Kool-Aid Country

California has retained its title as the land of “Kool-Aid drinkers,” demonstrated by the reelections of Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, both of whom handed their opponents major defeats in last week’s election: Barbara Boxer beat challenger Carly Fiorina with 52 percent of the vote to Fiorina’s 43 percent; Jerry Brown vanquished Meg Whitman by 13 points,  54 percent to 41 percent.

Gov. Jerry Brown with Jim Jones

The phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” has been in use since the Jim Jones massacre in 1978, but not everyone is aware of the exact meaning of the term or of its derivation. Essentially, “drinking the Kool-Aid” refers to people who follow a leader in spite of the information available about the leader’s thinking and philosophy, knowledge of the leader’s character, and/or of the results of the leader’s actions. We’ve seen this tendency elsewhere, such as in Massachusetts with the repeated reelection of Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank; however, California is not only responsible for the birth of the term, but the place where this tendency is pervasive.

Jim Jones was leader of The People’s Temple, a new-age religious organization (cult) he founded in Indianapolis, Indiana during the 1950s. He was an ordained minister from the Disciples of Christ at a time when local congregations could ordain ministers. Regardless, his philosophies were not welcomed within the Indianapolis community. (He was also an active member of the American Communist Party and a strong proponent for allowing blacks to become active members of the church, unheard of in Indiana at that time); therefore, he decided to form his own organization (cult), The People’s Temple, which was dedicated to “human freedom, equality, and love.”

Jones moved the cult to northern California and then to San Francisco and ultimately to Guyana, the latter locale being best known for the November 18, 1978 suicide of more than 900 Temple members in Jonestown along with the killings of five other people at a nearby airstrip. The mass suicide was accomplished by leaders of the church, at the insistence of Jim Jones, serving Kool-Aid laced with cyanide to the entire membership, including all of the women and children. The adults were aware that they were committing suicide (they had even rehearsed beforehand, by the serving Kool-Aid to everyone, who then pretended to die), but Jim Jones had convinced them that they would wake up on a new planet and live a life of bliss together. Hence the term, “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

This was the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster (a “man-caused disaster,” if you will) until the events of September 11, 2001. The tragedy at Guyana also ranks among the largest mass murders/mass suicides in history. One of those who died at the nearby airstrip was Congressman Leo Ryan, who had flown to Jonestown to investigate rumors that women and children were being held against their will and were being forced into unsavory acts by the leaders of the cult. Ryan remains the only congressman murdered in the line of duty in the history of the United States.

Jones moved The People’s Temple cult to Jonestown when it became apparent that he could not stop San Francisco reporter Marshall Kilduff from publishing an expose on the cult in New West magazine. The San Francisco Chronicle had refused to publish the expose because of the influence Jones had over the city’s politicians.

However, in recalling the legacy of Jones and his organization (cult), I’ve skipped over an interesting part of the career of Jim Jones and The People’s Temple and its influence on the government and culture on both the city of San Francisco and the state of California.

Jones and the People’s Temple arrived in San Francisco in 1975; Jones quickly became involved in the politics of a city that was already very “progressive” in its attitude to those who held to “fringe” philosophies. The mayor, George Moscone, appointed him as the chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

However, his political clout went way beyond the city of San Francisco, including prominent politicians from across the state and nation.  For the sake of example, Jones and Moscone at one point met privately with vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale on his campaign plane days before the election of 1976, and Mondale publicly praised The People’s Temple when given the chance.  First Lady Rosalynn Carter also personally met with Jim Jones on multiple occasions.

In September 1976, Willie Brown served as master of ceremonies at a large testimonial dinner for Jones attended by Governor Jerry Brown and Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally and other political figures. At that dinner, while introducing Jones, Willie Brown stated: “Let me present to you what you should see every day when you look in the mirror in the early morning hours … Let me present to you a combination of Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein … Chairman Mao.” Jones also hosted many radical personalities (i. e. Angela Davis) in his San Francisco apartment, where political and revolutionary ideas were discussed and debated.

What’s interesting to me is that some of these political figures are still very active in California, where their acceptance of those with anti-American and revolutionary concepts is still apparent. But that is not the purpose of this article. What I want to discuss here is the propensity of those in California for “drinking the Kool-Aid” regardless of the character and actions of their leaders. Now, let’s take a look at the character and actions of Boxer and Brown.

