Checks and balances, Trump and conspiracies, and a sad anniversary well spent

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

Our take


Trump, Kennedy and the threat of an anti-vax vaccine policy: We’ll be clear: No one pushing the canard that vaccines cause autism should be setting immunization policy in this country. A federal advisory committee of medical and public health experts has already established smart, responsible recommendations on vaccinations. Reams of research have found zero links between autism and immunization. And science-denying anti-vaxxers have already hurt too many children.

The presidential tests Donald Trump is already failing: He’s now demonizing America’s intelligence agencies. And his plan to avoid business conflicts is a sham. The closer we get to Trump’s inauguration, the clearer it gets how much our system of checks and balances will be tested. If and when he goes beyond the pale, it can’t just be accepted as Trump being Trump. He must be held to account.


Dan Morain: On this Jan. 10, Amanda and Nick Wilcox found a different way to honor their daughter. They drove from their home in Penn Valley to the Capitol to bear witness, and to witness the confirmation hearing for Xavier Becerra, Gov. Jerry Brown’s nominee to be the next California attorney general. The hearing had been going on for two hours, and the room was emptying when Amanda stepped to the microphone.

Gregory Favre: Ben Smith, BuzzFeed editor, defends his decision to publish a scandalous intelligence report on President-elect Donald Trump, even after Buzzfeed reporters couldn’t confirm the content. Smith cites the need for more transparency and his belief that readers had the right to see it.

Joe Mathews: The lilting musical “La La Land” and the acclaimed satire “The Sellout” seem very different. But the film and the novel are two of the most thought-provoking and entertaining documents of today’s California.


Kathleen Tiegs and Brent Hastey: The Association of California Water Agencies believes that the federal water infrastructure bill brings the state to the middle ground in water policy.

Take a number: 3 percent

We doubt Donald Trump studies our editorials, though he should. But the other day, we opined Congress and Trump ought to focus on what drives health care costs up, starting with the price of pharmaceuticals. At his press conference on Wednesday, Trump declared his desire to require drugmakers to bid for government business. As Bloomberg reported, the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 3 percent in New York, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences Index dropped 1.7 percent, the biggest one-day drops for the indexes since October. They will recover. They always do.

Their take

L.A. Times: Because the state’s budget relies heavily on personal income tax and capital gains tax revenues that rise and fall with alarming unpredictability, it must be cautious even when the economy seems good. That’s why we and other concerned Californians have been urging a reform in the state’s taxing structure for years. We agree.

Seattle Times: Taking federal dollars away from Planned Parenthood is not a strike against abortion. Federal money is already prohibited from paying for elective pregnancy terminations. It’s a strike against health care and birth control for ordinary Americans. We agree.

Lexington Herald Leader: On a roll, the Kentucky GOP should beware of overreaching. Working Kentuckians were shut out of the first hearing on two anti-union bills because the committee room had been reserved for a breakfast by Americans For Prosperity, the tea party-embracing organization founded by the Koch brothers. All the seats were taken before the union members arrived.

Manchester Union Leader: Republicans in the New Hampshire Legislature are again poised to repeal the state requirement for concealed-carry weapon licenses. This time, they have a governor willing to sign the bill into law.

Charlotte Observer: What’s true about Donald Trump and the Russia reports: We think it was irresponsible of BuzzFeed News to publish the full 35-page document. It was legitimate news, however, that intelligence agencies thought enough of at least some of the dossier to offer a synopsis of it to Obama and Trump.

Michael Specter, The New Yorker: A conspiracy theory such as the one about the autism vaccine is like an untreated wound. It has festered for years, and yesterday Trump and Kennedy guaranteed that it can only deepen – causing tremendous destruction and needless pain.

Syndicates’ take

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Donald Trump brought home the importance of the theme of President Barack Obama’s farewell address. It was a warning and a plea: an alert about the dangers our democracy confronts, and a call for Americans to be vigilant in protecting our liberties.

Dana Milbank: If the activists were expecting Sen. Jeff Sessions to live up to his reputation, they would have been disappointed at his Senate confirmation hearing for attorney general. The man in the witness chair sounded more MLK than KKK.

Thomas Friedman: In the winter of 2016 the world hit a tipping point that was revealed by the most unlikely collection of actors: Vladimir Putin, Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg and the Macy’s department store.


Donald Trump cannot lead the nation in 140 characters. – Joel Mark, Carmichael

Tweets of the day

“Regardless of party, @acosta behavior was rude, inappropriate and disrespectful. He owes @realDonaldTrump and his colleagues an apology.” – Sean Spicer @seanspicer

“An unfortunate statement. Sean you know that you threatened to throw me out of that news conference if I asked another question. #realnews” – Jim Acosta @acosta