Friday, July 31, 2009


The Italian Drug Agency's approval of RU-486 for the early termination of pregnancies, even with restrictions, shows refreshing defiance of the Roman Catholic Church, which is currently led by, of all things, a Nazi Pope.

Yep, the guy who is now pope once saluted this flag:


According to this story on HuffPo, the Vatican is not amused about the "abortion pill":

"Suppression of an embryo is de facto the suppression of human life, which has dignity and value from conception to the end," Fisichella [Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pictured below] told Corriere della Sera,

In my opinion, the Church's history of torture, murder, and slave-trading, not just in practice but as policy, renders such a pronouncement laughable.

Not to mention the guy's costume.


----- o -----

Thursday, July 30, 2009


A jazz flutist on Galway Flute Chat group includes this (new to me) Yogi Berra quote in his email signature:

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is."


My favorite remains, because it's sooo true:

The place has gotten so crowded, no one goes there anymore.

Re: I once used a baseball example to explain the difference between alcohol and LSD:

When the average pitcher takes the mound drunk and sees two catcher's mitt targets, he might have trouble deciding which mitt to aim for.


When Dock Ellis took the mound on LSD, he saw a dozen catcher's mitts, but, no problem, he aimed at all of them. And threw a no-hitter.

----- o -----


A notice of Bill Gaffney's death appeared in my high school alumni magazine.

Bill was a fellow member of the honor class, the smartest 40 kids out of a graduating class of 280.

Based on academic achievement as freshmen, we received a special curriculum, and stuck together, for the next three years.


Within our honor class, kids were free to be as nerdy and weird as we pleased. SI was the smartest Catholic high school (for boys, in SF) and we were the smartest of the smart.

Some of us honor class kids expressed disdain for the low IQs of, not our fellow students, but of the faculty. And with justification--the average IQ of the honor class kids seemed significantly higher than that of the teaching staff.

Bill Gaffney was affable but otherwise very low profile. I was very high profile.

I remember only two interactions with Bill. One was a prank I played on him that caused him to spill some milk on the front of his shirt, which I'm ashamed of. The other is a fond memory.

At the height of my BMOC-hood I engaged in a mini-debate with Bill as an assignment for Public Speaking class: Pay TV, pro and con. [This was 1965.]

I was con, and coolbreeze me figured everyone else would be, too. I didn't prepare, and I didn't even look up the procedure--order of speaking, etc.

I did terrible and Bill did good.  And the class, many of whom were members of the (nerdy) debate club, took great delight in voting, overwhelmingly, Bill the winner.

I was actually (stupid) kind of surprised.  But I'm laughing right now just thinking about it.

I saw Bill Gaffney only once in the forty some years since graduation.  It was on the Muni Metro platform at West Portal, evening commute, maybe twelve years ago.

He approached me, and after establishing who we were, Bill seemed quite pleased to see me.

After brief exchanges about career and domociliage, Bill said that he was a "single dad." Then he told me about his daughter, who was the star pitcher of a championship high school softball team.

The detail sort of fades, but Bill was so expressive, he was clearly in love with his kids, and so proud of their achievements.

This chat took place within a mile or two of where we both grew up.

Bill worked thirty two years for the State. He must have had a comfortable retirement awaiting him.

By contrast, my irregular work history has allowed me to do and experience things that many people put off until retirement.

It's really not fair that Bill is dead and I'm alive.

----- o -----

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I have formed a new understanding of illegal immigration, with no thanks to any advocates for or against.

My new view:

The notion that poor people from Central America should respect U.S. borders is absurd.

Any assertion that respect for national sovereignty is operative in the Western Hemisphere is disproved by history.  The United States has zero respect for any nation's sovereignty except its own.


The U.S. routinely invades other countries at will.

The U.S. rips off other countries so that the average U.S. citizen can consume X times more resources than the average anyone-else.

