Native Californian Victor Davis Hanson takes a look at the bizarre lifestyle (big money, crappy housing) and even stranger politics of his own state’s technological elite.
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 faÃ§ades 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. A visitor from Mars might look at their relatively tiny houses, frenzied go-getter lifestyle, and leased BMWs, and deem them no better off materially than middle-class state employees three hours away in supposedly dismal Merced, who earn 20 percent as much, but live in a home twice as large, with only 10 percent of the monthly mortgage and tax costs.
Given exorbitant taxes and housing prices, obviously it is not just the high salaries that draw so many to the San Francisco Bay Area. The â€œambianceâ€ of year-round temperate weather, the collective confidence rippling out from new technology, the spinoff from great universities like UC Berkeley and Stanford, and the hip culture of fine eating and entertainment all tend to convince Silicon Valley denizens that they are enviable even though they must work long hours to pay high taxes and to buy tiny and often old homes.
Silicon Valley liberal politics are equally paradoxical, reflect this quiet desperation, and mask hyper-self-interest, old-fashioned rat-race competition, and 21st-century suburban versions of keeping up with the Joneses. The latter may be green, support gay marriage, and oppose restrictions on abortion, but they still are the Joneses of old who define their success by showing off to neighbors what they have, whether high-performance cars or hyper-achieving kids.
In the South Bay counties, Democratic registration outnumbers Republican often 2 to 1. If liberals like Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi did not represent the Bay Area, others like them would have to be invented. Yet, most Northern California liberal politics are abstractions that apparently provide some sort of psychological compensation for otherwise living lives that are illiberal to the core.
Sanctimonious Animal Rights advocates stage a protest in a Bay Area Supermarket. Lena Dunham’s confreres may not live the most well-balanced and responsible sort of lives, but that certainly never inhibits them from assuming all kinds of baseless authority to tell the rest of us how to live.
Western Outdoor News: COMMISSION PRESIDENT CELEBRATES A SUCCESSFUL HUNT â€“ California Fish and Game commissioner Dan W. Richards travelled deep into the wicked terrain of Idahoâ€™s Flying B Ranch to fulfill a long-held goal. â€œIt was the most physically exhausting hunt of my lifetime. Eight hours of cold weather hiking in very difficult terrain. I told the guides I appreciated the hard work. They were unbelievably professional, first class all the way,â€ he said. Richards said he took the big cat over iron sights using a Winchester Centennial lever action .45 carbine. Asked about Californiaâ€™s mountain lion moratorium, Richards didnâ€™t hesitate. â€œIâ€™m glad itâ€™s legal in Idaho.â€
The LA Times reports that the president of the California Fish and Game Commission has been successfully hounded out of office by the usual West Coast crowd of left-wing extremists for the outrage of legally taking a trophy mountain lion on a hunt in Idaho. Residents of California have been regularly stalked, occasionally mauled, and even killed and eaten by mountain lions in unprecedented numbers of incidents since hunting lions in the Golden State was banned by whacko-supported initiative in 1990.
The California Fish and Game Commission was created a century ago (1909) by sportsmen to manage and regulate the state’s wildlife resources. Its operations and programs are funded by license fees and taxes on sporting goods paid exclusively by hunters and fishermen.
But, in California today, the tyranny of the fruits-and-nuts supporters of the democrat party is so far-reaching, their intolerance and bigotry concerning other people’s lifestyles and convictions so great, that the president of the state Fish and Game Commission has been hounded out office by a six-month-long campaign of vilification based on his being guilty of legally hunting!
Daniel W. Richards was replaced as president of the California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday, seven months after he sparked a storm of controversy by killing a mountain lion during a hunt in Idaho.
Although the kill was legal in Idaho, California has outlawed the hunting of mountain lions for decades. More than 40 state legislators called for Richards to resign in March, saying he showed poor judgment in killing the cougar when the practice is opposed by most Californians.
At the time, Richards defiantly refused to resign from the commission, saying he had done nothing improper. Even though the commission voted to elect Commissioner Jim Kellogg as president Wednesday, Richards plans to remain on the commission until his term expires in January. …
[Michael] Sutton, an executive with the Audubon Society [who was at the same time elected Vice President of the Fish and Game Commission], said later that the killing of the lion and Richardsâ€™ comments defending it were factors in his decision to vote to replace Richards.
“It was pretty clear that Commissioner Richards had lost the confidence of the majority of the commission,” Sutton said. “Most of us feel it is inappropriate to use the presidency as a bully pulpit for your views.”
The president of the State Fish & Game Commission is supposed, in California, to be out of line when he uses his office to speak in favor of hunting.
The presidency and control of the commission will be passing out of the hands of the sportsmen who pay for it and into the hands of Environmentalist granola-crunching ideologues eager to implement new policies based on junk science, Animal Rights theories, and hostility to firearms and the field sports.
The LA Weekly describes the politics of the situation:
[A]lthough Fish and Game commissioners haven’t explained specifically why they decided to vote Richards down from his throne today, it was clearly a symbolic move to kill the human who killed the beast.
“The president of the commission should be someone who has the confidence of a majority of his peers,” Mike Sutton, vice president, told the Mercury News leading up to the vote.
Richards was playing the feisty right-wing ideologue at the beginning of this battle, but he has since became strangely resigned to his ousting.
He looked on as the commission changed its own internal election policy in May so that they might replace Richards. And today, a Fish and Game Commission spokesman tells us that Richards himself took part in the unanimous vote to elect Commissioner Jim Kellogg as his replacement.
The ex-prez, appointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (surprise, surprise) in 2008, will remain on the commission until his term ends in six months. But from there, he tells the Mercury News: “I think there is a zero chance that Jerry Brown will appoint me, so it doesn’t matter what I think. He has his hands full with shoplifters and other thugs in the Legislature.”
Pretty morbid, right? Let this be a lesson for all trigger-happy Republicans who dare to dream of swimming against California’s blue tide: We’ll eat your grin for dinner.
California is a kind of laboratory in which the bacilli of modernity germinate and grow at a preternatural pace, giving the rest of us a glimpse of our own dystopian future.
Norman Rogers takes a shot at describing life in the particularly lush Petri dish that is Northern California’s Marin County.
The population of Marin is overwhelmingly white, Democrat, and financially well-off. In 2008, nearly 80% of the vote went to Obama. The main minority consists of Spanish-speaking immigrants who prosper by providing services such as gardening, house-cleaning, and child care. The going rate for babysitting is close to $20 an hour. Although official statistics say that the Hispanics have low incomes, those statistics are based on the assumption that landscapers and babysitters, often in the country illegally, carefully report their earnings to the government. …
Marin is a refuge for upper-income people. It is a place where they can escape the crime and congestion of San Francisco or Oakland. Above all, it is a place where their children can escape the generously funded but abysmal public schools of San Francisco and other urban cities.
In Marin there are shared values, and it is expected that the residents will toe the line. One of those shared values is a kind of make-believe tolerance. The reality is that the inhabitants of Marin are just as conformist and narrow-minded as are the inhabitants of flyover small towns ridiculed by Hollywood or Ivy-League sociology professors. Deviations from expectations will usually generate silent disapproval rather than verbal correction. However, if you depart too far from expectations, you may experience vigorous disapproval. …
Charles Murray, in his new book Coming Apart, points out that a new social class has been created due to the greater economic value of brains, a consequence of the impact of new technology. These workers tend to be in the high-tech industry or the financial industry. They have a privileged position and are isolated from the rest of America. They tend to marry each other, and they cluster in certain places like Marin County. Because their skills are in great demand, they are unacquainted with economic hardship. The idea that, for example, environmental goals have to be compromised for economic goals is foreign to them because such difficult compromises are not something they have had to face in their personal lives. Since they have led such charmed lives, they see no reason why everyone can’t have similar advantages. So Obama’s message that he is going to fix everything resonates with them. Many members of this new class went to universities where doctrinaire and anti-capitalist ideology is rampant. Thus, they lack historical perspective, or even basic historical knowledge.
Smart people lacking a solid education are susceptible to crackpot ideas, be they global warming, the evil of plastic bags, radio waves making people sick, or Steve Jobs’ theory of healing cancer with nutrition.
The case was prompted by an incident just before Christmas in 2007 in which the students went to deliver a Christmas gift to a professor.
“Kandy found the instructor alone in her shared office,” according to Pacific Justice. “When the instructor indicated she was ill, Kandy offered to pray for her. The instructor bowed her head, and Kandy began to pray â€“ until she was interrupted by another faculty member, Derek Piazza, who walked in and said, ‘You can’t be doing that in here!’ Kandy quickly left and rejoined her friend and fellow student, Ojoma Omaga. Piazza followed Kandy outside and repeated his rebuke.”
While the students reported they were surprised by the teacher’s aggressive behavior, they were stunned when, days later, they both got letters notifying them of the college’s retroactive “intent to suspend” plan.
The letters, however, provided no facts on which to make such a threat, listing only vague references to “disruptive or insulting behavior” and “willful disobedience.”
School officials informed them during administrative hearings that Kyriacou was being disciplined for praying for the sick teacher. Omaga was not part of the prayer, and her offense apparently was that she was with Kyriacou a short time later.
The lawsuit was filed when the college refused to rescind the letters, leaving the students in peril of suspension or expulsion for any other offense, such as praying on campus. The decision from U.S. District Judge Susan Illston turned back college attempts to deny the students a hearing on their complaint.
