Thoughts on the new year from the Island of California



Early explorers thought that California is an island. It might as well be.

2011 should be an interesting political year.

It’s ironic that Repugnican former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been convicted of money laundering just as his stupid white male ilk, led this time by the steely-cold-blue-eyed Repugnican Rep. John Boehner, are ready to take over the House — you know, to bring back the good old days of Tom DeLay & Co.

When we of the left say that Americans are fucktards, this is the kind of thing that we’re talking about: expecting the same bunch of people who sank the nation in the first place to be the same ones to rescue it.

Here in California, things should be at least a little different next year.

On November 2, not a single Repugnican was elected to statewide office here in California, and come early January, gone will be Repugnican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was elected governor in the gubernatorial recall do-over election of 2003. (The Repugnican candidate in the 2002 gubernatorial election, Bill Simon, was an uncharismatic Richie Rich fucktard who lost to the uncharismatic Democratic incumbent, Gov. Gray Davis, although by just under 5 percent, so the Repugs just orchestrated a do-over election the next year with a much more charismatic candidate this time.)

Schwarzenegger promised to turn California around, but of course he leaves the nation’s most populous state in worse shape than it was when he got it. Ironically, in his too-short recall election campaign, Schwarzenegger blamed the BushCheneyCorp’s sins, including the Enron* debacle, on then-Gov. Gray Davis, even though Schwarzenegger had had a secret meeting with Enron head Ken Lay before he went on to run for governor of the state that Enron crippled. By Schwarzenegger’s own logic in 2003, though, we can blame only him for California’s current mess (even though, of course, the unelected BushCheneyCorp has been a huge factor in California’s decline, from 2001 to present). 

In the days of old, it was believed that California is an enchanted island — the long peninsula of Baja California is what gave the early explorers the idea that California is an island; they didn’t realize that Baja California is attached to the rest of the continent. (It is, in fact, attached to Mexico just under California.)

With the Mojave Desert in the southern part of the state and the Sierra Nevada mountain range running along the eastern part of the state, however, geography actually did leave California as somewhat of an island to itself, and for a while, anyway, these natural barriers for the most part kept the hordes of westward-immigrating white people out (two words: Donner party…).

Speaking of white people, it’s fairly clear that brown is the new black, and that as the nation’s population of Latinos continues to grow — here in California, more than a third of us are Latino, and more Latinos live in California than in any other U.S. state — the white supremacists, whose numbers, at least proportionally to the numbers of non-whites, are dwindling, are going to continue to blame the decline of the Great White American Empire on the browned-skinned.

A tea-bagging white-supremacist dipshit here in California (yes, unfortunately, plenty of fucktarded whiteys have made it past the Mojave Desert and the Sierra Nevada to inflict themselves upon the rest of us) has been given the legal go-ahead to try to collect enough signatures to put an Arizona-like anti-Latino law on the state ballot.

I expect the white supremacist, who used to be a Repugnican Party county chair (surprise surprise), to succeed in getting his signatures; it seems that nothing appeals to the voters like hatred, bigotry, ignorance and making scapegoats of minority groups. The voters seem to be loathe to OK anything productive, but to dog-pile upon already historically persecuted minority groups is just great fun! Proposition Hate was evidence of that.

However, while Prop H8 passed in November 2008, I expect a proposition for an Arizona-style anti-Latino law to fail here in California, where, unlike in Arizona, the majority of us are just fine with sharing our state with those of other races, and here in California, Latinos aren’t “other” — they are part of what makes California California, perhaps especially since California used to belong to Mexico, and the names of California’s largest cities are testament to that historical fact: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, etc., etc.

Ironically, it seems that it’s the brown-skinned who most likely can save the sinking United States of America. While the United States’ white overlords seem congenitally unable to do anything but to overextend themselves and to self-destruct, like their British forebears did, progress is being made in South America.

Notes a columnist for The Christian Science Monitor:

One in 10 South Americans – about 38 million people – escaped poverty during the past decade. That’s remarkable progress by any measure.

Contrast that with the United States, where poverty has been growing due to a decade-long stagnation of income for the middle class and the Great Recession. In 2009, the U.S. had more poor people than in any of the 51 years since poverty levels have been estimated.

