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California’s Illogical Reparations Bill

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

California’s state legislature just passed, and Governor Gavin Newsom signed, Assembly Bill 3121 to explore providing reparations to California’s African-American population — 155 years after the abolition of slavery.

Apparently, when California’s one-party government cannot find solutions to current existential crises, it turns to divisive issues that have little to do with the safety and well-being of its 40 million citizens.

California has the highest gas taxes in the nation, even as its ossified state highways remain clogged and dangerous. Why, then, does Sacramento kept pouring billions of dollars into the now-calcified high-speed-rail project?

When fires raged, killed dozens, polluted the air for months, consumed thousands of structures, and scorched 4 million acres of forest, the governor reacted by thundering about global warming. But Newsom was mostly mute about state and federal green policies that discouraged the removal of millions of dead and drought-stricken trees, which provided the kindling for the infernos.

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The Same Old, Same Old California Suicide

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Fall is almost here in California. So we know the annual script.

A few ostracized voices will again warn in vain of the need to remove millions of dead trees withered from the 2013–14 drought and subsequent infestations, clean up tinderbox hillsides, and beef up the fire services. They will all be ignored as right-wing nuts or worse.

Environmentalists will sneer that the new forestry sees fires as medicinal and natural, and global warming as inevitable because of “climate deniers.”

Late-summer fires will then consume our foothills, mountains, and forests. Long-dead trees from the drought will explode and send their pitch bombs to shower the forest with flames.

Lives, livelihoods, homes, and cabins will be lost — the lamentable collateral damage of our green future. Billions of dollars will go up in smoke. The billowing haze and ash will cloud and pollute the state for weeks if not months. Tens of thousands will be evacuated and their lives disrupted — and those are the lucky.

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California Apocalypto

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

So we can expect the following from our postmodern state government. There are the now-normal raging wildfires in the coastal and Sierra foothills. And they will be greeted as if they are not characteristic threats of 500 years of settled history, but leveraged as proof of global warming as well as the state’s abject inability to put them out.

When the inept state can’t extinguish them as it has in the past, it suggests that it’s more “natural” to let them burn. Jerry Brown’s team told us that the drought’s toll — millions of dead trees and tens of millions of acres of parched grass and calcified shrubs on hillsides — provided a natural source of food and shelter for bugs and birds and thus need not be grazed or thinned or harvested. And so the wages of drought could be in a sense good for an “ecosystem” that otherwise proved to be green napalm for the people of foothill communities.

We can expect power outages, because we don’t believe in releasing clean heat to make energy. Note that we do not mind people heating up in their 108-degree apartments without power. The planet is always more important than the non-privileged people who inhabit it.

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Victor Davis Hanson on Corona, California, and the Classical World

Yes, California Remains Mysterious — Despite the Weaponization of the Debate

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

California is touchy, and yet still remains confused, about incomplete data showing that the 40-million-person state, as of Sunday, April 12, reportedly had 23,777 cases of residents who have tested posted for the COVID-19 illness. The number of infected by the 12th includes 674 deaths, resulting in a fatality rate of about 17 deaths per million of population. That is among the lowest rates of the larger American states (Texas has 10 deaths per million), and lower than almost all major European countries, (about half of Germany’s 36 deaths per million).

No doubt there are lots of questionable data in all such metrics. As a large state California has not been especially impressive in a per capita sense in testing its population (about 200,000 tests so far). Few of course believe that the denominator of cases based on test results represent the real number of those who have been or are infected.

There is the now another old debate over exactly how the U.S. defines death by the virus versus death because of the contributing factors of the virus to existing medical issues. Certainly, the methodology of coronavirus modeling is quite different from that of, say, the flu. The denominator of flu cases is almost always a modeled approximation, not a misleadingly precise number taken from only those who go to their doctors or emergency rooms and test positive for an influenza strain. And the numerator of deaths from the flu may be calibrated somewhat more conservatively than those currently listed as deaths from the coronavirus.

Nonetheless, the state’s population is fairly certain. And for now, the number of deaths by the virus is the least controversial of many of these data, suggesting that deaths per million of population might be a useful comparative number.

As I wrote in a recent NRO piece, the state on the eve of the epidemic seemed especially vulnerable given the large influx of visitors from China on direct flights to its major airports all fall and early winter until the January 31 ban (and sometime after). It ranks rather low in state comparisons of hospital beds, physicians, and nurses per capita. It suffers high rates of poverty, wide prevalence of state assistance, and medical challenges such as widespread diabetes.

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Coronavirus: The California Herd

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The bluest state’s public officials have been warning for weeks that California will be overwhelmed, given federal-government unpreparedness and the purported inefficacy of the local, state, and federal governments.

California governor Gavin Newsom has assured his state that over half of the population — or, in his words, 56 percent — will soon be infected. That is, more than 25 million coronavirus cases are on the horizon, which, at the virus’s current fatality rate of 1–2 percent (the ratio of deaths to known positive cases), would mean that the state should anticipate 250,000–500,000 dead Californians in the near future. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti predicted that this week Los Angeles would be short of all sorts of medical supplies as the epidemic killed many hundreds, as is the case in New York City.

