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.

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

State Sen. 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. But 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 with 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.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.