Monday, August 30, 2021






        Election results matter. This would become ever more clear if, despite some constitutional objections to the recall rules, far-right talk show host Larry Elder becomes governor of the nation’s largest state with 20 or 30 percent of the vote, or even less. If this happens, California would surely see big changes over the next year.


        Whether they’d last longer would depend on whether Elder could hang onto the office he might soon win.


        For sure, if he wins, Elder, the current poll leader among replacement candidates, will face a strong Democrat next fall – if he’s even one of the two top vote-getters in a June primary election to be run on a completely different system than the recall vote.


        Elder says he’ll be in the primary win or lose this month. He could face the infuriated possible ex-Gov. Gavin Newsom in that primary. All polls and analysts this summer provided the expectation that Newsom would win far more “no” votes on the recall – essentially votes for him – than Elder or any other hopeful on the replacement list could draw, so Elder would have plenty to overcome next year.


        Elder and Newsom would also get opposition from within their parties. Democratic Party leaders helped Newsom keep all their significant party mates out of the recall race, but that prohibition would not carry into the primary.


        If he wins the recall, expect Elder to vie not just with Newsom again, but also at least one or two other major Democrats. Leading replacement Democrat Kevin Paffrath says he’ll run. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, overshadowed in the recall by Elder’s following as a celebrity, is almost sure to run. San Diego County businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom by 24 percent in 2018, could make a third run.


        But even if Elder didn’t make the primary’s top two, he would still have 14 months as governor and could do a lot.


Foremost, Elder pledged to cancel all state vaccination requirements, but said he would leave some local masking mandates up to local authorities and school districts, unlike the universal cancellations Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas imposed on their Covid-plagued states.


Then, if anything happens to 88-year-old U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the next year, he would appoint a Republican successor, costing Democrats control of the Senate.


Elder also could remove all the members of every major state board except the Public Utilities Commission and the boards that run the state’s colleges and universities. He might replace the full membership of the Air Resources Board with folks wanting to let car companies produce as much smog as they like.


        He says he does not deny climate change, but could appoint Energy Commission members opposed to the current emphasis on renewable power. He figures to attempt giving farmers a free hand dealing with migrant workers.


        That would be in the name of free enterprise and freedom from regulation, even if Elder has spoken mostly in generalities while campaigning.


        The state would also learn about government by veto override. Elder promises to nix many bills legislators routinely pass. Compromise is not often in his rhetoric,


        But Democrats hold majorities in both the state Assembly and Senate well above the two-thirds needed to override vetoes – and they’d surely use that ability if Elder tries to thwart them.


        Then there would be judges. Elder could not change much at California’s Supreme Court and the various Courts of Appeal, as they won’t have many openings within the next year.


        But in local Superior Courts, where many issues are first decided and where timely decisions can decide matters before appeals run their course, Elder could place scores of like-minded folks to exert a libertarian influence.


        For sure, women’s rights would not advance, since Elder has said that women would often be wise not to object to sexual harassment.


        It all could produce an approach to governing California has not seen in the modern era, with property rights taking precedence over human rights for the first time in decades and any fight against racial bias at least on hiatus until 2023. For sure, Californians would learn once more why elections matter.


    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





        All it will take for Gavin Newsom to survive and serve the remaining year of his term as governor is for most people who have voted for him before either to go to California’s relatively few remaining polling places today (editors: if using this column before Sept. 14, say either “Tuesday” or “Sept. 14,” here as you deem appropriate) or mark their ballots and stick them in a mailbox.


        That’s a simple formula, but it’s far from certain Democrat Newsom can pull it off.


        Some reports on polling have stated that Newsom has lost significant ground among likely voters over the last several months. That’s not exactly what the polls themselves show. An often-cited Emerson College survey out in late July showed that among likely voters over the previous two months, support for the “no” side on the recall question went from 42-37 percent to 48-43 percent. That means previously undecided likely voters who made up their minds during those months broke about evenly between yes and no.


        But among all registered voters – where Democrats have almost a 2-1 margin – the no side retained the same 16-point lead it held even before the recall was certified for a special election vote.


        Newsom’s challenge has been twofold as the recall voting deadline approaches: He needs to retain all the likely voters who sided with keeping him in office, while motivating many registered voters who don’t always actually cast ballots to mark and mail the ones sent to them.


        All the evidence says he has not approached this in a convincing enough manner. Until very recently, Newsom’s main way of communicating with voters was via television commercials and frequent bill-signings and emergency proclamations conducted at points all around the state.


