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Letter From San Francisco

Election or a Round of Musical Chairs?

By 11.5.15

Outsiders like to think of San Francisco as a hotbed of contentious activism. Locals have tended to regard City Hall as the arena where Democrats and progressive Democrats mix it up. With Tuesday’s election, you can say goodbye to any notion of anarchy. All bow to the victorious political machine. City Hall is all-Democrat all the time — yet conservative in its own fashion: the status quo is king.

Hang on, esteemed reader, because City Hall relationships read like a soap opera digest.

Mayor Ed Lee, who was re-elected, was handpicked by his predecessor Gavin Newsom in 2011. Lee, then city administrator, had never run for office when Newsom asked him to serve as interim mayor. Lee first promised he would be a placeholder for the year that remained in Newsom’s second term, and then decided to run for the office. He won.

This year, Lee faced no serious opposition.

Main Street U.S.A.

‘Trumpmania’ Defeats Political Correctness

By 11.5.15

It was a flat-out defeat for political correctness. A triumph for conservatism. One more indication that the anti-political correctness tidal wave gains steam.

And — according to Democrats — in Kentucky this was a victory by proxy for Donald Trump.

For all those Establishment GOP types — not to mention the Establishment at large and their boosters in the media — the results of the Kentucky governor’s race, Virginia state senate races, the Houston “discrimination” ordinance — not to mention the defeat of San Francisco’s Sanctuary City sheriff — have come as a shock.

Left to their own devices, Americans in four different states have given a decided thumbs down to politically correct ideas that men using women’s bathroom was a “civil right,” that Tea Partier Matt Bevin’s unabashed Christianity, support for social issues, and opposition to Obamacare was a loser, that gun control in Virginia was a winner. And again, don’t forget the sheriff out there in San Francisco who was a defiant supporter of Sanctuary Cities — and is now the about-to-be ex-sheriff.

A Further Perspective

Gluttons for Punishment

By 11.5.15

Like a parrot in a pet store, the Bernie Sanders faithful have the same refrain for the suggestion that America can’t, or at least shouldn’t be, a socialist country. In many ways, they say, “it already is. Bok!”

While we are plenty removed from pure socialism (and pure capitalism for that matter), the statement isn’t altogether untrue. Like most complex political arguments there is a fair bit of semantics involved, but there is also little denying that some of America’s costliest programs are about as socialist in nature as America gets. 

It seems the debate regarding Mr. Sanders’ philosophy provides that rare case in which both sides are right: America is definitely somewhat socialist, and it definitely shouldn’t be.

Uncle Sam’s forays into leftist economic principles have generally been popular, precisely because they have become, to borrow Marx’s phrase, the opiate of the masses—habit forming, expensive measures more designed for short-term political highs than long-term solvency.

Another Perspective

Winning Over Women: The Path to the Oval

By 11.5.15

If conservatives can’t sell their agenda to voters in the upcoming presidential election, then the Left’s vision for our nation may be cemented for years to come. In order to win and put our nation on the right path, Republicans need to zero in on how conservative solutions revolving around greater choice and economic opportunity will help all Americans, especially women.

The truth is, Democrats and Republicans aren’t just two competing teams, one blue, and one red. Democratic and Republican candidates have different, often dueling visions for the future of America, whether it’s workplace regulations, healthcare, or energy. These issues have profound influence on our country and economy, as well as individuals’ economic well-being. This is why there should be less attention on the political theater, and more on the candidates’ plans and visions for America.

Buy the Book

Reading and Rereading the Wondrous Peggy Noonan

By 11.5.15

As a political columnist, it has meant a lot to me — certainly more than it has to them — to meet the three best and most important political writers in America today: George Will, Charles Krauthammer and, most recently, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.

In recent years, I’ve had the chance to enjoy books by Will and Krauthammer; now it’s Noonan’s turn with the release of her ninth book, The Time of Our Lives, a thoroughly enjoyable and intellectually compelling compilation of her columns, essays, and speeches covering more than 30 years of writing and thinking.

