Lee Heidhues with artwork by Liz Heidhues 9.23.2021
A special Environmental Shame Hall of Fame award is in order for the San Francisco legislator who has done more than any politician in 2021 to wreak havoc on the City’s reputation for being a leader in environmental issues.
Supervisor Connie Chan has almost single handedly destroyed the urban oasis referred to as The Great Walkway and turned it over to the fossil fuel consuming environmentally destructive automobile.
Following are emails from two citizens who have been deeply involved in the campaign to have The Great Walkway designated a 24/7 car free oasis.
Their dismay is palpable. Their names have been redacted to protect their privacy.
Author 1: I wholeheartedly agree with all the facts and arguments that Author 2 has written below. I am shocked, angered, disappointed and frustrated that you did not ask us, your XXXXXXXXXXX for input and went ahead with your support of this executive order without following protocol, and listening to the majority of your constituents on this issue. In fact, it seems that you ignored the resolution we passed unanimously on July 26th in support of the car free SFMTA Great Highway pilot. Until I know you have read our resolution, I will continue to believe that you are ignoring the evidence and data before you, and pandering to a certain group of voters. Finally, I agree that your desire to build out concept 2 is pure climate denialism.
Author 2: To me it is unnecessary (at best) to change the existing health emergency order (that is otherwise still in place!) before the vote in September, and disrespectful of the SFMTA and public’s time (at worst) who have been diligently working to collect the data that the supervisors asked for, spend hours and hours on multiple public comment sessions, and follow the process laid out that the supervisors agreed to, just to have the great highway reopened to cars without any process (even if more process is coming in the future). Doing this during the BOS recess without any advance notice, while legal, is frustrating and disrespectful to those following the process you laid out, and listing this reopening now as an option for routes to drive to school seems disingenuous considering the Great Highway does not have entrances within the Sunset District and couldn’t really be used to drive to any schools – this is thin cover for what the Great Highway is actually used for, which is driving to the Peninsula, an option that will no longer exist once the southern portion is closed soon anyway.
Only the entitled Swells can afford to litigate their way through the judicial system and get a Court ordered destruction of a beautiful environmentally friendly tree.
The worst part of it is the tree destroyer is in her 80’s. One would think that age would make even San Francisco Swells more magnanimous. Sadly not.
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 9.23.2021
Trees are among nature’s wonders — but a neighbor’s growing arbor can also eliminate a resident’s treasured scenic views. Now a state appeals court, relying on a San Francisco ordinance that seeks to resolve treetop feuds, has ordered a Pacific Heights couple to take down a sprouting Monterey pine that stands between their next-door neighbor’s home and the bay.
The neighbor, now 81, moved into the San Francisco home with her now-deceased husband in 1976 and testified that they chose the site largely because of its unobstructed view of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island and lands to the north. The pine was planted next door by a prior resident in 1999 and, by the time the case went to trial in 2019, had grown to 30 to 32 feet, with widening, thickly growing branches.
The US Supreme Court majority is imposing a Taliban system of Justice on a woman’s right to choose.
The American Supreme Court is totally out of touch from the mainstream. A large majority of Americans support a woman’s right to control her body. All Americans must complain loudly about a Justice system when it comes to women and the right to control their bodies.
If is terrifying that the high court, now firmly entrenched, with a super conservative majority, fortified with three appointees by disgraced Donald Trump including Amy Coney Barrett looks to continue its assault on women.
Deutsche Welle 9.222.2021
Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are among more than 500 US female athletes who have petitioned the Supreme Court. The state of Mississippi wants to ban the right to abortion in the US.
Without the right to terminate a pregnancy, “the physical stresses of forced pregnancy and childbirth would undermine athletes’ ability to reach their full potential,” the letter states. “Pregnancy fundamentally alters a woman’s body, interferes with and potentially impedes an athlete’s access to higher education, elite competition, and a professional athletic career. Female athletes must have the power to decide if and when to dedicate their bodies to sport, pregnancy or both.”
Known collectively as Athlete Amici, the athletes signed a formal appeal to argue that the right to abortion is essential for women athletes to pursue their sports at the same level that men are afforded. The group urged the court to reject a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“As female athletes and people in sports, we need to have the power to make important decisions about our bodies and have control over our reproduction,” Rapinoe said. Laws restricting abortion rights were “outrageous and un-American,” the 36-year-old former world footballer said.
