THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS began for me Saturday noon at the foot of Market Street, San Francisco, where a very large, unhappy woman was bellowing insults at indifferent passersby. Anymore, unless a street person leaps for your throat you simply navigate around it. “You people don’t care, do you, that your country is going to bomb Syria? Noooooo. All you care about is shopping,” she yelled, brandishing a placard reading “US Out of the Middle East.” She may or may not have been a sanctioned hostess for the day’s anti-war rally next door at Chelsea Manning Plaza. Which used to be Justin Herman Plaza.
Which is known to some of us as the site of one of the great rip-offs in San Francisco history, the Vaillancourt Fountain, a pile of Caltrans-like concrete blocks over which water is occasionally pumped. The City paid a quarter mil for it back when that was a lot of money. Justin Herman is aptly commemorated by this unwelcoming swathe of pavement. It fits him. He’s the guy who destroyed the old Fillmore neighborhood by bulldozing it and installing Geary Boulevard and Japan Town in its place, architectural atrocities where there was once a coherent neighborhood of aging Victorians and jazz clubs.
Out on The Bay, some billionaires were having a boat race, hi-tech catamarans as far from the inspiring beauty of the white-sailed grace of traditional yachts as only a newly rich barbarian like Larry Ellison could make them, their ugly black sails festooned with corporate logos. Communists and catamarans, and where else would you see that?
THE FOOT OF MARKET STREET is always busy on Saturday mornings, and this was a warm glorious Saturday morning with huge crowds of dedicated consumers swarming in and around the Ferry Building, opposite which the usual crazy guy was beating his drums for world peace while a half-dozen feminist-proof, half-clad young women passed out advertisements for the Sonoma Raceway. Safely past the anti-capitalist harridan, us peaceniks were greeted by amplified rap music all about offing mofo’s and related mayhem; it was booming from the speaker’s platform. There are idiot leftists who think gansta rap, recruiting music for the state prison system, is an emblem of their multi-cult coolness. The plaza was so warm that many of the assembled, many of whom were well into their golden years, moved into the shade provided by the lee of the Hyatt Regency. I plunked myself next to a Socialist Workers table demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage. Bless all these people for their faith, I thought.
THE ANTI-WAR FORCES gathered in Chelsea Manning Square were maybe a thousand strong, few of them young although the kid sitting next to me was certainly not yet twenty-five. He looked like a college football player — big, strong, cleanly turned out. “Are you here to beat back the beast?” I asked him. “Excuse me, sir?” Resubmitting my question, I asked him if he was here for the rally. “No, I’m waiting for my girl friend. She’s across the street. This stuff is pretty interesting, though,” he said, gesturing at the crowd, just as a guy who looked like a rainbow sun cone walked by. The young man looked down at his handheld electronic device, silently informing me he’d had enough conversation with Grandpap. I guess to a kid it all might be interesting. To me it was a tepid, auto-repeat of demos going back to the first one I ever helped swell the crowd for, and that would have been in 1961, and not too far up Market Street from where I was sitting. It was at the Palace Hotel back when it seemed possible to make things better. Fifty-plus years later, the various socialist groups were leafletting each other because we were the only people there. Which is not the fault of the organizers. Bless them for trying. Nothing was said by any of the speakers I haven’t agreed with my entire adult life, and it’s all truer now than it’s ever been with more war and an economic catastrophe coming right up.
JUST THEN Juanita Neilands appeared. Juanita is the widow of the quietly inspiring Joe Neilands; as a couple, the Neilands have been on all the correct enemies lists all the way back to loyalty oaths, which Joe, as a professor at UC Berkeley, stoutly and instinctively refused to sign. Then Reagan had Joe right at the top of the list of UC professors who ought to be fired, then the PUC numbered him as one of the main guys in the way of privatizing PG&E. If Juanita wore a pedometer it would have hundreds of peace miles on it by now.
