Refugees, death penalty, the NRA, Brexit and George Lucas’ museum

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.

Please take time to read The Sacramento Bee’s special report by Stephen Magagnini about Afghan refugees living in Sacramento, and study the photos by Renée C. Byer.

The refugees were targeted for death in Afghanistan because they fought for freedom along side our troops. Now they are our neighbors. Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar tells the story that led to the story. Our editorial sums up this nation’s treatment of them in a single word: “Betrayal.”

Take that

The November ballot will be bloated with initiatives on drug pricing (drug companies will spend whatever it takes); condoms in porn films (why?); undo Citizens United (it’s advisory); plastic bags (to mess with grocers); Jerry Brown’s sentencing measure; bullet control and marijuana legalization, otherwise known as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s march across the hall to the governor’s office, and many others.

Among the others, one would speed the death penalty, and one would end it. The abolition initiative qualified last week. This issue rages nationally, even in Utah, among the most reliably Republican states.

In 1977, Gary Gilmore, executed in Utah for two murders, became the first person to die by execution after the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that capital punishment could be constitutional. Norman Mailer wrote about it in “The Executioners Song.” A more powerful account was “Shot in the Heart,” by Gilmore’s brother, Mikal Gilmore.

The Salt Lake Tribune now concludes: The legal, ethical and financial arguments necessary to make the death penalty seem like anything other that what it is – thuggish, expensive vengeance that harms everyone it touches – are getter harder and harder to make, or believe.

Take a number: $11,000

The National Rifle Association is the ideal bogeyman for California’s Democratic politicians. The base no doubt reviles Wayne LaPierre. The NRA may see benefit in spending money against Gavin Newsom’s bullet control initiative and on congressional races in California. But the NRA has been a nonfactor in recent California legislative races, having spent a mere $11,000 on legislative races in 2014 on nine Republicans. Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang evidently didn’t even cash the check.

Our take

Editorial: A better prescription for helping Sacramento’s kids.

Editorial: We should be able to call Brock Turner a rapist.

David Freeman: PG&E’s decision to close Diablo Canyon should end the nuclear power debate.

Lawrence C. Levine: There will be a muted celebration of marriage equality in wake of the Orlando massacre.

Ralph de Vere White: Progress in the fight against cancer.

Joel Fox: As Betty Yee and Bob Hertzberg seek to change the tax system, they need to factor in spending reforms.

Marcos Breton: What happens when fear of “the other” trumps logic and facts?

Their take

The Orange County Register: If CEQA cannot be abolished altogether, it should be substantially reformed to prevent lawsuit abuses and focus narrowly on legitimate environmental concerns.

The Redding Record-Searchlight: As fires burn our forests, U.S. Forest Service chief Thomas L. Tidwell goes begging. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, is offering to help. Congress needs to pay attention.

Debra J. Saunders of The San Francisco Chronicle: Assemblywoman Shirley Weber is outraged at Brock Turner’s sentence. Notice the eye-roll?

Take a swing

North Carolina is in play in presidential politics, so we pay particular attention to what our cousins have to say:

Taylor Batten of The Charlotte Observer: No North Carolina governor has ever run for a second term and lost; Pat McCrory could be the first.

Raleigh News & Observer: The Hillary Clinton who came to Raleigh was a confident, capable, positive and hopeful leader, inclusive in her ideas, specific in her solutions.

Taking leave

Editorial writers are alarmed by the Brexit, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, not just because of the impact on our retirement accounts:

The Sacramento Bee: Hate isn’t the way to make Britain – or America – great again.

The San Francisco Chronicle: The instant damage was severe.

The L.A. Times: Don’t underestimate the power of angry voters.

The Orange County Register: Voters reject centralized government.

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Scary implications for November.

Syndicates’ take

Kathleen Parker: Brexit reflects Donald Trump’s play on nationalism.

Dana Milbank: Democrats should not be too cocky about defeating Donald Trump.

Leonard Pitts: We’ve failed Sherdavia Jenkins, and others like her.

Ruben Navarrette: The menacing rise of the 100 percenters – those who are always right.

And finally,

George Lucas continues looking for a home for his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, now that Chicago is out of the running. The Chicago Tribune laments the loss but says the Lakefront must be protected.

Sure, Treasure Island would be nice, as would USC. But why not the Railyards? Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg should place a call. He has time on his hands.