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Asleep at the Wheel of a Bulldozer

[1]2,690 words

“If you call yourself the Wonderful Company, you’d better damn well be wonderful, right?” — Lynda Resnick

Lynda and Stewart Resnick are “ashamed” and “very sorry.”

What could record-breaking philanthropists [2] feel ashamed about?

In 2010 the billionaire magnate couple purchased Justin Vineyards, a renowned winery based in Paso Robles, California.

El Paso de Robles means “the Pass of the Oaks.” Thus it is ironic that, after purchasing an estate called Sleepy Farm Road, the Resnicks quickly fell asleep at the wheel [3] and bulldozed thousands of mature oak trees. This was done to make room for 380 acres of vineyards that the drought-stricken wine country so desperately needed.

The community clamored. Dozens of local restaurants pulled Justin from their wine lists, evoking the “apology” that begins this article. Saving face is too generous an expression here, especially for intentionally faceless people.

The Resnicks malign authors who mention them [4] as readily as they refuse fluff pieces from media mogul friends like Arianna Huffington. As Stewart would say, “I’ve never given an interview to a newspaper or magazine before. I’ve told them all no. When you’re making the kind of money we’re making, what’s the upside? I’d rather be unknown than known.”

They’re simple blue jean farmers [5]. Why the secrecy?

America is in a looting stage not entirely dissimilar from the Bolshevik destruction of agrarian Russia. In the pillaging of America’s breadbasket, the Resnicks make a compelling case for public enemy number one.

Who Are the Resnicks?

While those on the East Coast may hear Resnick and conjure images of Burt Resnick, a longtime member of the Real Estate Board of New York. There is no apparent relationship between Stewart and Burt outside of physiognomy. Stewart claims plainly to be the son of a “middle-class Jewish bar owner from New Jersey.”

Stewart found his father’s drinking, gambling, and ties to the Jewish criminal underworld unpalatable, and moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s to pursue law school at UCLA. As the story goes, he put himself through law school by building a successful janitorial business “from scratch.”

He earned his first million before graduating law school. Before long, the future billionaire’s fledgling janitorial service (White Glove Building Maintenance) was grossing $7.4 million dollars annually. Impropriety was no stranger to the company, as we can see from a wage dispute lawsuit [6] awarded to White Glove employees in which Resnick was represented by Loren R. Rothschild.

Thus, when Stewart sought out an ad agency in 1970, he was looking to rehabilitate his company’s image. He didn’t need just any ad agency though. He needed one he could trust implicitly.

Enter stage left: Lynda Harris.

Lynda Resnick née Harris comes from a more illustrious (read: less obfuscated) family heritage. Her father, Jack Harris, was a successful Hollywood film producer whose resume includes the 1958 cult classic The Blob.

Despite his enormous wealth, her father allegedly refused to put her through art school. Thus, Lynda was forced to create her own ad agency “from scratch” at the age of 19.

While this ad agency is credited as her introduction to Stewart, it is worth noting that Lynda’s early notoriety came from her involvement in the publishing of the Pentagon Papers by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. (Ellsberg was later cleared of all wrongdoing after being represented by Leonard Boudin, father of Weather Underground terrorist Kathy Boudin, and grandfather to current San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin). The courts excused Lynda from the lawsuit after establishing she was more “dilettante” than radical. A laughable distinction given what we know now.

Somehow or another Lynda and Stewart’s paths crossed in the early 1970s. They were married shortly thereafter.

A Billion-Dollar Tip

In the late 70s, the Resnicks were vacationing in the south of France when they received a tip about a farm in California that needed a buyer. The farm, Paramount Farms, included 2,500 acres of arable farmland priced at a third of its appraised value. The Resnicks jumped on the opportunity to get into agriculture as a hedge against inflation.

Nearly ten years later as one of California’s worst recorded droughts desiccated property values, the Resnicks purchased an additional 18,000 acres of land for pennies on the dollar.

Shortly thereafter, as the drought worsened, California taxpayers fit the bill for a $148 million dollar water bank in Kern County with a 488-billion-gallon capacity. The intended function was to provide homes in Southern California with water for two years in event of catastrophe.

Coincidentally, Paramount Farms and the majority of the Resnicks’ land sits nearly on top of this taxpayer-funded water bank.

Trickle Down

Today, the Resnicks “don’t know” how much land they own in California, but admit the number is over 180,000 acres. Most of this land is allocated for pistachios, almonds, pomegranates, and mandarins.

Almonds and pistachios are notoriously water intensive. A single pound of yield requires 1,900 and 1,300 gallons of water, respectively. In the arid Central Valley, where farmers can expect 5-16 inches of rain annually, a crop that requires constant year-round irrigating should be untenable.

The untenable object has never met a greater foe than the immoral Jew.

