Monday, April 24, 2023






        Few labor groups have more clout in California government than the prison guards union, whose members draw an average annual salary of almost $55,000, not counting their often-copious overtime.


        But the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. has now been put on formal notice that its members can’t get away with simply doing whatever they want, whenever they want to inmates in the state prison system.


        Lawyers for convicts have long claimed that’s been the actual situation in prisons from Pelican Bay in Del Norte County on the Oregon border to Chuckwalla in eastern Riverside County, and everything in between.


        Now, though,the prison guards have learned their storied and frequent political contributions may buy them a lot of influence in Sacramento, but not so much in federal courts around the state.


        That’s one lesson of a ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, a Bill Clinton appointee based in San Francisco, in a case mostly affirmed the other day by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that included one judge each named by ex-Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama.


        As a result of the new ruling, guards in at least one prison now must wear body cameras when dealing with inmates because of documented excess use of force. Some actions described included tipping over the wheelchairs of disabled prisoners, punching a hard-of-hearing inmate in the face when he asked for written communication from the guard because he couldn’t hear what the guard had said and using pepper spray on mentally ill convicts.


        The prison most affected by the ruling is the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego, about 1.5 miles north of the Mexican border. Wilken had made her order apply also to five other prisons, but the appeals court panel found alleged abuses at those facilities were not as firmly documented as those at Donovan.


        The Donovan facility was designed in part to prepare inmates who are undocumented immigrants for eventual release to U.S.

Citizenship and Immigration Services for deportation to their home countries. It teaches skills they can use after they are returned home. Donovan also specializes in prisoners with mental illness or high risk medical issues. Inmates there have recently included high profile criminals like Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, Manson Family member Chares (Tex) Watson, the parent-killing Menendez brothers and onetime record executive Suge Knight.


        Donovan features a shoe factory making footwear for state prisoners around California and a bakery that supplies bread and cakes to several other prisons daily.


        State and union officials fought the order imposing surveillance and body cameras, new training and a new complaint process, and kept those changes away from prisons aside from Donovan. They said the claimed mistreatment of prisoner/patients was not well documented, but San Francisco attorney Gay Grunfeld and the San Quentin-based Prison Law Office collected 179 declarations from prisoners detailing alleged abuses by prison guards.


        The appeals court panel also said the charges upheld at Donovan were closely related to previous claims the state has mistreated disabled inmates in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


        Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland, an Obama appointee, called the incident where the partially deaf convict was hit in the face “a violent denial of accommodations” that might deter other inmates from seeking help required by the ADA. She said both the convicts and Judge Wilken had no need to “sit idly while (guards) violated (prisoners’) rights.”


        While striking down parts of the initial court order that applied to other facilities, the appeals court ruling put the  prison guards on notice that they, like police on their beats, are not immune from punishment for violating people’s rights, even people they have reason to dislike.


        For one thing, Friedland noted there is “plenty of evidence” of mistreatment of prisoners at other facilities, but it was “not as thoroughly corroborated” as what happened at Donovan.


        So prison guards around the state now know they can be observed and probably should at least pull their punches if they want to avoid the kind of discipline underway at Donovan.


        It also lets union leaders know the clout they enjoy in the state Capitol has some limits.


    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








        California Democrats have acted as if both this state’s Senate seats automatically belong to them from the first moment it became clear longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein must step down sometime within the next 20 months.


        Early on, she announced plans to leave office when her term expires at the end of December 2024, after her fifth full term in the office where she’s been the most durable of the last half century’s California politicians.


        Three prominent congressional Democrats –Adam Schiff of Burbank, Katie Porter of Irvine and Barbara Lee of Oakland – continually act as if the ongoing race for the seat Feinstein will vacate due to age-related difficulties will without doubt go to one of them.


        All three are actively raising money and priming supporters to vote next March, when they figure the California primary election will cut the field down to two of them, for a Democrat-on-Democrat contest in the November 2024 general election.


