Scott Pruitt takes Koch money, questions California’s right to clean our air

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


Why Obama’s defense of Manning commutation wasn’t entirely convincing: With his Chelsea Manning decision, Barack Obama joins the club of presidents who issue controversial pardons and commutations as they leave the White House. In his last month in office, George H.W. Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five other officials in the Iran-contra scandal. On his last day, Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, a fugitive financier and tax evader. Obama had his reasons for showing mercy to Manning, but he must accept that it might tarnish his legacy.

Rain brings ugliness of homelessness out into open: If there ever was a reminder of why Sacramento must find a way to provide more short-term shelter for the hundreds of men, women and children who sleep outside every night, this spate of storms has been it.


Dan Morain: William B. Gould IV is exactly the sort of person Gov. Jerry Brown would want to serve on the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. So why did he appoint Isadore Hall, an out-of-work politician, to the board he created when he was governor the first time?

Joe Mathews: He’s spent all this time in a dark space, without ventilation, food or water. The Donald Trump in my closet has never insulted Mexicans, threatened Muslims, boasted about assaulting women or cozied up to Putin. My Trump is a piñata.


Jim Gogek: The small percentage of people who won’t vote for a woman in a presidential race may account for the approximately 80,000 votes Hillary Clinton lost by in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania combined, which threw the electoral vote against her.

Take a number: $175,000

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, caused no small amount of angst among the California delegation and in Sacramento when, under questioning by Sen. Kamala Harris, he balked at saying whether he would authorize California to continue to regulate our dirty air. Stuart Leavenworth, now of McClatchy’s Washington bureau, reports that as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt ran the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which helped build support for Pruitt’s anti-environmental litigation agenda and to elect other Republican attorneys general nationwide. Among the donors: the oil billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch, who gave $175,000. And of course Pruitt has California’s best interests at heart.

Their take

L.A. Times: Texas is trying to get the nation’s taxpayers to foot a $2.8 billion bill for Texas’ decision – unbidden by the federal government – to send National Guard troops and state law-enforcement personnel to protect the Mexican border. The answer should be: No.

East Bay Times: Jerry Brown should come clean with the public and truly address California’s mounting retirement debt rather than passing it on to future generations.

Orange County Register: Betsy DeVos would help offer to add to, not take away from, the recognized benefits of a well-functioning school system.

Lexington Herald-Leader: President Barack Obama’s legacy in Appalachia is far more than being a foil for politicians playing the coal card. The infusion of federal dollars, the new ideas supported by the Obama administration and smart cooperation among federal agencies helped replenish something that’s long been in short supply: hope.

Seattle Times: Lawmakers should be free to vote their conscience on the death penalty, weighing arguments about the cost, the disproportional use and morality of state-sanctioned death. Put it to a vote.

Miami Herald: It’s a testament to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. that so many local residents show up to Miami-Dade’s annual parade and celebration in his honor. But it’s also an infuriating tragedy that attending the celebration has become for attendees a matter of life and death – proven again on Monday.

Syndicates’ take

Dana Milbank: Over the weekend, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus confirmed that they were weighing a plan to kick reporters out of the West Wing in favor of a larger site elsewhere in the White House compound. That they are even considering such a move is shocking, yet not surprising.

Thomas L. Friedman: Many who voted against Donald Trump would have given him a second look had he surprised them with generosity and grace.

E.J. Dionne: Since Election Day, Donald Trump has chosen cynicism over trust, and chaos over community. Far from calming the country down, he has reminded everyone who opposed him of why they saw him as unfit for the presidency.


Congress, think long and hard before repealing Obamacare. – John Johnston, Sacramento

Tweets of the days

“What a beautiful elegant hotel @TrumpDC @realDonaldTrump #MAGA” – Abel Maldonado ‏@abelmaldonado, Jan. 17

“Enjoying a beautiful bottle of Trump Sparkling Wine @realDonaldTrump @TrumpDC #MAGA” Abel Maldonado ‏@abelmaldonado, Jan. 17

“So much for California’s Abel Maldonado: Trump taps Sonny Perdue as his agriculture chief” – Stuart Leavenworth ‏@sleavenworth, Jan. 18