Senator Barbara Boxer

Probably the most scathing critique of Barbara Boxer and her performance as a U.S. Senator comes from the San Francisco Chronicle, a newspaper with decided liberal leanings. Here are a couple of relevant quotes from their editorial, entitled “No Endorsement in U.S. Senate Race”:

The incumbent, Democrat Barbara Boxer, has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation.

Boxer, first elected in 1992, would not rate on anyone’s list of most influential senators. Her most famous moments on Capitol Hill have not been ones of legislative accomplishment, but of delivering partisan shots.

Boxer’s campaign, playing to resentment over Fiorina’s wealth, is not only an example of the personalized pettiness that has infected too much of modern politics, it is also a clear sign of desperation.

Of special note is the final quote, especially in light of Boxer’s own financial position.

GovTrack.us states: “Barbara Boxer’s net worth was between $1,113,009 and $5,347,000 in 2007, according to Boxer’s mandated financial disclosure statements.” It is well understood that these figures tend to be understated. Regardless, the vast majority of Californians would consider any individual with a net worth of over $5,000,000 to be wealthy; this fact alone shows the emptiness of Boxer’s complaint about Fiorina’s wealth.

In addition, Jim Geraghty of National Review Online has printed a five-part critique of Barbara Boxer’s performance in the Senate and how she has taken personal advantage of her position, while doing precious little to help the citizens of California.  From part three:

Back in early 1992, Washington was rocked by the revelation that the House of Representatives was allowing members to overdraw their House checking accounts without penalty, leaving debts unpaid for months at a time. Then-congresswoman Barbara Boxer insisted for months that she’d had no problems with her account at the House bank. Then she admitted she had bounced 87 checks and did not know the amount. Bank records ultimately showed she bounced 143 checks worth $41,417.

Boxer has also not hesitated to pay her son, and possibly other family members, out of campaign funds. Geraghty points out, in part four:

It adds up to nearly $570,000 over 10 years. Hey, she’s a loving mother.

“It is an area that’s ripe for abuse, for someone who wants to turn campaign funds into personal use,” Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the nonprofit group Public Citizen, told the Washington Post in 2008.

In addition, Boxer doesn’t hesitate to lie or “stretch of the truth” whenever she decides she needs to make a point, for example:

There was a revealing moment last month when Barbara Boxer, meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, offered a vivid, compelling anecdote . . . that simply didn’t happen.

“I asked [Condoleezza Rice] how many people had died and she did not know the answer to that question. And since we had lost a lot of Californians, I was concerned. And I said, you and I don’t have, we haven’t paid a personal price, I said, you and I, I said, myself, my grandkids are too young, my husband too old, and as far as I know you don’t have anybody in the war.”

There was some embarrassment for Boxer when the paper went to the C-SPAN footage and found that Boxer never asked Rice how many U.S. troops had died in Iraq when she began her “personal price” remarks and in fact, never asked Rice any question.

While there is no consensus in regard to the abortion issue, there’s little doubt that the vast majority of our citizens would be against the killing of a baby as it is being born, a baby that would easily live outside of the womb. However, Barbara Boxer, “Queen of Infanticide,” is a strong support of this practice, as explained by Jane Chastain at WorldNetDaily:

Donna Joy Watts, accompanied by her parents, Donald and Lori Watts, made a return trip to Capitol Hill this week to urge the Senate to pass the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, S.3, which was introduced by their senator, Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

Six years ago, during a debate on a similar measure, the Wattses and their daughter were unceremoniously ushered out of the Senate gallery at the insistence of Barbara Boxer, who is the proud defender of this horrific practice. The excuse given was that Donna Joy was only 5 years of age, and the rules say you need to be 6-years-old to sit in on these debates.

All of these examples relate clearly to Boxer’s character and lack of any effective action as a senator. Yet California voters ignored all of this information and voted overwhelmingly for her over Fiorina; in other words, they “drank the Kool-Aid.” In addition, they did this while residing in a state that has, by far, the greatest financial crisis of any state in the union, and probably many countries. A situation that Boxer has exacerbated; As Californians watch their state government borrow $40 million per day to pay the very unemployment benefits that Boxer voted to extend, it should be obvious that she is part of the problem, not of the solution.

California’s financial crisis is also due, in large part, to the actions of another politician: Governor Jerry Brown. In many ways, those who voted for Jerry Brown demonstrated an even greater propensity for being “Kool-Aid drinkers.”

