who uses drugs in San Francisco has a pretty low chance of going to prison, but if you are African American, the chances are fairly high.”

***

San Francisco has a small population of African Americans – 6.7 percent of the total, according to the Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey – but Ziedenberg said the numbers have a concentrated impact within that community. African Americans are going to prison for drug offenses at a rate that is 28 times higher than the rate for whites.

“If you go to any courtroom in the Hall of Justice, you will see that the majority arrested are African American,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. “At every stage of the criminal process – arrest, conviction and those who are sent to prison – there is a disproportionate impact on blacks.

“It is a tradition in San Francisco to focus sting operations in communities where there are larger populations of African Americans, and there are state and federal grants that support those stings.”

Alameda and San Mateo counties also have disproportionately high rates of incarcerating African Americans for drug offenses, according to the report. In Alameda County, 159 per 100,000 people are admitted to prison each year for drug offenses. Of those, whites are imprisoned at a rate of 23 per 100,000 white people, while blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 797 per 100,000 black people.

In San Mateo County, 76 out of every 100,000 people are admitted to prison each year for drug offenses. Of those, whites are imprisoned at a rate of 26 per 100,000 white people, while blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 946 per 100,000 black people.

In addition to the racial disparities, the report found that counties that spend more on policing and the judicial system imprison people for drug offenses at higher rates, even if the crime rate isn’t higher. It also found that counties with higher poverty and unemployment rates send people to prison more.

I have no quarrel with the numbers.  It is absolutely true that more blacks go to prison than whites for drug crimes, even though there are fewer blacks in the overall population.  What I wondered about, and what the article does not address, is the types of drugs at issue.

Are the blacks and whites using the same drugs, or are the whites using softer drugs?  I ask this because, when I was a young lawyer in San Francisco, everyone I knew smoked pot, the drug that makes you boring.  (Incidentally, I didn’t.  I tried it once and found the effects of inhaling so distressing, both physically and mentally, that I never wanted to touch it again.)  Pot is illegal.  It is also ubiquitous amongst young whites (and, I guess, among young people of all other races) and is the kind of thing that police officers definitely do not seem to target — probably because stoned people are inert and harmless.

Getting away from pot, there wasn’t much else going on drug-wise among the white young people I knew (and this includes high school and college, too.)  While there was a brief boom of cocaine amongst some of the Yuppies with whom I worked (and one of them distinguished himself by driving off the roof of a two story parking garage while high), I was unaware of any other, harder drugs:  heroin, meth, crack, etc.  And my sense has always been that it is those drugs, which destroy communities and increase the overall crime rate, that attract the attention of law enforcement.

So, based on my wild hypothesizing, I’m not going to assume that law enforcement in the Bay Area is racist until I have more information, not just about arrest numbers, but about the types of drugs that drive those arrests.

Previous posts:  Are San Francisco Cops racist?

More silliness from SF government

San Franciscans keep electing people like this, so I guess they get the government they deserve. By this, I mean the Stupes who decided to give everyone ID cards (which sounds like a good way to connect terrorists to their own personal bank accounts) and the School Board which is bound and determined to destroy JROTC, despite the fact that generations of American students have benefited from its camaraderie and discipline:

A controversial resolution that would have granted a one-year reprieve to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in San Francisco schools was pulled off the school board’s agenda tonight minutes after the meeting started.

Board President Mark Sanchez, a co-author of the measure, said that he believed there wasn’t enough support for the measure as it was written.

“We need more discussion about it,” he said.

That means that unless the board takes further action in the future, the 90-year JROTC program would be eliminated at the end of this school year — fulfilling a decision the board made last November.

The resolution before the board tonight would have extended the program for a year at five high schools, although it would have prevented ninth graders from enrolling in those JROTC programs.

The JROTC programs at the other two high schools would have been eliminated and replaced with a still undeveloped alternative program.

Kim-Shree Maufas, listed as the measure’s co-author, said she disagreed with the conditions in the resolution, specifically the prohibition against ninth grade enrollment next year.

“(Sanchez) and I will work on it some more,” she said.

More than 100 students and community members attended the meeting, the vast majority supporting the JROTC programs.