        He’s spent a considerable portion of the $50 million-plus raised for his defense on TV spots trying to label the vote a “Republican Recall,” using as evidence the fact that no major Democrats entered the replacement candidate field.


        There’s no question the recall was led by far-right Republicans from the beginning, but Newsom’s outright hypocrisy in last fall’s French Laundry restaurant incident and the way he’s been painted – falsely – as hypocritical in the more recent day camp incident where his son was photographed without a mask also have contributed.


        The day camp episode, where his son was verified to have removed a mask just before a photo was taken, and then put it back on afterward, may have been misreported, but it’s hurt Newsom, anti-maskers asking why Newsom’s kid was mask-free while their own children must cover up. Never mind that the boy was only mask free for moments.


        The hypocrisy and the series of lockdowns and seemingly endless changes in COVID-19 and Delta variant rules imposed by Newsom’s administration took their toll among Democrats and no-party-preference voters, not just Republicans. Otherwise, the recall could not be running well ahead of Republican voter registration.


Newsom’s best bet in defending himself was always to exploit the massive California unpopularity of ex-President Donald Trump and play up his links to leading GOP replacement candidates. There are plenty of photos, for example, of ex-San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer with Trump, plenty of documents showing Trump’s enthusiastic 2018 endorsement of San Diego area businessman John Cox and plenty of evidence linking talk show host Larry Elder with several former top aides to Trump.


But Newsom’s campaign did not stress any of that until very recently, after many voters had made up their minds, some already having cast their ballots. In short, Newsom hasn’t exploited the major weaknesses of the recall and its backers, insufficiently playing up both replacement candidates’ links to Trump and the longtime extremist, anti-vaccination (of all types) records of many recall originators and early leaders.


So, as noted by Mark DiCamillo, co-director of the

UC-Berkeley IGS poll, this election, like all others, will be decided by those motivated to vote, not those who merely register. We will very soon know whether Newsom has done enough to motoivate voters deemed by pollsters as unlikely to cast ballots, but the early signs are this will be a close call at best for the sitting governor.


    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 

Monday, August 23, 2021







        California has tried paying people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus plague. That only helped a little. Some counties are trying out banning the unvaccinated from gyms, restaurants and public gatherings. That also is making only a small dent in the corps of uninoculated.


        Many of the unvaccinated still cling to false beliefs and shibboleths long pushed by anti-vaccination lobbyists even in the halcyon days before COVID-19 caused lockdowns, showdowns and myriad business failures.


        There’s the myth that vaccines can create zombies, a distortion of a 1990s film. There’s the false belief that minuscule tracking devices are injected into the arms of millions right along with vaccines. There’s the conviction once pushed on the internet that getting jabbed will somehow make you a clone of billionaire Bill Gates – minus the bank account. There’s also the belief that God will somehow protect the unvaccinated.


        Even that last has proven invalid, as some of the most moral, observantly religious folks in America have been infected and died.


        As non-vaccinated element clings to such beliefs, pushed on some social media outlets, the vaccinated are paying for their fellow citizens’ stubbornness in inconvenience and out-of-pocket dollars.


        Not only must the vaccinated now carry proof of that status, either electronic or on small white cards handed out along with Covid shots, but they’re also back to masking, once again waiting for elective surgeries in some hospitals because of Covid case crowding and suffering occasional “breakthrough” infections of their own, even if those are mild compared to what’s hitting the unvaccinated.


        Health insurance premiums are going up again in part because of emergency room and intensive care unit costs rung up by the unvaccinated. Schools and stores must disinfect almost everything in sight, and frequently. Airlines and other public transit must keep sanitizing.


        All this because of the persistently unvaccinated among us, who insist their unfounded fears trump the rights of the majority, who have gotten vaxxed in order to be safer and more free.


        It’s time to make them pay. Why should responsible citizens pay for the stupidity of the willingly unvaccinated, folks who are eligible and medically able to be inoculated, but refuse nevertheless?


        So let’s tax them. If travelers want to ride trains or airplanes without vaccinations, let them, so long as they can show a very recent negative test for the virus. But make them pay extra for the privilege, just as most airlines now charge for checked baggage.


