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

There are still skeptics who maintain the California economy remains in recession, that talk of economic recovery amounts to whistling past the proverbial graveyard when unemployment remains above 7 percent.

For many years, it was valid to urge that students take a good look around as they entered high school in the fall — because more than one-third of their first-day classmates would drop out before graduation day four years later.

When California voters adopted the “top two” primary election system four years ago via Proposition 14, they meant to make state politics more moderate, to ease some of the sharp divides between Republicans and Democrats that led to legislative and budgetary gridlock.

No one knows better than Democratic Party politicians that voters who tend to support them are at high tide in November general elections during even-numbered years, when offices like president, governor and U.S. senator are at stake.

Never mind the hosannas that followed immediately after state legislators passed a last-minute package of bills purported to impose California’s first statewide regulations on groundwater use.

For the past 20 years — ever since the passage of California’s abortive anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 in 1994 — Democrats here and around America have increasingly depended on Latino votes.

Few things in an absurd world are more deserving of ridicule than the United Nations Human Rights Council, a 47-nation group that includes some of the world’s leading human rights violators, from China and Cuba to Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, to take just a few in alphabetical order.

To some, it seems almost as if California has lately become New Jersey West. Incidents of possible corruption and conflict of interest are exposed at least once a month these days, with almost no consequences for anyone involved.

Whichever way Californians vote this fall on Proposition 49, which aims to persuade Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on political fundraising, they will send a dangerous message to the rest of America.

We know a fair amount about the drought that has now afflicted California for about three years: It has been the driest period since record keeping began in the 19th century. If their wells are deep enough, farmers can still pretty much pump all the groundwater they like, while homeowners can be fined up to $500 for watering down a walkway. Water use actually rose after Gov. Jerry Brown asked for a voluntary 20 percent cutback.

California government is walking a tightrope, put in that position by one of the latest in the large corps of successful high-tech startups this state has spawned over the past few decades.

Make no mistake; the fall election season began the evening of June 3, just as soon as the primary election polls closed. But no one has spent much on the election since then, nor have most voters focused on any issues to be decided in November.

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