Things You Don’t Expect in the Times

The liberal wunderkind Ezra Klein has recently become a regular contributor to the New York Times, which will broaden the Times‘ range of perspectives from A to A. Still, it is fun to see Klein note the obvious—that if California is the Progressive model of governance for the nation, the results are . . . really bad. In “California Is Making Liberals Squirm,” he notes:

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, when you factor in housing costs, and vies for the top spot in income inequality, too. There are bright spots in recent years — electric grid modernization, a deeply progressive plan to tax the wealthy to fund poor school districts, a prison population at a 30-year low — but there’s a reason 130,000 more people leave than enter each year. California is dominated by Democrats, but many of the people Democrats claim to care about most can’t afford to live there. . .

The median price for a home in California is more than $700,000. As Bloomberg reported in 2019, the state has four of the nation’s five most expensive housing markets and a quarter of the nation’s homeless residents. The root of the crisis is simple: It’s very, very hard to build homes in California. When he ran for governor in 2018, Gavin Newsom promised the construction of 3.5 million housing units by 2025. Newsom won, but California has built fewer than 100,000 homes each year since. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti persuaded Angelenos to pass a new sales tax to address the city’s homelessness crisis, but the program has fallen far behind schedule, in part because homeowners fought the placing of shelters in their communities. . .

California talks a big game on climate change, but even with billions of dollars in federal funding, it couldn’t build high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The project was choked by pricey consultants, private land negotiations, endless environmental reviews, county governments suing the state government. It has been shrunk to a line connecting the midsize cities of Bakersfield and Merced, and even that is horribly over budget and behind schedule.

The one part of Klein’s premise that I think is wrong is that any liberals are actually squirming over this state of affairs at all. As long as they’re having their dinners at the French Laundry, they’re just fine with things. What would make liberals squirm? If Gov. Newsom goes down in a recall election, which could happen in a few months. Prediction: Republicans, who have lost over 30,000 registered members in California since January 6, will do very well in next year’s mid-term election.

Next, the Times reports that the French—the French!—are saying “no thanks” to American wokery, and of course the irony is that a lot of American wokery finds its intellectual roots in some dense French theorist.:

PARIS — The threat is said to be existential. It fuels secessionism. Gnaws at national unity. Abets Islamism. Attacks France’s intellectual and cultural heritage. The threat? “Certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States,’said President Emmanuel Macron.

French politicians, high-profile intellectuals and journalists are warning that progressive American ideas — specifically on race, gender, post-colonialism — are undermining their society. “There’s a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities,’’ warned Mr. Macron’s education minister.

Emboldened by these comments, prominent intellectuals have banded together against what they regard as contamination by the out-of-control woke leftism of American campuses and its attendant cancel culture. . .

Mr. Macron’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, accused universities, under American influence, of being complicit with terrorists by providing the intellectual justification behind their acts.

A group of 100 prominent scholars wrote an open letter supporting the minister and decrying theories “transferred from North American campuses” in Le Monde.

Memo to American universities: When you’ve lost France . . .

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