What's The Matter With California?

Saw this book on the shelf today and can’t wait to pick it up–because it presumes to answer a question I’ve been asking myself for various reasons since I arrived here. The author is Jack Cashill, a World Net Daily columnist who, though he expounds some of their more lurid Clinton conspiracy theories (Flight 800 was a terrorist attack that was covered up, Ron Brown’s plane was…well, not sure how far he takes that one), still tells a pretty good story about the Left Coast.

Growing up…I did not realize I lived in a particularly crowded place. I never presumed that I was entitled to a seat on the subway, a diamond lane on the parkway, or a virgin stretch of beach to run around naked on. The people in California do, and that is, I would learn, part of what’s the matter.

The title, of course, is a play on the title of Thomas Frank’s book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”, which wondered why Kansans kept voting conservative when anyone could see that progressives really had their best interests at heart. Apparently Frank’s salvo at Kansas mentioned Jack Cashill by name, and inspired a retaliatory book. I love this kind of reversal–conservatives have often complained about liberals going off to study us as if we were some sort of freakish anthropological oddity, like (as Jonah Goldberg put it) Dian Fossey chasing her Gorillas in the Mist. Well, here’s a fellow from Kansas City donning his pith helmet and hacking through the jungles of the Golden State, notebook in hand and tongue in cheek.

It’s a question that concerns the nation, not just California, since so many of the crazy ideas that land on the rest of the country arrive there courtesy of the the progressive whiz kids running the show out here. Not content to reduce their own state to a destitute, near-socialist moral shambles, Californians like Nancy Pelosi are eager to export the Palominocrat agenda to the rest of the country. What’s wrong with California will likely very soon be wrong with your neck of the woods as well.

I tell visitors here that California represents the best and worst of America: It’s rich, tolerant, creative, dynamic, and beautiful. It’s also vain, avaricious, collectivist, anti-intellectual, and oversexed. The contradictions are vexing: how can the state that gave us Reagan give us so many Jerry Browns? How can the home of the San Fernando valley porn industry also give us American religious phenomena like Aimee Semple McPherson and Rick Warren? How do Cal Berkeley and the Claremont Institute spring from the same weird soil?

Some of the problems are obvious: an entitled liberal aristocracy (especially in Hollywood, but also the Bay Area jet set), race-hustling politicians, a Democratic political machine with great job security, an unchecked flow of immigrants with no incentive to assimilate, too many green activists with too much power, no conservative newspaper to balance the dull leftist mediocrity of the LA Times and the SF Chronic…

I could go on ad nauseum, but I’ll bet you Hottie commenters have some pretty good ideas about what’s wrong with California as well.