        They showed no concern when frequent candidate Eric Early, a Republican, announced his own candidacy in mid-April. Early lost handily to Schiff in a 2020 congressional contest and never got past the primaries in running for state attorney general in 2018 and 2022.


        But add him to the mix, and Republican voters and others who don’t like the idea that Democrats figure this seat somehow should belong to them forever now have someone to vote for.


        Put another Republican – say Northern California state Sen. Brian Dahle for one possible example – into the running, and GOP voters would have two choices.


        Now factor in California’s almost-unique “top two” primary system, which applies in all elections here for state offices lesser than president. This system has sometimes produced runoff elections pitting two Republicans in legislative or congressional districts with heavy Democratic majorities, when enough Democrats ran in primaries to splinter their party’s vote and give GOP candidates both runoff slots.


        That’s also happened in Republican districts where too many GOP hopefuls ran and Democrats became the top two. This so-called "jungle primary" system produced an all-Democratic Senate matchup in 2016, when former state Attorney General Kamala Harris beat then-Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of Orange County.


        In fact, Democrat-on-Democrat races are fairly common in this state, where registered Republicans are outnumbered almost 2-1.


             Now mix in the possibility that Feinstein succumbs to steady pressure on her to step down even sooner than she’s promised. With Gov. Gavin Newsom having committed himself two years ago to appoint a Black woman to the next vacant Senate seat, he would most likely name Lee, who could then identify herself on next year's ballot as an incumbent, a huge advantage in most political races.


Newsom made that commitment while appointing old friend Alex Padilla to the Senate seat Harris vacated on becoming vice president. Padilla later won election on his own, but Newsom felt pressure because Black women vocally believed the former Harris seat should have gone to one of them, as her moving up in rank left the Senate without any Black females.


        So Newsom essentially confirmed the presumption by Black women – about 4.5 percent of the state’s populace – that one of California’s Senate seats “belongs” to them, when in fact Senate seats belong to no group, but must be won by individuals.


        If Lee were to get Newsom’s nod before the primary, she might dominate the Democratic vote and allow a Republican to sneak into the runoff against her, despite the fact both Schiff and Porter have far larger campaign war chests.


        Meanwhile, Lee supporters are doing all they can to set up just that situation. One example: Her campaign co-chair, Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna, the other day made headlines when he virtually demanded Feinstein’s resignation because she’s been laid up at home with shingles for more than a month, while President Biden’s judicial nominees languished without majority votes to confirm them in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Feinstein has been a longtime member.


        The upshot is that this Senate race is fraught with possibilities for new and different situations that could make it even more interesting than it now appears.         


    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, April 17, 2023







     Starting next winter, California will have two days every January to think about ways to end hate crimes.


        That’s because the state Legislature in March added a “Stand Against Hate Action Day” to the January calendar, just two weeks after the Martin Luther King holiday, honoring the pastor and orator who always worked to lessen hate. The new commemoration was adopted unanimously, on bipartisan votes of 77-0 in the Assembly and 38-0 in the state Senate.


        But there’s no sign just talking about ending hate and hate crimes will do much about the problem. That will take action, not mere talk.


        For a new FBI report recorded nearly 10,500 hate crimes nationally in 2021, the latest year for which full statistics are available, with 1,767 in California.

That jibes with figures from the Anti-Defamation League showing hate crimes of all kinds were up about 30 percent in California in 2022, compared with 2021.


        These crimes don’t even include this year’s shootings of Orthodox Jewish men outside synagogues in Los Angeles and frequent attacks on both Blacks (victimized in about 30 percent of hate crimes) and Asian-Americans, who often feel threatened when out in public.


        One reason for this is the sad fact that bigotry and racism and anti-Semitism over the last seven years became “cool” topics on the Internet, with message boards and YouTube videos and dark web entries urging white male violence against minorities now commonplace.


