No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘California

Total Recall – or why Trump arose

With the recently concluded recall election in California that resulted in a thumping win by Governor Newsom, I was intrigued to find an old book review that covered the aftermath of a previous recall election in the state in 2003 against Governor Gray Davis.

That election resulted in a loss for Davis and more importantly a win for the former actor and Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would go on to win election in his own right and was Governor for two consecutive terms (eight years), the maximum mandated. In 2012 he published a memoir of that time, Total Recall (the title of one his hit movies). In the same way, he titled himself The Governator, after his most famous movie role as The Terminator.

I’m less interested in the review itself or the book than some of the tidbits that fell out of it (and some that did not) regarding his ideology as a Californian Republican governing in a state that’s about as Deep Blue as it gets. Here’s just three, the first two coming courtesy of his then wife, Maria Schriver: she was Democrat royalty (Kennedy family) and the force behind the Governator’s picks for key offices.

  • Given the awful condition of California’s finances at the time people expected somebody with a record of budget reform. Instead, thanks to Shriver, they got Ana Matosantos, a Puerto Rican with an undergraduate degree in political science and feminist studies. She easily moved on to become as chief budget advisor in Democrat Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. The state bled billions for years and the improvements were done by Brown himself. Naturally she failed up and is now Newsom’s “energy czar”.
  • Another was appeal court judge Tani Cantil-Sakauye, billed as a “moderate Republican.” In 2015, an illegal alien gunned down Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier, but Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was untroubled by Democratic sanctuary policies that protected the shooter. In 2017 he charged that ICE agents were “stalking” criminal illegals in courthouses.
  • Even without his wife, Schwarznegger called Fabian Núñez, a very Left former state assembly speaker, “one of my closest allies among the Democrats.” The pair worked together on AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which the governor claimed would be good for the economy. It wasn’t. What’s not in the book is that, in 2008, Núñez’s son Esteban was involved in the fatal stabbing and sentenced to 16 years in prison for manslaughter. How he avoided murder and life I don’t know but Ms Núñez tried to get that sentence reduced further. A judge refused. During his final hours as governor, Schwarzenegger commuted Esteban’s sentence to seven years. He did not notify the victim’s family and Judge Lloyd Connelly called the action “distasteful and repugnant.”

So there you have it. After the disastrous Gray Davis, voters expected a true reformer. Instead they got a climate change fanatic, a collaborator with corrupt Democrat politicians, and a coddler of violent criminals. In short, Arnold Schwarzenegger governed not just as a Democrat, but a quite Leftist one. About the best you can say of him was that he vetoed some awful bills.

You add in people like Mitt Romney, John McCain and Arlen Specter (a Senator who would switch to the Democrats after years of being touted as a solid Republican), plus the complete failure of GW Bush to rein in the size of government (hell, he pumped it up), his Liberal Internationalism that saw wasted nation-building war efforts, plus the obvious, post-political, cosiness of them all with their Democrat “opponents” and one can see why Trump won the GOP nomination in 2016, then the Presidency, and maintains a lot of influence in the GOP to this day.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 8, 2021 at 11:02 pm

Posted in US Politics, USA

Tagged with , ,

Xinese Xi Snot Graphing

It’s been a while since I looked at the progress around the world against Xi Jinping’s bastard child experiment.

Here’s a comparison I’ve not seen before: Israel vs Sweden.

South Korea with yet another demonstration of how masks don’t work against this virus and never have.

Comparisons within the USA.

Here’s a fun one. Try to guess which state out of these two had the tougher policies on social distancing, lockdowns, masks, vaccinations and other policies over the past eighteen months.

Getting away from all those messy continental borders that can’t be completely sealed, here’s the good old island state of Hawaii again, from just over a month ago.

Obviously all these measures need to be tested to destruction.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 19, 2021 at 10:00 am

“Unforeseen” Consequences

The foremost concern of environmentalists is, of course, the health and well being of the environment.

It’s in their name and all.

So it’s always funny and sad when environmentalists do stuff that blows up in their faces. There are countless examples but in terms of large scale screwups Germany’s decision to shut down its nuclear power stations while also trying to switch the system to wind power is probably the winner. Some €500 million over less than twenty years and all they got was an unreliable network, power prices that have more than tripled, a lot of coal still being burned, plus constantly falling short of their GHG reduction targets. On that last it should be noted that the 2020 Chinese Xi Snot lockdowns and restrictions were a huge help, but that’s not going to be true of 2021 and beyond.

That chart is from 2017 but it’s 2020 forecast of 45 cents per kilowatt hour is not far off where it is right now.

But the latest news from another group of wind farm fanatics, California, is what is really delicious.

As more renewable power has crowded the state’s power grid with traditional power sources switched off, the grid has become more unstable and also unable to meet electrical demand even when its up and running. This has resulted in increasingly frequent summertime calls for people to lay off using power in the crucial 4-9pm slot.