THE SPEECHES weren’t bad, actually, short and straight to the anti-imperialist point. The looming attack on Syria is crazier than anything the Bush regime pulled with consequences that could be even more catastrophic than Bush’s murderous blunders. One speaker reminded everyone about a demonstration this week at Feinstein’s office downtown. “How about a demo at her house?” I wondered. “Take it right to the front doors of these bastards.” Which is where it went Sunday morning when I trucked up the Lyon Street Stairs past Dianne’s fortified front door where a small group of protesters, including a skilled pair of trumpeters, were camped out.
THE CHOIR having been preached to, we all shuffled up Market Street to the open air thieves market where the grand esplanade to City Hall begins. Beyond, closer to City Hall, a cannabis event was under way. Three fat guys chortled as they chanted “More War” at us, but except for them people on the sidewalks were friendly.
the 12 Galaxies Guy,
a fixture at public events
who deals in conspiracies
our obscure universe
and intelligible only to him.
Saturday, he was off-message
with a placard reading
Gloria La Riva leafletted sidewalk people the whole way up Market, dashing out from among the marchers to hand the most unlikely anti-imperialists the anti-imperialist message.
I CAUGHT THE NUMBER 5 FULTON back to the fog belt at Fulton and Arguello. Down Arguello to Clement just as the first fingers of coolant were reaching into the Richmond and on into Teng Long for a plate of curry beef, thinking that there are a lot more of us now than there were that day at the Palace Hotel, but the other side still has all the money, all the guns, all the new technology.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY from the SF Chron. Disclaimer. Nothing against The City’s firemen, but when you see them driving to Safeway in hook and ladder trucks you know you’re in a very badly managed town: “Not only has the SFFD treated the taxpayers in an abusive manner for years, these non-SF slugs are racists too after a century of inbred hiring practices. During their last contract tizzy they set fires to outhouses on Russian Hill to save the station on Stockton St from closure, car fires near the Fell Street station and more car fires in the outer Richmond District by that station, all to generate calls and save those $100-$200k 3.5-days-a-week jobs. Immediately after they got their way the fires stopped. And you blamed the homeless for those fires, or was it the SFFD who pointed that finger? Not to mention a century of taking cash payouts to move fire hydrants for construction projects whilst keeping the city from those deserved proceeds while the fire boys bought gifts with the money and paid for parties for their welfare like abusers of the taxpayers of San Francisco. Oh and they drive to Costco everyday and buy a quarter bag of groceries because their ‘contract’ allows them to pay for their own chow, but it costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars extra because they go on the clock everyday at full pay instead of in one van buying a week’s worth of food like every other honest agency.”
IS PATRICIA DARLAND making a run for Fifth District Supervisor? Ms. Darland, a former nurse, has been on the Coast Hospital Board since the early 2000s. But now, according to a note Ms. Darland posted in the newsletter of the Mendocino County Women’s Political Caucus:
“As you may know, my term on the hospital board ends in December of 2014 as does Dr. Graham’s. I will most likely not run for re-election and Dr. Graham is most likely retiring as well. That means in December 2014, there will be two vacancies. It is my hope that two or more women choose to run. Any woman who plans to run for the Hospital board should consider starting the process January 2014, declare as soon as they are able for the November 2014 elections. Training, campaign fundraising and getting started. I really want to mentor those persons, if they wish. The candidate will need to be very strong. The other remaining Board members are very pervasive. The candidate must be strong in finance, business management, contracts, strategic planning, forward thinking and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. They should have a presence in the community already. The healthcare district is from Westport to Elk and the candidate must live in the healthcare district. We will have exited bankruptcy by then and most likely have a new CEO and CFO. It would be a good start for someone. It would be helpful if they also really understood rural healthcare, Critical Access, District Hospitals and District Law. There is a thrust in state government to make district hospitals obsolete. So knowledge of what is taking place at the capitol would be good as well. This final year at the hospital will be a pivotal one. I know it is a tall order but “learning on the job” wouldn’t be good in this role. They should start attending Planning, Finance and Board meetings and make a presence, if they plan to run (only 16 months away). There is a man on Finance, Kirk O’Day, who is planning to run and hopefully he will not win. Not because he is man but because he is painfully unqualified. Either way, I could help a candidate run against him.