        It can be argued that a lot of this stems from de facto legitimization of prejudice on college and university campuses nationwide. This is perhaps best documented by the thorough studies of the AMCHA Initiative, which documents hatred toward Jews on campuses. Jews make up just two percent of the populace, but have been targeted lately in more than half of all religious hate crimes, more than the total against Sikhs, Roman Catholics, Buddhists and others who are also sometimes targeted.


        Jewish students have been singled out on California campuses and nationwide, pressured by threats of violence to leave student body offices to which they were elected and intimidated from wearing Star of David necklaces they once sported proudly. They are not obvious from their skin color, but are targeted for having “Jewish” names, or because they defend Israel’s right to exist, even as many of them object to major policies of today’s Israeli government.


        If California is serious about fighting hate, and not just making symbolic gestures like the new Stand Against Hate day, its government might take a few actions that have long been authorized.


        For example, almost 10 years ago, University of California regents voted to ban anti-Semitism from their campuses. But when many Berkeley Law School student groups voted to exclude speakers from their group events if they did not oppose the existence of Israel as the world’s only Jewish homeland, the school’s actively Jewish dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, stood by despite conceding those bans would cover him, too.


        The students who carry out and respect this plainly anti-Semitic rule will soon be practicing law. Will they and their immediate predecessors and other fellow students, essentially taught anti-Semitism while in school, continue anti-Semitic practices after graduation?


        In February, UCLA hosted students from 200 college chapters of the national Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that promotes the slogan “From the River to the Sea” originated with help from Middle East terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, both financed by Iran’s extreme Islamist government.


        The slogan essentially calls for removal or massacre of all Israelis, the vast majority of them Jews.


        Why is such a group allowed to stage its national meeting on the UCLA campus, in publicly-funded facilities where regents officially banned anti-Semitism almost a decade ago?


        Why are UC and California State University faculty allowed to use state-owned facilities and email accounts to promote the boycott, divest and sanction movement against Israel that was originated by Hamas?


        The answer so far is that few dare confront them, in the mistaken belief this would somehow violate academic freedom. But bigotry has never been part of legitimate academics.


        The bottom line: As long as California allows promotion of prejudice on its campuses and elsewhere, days of “action” against hate will be empty gestures.



    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 








        Gov. Gavin Newsom has spent much of the last year tossing figurative tea leaves around where anyone and everyone who’s interested can try reading them.


        His advertising and name-calling against potential future presidential rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott drew stares during the last campaign season, even though it cost him only a few hundred thousand dollars, a political pittance.


        His get-tough and get-active advice telling fellow Democrats to end their consistent passively defensive stances and instead take cultural battles to Republicans in red states they dominate opened eyes nationally, as Newsom took on the role of a party leader, a function largely abdicated by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.


        But it was his early spring tour of the Old South that drew the most attention and speculation. He was variously described as meddling and inspirational, vain and helpful.


        Perhaps it was all those things, made necessary by a political calendar that poses unique challenges for Newsom, who cannot change it.


        Like most California governors, he plainly would like to be president, much as he denies it. That’s been obvious since he ran for governor in 2018, espousing causes like abortion availability, universal pre-school and more  restrictions on guns, combined with respect and trust for science and scientists, cultural touchstones controversial in many places.


        Newsom’s tone didn’t change much while touring the South, including Florida, where even Democrats chafed at his very direct comparisons between California and the Sunshine State, where DeSantis regularly picks fights with everyone from local officials to his state’s largest private employer, Walt Disney World.


        Newsom visited civil rights monuments in Alabama and encouraged Democratic politicians in Arkansas.


        He stayed out of Iowa and New Hampshire, usual stomping grounds for early presidential candidates.


        Newsom’s choices may be dictated by Biden’s stated plans to seek reelection, which no serious Democratic politician will contest and now stymie his 2024 desires.


