Los Angeles viewers who catch my appearance on KTTV Fox News at 10:00 tonight are in for an extra treat: a recap of a shoving fight on the floor of the California Legislature.
At issue: Italian-Americans, The Sopranos, ethnic shame, criticism of redevelopment agencies (the last acceptable prejudice), and an all-out pencil-neck war of the assemblymen.
Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) starts the battle off by comparing efforts to defund redevelopment agencies (RDAs) to an act of extortion by Tony Soprano, a fictional organized crime boss on an old television show. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) responds with an expression of the kind of fake ethnic outrage I wrote about in the Reason cover story "E Pluribus Umbrage" long ago (before all the damn South Ossetians ruined this country). The feckless Wagner then manages to come back with a clarification that actually is offensive to Italian-Americans. Warren Furutani (D-Gardena) decides an insult to one is an insult to all. Wackiness ensues; lovably laid-back Assembly leader Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) once again fails to keep order in the chamber; and, well, you can see the not-bloody-enough results:
I don't know what's more pathetic: that the Golden State's useless Republicans can't even get it together to oppose the bloated, crooked, land-grabbing reign of the RDAs, or that this kind of mild shoving match is what passes for fisticuffs among our elected leaders. As an aficionado of parliamentary fighting, I don't think an American politician would last three minutes in the octagon with a Russian or Korean counterpart. This roundup of fighting legislators I did a few years ago shows how far behind the U.S.A. is in global parliamentary fighting technique. Special applause goes out to the pugilistic pols of Taiwan, where men and women, old and young, fat and skinny lay into each other with enough spirit to make you understand why Red China is still wary of invading them: