From an Angry Reader:

Hey Vic.

 You seem like a smart enough guy, but this silly piece was a waste of space, just a mashup of this-and-that criticisms with seemingly nothing coherent to tie it all together, other than your apparent involvement. I’m surprised you would expand so much time and energy on this kind of angry, seemingly unattributed rant. Maybe you wanted to feed your loyal base of readers? Do you suspect that they got a little erect fantasizing that this was all real?

 Yes, Selma (the “Raisin Capital Of The World”) is technically a part of California, and of course the reality of our fine state is different for those of us who live on the coast than for those who live in that swath of yes-it’s-also-California that lies east of I-5. You wrote so many words, and yet you have identified nothing new or particularly informative.

 Who was your source of your crime stats? PPIC? Did you refer to the attached? If so, context would be helpful. Like when PPIC noted that, “While historically low, California’s violent crime rate saw an uptick in 2015”. Of course this helps to paint a fuller picture than you did, but maybe that wasn’t your objective.

 The entire middle of your piece – ramblings about waste water, plastic bags, bike thieves, the DMV (?!?!) – perhaps your stories are true, and perhaps they were just fiction conjured up to substantiate your narrative. As you know, in today’s political environment where ‘fact’ is a fungible concept possibly devised by some amorphous liberal elite, a good story is often what the uninformed masses (e.g. Trump voters, possibly your friends and neighbors) really want.

 Lots of trash littering the roads in your area? Stop and pick it up. A little extra exercise is never a bad thing.

 And your comment about U-Haul is doubly incorrect: more trailers are coming in than out; and the rate was decidedly negative in 02/03, when so many were willing to leave this natural paradise. Can I assume that you will update your story and note the corrections?

 Grass Valley is hip? Do you really believe that? Maybe as compared to Selma (never been there, but I rarely drive the 99, unless I miss the turnoff as I’m driving up I-5 from LA), but it isn’t ‘hip’ to those of us who know better.

 Regarding your struggles sending and receiving actual terrestrial mail, I didn’t realize that people still practice that ancient art. I don’t relate to your experience, but it’s apparently something that is irksome to you folk. For that, I’m truly sorry.

 As for your closing quip – “Most of the most strident Californians who decry Trump’s various proposed walls insist on them for their own residences” – is this in reference to something specific (like facts, for example), or just something that sounded witty when you worked it up in your head?

 Kevin Saavedra

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Hey, Dear Angry, Sarcastic Reader Kev Saavedra,

Unfortunately your letter does not suggest that you are a smart guy at all, but rather apparently saw yourself in the essay and grew quite emotional that the mirror image captured an undeniable reality, one that apparently bothered you in its all-too-true accuracy. In fact, of all the angry letters I have received (thousands over the years, including the obscene, the death threat sort, the bombastic promises to “get” me, the monotonous obscenities, the self-referential, the demands of the angry to be heard, to meet, to talk, etc.) yours is the most smug and banal, reminding us all that ignorance and arrogance remain a sad combination.

The Romans had a phrase res ipsa loquitur; before it became a legal term under Roman law, it meant literally “the thing speaks for itself.” So does your own self-revealing and inadvertently self-confessional letter.

You write to challenge my portrait of a dysfunctional California, one of a premodern interior and a smug postmodern coastal strip, which acts in an elitist fashion and whose grandees are never subject to the consequences of their own ideologies.

And yet your very tone and sarcasm (e.g., “Raisin Capital of the World,” “technically in California,” “yes-it’s-also-California that lies east of I-5,” “Maybe as compared to Selma,” “Regarding your struggles sending and receiving actual terrestrial mail, I didn’t realize that people still practice that ancient art”) speaks for itself and proves my case: I suggested that a coastal elite is arrogant, out of touch, and never subject to the consequences of their abstract utopian dreams. You do not refute that portrait, but instead confirm that stereotype with your self-incriminating snarky “the uninformed masses” and “Trump voters, possibly your friends and neighbors.”

Kevin, is there some sort of central casting enclave where your sorts emerge to play out the roles of self-important coastal wannabes?

A theme of the Angry Reader section is that Leftists like yourself always express their angst through smears and obscenity. But how does bathroom talk like “a little erect” add to your argument?

I think in fact I describe a world that is a world away from enclaves on the California coast. When was the last time you discovered a corpse on your property or an occasional pit bull or Queensland heeler dumped in your alleyway with a rope around its neck, and its innards torn apart from dog fighting?