Faced with this, companies and even individuals have begun to turn to, of all things, diesel generators. In fact the state itself has 2,773 stationary and mobile generators in its inventory. Now you would think that the uncompromising Eco-Stasi authorities would crack down on that quick smart. But of course they know if they forced people into that corner even the Liberal Luvvies would revolt. So instead, they’re allowing this to expand and continue. In fact, they’re even helping all this fossil fuel burning along, California wants air pollution rules suspended:

The state’s main grid operator wants the U.S. Department of Energy to suspend air-pollution rules for some natural gas-burning power plants in case their output is needed “to meet demand in the face of extremely challenging conditions including extreme heat waves, multiple fires, high winds, and various grid issues,” according to a filing. The last time California received a waiver of such length and breadth was 21 years ago during the Western Energy Crisis.

Genius. And here you were thinking that the following was just a joke.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Flyover State

The term “Flyover country” was invented by US Progressives some years ago as a pejorative smear against all the rubes living in the USA between the East and West Coasts, over whom the Advanced Thought Leaders jet back and forth on their way to making the world a better place.

Other such descriptors are “Jesusland” and my personal favourite, “The Land Of The Low Sloping Foreheads”.

😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅 Oh those English graduates. Such wit.

Incidentally the reporter who coined that term died of cancer and heart disease just a while later after collapsing in the newsroom of The New York Times, which seems very appropriate when you consider that this attitude had been around long before, as this famous 1976 New Yorker cover shows.

But what else could you expect from a magazine for whom this cover became its logo.

“Flyover Country” has stuck and even rebounded on them a bit in recent years, particularly after the mid-term elections of 2010 that booted Nancy from power after just four years when she thought had twenty, and of course in 2016.

I say rebound both in terms of the shock the Coastal Progressives suffered at discovering those people still mattered and had power, plus the inland yokels grabbing the term and starting to wear it with pride.

However, the one thing never considered was that it might be applied by any Democrat Progressive to their own State. Yet that is exactly what the idiot Governor of California did just the other day in a staggeringly brain-dead admission he made while being interviewed by The Atlantic magazine for their article on his recall election, What California’s Recall Election Says About America:

Still, he had to get moving—he was driving to Los Angeles, not flying, so that he could make stops along the way and talk with voters on his own. Flying over California his whole life, he had “never fully absorbed and appreciated it,” he told me. He’s hoping that the state cares enough to appreciate him, at least a little longer.

Incredible, and this guy is sold as “smart”. This is what happens to disconnected politicians; they don’t even realise how disconnected they’ve become from the voters. This guy was born and raised in the state and has never even driven between San Francisco and Los Angeles? That’s flyover country to him. No wonder the I-5 and CA-99 are in such shocking states of disrepair; the local pols don’t drive them, don’t know and don’t care.

Governor Hair Gel rose in politics because he was a Democrat in a One Party state and because he was mates with some of the richest families in San Francisco (Nancy Pelosi’s being one of them).

At the RedState news site there’s also an excellent summary of both The Atlantic article and a similar one from The Economist (“The Trials of Gavin Newsom“), where both are stripped apart for being nothing more than perfect reflections of Newsom and his class. On The Economist article:

It is interesting how these lefty writers always view it from their filter, rather than from the actual filter of the people who have spoken out in favor of recall. Did this writer bother to watch that heart wrenching video of Angela Marsden of Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill? Did this writer bother to interview any of the mothers whose children were shut out of school for almost two years? How about the mothers who had to quit their work to manage their children on Zoom?

I loved the following Tweet response to that news of Newsom’s fly-not-drive:

If you’ve wondered why Trump made serious gains with Hispanic and Black voters across the USA, that Tweet sums it up.

I subscribed to The Economist in the 1990’s because detailed news of the world can be hard to come by in the US, but clearly it’s gone well to the Left and shallow. RedState notes a reference to the awful “Recall” actions as “They should try to fix the quirk”, and points out that:

It is a 110-year old provision baked into the California constitutional republic. The fact that it has only succeeded once in 110 years shows the solidity behind its intent. The persistent dismissiveness of it shows that the Left has no issue with the Recall law, as much as they have issue that it has been successfully used against them.

Something the useless Economist writer should have known. The Atlantic writer gets the same treatment for ignoring the very real and genuine factors driving Newsom down in the polls:

However, this writer prefers to fixate on what he knows: Trumpism, COVID hysteria, and why Republicans are so stupid. He touts an unspecified poll about how people blame the unvaccinated for this latest surge (so original). When, according to Hair Gel, 80 percent of California is fully vaccinated. The major population centers (read Los Angeles, Ventura, and Alameda counties) are still restricted and masked to the hilt—so how is it possible that the unvaccinated are causing this surge? But, the Left loves their narratives, and they are not going to let this one go. Always in need of a bogeyman instead of actually looking at their failed policies.

