Roundup gets a cancer warning, workers get stiffed, and McClatchy gets recognition for real news well-reported


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


Maybe just pull those dandelions by hand: The active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup has been labeled a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65 regulations. Take it in context, gardeners, but be careful out there.

White working class gets stiffed: President Donald Trump isn’t returning the favor to loyal supporters, who are dying in shockingly high numbers in middle age. Their lives are not going to get much better by cutting health care coverage or by slashing social programs, as Trump proposes.


Karin Klein: Monday was the first night of Passover, celebrated with a Seder, a retelling before dinner of the story of the exodus from Egypt. According to the Haggadah, four children ask about the Seder in four different ways. While some would like to banish one child from the table for asking why, they may have an important role in holding us accountable. They’re not going to accept something as true based on someone’s say-so.

Andrew Malcolm, McClatchy DC: President Donald Trump’s sudden missile strike against a Syrian airfield in retaliation for a gas attack on civilians will not change one thing about that sad land’s bloody civil war. It will, however, alter the strategic calculus in many places within but also far beyond the troubled Middle East.

Take a number: $51 billion

With its stock price reaching new highs Monday, Tesla’s market capitalization passed General Motors to become America’s most valuable automaker. The electric car maker in the Silicon Valley surpassed Ford last week. Though it lost $776 million last year and sold only 76,000 vehicles compared to GM’s 10 million, investors are betting that Tesla represents the future. The Trump administration plans to roll back mileage standards but offer a short-term gain for Detroit and foreign automakers. But California’s plan to forge ahead by having 4 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030 couldn’t hurt, whether the goal is attainable or not. Foon Rhee, @foonrhee

Their take

San Jose Mercury News: We’re immensely proud that the Pulitzer Prize committee on Monday honored us with journalism’s greatest recognition. The East Bay Times won the Pulitzer for breaking news reporting. Our celebration is tempered by the haunting knowledge that 36 people died needlessly in that Fruitvale District converted warehouse. Our work on Ghost Ship has just begun.

San Francisco Chronicle: California’s transportation bill was large and late enough, but lawmakers are grappling with another truly imposing matter left undone for epochs: designating a state dinosaur.

Los Angeles Times: When Congress and the Obama administration sought to reform the health-care system in 2009, they focused on insuring more people, lowering the cost of care and raising the quality. The Trump administration appears to be aiming at a different target: reducing the cost of insurance for healthy people. That may sound like a fine goal, but the administration is going about it the wrong way – by returning us to the bad old days when sick people had to pay exorbitant premiums, if they could get coverage at all.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Stanford University researchers say a California law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses immediately reduced the number of hit-and-run collisions. The law, passed in 2014 over loud objections from anti-immigration activists, is doing exactly what its sponsors promised: enhancing public safety for everyone.

Charlotte Observer: Wells Fargo directors make more than $300,000 a year, and their most important job may be to identify and address risk to the bank. Their failure, particularly those on the corporate responsibility committee, to do so devastated the bank. It’s hard to see how it opens its next chapter effectively with them still at the helm.

Kansas City Star: Allowing guns in University of Kansas Health System facilities could unravel the hospital’s hard-fought gains and national reputation. And yet, the Kansas Legislature has not been able to rally enough votes to take the simple step of carving out a concealed carry exemption for these facilities.

Alabama Media Group: Robert Bentley is the third Alabama governor to face criminal charges in the last six. In one shameful year, Alabama has seen its governor, speaker of the House and chief justice removed or resign from office. They’ve left behind a vacuum of power and, with national investigations looming over our prison and education systems, an urgent need for principled leadership.

Syndicates take

Charles Oppenheimer: President Donald Trump should take some time off from the golf course and visit this part of the world, where he would see how fast Japan, China and South Korea are developing their robotics industries. They are replacing massive numbers of workers with ever faster, more efficient and cheaper robots, and the United States will have to do the same to remain competitive.

Michael Gerson: It is predictability that builds and maintains alliances. It is constancy that enforces red lines, allowing others to accurately calculate the limits of American patience. It is vagueness and impulsiveness that invite testing and the possibility of deadly miscalculation.

Trudy Rubin: Despite his stubborn refusal to criticize Russia’s cyberwar on America, President Donald Trump may finally have grasped the need to display toughness to the Kremlin. Call it the learning curve of Trump. The big question now is whether the administration will use this military strike as more than a warning against the use of chemical weapons.

Eugene Robinson: If the cruise missile attack against Syria was a one-and-done warning, it changes nothing. If it was an opening salvo of some kind, what follows?

Charles M. Blow: President Donald Trump’s reasoning to attack Syria has echoes of the George W. Bush warning about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” a lie that led us into a near decadelong war.

Paul Krugman: So what have we learned from the Syria attack and its aftermath? Ordering the U.S. military to fire off some missiles is easy. Doing so in a way that actually serves American interests is the hard part.


“That this Syrian airfield was usable immediately after the Tomahawk bombing indicates lack of mission success. But it won wide press coverage. Like all things Trump, the statement was huge, the result not so much.” Thomas Shepherd, Roseville

Take a bow

Real news well-reported. Now that’s a concept.

We are proud to be part of the same newspaper family that includes the McClatchy DC bureau and The Miami Herald, which were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their hard-nosed and collaborative investigative reporting of the Panama Papers. Our own Dale Kasler, Marjie Lundstrom, Phillip Reese and McClatchy’s Tim Johnson combined to produce an intriguing article that detailed a Sacramento connection revealed by the Panama Papers.

Our editorial board summed up our take-away: “We all knew the rich and powerful play by different rules than the rest of us. Some are willing to bend or break the law to enrich themselves, and some bankers and lawyers are more than happy to help them. Yet, the level of venality revealed by what are being called the Panama Papers is mind-boggling – and infuriating. It’s the globalization of corruption, and even more contemptible are political leaders who loot the public treasuries of their poor nations.”

Jim Morin of The Miami Herald won the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning, making two years running that a McClatchy cartoonist has won that distinction. A fellow named Jack won it last year.