Governor Jerry Brown

Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and an expert on economics and politics, states very clearly some of the problems Jerry Brown has caused the state of California The first of two of the more interesting issues:

One appointment by Governor Jerry Brown ought to tell us a lot about his ideology. His most famous — or infamous — appointment made Rose Bird chief justice of the California Supreme Court. Bird overruled 64 consecutive death-penalty verdicts and upheld none. Apparently no judge or jury could ever give a murderer a trial perfect enough to suit Rose Bird.

In California, Supreme Court justices have to be reinstated after their first term. The citizens of California were so unhappy with Bird, Sowell writes in “Red-Herring Politics,  that 67 percent of them voted to remove her from the court, the first California chief justice to ever be voted off of the bench. Sowell: “This is part of a much larger arrogant political ideology, in which anointed elites impose their own notions, in utter disregard of the laws passed by the people’s elected representatives.”

Another instance I am well aware of that Sowell mentions involved the Mediterranean fruit fly:

There was an infestation of Mediterranean fruit flies out in California’s agricultural heartland in the interior valleys. Despite being urged to allow spraying of insecticide out in the valleys, to nip the infestation in the bud, Governor Brown pandered to the environmental extremists and refused.

The net result was that the “Med flies,” as they were called, spread from the valleys out into cities and towns as far west as the San Francisco Bay area. Faced with a major political disaster, Jerry Brown finally authorized spraying — over a vastly larger area than would have been necessary when he was first asked.

This lack of effective decision-making resulted in Brown’s loss of credibility and cost him any chance of running for president of the United States. In addition, it meant that my neighborhood in Sunnyvale, California (along with many other neighborhoods), was sprayed for the Mediterranean flies and my family was exposed to toxic chemicals.

Then there’s this, a piece entitled “Jerry Brown: Older, Not Wiser” from Steven Greenhut in the Orange County Register:

Brown governed as a slow-growther, whose anti-infrastructure campaign paved the way (or, actually, didn’t pave the way) for the state’s sometimes-gridlock level of traffic congestion. And it was Brown, don’t forget, who legalized public employee unions and played a key role in creating the massive level of debt the state is bearing to pay for gold-plated retirements for public employees. It’s no surprise that the state’s powerful public-sector union, the Service Employees International Union, has vowed that electing him governor will be its “first priority.”

So, the vast majority of Californians cast their vote in last week’s gubernational election for the man who, as former governor, was initially responsible for the financial mess that California now finds itself in. I doubt that California will have any more luck straightening out this situation than France has had trying to correct the past decisions that have left them in such a terrible state.

The real issue that proved that most Californians are “drinking the Kool-Aid” was the accusation by attorney Gloria Allred, with the support of Jerry Brown and the liberal media, that Nicandra Diaz Santillan had been employed by Whitman for nine years, a period during which she said Whitman became aware of her illegal status. Whitman countered that she had not known of Diaz Santillan’s status until shortly before firing her in 2009. While the truth will never be known, an objective analysis of the case suggests strongly that the Whitmans trusted their housekeeper and the employment agency she was hired from and had no prior knowledge of her status.

Whitman might have enjoyed a better outcome had she spun the situation to her advantage, instead of being truthful; it appears that she followed the law faithfully once she became aware of the situation. There seems little doubt that this was blown up in the media to kill the Whitman campaign and that it accomplished that result.

Again, California voters “drank the Kool-Aid.” It’s always easier to “drink” than to do the research needed to determine the facts, especially when a biased media is doing everything it can to hide the truth and trumpet the lie that is much more newsworthy.

There’s probably no hope for California, they might be too far gone. However, the rest of the country should watch carefully what’s going on here; past history has shown us that as California goes, so ultimately goes the rest of the country. This is one time we do not want to let this happen.



  1. Anonymous says:

    Solution? WD40

  2. Gail B. says:

    Not being from California, I was not aware of many of the specifics that you reported in your contribution; but I do remember the Jonestown incident — horrible at the time and still is to those who remember it.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that California will be at the front of the line for a federal bailout. Those nut cases will want as many conservatives’ dollars as it can get, while they continue their course of entitlements and big spending.

    It is beyond me why Progressives want to destroy our great nation any why they would want Communism for their grandchildren.

    (Gotta be careful in what I say, though–I wouldn’t want Whats_up and John Buyon to get started again! Heavens!)

    Brad Fregger, nice article. I’m thinking that you should have been working as Fiorina’s campaign manager!

  3. L. Banks says:

    Thank you for the great article! I think we will see California go deeper into debt and continue to spiral out of control. I believe you will see many jobs lost out there too as companies re-locate to other areas. California may not have experienced the major “earthquake”, but it sure is making a major financial disaster for itself and I for one am against using my tax dollars to dig them out of it.