“To this day, the College of Alameda has never provided a real explanation for its threats to expel these students,” said Steven N.H. Wood of the Walnut Creek firm of Bergquist, Wood and Anderson, which is working with Pacific Justice on the case.
California’s San Francisco Bay area is notorious for both its inhabitants’ lack of enthusiasm for conventional religion and their hair-trigger political sensitivities.
Zomblog was consequently therefore more than a little surprised at the lack of protests, condemnations, or even public discussion of a new Islamic advertising campaign, funded by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the North American branch of Jamaat-e-Islami, the fundamentalist Pakistani political party.
“No enemies to the left” seems to apply even to Islamic fundamentalism, and even in the Castro, despite the obvious problems with regarding organizations dedicated to the imposition of sharia law as being on the left.
For the first time ever, residential fires are illegal under a new law, passed in July, that bans home burning on winter season Spare the Air days.
The first such ban took effect at noon. Seventy inspectors from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District planned to spend the day and evening patrolling residential neighborhoods, looking for telltale chimney wisps.
Violators will get warnings by mail. Repeat offenders face fines of as much as $2,000.
The fireplace police say they are determined to keep law and order in the living room.
“We’re serious,” said district spokeswoman Kristine Roselius. “This is a major health threat. The weather conditions are such that smoke is trapped closer to the ground and anyone with respiratory problems will have a hard time breathing.”
With 1.4 million fireplaces in the Bay Area, Roselius said the district is hoping for voluntary compliance. It notes that wood burning produces about one-third of the particulate pollution on a typical winter night.
The district predicts as many as 20 Spare the Air days during the winter season, which air quality officials define as Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. That means it could be illegal to fire up the fireplace as often as one day in every six.
Similar bans have been in place in the San Joaquin Valley and in the Pacific Northwest for several years.
After the initial warning, repeat violators will face fines, some as high as four figures. In other no-burn districts, offenders have been permitted to do penance by attending “smoke school,” similar to traffic school. But the Bay Area is a no-school zone.
Pursued by screaming homosexuals, San Francisco Police last Friday had to escort a Christian group, which regularly prays and sings hymns at the corner of Castro and 18th for the conversion of homosexuals, out of the district.
KTVU disingenuously portrays the police as “keeping the peace” between two groups of demonstrators. One group numbering about ten or twelve confronted by a hostile and threatening crowd large enough to fill the street for more than a block isn’t my idea of equivalence.
Stephen Moore, in the Wall Street Journal, describes how the environmental movement has come to claim the right to regulate, tax, and control every aspect of every American’s life.
Earlier this month, while visiting a friend in San Francisco, I almost spilled my latte in my lap when I read this on the front page of the Chronicle: “S.F. Mayor Proposes Fines for Unsorted Trash.”
The story began: “Garbage collectors would inspect San Francisco residents’ trash to make sure pizza crusts aren’t mixed in with chip bags or wine bottles under a proposal by Mayor Gavin Newsom.” Isn’t that what homeless people do — rooting around in other people’s garbage? If Bay Area residents are caught failing to separate the plastic bottles from the newspapers, according to the newspaper story, they could face fines of up to $1,000.
“We don’t want to fine people,” the mayor is quoted saying reassuringly. “We want to change behavior.” Translation: Do exactly as we say and no one gets hurt. And San Francisco considers itself one of the most progressive cities in America!
When I was a kid, the environmentalists promoted their clean skies and antilittering agenda mostly through moral suasion — with pictures of an Indian under a smoggy sky with a tear rolling down his cheek or the owl who chanted on TV: “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” Such messages made you feel guilty about callously throwing a candy bar wrapper on the ground or feeling indifferent toward car fumes. Back then I was a devoted recycler, but not for sentimental reasons. It was the financial incentive: You got up to a nickel for every bottle you brought back to the grocery store. So I would scavenge the landscape to find unredeemed bottles to buy baseball cards and candy.
But now the the environmental movement has morphed into the most authoritarian philosophy in America.
Members of the anti-war group Code Pink gathered Friday with a cauldron of flowers outside a controversial Marine Corps Recruiting Center in Berkeley, Calif., to use witchcraft to rally against the Iraq war.
Code Pink members unfurled a pink banner reading “Troops Home Now” and waved signs as they began the protest, which they promised would include incantations and pointy hats for a “witches, crones and sirens” day.
“Women are coming to cast spells and do rituals and to impart wisdom to figure out how we’re going to end war,” Zanne Sam Joi of Bay Area Code Pink told FOXNews.com.
Code Pink‘s announcement promised that Friday, May 9th: Witches, Crones, Sirens: perform rituals of leaving, cast a spell of peace and love over the station, rendering nil the recruiting of our youth to become fodder for this occupation of Iraq.