Signatories include football superstar Megan Rapinoe, women’s national team captain Becky Sauerbrunn, two-time water polo gold medalist Ashleigh Johnson and basketball stars Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi.
Bird, who is married to Rapinoe, and Taurasi won Olympic gold with the US team in Tokyo. A total of 26 female Olympic athletes and 73 professional athletes supported the appeal, along with various representative bodies such as the US player unions in football and basketball.
The Supreme Court on Monday scheduled arguments in a case from the state of Mississippi for December 1. In the case, the state is seeking to reverse the US Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that made abortions legal nationwide. Mississippi wants to ban all abortions after the 15th week. Exceptions are to be made only for medical emergencies or in the case of “severe foetal abnormalities.”
Mississippi’s state government had tightened the course on abortion rights after conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett was appointed to the Supreme Court last year shortly before President Donald Trump was voted out of office. She gave the conservatives a majority of six votes to three in the Supreme Court.
For this vote several progressives are being lambasted by the cynical Republicans. And, regrettably by their fellow Democrats. It’s a sure thing that the mainstream media will join the scrum and pile onto these progressives who voted their conscience while giving the Republicans a pass.
The Republicans are equally culpable for the blow up.
Not one Republican would vote on a bill to raise the government’s debt ceiling. Funding for the Iron Dome was included in this legislation. Given their small majority in the House of Representatives the Democrats cannot afford to lose any votes.
Had the Republicans approved the debt ceiling rise, as both parties have done historically, the several progressives would have been unable to stop the funding of Iron Dome.
Excerpted from The Jerusalem Post with a headline from The New York Post – 9.21.2021
Democratic Party leadership in the US House of Representatives removed about $1 billion of funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system on Tuesday.
The Iron Dome is a missile defense system, which has stopped thousands of rockets launched by US-designated “terrorist” groups, like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, from striking the civilian centers at which they were aimed.
The revision came after Democrat progressives refused to vote for the broader bill in which the Iron Dome funding was included.
The progressive Democrats blocking the Iron Dome funding are among those who pushed to block arms to Israel during Operation Guardian of the Wall in May, according to Politico. That move was led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
The Democrats could not get the bill passed without the progressives, because Republicans would not vote for the bill, either, citing the debt ceiling as its reason. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “the debt ceiling will be raised… by the Democrats.”
The White House began working on reversing the decision soon after it was announced, a diplomatic source said.
While funding for the Iron Dome will likely get passed in the coming months, Israel views the matter with urgency and would like it as soon as possible, a senior diplomatic source added.
Tensions between Israel and Hamas have spiked in recent weeks, including Gazans launching rockets into Israel.
US President Joe Biden promised to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome batteries after the last round of fighting with Hamas in May, and again when he met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office last month.
The vehemently pro Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) responded to the change on Twitter saying that “Extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli & Palestinian lives.
“Calling to remove funding for a lifesaving defensive system is an affront to our values, risks further conflict, and is counter to the commitment made by Biden & supported by Congressional leadership.”
Dede Wilsey and Thomas Campbell de Young Museum CEO along with assorted San Francisco Swells and benefactors have signed off on the pending transformation to a more environmentally, car free friendly City.
JFK Drive which sits astride the de Young Museum and the The Great Walkway (formerly Highway) at the nearby Pacific Ocean are the recipients of San Francisco aristocracy’s political and environmental largesse.
The de Young Museum and The San Francisco Chronicle are inextricably tied. (see following Wikipedia article).
While the Thieriot family no longer owns the Chronicle its ties run deep with the de Young Museum. The family, business, political and cultural relationship makes the Chronicle endorsement of a permanently car free JFK Drive, and by extension a permanently car free Great Walkway, more noteworthy. Link to editorial follows.
A clean car free environment is munificence the wealthy socially conscious like to bestow upon The People. It makes them appear magnanimous and costs nothing.
In return they receive something money can never buy. Good will.
Blog contributor Liz is a long time member of the FAMSF. We approve wholeheartedly.
The following is excerpted from a Wikipedia article on M.H. de Young.
