Cognition & Reality

Saturday, 8 January 2011

“San Francisco”

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 12:50 pm

Now that football season is drawing to a close, those of us who watch have many times seen a quarterback try to hit a receiver surrounded by the entire defensive backfield. The quarterback, his mind frozen into a single pathway, looks at a bunch of opposition jerseys and throws. Often, the mistake results in an interception.

That brings me to the Congressional Democrats, who demonstrated their death wish by repeatedly throwing into the teeth of Republican propaganda. Nothing demonstrates this frozen mindset more than choosing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. As those who read this blog know, I’ve divorced myself as much as possible from politics, but I use this opportunity to explore, for a moment, the other side of propaganda, the response. Nothing against Pelosi, but by the time she became Speaker, the Republicans had spent years turning her into a laughingstock for their constituents. Perhaps her most important characteristic, in this regard, is that she represents a district in San Francisco. By electing her Speaker, the House Democrats displayed their total cluelessness both of the structure of attitudes in this country, and of the way Republican strategists had prepared to insure that their time out of power would be brief.

Let me tell you about what two words, “San” and “Francisco,” mean to millions of Americans. In late May of 1979, I was driving through Oklahoma. Stopping at  gas station, I walked the shed to pay–this was in the daze before ATM cards were in anyone’s imagination. Inside, was a sort of restaurant in amongst a primitive repair facility. On a shelf above the register was a small TV, black-and-white, of course. Either a live feed or footage from the previous day showed San Francisco’s White Night Riots, mostly involving young gay men, which occurred in response to the lenient sentence handed out to Dan White for shooting the Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the darling of the gay community. Several customers were standing around watching. One of them, a crusty guy who seemed old to me at the time, said this: “San Francisco.” A note of assent went around the room, as if that brief utterance was all one needed to know about the spectacle before us.

It’s not a secret that San Francisco is a red flag to a huge swath of the American public. Nevertheless, the House Democrats decided to thumb their noses at the Republican constituency, placing a huge target on their backs, and giving right-wing propagandists a huge present wrapped in a string of pearls. Out of arrogance, out of a misguided intention to “make history,” beginning a myriad of harebrained, puzzling moves, they elected Nancy Pelosi, from California’s 8th  Congressional District in San Francisco, as Speaker and almost deliberately threw an interception.



  1. African Americans are a red flag to those folks as well. So is lots of stuff that ought not to bother them. They are prone to seeing red flags. So we’re just kooks here and the Democrats should hide the support we give them. Only rednecks for house speaker? Don’t get me started.

    Comment by james stauffer — Saturday, 8 January 2011 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  2. You might think they could find someone between Pelosi and “a redneck.” It’s not as if, given that she represents SF, she’s so liberal. Rather, she’s a fairly conservative Democrat who can nevertheless be caricatured as a “San Francisco liberal.” A lose-lose. Isn’t it interesting that, last time, the choice was between Steny Hoyer, who’s from Maryland, and Nancy Pelosi, who’s from Maryland? That’s diversity for ya. And, no, people in SF aren’t “just kooks,” but it strikes me as both foolish and arrogant to ignore the fact that much of the country is primed to believe exactly that, which is the point I was intending to make: By working on Pelosi and her image for years, Republicans carefully, patiently set a propaganda trap based on the predictability of the Democrats, and the Democrats predictably walked straight into it. Republicans understand propaganda. Democrats act like it doesn’t exist. There is a better way.

    But here I am, acting as if I care…

    Comment by drtone — Saturday, 8 January 2011 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

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