Monday, August 10, 2020




          Give Gov. Gavin Newsom credit for being gutsy about trying to shepherd almost 40 million Californians through the coronavirus crisis of disease and economic disaster.

          He knows there’s an active drive to recall him; he sees rallies resisting his orders; he’s seen demonstrators chain themselves to his fence, and he knows that out of so many Californians, at least one-eighth, or 5 million, are likely infuriated with his beach closings, school closures and other attempts to spur behavior that might crimp viral contagion.

          This means there are more than enough angry voters to provide the 1.495 million valid voter signatures needed to set up a special recall election sometime next year. The deadline for gathering those signatures is Nov. 17, but it’s not likely to happen because the drive is too poorly funded to put enough petition carriers in the field – even if contact-shy Californians were willing to get close and sign a petition on someone’s clipboard.

          Still, Newsom was a close observer 17 years ago when former Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by movie muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger. He knows it’s possible.

          Now Newsom confronts data glitches and case undercounts, plus resistance and lawsuits. His most vocal opposition comes from folks who don’t like wearing face masks because they’re inconvenient and from religious congregations feeling they have the right to meet without restrictions or social distancing, indoors or out. Some churches also resent rules curbing public singing, said to be a prime spreader of the virus.

          Several churches have sued, some claiming it’s discriminatory to allow protest rallies and marches but not indoor religious services. Not that protest marches are “allowed;” most don’t bother with permits and many are unplanned despite claims from some conservatives that all are masterminded by the loosely-organized anarchist Antifa movement – even though organized anarchism is an oxymoron.

          “Singing in church is our right, a Biblical mandate,” said Kevin Green, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Fort Bragg, asserting there are higher laws than Newsom’s emergency orders. He blasts what he and others call Newsom’s “inconsistency” in treatment of churchgoers and protesters.

          Pastor Greg Fairrington (cq) of Rocklin in conservative Placer County told online viewers in early July, as the coronavirus rampaged around California, that it was “time to come back” to church, bashing “fake media” for exaggerating the pandemic. Fairrington also has said he intends to run for governor, meaning that if a recall should reach a statewide ballot, he would likely try to replace Newsom.

          A news release from his Destiny Christian Church said it will continue following federal guidelines on “social distancing, masking, taking temperatures, hand-washing and other sanitation,” all while holding services indoors. The release encouraged “at-risk, sick or uncomfortable” individuals to stay home. Of course, with half the virus cases this summer reportedly among people aged 18 to 45, almost all adults are plainly at risk.

          The Newsom recall is also about more than his emergency decrees limiting personal freedom of movement and contacts. One recall donor emailed that “this man is pressing a socialist agenda. This state will be destroyed under the (Democratic) supermajority. His gun control agenda threatens lives and businesses…”

          The actual recall petition says Newsom has “implemented laws…detrimental to our way of life. Laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals in our country illegally over…our own citizens.” It continues with a litany of complaints including alleged Newsom failures on homelessness and “restricting parental rights.”

          Newsom has not commented on this effort against him. He has not rescinded an iota of his priorities or his latest emergency orders, either, even as he admits making mistakes like reopening much of the state too soon in the spring, before most counties had met standards he set.

          Perhaps this seeming confidence comes because Newsom’s overall job approval ratings remain consistently favorable, despite massive unemployment and other problems inflicted on Californians by the pandemic and his responses to it.

          The bottom line: Whether or not you like all he’s done, there is no doubt Newsom is sticking to the mission and the duty he’s said he must carry out: trying to save as many California lives as possible from a very deadly and contagious disease.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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