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California's morons in the Legislature

June 27, 2011 |  2:03 pm

Capitol Are the Republicans in California's Legislature really morons?

If you took to heart Gregory Rodriguez's column Monday, your answer would be "I don't know."

In case you missed it, Gov. Jerry Brown's press secretary, Gil Duran, said in an interview on KPCC:  

"The Republicans in Sacramento are basically moronic. But we're hopeful that they can realize we're on an unsustainable trajectory here, one that is not fiscally responsible and one for which they are at least partially responsible."

And he wasn't finished. Duran also questioned Republicans' competence in drafting the policy changes they are seeking.

"Those aren't their reforms. They aren't smart enough to write reforms. They don't know the first thing about the details of reforms. We have to do the work. Those are our reforms," Duran said.

Some folks -- presumably Republicans -- took exception to his observations.  Although on The Times website, some insisted that Republicans actually came out ahead in this battle because the Democrats’ use of name-calling was an admission of defeat.

Some threw in some name-calling of their own, which prompted some reverse name-calling -- you get the picture.

Now personally, I think a little name-calling is just fine. It clears the air, lets people know you’re frustrated, allows you to blow off steam so you can get back to real bargaining.

However, perhaps Duran would have been better off reading Rodriguez's column before he spoke:

There's plenty of grousing about the lopsided ratio of opinion to fact in our lives. But what irks me more is that these days it seems everyone is obligated to have a point of view on every issue…

We seem to be obsessed with opinions because we take them to be a marker of individual independence, distinctiveness and reasoned intelligence. Expressing opinions is how we also express our freedom of conscience and flex our political rights. But when we're obliged to have an opinion on everything, all the time, our expressions of conscience are less about independent thinking than about making stuff up.

To drive his point home, Rodriguez falls back on Socrates, who's a pretty good guy to have in your corner in any argument:

Almost 2,500 years ago, Socrates was way out ahead on the "no opinion" option. On trial for the equivalent of heresy in Athens, he sparred with a pompous politician over the meaning of wisdom. He won: "I appear to be wiser than he," Socrates wrote, "because I do not fancy I know what I do not know."

Which, of course, Socrates could say because he was, well, Socrates. I doubt it works as well when you’re arguing with a guy holding a Bud Light and a pool cue.

California schools being what they are, it probably doesn't work with the Legislature either.

So allow me to quote Plato:

"Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something."

But in Democrats versus Republicans in California, who are the "wise men" and who are the "fools"?

Uh  -- I don't know?


With budget talks stuck, blame game begins

Donation to governor’s residence fund is disclosed

Jerry Brown says Proposition 13 could be tested if budget talks fail

--Paul Whitefield

Photo: California state Capitol. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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