“Meanwhile, to let you know, I will most likely run for Fifth District Supervisor, either against Dan Hamburg, if he chooses re-election or anyone else who plans to run. If I decide to run, I will decide in January of 2014 and make a public commitment. My term ends, November 2014 and the Supervisorial Term will begin January 2015. Finally, an update: I have divested my Nursing/Elder Care Business, it was suffering due to the inordinate amount of time I was spending at the hospital during this critical time. I am closing my Fort Bragg store for a variety of reasons. I still have a store in Cloverdale, which I most likely will sell that business at the end of the year. I still provide Independent Nurse Consulting but will have additional free time after the first of the year to participate with MWPC, Democratic Central Committee, Soroptimist and others. — Patti”
A READER WRITES: “We went to SF yesterday afternoon and had a nice lunch by the pond at the Palace of Fine Arts, then attended an art exhibit opening at Fort Mason. The weather was absolutely glorious, one of the loveliest weather days I’ve ever experienced in the City. We drove along the waterfront from the Marina to the Embarcadero toward the Bay Bridge. I know you have some familial connection to this, but, frankly, long sections of the waterfront looked like a giant Oracle self-promotional orgy. You’d think Ellison now owns all rights to the America’s Cup. A bit over the top. Then we drove across the Bay Bridge to Oaktown. The new eastern span isn’t very inspiring, in my view. One small, single tower with a few dozen angled cable stays followed by a couple miles of flat, dull roadway on piers. Think: the Dumbarton Bridge with artsy light fixtures and you have the picture. Several years and more than $6 billion for this? Now KCBS radio news is reporting that the Democratic Machine and its acolytes in Sacramento are trying to ramrod a resolution through the Assembly and Senate calling for the new span to be named in honor of… Willie Brown! Are you kidding me? The Slick Willie Span? Of course, there’s a small problem: state statutes prohibit naming municipal structures and highways, etc., after persons who are still alive. ‘No problemo,’ sayeth the pols, we’re all members of The Club up here. We can bend the rules a little. I guess there could be some poetic irony to it. Like Willie, the span is overpriced, overbudget, overhyped, overexposed, and over polluted waters. Bansai!
RESIST THE SHAM
Not a Step in the Right Direction
By Michael Boldin
In response to heavy public opposition to a unilateral executive war against Syria (yes, limited strikes on another country are certainly a “war in the legal sense“), the Obama administration has given the appearance of a tip of the hat to Constitutional procedure by “seeking approval” from Congress.
I know quite a few people who, while still rightly opposed to intervention in Syria from a moral standpoint, have referred to this as “at least going in the right direction.”
In fact, beyond a temporary delay before the imperial president’s next foreign crime, this changes nothing. It’s a band-aid, at best.
Here’s three reasons why.
1. Dick, is that you?
The rhetoric coming from the “peace candidate” would have fit quite nicely anywhere in the Bush war years. When Obama says he doesn’t actually need permission from Congress to wage war against another country, and that he “always reserves the right and responsibility to act,” it may-well have been the words of Dick Cheney.
John Kerry, the reformed anti-war activist, might as well be Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz, or any of the other criminals of those unfortunate days.
FACT: These people don’t have principles or sound morals. They have power. And they want to use it. Asking for permission to declare war while claiming it’s not needed doesn’t give me warm fuzzies, it makes me angry.
You didn’t get a “Peace President.” You’ve been had.
2. In Any Case
This so-called constitutional process proposed by the Obama administration is wildly unconstitutional, at best. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t understand the constitutional underpinnings of congressional and executive war powers, so it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Here’s the short version.
The Constitution delegates the power to “declare war” to Congress. The President, then, has the power to wage the war once declared by Congress. Just because Congress “authorizes” something, does not mean it has fulfilled this requirement.