So, my reasoning goes, people who come here from countries that the U.S. has exploited, and for the purpose of reasonable financial gain, are simply repatriating stolen resources.

flag pir

The thief country really has no say, morally, about how the stolen goods are returned to the rightful owners.

Why haven't I heard this argument before?

I guess there aren't many here who agree that the so-called Great American Experiment has been an ongoing criminal enterprise starting with Columbus.

That enterprise still operates, a guy named Barack runs it these days.

I don't know if this makes anybody feel better.

BTW:  There are still plenty of people I don't want coming here, e.g., drug cartel hit squads, escaped child rapists, etc.

----- o -----

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Chris Daly's announced departure from San Francisco has his critics shouting "Carpetbagger!"

Merriam Webster mentions private gain as the motive of carpetbaggers.  I'd expand that to include "pursuit of political agenda."

2: outsider ; especially : a nonresident or new resident who seeks private gain from an area often by meddling in its business or politics

There's also the aspect of exploiting unstable political conditions, as per the Reconstruction South.

gen strike

It can be annoying to permanent residents when newcomers with little understanding of local history attempt to effect permanent changes, and then move on.

I laugh when I hear someone who's lived here a few years talk about the San Francisco Spirit, or, cluelessly state that San Francisco is a "progressive" city.

I think it's a good thing to have newcomers bring new ideas and new energy, like flowing versus stagnant water. Of course, many of the new ideas aren't any good, most aren't even new.  It's a process.

strikers shot

If a newcomer, a temporary resident, effects a change that is beneficial, and can be sustained by the permanent community, then, hooray!

I did it, sort of.

In 1970 I went to Lincoln, Nebraska to be with my first love, David McIntosh, who had just moved to Lincoln, himself, to attend the University.

We, more he than I but me too, founded UNGAG and LINGAG, University of Nebraska Gay Action Group, and Lincoln Gay Action Group. These were the first Gay groups in the history of Nebraska.

The main "program" of these groups became weekly "coffeehouses" in the basement of one of the campus ministries.

These "coffeehouses" were intended as free-form gatherings for gay people, but quickly took on the look of a gay, non-alcoholic, dance bar.

The ministry basement on Saturday nights was the first and only public gathering place for gay people in that town.

The town/gown aspect was especially charming.

The nearest gay bars, themselves oppressively closeted, were eighty or so miles away in Omaha.


I was especially proud, and amused, when I stopped in Lincoln a few years later and attended a "coffeehouse," crowded and happening (as happening as you can get in the basement of a campus ministry).

When the dancing was interrupted for an announcement/presentation ceremony, a local guy was introduced as the founder of LINGAG. Certainly no mention of David or myself.

You know you've done something good when other people take credit for it.

My point is that a "carpetbagger's" tenure should be judged not by its length, but by its lasting effects.

Unfortunately, the beneficial effects of Chris Daly's stay in San Francisco appear to be negligible.

[Photos above are from the San Francisco's General Strike of 1934. In the first photo its easy to tell which guy is a striker and which is SFPD. For the second photo here's a hint: SFPD are vertical, strikers are horizontal.]

----- o -----

Monday, July 27, 2009


We've been hearing numerous overseas reports of forceful worker resistance to management's offload of economic pain onto them.

Workplace takeovers and manager hostage-taking have become almost commonplace in Europe.

By comparison, American workers are wimps.


According to this Guardian UK story, some Chinese workers are stepping it up.

Thousands of angry Chinese steel workers clashed with police and beat to death an executive of the firm trying to take over their company, a Hong Kong-based human rights organisation has said.

Rioters killed Chen Guojun, the general manager of Jianlong Steel Holding Company, after learning that the privatised firm was to buy a majority stake in state-owned Tonghua Iron and Steel Group. The deal now appears to be scrapped.

Chinese workers have yet to learn that under capitalism the owners are supposed to exploit the workers, that's the whole point.

[The NYT picture above is of a different riot in China, one that destroyed several government buildings.]

