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Politics

Newsletter: A tumultuous time in the split-screen era of American politics

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Essential Politics
(LAT)

A horrific fatal shooting at a Southern California synagogue as the nation’s best-known gun rights organization finds itself in turmoil.

The annual toast to American political journalism at the same time as a red meat presidential rally.

California’s governor demands action on the price of gas while environmentalists want him to launch an all-out attack on Big Oil.

The juxtaposition of these moments and messages — packaged and presented in the split-screen era of 24-hour news — is a stark reminder of the sharp differences and high stakes of the era in which we live.

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POWAY AND THE WAY FORWARD

Elected officials from across California and the nation expressed sadness and anger at the events that unfolded Saturday at a synagogue in Poway where a gunman stormed into Passover services, killing a 60-year old woman and injuring three other people.

“While we continue to learn more about what transpired, we can’t ignore the circumstances around this horrific incident. No one should have to fear going to their place of worship, and no one should be targeted for practicing the tenets of their faith,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement on Saturday.

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President Trump, who spoke to Newsom on Saturday, tweeted his own sympathies and praised the response of law enforcement.

NRA’S DEBATE OVER WHAT COMES NEXT

Law enforcement officials said the suspect used a common assault-style weapon, the AR-15, in Saturday’s attack. The weapon has often been defended by the National Rifle Assn., which tweeted a promotion for a scope for the rifle hours after the Southern California incident.

The organization did not immediately comment on the deadly shooting, consumed by its own internal battle. Oliver North, the former Marine officer best known for his role in the Iran-Contra operation more than three decades ago, said Saturday that he will not serve a second term as the NRA’s president.

His announcement came after an effort by some members to force out top executive Wayne LaPierre, who has long been the public face of the group.

TRUMP JABS AS WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS CELEBRATES

Trump skipped the third straight White House Correspondents Dinner of his presidency, taking his criticism of Democrats on the road to Wisconsin.

The speech was the latest effort by the president to balance his accomplishments with his grievances as the 2020 campaign comes into view.

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Trump is rare among American presidents in having eschewed a broader, more unifying approach to the office, said Tim Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University.

“He has remained as sectarian as he was in his inaugural address, which was a jeremiad for his base, not a message that he’s president of the entire country,” Naftali said.

NATIONAL LIGHTNING ROUND

-- As he prepares this week to testify to Congress, Atty. Gen. William Barr’s reputation as a law-and-order prosecutor is under fire by critics who say he acted more like a partisan advocate for Trump than the nation’s top law enforcement official.

-- Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate, held rallies in Los Angeles and other California cities this weekend.

-- South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that President Trump did “nothing wrong” to warrant impeachment and removal from office, pushing back at Democrats who want the House to consider proceedings.

-- Texas officials settled a lawsuit over a bungled search for ineligible voters that resulted in the U.S. citizenship of thousands of people being wrongly called into question.

-- Former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican foreign policy sage known for leading efforts to help the former Soviet states dismantle and secure much of their nuclear arsenal, died Sunday at 87.

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NEWSOM: CHEAPER GAS, LESS OIL?

If last week’s demand by California’s governor for an explanation for the state’s suddenly spiking gas prices sounded familiar, there’s a reason why.

Newsom is far from the first California leader — over the course of more than two decades — to have the same reaction to sudden price increases at the pump.

Environmental groups expect more than just a war on pricey petroleum products. They believe the Democratic governor will side with them in moving the state dramatically away from oil production, including a ban on fracking — something Newsom’s predecessor refused to embrace.

“It sure would make us happy if he made a big splash about this. It’s month four. People are being very patient. By month six, patience may wear thin,” said Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- Legislation to allow mid-rise apartment construction near mass transit across California cleared a state Senate committee Wednesday after two Northern California lawmakers reached an agreement limiting its effects on smaller counties and along the coast.

-- Lynwood Councilwoman Aide Castro has worked as a consultant for a number of marijuana businesses she hasn’t disclosed on her state financial forms, including Weedmaps. Recently, she reported she co-owns two pot manufacturing businesses.

-- Lawmakers moved forward on a bill to tighten California’s childhood immunization law, drawing protests from parents who said doctors, not the government, should decide if schoolchildren are eligible for an exemption.

-- State senators have gutted much of a bill that would have preserved use-of-force standards and turned it into a training measure.

-- The Newsom administration has expanded a nepotism probe of the state Department of Industrial Relations after new evidence emerged that a half-dozen managers may have helped the director’s daughter and another job applicant bypass civil service procedures.

LOGISTICS

Essential Politics is written by Sacramento bureau chief John Myers on Mondays and Washington bureau chief David Lauter on Fridays.

You can keep up with breaking news on our politics page throughout the day. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

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