Usually, it’s just a sham.
In October, 2002, that’s exactly what happened. Congress passed the Authorization to Use Military Force Against Iraq. While it sure is nice that those politicians wanted us to think they were doing their job, making sure it was the representatives of the People making the determination whether or not the country would be engaged in war, they did nothing of the sort.
The important language from that AUMF is:
The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to:
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq
No. That’s not constitutional. Not even close.
Congress didn’t declare war. They told George Bush, “You make the call. Let us know what you decide.”
That flies in the face of what James Madison had to say:
“The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war”
In ANY case.
Yeah, that includes the “case” where congress might say to the President, “you decide,” as happened in 2002.
Fast forward to today, and Barack Obama wants the same power that George Bush was handed. From the text of the president’s proposed AUMF for Syria:
(a) Authorization. — The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to –
(1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors), within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or
(2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.
You see that? It’s the exact same thing. This would authorize the President to make the actual determination as to whether or not diplomacy or war will be what this country pursues.
James Madison said the executive doesn’t have that right – in any case.
I think I’m pretty safe siding with the “Father of the Constitution” over Bush and Obama on war powers.
3. Bad vs Bad
The so-called “more limited” AUMF proposed in the Senate is unconstitutional garbage as well.
The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria, only to: (1) respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government in the conflict in Syria; (2) deter Syria’s use of such weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect our allies and partners against the use of such weapons; and (3) degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future.
If you believe that handing the president the same power to make the final determination over war is somehow a better situation, I’ve got some land on Saturn to sell you.
Just One Person?
There’s good reason to want a system where just one person would never have the power to determine if an entire country will go to war. To determine if you’ll have to pay for their killing. To determine, possibly, if you or your children may have to fight and die for their cause.
The Founders knew this because they experienced it.
You and I should know this too, because you and I are experiencing it first hand.
No one in the world wages more war than the United States of America. And it’s been like that for a long time.
On the one hand, I would argue that this “shoot first” mentality is not just morally wrong, it’s a complete failure. Well, unless of course success is measured by the amount of money they need to keep taking from you to hand over to the war machine.
On the other hand, this just reaffirms the fact that neither Congress nor the President should be trusted no matter who is in power.
These people will never stop the power and cash cow on their own. They need to be resisted.
I, for one, am ready to stand against them. Are you with me?
THE PITILESS LIGHT OF PUBLICITY
by Bruce McEwen
The case of The People vs. The Crane Sitter has been assigned to Matthew Hubley, a trial deputy from the District Attorney’s office. The Crane Sitter was originally charged with a trespassing infraction.
At the arraignment, Judge Richard Henderson asked the DA what the offer was to settle the case, and DA David Eyster said it would be $250 for each of the 11 days, The Crane Sitter, aka Will Parrish, was strapped to the crane, stopping work on a portion of the Willits Bypass for the CalTrans contractor, a multi-national firm with headquarters in Berlin.
The judge said there would be about $250 in routine fees and fines added on. He then released The Crane Sitter on his own recognizance and gave him a few weeks to think it over.
The case has generated some publicity, mainly due to the efforts of a group of supporters who attended all of The Crane Sitter’s court appearances. These same people sponsored a fundraiser for The Crane Sitter’s legal defense — which was well-attended but ultimately unnecessary, because a private defense attorney, who does not fear the pitiless light of publicity, Omar Figueroa, came forward and took the case pro bono. At this juncture, The Crane Sitter has decided to pass on the DA’s offer and take his case to a jury.
Parrish and his lawyer seem to feel that a jury will see that The Crane Sitter had unimpeachable reasons to try to stop work on the Willits Bypass, which is indeed widely regarded as a major boondoggle even by Caltrans standards. And terribly, irreversibly destructive to Little Lake Valley. But in order to get a jury trial, the charges would have to be elevated in seriousness from an infraction to a misdemeanor.
This is what defense counsel asked for, and the DA was more than happy to oblige.
