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The worst opinion piece you'll read on California's elections

Brain dead.

That's the briefest and most accurate description for this Wall Street Journal piece by Allysia Finley  on California's election results. She fills her bad attempt at political snark with so many cliches and tired right-wing riffs on California that you could probably reproduce much of the article without having read it first. This excerpt captures the piece's proud ignorance:

You appropriately give your government low marks — 28% approval for outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, 16% for the Legislature — yet you continue to reelect the politicians who got you into this mess. Not a single incumbent state legislator lost reelection this year, including one Democrat who died a month ago (no joke). What's scarier is that you've just given almost all of the keys to statewide offices to Democrats.

Jerry Brown will be your new (old) governor. This is the man who acted as a gateway drug to your spending addiction three decades ago when he gave public-sector employees collective bargaining rights. Helping enforce your wacky laws will be Lt. Gov-elect Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who flouted state law by allowing same-sex marriage. On the plus side, he has nice hair and loves you just the way you are.

I guess I'll start with Brown.

Yes, he signed legislation giving public employees the right to unionize. But to trump up this fact as indicative of California's collective insanity ignores Brown's more mixed record as governor, including his enthusiastic implementation of Proposition 13, which won him the support of anti-tax crusader Howard Jarvis. The point has been brought up enough times  -- mainly in response to Meg Whitman's and other conservatives' efforts to misrepresent Brown's record -- that you'd figure his critics would have quit typecasting him as the liberal pariah who brought down the California empire.

Finley's Newsom dig is even more off-base, considering his largely ceremonial role as lieutenant governor involves infinitely less than "helping enforce [California's] wacky laws."

Regarding Finley's point about incumbent state legislators, she's right as far as she goes. But Californians also passed Proposition 20, the redistricting measure that promises to make incumbent victories rarer in the future. And her dead legislator point about state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who passed away two weeks before the election, is shamelessly glib. Oropeza represented an overwhelmingly Democratic district, one in which, like almost all in California, the challenging party almost never has a chance. You could say Oropeza's reelection says less about the Democrats who elected her and more about the Republican she was up against.

Which brings me to my larger point, one that I'll relate as a note to Finley, just as she does with us Californians: It isn't us; it's you. We have no problem electing Republicans to high posts, even privately wealthy ones with almost no government experience. But you gave us Whitman and Carly Fiorina, each of whom ran against more seasoned (and arguably more electable) Republican opponents in their respective primaries. Whitman's prodigious spending stood in stark contrast to Brown's more humble operation, and Fiorina couldn't shake her reputation as a failed Silicon Valley CEO who fired thousands of employees. In a year conservatives started out ahead, Republicans offered two candidates who had little more going for them than personal wealth.

Finley touches on several worthy points, including California's crushing unfunded pension liability and the state's byzantine system of regulatory boards and commissions. But using the state's systemic problems to make a point about inept legislators -- and Democratic ones only, please -- doesn't advance the conversation already underway in California about meaningfully addressing our deep problems.

And a joke about Birkenstocks in the biography? Only the most curmudgeonly of California's conservatives would laugh at that one.

-- Paul Thornton




Comments () | Archives (7)

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Wow, you mean the liberal LA Times didn't like the article in the WSJ? Go figure. Oh, and if you think it's not the Democrats who are to blame for the idiotic regulatory environment, unfunded pensions, and out of control labor unions in our state, then you are either blind or ignorant. Do you realize how many people and businesses are leaving this state because of these issues? Also, do you realize that every single union in the state supports the Democratic candidates each election? Do you think that is coincidence?

The following quote has been floating around for some time now, and whether or not you believe it to be an actual quote from centuries ago is irrelevant. It doesn't really matter if it was said 250 years ago or 250 days ago - the truth is, it sums up the current state of California.

"...a democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy..."

Too many people in our state want something for nothing!

John Stammreich

As the Republican referenced here, I'd like to point out the nearly $300K spent AFTER Oropeza's death in what was allegedly a safe Democratic district. What it points out is that the late Senator was more popular post-mortem than pre-mortem. The entire Democratic Party won't be able to come to the rescue of the next Democrat I challenge!

The L.A. Times totally misses the point of the WSJ Op-Ed. California didn't even try to look for center-left or center-right candidates. It went for the same fools in both parties that have been messing up this state for over 10 years! and it knew so little that it even re-elected my opponent, thnking that they'll actually get another Latina in her place! There are no Latinas, or even Latinos, viable enough to run for this seat!

Those that are determined to fix this state can take heart in the passing of Prop 20 and the failure of Prop 27. The 2012 districts will be much more challenging for the lazy incumbents who refused to debate their challengers in 2010!

The tone of this article says EVEN more about the attitude of the average L.A. Times voter if they read this article and agree...

Dave S.

Yes, the Wall Street Journal use to epitomize Wall Street integrity.
Everyone knows that Rupert Murdoch, aka the "Joseph Goebbels"
of Fox News bought the WSJ, right?
What did you expect from Joseph Goebbels, the truth?
If you believe that, would you like to buy the Staples Center?

Bastard Child of NancyPelosi

Paul, are your Socialist Party membership dues paid current? Douchbeag. Go write for a paper in Santa Monica you scumbag Socialist moron. Remember, big business and right-wing entreprenuers pay the taxes you left-wing pus*** want to spend on entitlement crap and artsy-fartsy bull***, saving tree frogs and the other lame things you morons spend money on.


Loved "Bastard child of Nancy Pelosi's" foaming at the mouth
nervous breakdown post!

No doubt another self-described entrepreneur who can't even
spell entrepreneur!


Why did California not feel the urgency to replace the Democrat Devils we Know with the Devils we Don't Know in hopes of solving their fiscal crisis?

My theory is that it is because the Democrats in Washington had assured them they had an unlimited "Line Of Credit" provided by the Administration and funded by the more prudent Taxpayers of other states; Paul is very happy that Obama will rob Peter to float 40 million a day from Washington to Sacramento!

Nick Kouris

Amen brother, Amen. Florida just "gave the keys" away to its statwide offices almost entirely to Republicans, among them a number of high-spending, questionably competent incumbents as well as a Republican businessman (with no experience in government) for governor. His former company was fined under his tenure as CEO by the Federal government for Medicare fraud.

I am genuinely curious (although not optimistic)to see which state fairs better four years from today-(Governor Scott is sworn in tomorrow in Florida). California, with its 72 year old Democrat demonized by the far right as a getway drug to spending along with a majority of voters who have agreed to support mimimum funding for public schools as safe from budget cuts; or Florida, with its youngish, smiling, businessman governor who is being advised by his team of advisors to pull funding out of outdated and expensive institutions like say, for example, public libraries. His campaign rallying cry is: Let's get to work!

Let's get to work, indeed, unless you work in a public library.

As a former Caifornian and a current Floridian, I am fascinated by this experiment being done on opposite coasts by two states who could be mirror opposites. These are interesting times we live in, indeed.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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