California Forum

Brown’s summer reading, corporate welfare, nukes, P&G’s gamble

By The Editorial Board

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 15, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on April 29, 2017. Threatening language between the U.S. and North Korea is flaring. After Trump vowed to respond with “fire and fury” if Pyongyang continued to threaten the U.S., the North’s military said it is finalizing a plan to fire four midrange missiles to hit waters near the strategic U.S. territory of Guam. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Files)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 15, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on April 29, 2017. Threatening language between the U.S. and North Korea is flaring. After Trump vowed to respond with “fire and fury” if Pyongyang continued to threaten the U.S., the North’s military said it is finalizing a plan to fire four midrange missiles to hit waters near the strategic U.S. territory of Guam. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Files) AP

Good morning. Welcome to Take Two, our sampler of opinion, drawn from The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s opinion-politics newsletter, The Take. Please go to sacbee.com/site-services/newsletters/ to sign up.

North Korea

As we write these words, we are not at war with North Korea, despite President Donald Trump’s threat to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea. Such words place the leader of these United States in the same little league with Kim Jong Un, our opinion shop opined. Trump’s defenders argued his tough talk was aimed at deterring North Korea and pressuring China to do more. We hope Trump’s interpreters are right. No nukes is good nukes.

Corporate welfare

Is it welfare if corporations feed at the trough? Alleged free marketeer Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin joined Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, another free market guy, at the White House a while back to tout the promise by the Taiwan-based Foxconn to build a factory that would hire as many as 13,000 workers. To lure Foxconn, Walker promised $3 billion in tax incentives. Good Jobs First did the math: $3 billion divided by 13,000 equals $230,769 per job. Wow. The Chicago Sun-Times, though skeptical about Walker’s play, saw the potential: “Wisconsin would be taking all the risks, even as Illinois enjoyed a nice share of the benefits. The Foxconn plant likely would be located right across the border in Kenosha County or Racine County.”

Corporate citizens

Speaking of corporate citizens, this time good ones, our editorial staff disliked the backlash against Procter & Gamble for its ground-breaking “My Black Is Beautiful” ad campaign. Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin wrote that P&G “should stick to selling diapers instead of filling them.” Classy. And odd that the victim card is played by historically privileged people. Though American culture is surely more diverse, the same can hardly be said for its power structure. But we have a president who has made it his mission to end the yoke of political correctness that supposedly came with Barack Obama’s election. We’ve become so post-racial. Right?

Opioid crisis

Erika D. Smith crunched numbers on Trump’s waffle over whether to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency. California hospitals treat one overdose victim every 45 minutes. Nationally, 142 people die daily from the powerful painkillers, a toll equal to that of the Sept. 11 attacks every three weeks. Despite this, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price deemed an emergency declaration unnecessary. Trump, carving time from his busy schedule of golfing and tweeting in Bridgewater, N.J., had only vaguely tough words, vowing to “beat this horrible situation.” But toward the end of the week, he reconsidered, as The Denver Post editorialized.

Beach reads

And now, a moment without Trump. What casual reading is inspiring policy makers during the Capitol’s summer break? Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s folks tell The Take that the fired Google software engineer’s manifesto is making the rounds at the Women’s Caucus, as is “A Better Deal,” the congressional Democratic agenda that notably skirts abortion.

Cadillac Desert,” Marc Reisner’s prescient classic on the American West and its water, is having a moment in the Senate. Also, interestingly, the poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th century Mexican feminist nun whose “Hombres Necios” feels tailor-made for a certain tiny-handed White House hombre.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is reading Scott Stossel’s “Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver,” and taking notes, if the dog-eared, underscored pages sent along by his staff are any indication. Treasurer John Chiang is reading Rabbi Menachem Genack’s “Letters to President Clinton.” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon appears to be on an artistic jag, having just finished Stephen C. Foster’s “History of Dada” and started a biography of Anaïs Nin.

Gov. Jerry Brown, California’s reader-in-chief, casually mentioned to NPR last month that he was “studying the history of the Social Democratic Party in Germany both before World War I and after.” Brown’s current fare: St. Augustine’s The City of God,” Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and Carl E. Schorske’s “German Social Democracy, 1905-1917: The Development of the Great Schism.”

We’re just wishing life would stop imitating a Tom Clancy paperback.

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