DA Eyster raised the charges to 14 counts of misdemeanor trespass, one count for each day The Crane Sitter was strapped to the crane, and three more counts for previous occasions when he’d been arrested at the job site for getting in the way of wholesale destruction. Mr. Figueroa filed a series of motions before the trial began, and these were supposed to be heard last Tuesday in the Honorable John Behnke’s courtroom.
There was a demurrer, a motion to suppress, and a motion alleging vindictive prosecution.
Eyster’s prosecutor, Deputy DA Matt Hubley, complained that he’d just been handed the case and wasn’t ready, so the only motion the judge granted was a motion to continue.
When an ordinary worker — a journeyman bricklayer, for instance — uses the word “continue” he means to pick up his trowel and get back to work, but when lawyers use the term, they mean to put their work off for a few weeks or more.
Mr. Figueroa told the court he’d just been handed some discovery issues and that he may be filing more motions relating to them. He said that Sheriff Tom Allman had been investigating the case and had talked with the defendant’s mother, and if the Sheriff had made a report on that conversation and any related matters the defense wanted a copy of what had been said.
Judge Behnke said these motions could be heard along with the others on Wednesday, September 11th at 10am. Judge Behnke also thanked Mr. Figueroa for submitting a case from the year 1858. It was only one page long, and would be the quickest read the judge had been given in a quite a long time.
* * *
Another case that was continued, continued again, and again, continued last week:
Peter Richardson, once represented by Richard Petersen, who is terminally ill with cancer, is now represented by Keith Faulder. Richardson is also battling cancer, prostate cancer. He juices lots of marijuana to help him beat back the baleful effects of both the disease and its treatments.
A few weeks ago, Faulder told Judge Ann Moorman that the Richardson case was about to be resolved. But last Wednesday Faulder apologized for that recklessly optimistic remark, and admitted that the case was “not resolvable.”
The preliminary hearing would have to be continued, and it was continued to Thursday and continued here and there until it was finally continued until Wednesday, September 11th at 1:30pm.
The DA wanted to get his hands on Richardson’s medical records so he could cross-examine the defense witness, Dr. John Lovejoy of Ukiah, a medical doctor who used to be a gynecologist but whose practice these days is confined to the miracle drug, marijuana, about which he is an expert.
DA Eyster clearly feels that Doc Lovejoy is a quack, and that Richardson, a licensed contractor with many local buildings, including government buildings to his credit, is mostly in the pot business. Eyster wants to see Richardson’s confidential medical records because he “may want to impeach the doctor’s testimony,” he said.
Judge Moorman agreed with the DA, stating that there were “legions of cases” where medical records had been made available to the opposing party of an expert witness. However, Her Honor ordered DA Eyster that he was not to discuss the content of the medical file with anyone. Except his investigator.
“Anytime you put a doctor on the stand there’s an implied waiver of the doctor/patient privilege,” the judge said.
Faulder said, “I’m not implying the privilege should not be waived, your honor. Because it’s not relevant to the tryer of fact. What is relevant is whether the amount of marijuana being cultivated was consistent with the patient’s medical needs at the time of the arrest. So we don’t have to get into the underlying facts of what the patient’s medical condition is, you see.”
It appeared fleetingly that Her Honor did see.
But then, looking up from a page of legal scripture she had been studying on her desk, she said, “I’m not reading it that way.”
The judge mentioned some case from the 1970s when much of the legal profession had perpetually runny noses from all the cocaine they sniffed.
Eyster said, “I didn’t put the patient’s medical condition into play — they [the defense] did! And I have a right to see what’s in those records.”
There was a delay in the proceedings, and I met the defendant, Pete Richardson, to drink beer and pitch horseshoes at the Water Trough. Like his attorney, most attorneys in fact, Pete is not adverse to the pitiless white light of publicity.
He basks in it.
But there was once some famous newspaperman who said, “If the parties want it published, it’s not news. If they try to keep it out of the paper, then it’s news.”