(Note: Much of this land was once home to cotton farms. Cotton requires very little maintenance outside of harvesting season. Illegal immigrants came to the area for harvest and had no choice but to leave afterwards for lack of work. Tree nuts and citrus require year-round maintenance. As the top employer of illegal immigrants in California, the Resnicks have turned towns like Lost Hills into Third World microcosms with no discernible connection to America outside of location. The illegal immigrants who once sent money home to their families now simply bring their families to live with them on the Resnicks’ generous dime.)

The Resnicks needed more water than the land they purchased ever had the ability to provide. The solution? Pump the water south from the San Joaquin River Delta in Northern California.

In 1993, a year after the aforementioned drought had ended, the Department of Fish and Wildlife added the Delta Smelt to an endangered species list. The Delta smelt, endemic to the San Joaquin River Delta, are considered the indicator species of the entire delta. Their health is a barometer for the larger ecosystem’s wellbeing. Without the smelt, there are no salmon. Without the salmon, whale and shark populations suffer drastically.

The DFW determined that the cause for the dwindling smelt/salmon populations were the enormous pumps capturing the flow of water from the San Joaquin River Delta and pumping it south.

Because of this, all pumping was curtailed in 1993, leaving the Resnicks high and very dry.

This was in 1993, 14 years after the embargo issued by Jimmy Carter on Iran. Thanks to the Resnicks, the US had officially eclipsed Iran as the top pistachio and almond exporter in the world.

The Resnicks knew how debilitating it would be if the water source for their large and thirsty crop was limited. They immediately moved to sue the state, hiding behind California’s antiquated water policies designed to lure frontiersmen to the Golden State in the 1800s.

The Resnicks who claim to “have no political power [7]” and “wouldn’t use it” if they did, are the single largest individual donors to politicians in the state. They have proudly donated six figure sums to every governor since Pete Wilson.

Due to their apoliticism, only bureaucratic incompetence was a possible culprit for a “suspicious deal” struck between state officials and the oligarch farmers inhabiting the Central Valley.

The deal was this: Central Valley farmers relinquished 14 billion gallons of “paper water,” and in exchange, received private ownership of the Kern County Water Bank.

Paper water is as ridiculous as it sounds. In years of abundant rainfall, the farmers owe 14 billion gallons of hypothetical water to the state. There is no such thing as abundant rainfall in the Central Valley. It was an accounting trick; this paper water will never exist in our lifetimes.

One hand washes the other. Large real estate developers (read: low-income slumlords) in California must prove that their developments have a secure water source for decades into the future before breaking ground. Paper water miraculously fixed a problem real estate developers in Southern California had been struggling with for years, guaranteeing decades of water solvency in a critically overpopulated desert.

The Resnicks, who had given up the most imaginary water, received a majority stake on the water bank’s board. They received the rights to 246 of the 488 billion gallons of actual water the bank stored. This is enough water to supply the entire city of San Francisco with water for 15 years.

In addition, the Resnicks were given contracts that allowed them to purchase water from the state in wet years. They buy this water for as little as $28 per acre foot and store it in their private water bank. In drought years, the Resnicks have made over $30 million selling the *same* water back to the state for as much as $196 dollars per acre foot.

The problem is, it’s not the same water. Private water storage facilities aren’t beholden to the same quality assurance requirements as their public counterparts. The water the Resnicks sell back to the state is of significantly poorer quality. For example, water pumped out of the Kern Water Bank by one of the Resnicks fellow stakeholders, Semitropic, had arsenic levels six times higher than federal EPA limits. [8] American pistachios are considered subordinate to international alternatives because farmers like the Resnicks use contaminated water. It’s unlikely that the Resnicks even eat their own Wonderful pistachios.

They may not eat them, but the rest of the country has been “crackin [9]’” in record amounts, thanks to the budgetless marketing blitzkrieg strategy Lynda Resnick is known for. They got the country hooked on pistachios, the environment be damned; they need more water.

Unfortunately for the Resnicks, green states like California are sensitive to issues of animal endangerment. In 2009, public sentiment was still in favor of the lowly Delta smelt, and by extension, restrictions on pumping additional water south.

So Stewart “no political power” Resnick wrote to his good friend and chair of the energy and water panel of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Diane Feinstein. He claimed that studies which concluded that the smelt was on the verge of extinction were “sloppy science.” Feinstein then pressured the Obama administration to review the biological opinions that protected the Delta smelt.

The administration promptly invited representatives of the Resnicks’ own Coalition for a Sustainable Delta to testify on the matter. Shockingly, the testimonies of those representatives coincided exactly with the Resnicks’ interests.

The administration proceeded to commission a $750,000 study into the San Joaquin River Delta. The study concluded, once again, that the Delta was on the verge of collapse due to the southwardly water diversion.

