Commentary

Thomas Elias

Columnist and author Thomas Elias writes a syndicated politcal column appearing twice weekly in 70 newspapers around California, with a circulation of over 1.89 million. He has won numerous awards from organizations like the National Headliners Club, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, and the California Taxpayers Association. He has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize in distinguished commentary.

Elias is the author of two books, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It" (now in its third edition; also published in Japanese and recently optioned for a television movie) and "The Simpson Trial in Black and White," co-authored with the late Dennis Schatzman. He is currently at work on a third book about his experiences with kidney failure and later as a kidney transplant recipient.

Elias was the West Coast correspondent for Scripps Howard Newspapers for 15 years before he began writing books. Among many other assignments in that position, he covered eight national political conventions; every planetary fly-by; the rise of the AIDS plague; several World Series, Olympics and Super Bowls; two papal visits; several national political campaigns; as well as conducting numerous investigative projects. His work has resulted in the unseating of two judges; helped create a major state park and cause significant changes in the federal treatment of immigrants. A former Asociated Press staff writer, he keeps his hand in spot news and feature reporting by serving between book projects as a regular contributor to Long Island Newsday and the national Cox News Service. He has made numerous radio and television appearances on such programs as the Today Show, CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News, Larry King Live, Rivera Live and C-Span's Book TV.

Elias holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from Stanford University. He has taught journalism at the University of Southern California, California State University at Northridge, and two other Cal State campuses. He has been honored for his volunteer work by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, the National Kidney Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League. He serves on the national advisory boards of the Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation and the Center for Talented Youth, John Hopkins University.

Elias lives in Santa Monica, Calif., with his wife Marilyn, a health and science reporter for USA Today. They have one son, Jordan.

Southern California Focus

For almost seven months, California parents have been free to claim without offering any proof that their religion forbids getting their children vaccinated against once-dreaded and disabling diseases such as polio, mumps, pertussis and smallpox.

For some people familiar with the history of the run-up to World War II, there’s a sense of déjà vu in today’s humanitarian crisis along the Mexican border these days, as resistance rises against the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children attempting to enter and stay in the United States.

For more than a decade, while California has been among the most liberal of America’s blue states, its highest court has been dominated by leftovers from two of its more conservative governors.

From early in his career, Gov. Jerry Brown has had a proclivity for dismissing problems with wisecracks or aphorisms. As early as 1974, in the first term of his first go-round as California’s top official, he mocked university professors’ pleas for pay raises by saying they didn’t need more money, but could make do with “psychic rewards.”

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asked Congress the other day to authorize a new round of military base closings and consolidations in 2017, alarm bells should have gone off in many parts of California.

For decades, Californians who use the most electricity have paid extra for that privilege, on the theory that high prices might provide an incentive for them to use less.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

As the round of memorial services for the six students fatally stabbed and shot in late May by the psychotic killer Elliot Rodger recedes into memory, a serious public policy question remains even while families and friends are left with their private grief:

Nothing is more important to California’s large privately owned utilities than the virtual monopolies they enjoy in most of the state.

As expected, it’s now late spring and water rationing is upon California. Despite the heavy mid-February rains that briefly drenched Northern California and the respectable ensuing snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, drought remains.

There was a clear message when the state Senate in mid-June first rejected a ban on legislators taking campaign contributions during the last 100 days of each lawmaking session, and then partially reversed itself to finally pass a watered-down version covering a much shorter time.

With memories of last fall’s federal government shutdown and several national debt default crises already faded from the public mind, national Democrats no longer appear to believe they have a realistic chance of retaking control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans who wrested it away from them unexpectedly almost four years ago.

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