Friends call. Acquaintances email. (I don’t text, Facebook, or tweet.) (But my students still are shocked that I know what’s what.) The message of concern: “Dov, I heard about the earthquake. Are you OK?”
Yes, I’m OK.
It was a 6.4, but I slept through this one. Before I moved from the New York City area to The Homeless State thirty-some years ago, back when it was called The Golden State, I used to think that earthquakes were like the Torah’s description of what became of Korach and his rebellion against Moses:
Scarcely had he finished speaking all these words when the ground under them split asunder, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all Korach’s people and all their possessions. They went down alive into Sheol, with all that belonged to them; the earth closed over them, and they vanished from the midst of the congregation. (Numbers 16:31-33)
I thought — no fault of mine — that was how California earthquakes were: The earth splits and opens, and buildings and houses fall in. I arrived here and — whew! — learned quickly enough: Not so! Rather, the earth shakes a few moments, sometimes for seconds, rarely even a minute. And then it is over. The game then immediately begins, as we argue with each other and even lay bets over the exact number: Was it a 2.8? A 3.2? No way over a 4.0!
Well, this one was a 6.4, but its epicenter was outside California’s largest media markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
When I first moved here, I remember walking one day in a multi-level indoor parking lot to retrieve my car. As I walked along the ramp, I felt the floor rattling, hovering up and down a bit, as each car raced by, some driving up the ramps, others down. I immediately hustled to the security station to report my sense that the ramps and the structure were about to collapse. The security guard knowingly laughed:
“You’re new to California, huh?,” he giggled.
“Yeah, how did you know?”
He laughed again.
It turns out that California really has earthquakes figured out. The parking lots, the bridges, the roadways, the residential buildings: all are built on a foundation and with construction that is ever-so-slightly less rigid than elsewhere in the universe. It is constructed with a bit of “give” so that any time the earth shakes, the ramp/bridge/building can rattle a bit and yet not crack from rigidity. It really is brilliant. That is why earthquakes of such smaller magnitude kill so many hundreds and thousands in India, Iran, Iraq, and other places spelled that way, as well as in Mexico and other places to our south, while they barely register on the catastrophe scale in California. California learned from the Great San Francisco quake and others later how to alleviate the effects of the quakes.
Likewise, the way we set up and furnish our homes. I have a personal library of more than 4,000 books — Torah, Talmud, Judaic Legal Code (halakhic), and Rabbinic Responsa literature in Hebrew, Aramaic, and English; scores of secular American law horn books and legal treatises; a full library of American history and American civics; another of Jewish history and sociology; another of broad-based theology; and a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf that I keep amid a shelf of books about the Irgun and the Jewish Underground’s fight for Israel’s independence. That means I have approximately 15 to 20 full-height bookcases. In California, the day after the movers settle you into a home with such a library, you have the Handyman or Earthquake Guy come over and bolt each bookcase into the wall. They find the wall’s wood beams with the “geiger counter” thing a person can buy in any hardware store. They nail one end of a very strong strap or other slightly flexible securing device into the beam, and they nail the other end into the bookcase. When a shaker hits, the bookcase maybe rattles a bit, and maybe a few books fall out, but it withstands the quake because the bookcase is secured firmly even as the strap has that flexible “give” that prevents it from snapping. Likewise, you keep your expensive Baccarat crystal vases and Kosta Boda crystal bowls away from the edges of your surfaces. That’s it.
The only ones who take a really nasty hit are the owners of liquor stores. Ouch!
Sure, when the epicenter is closer to a heavily populated and more concentrated metropolis — like the 6.9 Great World Series Quake of 1989, which hit, of all times, amid the Fall Classic’s third game between the San Francisco Giants and the neighboring Oakland Athletics — that has a more devastating impact. Likewise, the 6.7 Northridge Quake of 1994, which hit the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles particularly hard. But even then, even with bridge and road damage, with structures ruined and injuries, the sophistication in earthquake preparedness alleviates catastrophe and results in comparatively minimal human loss of life.
We Californians are amazed, given the relative infrequency of earthquakes here and even greater infrequency of destructive ones, how our non-California friends, relatives, and associates get freaked out when they hear about a quake. We look at each other and wonder how people, whose truly deadly and perilously fatal Midwestern tornadoes, Southeastern hurricanes, Heartland floods, Northeastern ice storms and blizzards, and Urban-Democrat-Controlled Inner-City Mass Shootings can sit there, fretting over a shaker that comes once every, oh, whenever.