----- o -----

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Incoming U.S. presidents take an oath:

to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

George Bush's response to threat (9/11 or whatever) was:

Screw the Constitution, I'm gonna defend the PEOPLE of the United States.

This is an applause line in most of America.


While his rhetoric is way smoother, President Obama's policies regarding the constitution are almost identical to those of George Bush: detention without trial, torture (only when necessary, and then after rendition), warrantless wiretapping and postal intercepts, government secrecy.


The word "disappear" commonly has been an intransitive verb. You could say, "He disappeared," but you couldn't say, "I disappeared him."

Fascist South American juntas changed that. They arrested some, murdered some, and they "disappeared" others.

Q: What happened to Jose?

A: The government disappeared him.

Bush asserted and Obama agrees, the U.S. President has the right, duty in fact, to disappear anyone, anywhere, anytime, for national security.


It's come to this. The notion of actually protecting the Constitution has been rendered, de facto, quaint.

You know, a truly slick, truly in-command guy would have said, "Hold on, Justice Roberts. Start again and get it right."

Wouldn't that have been great!

----- o -----

Saturday, July 25, 2009


A 2003 Chronicle story tells the chilling tale of the murder of SFPD Officer Lester Garnier.


The weird, foot-dragging investigation on the part of SFPD brass hints at some deeply sinister ju-ju.

As the story noted:

"The City didn't do right for Lester," said Mike Kemmitt, the department's former lieutenant of vice and Garnier's supervisor. "I always felt like we could have done more, that we could have shaken the bushes, gotten our snitches working. I'm kind of ashamed of myself for not pushing more.

Another weirdness is that the Walnut Creek police, who had jurisdiction, suspected the apparent "hit" was an inside job, i.e., SFPD.

A thorough investigation of  Officer Garnier's murder would have discovered deep secrets about S. F. politics, and especially about the interaction of SFPD with the FBI.

And still would.

Anyway, new SFPD Chief George Gascon adds his name to the inglorious list of Chiefs who have failed to "do right for Lester."


Unlike the others, Gascon still can do the right thing.  What are the chances?

Cops are supposed to give a shit when one of their own gets gunned down.

----- o -----

Friday, July 24, 2009


When a prominent person's departure sparks lavish praise, as with Michael Jackson or Walter Cronkite, I ask the eulogizer to name one good thing that person did.

For instance, I challenge MJ's fans to name one of his songs  that will become a standard.

Interesting to learn that Jackson's favorite song was "Smile," by Charlie Chaplin. "Smile," is definitely a standard.


Chris Daly's recently announced departure from San Francisco prompts the question: Name one good thing Chris Daly did in his eight years as San Francisco supervisor.

For me there's an obvious answer: Chris Daly sacrificed his own career in order to block the appointment of Julie Lee's son to public office.

Julie Lee eventually went to federal prison for funneling grant money, intended to help immigrants, into the campaign fund of an old-old-boy San Francisco politician.

Kevin Shelley, California Secretary of State, whose campaign received the stolen grant money, employed Julie Lee's son, Andrew, in his office (State payroll). In his previous role as legislator, Kevin Shelley initiated the grant and steered it toward Julie Lee.

While the grant money rip-off was proceeding as planned, then Mayor Willie Brown declared October 13, 2001 "Julie Lee Day" in San Francisco. [Chicago has probably had a "Tony Rezko Day."]


Then, Mayor Willie Brown appointed Julie Lee's son, Andrew, to a seat on San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission, a move that stank to heavens of imperial height.

In a Matt Smith SF Weekly article, Chris Daly describes a meeting with Julie and Andrew Lee:

I have two chairs in my office. In one sits Andrew Lee, and in one sits Julie Lee," Daly recalls. "I said, 'Andrew, tell me what you know about utilities.' He said, 'I don't know anything about utilities.' You've got to respect his honesty. I said, 'Then how are you qualified?' He said, 'Customer service.' I kid you not; that's what he said: 'Customer service.' I said, 'How is that going to serve you in the PUC?' He said, 'I'll have to get back to you on that.

