- - Sunday, June 12, 2016


San Francisco is America’s most entertaining city, though not always in the way the people who live there think it is. “Baghdad by the Bay,” as a favorite newspaper columnist was fond of calling it, did not invent the politics of the absurd, but San Francisco is where the absurdities were perfected.

San Francisco, one of America’s most beautiful cities where the living is cultured and easy, is also the nation’s most prominent “sanctuary city,” where felons, scofflaws, assorted desperados and others on the run from border agents can be comfortable waiting for President Obama to complete his repeal of immigration controls. This makes the city unsafe for everyone else, as Kathryn Steinle, 32 and pregnant, learned to her fatal sorrow when she strolled the waterfront with her father last summer. She was slain by an illegal Mexican immigrant who had been deported five times before he found sanctuary from federal authorities in Baghdad by the Bay.

San Francisco takes itself very, very seriously, as befits a city with foggy streets, a history of romance of an unusual provenance, “little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars,” and its own immigration law. Now some of the city fathers imagine themselves arbiters of the nation’s defense, which they seem to regard as something scarily reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

John Avalos, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, says the Blue Angels, the celebrated U.S. Navy-Marine Corps aerial acrobatic team that has thrilled 260 million spectators since it was formed in 1946 to demonstrate precision flying, is no longer welcome above San Francisco.

Mr. Avalos wants to ban flyovers of what he sneers are “killing machines,” because the squadron of six McDonnell-Douglas F-18 Hornet fighter jets “strike terror in the community” when they “strafe neighborhoods.” Mr. Avalos, who sounds like he has watched too many war movies and confuses “strafing” with aerial acrobatics. “It’s about the terror that they cause in people when they strafe the neighborhoods,” he tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s something I hear about all the time when the Blue Angels fly overhead.”

On Twitter, where such twaddle thrives, he tweaked that “more than anything [the Blue Angels] just maintain U.S. power ‘uber alles’,” invoking the German for “over all.” He wants to clear the skies above the city before Fleet Week in October, when San Francisco takes the U.S. Navy to its bosom in an annual liberty. He let the smoke from the entrails get in his eye during Fleet Week last year, seeing things nobody else did.

“Thousands of us in the Civic Center Plaza staring up, gawking as the Blue Angels strafe San Francisco and flip us the bird. War planes flying at low altitudes over San Francisco reminded me of the $580 billion for U.S. imperialism and the pittance for climate and human development.”

Mr. Avalos tried to persuade the other supervisors to pass a nonbinding resolution dissing the Angels last year, but failed. A supervisor who voted against it last year, Eric Mar, supports the new resolution, saying “potential dangers” outweigh the benefits. The Angels go against “the values of peace that San Francisco stands for,” he told the Chronicle. “They promote militarism, and I don’t think a city like ours should be promoting that.”

But another supervisor, who voted against the resolution last year, says he hasn’t changed his mind. “It’s a huge economic boon … and a majority of my constituents like [the show].” If the Angels depart, there’s always Gay Pride Week. It’s always a biggie by the bay.

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