It’s that last part that is the reason I’ve paid so little attention to this election to date. Even if Newsom is recalled and replaced by a Republican, the failed Democrat policies will remain in place because the Democrats have overwhelming control of the State House and Senate. For almost twenty years now they’ve been able to pass whatever laws they wanted and override the Governor’s veto. It’s why Arrrnuullld (RHINO) was turned into a pussy so quickly when he became Governor after Gray Davis’s recall – although judging from comments in recent years, there was not much difference between him and the Democrats anyway.

It’s possible that Larry Elder, a Black Conservative talk radio star, might actually win the election. Certainly he’s viewed as the Number One Danger by the LA Times, who went so batshit insane that they produced this headline, complete with a pure Post-Modernist argument explaining why.

As to the election itself, it seems to be moving along the lines of a Preference Cascade. People who six months ago did not consider recalling Newsom and probably thought the petition to do so a waste of time, have seemingly come to think that now they have the opportunity they may as well give him the boot. The polls have shifted dramatically from “will never happen” to “almost certainly will happen” – hence all these worried Lefty reports on Newsom and his sudden transition from dismissiveness to flop-sweat efforts at currying favour with the voters.

Either way, for the rest of the USA the following warning will still apply.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 30, 2021 at 2:30 pm

“Magic Stick”

The craziness just isn’t stopping in the culture wars of the USA (and likely here in NZ before you know it).

This time it’s a woman at an upscale LA gym called Wi Spa, who decided to go full “Karen” on the admin staff at the front desk.

Her complaint was not that of some whiny-ass White Woman. No, you can tell by the accent that it’s a Black Lady and she’s pissed big time about … well, a dude deciding to flop himself down in the women’s section with all his junk hanging out because he’s a “trans-women” and that’s the law, as the staff try to explain to her.

That last guy at one point just makes a complete idiot out of himself by indicating that a man would not necessarily have an issue with a woman who identified as a man coming into the men’s locker room and showing their female lady parts, insinuating that because of that women shouldn’t have a problem with men who identify as women flashing their genitalia in the locker room.

Fuck I hate mansplainers (click the link: you know you want to). Judge Holden material.

It’s 2021 and there are now people arguing in a court of law that women should be totally comfortable and not unsafe at all in situations like this, that it should be viewed as perfectly normal.

Raises all sorts of interesting intersectionality questions though. In the video you can see another woman who’s demanding a refund. She’s Asian. Who are the biggest bigotted H8r’s here?

Apparently there have also been moderately violent protests outside this spa in the wake of this. You can guess who has been violent but I’ll give you a hint: it’s the people who know they can get away with it because they’re the best victims. Naturally Antifa are involved, but whether they punched any Black Nazi’s in the face I don’t know. They did apparently scream about “transphobes” but even in these enlightened times that’s tough to do when you’re on the side of defending an adult man exposing his dick to little girls, as one of the woman in that article details:

This woman describing the incident from last year explains in great detail how a naked person with a beard and a penis came where the woman, her six-year-old daughter, and older Korean ladies were — all naked — at the women’s hot tub. The woman explained she was a registered Democrat and it wasn’t about a person being trans but about the exposure to her little daughter and the other women.

The “registered Democrat” is a nice touch but it won’t work. Be quiet and sit down, bigot.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 7, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Less than 100 rounds of quick hits

I’ve been very mean to the Golden State over the last few months as I looked at their failures on poverty, water, fire, and energy in my California Screaming series.

But the Peoples Democratic Republic of California deserves everything it’s getting for allowing itself to become a One Party state ruled by the Democrats, who have gradually imposed more and more of their dingbat ideas on a willing population.

Today’s news from the state is back on the energy front, With Its Power Grid Under Pressure, California Asks Residents to Avoid Charging Electric Vehicles:

Amid a West Coast heat wave that includes triple-digit temperatures, California’s power grid operators have called on residents to not use as much electricity so as to put less strain on the state’s beleaguered grid.

This is entirely predictable and makes the following visual joke more a reality every day.

Also, that whole argument about electric cars being cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, may start coming under some pressure in California if the other aspect of combatting AGW, with “renewable energy” continues to push prices up at these rates, Blackouts Loom in California as Electricity Prices Are ‘Absolutely Exploding’:

Two inexorable energy trends are underway in California: soaring electricity prices and ever-worsening reliability—and both trends bode ill for the state’s low- and middle-income consumers.

Last week, the state’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator, issued a “flex alert” that asked the state’s consumers to reduce their power use “to reduce stress on the grid and avoid power outages.” The California Independent System Operator’s warning of impending electricity shortages heralds another blackout-riddled summer at the same time California’s electricity prices are skyrocketing.

In 2020, California’s electricity prices jumped by 7.5%, making it the biggest price increase of any state in the country last year and nearly seven times the increase that was seen in the United States as a whole.

That’s on top of the already high prices they pay:

It could be worse. Imagine being stuck in the middle of this situation with an electric vehicle that’s running low on charge, courtesy of Not The Bee (the “Not Satirical” companion site to the Babylon Bee):

Why yes, that is a 100-round magazine on that machine gun, and yes, those are completely illegal in the USA and have been since the Firearms Act of 1934. One aspect of “gun control” rarely discussed in the USA by the Democrat party is the actual enforcement of the laws as they stand now.