In San Francisco, de Young and his brother, Charles de Young (1846–1880), founded the Daily Dramatic Chronicle newspaper, first published on January 17, 1865, with the loan of a twenty dollar gold piece which Michael received from his landlord. A third brother, Gustavus, whose initial originally appeared in the masthead (“G. and C. de Young”), later vanished. The Daily Dramatic Chronicle was a four-page tabloid that was freely distributed throughout San Francisco. According to the de Youngs, the Daily Dramatic Chronicle would be “the best advertising medium on the Pacific Coast.” On September 1, 1868, the de Youngs expanded their tabloid into a daily newspaper. The first issue stated that the Chronicle would be “independent in all things, neutral in none.” The Daily Dramatic Chronicle was sold under the condition that it be renamed the Dramatic Review. De Young was also the director of the Associated Press for many years.
De Young, inspired by the events of the Chicago World’s fair, led a campaign to bring a world’s fair to San Francisco. De Young then became the Director-General of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. During a visit to New York City, De Young was inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s location in Central Park. As a result, de Young wanted the fair to be held in Golden Gate Park. However, John McLaren, the Superintendent of Golden Gate Park, was concerned about how the removal of many trees would affect the environment of the park. In an intense debate, de Young asked McLaren, “What is a tree? “What are a thousand trees compared to the benefits of the exposition?” Significantly, de Young owned about 31 blocks south of the park and could have been motivated by the fair’s potential positive impacts on his real estate holdings. While the vast majority of the fair’s buildings were soon destroyed, de Young persuaded the city to save the Fine Arts Building. The building was renamed the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum after de Young’s death. De Young supported the museum throughout his life and bequeathed $150,000 to the museum upon his death.
De Young and his wife Katherine had five children:
Charles de Young (1881–1913)
Helen de Young (1883–1969), who married George T. Cameron (1873–1955)
Constance Marie de Young (1885–1968), who married Joseph Oliver Tobin (1878–1978)
Kathleen Yvonne de Young (1888–1954), who married Ferdinand Thieriot (1883–1920)
Phyllis D. de Young (1892–1988), who married Nion Robert Tucker (1885–1950)
In 1884, De Young was shot by an irate businessman, Adolph B. Spreckels, apparently due to a negative newspaper article, and survived the injury. De Young died on February 15, 1925; a Roman Catholic mass was held in St. Mary’s Cathedral (he had converted to Catholicism after marrying his wife, Katherine I. Deane).
The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is named in his honor. According to his daughter, Helen de Young Cameron, de Young “loved objects. He was an incurable collector. He collected everything. He stored his collections at the Memorial Museum, where he would visit them at all hours. He took genuine delight in sharing them with the citizens of San Francisco, insisting that his museum never charge admission.” De Young purchased many things of “curious and artistic and instructive value” for the museum.
In 1956, one of De Young’s grandsons, Ferdinand Melly Thieriot (1921–1956), the circulation director of The Chronicle, and his wife Frances (1921–1956), were among the 46 killed aboard the SS Andrea Doria when it was struck by the MS Stockholm off the coast of Nantucket.
De Young was the grandfather of Nan Tucker McEvoy (1919–2015), chair of Chronicle Publishing Company’s board of directors until the 1990s. He is also the great-great-grandfather of actor Max Thieriot (born 1988).
Letter to the Editor San Francisco Chronicle 9.19.2021
I applaud the Chronicle (editorial 9.19.2021) for taking up the cause of the environment and advocating for a car free JFK Drive and Great Walkway. For months a strident and noisy legion of motorists have driven out The People of all ages who seek safe and secure venues to cycle, walk and run. Equally important is the Chronicle’s calling out those in City Hall who let themselves be intimidated by the unrelenting motorist din. Several Supervisors ignored a deliberative process which was in place. When the Board was on vacation these legislators knowingly colluded with Mayor Breed to thwart a goal which would place San Francisco on the map as a leader in the time of environmental degradation and climate change.
He believed that “his erstwhile friends on the left also could seek to destroy individual rights with malignant vigor.” This is what I find happening in San Francisco as it decides whether or not to make this town a more car free, people first, environmentally friendly venue.
Specifically, too many people leading the push for a car free JFK Drive and Great Walkway along the Pacific Ocean are allowing themselves to be compromised to death by elected officials and City Hall bureaucrats.
Compromise is not an option. A strict unwavering position is the only strategy to guarantee success.
People who speak out boldly regarding a more car fee city are ridiculed, marginalized and cast aside by those who feel compromise is the only path to success.
Why are vocal advocates being criticized by those who should welcome their support? Absent compromise they fear losing their seat at the table.