        Even athletic leagues are beginning to “tax” their members if significant numbers of players refuse to get vaccinated, and with no protests from any team.  The Pac 12 conference, for example, declared the other day its schools will forfeit games when they have to be cancelled and one side is “at fault.” Same with the Big 12. No one explained what “at fault” means, but the clear implication was that if significant numbers are not vaccinated on a team that cannot play because of a Covid outbreak, that club will forfeit and the other side will get a win in the standings.


        More and more employers are also getting savvy, setting deadlines by which their workers must be vaccinated or be gone. That’s a very effective way to tax the unvaccinated, and might motivate enough people to help bring California to the herd immunity needed for unmasking and more freedoms.


        Cruise lines are doing the same, some refusing to carry the unvaccinated and others charging those who refuse inoculations extra to cover the expense of regular COVID-19 tests.


        Yet, the unvaccinated continue to insist they are within their rights. Yes, they do have the right to be unvaccinated, but no, they do not have the right to impose inconvenience, contagion or expenses on others.


        This may be one time when movie muscleman and ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said it best. “Screw your freedom!” he said on CNN. “With freedom come obligations and responsibilities; you cannot just say, ‘I have the right to do X,Y or Z. When you affect other people, that’s when it gets serious.”


        The pandemic is once again serious today, which makes it high time to give the stubbornly unvaccinated a big push. If that means taxation in various forms, so be it.



    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






        It just might turn out that the Delta variant of the coronavirus becomes the best thing that’s happened to California Gov. Gavin Newsom in quite awhile.


At the very moment mail-in ballots for the Sept. 14 recall election went out, new figures showed Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been far superior to what’s been done by his counterparts in Texas and Florida, Republicans Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis.


Months ago, pre-Delta, it was already plain California  handled the plague better than the other big Sun Belt states to which it is often compared.


        But here are numbers, as of mid-August: Texas, with 63.6 percent as many people as California, had 80 percent as many cases since the pandemic began. That’s a 17 percent differential in California’s favor. The contrast with Florida is as dramatic: The Sunshine state, with 53 percent as many people, had 70 percent as many cases, also a 17 percent differential.


Those numbers translate to human lives. California has had 1,637 Covid deaths for every 100,000 residents, Texas 1,881 and Florida 1,890.


Of the three, then, California has been by far the healthiest place to live over the last 18 months and Florida the least.


So why does Newsom face a recall, while Abbott and DeSantis sit pretty despite their states’ dismal numbers? Florida and Texas do not allow recalls of state officials.


Why has California been more effective at handling COVID-19 and its variants? Newsom shut down most of this state’s businesses before any other governor acted similarly, while DeSantis and Abbott left things open far longer and reopened sooner.


        California has had tougher and more universal masking rules, too, especially since Abbott and DeSantis canceled requirements imposed by some of their states’ largest counties. Plus, Newsom put far more emphasis than his colleagues on getting vaccines into arms.



        For awhile, especially during this state’s winter surge in cases, it appeared the others might be right. But things are working out much better in California.


        This could have political importance elsewhere, too, with Abbott and DeSantis up for reelection next year, and now seeing their poll numbers dip almost daily as the Delta variant takes its toll.


        Not so long ago, Newsom’s handling of the pandemic seemed like an impediment in the recall. Things may be different now.


        For one thing, California fatalities are down enormously even with raw case numbers up from June and July. On some days during the last two months, the official state death toll has been as low as two, three or six persons. On Aug. 16, it was 11. On Aug. 17, it was seven. The numbers in Florida and Texas are higher, despite their smaller populations.


        Yes, the average Floridian is slightly older; but vaccination has made that factor almost negligible; over-65s are far more likely to be vaccinated than younger people.


        By mid-August, 74 percent of all Californians has received at least one vaccine shot, to 54.6 percent in Texas and 61.2 percent in Florida. The California advantage is even more striking than the raw percentage because of Florida’s higher average age.


        All this debunks the claim made all year that Newsom is incompetent next to DeSantis and the recently Covid-positive Abbott.


        That can’t end the stigma of hypocrisy from Newsom’s notorious French Laundry incident, where he flouted his own regulations of the moment.


        But the most recent numbers take much of the wind out of recall backers’ claim that Newsom is not up to his job.


        The bottom line here is that Covid death rates were always higher in Florida and Texas than California, but the difference has lately increased.


        Newsom is often blasted for countenancing school closures longer than absolutely necessary, while DeSantis brags that Florida public schools never shut down. But thousands more lives were saved here than would have been under the Florida and Texas rules, which consistently allowed proportionately more deaths.


