Tunnels or no tunnels, all Californians face water realities

On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

We start where California policy discussions often begin, with water, and offer another great California essay by Gerald Haslam. We take a spin through swing state editorial pages, and offer our recommendations on the latest tobacco tax initiative and one related to one of California’s homegrown industries, porn. Oy. Please take the time to read Ryan Sabalow’s remembrance of his grandfather.

Taking a dip in California water

Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels proposal is a muddled mess, or so write Jeffrey Michael of the University of The Pacific and John Kirlin of McGeorge School of Law.

Greater clarity and transparency regarding what is proposed, its effects and responsibility for future decisions are needed. As currently proposed, the tunnels are a high-stakes gamble, Michael and Kirlin write.

True enough, the tunnels are costly and disruptive. But a decision needs to be made one way or another.

In the coming days and weeks, some of the implications of climate change and the need to improve California’s aging water delivery system will become more evident to all parts of the state, none too soon. And it will become apparent that everyone must give up some of what they view as their water.

Take a number: 80 million

In his visit to Laos last week, President Barack Obama pledged $90 million to help clean up part of the Vietnam War’s macabre legacy. The United States dropped some 2 million tons of ordnance in Laos in a covert, nine-year chapter of the Vietnam War, the Associated Press reports, and 80 million bombs didn’t explode. Since the war’s end, 20,000 Laotians, many of them children, have been maimed or killed by the remnants of that miserable war.

Our take

Endorsement: Tobacco industry lobbyists, reinforced by tobacco company contributions to Democratic and Republican politicians, are able to snuff any legislation to raise tobacco taxes. So once again, voters are being asked to do what legislators have failed to do. For the good of public health, we urge a “yes” vote on Proposition 56.

Endorsement: Proposition 60 is a bit like its Los Angeles-based proponent, activist Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation – well-meaning, but so litigious that even sympathizers are unsettled. Most mainstream AIDS organizations and both major political parties in California oppose it. So must we.

Editorial: Sept. 11, 2001, is not simply a historical date in America. Like Dec. 7, 1941, it is a line of demarcation. There is Before 9/11 and After 9/11. We are now 15 years past that dreadful day.

Jack Ohman: Watching a recording a few nights ago of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan’s 1972 appearance on “The Dick Cavett Show,” I was struck by how dramatically unlike Donald Trump he was.

Erika D. Smith: This summer, no one swimming or playing in the water appears to have drowned between Memorial Day and Labor Day along Sacramento’s rivers, according to preliminary coroner’s statistics. That’s right. Zero.

Marcos Breton: When local cops are in the hot seat, politicians are their best defense.

Dan Walters: California’s unfunded pension debts may be larger than acknowledged.

Gerald Haslam: Too many good minds are wasted yearning for old jobs and comforting styles. Unfortunately this comes at a time when higher education in America has become unconscionably expensive. Correcting that must be our next great challenge.

Their take

San Francisco Chronicle: Proposition 55, by extending that “temporary tax” on upper incomes to 2030, amounts to a false promise to California schools. While it is being promoted as a way to maintain school funding, its dependence on the wealthiest taxpayers leaves education highly vulnerable to the next downturn, when capital gains typically vaporize.

Mercury News: Proposition 55 is needed to renew a tax increase on the richest Californians. It is no solution to California’s overall tax system, which needs radical reform. It is a Band-Aid. But the money is aimed at essential services – primarily education, with a small portion for health care.

San Diego Union-Tribune: In offering praise for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin – yet again – Donald Trump showed a willingness to ignore wide-ranging evidence that Putin is an implacable foe of America, democracy and liberty in general.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: There’s far too much “pay to play” in politics. With the presidential debates beginning on Sept. 26, we think Donald Trump should be pressed for a clearer explanation of what he expected for his donations – and what his donors can expect from him.

Las Vegas Sun: The NRA’s wailing doesn’t drown out facts on background checks. As the election approaches, the shouting of the “from my cold, dead hands” crowd will grow louder. Let them rave. With their history of fear-mongering, misinforming and blustering, they’ve proved they’re not worth listening to.

Takes from swing states

Miami Herald, Florida, 29 electoral votes: The U.S. public still offers support for free trade. Protectionism – raising tariffs, as Donald Trump has suggested – is a counterproductive strategy. Building a wall against foreign markets where 90-plus percent of the world lives hurts us as much as it hurts our competitors, if not more.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania, 20: There is nothing to admire about Vladimir Putin.

Charlotte Observer, North Carolina, 15: Say what you will about Hillary Clinton’s charisma deficit or her lawyerly email evasions, but few question if she’ll know what she’s doing if elected president.

Virginian-Pilot, Virginia, 13: Either Virginia believes that people can be redeemed or it doesn’t. Either Virginia believes – as 46 states do – that even criminals deserve civil rights or it doesn’t. To put it finely: Either Virginia believes in second chances or it doesn’t. Strip away the political rhetoric, and the choice should be clear.

E.J. Montini, Arizona Republic, Arizona, 11: Did you hear Donald Trump praise Vladimir Putin again? Come on, Sen. John McCain. Speak up. Please. Put this guy in his place like you did last year, before he was the Republican nominee, back when you spoke more bluntly, more honestly about the specter of Trump being president.

Denver Post, Colorado, 9: A fishy story in Platte River Networks’ purge of Hillary Clinton emails. Something about this story feels whitewashed – or maybe bleached out is the better term for it now.

Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada, 6: Hillary Clinton is lying to someone. But that, of course, should come as no surprise.

Las Vegas Sun, Nevada, 6: Here are some tougher questions Matt Lauer should have asked Donald Trump.

Manchester Union-Leader, New Hampshire, 4: Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has paid a high price for his spot on Hillary Clinton’s ticket. He’s had to abandon his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership after voting to fast-track the agreement.

Syndicates’ take

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump has come up with a big liar technique.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Hillary Clinton is this election’s faith-based candidate.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Colin Kaepernick and a postcard from post-factual America.

Dana Milbank: Donald Trump’s war with the U.S. military.

Kathleen Parker: An embarrassing week for candidates.

Andres Oppenheimer: Donald Trump’s mess of a visit to Mexico may have lingering consequences.

David Brooks: You probably will be switching political parties.

Debra J. Saunders, The Chronicle: What next? Will Sacramento devise a way to charge shoppers who ride on elevators or escalators so that the virtuous folk who take the stairs don’t have to subsidize free-ride slouches?

And finally,

With sawdust and regret, our Ryan Sabalow offers a tribute to his grandpa, a logger and a craftsman who had the loudest boat on the lake and could jitterbug with the best.