  4. graypanther says:

    Brad, I think there are a couple of things you’re overlooking with respect to the situation in California.

    First is that Brown is going to administer some tough love to California – unpalatable medicine, to be sure, but only he can do it. As a masterfully skilled politician, he can arrange a series of compromises that will probably make the state’s economy healthier. One thing he’s going to do is exact major concessions from public unions. But the only way to get anything from the California unions is by raising taxes in proportion. Probably only Brown, of all California’s politicians, has the leverage to ram that through. It won’t be such a big deal, because although a lot of people squeak “California’s taxes are already too high,” the fact is that considering the taxes of the 50 states, California’s aren’t even in the top 20. There’s room to raise taxes. Whitman of course, as a self-proclaimed member of the state’s economic elite, couldn’t say that; but had she been elected governor, she would have ended up raising taxes just as surely as Brown will. Then, of course, she would’ve been castigated not merely as a flip-flopper, but as the inept executive that almost everybody knew she had already been. But for Brown, on the other hand, to raise taxes is a national concern because – you got it – if that happens, within 10 years state taxes will be higher all over the country.

    So far as Boxer is concerned, you’re liquidating the difference between the House and the Senate. The House serves the people, the Senate serves itself. It matters not who Boxer is, or what she had done, outside the Senate. What matters is that, inside the Senate, she’s one of the incumbents with the most clout. The minute Fiorina got to Washington and dropped her bags, she would’ve been a freshman senator with no clout at all. And even a lot of Republicans knew that, with California in its current condition, a rookie senator was an unaffordable luxury. The people who voted for Fiorina were the ones who didn’t understand that.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Their Kool-Aid, is now, on the rocks.

  6. David G. says:

    Can the rest of the country vote Ca, NJ, and NY out of the union???
    Oh Yeah and the Windy City too.

  7. Randy Wills says:

    Kudos to Brad. As good an analysis as I’ve seen on AR regarding current events. Both interesting and informative.

    Although there are many good Californians who don’t deserve what is coming to them via the majority vote, but it’s time to let that state cook in its own juice. Hopefully, the rest of the country won’t be led down the “it’s too big to fail” path. It’s time to choose between tough love – both in finances and politics – or catastrophic failure on a national scale.

    And regarding Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, only those who have achieved the success that they both had in the corporate world, including climbing through the ranks of male-dominated, highly competitive, organizations, have any credibility in casting aspersions on their executive abilities. It’s a tough world out there and they didn’t become Chief Executives via the “casting couch” route.


  8. John Buyon says:

    of course anything other than delivering tax cuts for the richest 1.5% and cutting all social spending is considered drinking the kool-aid

  9. Anonymous says:

    broken record at 12:44

  10. Indonesia out of Kool-Aid says:

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – After two years of waiting, Indonesians are finally getting the chance to welcome back their adopted son. But the euphoria that swept the predominantly Muslim country after Barack Obama’s election victory has been replaced by a dose of reality.

    Few here now believe he will change American policies in the Middle East or improve U.S. relations with the Muslim world. And hopes that the two countries would march forward together on the world stage have been cast aside.

  11. Don't listen to Canadians (12:44) re money says:

    “That puts us right behind Greece” (see below)


  12. John Buyon says:

    I’m sorry call me a soft hearted liberal but I believe that debt incurred by spending on health care, education, infrastructure and military humanitarianism in afghanistan, is preferable to aggressive wars and corporate welfarism under the american system.

    and besides you want to see debt? what we have now is just an appetizer
    stick around 10-15 years and see what these middle aged tea parties say when the government they fought so hard to shrink and de-fund has no money for their pensions and healthcare.

  13. Butch says:

    ANY person, state or company that listens to and sides with the environmental wackos will end up devastated. These people are liars and have no ethics. They use the “useful idiots” to pad their pockets, getting them emotionally agitated so as to contribute to their phoney causes. California was one of the first and is now feeling the financial effects.

    CALIFORNIANS- STAY OUT OF IDAHO. You say you come here for our quality of life. It emminates from our set of values. You come to our state and then you immediately want to change everything. You poop in your own nest and then want to come and poop in oursd. STAY OUT!!!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    8:08 said “I’m sorry call me a soft hearted liberal”.

    didn’t you mean to say hard headed?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Kick that Canadian jukebox above, it’s stuck.

  16. Anonymous says:

    ‎”The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”

    –James Madison, speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, 1829


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