Welcome to Take Two, our weekly sampler of California opinion, drawn from The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s daily opinion-politics newsletter, The Take. To get on The Take, sign up at sacbee.com/site-services/newsletters/ and tell your friends.
Jeff Flake and Bob Corker spoke truth to the power of President Donald Trump, prompting Trump to lash out at them repeatedly on Twitter. This in a week when he should have focused on his “massive tax cut” and the opioid emergency he declared, sort of. It’s a half-baked declaration that includes none of the money needed to fight a full-fledged epidemic.
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Our cousins at The Miami Herald were rightly appalled that Chief of Staff John Kelly sought to explain away Trump’s inexplicable condolence call to Myesha Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. In the process, Kelly attacked Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., a Johnson family friend. “John F. Kelly’s journey to the dark side is complete,” Miami wrote. Ever classy, Trump likened Rep. Wilson’s looks to a stripper and, appallingly, aimed his vitriol at Mrs. Johnson. What is wrong with that man? And what exactly were Sgt. Johnson and the other three soldiers who were killed doing in Niger?
Speaking of appalling, Trump’s “wingman” Steve Bannon lashed out at former President George W. Bush during his thought-bubbly speech to the California Republican Party convention a week ago Friday. That prompted Sacramento consultant Ashley Snee Giovannettone, who worked in the Bush White House, to write about the president she knew: “He set the tone from the top, to respect others, even those – especially those – who disagreed with him.” If only our current president could do the same.
Crime and punishment were on our minds, as the trial opened last week over the terrible killing of Kate Steinle, the young woman whose murder became a focus of Trump’s campaign against illegal immigrants. Conservatives reacted in letters to the editor and elsewhere to our editorial, echoing Trump by blaming San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city for Steinle’s tragic death as she strolled on a San Francisco pier with her father. Our focus was on how the defendant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, got the gun, which had been stolen from the car of a Bureau of Land Management agent, who subsequently was promoted.
Why exactly did San Francisco jailers release Garcia Zarate with nothing but the clothes on his back and a history of drug crimes, including glue sniffing? Clearly, this was a troubled man. What has become of the safety net in that most liberal of cities? Did it ever truly exist? “It’s easy to score points on illegal immigration,” columnist and editorial page editor Dan Morain wrote in 2015. “The far more complex issue involves society’s failure to confront homelessness. Once San Francisco jailers dumped Sanchez (now known as Garcia Zarate), anyone could have guessed something terrible could happen.” Nothing we learned in the first week of the trial changed our minds.
Bail us out
On the upside, a study group appointed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye recommended a massive overhaul of the money bail system, a step that would make the California justice system more fair. Sen. Bob Hertzberg and Assemblyman Rob Bonta are preparing hearings based in part on the report. Few who are familiar with the money bail system justify it as it now exists. It needs to overhauled.
Taking a number, so speak, Foon Rhee cited a Gallup poll showing that 64 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, this after California voters approved Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Proposition 64 to legalize commercial and recreational use of the drug. Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, recently introduced federal legislation modeled on Proposition 64. Booker must be running.