Fortunately the young guy wielding it is about as good at handling an automatic weapon as all those jihadis you see waving AK-47’s over their heads as they hide behind brick walls. The mag apparently fell out and he was forced to resort to a semi-automatic pistol, as you can tell from the change in the shot sounds.

That was in the Peoples Republic of Chicago, specifically the South Side near the bullet-riddled neighbourhood of Englewood, and while Northsiders like me used to just shrug our shoulders at this stuff there are now shootouts occurring on the tony North Lake Shore Drive in the NorthWest of the city.

I’m sure Mayor Lightfoot will be right on it with more pressure on the White Supremacists who rule the place, especially since it’s starting to look like South Africa.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

And it seems another Deep Blue stronghold is getting in on the action.

The Marine, Samuel Poulin, was touring the city with his family when a stray bullet ricocheted and hit him. He’s expected to make a full recovery, and his relatives sound like they’re an interesting group:

A relative of the victim — who was visiting the Big Apple from upstate Northville for a baptism — pulled the slug out and gave it to police, according to the sources.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his capitulations to the Far Left, including defunding cops, have produced a Times Square where a US Marine faces more danger than in combat.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 29, 2021 at 8:29 am

Money. Wall. Pissing against.

You may have thought that the current NZ Labour government was a shocker when it came to spending vast sums of money to no good effect, but as is often the case now, the US state of California leads the way.

As if the high taxes, poverty, filth, crime, killer fires, water problems and energy problems were not bad enough it appears that they can’t even run a basic book keeping process.

This is Betty Yee, and she is the “State Controller” of California, which means that she is the person responsible for:

  • “Accountability and disbursement of the state’s financial resources.”
  • “Auditing all funds disbursed by the state and all claims presented for payments to [her office.]”

Given that California is the world’s fifth largest economy, that is a hell of a lot of spending responsibility. Her office issued 49 million checks in payments worth $320 billion in 2018.

Being in a public office she’s also accountable directly to the public in terms of more than just votes, being required to produce information about all this spending, subject to the usual Official Information Requests that we see across the Western world. There’s always scrapping between such offices and the people demanding the information as to timely releases and so forth – no bureaucrat is ever keen on revealing everything to the proles – but by and large the process works.

So it was no surprise when some activist group called Open the Books (OTB), requested to see the line item details of all these payments, starting in 2013. The letter they finally got in 2019 surprised the hell out of them:

“The State of California, State Controller’s Office does not maintain a centralized vendor contract database which would allow it to identify all contracts regardless of the agency awarding such contract,”

That came from Yee’s general counsel Richard Chivaro, who went further:

“In fact, many state contracts are paid for directly by the contracting agency,” Chivaro continued. “This procedure allows the contracting agency to make such payments as expeditiously as possible thereby taking advantage of an early payment discount which may be available.” 

“Moreover, the Controller’s Office receives literally thousands of claims for payment daily. Claims are batched by date received and are not segregated, logged or otherwise tracked by agency employee or payment type. Consequently, because of the way the claims are batched and processed by this office, we are unable to locate or otherwise provide you with the documents requested,”

The fuck? In other words the Controller’s Office literally cannot answer the question of where all the money went in a $302 billion spending list. They simply do not and cannot know exactly who got the money because they just don’t bother tracking that level of detail.

Incredible. Almost beyond belief.

OTB is suing the state of California but frankly I don’t how that can succeed: if the system doesn’t track this stuff at a line item level (or even a couple of levels up) then what’s the lawsuit going to produce? They have had to sue Illinois and Wyoming in the past to get such data, but they did get it in the end, and they did not need to take such action to get spending records from the other 47 states according to the OTB Chairman:

“We even get the checkbooks from the historically, systemically corrupt Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,” he said. “We do get the second set of books from there.” 

In some respects it’s hardly surprising given an earlier story that blew out of the same state a few months ago:

California Labor Secretary Julie Su told reporters in a conference call Monday that of the $114 billion the state has paid in unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic, 10 percent, or $11.4 billion, involves fraud and another 17 percent is under investigation. 

Nearly all of the fraudulent claims were paid through the federally supported Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The program was approved by Congress to provide unemployment assistance to those who usually wouldn’t be eligible, such as independent contractors. 

The even got scammed by the usual suspects, criminal organisations from Russia and Nigeria, as well as 21,000 prisoners in the state who scored more than $400 million, including 100 prisoners on death row

I like to think the latter group really just did it for kicks, given that they’re not likely to be able to spend any of it.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 29, 2021 at 2:20 pm

Secessionitis and Greater Idaho

In the last twenty years, every time a Republican has been elected President, there has been a squall of voices from Lefty celebrities about how they’re going to move to Canada or some other clime more hospitable to the Left.