So happens Mayor Willie left town for a few days and it was Supervisor Chris Daly's turn in the rotation to be Acting Mayor.

The strict if tacit rule is that the Acting Mayor never really acts.

Chris Daly broke that rule and actually tried to accomplish something in his few dozen hours as Mayor. This was highly taboo and rendered Daly eternally radioactive to establishment politics.

Most of Daly's efforts were futile, but one thing he did accomplish was to block the appointment of Julie Lee's son.


Daly paid a price. But events proved him right. He did a good thing for San Francisco.

Thank you, Chris Daly. You did the right thing.

Do we recall...  that Gavin Newsom's first political position was via an appointment from Mayor Willie Brown, to the San Francisco Parking and Traffic Commission.

BTW: Everyone mentioned here is either a Democrat or self-styled "progressive."

---- o -----

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


John Arivosis over at Americablog was pissed off about President Obama's White House meeting with Gay Leaders. His first sentence sets the tone.

I'm so proud of our gay leaders today. Getting all spiffed up to go to the White House and "deliver our president a message."

There may be some campaign promises on which President Coolbreeze has yet to renege, but he's definitely reneged on gay rights.

Obama told the so called Gay Leaders that, because of a crowded agenda, justice for gay people will have to wait.  But, get this, he promises some sort of action in the future.


And the Gay Leaders just sort of went away.  There was almost zero coverage* even in the gay press.

Nobody even seems to appreciate the irony of a black president telling a minority group of mostly white people that they will have to wait for justice.

I can understand pussified gay men accepting this brush off, but where is the dyke rage?  Don't tell me dykes are becoming pussies, too!

Obama knew the LGBT folks would acquiesce: that's what the Rick Warren thing was all about, a test.

Rick Warren, we remember, is the notorious gay-hating "Christian" pastor whom Barack invited to speak at the inauguration. Just to be clear: Rick Warren's message enables  anti-gay violence, including murder.


At the time, in this blog and through email, I begged the San Francisco Gay Freedom Band to back out of marching in the inaugural parade, as a way to protest Warren's presence--to no avail.

After demonstrating a willingness to eat shit, why do Gay Leaders think they'll ever be served anything else?

Message to Gay Leaders:  Obama doesn't particularly like gay people and he won't go out of his way to help us.

Mr Arivosis' post contains a short, sweet bill of particulars regarding Obama's broken promises.

You know, the assumption has been that if gay people just come out of the closet, that non-gay people will get to know us and like us. That's why gay activists were so shocked by the Prop 8 vote.

It's painful to not be liked. It's easier to pretend that Obama likes us, and will help us out if we just wait for him to do the more important things first.

The Warsaw ghetto had "leaders," too.

* I think Olberman made a comment but there was little else.

----- o -----

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Today I registered for two Fall semester classes at City College of San Francisco.

Btw: The native has always understood CCSF to be the initials for City College, not for City and County.  Those who intend the later are sowing confusion and dissing City College.

Anyway, what a bargain!

In my woodwind class I spend an hour (or less) per week with popular pro jazzer Charlie McCarthy. Each week I get 5-10 minutes of Charlie's individual attention, plus I play a couple of pieces with other students. Because of Monday holidays, this class meets about 15 times.

My stage band class meets for three hours Wednesday afternoons, for 18 session. This class is lead by Grammy nominated composer/guitarist Lenny Carlson.

Lenny recently produced a cd called Seat of the Pants, and youtubed the title track. A lot of effort went in to coordinating the visuals with the music, more so than the usual music youtube.

I like Lenny's compositions because they balance jazz' usual self-indulgence with plenty of audience-indulgence

I call his compositional style Jazz Galant. Definitely worth a listen, and look.

