Letter From California
03/11/09 0549.21 pst
San Jose, California
It has been clear and cold the last week, cool slanted sunshine after drenching rain offering a lukewarm balm to those worriedly watching the skies hoping for rain and water. Snowpack in the Sierras is almost normal for a typical year, but patient native eyes and senses still wait for a wet Spring, for something has assuredly changed in Norcal weather, most who grew up here with a few years know it and feel it, whatever global warming may bring for us so far it’s just been more rain into April and May.
Californians are also adjusting to a far less benign political and government environment, a first-class government and system degenerating into a quasi-Texas half-assed model of full services that aren’t, public institutions morphing into private ones from the boot heel of stupid Republican starvation. The latest budget fiasco has arrived and the disaster is starting to reverberate across all communities as the cuts in education and public services kick in. A district in Contra Costa in heaving all vice principals, Pleasanton is desperately holding a bond election for their schools.
Not only is this a disaster to Americans losing their jobs and their communities, the dereliction of duty to our children is something I will never forget. We could have made a lot of mistakes with our time on the planet, but the Governor and Republican zealots chose to put our smallest and most vulnerable into vicious meat grinders of abuse and neglect first because we failed. Good luck on ever gaining a majority in either chamber in my lifetime, Republicans, we will remember as our schools and children’s lives are shuttered.
Easily the worst element to this reeking nightmare is the fact it is not final or settled in any sense. Since the hack revenue hikes violate at least three propositional statutes—looting is a common description—incredibly the whole deal must be approved by voters, the California legislature can’t even at this point legitimately function and pass a real-time implemented budget. No one dares predict how California voters will react to this pulsing mess, if it gets rejected somehow we’ll have to start over, which would be impossible, but it could easily happen.
All this by a crackpot doofus actor who trampled all over his core principals for a recall election—which was right after a perfectly normal election. He tried to gut California unions, got slapped silly for it and then was elected again anyway. Rational analysis is impossible upon a fundamentally irrational model and populace in this political loonyland of a Republic, but at least an honest of reporting of the clown show as it unfolds will always be attempted.
It would help if California had a Democratic party with some charismatic, principled messaging, yes (yo, Gavin). It would help if we had a journalism corps at least capable of daily explaining the screaming absurdity of allowing the minority Republican Party the ability to hold the State hostage with their insane extremism in the super-majority taxation rule, true. It would be really nice if the Neanderthal Republicans ever grew up and accepted their duty as at least stewards to the earth and our children, but most Californians have given up most hope for any of these magic political elements to arrive in our degenerative wandering.
Until then, as always, we wait and do the best we can. Maybe the budget will be approved, maybe the stimulus from the Feds will arrive in time, maybe our next Governor won’t be a churlish crank who cannot lead, maybe somehow our children will still have a bright future after all of this. Examining the scene doesn’t exactly lead to a sunny outlook on life or hopes of getting out of The Great Recession (Jesus, a great recession is a Depression, will we ever learn?), but that’s just where California is at the moment.