Special Report

Special Report

Be True to Your Homeschool

By 8.24.15

My brother has enough kids to field a baseball team.

One just earned her graduate degree from Notre Dame after getting her undergraduate from Boston College.

Another is graduating from Georgetown, which took one look at her grades and test scores and offered a full scholarship.

Another just entered West Point.

But it’s the younger siblings, the ones still in danger of braces, who really show promise. They devour books like Thin Mints and would destroy Donald Trump in the family Monopoly games.

These kids aren’t the products of elite schools; they don’t spend their summers in the Hamptons. My brother is a sports reporter, drives cars held together by NAPA and a prayer, and struggles to make ends meet.

But still, he started his kids off with an education that money could not buy. He sent them to a K-8 school with few resources and only a single teacher, one who possessed neither a teaching certificate nor a four-year degree.

The teacher is Nancy, Kevin’s wife.

Special Report

Lessons From Las Vegas

By 8.21.15

“Scared money don’t make no money.”

It’s a lesson I’ll never forget, not least because of the circumstances: Chris and I were playing blackjack at a Las Vegas casino last week, betting about $15 a hand. A young black guy walked over and — staying standing the whole time — put down a black chip (that’s $100 for the newbies) on the space between my bet and Chris’ bet…and promptly won. He yelled something which I didn’t quite catch, picked up his winnings, and walked back to the nearby roulette table where his friend was playing.

Special Report

Will EPA Benefit From Its Own Mistake?

By 8.18.15

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) literally popped the cap holding back toxics-filled water at the Gold King Mine above Silverton and Durango, Colorado, it really messed up.

Here’s what we know: The Gold King Mine had been closed and plugged since 1923. Behind the plug were several million gallons of tainted water laced with toxins and heavy metals. Among the potential toxins in the mine were lead, sulfuric acid, dissolved iron and copper, zinc, beryllium, cadmium, and arsenic. Note I said potential toxins. Any of these chemicals or metals alone, or combined as they were in the waters in the Gold King Mine, could be dangerous, but only if a person were exposed to them in particular ways and in sufficient amounts.

Even before there was mining in the area, Cement Creek—the stream first hit with three million gallons of sludge released by EPA’s snafu at Gold King—had been declared undrinkable as far back as 1876. Nature was poisoning the water even before humans got involved. Mining exacerbated the problem. Tainted water had been seeping out of abandoned or closed mines near Gold King for decades.

Special Report

Stench and the City: SF’s Summer of Urine

By 8.10.15

How bad is the urine situation in San Francisco? This is not a joke: Monday night, a light pole corroded by urine collapsed and crashed onto a car, narrowly missing the driver. The smell is worse than I have known since I started working for The Chronicle in 1992. It hits your nose on the BART escalator before you reach Market Street. That sour smell can bake for blocks where street people sleep wrapped in dirty blankets. I talked to Mayor Ed Lee and rode around with police to find out what can be done to clean up San Francisco.

Why does the city stink so? With the drought there has been less rain to wash away the city’s sins. Prosperity has produced a building boom — so there are fewer vacant spaces where the homeless can burrow.

I asked Lee Wednesday why other cities seem so much cleaner than San Francisco.I think they enjoy serious winters,” Lee answered — cold weather can drive street people to easier climates. Ess Eff doesn’t have really cold weather: “We’re a year-round attraction for various lifestyles.”

Special Report

European Union Becomes the Disunited Bailout Union

By 8.6.15

The European Project, as it is known, has been treated as an almost sacred process by the continent’s elite. Nothing—certainly neither fiscal responsibility nor popular sovereignty—should be allowed to stand in the way of creating a united Europe like the dominating American republic across the pond.

No doubt European cooperation, which began small before growing into the Common Market and then the European Union, has had beneficial effects. It bound together fractious, warring states in a cooperative enterprise, broke down trade barriers among small and large countries alike, and later drew former Soviet satellites westward.

However, the negatives have become ever more evident. Brussels has aped Washington, D.C., by hosting a growing bureaucracy dedicated to micromanagement and social engineering. Benign national cultures and traditions increasingly are suppressed by a new continental PC. An Eurocratic elite, made up of the usual gaggle of politicians, academics, journalists, businessmen, bureaucrats, and related folk, is determined to create a continental consolidated government irrespective of the desires of European peoples.

