Falwell’s moral murkiness + CEOs clarity + Limits of free speech + Ross Johnson

Jack Ohman doesn’t see both sides in Trump’s latest battle. Check out Jack’s side of the story here.

Our take


Nazis aren’t good for business. Neither is Donald Trump: Most CEOs don’t want to sit on a board for President Donald Trump, who thinks “fine people” attend white supremacist rallies like the one in Charlottesville.


Marcos Breton: If you agree with Donald Trump that Nazis and those protesting hate groups are equal, then you are the problem.

Karin Klein: Why are opioids a national crisis, but smoking a personal choice? Smoking is far more lethal addiction in America. Opioid deaths occur more quickly dramatically, and for the most part, among younger people. Maybe if we defined the fatal diseases brought on by smoking as long-term cigarette overdoses, we’d view them differently.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: California obviously has a severe shortage of housing, but the crisis is felt most acutely by low- and moderate-income families.


Vamsee Juluri: Believe it or not, a history textbook from a major publisher like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt begins its lesson on India with the ludicrous and offensive phrase, “How’s your Karma doing?” The book is set to go Thursday before the state Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission.

California Forum

Erwin Chemerinsky: Europe bans it. Business shuns it. Campuses fear it. The First Amendment protects it. So what can be done about hate speech?

Duane ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ and Beth Chapman: In which the reality TV stars and SB 10 opponents write an open letter warning the rapper and justice reform advocate Common not to be a sucker on bail reform.

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.

Take a number: 1.9 million

President Donald Trump disbanded his American Manufacturing Council as CEOs resigned in protest over his comments on white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. But before his announcement Wednesday came a study that shows how important it is to restore manufacturing jobs. The Economic Policy Institute pointed out that while the U.S. economy has added 8.2 million private-sector jobs since the Great Recession started in December 2007, there are still 1.9 million fewer workers in manufacturing and construction. These jobs are crucial because they are among the highest paying for blue-collar workers without college degrees. While the average wage in growing service industry jobs is $25 an hour, the average wage is more than $30 in manufacturing. Our fast-changing economy – which is increasingly knowledge-based and automated and shedding blue-collar and manual labor jobs by the thousands – is a key issue for this president and nation. Still, the entire idea that Trump would champion the working class – that he was some kind of “blue-collar billionaire” – was a fiction. Foon Rhee, @foonrhee

Their take

Los Angeles Times: Mass transit systems are more than a way to carry people to and from work; they also provide a prized platform for advertisers who covet the attention of a captive commuter audience. But what if a public transit agency worries that an advertisement will offend or scandalize some of its riders? Can it refuse such advertising? Not if it picks or chooses based on the ad’s point of view. That sort of favoritism violates the First Amendment.

Orange County Register: While politicians across California seem content to ignore the problem, both the cost and excesses of public-sector pensions continue to grow. Last year, nearly 23,000 retired government workers receiving a pension through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System collected pensions of at least $100,000, according to watchdog group Transparent California.

San Jose Mercury News: After being excoriated by President Trump for being “very weak” on executive branch leaks, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pledged to rein in unauthorized disclosures of information by government officials. That’s fine. Sessions should clean up his own house – or, rather, President Trump’s. But what he shouldn’t do is trample on press freedoms in the process.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: California has required vaccinations for schoolchildren in some form since 1899. The science is sound. So is the goal: protecting children’s health. They deserve nothing less.

Chicago Tribune: Reported Zika cases have dropped in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Time to sound the “all clear”? Absolutely not. “Zika hasn’t gone away,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We can’t afford to be complacent.”

Syndicates’ take

Frank Bruni: You can’t eclipse the American spirit. What’s happening in the heavens is a bonanza here on Earth, in this money-minded patch of purple mountains, fruited plains and Donald Trump-branded properties called the United States.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: It is no longer defensible for his lieutenants or Republicans in Congress to tell themselves that they’re staying close to President Trump to contain the damage he could cause our country. If their actual goal was to prevent damage, they have failed.

Ross Douthat: While the president blathers about how some of the torchbearers were fine people, other people are talking about whether we could have a civil war for real.

Thomas L. Friedman: We are the most powerful country in the world not because we own F-22s. And it surely isn’t that we embrace white supremacy. It’s because we embrace pluralism. It’s because we can still make out of many, one. I am a pluralism supremacist.

Dana Milbank: It looks more and more like the White Nationalist House. President Trump, who this week retweeted an “alt-right” conspiracy theorist and ally of white supremacists, continues to employ in his White House not just Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, two darlings of the alt-right, but also Sebastian Gorka, who uses the platform to defend the embattled white man.

Francis Wilkinson: The liberal case for President Mike Pence. Compared with the daily degradation that is President Trump, a Pence White House looks better than good; it looks grand. I’m consistently perplexed when others don’t share my enthusiasm for the humdrum Hoosier.

Ross Johnson, 1939-2017

When Ross Johnson stepped down as chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission in 2010, we thanked the rare politician who cared about transparency.

Johnson, who left the FPPC for health reasons, died Wednesday. He was a tough, straight-shooting Republican who represented Orange County in the Assembly and Senate from 1978 to 2004, and could do an impressive Johnny Cash imitation; we remember his duet with John Burton of “Big Rock Candy Mountain.”

Burton, the former Senate president pro tem, was among the most liberal senators of his day and Johnson was conservative. They were an old-school odd couple who could put aside partisan differences and were the closest of friends. Burton called Johnson “a real reformer,” in part because “he knew all the tricks of the trade” from his days running campaigns.

Johnson, who disliked big government, teamed with Burton on legislation to curb the power of law enforcement to seize assets without gaining criminal convictions, and to block law enforcement from placing tracking devices on people’s cars without warrants.

Former Sen. Jim Brulte, now chairman of the California Republican Party, called Johnson his mentor. “He never took political disagreements personally and was admired, respected, and loved by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Brulte said.

He had little patience with lobbyists who attempted to pull fast ones. They wouldn’t try twice.


“I have one response to Donald Trump’s ‘condemnation’ of hate groups. Wink wink; nod nod.” – John McFarren, Sacramento

Tweets of the day

“Ha, I’ve been blocked from his account,” Rob Stutzman‏ @RobStutzman, referring to Jerry Falwell Jr. “Kinda makes my day,” Stutzman added in an email. Said blocking occurred after Stutz wrote an op-ed for The Bee headlined: “A call to GOP Christians: Silence in the face of Charlottesville racism is complicity,” which singled out Junior for his lack of moral clarity on Charlottesville. Junior, meanwhile, finally offered his take: “Finally a leader in WH. Jobs returning, N Korea backing down, bold truthful stmt about #charlottesville tragedy. So proud of @realdonaldtrump”

Which proved Stutzman’s point.