        It all means California’s anti-virus performance might be Newsom’s best argument against the recall. It’s a warning, too, that replacing him with an anti-masking, anti-vaccination mandate figure like talk show host Larry Elder could quickly put this state right down there with Florida and Texas.

    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

Monday, August 16, 2021







        Just in case George Gascon, the embattled district attorney of Los Angeles County, wonders why recall fever has made him the No. 2 target among California officials, he need look no farther than cash bail.


        No, Gascon did not order his almost 1,000 deputies to stop seeking cash bail for all defendants. Rather, he ordered them not to try for it on those accused of misdemeanors, “non-serious” felonies or nonviolent felonies.


        So accused murderers, most rapists and some assault suspects will still be held on bail in the nation’s most populous county, in accordance with the lopsided statewide vote last fall against Proposition 25, which aimed to ratify a new state law ending all cash bail.


        But anyone who thinks only minor crimes are among those Gascon ordered his deputies to exclude from bail is in for a surprise.


        Offenses legally defined as “nonviolent” and

“non-serious” include things like solicitation to commit murder, many felony assaults, felony domestic violence resulting in a traumatic condition, resisting a peace officer, molesting a child over 15 and sexual penetration of a mentally or developmentally disabled person.


        Most Californians would consider any of these crimes both serious and violent – but Gascon wants anyone accused of them released onto the streets on their own recognizance.


        Most folks would probably also believe a suspect arrested for sucker-punching an elderly Asian woman in a hate crime may have committed a serious offense. But that suspect would be freed pending trial if deputies follow Gascon’s orders.


        One result is that some Gascon deputies are staging a campaign of passive resistance to their boss’ order. They sometimes remain silent when judges ask whether or how much bail a prosecutor wants assessed. The silence leaves judges free to impose bail where they believe it’s justified.


        Gascon also demanded immediately after assuming office late last year that his deputies cease asking for enhanced sentences in gang-related crimes. His rationale is that the great majority of those lengthened sentences are imposed on minority defendants, mostly Blacks and Latinos. But what if that’s who commits most gang-related crimes? Is it racist to recognize reality?


        Yes, recall fever is afoot across California, with local officials facing petition drives seeking their ouster from many city councils and school boards, among other offices. No doubt, much of this is due to the recall drive against Gov. Gavin Newsom, which heightened realization that disgruntled voters can reverse election outcomes if they can drum up enough support.


        But the Gascon recall drive probably would have happened even if Newsom weren’t being targeted, because of the dramatic nature of his actions, which cause large numbers of crime victims to live in fear of repeat offenses by suspects set free soon after their arrests.


        Those fears are legitimate. Recidivism is commonplace among convicts supposedly rehabilitated in state prisons. A very recent 34-state federal study found three-quarters of released convicts are arrested again within five years of their release. So it’s easy to imagine how many more repeat crimes are likely to come from people arrested for very harmful crimes and then quickly released without bail.


        It’s true Gascon, like Chesa Boudin, his San Francisco counterpart, opposed cash bail during his election campaign. But it’s reasonable to argue that as a public official, he nevertheless must act according to the voters’ wishes, as made known very clearly in their votes on ballot measures.


        But Gascon sneered at voters from the moment he took office, issuing light-sentence orders for serious criminals on the absurd theory that letting them out sooner will cause them to be better citizens on release.


        He’s correct that most enhanced sentences are meted out to minorities. But no one has ever proven those sentenced did not commit serious crimes. In fact, most crimes by Blacks and Latinos are committed against others in the same groups because angry and frustrated people are more likely to lash out against those physically closest to them. Giving them easy outs and own-recognizance release while awaiting trial will not lower crime among minorities.


     Doing that will take massive changes in education, health and other areas of public policy.


        If Gascon wonders why the recall drive against him has been so vigorous and his poll standing so low, he need look no farther than those realities.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit







        Gavin Newsom might be asking himself these days, as Oliver Hardy first did in a 1930 film, how he got into this fine mess.


        And Newsom truly is in trouble: One sometimes-accurate public poll in early August found voters favoring the firing of the governor by 11 percent, while most other surveys have that question too close to call.


How Newsom got here is really pretty simple. He made several very correct moves that some folks detested. Then he followed with a bunch of smaller ones almost no one could endorse.


        The movement to recall California’s Democratic governor, elected in 2018 by a near-record 62 percent majority, really began in March 2020 with several vocal protests near the shoreline in Huntington Beach, where longtime anti-vaccination activists loudly objected to three mandates issued by the state health department ultimately commanded by Newsom.