My first reflection upon devouring Noonan’s oeuvre over the last few days is how many sentences I went back and read twice — or three times. Not because they were opaque or confusing but because Peggy Noonan’s writing is, perhaps alone among the political-social commentariat, a delicious combination of poignant and beautiful.

Political Hay

Now, You Have Matt Bevin

By 11.4.15

Matt Bevin, a well-spoken and uncompromising conservative businessman, challenged Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell . in the Kentucky 2014 Republican primary.

He didn’t win. He didn’t actually come close, losing an ignominious 61-39 race to the GOP’s most powerful senator. Bevin, a down-the-line conservative of the Tea Party variety, engendered all the vitriol the Republican establishment could summon; he was the poster child for the “destructive” insurgent candidate.

Interestingly, after Bevin was beaten by McConnell, he tried again — this time for governor of Kentucky. And he won in the primary.

The Obama Watch

Obama the Stand-Up Comic

By 11.4.15

The latest example of President Obama’s defining character traits — supercilious narcissism blended with hyper-partisanship — came in a Monday night performance at DNC fundraising event in New York during which he skewered Republican presidential hopefuls who claim they will be stronger against Russian President Vladimir Putin than Obama himself has been, but “it turns out they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators.”

“If they can’t handle those guys,” Obama added helpfully, “then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you.”

Project much, Mister President?

The lame message was good for a laugh and, to give credit where it’s due, Obama's delivery as a comedian is better than his once-vaunted communication skills as president — although he spends too much time laughing at his own jokes, which may explain why so few narcissists become stand-up comics.

Political Hay

Bernie Is No Barack (Or Why Hillary Doesn’t Fear The Bern)

By 11.4.15

Later this week, the Democrats will have their second presidential debate. There are many reasons why sensible people would refrain from watching such a spectacle — it takes place on a Friday night, it airs on MSNBC, and Rachel Maddow will be the moderator.

The only compelling reason to watch, then, is to see if Bernie Sanders makes Hillary Clinton “feel The Bern.” In the previous Democrat debate last month, Bernie seemed angry with everyone except Hillary. Sanders inexplicably gave her campaign new life when he said, “Enough with your damn e-mails!” Well, those damn e-mails are about Hillary’s honesty and integrity. I would like to think that Bernie believes that he views himself as someone who has more honesty and integrity than this frontrunner. Otherwise why the hell run for President at all? But by taking the e-mail issue off the table, he gives Democratic primary voters a reason to vote for Hillary. No wonder Hillary said, “Thank you, Bernie, thank you!!!”

The Nation's Pulse

Cheerleading for Bucks

By 11.4.15

When it comes to applying for a job, beware not to stumble into the dark and twisted world of professional cheerleading. This I learned from the lawyer of 22-year-old Lauren Herington, a cheerleader for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. “They are indentured servants with pom poms,” he is quoted as saying.

For those of you who are unaware, indentured servitude was an ugly process where early immigrants to America often entered a contract where they agreed to work for gratis for a period of time in order to get free passage for the arduous trip to America. This was a process that was ripe for worker abuse. As one learns the details of Ms. Herington’s case, however, it becomes clear that not only wasn’t she obligated to cheer for the Bucks, she was paid $65 per home game, $30 per practice and $50 for each special appearance — the horror!

A Further Perspective

The Soiled Shoes of the Fisherman

By 11.4.15

Romanticizing his reckless heterodox activism, Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to make a “mess” — an exhortation he himself observes almost weekly. “Mission accomplished,” quipped Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island in 2014.

This week’s papal messes began with reports that Eugenio Scalfari, the atheistic ex-Catholic journalist whom Francis treats as his Boswell, had been told by the pontiff that all adulterers are welcome at Communion.

Francis is so enamored with Scalfari as his Boswell that he had their disgraceful interview earlier in his papacy--in which the Holy Father flirted with moral and religious relativism by encouraging atheists to cleave to their “conception of the good” in order to attain a salvation they don’t even want — published in book form under the direction of the Vatican’s publishing house. If a future pope ever revives the Index of Forbidden Books, that book will appear on the list. Many of Francis’s answers to Scalfari’s self-indulgent questions aren’t worthy of a priest, much less a pope.