By Bob Dorn
“… I like the free fresh wind in my hair
Life without care
I’m broke, it’s oke
Hates California, is cold and is damp
That’s why the lady is a tramp …”
Broadway musical “Babes In Arms”
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rogers
For whatever reason, California envy has been rising lately.
Remember Rick Perry’s failed attempt to lure high tech and other of the state’s businesses (Elon Musk’s Tesla, included) to Texas in 2013 and 2014?
Did you know that a Utah state legislator has offered a bill to support California’s secession from the United States. In August, the Salt Lake Tribune quoted Rep. Paul Ray saying:
“They think that they’re owed a lot and they just think they’ve got the power to dictate, but if they really look at it, they can’t function without federal money going into California and doing business with other states,” he said. “For them to sit there and think they can make their own country and they can do this … they’re smoking too much of their medical marijuana.”
The esteemed legislator might not have known that CalExit organizer Louis Marinelli had already suspended his work on the Yes, California secession petition and that he was instead moving to Russia “to allow a new petition, free from ties to me and drafted by others, to be resubmitted at future date of their choosing.” (Washington Times, April 18 2017).
So, there’s still time left for Marinelli to make a buck acting as a consultant to Rep. Ray from his dacha outside Moscow because, as the Salt Lake Tribune reported in the aforementioned article, the representative was still “drafting language of the measure” and would have it ready in October or November. The story is, he wants to help California to secede so that steep, punitive trade measures can be imposed on California products.
He’ll no doubt be calling Energy Secretary Rick Perry for help on the bill’s passage in Utah.
Goofy might be a good concept to assign the crews of California haters, but it’s already been used against California.
This year, the respectable New York Times called Governor Jerry Brown “Gov. Moonbeam” in the lead paragraph of an economics story published in February. The aging and disparaging remark is not an isolated entry in the New York Times lexicon.
This month the New York Times‘ stand alone section called California Today included stories on “elite” and “well practiced” Claremont Colleges students whose boycott of a “Black Lives Matter critic” forced her into “addressing a mostly empty hall.”
A day later, the same section had a lead that read: “In Silicon Valley, there is a cost to straying from the tech industry’s liberal political orthodoxy.”
On August 10, the New York Times‘ California Today used this sniffy line, “What does the land of nerd kings and brogrammers really need?” over a column that exonerated Google’s fired and misogynistic techie James Damore and said “that a healthy corporate culture would have found a way to answer the question (of diversity) without swiftly giving him the ax.”
Ross Douthat may hope that “nerd kings and brogrammers” will enter the language the way Gov. Moonbeam did, but personally I doubt that it will.
What I don’t understand at all is this attitude that sees Californians as undeserving, as if they simply landed by accident in this location and this clement climate. It wasn’t until 2007 that, for the first time in history, “a higher percentage of California residents were born in the state than ever before.”
A lot of people came here willingly and with determination, especially these latter days when a small Ocean Beach or North Park bungalow can cost $600,000 or $700,000. My wife and I live in a 600 sq. ft. condo in 92103 near the border of North Park. Down the hall, a unit with exactly the same square footage rented a few days ago for $1,700 per month.
We don’t feel like “the elite.” I don’t think anyone in our building does.
My own conviction is that the New York Times and other of the nation’s media consider us an easy way to earn their Heroes of Populism medals. In the Age of Trump, proving one’s commoner credentials becomes imperative.
The New York Times and other information trendsetters will probably continue to grumble about left coast political correctness and elitist quiche eaters (while featuring where the best quiches can be found) because it establishes that they are suitably down with, and loyal to, democracy.
I can live with this posturing — another wrinkle in the blanket of false equivalency — so long as the New York Times and other members of the Fourth Estate leave their caves to cover Charlottesville and, perhaps very soon, San Francisco and Berkeley’s victimization by white extremists fairly and justly.
So far, it seems, the coverage has been good enough. Let’s hope it doesn’t have to continue.
*A line in The Lady is a Tramp, From Babes in Arms, the Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hart written way back in 1937, before so many came to hate California