No place on the planet is as beautiful and as naturally rich as California. And few places have become as absurd.
Currently, three California state senators are either under felony indictment or already have been
State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) made a political career out of demanding harsher state gun-control laws. Now he is facing several felony charges for attempting to facilitate gun-running. One count alleges that Lee sought to provide banned heavy automatic weapons to Philippines-based Islamic terrorist groups.
State Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), who had succeeded one brother, Thomas, in the state Assembly and was succeeded by another brother, Charles, now faces felony charges of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering and falsification of tax returns.
State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood), originally entered politics as a champion of social justice. Not long ago, the Democratic leaders of theCalifornia Senate in secretive fashion paid $120,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual-harassment suit against Wright. But this time around, not even his fellow senators could save Wright, who was convicted earlier this year on eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud.
What is the common denominator with all three California senators — aside from the fact that they are still receiving their salaries?
One, they are abject hypocrites who campaigned against old-boy insider influence-peddling so they could get elected to indulge in it.
President Obama came to California. He saw a drought. He announced the cause to be global warming and left. How accurate was the president’s diagnosis of harmful, man-made climate change in stopping rain and snow? First, a bit of a reminder about what the president has called “settled science.”
Until 1982 “settled science” decreed that stomach ulcers were a result of bad diet, too much gastric acid, or undue stress. Then Australian scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren shocked the medical community with an unlikely thesis: The real culprit for peptic ulcers more often was infection by the Gram-negative bacterium H. pylori, a common but sometimes dangerous agent in the gut that could be treated with antibiotics. The practice of gastroenterology was turned upside down. Continue reading “Obama’s Pseudo-Scientism”→
The new millennium has also given us a new American profile — the hip richeral. Richerals are, of course, well off. But they are even more cool and liberal. The two facts are not so much incompatible, as complementary.
For some, big money allows three things: wealth’s cocoon enables you to dream safely about utopia rather than being laid off and broke; it exempts you from worrying much about the high taxesand regulations needed to pay for your redistributionist fantasy agendas; and it gives you the influence, capital, and opportunities to flee from the messy ramifications of your own ideology.
The other side of being liberal is just as important for the richerals. Guilt is a primordial human emotion — usually in civilization’s history assuaged by religion and the accompanying fear of damnation in the hereafter. But richerals are more likely than average to be either agnostic or atheistic. Yet that fact does not mean that they feel any less guilty about unfairness and inequality. So they do have deities of sorts — a hip Continue reading “Meet the Richerals”→
Just a handful of legislative acts might still save California. Here are 12 brief examples:
1. The Hetch Hetchy Smelt and Salmon Act
This so-called “Skip a Shower, Save a Smelt Act” would transfer control of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir releases from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The legislation would dismantle sections of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct west beyond the San Joaquin River, stop the present unnatural diversion of fresh water to San Francisco, and allow instead Hetch Hetchy fresh water to resume natural flows to the San Joaquin River — thus allowing the San Joaquin River and Tuolumne River to recover their salmon populations.
California is in the third year of a drought, but the problem isn’t a lack of water. The snowfall in the Sierra provides enough to help us ride out the years of drought. All we need to do is store it.
But California hasn’t built a new dam in 35 years. Worse than that, every year we dump 1.6 million acre-feet of water––about enough to serve 3.2 million families for a year––into the Pacific Ocean in order to protect an allegedly “endangered” 3-inch bait-fish called the Delta smelt. California’s $45 billion agricultural industry, a global breadbasket that produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, is set to take a huge hit, with hundreds of thousands of acres left fallow and the San Joaquin Valley region’s already sky-high 17% unemployment destined to increase.
Meanwhile President Obama continues to dither on approving the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. The latest in a string of environmental impact studies since 2008 has determined that the pipeline poses no threat to the environment. Indeed, it will lessen spills and pollution by transporting oil by pipeline rather than by more risky trains. Nor will abandoning the pipeline reduce carbon emissions, as the 830,000 barrels of oil will simply go someplace else, most likely China, the world’s leader in carbon emissions. What will happen is up to 40 thousand American jobs will not be created, and dependence on imported oil from hostile countries like Venezuela will not be reduced. Meanwhile because the pipeline crosses our border with Canada, Secretary of Continue reading “The Costs of the Environmentalism Cult”→
Despite recent sporadic rain, California is still in the worst extended drought in its brief recorded history. If more storms do not arrive, the old canard that California could withstand two droughts — but never
three — will be tested for the first time in memory.