        This immovable political calendar (if Biden indeed runs next year) will see Newsom without an office or active government title in 2027 and early 2028. That means he must establish a voter base outside California and keep it supporting him and his ideas until the 2028 primary season begins almost five years from now.


        Why head to the Old South in this circumstance? Newsom knows there is no major Democratic presence in most of that region. DeSantis demonstrated this last year, when his reelection landslide in Florida included carrying Miami’s surrounding Dade County, the first Republican in a generation to manage that.


        Newsom stepped into this vacuum rather than visiting early primary states, trying to lay a foundation for a national campaign later on.


        It drew mixed reviews in some places he visited.


        Some local Democrats said Newsom should instead just send campaign money. Others were more positive. “We’re at a moment now where national Democrats are saying ‘Wait a minute, we have to look beyond the coasts and lean into the entire country,’” said Chris Jones, an Arkansas Democrat and unsuccessful 2022 candidate for governor.


        Neither Biden nor Harris does much of that. Yes, Biden makes forays to factories and construction sites where laws he pushed provide jobs. But he has largely avoided Republican controlled states.


        Newsom seeks them out, likely because he knows they, too, send delegates to Democratic Party nominating conventions – people who can further his presidential ambitions.


        Republicans do this all the time, figures like DeSantis and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas making California and New York forays to attract campaign donations and possible delegate votes in Democratic states.


        So Newsom, like potential future opponents he so often derides, takes his ideas – he calls them “California values” – to places like Jackson, Miss. and Montgomery, Ala. He has drawn tart responses from GOP figures like Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who said “tourism helps drive Mississippi’s economy, so I am glad to welcome Gov. Newsom. I disagree strongly with his extreme COVID lockdowns, his insistence on letting boys play girls sports, his advocacy for abortion all the way up until birth and his enthusiasm for gun control, among other things.”


        Through all this, Newsom maintains he’s not really running for president. But they all say things like that, until they formally start running.  



    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, April 10, 2023







        A new word entered the California political lexicon the other day, when two of the five elected supervisors running America’s largest county decided they could greatly reduce crime by depopulating Los Angeles County’s many jails and other penal facilities.


        The new word: decarceration. This is the process of supposedly fighting crime by letting people out of jails and prisons, a favorite of the far left, the same folks that for several years have advocated defunding police everywhere.


        That has not happened in California. Apparently decarceration and depopulation of Los Angeles County jails won’t, either.


        For most police, prosecutors and politicians of all stripes don’t think it’s possible to reduce crime by letting convicted or suspected criminals go free.


        The public clearly doesn’t, either. That’s why in 2020, voters by a 56-44 percent margin rejected a no-cash-bail law passed earlier by the state Legislature, dominated by ultra-liberal Democrats who believe it’s unfair to force suspects to await trial in custody if they lack the funds to make bail.


        Polls showed most voters – and non-voting Californians, too – feared allowing most of the arrested to roam at large without bail would spur new crimes from the same old suspects.


        So it took law enforcement and others by surprise when Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsay Horvath sought to declare a “humanitarian crisis” in jails and order several county offices to create or expand programs keeping people out of jail, some even after they’ve been convicted. This plan would have left out major felons, most of whom are locked up by the state, not counties.


        Their plan blindsided police, prosecutors and many local officials, whose cities would have received the released prisoners had decarceration taken place.


        They quickly protested, and the Solis-Horvath proposal evaporated from the agenda for the county board’s next meeting. Two other supervisors, including board chair Janice Hahn, immediately announced they would not vote for their colleagues’ plan, so it was essentially tabled, possibly to arise again after it undergoes major alteration.


        The opposition was led by the county’s 45-member police chiefs association and a group of “contract cities” which lack their own police forces and buy law enforcement services from the county sheriff. Also in opposition was the local Association of Deputy District Attorneys, which has been embroiled in several disputes with ultra-liberal District Attorney George Gascon, accused by many of his deputies of favoring criminals over their victims.


