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april 4, 2003


Watching City Hall

by h. brown

I want to thank all of you, because of all of the places I’ve been, this is the most recent.
-- Jens Nielsen, my campaign manager in 2 in ’02

I didn’t hear from any smart & pretty girls for over a week. I started to wonder why. I asked the pretty woman who is in the kitchen when I come up to make coffee in the morning what she thought was happening. “How long since you posted a column?” Uh huh, she was right … just over a week. I wrote a column for the Sentinel and 3 beautiful and brilliant women wrote within hours! (Some ugly guys too.)

I thanked the pretty woman in the kitchen at 5:30 am the next day. “They only love you for your keyboard,” she said. “And the cat litter needs changing.” Then she took her coffee and toast off to wherever it is she goes.

I don’t know most of the people I live with personally, but then, who really does?

Lafco proves its value

The waterline from Hetch Hetchy can be cut in a split second. Two weeks later, we surrender to whoever cut it. (Constantinople withstood a 100-year siege.) Gas and water sources for San Francisco’s electrical-generation facilities can be halted by 3 dim-witted winos in less time than it takes to listen to Janis Joplin sing “Me & Bobby McGee.”

San Francisco, in these troubled times, is hearing a cascade of world experts testify before its Local Agency Formation Commission (I get that right?) about how to make the city self-sufficient for water and power in the event of a catastrophe. Again, the City by the Bay is ahead of the curve.

Iraq will not be the last crisis. The world, as Brecht noted, is a dangerous place. The big lesson from back-to-back hearings on tidal power and desalinization was that San Francisco can be more like Constantinople. As Tom Ammiano likes to say: “That’s a good thing.” (Bottom line dollars, including buying and rebuilding the PG&E grid: both projects … 4 billion.)

The birds are doing it

I try to make myself useful in little ways. I do dishes and take out the trash. I sweep around the barrels and hose the pigeon doo. It’s a downtown San Francisco thing. Anyway, the pigeons roost above where I do my trash thing. Suddenly, this time of year, the gangway containing the barrels is cluttered with debris. Much more than would normally blow down the naturally active breezeway. After a while, you realize it is nesting material for the amorous doves above.

What’s a dove build with these days you’re probably asking? Trust me, I’ve swept up the stuff the pigeons drop while building their nests for years. Here are the basic construction ingredients in a Tenderloin pigeon nest:

Swizzle sticks of all kinds. Coffee to alcohol. Wooden and plastic.

Q-tips. Pigeons love Q-tips in their nests.

Plastic tear-seals from tops of milk, juice, etc. containers.

Leaves and small branches.

An occasional strand of barbed wire (hey, it’s San Francisco).

I love pigeons. They are, after all, non-violent doves of peace. They live up to 45 years, mate for life and should be the local bird. But that’s another story.

The pigeon population needs to be managed but there are just so many problems in the world. … (I told the pigeons I’d say something.)

The War Thing

I know that most of my readers are anti-war. Most any war. I appreciate that. I’m extremely supportive of the anti-war crowd.

I, however, am a barbarian. I’ve studied war most of my life (did you know that in 5,000 years of recorded history, there have been over 5,000 wars?). I read & watch and sort information every day. I think there are some real bastards out there torturing and murdering their own people (many of them supported by either the U.S. government or American foreign capital). I’d like to see a tyrant removed yearly. The difference between these guys and George W. is that in 2 years, we can vote him out of office. I certainly hope we do. On the other hand, look at the prospects for Iraq under American rule.

As a guide, let’s look at the last dozen or so countries “we” have conquered and occupied.

When we win the war

I guess the Japanese benefited more from American occupation and democratization than any country over the past century or so. I’d rate Germany as second. The Germans’ only attempt at democracy (the Weimar Republic) hadn’t lasted more than a few years and the Japanese had no idea of the concept. Both now rival us economically and have very, very serious democracies. I’m partial to the Japanese because they sometimes have a pro-wrestling atmosphere in their legislature (ever seen films of them whaling away at one another - sometimes, an occasional knife fight?). We “won” those wars and the people of those two countries are freer and more prosperous than ever in their history.

I’d have to say South Koreans benefited from American conquest and occupation. Hell, look at North Korea! We certainly abused the Philippines, but their new democracy is modeled after our own. Kosovo? Granada? Haiti? Dominican Republic? Can you really say the U.S. made things worse in any of these countries? They haven’t stoned a woman to death for the “crime” of adultery in downtown Kabul for nearly 3 years! Can you deny that millions died because we did nothing when the United Nations was too slow?

The other side of the coin …

When we lost the war

How do you think the locals would react if you started criticizing the government in downtown Saigon? Mogadishu? Havana? Hey, things are better for the locals (if my data is correct) when “we” come in, make a bundle off rebuilding infrastructure while establishing long-term economic ties, and then get the hell out. Hey, we’ve done that with great success for the past hundred years or so.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still the “last commie standing,” but I’m a realist. There are lots and lots of bad people out there. Some of them have whole armies and navies and air forces of their own. That’s why we maintain a military. Until we change the human genetic code, there will remain not just the need, but the absolute necessity of fighting off gangsters, either on an individual or international level.

The class of “warrior” has always been among the most honored. We still need warriors. People the world over still need a savior. Would that we could answer every cry. Presently, only the cries of those either sitting upon giant oil reserves (Iraq) or providing a natural path to the oil tankers from huge reserves (Afghanistan) are the cries being heard. We remedy that through agitation and at the polls.

In short? Don’t cry for Iraq. If they have the luck of the Japanese and the Germans, in 20 years, they’ll clean our economic clock.

More later: sobone@juno.com