There is little snow in the state’s towering Sierra Nevada mountains, the source of much of the surface water that supplies the state’s populated center and south. The vast Central Valley aquifer is being tapped as never before, as farms and municipalities deepen wells and boost pump size. Too many straws are now competing to suck out the last drops at the bottom of the collective glass.
The vast 4-million-acre farming belt along the west side of the Central Valley is slowly drying up. Unlike valley agriculture to the east that still has a viable aquifer, these huge farms depend entirely on surface water deliveries from the distant and usually wet northern part of the state. So if the drought continues, billions of dollars of Westside orchards and vineyards will die, row cropland will lay fallow, and farm-supported small towns will likewise dry up. Continue reading “A Tale Of Two Droughts”→
On almost every contemporary issue there is a populist, middle-class argument to be made against elite liberalism. Yet the Republican class in charge seems ossified in its inability to make a counter-argument for the middle class. Never has the liberal agenda been so vulnerable, a logical
development when bad ideas have had five years to prove themselves as very bad ideas. When Obama is all done he will have taken high presidential popularity ratings, a supermajority in the Senate, and a large margin in the House and lost them all — if only the Republicans can make an adequate case that they represent the middle class, the Democrats only the very wealthy and the very dependent.
We know the entry of 11 million illegal aliens depresses the wages of the poor and entry-level working class. Illegal immigration overwhelms state services, and that too hurts citizens most in need of help. The lower-middle classes do not have low-paid nannies, gardeners, and house-keepers. We know the illegal influx pleases La Raza activists, most of them second- and third-generation elites in government, politics, journalism and education, who without illegal immigration would not have much of a moral or legal justification for the continuance of affirmative action and identity politics, given that statistically Latinos would soon follow the pattern of other assimilated groups. (For example, is there affirmative action for Armenian immigrants? An Italian Razza movement? Punjabi Studies?) Continue reading “A Beat-up, Exhausted, and Terrified Republican Establishment”→
I woke up one morning not long ago, and noticed that the world that I was born into no longer exists. It was as if I had once lived in Republican Italy, took a nap, and awoke to the Roman Empire, AD 200.
Let me explain. All the farms in these environs that I grew up with — 40-80 acres with a farmhouse and family — have simply vanished.
Where did they go?
I suppose when I meet someone with 5,000 acres that I am supposed to think that spread represents the old, and now recombined, 100 50-acre farms under new management. Yet where did the 100 farm households go — and what replaced them?
When I ride around the rural landscape, I see the old skeletons of farmhouses; but they are mostly rented to farm workers. Are the social circumstances of renting a house and working on a 5,000-acre farm different from 100 agrarian households doing it — in terms of local PTA, Little League, the regional hospital board, or city council?
I leave it to you to decide. I can attest only that in terms of agricultural productivity, today’s 8,000-acre almond operations look far more efficient, up to date, and savvy than what 100 80-acre almond orchards used to seem like: old barn, clunky tractors in the yard, kids out in the orchard not up on the latest scientific approaches to fertilization, mom doing the books in a way the computerized corporate whiz kid would laugh at, tight-fisted gramps hobbling about looking for loose tire-popping nails in the alleyway while giving sermons about avoiding a mortgage. Continue reading “The World of the Coliseum”→
Strip away the veneer of Silicon Valley, and it is mostly a paradox. Almost nothing is what it is professed to be. Ostensibly, communities like Menlo Park and Palo Alto are elite enclaves, where power couples can easily make $300,000 to $700,000 a year as mid-level dot.com managers.
But often these 1 percenter communities are façades of sorts. Beneath veneers of high-end living, there are lives of quiet 1-percent desperation. With new federal and California tax hikes, aggregate income-tax rates on dot.commers can easily exceed 50 percent of their gross income. And hip California 1 percenters do not enjoy superb roads and schools or a low-crime state in exchange for forking over half their income.
Housing gobbles much of the rest of their pay. A 1,300-square-foot cottage in Mountain View or Atherton can easily sell for $1.5 million, leaving the owners paying $5,000 to $6,000 on their mortgage and another $1,500 to $2,000 in property taxes each month. Add in the de rigueur Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus and the private-school tuition, and the apparently affluent turn out to have not all that much disposable income. Continue reading “The Bay Area’s 1 Percenters”→