Also, check out Lenny's homepage.

So, what do I pay for all this time with professional musicians?  $65.00, complete. That $20 each for the two classes and $25 for student fees etc. I'll pay more than $65 in Muni fares getting to and fro.

Also, the last checked S.F. Public Library cards are free, and it's still free to borrow books and stuff.

Why is the board letting these revenue enhancement opportunities slip through the cracks? Like, we have City retirees to support!

----- o -----


The behavior in question is Obama's "wanting to look forward," approach to investigating the crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration.

[Obama calls Iraq a "war of choice," which is a soft synonym for "war of aggression." A war of aggression IS mass murder.]


Obama's position amounts to a de facto blanket pardon.  Actually, for the criminals it's better than a pardon because it involves no acknowledgement of guilt, or even that any crimes were ever committed.

Obama's supposed to be a good guy--why doesn't he arrest the bad guys?

Maybe there was a deal struck between outgoing George W. Bush and incoming Barack during the transition.

Bush's Offer: Bush tells Obama that he will not allow Cheney and the rest his cronies to go to jail. Bush says he intends to issue a blanket pardon to everyone in his administration, including himself.

Barack's Response:  That's outrageous, and constitutionally questionable.  There would be a huge public uproar. There's a good chance of a Constitutional Crisis. And in the end, the pardons wouldn't stand.

Bush:  I agree. The consternation would be so great that it would completely consume the first two years of your presidency.

Barack:  So...

Bush:  So you promise me (our lawyers will figure out how to memorialize it) that you won't investigate or prosecute any crimes committed by anyone in my administration--for anything.

Barack:  If this agreement were made public it would be my political funeral.

Georgie: So you can't back out of it.

Barack:  Congratulations, George.  You fucked me good.

----- o -----

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Am I the only one on earth who remembers Walter Cronkite as a lying sack of shit?

Cronkite was the media lead-man in defending the Warren Commission coverup of the JFK assassination.


He probably thought his lies were necessary to calm the nation, even to avoid World War III.  But he wound up defending the Johnson/Hoover coup de tat.

[Youngsters:  There is/was no credible evidence that Lee Harvey Owsald ever fired a shot at the JFK motorcade.]

Supposed heroism? Cronkite said nothing about Vietnam that hadn't already been thoroughly reported in the Wall Street Journal. Cronkite spoke not only what but when his bosses wanted.

I can't remember if Cronkite eventually softened his Warren Commission cheerleading, but if so, it would have been long after the damage was done.

Walter Cronkite, spokesmodel.

(You don't have to be a babe to be a spokesmodel.  Avuncular works, too, like Wilford Brimly selling mail order ostomy supplies.)

----- o -----


Good-looking and articulate are two qualities required for the job of "spokesmodel."

Moral flexibility is a third.

A spokesmodel explains the benefits of whatever his or her employer is selling, plus, demonstrates in his or her person the salutary effects of what the employer is selling.


Good spokesmodels are hard to hire because qualified candidates have so much going for themselves that they are loath to tell other people's lies.

This is why TV news anchors are so well compensated--you have to pay them more for telling your lies than they could make telling their own, or, more than they could make in a non- lie-telling profession.

Spokesmodel is one of the roles that a modern US president plays.

JFK, Ronald Reagan, and to some extent Bill Clinton exploited their spokesmodel skills.


(Writing sales-training programs I heard the term "borax salesman." The picture is a man, or woman sitting on top of a big white pile of borax. No matter who passes on the road below, the borax salesman will try to sell them borax.)

Bush II (Georgie) was a colossal failure as a spokesmodel.  He was presentable enough, but when he spoke...

Georgie couldn't sell a story.  He couldn't even tell a story. "Evildoers"?

So now we have Barack, the best damn spokesmodel money can buy.


He can tell an NAACP convention about the importance of a good (public) education while sending his two girls to the most exclusive private school in the world.

