Thursday, June 28, 2012


George Orwell famously observed that some ideas are so foolish, only a member of the intelligentsia could believe them. Had he lived another sixty-two years, the noted author might have revised his comment to include not-so-intellectual jurists and the current Vice-President--folks whose views have been inordinately shaped by sit-coms like “Will and Grace.”

A bit more than two weeks ago the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reconsider the 2-1 ruling by a judicial panel that overturned the almost 600,000 votes by which Proposition 8 passed in 2008.

That proposition defined marriage as it has always been understood throughout history—as the union of a man and a woman. But Judge Stephen Reinhardt, utilizing his legal training to do just what he wanted to do in any case, penned a decision that invalidated Proposition 8 without ruling on the merits of the question that over 13 million Californians voted on.

In his opinion Reinhardt overturned a huge statewide election because, “California had already extended to committed same-sex couples both the incidents of marriage and the official designation of ‘marriage.’” In fact, it wasn’t “California” but a handful of judges that extended the marital designation in contravention of the expressed wishes of California voters (61 to 39 percent) in the year 2000.

Topping that mischaracterization was the assertion that Proposition 8 had no rational basis—that its only purpose was “to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”

In his dissent to the court’s most recent Prop. 8 ruling, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain observed that Reinhardt’s opinion was based on a “gross misapplication of Romer v. Evans…that would be unrecognizable to the justices who joined it, to those who dissented from it, and to the judges from sister circuits who have since interpreted it.”

Lesser mortals without Reinhardt’s talent for legal sleight of hand might have had second thoughts about equating the druthers of a few black-robed jurists with “California” and impugning (through his misuse of Romer) the motives of seven million Californians.

Reinhardt and company, however, were eager to dismiss as hateful views that coincide with the mores of every major civilization and the traditional teachings of every major religion—views that embrace the formerly taken-for-granted idea that procreation and the care of both a mother and father are integral to an institution whose very existence derives from society’s view of a child’s best interests.

It is possible that the Supreme Court will take up this case. But if not, one could accurately say that an absurd policy will govern California largely thanks to a few ideologues and a Hollywood sit-com.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Chuck DeVore was elected three times to the California Assembly, serving the 70th District that includes Irvine and coastal constituents stretching southward from Newport Beach. In 2010 he sought, unsuccessfully, the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination.

Nowadays DeVore makes his home in Dripping Springs, Texas—a growing recreational area 25 miles west of Austin. He’s also become a Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The exodus of a former legislator, aerospace executive, and army intelligence officer wouldn’t be newsworthy if the move weren’t repeated many times over by businesses throughout the state.

Recently DeVore explained his “Divorce from the Golden State” in an article for Fox News. The piece noted that while Texas and California both have an abundance of natural resources, long coastlines, diverse populations, and borders with Mexico, the states differ dramatically when it comes to their philosophies of government.

For example, while California subsidizes expensive solar projects and obstructs traditional energy production, Texas welcomes oil and gas exploration. As a consequence, that state added over 36,000 jobs in those industries last year—more than all the jobs in California’s solar sector.

The negative comparisons go on from there and include tax rates, government spending, pension obligations, business climate, teachers per-capita (Texas, DeVore says, has 17% more than California), and educational outcomes (Texas fares better on national rankings).

A couple of months earlier Professor Victor Davis Hanson observed that one percent of California’s taxpayers provide 45 percent of the state’s income tax revenue--and that income taxes fund half of the state’s budget.

He also noted that the number of upper-income earners in California decreased by a third between 2007 and 2009—either because they are fleeing the state or because they’ve become much less wealthy. I’m confident that “both” represents the correct answer to this statistical query.

On the other side of the ledger, California, with 12% of the country’s population, is home to almost a third of the nation’s welfare recipients (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, formerly AFDC). Furthermore, during the last two decades the state’s Medicaid population grew at 70 percent of its overall increase in population.

In the face of these daunting statistics, California’s political class has doubled down on spending (the high-speed rail system), cap-and-trade environmentalism (AB 1532), and higher taxes (Governor Brown’s November sales tax proposal).

Rather than junking disastrous government-centered, union-approved policies, left coasters focus public attention on second-hand smoke and plastic bag bans—just as their kindred mayoral spirit in New York City has taken aim at large soda drinks.

No wonder Mr. DeVore has taken refuge in the Lone Star State.