I refer to all sorts of statistics; the California Police Chiefs regularly weigh in on the crime spike we are currently experiencing; cf. their latest announcement on a dramatic rise. Do you really wish to cite statistics that 2015 saw a decrease in crime? Please do. What do you think the percentage of accidents is in LA County that are categorized as hit-and-run?

All my “stories” are not “stories” but banalities that everyone experiences in rural California between I-5 and the Sierra. I selected the mild examples from a few days of normality. If it is not someone dumping solvents in your vineyard, it is another person dumping his daily canteen wastewater. I get letters often from Californians to the effect “Ah that’s nothing, you should see the washing machine and frig dumped on my driveway.”

When you say “Lots of trash littering the roads in your area? Stop and pick it up. A little extra exercise is never a bad thing,” you reveal your idiocy. We all pick up trash daily, but sometimes we are talking tons of it—literally. See below the picture of what ended up in my cousin’s vine row, everything from solvents to broken fluorescent tubes. It took a huge flatbed several trips to dispose of what we could. The thousands of shards of broken glass are still in the soil.

How does one “stop and pick up” a dead cow or a huge rotten pit bull or fifty used diapers scattered throughout a vine row? Have your tried? Often the polluters simply act as unlawful garbage collectors from rural and illegal trailers and shacks, and then dump their day’s loads in orchards and vineyards—all quite profitable. You need to get a life and explore the world that you seem to think ends at I-5.

Have you gone to a U-haul trailer renter dealer lately? Obviously not. Try comparing one-way rates to Texas versus back to California, and your ignorance will become manifest if you are not laughed out of the dealership. Have you turned on your tap water to find it empty—given that the copper wire to the submersible pump was yanked out the night before?

The Wall Street Journal reported 100,000 fewer Californians came into our state than left last year—a staggering statistic given that mostly the arrivals are poorer and the departing are middle and upper class—so much that we are down to about 170,000 taxpayers (out of 40 million residents) who pay well over 50% all income tax revenue. Why would Californians leave paradise and seek out desolate landscapes if not for the fact that we are wrecking paradise and making the antithesis more inviting to millions?

As for as “terrestrial mail,” I supposed the coast has come up with a way to virtually mail a package? Yes, I still mail books and packages and to special friends still write out longhand personal letters, in what used to be called “cursive,” as well as mail tax estimate payments to the U.S. IRS by U.S. mail. Does Amazon now email shoes or fax tools or text chain saws; I’ve bought all three lately from Amazon, and for some reason they all were mailed to me via “terrestrial mail.” Please advise the readership how such deliveries avoid terrestrial mailing.

Yes, Grass Valley is a wonderful foothill community, but it is not Dunlap or Prather but something more attuned to Saratoga or St. Helena.

As for walls: do you wish specificity?

OK: Barack Obama has caricatured the need for a border wall: yet he is just adding one to his compound in D.C. that is a vintage mansion that never had such an enclosure. (See Hillary’s estate from Google Earth). Mayor Villaraigosa considered “the wall” superfluous; yet as mayor he was the first to build one around the official LA mayoral residence—to the consternation of his neighbors. Mark Zuckerberg, a loud opponent of strict border enforcement and walls on the border, is currently in three controversies: one, over objections he is walling off much of his property in Hawaii; two, complaints arise over his security details in San Francisco that seem to monopolize parking and reflect his sense of entitlement (and reliance on strict enforcement of what he thinks are necessary laws); and in Palo Alto he is still fighting the city for seeking to bypass city ordinances about lot/home size that discourage estates and apply to all others except apparently himself. The list is really endless. Perhaps spend an afternoon on the PCH in Malibu. Start at Pepperdine University and head west to scan the homes of the Hollywood and entertainment elite who are all adamantly against border fencing. Two realities arise: one, almost all the estates are enclosed or walled; two, the laborers who are working in their liberal gardens and kitchens are all from Mexico or Central America.

In conclusion, your letter has value; it reminds us that the coastal mindset is always more clueless and sanctimonious than most of us in the interior imagined. I enclose past photos of the sort of things that pile up around our homes and roads in the Central Valley along with my pump ruined with assorted damage—all for a gang banger’s $60 in copper wire.

Sincerely, Vic Hanson






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