        They didn’t like being locked down, mostly confined to their homes. They hated having to wear masks. And they despised the admonition to maintain social distancing from anyone not in their own particular “pod” of everyday, almost constant contacts.


        Anger began building even as those tactics most likely saved thousands of people from coronavirus infections and death early in the pandemic.


        Newsom paid absolutely no attention to the protests. It was a sound public health move to stick to his guns, and other governors who followed his precedents never faced similar levels of anger. No one knows if Newsom could have defused some of the fury if he’d faced down the protesting crowds and dealt personally with their gripes. But his security team was said to have argued against that.


        So the anger festered, eventually morphing into recall petitions about to come to a head in the fast-approaching Sept. 14 special election.


        Failing to meet with the anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers may have been the first Newsom error. Of the others, perhaps the greatest was opting not to fight a court order giving recall sponsors four months longer than usual to gather signatures. Without that unprecedented extra time, Newsom likely would not face the ongoing recall vote.


        His third big mistake may have been failing to heed advisors and others, including this column, who warned that by going on television almost every day for many months with the latest COVID-19 edicts and numbers, Newsom was converting himself into the very face of the coronavirus he has fought to defeat. Soon to be former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a similar public relations error.


        Rather than merely dealing with loose anger, many unhappy Californians made the omnipresent, vastly overexposed Newsom the prime target for their feelings.


        Then there was his failure to deal effectively with bureaucratic delays and billions of dollars worth of fraud at the state unemployment office. Many of the hundreds of thousands of pandemic-induced unemployed blamed Newsom for their sad financial condition, even though he worked hard for eviction moratoria and offered plenty of free funds to pay their back rent.


        These were merely a few of the public policy and public relations errors guaranteed to weaken any governor.


        Then came his personal errors, starting with last November’s infamous too-large and too-inside dinner with lobbyists at the hyper-expensive French Laundry restaurant in Northern California.


        Months later, after humiliating apologias galore about that, Newsom saw his son photographed this summer maskless at a basketball camp while the state was imposing a masking rule at all day camps. More charges of hypocrisy.


        There then followed Newsom’s arrogance in somehow convincing all other well-known Democrats not to run as potential recall replacement candidates. Newsom and his party figured that would make it him vs. a bunch of right-wing Republicans. But celebrity candidate Larry Elder turned up in the GOP field, while a relatively obscure blogger and registered Democrat named Kevin Paffrath suddenly made one strong poll showing.


        Newsom’s response: He asked Democratic voters to simply vote no on the recall question and ignore the field of replacement candidates. Essentially, he told voters to give up one of their choices, an unprecedented request from a public official. Talk about vote suppression…


     The bottom line: It’s not all his fault, but Newsom bears copious responsibility for his present predicament.


    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

Monday, August 9, 2021






        The latest crime statistics and a new study from the federal Department of Justice reveal that backers of the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom have spent months barking up at least one wrong tree.


        Since early spring, Republican candidates to replace Newsom have blasted him for spawning what they often describe as a crime wave.


        But mid-year numbers from some of the most heavily populated parts of California demonstrate there really is no new statewide crime wave. Yes, some types of crime are up in some areas: At midyear in Los Angeles, there had been 179 murders, the highest in a decade – which some lawyers have blamed on the slowdown in anti-gang prosecutions spawned by local District Attorney George Gascon. But overall crime was relatively stable.


        In San Diego, there was a 1.7 percent decrease in violent crime at mid-year compared with last year. Overall crime was down 8 percent and San Diego was ranked the safest of the ten largest American cities.


        In San Francisco, crimes involving guns stood at 119 at mid-year, roughly double the mid-2019 figure from before the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns. Car break-ins were down in the Bay Area, but shoplifting was up.


        It’s a decidedly mixed picture statewide, with local – not statewide – reasons generally behind the varied local crime statistics.


But a crime wave may be coming yet, because recidivism is another matter entirely. Under policies pushed hard by ex-Gov. Jerry Brown and accelerated by Newsom, state prison rolls have been cut by more than 30,000 since the early 2000s. The new 34-state study from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that about three-fourths of those former convicts will have been arrested for something else within five years after their releases.