Sanchez allowed 15 minutes of public comment at the beginning of the meeting even though the measure was officially withdrawn.

Lowell High School senior Connie Chen had hoped to address the board, but didn’t make it to the front of a very long line. Later, she said that the board has left the students in limbo — with no extension and no replacement program — with about seven months until the end of the school year.

“They were elected to do what’s best for the students,” said Chen, who is the most senior JROTC officers at her school. “They’re the ones who should take JROTC leadership courses.”

Read the rest here.

Incidentally, I attended a San Francisco public school that had a devoted cadre of JROTC members. They were a credit to the school: hard working, polite, never in trouble, well disciplined, enthusiastic, etc. Clearly not the type of behavior schools want to encourage, right?

San Francisco trying to legalize illegals

Well, the Board of Stupes, er, Supes, did it.  They will now issue identification cards to all residents, legal or not, and require employers to accept them:

The Board of Supervisors voted today to make San Francisco the largest U.S. city to issue municipal identification cards to its residents, regardless of whether or not they are in the country legally.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, the legislation’s author, said the availability of identification cards is a smart public safety measure because it would make residents living on the social margins of San Francisco more likely to seek the help of police and could give them more access to banking services.

“People are afraid to report crimes,” Ammiano said, referring to illegal immigrants who avoid local law enforcement authorities over fear of being arrested or deported by federal immigration officials.

The legislation would require companies doing business with San Francisco to accept the municipal card as a legitimate form of identification – except in cases where other state and federal laws require other forms of proof of age, name and residence.

Under San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinance, it already is city policy that no municipal government personnel or resources may be used to assist federal immigration officials in the arrest and deportation of illegal immigrants.

Ammiano phrases the social benefits in terms of giving illegals access to bank accounts so that they don’t carry money around and get robbed.  Banks, apparently, are on board, although I don’t know how they can square this City issued card with the Patriot Act.  In any event, it seems to me that it provides a perfect way for terrorists, not just Mom and Pop border jumpers, to access our banking systems too.

The police state in action

I loathe cigarette smoke. I hate the way it permeates my clothes, hair and even my skin. I’m in agony when I’m trapped in a room with smokers. And because a room is a closed space and the smoke has nowhere to go, I’m okay with smoking bans inside buildings that are open to the public — although I think that bars or restaurants should be able to decide for themselves whether they want their customers to be able to smoke around food or drink. They’ll lose customers like me, but I may not be the customer base they want to attract.

However, I’m really opposed to banning smoking in the open air. To me, that goes beyond courtesy to non-smokers, who cannot escape smoke when they’re confined in an enclosed space, and becomes persecution of a legal activity. Nevertheless, that’s precisely what San Francisco is doing. I turns out that, a couple of years ago, San Francisco made it illegal to smoke in public parks, a law that the cops sensibly ignored. However, now they’re putting effort into enforcing it (probably because smoker’s are a more compliant population than the one that’s really getting into trouble):

The City has just issued the first-ever $100 fine for violating a ban on smoking in San Francisco’s parks even though the law is more than two years old and people continue to smoke in parks. The first citation was issued last week to a patron of Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square, which has received attention recently from several city departments after Mayor Gavin Newsom visited the park in March and was angered by its condition.

The City Administrator’s Office — in conjunction with other departments including the Police Department and Public Works —has worked to clean up the park and also to inform users about the smoking ban.

***

Despite the recent citation and outreach — which included the posting of no-smoking signs, installation of ashtrays on litter cans near park entrances and fliers handed out explaining the ban — at least six people were observed by The Examiner smoking Monday around 2 p.m. in different locations in the park. Smokers included members of card games and a man sitting on a park bench. No one was around enforcing the ban.

***

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who wrote the law, said it was “outrageous” that the first citation was only just issued last week. “Clearly no one is enforcing it,” she said. The supervisor said she would look into “why this is not being implemented.”

***

In 2005, the Board of Supervisors, citing the health risks associated with secondhand smoke, adopted the smoking ban in city parks and it was signed by Newsom. The law authorizes a $100 fine for first offenders and up to $500 for repeat offenses.