The reality is that people concerned about California earthquakes focus on the wrong 6.4 temblor. Don’t worry about the shakers; they can be minimized, and they pass. The ones that are toxic and endemic are the Democrats who turned California into a one-dog town and destroyed the Golden State. Not all that long ago, California elected great governors like George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, and they gave us great judges and courts. This state elected Ronald Reagan as governor. If he does not get elected governor, he does not emerge with the “bona fides” to make it to president. If he does not make it to president, we now could be in either our tenth or twentieth year under some Ayatollah or President Vladimir Putin or in the eighth term of Tsar Bernie the Breadline. (Breadlines are a good thing.)
When I arrived here in 1987 to become rabbi of, like, a congregation in, like, Woodland Hills in, like, The Valley — What … eh … ver! — Southern California still had its Golden sheen. People were so polite that they did not even jaywalk; they were not in such a rush anyway. And if some visiting rude New Yorker did jaywalk, cars stopped in the middle of the street to let him cross. It was not New York City. It really was La-dee-da. La-La Land.
Decades of illegal immigration changed all that. In fact, for once and for all, let’s stop calling them “illegals.” They are not “illegals.” Let’s start calling them what they really are: Imported Voters.
Imported Voters changed all that. The Imported Voters came from dire poverty, with limited English skills and limited passion for our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They came to escape the dregs amid them in search of safety, free food, free shelter, free healthcare, free education, free college, free-free-free. The Democrats promised them all that, and the Imported Voters reciprocated by giving the Democrats the only thing required: their votes. As a result, California underwent a 6.4 social earthquake — and the epicenter was anywhere and everywhere that people live.
When you offer free food, people lacking food flood in. Get it? Offer free medical care, and guess what? Offer free this and free that, and guess what?
In the end, the streets of San Francisco today are not what Karl Malden encountered in his 1970s TV show. Rather, today’s modern Frisco is comprised of sidewalks filled with the mentally ill and the addicted — people to whom Lombardi Street seems straight. Likewise in Los Angeles. Instead of extending compassion to The Homeless and bringing them in for mental care and addiction treatment, the Compassionate Progressives throw money at them on the sidewalks. Free needles. Free this, free that.
And guess what? The Sanctuary City Mayors can’t figure out why, but instead of the massive money allocations curing and reducing the homeless epidemics here, the cash infusions instead have attracted even more homeless from everywhere else, doubling and even trebling the street situation. They are humans, and they need to defecate and micturate. Without toilets, they do so on the streets. Their food leftovers, with their excretory byproducts, brings rats and even typhus. Typhus.
Remember when Hyphen-Cortez complained about that? I don’t, either.
This is the state that Gavin Newsom (rhymes with “gruesome”) governs and that Kamala Harris would ride, as she earlier did Willie Brown, to the White House. They destroyed something beautiful for all but the wealthy. Under their Progressive Caring, The Homeless State now is populated primarily by the Very Wealthy and the Profoundly Destitute. The Middle Class has fled the high taxes, the crazy gasoline prices, the insane home costs exacerbated by the most exacting of zoning laws that the Very Wealthy impose to minimize new home construction in their neighborhoods and thereby maintain exorbitant real estate values. In Silicon Valley, the very wealthy flourish. They eat their meals in their high-tech facilities to avoid the “riffraff” they Progressively and Compassionately despise. They live in lily-white neighborhoods, surrounded by big beautiful walls and armed guards, to keep out the “riffraff” and to assure that their children never have to encounter them in exclusive school.
They make movies in Georgia. Think about that Alyssa Milano boycott thing: The boycott threat arises because Hollywood makes its movies and TV shows in Georgia. Why? Does Idaho grow its potatoes in Florida? Why doesn’t Hollywood make films in Hollywood anymore? Answer: Because they refuse to pay the exorbitant taxes they and their Compassionate Progressive failed social programs have imposed on everyone else. Therefore, they set up tax homes in nearby Arizona and Nevada, both tax-free states.
There remain pockets of California that remain what was. Many parts of San Diego, for example. And despite the ballot-harvesting fiasco of the 2018 bi-election, Orange County is Republican and conservative, except for a few pockets. I insisted this after the Democrats ballot-harvested the Congressional seats, and some on the left challenged my assertion. Then the 2019 elections came — less than a year later — and the Republican conservative handily won the election for Orange County supervisor, beating the very famous Democratic Left Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez along the way. His biggest problem was that five other conservative Republicans also ran and split votes. The Democrat Sanchez? A bare 37 percent. The rest went to Republicans.
Thus, if you must focus on a California earthquake, that is where the focus should lie. The Democrats have destroyed so much that once was Golden. They have micturated our money on Trains-to-Nowhere, on Medicare and Medicaid and medics for Imported Voters, on free college for Imported Voters — at the expense of the children of taxpaying citizens who sustain those colleges, but who must either send their kids to colleges out of state or bribe athletic coaches to put their kids on the rowing teams. It is a frightening shame that once was, no longer is, and perhaps never shall be again.