        Decarceration is a proposal so far unique to Los Angeles County, where courts and law enforcement long have been credibly accused of overt racism, with proven offenses including cases of planted evidence and stopping motorists without obvious cause except their race. The idea is also fueled by faith that programs can be designed to prevent almost all recidivism by the released.


        The dead-for-now motion for decarceration proposed by rookie Supervisor Horvath and veteran officeholder Solis – a former congresswoman and the Secretary of Labor under ex-President Barack Obama – was first reported by the Southern California News Group. Solis and Horvath declared a commitment “to redress historical wrongs deeply rooted in systemic racism and prejudice and (to) reverse status quo responses to poverty, mental health and medical needs and substance use dependencies.”


        The problem is that these problems have all long resisted easy or facile solutions, and a sudden move to free many convicts and suspects might expose thousands of unsuspecting citizens to unprecedented levels of crime.


        The police chiefs group noted that “We do not stand against reform and we have been active…in these efforts. However, we are concerned with the rushed motion…”


        They and the line prosecutors complained the proposal was being hustled through with little analysis and no input from law enforcement or crime victims.


        It also ran counter to the spirit of the 2020 vote to cancel the law calling for no cash bail.


        But while Californians can reverse state laws they believe are unwise, as they did in 2020, there is no recourse locally other than voting entrenched supervisors out, with changes then wrought by their successors.


        All of which means decarceration may not quite be dead, and could in fact arise in other counties with liberal board majorities.



    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






        California has taken a beating lately, with (mostly Republican) governors of other states blasting many aspects of life here, not to mention the state’s biggest-name politicians.


        They cite everything from weak public schools to an upcoming ban on gasoline-powered cars and high state income taxes as reasons to desert this state.


        And yet…No state has recovered faster from the COVID-19 pandemic and its blows to employment, California unemployment having dropped in each of the last 11 months. Firefighters got the upper hand on last year’s ration of wildfires quicker than ever, too. And for the 12th straight year, California teams were in the Major League Baseball playoffs. Two teams, to be sure. Not to mention the fact that a California school, USC, seems to have adjusted faster and better than almost anyone else to the new financial scene in college football.



        Now come two new realities that make this state look even better, despite having one less member of Congress and one less electoral college vote than it did for the last 20 years.


        One is verifiable economic information. While some forecasters see troubled financial times ahead, and possibly a recession, the latest figures seem to belie that pessimism.


        This state saw huge gains in leisure and hospitality revenue in 2021, whose figures have only lately been reported, along with growth in industries like health care, social services, technology, construction and defense spending.


        This does not even mention agriculture, where California remains America’s No. 1 food-producing state.


        Despite headwinds caused by lingering aspects of the pandemic that hurt tourism, California posted America’s second-highest growth in gross domestic state product (GDSP – the total of all goods and services produced in the state) in the last quarter of 2021. Its 6.3 percent growth between pre-pandemic 2019 and the first quarter of 2022 was beaten only by Washington state’s 6.9 percent.


        By contrast, Florida and Texas, whose governors often joust verbally with California’s Gavin Newsom, all with an eye toward future White House possibilities, checked in with GDSP growth of 5.3 percent and 3.9 percent respectively.


        For California to better its prime challengers so soundly represented an unexpected achievement, especially coming while it lost a small percentage of its populace to each of those other two states.


        California’s natural advantages are one reason it does so well. No place enjoys a better climate, with the ability to pursue a huge variety of activities in close proximity to one another all year ‘round.


        This makes for strong tourism. The latest ranking from the home maintenance website places California first among the states in the number of scenic drives, from Highway 1 through Big Sur to state Highway 120 over Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park from the east to Redwood Highway 101 in the state’s northwestern corner and the Monterey Peninsula’s 17-mile-drive.


        California is also No. 1 in number and scenic quality of national parks, including many sizes and types from Lassen Volcanic to the southern desert’s Joshua Tree.