People who fancy themselves City Hall insiders will learn their value to the decision makers is illusory as their goals are stripped away piece by piece.
Wannabe insiders who readily compromise core beliefs in return for crumbs will be jettisoned by the power structure, condemned by their core followers and left with nothing at the end of the day.
Wall Street Journal 9.18.2021
“Homage to Catalonia,” a brilliant blend of reporting and analysis, marked the great turning point in his career, the moment when he recognized what others did not: the sobering fact that lies and threats to freedom could come from illiberalism on both ends of the political spectrum. This was when Orwell became Orwell.
Shortly after George Orwell received a medical discharge from his militia in the Spanish Civil War, he traveled to see his wife in Barcelona. She greeted him in a hotel lounge with a “sweet smile,” but then “hissed” a warning into his ear: “Get out!”
At first, Orwell was confused, stammering: “What? Why? What do you mean?”
Soon he understood. He had fought alongside Communists on the front lines and even suffered a bullet wound in his neck. Now the authorities were arresting his comrades, allegedly for collaborating with their fascist foes. There were rumors of executions. “This was not a round-up of criminals; it was merely a reign of terror,” wrote Orwell in “Homage to Catalonia,” the memoir he published the next year, in 1938.
Yet this is more than a chronicle of battles and boredom. “It would be quite impossible to write about the Spanish war from a purely military angle,” wrote Orwell. “It was above all things a political war.” Orwell despised fascism and wanted to defeat it, but his time in Spain convinced him that his erstwhile friends on the left also could seek to destroy individual rights with malignant vigor.
Orwell remained a socialist for the rest of his life, but his scorn for Stalin isolated him. Conservatives distrusted an author with links to the left. Meanwhile, leftists objected to the claim that their vision of a black-and-white struggle was a fantasy, and that a supposed champion of the workers of the world was a murderous thug.
Orwell is most remembered for a pair of books from the following decade, “Animal Farm” and “1984.” The first, an allegory of Stalinism, made him famous. The second, a dystopian nightmare, secured his legacy. It also led to the invention of the word “Orwellian,” a term that ironically describes the totalitarianism that Orwell bitterly opposed.
None of this would have been possible if Orwell had not visited Spain and written about his own Orwellian experience in a foundational book that sold less than a thousand copies during his life and wasn’t printed in the U.S. until after his death.
He and others of his generation went to Spain in the 1930s to defend its socialist government from an insurrection led by Francisco Franco, a general who allied himself with monarchists and other traditionalists. The Soviet Union supported the government and Nazi Germany backed Franco, in what is often described as a proxy war between communists and fascists.
“Homage to Catalonia” is valuable in part for its gritty descriptions of a soldier’s life, dominated by long periods of monotony and interrupted by flashes of violence. “In trench warfare five things are important: firewood, food, tobacco, candles and the enemy . . . with the enemy a bad last,” wrote Orwell. “The real preoccupation of both armies was trying to keep warm.” One of the book’s best lines goes to a commanding officer: “This is not a war,” said Georges Kopp, “it is a comic opera with an occasional death.”
“It was difficult to think about this war in quite the same naively idealistic manner as before,” he wrote. Orwell came to realize that almost nobody was telling the truth. “One of the dreariest effects of this war has been to teach me that the Left-wing press is every bit as spurious and dishonest as that of the Right,” he wrote. Part of the problem was that many of the journalists who reported on the war weren’t even in Spain.
Worse was their willingness to cover up the problem that nearly led to Orwell’s capture in Barcelona: Stalin’s purges had gone international. Orwell’s Spanish militia belonged to the anti-Stalin left. For Moscow’s minions, always alert to ideological deviance, it posed as much of a threat as Franco’s forces. “I happened to know, what very few people in England had been allowed to know, that innocent men were being falsely accused,” he wrote later in an essay. “If I had not been angry about that I should never have written the book.”
There would have been no book at all if Orwell had not escaped from Spain and its chaos. After learning of the danger in Barcelona, he slept in its streets for several days. Eventually he and his wife fled to France, evading security officers on the train that carried them across the border.
“It is difficult to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes,” wrote Orwell at the end of “Homage to Catalonia.” After Spain, he’d go on to create indelible works of fact and fiction about deception and oppression, all rooted in his extraordinary witness account.
