Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If you have friends in devastated Christchurch, NZ (as we do), or relatives who survived the killer quake in Santiago, Chile (as we do) or if you lived through the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area (as we did), Monday’s narcissistic hysteria among the Eastern Establishment Media about the little 5.8 tremor that rolled through Washington was more than a little offensive.

No serious injuries or deaths. No widespread damage or dangers. Roads, buildings, bridges, power plants, railroad tracks, runways, homes – all virtually untouched. And we’re glad for that. But give us a freaking break! Anchors and correspondents for CNN and MSNBC went nuts. (Fox, btw, was the least wacko of the cable nets: “Some buildings shook. It scared some people. And it’s over.” — Shepard Smith.)

While rebels who had taken over Tripoli were hunting for Moammar Gadhafi and the stock market was shooting up 322 points, all the self-absorbed East Coast media were concerned about was their pissant earthquake (“massive” according to Wolf Blitzer).

With all the build-up, the headline we expected to see was something like this: MASSIVE QUAKE: Ceiling Tiles Fall, Press Conference Interrupted, Dozens Nervous!

(For a little context, see the, um, representative photo above, which was all over the internet Tuesday but actually was posted more than a year ago after a teeny earthquake in Maryland).

All the heavy breathing was just another object lesson in why the country is so ill-served by writers, broadcasters, editors and analysts who seem unable to focus on anything outside of the view of their beltway blinders.

Which reminds us of the prescient observation on the Republican presidential race by George Will in May of this year: “I think people are complaining that this is not off to a brisk start, I think that’s wrong. I think we know with reasonable certainty that standing up there on the west front of the Capitol on Jan. 20, 2013 will be one of three people: Obama, Pawlenty and Daniels. I think that’s it.”

Or, as the master humorist of our day put it in a tweet:

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One other exceptional tweet, from our friend Mike (Pass the Cash) Murphy:

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Another Shocker: Young Calbuzzer Sees Hope for California

It ain’t exactly end-of-summer beach reading, but state political junkies should definitely take a look at “A New California Dream,” the latest in the ever-expanding Whither-the-Golden State genre.

The book is penned by Patrick Atwater, the most unfailingly cheerful member of the prestigious Calbuzz College of Frequent Commenters (and most likely youngest too – no coincidence there), whose singular essays on this page consistently reflect an attractive brand of communitarian idealism, if not a thoroughly misguided belief in the perfectibility of man.

In search of solutions to its chronic dysfunctions, Atwater takes a stroll through the state’s history, crafting a nice, well-paced narrative that explores the political, economic and psychological underpinnings of the California Dream – and the harsh hard times that keep smashing up against it.

The basic problem with these myths is that they create a dream beyond this world that cannot but clash with the realities of living in it. So why don’t we come together to build a New California Dream – one freed from this sort of absurd utopianism – that is pragmatically focused on bettering the lives of all Californians?

Why not indeed?

Patrick is erudite and well-read, and appears to have consumed every worthwhile volume about California that’s been written, variously referencing not only Carey McWilliams, Robinson Jeffers and the Beach Boys but also Kevin Starr, Walt Whitman and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

And he’s a good writer, except for an occasional clunker guaranteed to stop a reader dead in her tracks:

This teleology is this synthesis of the ostensibly irreconcilable poles of California as naturally perfect and California as perfected through technology and the hand of man.

Medic! I need a copy editor here, stat!

To read entire column, click here.