Butane explosions, cyberattacks, and Xavier Becerra on Jeff Sessions’ drug war

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

Jack Ohman says Vladimir Putin’s only the piano player in the Syrian parlor. Click here to hear the music.

Our take


When death isn’t a big enough deterrent to making this marijuana: California voters have decided – against our better judgment – that adults who want to use weed should be able to do it legally. Just don’t give the drug to kids, voters said in approving Proposition 64. And whatever you do, don’t blow up your house or kill someone trying to get an even bigger high by trying produce to hash oil.

Lessons from the global cyberattack: Update software, be nice to the IT guy. It’s up to all of us to keep our own computers and smartphones safe from malware because when we don’t, we can spread the virus to many others. We should give information technology workers the respect they deserve, not just when we need them to make an urgent fix.


Dan Walters: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra muffs a chance to become aggressive about pursuing corruption in California’s poor communities.


Jared Blumenfeld: If action isn’t taken this month in Sacramento, the recycling of 64 million single-use beverage containers that our state uses every day could be trashed.

Take a number: 53 percent and 29 percent

There’s a huge gender gap in how Americans view the nation’s prospects, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. While a majority of men say they have quite a lot of confidence in America’s future, only 29 percent of women do.

That’s a significant change from before President Donald Trump in October 2015, when 47 percent of men and 43 percent of women said they felt that way. Confidence has plummeted even further among Democratic women, with only 20 percent with a lot of confidence, down from 48 percent in 2015, with a Democratic president in office. Foon Rhee, @foonrhee

Their take

San Jose Mercury News: California has a chance this spring to reform one of the most egregiously unfair elements of our criminal justice system: Bail.

East Bay Times: Despite illegal actions, Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson plans to seek re-election, thumbing his nose at voters who entrusted him to the county’s top law enforcement post.

Los Angeles Times: If there’s a silver lining to the toxic cloud hovering over the White House, it’s that our science-denying president hasn’t caused too much damage to the environment. Yet. But nearly four months into the Trump administration, the risks to the nation’s air, land and water are large and looming.

Kansas City Star: President Donald Trump is expected to nominate a new FBI director quickly, perhaps as early as this week. Picking Sen. John Cornyn of Texas or Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina would send an unmistakable signal the president considers this a patronage position, open only to members of his own party.

Topeka Capital-Journal, Kansas: Donald Trump and Kris Kobach are uniquely unqualified to secure the “integrity” of American elections. They both have obvious incentives to report vast, unchecked fraud in the country. They’ve both made hysterical, unfounded claims about “millions of people who voted illegally.” And they both care more about a fictional crisis than the disenfranchisement of U.S. citizens.

Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia: When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in Charleston Thursday about the opioid crisis, he espoused the well-worn, dreary, lock-’em-up, “War on Drugs” approach that has failed miserably since the 1980s.

Charlotte Observer: People across North Carolina and the nation who care about fair elections are celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s action Monday that essentially strikes down the state’s egregious voter-restriction law. They have good reason, but they shouldn’t get carried away. Several signs suggest the threat to equitable treatment of voters won’t disappear that easily.

Salt Lake City Tribune: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said a lot of the right things during his recent visit to Utah. But it wasn’t all that reassuring because he didn’t listen to all of the right people. It will not be long until we learn whether the slanted view Zinke got during his visit will lead to a similarly warped recommendation to the president.

New Orleans Times-Picayune: As New Orleans prepares to move the Lee and Beauregard statues, New Orleanians should speak up against intimidation and hateful acts. Speak up for reconciliation. Speak up for the creation of new symbols that will reflect the vibrant diversity of this singular place.

Syndicates’ take

Michael Gerson: With his commencement speech at Liberty University, President Donald Trump presented evangelicals as a group of besieged outsiders, in need of a defender.

Eugene Robinson: Donald Trump is used to running things a certain way. Everyone must realize that he’s not going to change.

Andres Oppenheimer: A new study by the McKinsey Global Institute says that robots and other forms of automation will dramatically impact at least half of our jobs by as early as 2035.

Paul Krugman: America’s economic engine no longer needs a fiscal jump-start. So, this is exactly the wrong time for President Donald Trump to be talking about the desirability of bigger budget deficits.

Charles M. Blow: President Donald Trump is talking and tweeting himself into legal jeopardy. He can’t seem to help himself. Something in the man is broken.


California’s economy needs more college graduates to remain strong – Andrea Devitt, San Luis Obispo

Becerra’s take on Sessions

There are many real crimes: espionage, terrorism, fraud, international drug cartels. And yet U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama era policy on drug prosecutions and directed prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, speaking to the Sacramento Press Club Monday, made clear what he thinks of Sessions’ stand on prosecuting drug crimes and seeking lengthy sentences.

“I don’t understand it,” he said.

Sessions, said Becerra, must be intent on building new prisons, creating a new generation of long-term inmates, and ignoring the impact on “young men, mostly ones of color.”

“To the degree that we have anything to do with it, we’ll try to make sure California is insulated,” he said. But he readily acknowledged that the feds don’t have to check with state law enforcement.

“You can’t stop them from being stupid,” Becerra said.

Tweet of the Day

“The president should resign.” – David Frum, @davidfrum. And then read the replies.