Lee Heidhues – Artwork by Liz Heidhues – 9.17.2021
San Francisco chameleon Faux Progressive Supervisor Connie Chan’s Self-serving September 7, 2021 Press Release is nothing more than gushing self praise for her deplorable plan to open Car Free JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park to vehicular traffic.
The Supervisor has become a handmaiden of the most entrenched interests in San Francisco who want nothing to impede their goal to make money under the rubric of providing culture to the masses.
JFK Drive is their piggy bank. Supervisor Chan is the cashier.
Connie Chan leans on her fellow Supervisor Shamann Walton’s scurrilous and absurd quote earlier this year comparing the Car Free JFK Drive to ‘The Segregated South’.
Make no mistake. Connie Chan is demonstrating the most chameleon like behavior.
Connie Chan ran on an environmental platform which got her an endorsement from the staunch climate advocacy group Sunshine Bay Area and enabled her narrow win in 2020.
Now that she is safely parked in City Hall, the Supervisor’s driving objective is catering to the self entitled motorists.
Supervisor Chan is largely responsible for the August backroom deal which opened The Great Walkway to cars after 16 months as a pedestrian and cyclist only thoroughfare.
Now Supervisor Chan has set her environmentally destructive sights on permitting cars once again to pollute JFK Drive and enable parking near the De Young Museum and Steinhart Aquariam.
This is all about money. The environment and right of the people to have an open, safe recreation space be damned.
The French certainly know how to throw a tantrum when they feel maligned. What better revenge than cancel a gala in Washington celebrating an American Revolutionary War battle.
As Marie Antoinette is to have famously opined during the French Revolution in 1789, “Let them eat cake.” What she actually said was, “Let them eat brioche.” Most people know what happened to her. Found guilty of treason and beheaded on October 14, 1793
Underscoring its fury, France canceled a gala scheduled for Friday at its embassy in Washington to mark the 240th anniversary of a Revolutionary War battle.
In announcing the deal on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said it was meant to reinforce alliances and update them as strategic priorities shift. But in drawing a Pacific ally closer to meet the China challenge, he appears to have alienated an important European one and aggravated already tense relations with Beijing.
France on Thursday reacted with outrage to the announcements that the United States and Britain would help Australia develop submarines, and that Australia was withdrawing from a $66 billion deal to buy French-built submarines. At its heart, the diplomatic storm is also a business matter — a loss of revenue for France’s military industry, and a gain for American companies.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, told Franceinfo radio that the submarine deal was a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision” by the United States, and he compared the American move to the rash and sudden policy shifts common during the Trump administration.
“A knife in the back,” Mr. Le Drian said of the Australian decision, noting that Australia was rejecting a deal for a strategic partnership that involved “a lot of technological transfers and a contract for a 50-year period.”
“This is not done between allies,” Mr. Le Drian said. His comparison of Mr. Biden to Mr. Trump appeared certain to be taken in the White House as a serious insult.
A statement from Mr. Le Drian and Florence Parly, France’s Armed Forces minister, called “the American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France” a regrettable decision that “shows a lack of coherence.”
“This looks like a new geopolitical order without binding alliances,” said Nicole Bacharan, a researcher at Sciences Po in Paris. “To confront China, the United States appears to have chosen a different alliance, with the Anglo-Saxon world separate from France.” She predicted a “very hard” period in the old friendship between Paris and Washington.
California voters have overwhelmingly torched an attempt by a group of petulant citizens who used the recall mechanism to toss out the incumbent Democrat Governor, Gavin Newsom.
California’s Republicans had their typical MAGA classless and clueless response to the lambasting. Republican recall campaign manager Anne Hyde Dunsmore spouted off, “What I’m not subscribing to is this grand mandate, that we got it shoved up our ass. Because we didn’t.”
Oh. Really? These losers spent $100,000,000.
This sham recall, which consumed the body politic for the past year, is receiving the thrashing it richly deserves. The entire recall system in California is a disgrace. Any group of disgruntled citizens can try and over turn the will of the electorate to satisfy their own obnoxious self interests.
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 9.14.2021
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday survived the effort to oust him from office as voters decisively defeated the California recall. With nearly eight million votes tallied, Newsom was capturing more than two-thirds of them.
Millions of Californians had already cast their votes ahead of election day, after officials mailed a ballot to every active registered voter in the state last month, allowing county election offices to process their ballots ahead of time and begin releasing results shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m.