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Golden State Hypocrisy
One California for me, another for thee.

State Senator Leland Yee

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Victor Davis Hanson

No place on the planet is as beautiful and as naturally rich as California. And few places have become as absurd.

Currently, three California state senators are either under felony indictment or already have been convicted.

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State senator Leland Yee (D., San Francisco) made a political career out of demanding harsher state gun-control laws. Now he is facing several felony charges for attempting to facilitate gun-running. One count alleges that Lee sought to provide banned heavy automatic weapons to Philippines-based Islamic terrorist groups.

State senator Ron Calderon (D., Montebello), who had succeeded one brother, Thomas, in the state assembly and was succeeded by another, Charles, now faces felony charges of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, and falsification of tax returns.

State senator Roderick Wright (D., Inglewood) originally entered politics as a champion of social justice. Not long ago, the Democratic leaders of the California senate in secretive fashion paid $120,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual-harassment suit against Wright. This time around, not even his fellow senators could save Wright, who was convicted earlier this year on eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud.

What is the common denominator between all three California senators — aside from the fact that they are still receiving their salaries?

One, they are abject hypocrites who campaigned against old-boy insider-influence peddling so they could get elected to indulge in it.

Two, they assumed that their progressive politics shielded them from the sort of public scrutiny and consequences that usually deter such deplorable behavior.

Criminal activity is the extreme manifestation of California’s institutionalized progressive hypocrisy. Milder expressions of double standards explain why California has become such a bizarre place.

The state suffers from the highest combined taxes in the nation and nearly the worst roads and schools. It is home to more American billionaires than any other state, but also more impoverished residents. California is more naturally endowed with a combination of gas, oil, timber, and minerals than any other state — with the highest electricity prices and gas taxes in the nation.

To understand these paradoxes, keep in mind one common principle. To the degree a Californian is politically influential, wealthy, or well connected — and loudly progressive — the more he is immune from the downside of his own ideology.

Big money is supposed to be bad for politics. But no money plays a bigger role in influencing policy than California’s progressive cash, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley. Billionaire hedge-fund operator Tom Steyer is canonized, but he is on track to rival the oft-demonized Koch brothers in the amount of money he has spent on influencing policymakers and getting his type of politicians elected.

Nowhere are there more Mercedes and BMWs per capita than in California’s tony coastal enclaves. And nowhere will you find more anti-carbon activism or more restrictive laws against new oil production that ensure the highest gasoline prices in the continental United States for the less well-off.

California’s reserves of natural gas exceed those of nearly every other state. And in California, electricity prices are the highest in the nation. The cost falls on those in the interior and Sierra, who suffer either from scorching summertime temperatures or bitterly cold winters. Those who set energy policies mostly live in the balmy coastal corridor, where there is no need for expensive air conditioning or constant home heating.

In drought-stricken California, building new Sierra Nevada dams and reservoirs was long ago considered passé, but not the idea of diverting precious stored water from agricultural use to help out fish.

Yet the waters of the Sierra Nevada Hetch Hetchy reservoir are exempt from such fish diversions, apparently because they supply 80 percent of San Francisco’s daily water supply. Those who wish to either stop more dam construction or to divert dammed reservoir water from its original intended use draw the line on restricting their own quite unnatural water sources.

High-speed rail is billed as the transportation of the future in California. But its progressive coastal boosters believe that it should first be tried out on farmers in sparsely settled rural areas rather than in their own precious high-density Bay Area or Los Angeles.

In California, open borders and non-enforcement of existing immigration law are also popular progressive causes. But the immediate impact of illegal immigration on public schools is circumvented for the elite by the growing number of private prep schools along the coast.

Professing that you are progressive can be wise California politics. It means you sound too caring ever to do bad things, while the costly consequences of your ideology usually fall on someone else. And that someone is usually less hip, less wealthy, and less powerful.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals. You can reach him by e-mailing [email protected]. © 2014 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


Democrat Rogues Gallery
The arrest this week of California state senator Leland Yee on corruption and gun charges is only the latest in a recent run of Democratic political scandals across the country. Here’s a look at the party’s growing hall of shame.
Yee is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to transport and sell firearms without a license — ironic given the San Francisco pol’s longtime crusade for gun control and against violent video games. The FBI also accuses Yee of ties to a Chinese triad — including one Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow — and seeking to aid Islamist militants.
MAYOR’S OFFICES: Bob Filner (San Diego, Calif.) In a foreshock of sorts for the Dems, Filner cut a deal with the city council and resigned in disgrace in August 2013 following a conviction on sexual harassment charges and widespread allegations of piggish behavior towards weomen. (“War on women” anyone…?)
Patrick Cannon (mayor, Charlotte, N.C.) Indicted in a federal court this week on public corruption charges, Cannon is accused of influence-peddling including cash payoffs and trips to Sin City. Among the allegations are that he promised to aid zoning for a nightclub in return for an “investment” in a new feminine hygiene product named “HERS.”
Ray Nagin (New Orleans, La.) Convicted in January on corruption charges for accepting bribes from city contractors that included money, vacation travel, and truckloads of granite for his personal business. Nagin denounced the Big Easy’s reputation for corruption when he ran for mayor in 2002.
Tony Mack (former mayor, Trenton, N.J.) Convicted in February on six counts of corruption for accepting cash bribes related to a downtown parking garage.
Kwame Kilpatrick (former mayor, Detroit, Mi.) Convicted on extortion, bribery, and conspiracy charges and sentenced to 28 years in prison in October 2013, Kilpatrick had previously been convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, and extortion. Government prosecutors referred to his yearslong scheme to shake down contractors and reward allies as the “Kilpatrick enterprise.”
THE STATE HOUSES: Ronald Calderon (state senator, Calif.) Facing a 24-count federal indictment on bribery and corruption charges, including allegations of accepting plane trips, gourmet meals, golf games, and nearly $100,000 for political favors, as well as paying his daughter for a phony office job. Calderon is currently on a paid leave.
Keith Farnham (state representative, Ill.) State and federal raids targeted Farnham last week over allegations of possession of child pornography. Farnham — who has sponsored two bills to boost penalties for child porn — resigned his seat after the raids, citing “serious health issues.”
Carlos Henriquez (state representative, Mass.) Convicted in January and sentenced to six months in prison for a 2012 assault where he held down a woman and punched her in the chest after she refused to have sex with him. The Massachusetts House voted to expel Henriquez in February.
LeAnna Washington (state senator, Pa,) Headed to trial on felony theft of services and felony conflict of interest charges, Washington is accused of forcing her legislative staff to use taxpayer time and money for her own birthday party, with proceeds diverted to her campaign coffers. One staffer accuses her of screaming “I do what the f*** I want!”
Roderick Wright (state senator, Calif.) Convicted in January of felony perjury, false declaration of candidacy, and fraudulent voting, Wright was caught living outside the district he represented (in nicer digs), and is now on leave.
Bill Scarborough (state assemblyman, N.Y.) Scarborough’s home and office were recently raided by the FBI and state authorities as part of a probe into his use of travel vouchers, including $60 grand in questionable per-diems.
Gordon Fox (state representative, R.I.) The state house speaker is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI, the IRS, and state police, Fox stepped down after his office and home were raided. No word yet on the specifics of Fox’s alleged activities.
WASHINGTON: Harry Reid (U.S. senator, Nev.) A Federal Election Commission investigation pressured the Senate majority leader into admitting he had sent nearly $17,000 in campaign funds to his granddaughter, funds he had sought to describe as “holiday gifts” for what his office described to a reporter as a “campaign vendor.”
Updated: Mar. 28, 2014

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