        It’s also first in attractions, including the likes of San Diego County’s Sea World and Legoland, Anaheim’s Disneyland and San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. This list does not even include Lake Tahoe and the Gold Rush country in the Sierra Nevada foothills.


        All those places, drives and phenomena – and others too numerous to list – guarantee large numbers of tourists each year there’s no major pandemic or world war. That, in turn, ensures a healthy travel sector in the economy, with all the jobs and tax revenue hotels, restaurants, airlines and car rental companies can generate. Yes, California can have recessions and does, but it also boasts lasting features that guarantee swift recovery from economic problems.


        Then there’s the big surprise in the rankings, supervised by faculty at two major Eastern universities: California now ranks just 45th in wildfire risk, and not because everything has already burned, but because places like Idaho and Texas and Alabama are not as well prepared to handle fires when they start.


        It’s not perfection, but it does put the lie to declinists who have said for many years that California is headed downward in almost all regards. In fact, in most ways the very opposite is true.


    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, April 3, 2023







        The amounts of money now bandied about as some Californians debate whether the state should pay reparations to descendants of slaves with African forbears dwarf anything this state or any of its localities has ever considered.


        The state-appointed Reparations Task Force, yet to take a formal position on this, was urged by many Black activists to recommend giving $360,000 each to about 1.8 million Black Californians whose ancestors were enslaved, even though there was no legal African-derived slavery in California after statehood began in 1850.


        Some task force members resist such huge cash payouts, preferring other forms of reparations in fields like education and employment, especially since the state faces a deficit of more than $20 billion as its budget-approval deadlines approach.


        Almost simultaneously, San Francisco supervisors unanimously expressed support for a draft plan by a city-appointed committee calling for $5 million cash payments to all local descendants of slaves, plus guaranteed annual stipends of $97,000 for 250 years. No one has any idea how the cash-strapped city, down a reported 100,000-plus residents since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, could pay for all this.


        But the proposed largesse for persons with enslaved ancestors may be misdirected, suggests an about-to-be-published, eye-opening book by a University of Delaware historian, who says that while California had no legal Black slaves after statehood, it condoned plenty of other slavery.


        The coming book, California: A Slave State,” by Jean Pfaelzer (Yale University Press, probable price $35), claims that while California never had many African-descended slaves, it has had many others, including an unknown number of human-trafficked women held as sex slaves today.


        Writes Pfaelzer, “The story of California is a history of 250 years of uninterrupted human bondage. California thrived because it welcomed, honed and legalized ways for humans to own humans…”


        Pfaelzer writes that at the same time slave ships crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean, bringing human chattel to the future United States and many Caribbean islands, Spanish priests who established the historic string of missions along the California coast were enslaving nearby Native Americans.


        “Under four empires – Spain, Russia, Mexico and finally the United States,” she says, “(California) grew as a slave state.”


        She begins with the history of U.S. Army depredations against indigenous tribes, especially in Northern California, where troops made weekly forays to Indian settlements throughout the 1850s, driving their residents at gunpoint to strongpoints like Ft. Seward, near the present-day Humboldt Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County, where adult males were slaughtered and their bodies burned, while women and children were sold off or indentured.


        She relates that almost any California Indian could be captured and enslaved unless they could prove they were gainfully employed – and very few could. She adds that many families were deliberately separated, a practice also inflicted on African-descended slaves in the old South.


        Pfaelzer also describes how Chinese laborers brought to California by 19th Century railroad barons were enslaved in a variety of ways.


        She describes Chinese women caged and violated for decades in San Francisco brothels, and Southern whites bringing Black slaves to California during the Gold Rush.


        Her book should raise new questions for reparations commissions, state and local. Perhaps the commissions should not focus solely on or be composed almost exclusively of Blacks and perhaps they ought to consider the diverse forms of slavery practiced here, rather than concentrating exclusively on the plantation-centered slavery of the old South.


