FPPC risks its reputation, why Trump should study Nixon, and the Berryhill backlash

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 and tell a friend.

Jack Ohman notes a new poll shows half of GOP voters would postpone the 2020 election if Donald Trump saw fit to do so. See the root of the problem here.

Our take


Ethics commissioner’s blunder could turn watchdog into a partisan Democratic tool: There’s nothing wrong with lobbyists serving on the FPPC, so long as they embrace their role as watchdogs and cease being advocates. Evidently, old habits die hard.

Modesto Bee: Tom Berryhill turned his back on Stanislaus residents, but now wants us to vote for him? The infamous “negative bailout” was costing Stanislaus residents millions each year, but Berryhill abstained when he had a chance to help end it.


Foon Rhee: Is a tour of Nixon’s past a peek into Trump’s future? Visitors to the Watergate gallery at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda are invited to decide if there are any lessons for today. You don’t have to be a historian to see stark parallels between Nixon and Donald Trump – and what might happen in the Russia investigation.

Ben Boychuk: Google memo wasn’t anti-diversity or a rant. But it still got the author fired. If you read it – and it’s clear from the coverage that even the journalists that covered the document’s existence viewed it through blood-red tinted lenses – you would find a fairly pedantic, sometimes poorly worded, but altogether respectful argument for a kind of intellectual diversity. And we can’t have that.


Tom Torlakson: President Donald Trump wants to eliminate all federal funding for after-school, summer school and other expanded-learning programs. That’s $1.2 billion nationally and $137 million, or about one-fifth of the total in California. His proposed cuts are short-sighted, counter-productive and just plain wrong.

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 and tell a friend.

California Forum

Sasha Abramsky: This president isn’t the first leader to play politics with mob passions. How Donald Trump and the Republican Party will go down in history.

Assemblyman Jim Cooper: Ratifying the compact for a proposed Wilton Rancheria casino would bring a jackpot to Elk Grove and a tribal dream of self-sufficiency closer to reality.

Stephanie Taylor: A Sacramento artist goes to the famed Squaw Valley writers’ workshop and returns with images worth a thousand words.

Joe Mathews: Picturesque San Juan Bautista may seem an escape from the apocalyptic summer we’re having, but no place in California knows more about the end of the world.

Take a number: 35 percent

While that’s the official corporate tax rate that Uncle Sam charges, the Economic Policy Institute pointed out Thursday that the tax rate that companies actually pay is closer to half that. Because of loopholes and parking profits offshore, many corporations are paying somewhere between 12.5 percent and 19.4 percent, depending on the analysis. It’s important to keep the true rate in mind as President Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress and pro-business lobbies increasingly pound the drum for tax “reform” that includes cutting the corporate rate to as low as 15 percent. Their version of reform would mean huge tax breaks for corporations and wealthy Americans, but not so much for the middle class and working Americans. Foon Rhee, @foonrhee

Their take

Chicago Sun-Times: Friends in the Wisconsin Legislature, we beg you: Sign that bad deal with Foxconn. It’s the neighborly thing to do. Best we can tell, it’s a crap shoot as to whether luring the giant electronics company to Wisconsin would work out well for you, given the billions of dollars in tax breaks your governor has promised, but it would be terrific for Illinois.

Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Police Department’s slow and careful process for developing a policy on how it will deploy drones is imperfect, but Chief Charlie Beck and his department are approaching the question in the proper spirit, taking public input and considering the many very serious concerns about drones being used for unwarranted police snooping. If only L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell would take heed.

Orange County Register: The California State University system has decided to end its current remedial classes, but what will that mean for students and the value of a college degree? The changes are intended to improve graduation rates and college affordability, since remedial courses do not count toward graduation requirements. But is it really such an imposition to require up to three remediation classes during a student’s first year.

San Diego Union Tribune: Rep. Duncan Hunter has dismissed his messy personal scandal — in which campaign funds were used to pay for a staggering variety of Hunter’s and his family’s expenses — as a media invention. The federal investigation into the Hunter scandal appears more far-reaching than first thought.

Denver Post: On the same day the federal government released horrifying figures about the continuing rise of opioid overdose deaths in this country, President Donald Trump missed a chance to elevate the problem in announcing he would decline to declare an emergency. Thankfully, he appears to be coming around.

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review: California — after raising its top income tax rate to 13.3 percent and receiving record revenues — is still facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. There is a much more foreboding state crisis of unfunded liabilities and pension obligations of nearly $1 trillion.

Syndicates’ take

Michael Gerson: For wisdom on North Korea, President Donald Trump should visit White House library. He combines a total ignorance of the past with a total confidence in his own instincts. Now, in the first crisis not of his own making, he must produce traits of leadership he has not exhibited before: judgment, prudence and wisdom.

Dana Milbank: The President Trump cleanup patrol just had its biggest job yet. Its unorthodox message to an anxious nation and a panicky world: Don’t take seriously what the president of the United States says. On Tuesday, Trump delivered remarks about North Korea that pushed the world toward a nuclear standoff last seen in the Cuban missile crisis.

Andres Oppenheimer: Al Gore wades through Miami Beach floods – then the surreal happens. When Gore’s new documentary about global warming ended, the entire area was flooded and nobody could get out of the building.

Eugene Robinson: It is possible that “fire and fury” was, in Donald Trump’s mind, a bit of strategy. Perhaps he wanted to come across as a dangerous madman. If so, he succeeded in unnerving Americans and our allies – but not, apparently, the North Koreans.

Trudy Rubin: A preemptive war with North Korea is not on the horizon, unless Trump’s team can’t muzzle the president. For months, observers have warned that Trump’s tweets and careless comments could endanger our country in a crisis.


“The only voter suppression in the last election was my vote being canceled by people who are in this country and voting illegally. Between this nonsense and sanctuary cities, one can see where this state is headed, and it’s not in the right direction.”William Sullivan, Carmichael