Of course, America’s poor are far better off than South America’s poor. And the U.S. still has a much lower poverty rate (14.2 percent versus around 70 percent). South America remains infamous for huge income gaps between a tiny elite and masses of people making, often, just $1 or $2 a day.

Still, 10 years of growing prosperity has shrunk that gap. The credit goes to democratic leftist governments that have vastly boosted social spending to help the poor, maintains Mark Weisbrot, a left-of-center economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

Half of that improvement comes from Brazil. Under outgoing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the nation pushed up the minimum wage a real 65 percent in eight years, helping to raise the wages of tens of millions of workers, including many receiving more than minimum wage. A program offered small cash grants to poor families if they sent their children to school.

The results? Real income per person is up some 24 percent since 2000. Illiteracy is down. Poverty has been halved since 2002; extreme poverty is down by 70 percent, says Mr. Weisbrot, pulling more than 19 million people into the middle class.

And the economy hasn’t suffered. Unemployment under Mr. da Silva’s presidency dropped from more than 11 percent to 6.7 percent. Income inequality has fallen considerably.

Other nations with “progressive” governments have made much social progress, notes Weisbrot. He lists Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Venezuela. Under President Hugo Chávez, attacked by the right in the U.S., oil-rich Venezuela has tripled social spending per person since 2003. Attendance at universities has doubled. Most of the poor now get health care under a government program.

The continent weathered the financial crisis relatively well. Social spending rose. So there was no big rise in poverty, says Norbert Schady, an economic adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank, speaking from Quito, Ecuador.

Moreover, prospects for continued economic progress are strong. The Institute of International Finance (IIF), set up by the world’s biggest banks, forecasts 6 percent growth in gross domestic product in Latin America this year, which includes Mex­ico and Central America as well as South Am­er­ica. That growth should shrink poverty further.

By contrast, the IIF forecasts a 2.5 percent growth rate this year for the U.S. At that slow pace the U.S. could see a further rise in poverty. [Emphasis mine.]

South America’s new economic vigor is also causing a geopolitical shift. The U.S. has long considered Latin America part of its political and economic sphere of influence. Officials running South America’s left-of-center governments often charge the U.S. with imperial ambitions.

But as U.S. growth slows, South America’s businesses have reached out to other markets. While 15 percent of South America’s trade is still with the U.S., a greater share is tied to Europe. Also, trade within the continent is growing with a free-trade deal. So South American governments no longer feel so much under the thumb of the U.S.

What the columnist doesn’t note is that the Eye of Sauron, which sits atop the Pentagon, for decades focused its evil gaze upon Latin America, where its Uruk-hai ruthlessly quashed any democratically elected governments that actually dared to put the needs of the people above the greed of American corporations. And that now, with the Eye of Sauron having been focused on destroying the Middle East for the past decade, democracy has been flourishing in Latin America, and consequently, poverty there has been declining, now that U.S. interference there is at its lowest in decades.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone, in his worthwhile documentary “South of the Border” (in which he visits with South American presidents Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Lula da Silva, Cristina Kirchner [and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner] and Rafael Correa and with Cuban leader Raul Castro), posits that, ironically, it might be the democratization of Latin America, with Latinos’ growing influence on U.S. politics, that finally democratizes the United States of America. (You know, something like that dreaded “domino effect” that the right wing used to talk about where Vietnam was concerned.)

California, with more Latinos than any other state (more than 13 million of them**), and now with Democrat Jerry Brown to take back the helm of the state on January 3, just might lead the way in the democratization of the nation.

The myth of California as a magical island might not be so mythical after all.

It will be interesting to watch the rest of the nation from the Island of California in 2011. I expect to see the nation only worsen under a Repugnican-controlled House of Representatives, and it will be interesting to see which wingnut emerges as the 2012 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nominee. Will it be Sarah Palin-Quayle, who says that we must stand with our “allies” in North Korea?*** It would be rather Kubrickian if a U.S. president nuked the wrong Korea, wouldn’t it?

Stay tuned. I sure will, from my island.

*Such wonderful things come out of the state of Texas: Tom DeLay, George W. Bush and Enron, to name just three. Really, when Repugnican-of-course Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks about secession, we should give him our full support in such an endeavor.

**Texas is at No. 2 in terms of its Latino population, with around 9 million Latinos.

***Really, though, it’s apparent that white privilege makes whites incredibly stupid, probably from their overly comfortable lives and their lack of any challenges.

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