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Larry Greenfield

May 18, 2010

[Publisher's Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from
longtime FlashReport friend Larry Greenfield.  Greenfield is Executive Director of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, and Fellow in American Studies at the Claremont Institute.  Last evening Greenfield attended a California Attorney General debate held in Los Angeles and what follows are his observations...- Flash]

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main site and the acclaimed FlashReport Weblog on California politics.

Is Justice Blind ?

Apparently not to the 6 Democrats running for Attorney General of California.

At a well organized and fairly moderated candidates forum hosted by Bet Tzedek, (House of Justice) -- a pro bono Los Angeles-based legal services corporation focused on such areas as elder abuse and urban renter’s rights) many traditionally important topics such as crime and punishment, victims’ rights, 3 strikes, high risk sex offenders, capital punishment, and counter-terrorism, were ignored. 

Instead, the leading Democrat legal voices in the state, seemingly oblivious to the recession and job losses resulting from fleeing business and California’s worst-in-the-nation regulatory and tax environment, chose to bash corporations, developers, contractors, banks, mortgage brokers, and energy producers. 

They also cherry picked the laws and initiatives they would defend or enforce as the state’s top lawyer, and focused on “social justice” agendas, pandering with hot button and emotional appeals to the identity politics of an imagined, racially balkanized California electorate.

Ever expanding consumer and environmental protections and employment wage and hour rights? Check. Defend President Obama’s unconstitutional health care insurance mandate on individuals?  Check.  Go to war to prevent any further scientific study on global warming,  or a pause on the radical AB 32 greenhouse gases law? Check.  Advocacy for undocumented workers.  Check.

Yet small businesses, middle class voters, whites, parents seeking educational choice and competition, and crime victims need not apply.  Such citizens instead should just watch their wallets because these Democrats support a never-ending permanent campaign to grow big government.  How about going after the billions in waste, fraud and abuse in government spending instead?  

The 2010 Democrat nomination race includes three state legislators, a technology-industry outsider, the city attorney of Los Angeles and the district attorney of San Francisco.  There are three Latinos, an Asian-American man, a white man and an African-American woman.  Three are from the San Francisco Bay area, two from Los Angeles County and one from in between.

They may be geographically and ethnically diverse, but they share some very similar political rhetoric, and they have all learned how to pander to the race, class, and gender crowd for Democrat primary votes.

Ventura County Assemblyman Pedro Nava is from California’s Central Coast.   An aging far-left legislator, he wants to be “the people’s lawyer.” 

Apparently his passion for the people does not extend, however, to initiatives or legislation he does not like, whether passed by the people of Arizona (“the boycotters of our neighbor state are heroes”), or by his fellow citizens of California (“as Attorney General I would have fought and won against Proposition 8)”.

Alberto Torrico, an assemblyman from Fremont, went further left.  He falsely claimed the Arizona immigration law calls for racial profiling (when it specifically disallows it), and called for more taxes on those producing domestic energy, so as to pay for ever more state employees (“we have 1200 attorneys in the Attorney General’s’s not nearly enough !”).

Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance, piled on.  He also claimed he would unilaterally overturn any California illegal immigration law, as well as Proposition 8.   He mocked the idea that any Republican could be supportable as Attorney General.

Rocky Delgadillo, the Los Angeles city attorney, has the advantage of high name-recognition in the state’s largest city and also the experience of having run statewide before, losing in the 2006 primary for attorney general to Jerry Brown.  He took credit for 41 gang injunctions and does appear to stand for public safety.
Kamala Harris, the San Francisco district attorney, is the only woman and the only African-American in the field. She also raised her statewide and national profile by serving as co-chair of President Obama’s 2008 campaign in California.  She began the evening by celebrating herself as the daughter of 1960's Berkeley “marchers and shouters”.
Has she marched for millions of abused women throughout the Arab world, suffering from honor killings, sexual mutilation, or life under the burka?  One ponders.

Chris Kelly, the former general counsel and privacy officer for Facebook, has put his own millions into the campaign.   He was poised and prepared and clearly can make a contribution to California’s public life.   Unfortunately he too often celebrated his association with President Clinton, who was actually disbarred for his legal violations.  Mr. Kelly may want to back off the promotion of Bill Clinton as his legal model.

The Democrat 6 were polite to each other, but they relished harshly attacking Republican Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in the way the left liked to demonize former CA Governors Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson. 

In fact they gang up on anyone who does not subscribe to their progressive agenda on unions, illegal immigration, open borders, expensive health care for state prisoners, gay marriage, the expensive public education bureaucracy, or global warming. 

Unfortunately, they seem to have no idea just how far from proper constitutionalism their race-based, victim mentality, statist progressivism has now veered.

And so they were no match for a “first principles” scholar, rooted in such concepts as the will of the people, sovereignty, and the proper role of a state attorney general.

Republican John Eastman, recently the Dean of Chapman law school and longtime head of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, bravely appeared as the Orange County conservative in the heart of liberal Hollywood (the debate was, in fact, held at Sony Studios).

Professor John Eastman mentioned that he was only candidate present who has actually argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (he has argued over 50).  He spoke eloquently about his appellate efforts over the years to stand by individuals hurt by overpowering government, over-regulation, and by the domination and intrusion by administrative, nanny state bureaucracy.

Eastman spoke of enforcing the federal immigration law, a thought that did not appear to the Democrats.  He pointed out how the Federal Attorney General, Eric Holder did not read the Arizona law before he condemned it.   He spoke of the intrusion by Federal Courts into our water policy and prison policy, for example, through overly expansive interpretations of the Interstate Commerce and Cruel and Unusual Punishment clauses.  

Still, his Democrat opponents rushed to label the Arizona immigration law unconstitutional.  Their passion rose with reference to the illegality of a law which simply, purposefully, and clearly only matches federal immigration law.   No comment from the Democrats on the illegality of, well, illegal immigration.  

Eastman communicates like an attorney general who will care about citizens, not politically correct social theory.  Several of the Democrats talked about restitution, recidivism, and the revolving door justice system.   But only Professor Eastman has an actual proposal for prison inmates to do work in prison, with the first third of the financial proceeds going to crime victims, the second third to the state for costs of trial prosecution, and incarceration, and finally the last third to be saved for the inmates own post prison future.

Another clarifying difference between the parties was the mortgage / foreclosure crisis, with all the Democrats bashing the greedy financial institutions.  Again,  Eastman:  “Yes, go after any fraudsters, throughout the housing finance chain, but don’t destroy credit, don’t tear up contracts, and don’t reward people who knowingly applied for loans they should not have”.

Missing from the Democrat approach to good government, public safety, and proper understanding of the role of government is the foundational understanding of individual, not group rights, and a spirit of teamwork with the citizens to respect their will, as the sovereign, and to be their supporter. 

Today’s modern Democrats are actually on the side of some of the’s just always the people they like, whose votes they seek, or who meet their partisan and ideological checklists.

Like their patron saint, new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor....who claimed that her role was to be empathic to certain groups, based on her special insights as “wise latina woman”.

Democrats, shameful party of slavery, KKK and Jim Crow, continue to see through multi-racial, not race-blind, glasses.

Kamela Harris, District Attorney of San Francisco, home to unlawful sanctuary city policies, got the last word, and she celebrated the always agreeing, group-think Democrats on stage, as an “embarrassment of riches”.  No, from a constitutional point of view, they are just an embarrassment.

Larry Greenfield is Executive Director of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, and Fellow in American Studies at the Claremont Institute.  He serves on the California Republican Party Executive Committee, has been active on statewide criminal justice issues, and earned his law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center.

You can find out more information about the candidacy of John Eastman here.

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