Because of their lightweight nature, few people take any notice of them, especially since it’s been heard three times now (2000, 2004, 2016), but with no appreciable followup actions on their part, aside from crashing the Canadian Immigration website on election night 2016.

Still, the calls are growing louder with each subsequent Republican victory. After the 2016 election no less an august personage than Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reflected that she might have to retire to New Zealand. I’m sure she would have appreciated our lack of a written constitution since she never seemed overly impressed by the US one.

But these calls have often applied to individual states, and it does go the other way, though in a more joking form. Hence the occasional cracks from Texans when a Democrat gets elected President. In their case they have more history behind them, since Texas stood as an independent nation for a few years before joining the Union.

More often, and more seriously, California is regarded as the state that could secede. It’s the world’s fifth largest economy on its own, it has long regarded itself as quite different to the rest of the USA (and vice versa – even the Lefties of Chicago and New York consider California to be “weird”), and given its natural resources and gifts it could theoretically stand on its own. I say theoretically because its government and people seem determined to screw their gifts up with government policies.

The thing is that while the Californian Left may talk of this occasionally, there actually have been plans made by their fellow Californians for a different proposal; for parts of the state to secede from California and form new states:

Frankly I can’t see “Northern California” doing too well with San Francisco and all its insanity still embedded. Better to let that belong to the coastal state, along with LA. It’s what most people think of when they consider the current state anyway. One billionaire venture capitalist has taken that into account with his proposal for six states to be carved out of California:

Admittedly getting six rather than three states is a tougher deal, but for various reasons none of this is likely to happen, as with this proposal for the state of Oregon, although it’s counties themselves making the push, and they’re hoping to pull in surrounding neighbours to Greater Idaho:

The grassroots group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho wants to move Oregon’s mostly rural eastern and southern counties into Idaho, believing they’d be better served in the neighboring state’s more conservative political environment.

That would leave a small portion of Oregon, including Portland, Salem, Eugene and Bend.

Phase 2 of the plan would bring in parts of southeast Washington and northeast California. The California counties under consideration, the group says, are Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Modoc, Lassen, part or all of Plumas, and parts of Butte and perhaps Sierra.

The California area includes Redding, which would become Idaho’s fourth-largest city.

There’s always a boundary that cannot be crossed and such was observed by a South Carolina politician during the increasing arguments over secession prior to the Civil War:

“South Carolina is too small for a Republic and too large for an insane asylum”.

But the real stumbling block to all this is that the originating state has to approve of such things. This has happened in the past, perhaps most notably with West Virginia. It was originally part of Virginia until it was admitted as a new state in 1863 after the General Assembly of the “Restored Government of Virginia” (heh, heh, heh) magically consented to the request in 1862. Now you may wonder how Virginia consented since it was one of the Confederate states. What happened was that anti-secessionist Virginians formed a government in exile during the Civil War and were recognised by the Federal Government, which then approved the state’s partition.

I doubt the Democrat leaders of these states, nor their partners in crime in Washington D.C. will allow this to happen to them again, especially since it would lead an influx of new, and decidedly. non-Left Wing senators. However, since such accommodations were made in the past perhaps several such things could be negotiated across the nation so that things are kept even at the Federal level.

But further down in the grassroots of the US left it turns out that these proposals may actually get some traction:

Basically they think it’s a great idea for their Democrat Controlled One Party cities to detach themselves from all those useless rural areas that create no IT billionaires and other Super Smart People but produce food, oil, gas, timber, and minerals, as well as being fiscally conservative along with having healthy communities and little crime.

Nothing would make me happier than to divide all urban areas from all non-urban areas and separate entirely.

Let’s do it.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 26, 2021 at 6:00 am

Posted in US Politics, USA

Tagged with

California Screaming – Fire

For decades in the USA there has been a cartoon character who would warn the good people of America that:

Only YOU can prevent forest fires”.

Smokey the Bear was invented in 1944 by the US Forest Service as a way of enlisting the public in helping them fight forest fires, which was also a wartime concern as Japan tried forest fire attacks via balloons launched into the stratosphere aimed at the USA’s West Coast.

In addition to this the US Forest Service decided to throw everything and the kitchen sink at fighting these fires, using as much technology and manpower as they could afford, which was a lot in the booming post-war American economy. Their compatriots in the National Park service followed suit.

But as the years went by they began to notice that the fires were getting worse – much worse – even as they did everything to slow them down and stop them. Finally, in the early 1960’s, the Department of the Interior commissioned a study to look at ecosystem problems across the board in National Park, including predator control (Yellowstone elk were having to be constantly culled) and what came to be called fire ecology.

What the conclusions boiled down to for fire was that the “kill the fire” policy was actually making things worse because it was allowing huge buildups of fuel on the floors of the forests instead of steadily reducing and then stabilising it. So when fires did break out they became monsters.