Feinstein has since tried to sneak amendments onto jobs stimulus bills that would suspend rules protecting the Delta and attempted to push similar bills through lame-duck sessions in Congress. Leftist environmental groups bristle at her obsequiousness to traditionally conservative big-agriculture groups. I imagine it’s quite confusing for them. What could these groups possibly have in common?

The Resnicks’ latest plaything, current California governor Gavin Newsom, is fully onboard with his benefactor’s latest plan to drain Northern California. The approval of the Delta Tunnel [10] has, fortunately, been hampered by the ongoing effort to recall Newsom. You will never guess what couple is funding Stop the Republican Recall of Gavin Newsom. [7]

For the record, the estimated cost of this Delta Tunnel is nearly $16 billion. The high-speed train from nowhere to nowhere that is still incomplete a decade later was initially estimated to cost less than $6 billion. That number is now in excess of $100 billion.

The Delta Tunnel helps nobody but robber baron “farmers” like the Resnicks. It’s a brazen example of Jews demanding America fit the bill for our own noose while they drive off laughing in a Brinks truck.

A Tie that Binds

The Resnicks are bonafide “limousine liberals.” The cocktail parties at their garish 25,000 square foot Beverly Hills mansion are attended by the likes of Feinstein, the Clintons, Arianna Huffington, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.

Despite their progressive leanings and allegiances, the Resnicks are trustees for the always-hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy, high profile donors for the American Jewish Committee, and in Stewart’s case, a board member of the Mossad-aligned Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. These sorts of affiliations align more with John McCain than suitors of the Clintons.

What could possibly make bleeding-heart liberals like the Resnicks break bread with hardline neocons?

In 1979 shortly after the Resnicks made their foray into agriculture, Jimmy Carter enacted a full trade embargo on Iran as a response to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. At the time, Iran was overwhelmingly the largest producer and exporter of pistachios and one of the sole net exporters of pomegranates and almonds in the world.

Yasha Levina distills it nicely in his seminal article “A Journey Through Oligarch Valley [11]”:

Economic sanctions (on Iran) are what have allowed the Resnicks to create their pistachio empire, which would suffer a severe blow if relations with Iran were ever normalized. Iran’s pistachios are considered to be superior to America’s, so much so that Israelis still buy Iranian pistachios shipped in through Turkey. Surely the Resnicks would never be able to compete with Iran on the pistachio free market.

And so the Resnicks did what any smart and ruthless American would do: they made common cause with oil companies, islamophobes, neocons and Likudniks, and began funneling money to think tanks and political advocacy groups that take a hardline approach with Iran. Economic sanctions, sabotage, vilification–all these things worked in the Resnicks’ interest. Bombing some of Iran’s pistachio fields wouldn’t be so bad, either…

In another glaring show of support for their greatest ally, Israelis (top ranking pistachio consumers in the world per capita) refuse to eat paltry American pistachios. Instead, they buy Iranian pistachios repackaged through Turkey to avoid American sanctions that Israeli interest groups lobby every American president to renew.

Making the Desert Bloom-berg

All too often Israel’s existence and crimes in the Middle East are excused because “those Jews made the desert bloom!”

Anyone who has flown over, or driven through California recently can see, instead, what it looks like to make a desert bloom-berg.

The state looks dead. The lakes are all reminiscent of the Aral Sea [12] which, I might add, there is a non-zero chance that some relative of the Resnicks had a hand in destroying.

The ground is cracked, dry, and oftentimes burnt or smoldering from the incessant wildfires that the drought-conditions provoke. If that wasn’t enough, the state is literally sinking.

The same antiquated California water policies that the Resnicks hide behind whenever questions are raised about their water usage, allow them to drill as many wells on their land as they like and pump groundwater ad infinitum. These wells are kept out of public record.

Since the 1920s the Central Valley has sunk 30 feet due to subsidence. No agency is tracking the sinking, and the last comprehensive survey was in the 1970s.

As the state sinks, infrastructure collapses. In the past decade, billions of dollars have been spent on the premature repair of roads, bridges, canals, railroads etc. damaged by subsistence.

It’s no secret that the unrestricted mining of California’s natural aquifers is the root cause. Nobody wants to point a finger at the problems in California. Acknowledging problems means they might get fixed, and fixing things means less money in your budget for maintenance and repair.

To the Resnicks, water is a crop, not a human right. If this seems like hyperbole, know that the Resnicks own Fiji Water company, whose range of controversies [13] read like a madlib where the blank space is a noun of your choosing followed by the word “abuse.”

Yet, the Resnicks sidestep criticism from environmentalists and human rights groups by shape-shifting into altruistic philanthropists whenever public finger-pointing targets their rubbing palms.

After all, if irreparable destruction of America is your goal, you had better damn well be Wonderful©.

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