I"m on a number of right-wing mailing lists, and I try to at least skim what they"re going on about in any given week; this often gives me advance warning about the next wave of manufactured outrage. Lately I"ve been seeing dire warnings that if Democrats win next year they"ll try to turn America into (cue scary background music) California, which the writers portray as a socialist hellhole.

Sure enough, this week Donald Trump effectively declared war on California on two fronts. He"s trying to take away the Golden State"s ability to regulate pollution generated by its 15 million cars, and, more bizarrely, he"s seeking to have the Environmental Protection Agency declare that California"s homeless population constitutes an environmental threat.

More about these policy moves in a moment. First, let"s talk about two Californias: the real state on America"s left coast, and the fantasy state of the right"s imagination.

The real California certainly has some big problems. In particular, it has sky-high housing costs, which in turn are probably the main reason it has a large population of homeless residents.

But in many other dimensions California does very well. It has a booming economy, which has been creating jobs at a much faster pace than the nation as a whole.

It has the nation"s second-highest life expectancy, comparable to that in European nations with much higher life expectancy than America as a whole. This is, by the way, a relatively new development: Back in 1990, life expectancy in California was only average.

At the same time, California, having enthusiastically implemented Obamacare and tried to make it work, has seen a sharp drop in the number of residents without health insurance. And crime, although it has ticked up slightly in the past few years, remains...

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