Monday, August 9, 2021







        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

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