So by the late 1960’s/early 70’s the policy was changed from suppression to management, allowing fires to burn while keeping an eye on them and acting only to protect developed areas. Events like the massive 1988 Yellowstone fires resulted in public and political backlash about this but although the decision criteria around fire fighting was modified the basic policy remained. However, the environmental movement began to impact this in other ways. Not that they went back to fire suppression, but – thinking that they were being kind to the environment – they started doing things that caused the same problems:

Shortly before leaving office in 2001, Clinton limited the ability of the United States Forest Service to thin out a dense thicket of foliage and downed trees on federal land to bring the West into a pristine state, Bob Zybach, an experienced forester with a PhD in environmental science, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. The former president’s decision created a ticking time bomb, Zybach argues.

“If you don’t start managing these forests, then they are going to start burning up. Thirty years later, they are still ignoring it,”

It was more than just underbrush management:

Under this policy, thousands of miles of forest roads were ripped out, roads built to allow the harvesting of timber, but also used by firefighters to access wildfires in the hinterlands before they spread to populated regions. And timber harvests plunged as much as 84 percent from 12 billion board feet per year to less than 2 billion board feet per year.

California was, as usual, the leader in this policy for the future, being even more fanatical than Clinton’s policies, (although other Western states like Colorado and Oregon are up there) reducing the state’s timber industry to less than a third the size of what it was 60 years ago. The state now imports 80% of its timber.

You would think that, given the natural dryness of California and the massive forests in the state, its leaders would not have been so stupid as to ignore the science. But even worse than the national logging policy, California’s Green sentiment also prevented controlled burns (for fear of disrupting animal habitats) and barred even minor brush-clearing programs.

As a result its forests are now twice as dense as they were 150 years ago — when the population was a fraction of today’s. Behind that unnatural density: state and federal rules that make it nearly impossible (and insanely expensive) to lay a finger on any of this precious overgrowth.

historically, ponderosa pines grew in stands of 20 to 55 trees per acre, but in some areas, they now grow in densities of 300 to 900 trees per acre. The unnatural density allowed what were formerly isolated pockets of insect infestations to morph into massive infestations killing large swaths of forests. There are now more dead trees in many federal forests than live ones, drying out and becoming growing stockpile of fuel for wildfires. Indeed, the U.S. Forest Service estimates more than 190 million acres of public land, almost all of it in the arid west, are at risk of catastrophic fires.

There’s a whole generation
With a new explanation

In addition to the mountain forests the hillsides above the cities of San Francisco, LA and most others are also overgrown with drought-stricken scrub and half-dead trees, in part due to restrictions on grazing, brush removal, as well as logging. They’re the kindling.

And it’s not just the evil Right Wing of the Heritage Foundation that’s pointing this out. Here’s The Guardian:

As part of a project to study California’s fire history, we sampled almost 2,000 fire-scarred trees and stumps in the Sierra Nevada. What was equally arresting as finding 10 or more scars in a single tree, however, is what we did not find. Of the hundreds of living trees we sampled, only a handful had even a single fire scar in the 20th century. 

Naturally, because it’s the Grundian, there’s shout-outs to Global Warming and the genius fire management of indigenous peoples, but the key point is not denied and it’s not just current science but history telling the tale:

… a 2007 paper in the journal Forest Ecology and Management found prior to European colonization in the 1800s, more than 4.4 million acres of California forest and shrub-land burned annually, far more than the area of California that has burned since 2000, which ranges from 90,000 acres to 1,590,000 acres per year.

But even though wildfires have declined over all in the USA (and around the world), in California 10 of the state’s 20 largest, most deadly fires ever occurred in the last decade.

To make things worse California’s leaders, instead of admitting they got it wrong, have actually been using the wildfires of recent years as an excuse to go even crazier on the environmental front, via blaming the fires on AGW.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. They warn of cataclysmic climate change if we don’t suddenly remove the fossil fuel energy on which their state (and the Western world) built its modern, prosperous, comfortable lifestyle. Then they work against any sensible management of California’s forests that would reduce the severity of routine regular wildfires. Then, when the wildfires become record-breaking conflagrations, they point and say, “See, I told you so.”

They’re like arsonists admiring their handiwork from afar.

Just one other example of how these political and media “environmentalists” don’t understand the environment is shown in how they shed tears about the terrible fires destroying the great redwood forests:

“Hundreds of trees burned at Big Basin Redwoods State Park,” reported Shawn Hubler and Kellen Browning for The New York Times. “Park officials closed it on Wednesday, another casualty of the wildfires that have wracked the state with a vengeance that has grown more apocalyptic every year.”

“The protected trees, some 2,500 years old, were nearly wiped out by loggers in the 1800s,” claimed CBS News’ Jonathan Vigliotti. “Now human-caused climate change has damaged or destroyed many of these ancient giants.”

