Dan Morain

As The Trump turns

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.

Jack Ohman gives a small hand to Donald Trump’s latest crazy history lesson. Try your hand at the cartoon here.

Our take


This federal agency is a ticking time bomb for California: Census Bureau director John Thompson is quitting. A botched population count would be disastrous for funding for California.

Here’s a smart way to cut college costs, courtesy of Sacramento State: As 95,000 California State University students proudly accept their diplomas in the coming days, the system is focusing on vastly increasing its four-year graduation rate. Sac State is offering a model.


Foon Rhee: What will President Donald Trump do to NAFTA? When Trump torpedoed the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, he hurt California. If he tears up the existing North American Free Trade Agreement, the impact could be much greater.

Dan Walters: It’s quite evident that the attempted recall of state Sen. Josh Newman is not about his gas tax vote, but really about eroding the Democratic supermajority and reclaiming a seat that Republicans believe they should own, but lost in the political maelstrom over Donald Trump last year.


Darry Sragow and Rob Pyers: The first targets of opportunity for Democrats to pick up seats in the House are in seven California districts, making our state a battleground.

Joshua Page: Senate Bill 10 would restructure California’s bail system, and it is not a threat to public safety.

Jessa Ciel: The public art video display, “BEACON: Sacramento,” seeks to be a conversation starter about issues facing the community.

Rachel Michelin: Assembly Bill 1110 would increase student access to voluntary comprehensive eye examinations performed by an optometrist, ophthalmologist or physician.

Take a number: 2/3

The Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Koseff reports that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is contemplating approving an extension of California’s cap-and-trade program by a simple majority. “That’s a threshold that may make my life a little easier,” Rendon said. If Gov. Jerry Brown “wants to do two-thirds, I’m open to having conversations about it. But it’s a big difference between 54 votes and 41 votes.”

Brown’s chief aide, Nancy McFadden, responded in tweet: “No question here. @JerryBrownGov will only sign a 2/3 vote cap & trade bill.” Cap-and-trade has raised billions in revenue. The Take is no lawyer, but California law would seem to be clear that legislators need a two-thirds vote to raise fees and taxes.

Their take

Lexington Herald Leader: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin owes the public details about the transaction in which a political supporter who he appointed to a powerful state board, apparently sold him a mansion on 10 acres for $1.6 million, although public records put the value at about $2.5 million.

Miami Herald: The personal toll of having been a team member of the Miami Dolphins during the 1972 “Perfect Season” is proving to be a heavy one — that is, if the cognitive problems some players are suffering in later life is to blame on the tackles and the concussions sustained on the field. Lifting the veil on this sad reality is Nick Buoniconti.

Kansas City Star: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue suggested changes will soon come to the nation’s food stamp program. “There will probably be requirements to look for work,” Perdue said, or be in a job training program. The secretary’s comments betray a misunderstanding of the food stamp program, known as SNAP.

Daniel Borenstein, East Bay Times: Gov. Jerry Brown and state Treasurer John Chiang have a plan to help cover the state’s soaring pension payments: Borrow money at low interest rates and invest it to make a profit. What could go wrong? Lots.

Los Angeles Times: The extraordinary just happened: A well-liked and dedicated incumbent on the Los Angeles school board — the president of the board, no less — was ousted from his spot in Tuesday’s election, and by a large margin. Or maybe it wasn’t so extraordinary.

Mercury News: The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has no business allowing the purchase of 40 Tasers by the sheriff’s department until a policy is in place on how they will be used.

San Francisco Chronicle: San Francisco’s insatiable housing need should clarify the debate over restrictions that promise to incrementally boost affordable housing while exacerbating the overall shortage, making housing that much more unaffordable for everyone.

Orange County Register: Government has been criticized for being slow to adapt to new technologies – but not when it comes to taxing them, it seems. And especially not in California, where the Franchise Tax Board is blasting off with a proposal to tax the fledgling private spaceflight industry.

Takes on President Trump

The Modesto Bee: What will special counsel Robert Mueller find when he cracks open the case of Russia’s involvement in the highest echelons of American politics? Will the former FBI director find a cover-up in which the newly elected president of the United States tried to get one of his favorite advisers off the FBI’s investigatory hook? Will he confirm that the Russians tried to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton? We don’t know the scope of Mueller’s mandate, but we’re happy he agreed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s request.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The latest self-inflicted crises at the White House confirm the deepest fears about President Trump’s judgment and self-discipline.

Baltimore Sun: Imagine for a moment that Barack Obama leaked in some unplanned and ill-considered way sensitive classified information to top Russian officials in a private Oval Office meeting. For Republicans in Congress, the only question would be when to schedule impeachment proceedings.

Tampa Bay Times: President Donald Trump’s administration has careened from chaos to free fall after disclosures the president provided classified intelligence to Russia and reportedly asked then-FBI director Jim Comey to shut down the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Vice President Mike Pence and Republican congressional leaders should stop looking the other way.

Syndicates’ take

Charles Krauthammer: Donald Trump’s behavior is deeply disturbing but hardly surprising. What to do? Strengthen the guardrails. Redouble oversight of this errant president.

Paul Krugman: It has become painfully clear that Republicans have no intention of exercising any real oversight over a president who is obviously emotionally unstable and is doing a very good imitation of being an agent of a hostile foreign power.

Michael Gerson: Ultimately, the ethical aspect of politics can’t be ignored. Who can depend on the president’s word and character? And who will stand for the integrity of our political system against tremendous political pressure?

Eugene Robinson: Donald Trump has access to the nation’s most closely held secrets but cannot be trusted to safeguard them. And he feels himself under attack.

Trudy Rubin: There is a crucial difference between the Danish tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and the ongoing foreign policy gaffes in the White House, a difference that makes the current tale more frightening than funny.

Andres Oppenheimer: U.S. and Latin American pressure on the Maduro dictatorship will be essential not only to give moral support to Venezuela’s opposition, but also to deepen the growing cracks within the Maduro regime and help bring about an electoral solution.

Dana Milbank: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did a favor for congressional Republicans. A minority of GOP lawmakers had begun to see the urgency of putting country before party.

Gail Collins: The topic of the day at the Coast Guard Academy was protecting America. And since nobody – particularly President Donald Trump – can talk about anything except Trump, let’s look at what the president has done recently to assure our security.


“I describe President Donald Trump as pompous, thin-skinned, undignified and repugnant. I voted for him.” Pat Whittington, Citrus Heights

Tweet of the Day

“Struck by how often @realDonaldTrump portrays himself as a victim. He’s not. He’s the President and he needs to start acting like one.” Adam Schiff‏, @RepAdamSchiff