Now that's spokesmodeling!

----- o -----

Friday, July 17, 2009


Even as a fourth generation San Franciscan I'm still trying to determine what this city is "all about."

I was on the verge of giving up and allowing that SF might be about many things, or about different things for different people.

Nick o' time Larry Bain comes to the rescue in this sfgate story about Mayor Newsom's plan to rent out space in our City's parks to food vendors.

The food served in city parks should really speak to what our city is about - making food choices that balance with nature," said Bain,

I think this is a terrible plan, for a number of reasons. But worst is this bullcrap about healthful foods. I guess the "healthy food" certification will generate some bribery opportunities.

Mr Bain is an expert in the high-end hot dog market. His cleverly named Marina district store is already supplemented by a Crissy Field vending cart.

Parks and hot dogs seem to go together.  Bain explains

that some of the grass-fed beef for his hot dogs comes from cattle raised on national park land.

Man, that's something!

----- o -----


Yesterday President Obama addressed an NAACP gathering on the hundredth anniversary of that group's founding.

Inspirational, but intellectually flabby, he beautifully cadenced his usual common-ground shtick: whatever we have suffered in the past, we are all Americans, facing the same (scary) future, with the same aspirations for our families and our nation.


Back in January, in his inaugural address, Obama actually equated the suffering of Africans arriving as slaves with the hardships faced by European and other voluntary immigrants.

Here's the quote, I've added the emphasis because the words are (purposely) easy to miss. Speaking of our American forebears:

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. 

No, Barack, Africans didn't endure the lash of the whip because they wanted their kids to have better lives.  They endured the lash of  the whip because they had no choice.

Obama is basically saying that European culture is superior to African culture, that the dream dreamt by British colonists is the bestest possible dream a  human being could have.

American Indians, btw, might question the "settled the West" part.

It's like: the European colonists got it right, and the descendants of Africans are lucky to be on board.

It's almost like the slave traders were doing the Africans a favor--like a doctor giving a crying baby an injection:  This is gonna hurt, but it's for your own good.

Obama's position on reparations for slavery shows the same lucky-to-be-here attitude. During the campaign an article quoted him:

"I have said in the past _ and I'll repeat again _ that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed," the Illinois Democrat said recently.

Whoa! Good schools and jobs should be provided to everyone, regardless of background.  Providing these things to black people isn't "reparations," it's basic fairness--unless you figure that black folk are just lucky to be here.

The American Dream, as far as I can tell, is: individually, the freedom to get rich (or fail and be poor), and nationally, the disproportionate consumption of world resources.

It's like the west Africans weren't really doing anything except waiting around to be kidnapped.

Or maybe they had better things to do than kill, enslave, and conquer the world.

----- o -----

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The Jesuits battered first semester freshmen with this horrendous word.

It has to be the un-sexiest sex word, intended as verbal ice water for pubescent spontaneous erections.


The Jesuits told us concupiscence is the tendency in humans to follow base, selfish motives, even when they conflict with what reason tells us is "the good."

Main Entry: con·cu·pis·cence 
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin concupiscentia, from Latin concupiscent-, concupiscens, present participle of concupiscere to desire ardently, from com- + cupere to desire

A tennis player I see in the park shares the Jesuit high school experience with me, only his was in Calcutta, or Bombay.  I asked him if he had ever come across this word.

He had only a vague recollection, not necessarily associated with the Jesuits.

I explained briefly the perspective I was taught (there are various views, mixed up in original sin theory): desire vs reason.

Derrick, bless him, pointed out that reason is no more consistent  than desire is serving "the good."

Humans' capacity for rationalization renders the brain no more reliable than instinct as a source of good decisions.

Whatever it takes, I guess, to delay parenthood for us. Never once, this was the early 1960's, were we told to use condoms if we did have sex.

This approach to sex education was a form of child abuse.  Shame on the Jesuits.

----- o -----