Spending hours studying porn; well, actually the porn initiative

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

We contemplate light sentences for sexual attacks, and offer suggestions for Gov. Jerry Brown, opine about Donald Trump’s immigration policy, and consider the pros and cons of Proposition 60, the only-in-California initiative that would require porn actors to wear condoms. Speaking of oddities, we offer another edition of The Trump Follies, by Erika D. Smith, this one focused on Trump’s physician, Harold Bornstein.

Take that

California is the one place in the world where a man with money and an idea can place on the ballot an initiative that requires voters to decide whether porn actors should wear condoms.

Michael Weinstein of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation is convinced that porn actors must wear condoms to avoid the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and spent $1.84 million to place Proposition 60 on the Nov. 8 ballot and promote it.

Out of a sense of journalistic duty, a contingent of the editorial board of The Sacramento Bee spent almost three hours listening to arguments for and against Proposition 60. Weinstein didn’t make the trip, sending surrogates instead. Not that we’re innocent or pure. In fact, we think we’re worldly. And yet we heard about acts some of us didn’t know existed.

Exactly how many porn actors have contracted AIDS on the job is not clear. Estimates ranged from many to a couple of dozen to none since 2004. Backers say testing is lax and that herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea are common.

Opponents included Ariel X, who discussed her 13 years as a performer and producer, and mentioned her special wrestling site. She’s buff. Chanel Preston discussed her seven years in the business, and the hazards of using condoms in porn shoots that can last for hours. They’re abrasive.

We listened so you don’t have to and will issue our recommendation shortly.

Take a number: 1,200, or so

In our effort to understand Proposition 60, and the scope of the potential problem of porn workers and HIV/AIDS, we asked the basic: How many pornographic actors are there in California? Not sure, advocates of the measure said. Maybe 2,000, maybe 1,200, who work in any where from 20 to 200 studios. No one is exactly sure. It’s self-reported by an industry that is based on exhibitionism but is strictly private.

Our take

Editorial: With the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault scheduled to be released from Santa Clara County jail on Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown should sign one Brock Turner bill and veto the other. And the mob arrayed against the judge in this case should dissipate.

Editorial: The real Donald Trump demonizes immigrants.

Bill Whalen: Maybe Tom Steyer, by assuming no formal introduction to voters is necessary, isn’t so much arrogant as he is astute. The longer you don’t know he’s wealthy, the more you might like him. Unless you happen to be competing against those hedge-fund profits.

Ev Ehrlich’s Soapbox: Here are some things that happened about a century ago: the sinking of the Lusitania, Babe Ruth’s first home run and the creation of the California Public Utilities Commission.

California Forum preview

Mark Arax: Much of the time we pay no attention to undocumented Mexican workers. They’re like phantoms in the fields, drawn to harvest California crops, despite hardships and talk of a wall.

Rebecca LaVally: All of us are burdened by the sense of incivility that pervades this presidential campaign, and we’re hoping for a comeback of “political virtue.”

Jane Braxton Little: Local officials are starting to wise up about wildfires and building homes in the “Stupid Zone.”

Andrew Malcolm: Find out the real motive behind Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

Their take

Orange County Register: California needs to more rapidly build up its reserves, pay down its debt and put an end to its spending addiction. Will it take another severe recession before the ruling Democratic legislators in Sacramento start to listen?

Debra J. Saunders, The Chronicle: I am thrilled President Barack Obama is using his pardon power and crossing my fingers he is using it well.

Chicago Tribune: We interrupt the frenzied 2016 political season with reflections on the presidential campaign of 1840. This may change the way you choose to spend Labor Day weekend.

Raleigh News & Observer: Save the red wolf. When a rare species dies, a part of American history goes with it. In this case, North Carolina is part of that history. And, as one conservation scientist noted, it’s shameful to think the Fish and Wildlife Service would allow the red wolf to go extinct in the wild when there are ways to save it.

David French, National Review: Donald Trump’s likely immigration legacy: Thanks to his own blunders and failings, he’s blazing the trail for open borders, amnesty and a path to citizenship. He built this movement, and he’s the biggest reason it wonz’t achieve its most cherished aims.

Syndicates’ take

Charles Krauthammer: Donald Trump points to the only solution on immigration.

Eugene Robinson: Donald Trump can’t soften his bigotry.

Michael Gerson: This show can’t go on.

Dana Milbank: Donald Trump reverts to his xenophobic self.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: From realism to cynicism to Donald Trump.

Nicholas Kristof: Donald Trump has actually attracted a broad range of endorsements that perhaps haven’t received adequate attention. For example, from terrorists.

The Trump follies

With hair long enough to fit in a man-bun and a beard you’d find on a pot doctor in the Emerald Triangle, it’s hard to take Dr. Harold Bornstein seriously. But he’s Donald Trump’s personal physician, so we have to try.

CNN’s Drew Griffin cornered the Manhattan gastroenterologist Thursday to ask him the important questions. Did Bornstein actually write that very Trumpian letter to vouch for the Republican nominee’s “astonishingly excellent” health? Yes. Is the doctor a lunatic? No. Bornstein has never lost his license or faced criminal allegations.

But it seems his wife is very protective of him anyway. Mid-interview, she blocked the camera with her palm and ordered the CNN crew to leave, dragging Bornstein into his office by his arm.

“My wife will come back, she’ll get angry.” Bornstein warned on CNN. The segment must be seen to be fully appreciated. – Erika D. Smith, @Erika_D_Smith


Babulal Bera “didn’t play the legal shell game, so he goes to prison. This isn’t justice. It’s the opposite.” – Ginger Rutland, Sacramento