Special Report

The Bushioisie Is Wrong: Ross Perot Didn’t ‘Cost’ G.H.W. Bush the White House in 1992

By 8.5.15

Just because a political maxim has been repeated ad nauseam for more than 20 years doesn’t make it so.

Contrary to the two-decade-old insistence of the Bushioisie — GOP uberlobbyist Haley Barbour’s Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” being only the latest example — Ross Perot did not “cost” George H.W. Bush his 1992 reelection; rather, Perot’s campaign saved George H.W. Bush from an ignominious and humiliating loss, a defeat that likely would have rivaled Franklin Roosevelt’s 1932 drubbing of Herbert Hoover.


On November 3, 1992, Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot for the presidency by a margin of 43-37-19 percent.

Special Report

The Push Becomes a Shove

By 8.4.15

It was always going to be an uphill fight for the Left to achieve a consensus for not just the acceptance of their theory of global warming but their prescriptions to fight it, and Monday’s announcement of draconian EPA rules assaulting the electric power industry is proof that they realize the battle for public opinion is lost.

To have won on global warming, which obviously would have entailed our discussing the theory by its former name rather than its current formulation as “climate change” (does that not happen four times a year?), Barack Obama and his predecessors atop the effort to convince us to give up our modern consumerist lifestyle would have had to secure agreement on four bases crucial to the theory.

On none of the four have they managed to succeed.

Special Report

Iran: New Canary, Old Tale, Dark Secrets

By 8.3.15

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that while nearly 99 percent of Syria’s 1,300 metric tons of chemical munitions declared in 2013 have been destroyed, stocks of undeclared agents remain—even more lethal than those declared. To anyone familiar with arms control compliance history this should come as no surprise whatsoever.

Inspectors entered only sites the Assad regime designated, fearing that otherwise they would lose cooperation, and possibly even endanger their own safety. The result was predictable, writes Marissa Newman in the Times of Israel, citing the WSJ report:

Because the regime was responsible for providing security, it had an effective veto over inspectors’ movements. The team decided it couldn’t afford to antagonize its hosts, explains one of the inspectors, or it ‘would lose all access to all sites.’ And the inspectors decided they couldn’t visit some sites in contested areas, fearing rebels would attack them.

Special Report

Flogging the Flag Where There Is None

By 7.30.15

When South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill to boot the Confederate flag from State House grounds earlier this month, it was a beautiful moment — if decades late. State lawmakers finally acted out of revulsion from images of a confessed shooter posing with the Civil War relic before he shot to death nine African-American church parishioners June 17. Flag apologists lost their stomach for defending the banner as an emblem of states’ rights.

The best part was that South Carolinians themselves had decided it was time for the bad flag to go.

The worst part is what is happening now as politicians in other states try to repeat that unique moment by passing their own anti-Confederate flag legislation. California lawmakers are poised to pass state Sen. Steve Glazer’s bill that would ban naming any school, park, building or other piece of public property after generals or leaders of the Confederacy. Observe: Sacramento politicians had so much trouble finding Confederate flags to ban — after they banned them from public buildings last year — that they had to broaden the net to schools and buildings.

Special Report

Huckabee vs. Hucksters

By 7.29.15

My uncle, Rabbi Gerald Homnick, recently celebrated his 88th birthday. He was born in New York City in 1927, studied for ordination there and later practiced as a pulpit rabbi in Detroit and Philadelphia. For the last four decades he has resided in Jerusalem, a city that everyone but our executive and judicial branches knows to be in Israel.

He still recalls when, as a rabbinical student in 1944 and 1945, he was dispatched to hotels in the Catskills to raise funds to help the Jews in Europe. The joke he told in his sales pitch is still fresh in his mind.

“In Europe it was a custom at Jewish weddings to set an extra table for the poor. Besides the regular invitees who were friends and family of the newlyweds, usually middle and upper class people, there was an open invitation to the bedraggled and forlorn of the community to eat a little something. This was a generally generous act, but the quality of food served was not the same. The main participants enjoyed sweet food basted in honey, while the panhandlers and the homeless ate a dish seasoned with horseradish, resulting in a bitter flavor.