Ironically, the study appeared on a legal news service the same day state officials announced the impending release of a 21-time arsonist from Madera County who was sentenced seven years ago to 30 years in prison. Kenneth Jackson set his wildfires in 2013 in Yosemite Lakes Park, an area near the town of Coarsegold, between Yosemite National Park’s south entrance and Fresno.


Jackson’s sentence was reduced in 2018, but Madera County officials twice blocked early parole. Local District Attorney Sally Moreno now seeks to prevent him from being paroled back to the county, wanting him sent elsewhere. She decried in a video statement the state’s process for determining which convicts to release in cutting prison population even further, partly to reduce COVID-19 risk.


The federal recidivism study indicates a repeat arsonist like Jackson will try to set more wildfires, for whatever psychological motive.


So far, Newsom and his antagonists have said nothing about either the meaning of the federal study for California or about the Jackson release.


        If Newsom’s challengers wanted a solid cause for attacking him, the Justice Department has given them one. But recidivism is never as sexy as an alleged crime wave. It’s possible to gin one of those up almost anytime. One longstanding truism among reporters says that whenever a news organization wants to create a "crime wave," it need only copy the daily police blotter. The same is true for political candidates, who have been trying it all year.


        But the strong likelihood of recidivism among freed criminals ought to give pause to Newsom and other state officials, if only because it does not appear likely to lessen very soon, so the issue will be awaiting Newsom rivals next year even if he survives the recall.


        Some might claim the federal study is racist because of the preponderance of minorities in the prison system. But it concluded the rates of rearrest by ethnic group were very similar. Among the 408,000 released inmates involved, 35 percent of whites were rearrested within the first year, compared with 37 percent of Latinos and 38 percent of Blacks.


        So racism does not seem a likely factor here.


        It’s an open question why the replacement candidates have not used any of this against Newsom, when they appear to be trying every other angle imaginable.


        But one thing the governor can be sure of if he survives next month’s vote: Eventually, someone will pick up on this. As they should.

    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







        Ex-President Donald Trump these days casts much of the mob that broke into the national Capitol on Jan. 6 as "good people," despite their smashing windows and beating cops, all in the interests of keeping Congress from its formal duty of finalizing last fall’s election results.


        So far, none of the major candidates to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the impending recall vote has offered a word of reproach for Trump’s switch to lauding those he allegedly spurred on to violence rather than criticizing them, as he did mildly on the day of their incursion.


        In several interviews they’ve done since beginning their runs, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and ex-Congressman Doug Ose of Sacramento meekly chided the building invasion itself and the violence and theft that accompanied it. But no significant GOP candidate dares blast Trump and his incendiary role.


        Doing that, all of them know, risks alienating the majority of Republican voters who form the base of support for the Sept. 14 recall and provided most of the signatures placing it on a special election ballot.


        And so, Faulconer, in an interview with the website SactoPolitico, specifically refused to call the episode an “insurrection,” as many have labeled it. The Capitol invasion, he said, was ”wrong; those who did that must be held accountable. Actions matter. With people attacking our Capitol police, there is no place for that, ever.”


        But he said not a word about Trump, the man he voted for last year, who egged on his backers to march on the Capitol in a speech just before they did.


        Said Ose, “You do not get to break into the United States Capitol and walk away without any consequences.” But also nary a peep about Trump.


        For both these candidates, the foot soldiers are villains, but the demagogue who encouraged them to be at the Capitol is exempt.


        Meanwhile, another big-money GOP candidate, San Diego County businessman John Cox, has said virtually nothing about Jan. 6. Endorsed heartily by Trump during his record-level loss to Newsom in 2018, Cox won’t alienate his would-be benefactor.


       And the recent replacement poll leader, talk show host Larry Elder, calls it unfair to criticize Trump over Jan. 6.


        Then there are the replacement campaign leaders’ recommendations on the homeless, where all would compel the unhoused to move inside, some wanting to require counseling and treatment before anyone becomes eligible to become housed via programs like Operation Roomkey.


        The problem with that stance is the panoply of court decisions that forbid forcing people inside or into therapy they don’t want.


        Faulconer’s plan is to repeatedly force homeless away from their encampments and makeshift shelters until they finally accept the terms under which he seeks to house them. But observation of homeless people’s behavior in Los Angeles and other cities indicates that when they’re moved from one spot, they usually land somewhere else nearby. From one person’s backyard, as it were, to another’s.


        Cox, similarly, calls for “treatment first,” not “housing first.” He says “the majority” of the unhoused are mentally ill or drug-and-alcohol addicted. This approach has never solved the problem because government can’t force anyone into treatment and many homeless persons resist getting counseling.