Except that these old-growth redwood forests need fire to survive and thrive. Heat from fire is required for the release and germination of redwood seeds, and to burn up the woody debris on the forest floor. The trees themselves survive – as long as the fires are of normal, historic scale, rather than monsters fueled by the stupidity of environmentalists:

“I see [the current California fires] as a normal event, just not one that happens every year,” Jon Keeley, a leading forest scientist, told me. “On July 30, 2008, we had massive fires throughout northern California due to a series of lightning fires in the middle of the summer,” he said. “It’s not an annual event, but it’s not an unusual event.”

“The idea that fire is somehow new,” said geographer Paul Robbins of the University of Wisconsin, “a product solely of climate change, and part of a moral crusade for the soul of the nation, borders on the insane.” 

The cherry on top is that despite all this sturm and drang, California’s GHG emissions over the past decade have fallen less than 39 other states.

Coastal California is hilly, difficult to build on, and prone to devastating earthquakes. It is semi-arid, without much of an aquifer. The watershed of the Sierra Nevadas is more than 200 miles away. In other words, some of the people most eager to offer green sermons to others live in one of the most artificial and ecologically fragile environments on the planet, and they’ve been managing it very poorly even as they’ve shouted their own praises from the rooftops.

On his final day in office in January 2019, California Governor Jerry Brown admitted as much by quietly signing bills removing impediments to “controlled burns” and allotting $190 million a year to “improve forest health and fire prevention.” Whether this is followed up by enough practical action to slow down the monster fires is yet another question since the state increasingly can’t seem to accomplish anything.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 22, 2021 at 9:43 am

California Screaming – Water

From the 1900’s to the 1970’s California made huge plans for its future, building power stations and the transmission lines to link them, bridges and expressways for transport, and dams, canals, and aqueducts.

The latter was part of a vast system designed to bring water from the snowy mountains of the Sierra Nevadas to the deserts of the Central Valley and the coastal cities.

The dryness of those cities had been noted early on:

Our California ancestors understood this; they saw, after the 1906 earthquake, that the dry hills of San Francisco and the adjoining peninsula could never rebuild without grabbing all the water possible from the distant Hetch Hetchy watershed. I have never met a Bay Area environmentalist or Silicon Valley grandee who didn’t drink or shower with water imported from a far distant water project

It was a golden era and through the 1950’s it was planned for 25 million people. As the 1970’s rolled around new plans for further development were made in all these areas, for a 21st century population of 40 million or more. But then something terrible happened.

Actually that’s being unfair to the hippies, although they did vote for the real problem – Jerry Brown, seen here on a Time cover as he ran for election in 1974.

Jerry’s father was known as the builder of California, especially with the California State Water Project.

Perhaps it was just the usual father-son dynamic but Jerry turned his back on all that and began cancelling such projects as far and as fast as he could. Thanks to the 1960’s Counter-Culture revolution he had plenty of support from California Democrats in the State House and Senate.

The 10 largest reservoirs in California were built between 1927 and 1979. The New Melones Dam was the last of these, work already advanced enough that they couldn’t kill it. It was completed in 1979. Since then, 15 million more people have been added to the state’s population.

To a certain extent the voters cannot be blamed, since they have approved 15 of 16 state water bonds since 1970, yet this did not deliver major new water storage or canals nor maintain existing infrastructure. They can be blamed for voting in the likes of Brown and company who either didn’t care or actively opposed such plans.

Since California is basically a desert state, with a geological history of droughts, this was going to bite them in the bum sooner or later and the irony is that the worst drought in decades started not long after Brown climbed back into the throne in 2011 for another two-terms as Governor.

He wasn’t helped by the fact that his immediate predecessor. two term GOP Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (2003-2011), while hectoring state residents about global warming, green energy, wind and solar power in a beautiful example of UniParty thinking, allowed things to get even crazier, as this 2010 report noted:

It started with a 2008 federal court order that stopped water flowing from northern tributaries on a supposed need to protect a small fish — the delta smelt — that was getting ground up in the turbines of pump stations that divert the water south. The court knew it was bad law, but Congress refused to exempt the fish from the Endangered Species Act and the diversion didn’t help the fish.

After that, the water cutoff was blamed on “drought,” though northern reservoirs are currently full. Now the cry is “save the salmon,” a reference to water needs of the state’s northern fisheries.

Whatever the excuse, 75% of the fresh water that has historically irrigated California is now being washed to the open sea. For farmers in the southwest part of the valley, last year’s cutoff amounted to 90%.

It was also a waste of time for the fish, as reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2015:

“To protect smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008

That would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years. Yet a survey of young adult smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta last fall yielded just eight fish, the lowest level since 1967.”

“Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”

So no extra storage provided in those eight years either and water sent running to the sea. Actually that’s what Noah Cross did in the movie Chinatown. Of course, he was one of the creepiest movie villains of all time, whereas this was done by Congress and environmentalists, which somehow makes it better.

As a result there was no margin for error left in the system and as the drought grew worse in Brown’s first term he finally had no choice but to impose water restrictions, starting in 2015 with a target of 25% usage reduction and then going even harder in 2018:

California citizens will be limited to using 55 gallons of water a day now and just 50 per day by 2030.