It’s been well over two months since the first certified coronavirus case in the United States, so one might expect to see early symptoms of the apocalypse recently forecast by Governor Newsom. Yet a number of California’s top doctors, epidemiologists, statisticians, and biophysicists — including Stanford’s John Ioannides, Michael Levitt, Eran Bendavid, and Jay Bhattacharya — have expressed some skepticism about the bleak models predicting that we are on the verge of a statewide or even national lethal pandemic of biblical proportions.

The skeptics may be right. As of this moment, California’s cumulative fatalities attributed to coronavirus are somewhere over 140 deaths, in a state of 40 million. That toll is a relatively confirmable numerator (though coronavirus is not always the sole cause of death), as opposed to the widely unreliable denominator of caseloads (currently about 6,300 in the state) that are judged to be only a fraction of the population that has been tested. The Iceland study, for example, suggests that half of those who are infected show no symptoms. Currently, even with fluctuating statistics, California is suffering roughly about one death to the virus for every 250,000–300,000 of its residents.

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California Is a Cruel Medieval State

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

One way of understanding California is simply to invert traditional morality. What for centuries would be considered selfish, callous, and greedy is now recalibrated as caring, empathetic, and generous. The current ethos of evaluating someone by his or her superficial appearance—gender or race—has returned to the premodern values of 19th-century California when race and gender calibrated careers. We don’t pay medieval priests for indulgences of our past and ongoing sin, but we do tweet out displays of our goodness as the penance price of acting amoral.

A paradox ensues that Californians both have a high, indeed smug, view of themselves and yet do a lot of damage to their fellow human beings. Their haughtiness is based largely on the reality that Silicon Valley, sandwiched between Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, became the birthplace of the global computer, internet, social media, and a high-tech revolution. For progressives who deprecate the capitalist lifestyle, having a lot of money still allows one to say one thing and live out the opposite.

The state’s multi-trillion-dollar companies have hired tens of thousands of seven-figure, mid-level executives and computer experts who assume that life in the California coastal corridor is a birthright paradise.

The resulting tax revenue bonanza to the state allows one-party-rule to rid California of the old bothersome Reagan-Deukmejian-Wilson working- and middle-classes by embracing not-in-my-backyard zoning, identity politics, anal-retentive regulations, steep tax rates, utopian green agendas, open borders, and decriminalization of things that used to be felony offenses.

Indeed, the bigger and wealthier California became, the more the rich sought to privatize their lives and to give up on public services, the more the middle classes left the state, the more the poor from Mexico and Latin America crossed the southern border illegally, the more its schools deteriorated, and the more its infrastructure ossified and became decrepit, from century-old power transmission towers to pot-holed and jammed highways.

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Victor Davis Hanson: The California endangered species no one can save – Will it ever return?

Victor Davis Hanson // Fox News

From 1967 to 2019, Republicans controlled the California governorship for 31 of 52 years. So why is there currently not a single statewide Republican officeholder? California also has a Democratic governor and Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature. Only seven of California’s 53 congressional seats are held by Republicans.

In 1994, then-Gov. Pete Wilson backed Proposition 187, which denied state social services to undocumented immigrants. The spin goes that it backfired, alienated the Hispanic community and thus marked the road to Republican perdition.

Not quite.

Prop 187 passed with 59 percent support. Wilson’s endorsement of the bill helped its passage, and his support of it aided his landslide 1994 reelection. Among minority voters, 52 percent of Asian and African American voters supported Proposition 187. Some 27 percent of Latinos voted for it.

Liberal groups immediately sued in federal court. Just three days after the measure passed, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Proposition 187 from going into effect. A month later, U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer issued a permanent injunction. Prop 187 never became law.

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What Happened to California Republicans?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

From 1967 to 2019, Republicans controlled the California governorship for 31 of 52 years. So why is there currently not a single statewide Republican officeholder? California also has a Democratic governor and Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature. Only seven of California’s 53 congressional seats are held by Republicans.

In 1994, then-governor Pete Wilson backed Proposition 187, which denied state social services to undocumented immigrants. The spin goes that it backfired and alienated the Hispanic community, and thus marked the road to Republican perdition.

Not quite.

Prop 187 passed with 59 percent support. Wilson’s endorsement of the bill helped its passage, and his support of it aided his landslide 1994 reelection. Among minority voters, 52 percent of Asian and African-American voters supported Proposition 187. Some 27 percent of Latinos voted for it.

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Is California Becoming Premodern

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

More than 2 million Californians were recently left without power after the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric — which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year — preemptively shut down transmission lines in fear that they might spark fires during periods of high autumn winds.

Consumers blame the state for not cleaning up dead trees and brush, along with the utility companies for not updating their ossified equipment. The power companies in turn fault the state for so over-regulating utilities that they had no resources to modernize their grids.

Californians know that having tens of thousands of homeless in their major cities is untenable. In some places, municipal sidewalks have become open sewers of garbage, used needles, rodents, and infectious diseases. Yet no one dares question progressive orthodoxy by enforcing drug and vagrancy laws, moving the homeless out of cities to suburban or rural facilities, or increasing the number of mental hospitals.

Taxpayers in California, whose basket of sales, gasoline, and income taxes is the highest in the nation, quietly seethe while immobile on antiquated freeways that are crowded, dangerous and under nonstop makeshift repair.

Gas prices of $4 to $5 a gallon  the result of high taxes, hyper-regulation, and green mandates — add insult to the injury of stalled commuters. Gas tax increases ostensibly intended to fund freeway expansion and repair continue to be diverted to the state’s failing high-speed rail project.

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