        Meanwhile, Newsom’s housing-first approach now sees tens of thousands of formerly unhoused persons living in hotel rooms where counseling is available and they are held to behavioral standards, on pain of being thrown out.


This has not solved the overall problem, but it has improved life circumstances for thousands. And the new state budget Newsom signed last month included $4.8 billion for more homeless housing and local services aiming to keep roofs over their heads.


        All the top Republican recall candidates also favor totally reopening public schools this fall, and never mind the qualms of teachers who fear Covid exposure from infected pupils.


        “Every time I walk into my classroom,” said one Orange County teacher, “I will feel like I’m playing Russian roulette.”


        The bottom line: So far, even though one candidate has campaigned with a bear and others lambaste Newsom every day, none of these Republicans has become anything like a profile in courage.



    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

Monday, August 2, 2021






        Many Californians laughed out loud back in 1998, when Minnesota voters by a wide margin elected longtime professional wrestler and sometime talk show host Jesse Ventura their governor.


        But almost exactly five years later, those same Californians by a wide margin made longtime movie muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger their governator and then kept him and his cigars in office for seven years.


        Neither Ventura nor Schwarzenegger had an iota of administrative experience, but both had shown some interest in public affairs. Schwarzenegger, for one, campaigned hard five years before he became governor in the recall of ex-Gov. Gray Davis for an initiative that created today’s First Five pre-school education program and then helped promote it.


        So it was no shock that in the first two polls taken on candidates to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in case he’s recalled, a celebrity with no government experience led the field.



        That’s Larry Elder, who polled 16 percent in one survey and 18 percent in another that appeared days later. In both surveys, Elder was 10 points ahead of political veterans John Cox and Kevin Faulconer in a field that includes no well-funded Democrats, largely because Newsom pushed his party to keep established figures out.


        There is one Democrat with political experience who’s running: Joel Ventresca, who took third in the 2019 San Francisco mayoral election and has run for office several times. Ventresca, a longtime administrative analyst for the San Francisco International Airport, has had several runs, never coming close to a win. In his mayoral attempt, he got about 10 percent as many votes as current Mayor London Breed.


        Ventresca, clearly, has no wide following. But Elder, a conservative Black man whose talk show has run for decades on Los Angeles radio station KABC-AM plainly does. When he was omitted from a column naming a few recall candidates last month, dozens of readers wrote to complain of “Elder abuse.”


        Should Newsom get around to trying to make the recall seem a contest between him and a bunch of Donald Trump acolytes, it would be easy to include Elder. He has long used his talk show to promote extreme conservatives, some of whom went on to become key aides to the former president. Trump adviser Steven Miller, said to be the author of most Trump immigration policy, began appearing with Elder while still in high school.


        But if celebrity is such a big advantage in politics, and especially recall elections, what about Caitlin Jenner? The transgender reality show star and former Olympic decathlon champion pulled only about 3 percent support in the same polls that Elder led.


        It might be her transgender identity, detested by many Republican politicians and much of the party’s rank and file. Or it might be her utter lack of civic involvement and her spotty voting record prior to declaring herself a replacement candidate. Or it might be that voters don’t care much for celebrities with unconventional lifestyles or conditions. The late actor Gary Coleman, who stopped growing at 4’8” and ran as a replacement candidate in 2003, drew very few votes, as Jenner seems likely to this time.


        There may be a lesson for Democrats in all this – especially if Newsom doesn’t survive the recall. Should that happen, the party does not now have any obvious candidates to step up and oust Elder or any other recall replacement in next year’s regular election. A lieutenant governor might often be the logical successor candidate. So might an attorney general.


        But Lt. Gov. Elena Kounalakis has not built a major following in three years as the state’s No. 2, while appointed Attorney General Rob Bonta struggles to make his ultra-left leaning views acceptable to voters.


        Yes, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank created something of a following with his impeachment efforts against Trump. Orange County Rep. Katie Porter is widely admired among Democrats, too.


        But neither enjoys robust statewide support.


        So might Democrats take a leaf from the playbook of California Republicans, who have turned to celebrities like actors George Murphy, Ronald Reagan and Schwarzenegger when they didn’t have experienced officeholders to lead their tickets? If so, someone like George Clooney might be their man next year, since activist actor Warren Beatty’s political time likely has passed.     

Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is