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Change comes for O’Reilly, and won’t be spun: The sexual harassment claims against Bill O’Reilly at Fox News echo those that led to Roger Ailes’ ouster last summer – a tawdry affair that left Fox’s corporate parent insisting that they would clean house and change the culture. So much for talk. But change has come nonetheless, in the exodus of O’Reilly’s advertisers, 48 and counting as of Wednesday. When even the drug companies ditch your cable news rant, something is wrong.
Lots of money, lots of potential conflicts: The financial disclosures that the White House tried to bury show how many really rich people are in President Donald Trump’s inner circle. The filings also demonstrate an utter disregard for potential conflicts of interest that starts at the top.
Dan Morain: Jerry Brown understands certain realities. California’s freeways are in a dismal state of repair, Californians are wedded to their cars, and the state’s economy depends in no small part on the ability to truck goods from the ports to the rest of the nation. All the wishful environmentalist thinking won’t change any of that. And so Brown is stepping on the gas, employing the art he has learned over a lifetime.
Jonas Minton: The Oroville Dam emergency shows that California cannot ignore the multiple safety and financial threats to one if its most important water infrastructures.
John Berthelsen: As much as President Donald Trump would like to project an image of U.S. strength to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the U.S. faces the severest threat since World War II to its military and diplomatic ascendency in Asia.
Jeffrey R. Lewis: No country spends as much per capita on health care as the United States, and one of the major contributors is the rising cost of prescription drugs.
Dev Berger: If California’s Legislature embraced an intergenerational approach, it would stop pitting children against seniors for funding and services. An intergenerational approach would focus on the human factor rather than the age factor, and allow innovation.
As Gov. Jerry Brown was leaving the rally Wednesdsay on the east steps of the Capitol in support of the $52 billion transportation legislation, Jeff Morales, Brown’s appointee overseeing the $64 billion high-speed rail project, was gamely explaining and defending the project before an Assembly budget subcommittee
“We aren’t dependent on any new federal money,” Morales told the committee.
Not so for the $2 billion electrification of CalTrain, the commuter line that runs up the Silicon Valley between San Jose and San Francisco.
The two projects collided when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, took the CalTrain project hostage, because of their disdain for high-speed rail.
Denham and McCarthy organized the other 12 congressional Republicans from California to sign a letter urging President Donald Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, to withhold $650 million in federal funding for CalTrain’s electrification. And she bowed to them. So much for Trump’s promise of infrastructure spending.
Under questioning by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican who opposes high-speed rail, Morales noted that the deal in the CalTrain project is costing $20 million. If the state must somehow fund CalTrain on its own, Morales noted, somewhere, other state and local projects will lose.
Later Morales declined to speculate what districts might lose state funding. But The Take can’t help wondering. Bakersfield, perhaps. Or maybe Turlock.
Fresno Bee: We oppose the 10-year, $52 billion proposal put together by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leadership that is headed to a self-imposed deadline vote Thursday. It is nothing more than a tax-and-spend proposal that will fall on the backs on California’s poor and middle-class families.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Try to find anyone who doesn’t agree that California’s roads are in awful shape. Without a significant infusion of cash, California’s roads will keep getting worse and the already staggering tab for repairs will grow even larger. That money ought to come from road users. It’s time to end the delay and pass road plan.
Orange County Register: Senate Bill 231 is the second attempt by Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, to pass a bill that redefines “sewer” to include stormwater. It’s more than a matter of definition. It’s an attempt to evade the requirements of Proposition 218, which prevents local governments from calling taxes “fees” to get around Proposition 13’s provision that two-thirds of voters must approve tax increases. California stormwater “fee” bill should be flushed down the drain.
East Bay Times: For four months now, we’ve watched Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administration try — unsuccessfully — to manage the message. The reality is that the city’s fire safety inspection system is dysfunctional and requires a top-to-bottom overhaul.
San Jose Mercury News: The rulers of Pakistan have stepped up a campaign against blasphemy. That’s frightening news from an Islamic nation where insulting the official religion is a capital crime. From an American perspective, this would merely be a distant nation’s horror but for one thing: Silicon Valley’s tech industry. As part of the crackdown, Pakistani leaders have asked executives of Facebook and Twitter to help them help root out people who post blasphemous material on social media sites from anywhere in the world. Facebook must reject Pakistani blasphemy demand.
San Diego Union Tribune: In 2004, 83 percent of California voters approved Proposition 59, which had been placed on the state ballot by unanimous votes of the state Senate and Assembly. The “Sunshine Amendment” was intended to be the most forceful formal endorsement in California history of the paramount importance of government openness and transparency. Thirteen years later, unfortunately, Proposition 59’s admonition is routinely ignored by California government bodies large and small. A perfect example is a recent San Diego Union-Tribune Watchdog report that found several local agencies routinely paid board members to attend ad hoc and advisory meetings, apparently without public notice.
Takes on Gorsuch
Charlotte Observer: The damage to the Senate’s reputation has already occurred. A Democratic filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch may be the only way to restore the Senate’s title as the “deliberative body.”
Denver Post: Forever ending the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees would launch the chamber on a journey destined to stoke partisanship and gridlock in Congress that reasonable people are and should be sick to death of.
Lexington Herald Leader: Call it poetic justice or political karma — the master Mitch McConnell may soon destroy one of his favorite weapons of mass obstruction.
L.A. Times takes on Trump, Part IV
Donald Trump is, of course, not the first American president to whine about the news media or try to influence coverage. President George W. Bush saw the press as elitist and “slick.” President Obama’s press operation tried to exclude Fox News reporters from interviews, blocked many officials from talking to journalists and, most troubling, prosecuted more national security whistle-blowers and leakers than all previous presidents combined. But Trump being Trump, he has escalated the traditionally adversarial relationship in demagogic and potentially dangerous ways.
Dana Milbank: Merriam-Webster, a once-staid outfit, has earned itself a large and devoted following on social media, and no wonder: President Donald Trump is literally being trolled by the dictionary.
E.J. Dionne: At the root of the Democrats’ fight over the nomination of Neil Gorsuch is a long-term conservative effort to dominate the Supreme Court and turn it to the political objectives of the right.
Frank Bruni: He’s President Donald Trump’s point man with the Chinese. He was Trump’s middleman with the Mexicans. And Jared Kushner’s to-do list contains the small, pesky item of brokering a durable truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Why don’t we just stitch him a red cape, put him in spandex and affix a stylized “S” to his chest.
Thomas L. Friedman: Tuesday, tragically, President Donald Trump got a lesson in foreign policy via a vile poison-gas attack on Syrian civilians, reportedly perpetrated by the pro-Russian, pro-Iranian, murderous regime of Bashar Assad.
“This past weekend I drove I-5 for 350 miles in each direction. If the remainder of the state highway system is in as much disrepair as our signature freeway, we’re all in big trouble. Mr. and Ms. Legislator, if you want to know whose party is responsible for this debacle, just look in the mirror. It’s time to let go of partisan politics before more citizens (including yourselves, perhaps) become just another state highway fatality statistic. Deal with it.” – Jon Wolfson, Sacramento.
Take a number: 75 percent
That’s the proportion of Americans who say that President Donald Trump and his administration should do what they can to make Obamacare succeed, according to the latest Kaiser Health tracking poll out this week. That includes even a majority of Republicans, while only 19 percent overall say Trump should work to make it fail and replace it later.
After Trumpcare failed to even get to a vote in the House, the president predicted that Obamacare would collapse and there are hints of administrative steps to push that disaster along. We have instead suggested six ways to actually improve health care. – Foon Rhee, @foonrhee