“I’m glad you’re covering my case,” Pete told me over a beer.
“In that case, my editor probably won’t print it,” I replied, thinking my editor may have been the newsman quoted above.
“Why does he hate me so much?”
“I don’t think he does, Pete. I really don’t think it’s personal.”
“Oh, yes, he hates me; always has. Now that he’s got all that money from his daughter, he can afford to keep putting that paper out and trashing everybody he doesn’t like.”
“What money did he get from his daughter?”
“I know nothing of the kind.”
“His daughter married the guy who founded Oracle, that’s where all the money comes from.”
“Who told you this?”
“He didn’t have to, everybody knows it. Don’t tell me you didn’t know about it yourself?”
“I swear I had no idea. I’ve met the guy my editor’s daughter married, and I’m truly impressed to learn he founded Oracle.* He couldn’t have been much more than maybe about six years old at the time. He’s only maybe 38 at the most, now. I had no inkling when I met him — or during any subsequent meetings — that I was in the presence of such a prodigy. My thoughts ran somewhat to the contrary, actually.”
“You always have to pull a nasty joke on people, just like your boss, don’t you?”
“Thanks, Pete. You’re just overflowing with compliments.”
* * *
Before Richardson’s case resumed the judge had to take pleas from a couple of Hopland Rancheria guys, Joshua Torres and Jeremy Johns. These two had been at a party and volunteered to go out and get more beer — “We’ll fly if you buy!”
Somebody produced a bank card to fund the continuing merriment, and Torres and Johns went out for a big box of suds.
But Lady Chance was singing her siren song of temptation as Torres and Johns drove past the Sho Ka Wah Hopland Casino (or Choke A Squaw, as the racist, non-Native locals call it) diverting the boys from their beer run with the promise of easy riches. So, in they went to Lady Chance’s seductive temple where they used their friend’s bank card to take $500 in cash from the ATM.
Now, all they had to do was hit a jackpot and not only would they return with the beer and their pal’s bank card, they’d all have plenty of dough for more beer. Plus interest.
The odds were against them, of course, but Torres and Johns were gamblers and poof! went the $500.
Another gambler would have blamed such a foolproof plan on bad luck, but the judge blamed Torres and Johns. She thought they were smarter than their get rich scheme.
Bert Schlosser has recently returned to duty at the Office of the Alternate Public Defender, having returned from a fishing expedition in Alaska. He was representing Josh Torres. Schlosser told the judge that his client realized he’d made a very stupid mistake.
Public Defender Linda Thompson represented Jeremy Johns. She said her client had also been sobered to the brink of contrition by the stupidity of his crime.
They were both ready to plead to the charges and take the consequences. Both were grateful that the DA was going to let them plead to a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
Judge Moorman took their pleas and told them they’d done something really dumb, not mentioning that without Dumb courthouses all over America would be deserted. The two defendants agreed with the judge and promised not to do it again. She gave them each 90 days in jail, reinstated their probation, told them to stay out of the casino, and ordered them to repay $531.98.
* * *
When Peter Richardson’s case resumed on Thursday, Dr. John Lovejoy went back on the stand and DA Eyster picked up his cross-examination where he’d left off a few weeks ago. But it soon became apparent that too much time had elapsed for Dr. Lovejoy to remember the particulars of Richardson’s medical file, and Eyster wanted specific answers, so the judge continued the matter until September 11th to give the doctor time to focus his powers of recall.
Supervisor Dan Hamburg was there along with his usual entourage. Richardson confided that the supervisor had called him to say he was coming.
The Brotherhood of the Weed runs deep in Mendocino County.
(*Oracle was founded in 1977, well before Ryan — or his wife — was born. But at the time of the conversation with Pete, I was thinking Oracle must have been started back in the late 80s.) I asked the Editor if he hated Pete Richardson. The Editor said, “Who?” He said the only person he hates is some guy in Little River. He said the “inland libs,” as he described them, “range from comic figures to mosquito-like irritants.”