According to the San Jose  Mercury News, the new laws will “require cities, water districts and large agricultural water districts to set strict annual water budgets, face fines of $1,000 per day if they don’t meet them, and $10,000 a day during drought emergencies.”

As some have noted, the restriction could make it difficult for some California citizens to do laundry and take a shower on the same day without going over the limit.

Naturally, rather than blaming themselves for the short-sighted decisions over the years, or changing their minds and policies, the California Democrats began attacking the state’s agricultural industry for “wasting” the water. However:

It’s now popular to deride California agriculture in cost-benefit terms, given that its share of state GNP (anywhere from 4 percent to 8 percent, depending on how one counts related industries) supposedly does not justify its huge allotted consumption of state water (anywhere from 65 percent to 80 percent). But note the irony: California supplies a staggering percentage of the nation’s fresh vegetables and fruits; it’s among the most efficient producers in the world of beef, dairy, and staple crops.

One can purchase an iPhone 6 or a neat new Apple watch, but he still must eat old-fashioned, pre-tech food. There are no calories in Facebook, and even Google can’t supply protein. On the other hand, I can live without an iPad. Who is to say which industry is essential and which isn’t?

The drought would grind on for fifty months as Brown and friends watched in a calm and detached manner the inland parts of the State start to die:

[As of 2015 the]Central California water table has fallen in depth anywhere from 50 to 500 feet—the severity predicated on the distance from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. That decline has prompted the drilling of thousands of new private wells, but at costs often quadruple the pre-drought rate.

Small rural homes with dry wells, especially along the western corridors of the valley, are now often abandoned. If they had been rented out, several years of rental income would not have paid for the exorbitant cost of new replacement domestic wells. Most valley residents, especially those retired, could not afford the $60- to $100-a-foot expense to drill down hundreds of feet to tap falling water.

There were also perverse results in agriculture:

The huge demand for limited drilling rigs, the need to drill to unprecedented levels to find water, the soaring power bills to pump from greater depths, and the increase in permanent orchard and vineyard acreage all conspired to spike agricultural expenses.

Only the record net profits from almonds (between $5,000 and $9,000 per acre) allow new wells to be drilled. The larger the farm, the more frequently profitable almonds are planted, the more reasonably an operation can afford the cost of buying scarce surface water or drilling deeper—and the more likely smaller farmers sell or lease out their ground to those with the capital to make the costly transition to almond and other nut orchards.

So the Big Guys got even bigger thanks to the Democrats and with even more mono-cropping. In addition almonds and other nuts are the most mechanized of all crops, so that crunched down hard on the working classes who otherwise would have had thousands of farm jobs in the vineyards and fruit orchards that were ripped out to plant almonds. The final joke is that these crops use about the same amount of water per year, so no water savings on that front.

The following is an excellent documentary on the Central Valley disaster, Dead Harvest:

Après nous, le déluge

Meteorologists had long forecasted that the cyclical return of the so-called El Niño Southern Oscillation – the rise in temperature of a band of ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific – would end the California drought. The warmer Pacific alters winds, air temperature, and atmospheric pressures and thus reroutes northern storms to their proper course over the Western United States.

At the end of 2015 that is exactly what happened.

The cherry on top of this whole drought disaster was that when the rain and snow finally did start to fall and as the weather turned even wetter through 2016 and 2017, there was nowhere to store all that extra water.

There would have been if the giant reservoirs of The Sites, Los Banos Grandes, and Temperance Flat had been built – basically the second stage of the California State Water Project. They would have drought-proofed the state for years. To make matters worse, the existing, aging infrastructure, starved of maintenance for years, could barely cope, as witnessed by the crumbling spillways of the Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the United States, which threatened a massive breach in early 2017.

Given the lack of water-storage capacity, and due to environmental diversions, 20 million acre-feet of precious water had simply been washed to the ocean by early 2017. That’s 6.5 trillion gallons or 24.6 trillion litres of water: enough to sustain about twenty million Californians for ten years.

That is criminal mismanagement. About the only thing that is funny about it is that a bunch of arrogant, ignorant environmental fantasists have found themselves at the mercy of early and mid-20th century water systems that they now condemn.

There is also some irony in the fact that while the likes of Brown and Newsom politicised the drought by blaming man-made global warming and leveraged that to obtain even more extreme environmental rules and nutty projects like high speed trains, instead of attending to water infrastructure (among other basics) – the Meteorological analysis that accurately forecast what would end the last drought also works in the opposite direction; a natural, cyclical and slight cooling of the Pacific Ocean will cause future droughts in California.

And that’s before we get to the likelihood of the return of mega-droughts lasting 100, 200 years or more.

Will the Democrat government of Californian be ready for the next drought? I don’t think so. To paraphrase the French diplomat, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, officials in Sacramento “have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.”

But that’s okay. The state needs to shrink drastically anyway. Losing twenty million people to other states would fit the population to the old infrastructure and make the place sustainable again.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 10, 2021 at 6:00 am