        There’s also the question of whether the virtual decimation of Native American tribes by things like warfare and smallpox left so few alive that the take from casinos run by those who have survived obviates the need for any reparations.


        But this would leave out enslaved Chinese, modern trafficked humans from eastern Europe and Asia and others who contributed unwillingly to California’s rise to its current status among the world’s top five economies.


        All of which means slavery reparations commissions operating today are incomplete in their very composition, which will inevitably make any plans they offer one-sided and favoring descendants of one type of slavery over others that were comparably cruel and debilitating.


        That ought to cause everyone involved to take a deep breath before adopting expensive but unfair and incomplete plans.



    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’s almost like watching a political party commit suicide. Whatever the situation, this state’s Republican Party seems to deploy responses sure to alienate the vast majority of California voters.


        Make no mistake: Right now, that vast majority wants little to do with candidates sporting an R after their names in ballot listings.


        It’s true the GOP picked up one congressional seat here last year, but it’s also true that in off-year, mid-term elections like that one, the “out” party usually gains far more than 2 per cent in clout, about the percentage of one House seat in California’s 52-member delegation.


        As March ended, state Republicans were at it again.

Just after Gov. Gavin Newsom got the Legislature to OK his plan empowering a new wing of the state Energy Commission to police gasoline prices and penalize oil refiners when they profiteer beyond reasonable levels, the GOP did what it could to turn off most Californians.


        Remember, Newsom’s new price-regulating office is designed to keep prices down. It is forbidden from assessing any penalties that could cause price increases.


So how did California Republicans headline their statement about it, just after the plan passed on an almost pure party-line vote?


        “Newsom, Sacramento Dems Back Higher Gas Prices,” it said. Say what?


        For sheer inaccuracy, that title, contradicting the stated purpose of the new office and assuming it will stray beyond its legal bounds, matched the state GOP’s statement after new legislative and congressional district lines were unveiled in late 2021.


        “It’s going to be tough running in 2022 with a D behind your name,” the GOP predicted then. “Voters are fed up with California Democrats…”


        So fed up they reelected every incumbent Democrat running for Congress and gave Democrats some of their biggest supermajorities ever in the Legislature, rendering the GOP virtually irrelevant in state government despite its loud and happy talk.


        Newsom’s response to the never-fully-explained gasoline price hikes of February 2022 and beyond passed the state Senate on a 30-8 vote and the Assembly by 52-19.


        It marks the first time any state has tried seriously to keep track of oil company economics and determine whether price increases are justifiable. It also follows at least nine episodes of large and seemingly price-gouging gas price hikes over the last 40 years.


        And it follows more than half a billion dollars worth of insider stock sales by refining company executives and directors that followed closely after quarterly financial statements sent oil company stocks booming last spring.


        The plan does not set a cap on gasoline prices, meaning oil companies can still raise prices when justified. Before assessing penalties and setting price limits, the new regulators will have to formally find that benefits of such actions outweigh possible costs to consumers and that no move they make will spur price increases.


        How does the GOP respond to those protections? “California Democrats are looking for new ways to tax hardworking Californians who are already struggling under the weight of our state’s sky-high prices…Ultimately, greedy Gavin Newsom and California Democrats have…plans to collect (more money) from gas consumers.”


        There is simply no evidence for that statement from party chair Jessica Millan Patterson, just as there was nothing to back her post-election statement last fall that “Our candidates (did) better than they have in years.”


        The reality is that the state GOP can blather on like this as much as it likes, but it will have no influence so long as its registered voter totals run between 25 percent and 30 percent of all voters, with the vast majority signing up either as Democrats (currently about 47 percent) or with no party preference.


        The state GOP could change things by moderating its stances on major social issues like abortion rights and gun controls.


        But the minority of Californians signed up with the GOP won’t tolerate easing stances on issues like those. Which means the GOP will keep on making statements like its baseless one on the new gas price regulators, and will also continue having zero influence on any policy decisions.



    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