Newton on What Harris Brings to the Democratic Ticket

Jim Newton, lecturer and editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine,  spoke with Nine News Australia about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate. Biden and Harris “come from different backgrounds and different parts of the country,” Newton said. “I think her presence on the ticket makes the ticket feel much bigger and much more appealing to a bigger section of the country.” Newton, who has tracked Harris’ career for two decades and interviewed her for the first edition of Blueprint in 2015, called her a tough political figure who has sparred with critics from both the left and right. He added that the selection of the first Black woman on the presidential ticket of a major party shows that Biden is open to “a new idea of America, rather than this country fighting to retain a white-majority establishment political culture.” 


 

Newton on Spirituality and Intellect of Jerry Brown

Jim Newton, lecturer and editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke to KPCC’s AirTalk about the life of former Gov. Jerry Brown, which he chronicled in his book, “Man of Tomorrow.” Brown led California at two very different stages of his life — from 1975 until 1983, on the heels of the Vietnam War and Watergate, and again from 2011 until 2019. “He left California in far better shape than he found it,” with a rainy day fund of about $20 billion that steeled the state as it took on the COVID-19 pandemic, Newton said. “I have never met a person who thinks more deeply or attempts to draw bigger lessons out of spirituality and intellect and infuse them into politics than Jerry Brown,” he said. “He’s not always done that in ways that people would agree were successful, but I don’t know anyone who aspires to higher things.”

Newton on Police Misconduct and Cultural Racism

Public policy lecturer Jim Newton authored opinion articles in the Los Angeles Times and Politico dissecting the current debate on police brutality and misconduct. Newton recalled the L.A. riots in 1992, where “more than a dozen officers watched as other officers beat [Rodney] King into submission — a brutal attack that was overseen and directed by a police sergeant.” Newton argued that King was “the victim of police misconduct, yes, but also of a debased and racist police culture.” Similarly, he wrote that “when a Minneapolis police officer jams his knee into the neck of a Black man suspected of passing a phony $20 bill, that suggests misconduct; when three of his fellow officers stand by for more than eight minutes while the suspect pleads for help, that points to a cultural problem.” While some acts of police misconduct may be the work of a stray, misguided officer, Newton concluded that “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.”


Newton on Garcetti’s Steady Response to Crisis

Jim Newton, lecturer of public policy, spoke to the Washington Post about Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s approach to managing the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Garcetti has made it a priority to be well-versed in all the numbers, he said. “I think the book on Garcetti, correctly, has been that he is smart, articulate, principled, kind of an incrementalist and cautious,” Newton said. “And so what I think all of that has added up to — up to this point, anyway — is a kind of steady but unspectacular time as mayor.” As pressure has increased to reopen the economy, Garcetti’s decision-making process has been driven by cautious reason. Newton explained that the coronavirus pandemic is “the sort of crisis well-suited to [Garcetti’s] strengths: He is smart, good with data, comfortable with science. There’s no blaming. There’s no ridiculousness. It’s very steady and even and straightforward.”


Newton on Capturing the Life of Jerry Brown

Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine and a lecturer at the Luskin School, appeared on several media outlets to discuss “Man of Tomorrow,” his new biography of former Gov. Jerry Brown. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Newton explained the title of the book. Brown, he said, is “a person who lives in the future and thinks about the future and sometimes has actually suffered from that, in the sense that he’s sort of been ahead of his electorate on some things.” He said the former governor exhibits “a combination of warning and concern and skepticism but also clear-sightedness and foresight and optimism” that keeps him relevant in the public arena. Newton appeared with Brown at a session of the UCLA Luskin Summit, as well as a webinar hosted by the Sacramento Press Club. A Los Angeles Times review of his book called it a “formidable contribution to the history of both the state and the country.”


 

Jerry Brown Speaks Out on Curbing Coronavirus and Building a Strong Future Former governor's conversation with biographer Jim Newton draws virtual audience of more than 1,300

By Mary Braswell

Former Gov. Jerry Brown shared his views on stepping up the fight against COVID-19 and repairing the rifts that divide Americans during an expansive conversation with Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine and author of a new book on the California statesman’s life.

More than 1,300 viewers tuned in to the May 12 webinar to hear insights from Brown, who built a reputation as both pragmatist and visionary in his half-century of public service, including four terms at the state’s helm.

The virtual audience had the opportunity to pose questions during the hour-long session, organized by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall and the nonprofit Writers Bloc, in partnership with the 2020 UCLA Luskin Summit.

The webinar took place amid a nationwide debate about how best to contain the novel coronavirus. Newton, author of the new biography “Man of Tomorrow: The Relentless Life of Jerry Brown,” asked the former governor how he would balance the dueling imperatives of protecting the nation’s health and reviving its economy.

Singling out Taiwan as a nation that acted swiftly and effectively to curb the virus’ spread, Brown urged that anyone infected be quarantined away from their families. The urgency of widespread coronavirus testing cannot be underestimated, he said, faulting the federal government for failing to mobilize the nation’s resources to fight the virus.

“This is a great manufacturing powerhouse, we’re a great biotech innovative powerhouse as well,” he said. “So the fact that we don’t have the tests we need, not by the hundreds of thousands but by the tens of millions every day, is leading to the problem we’re now at.

“The longer you wait, the harder it is, the more people get sick, suffer and die,” Brown said.

To rebuild the economy, the former governor invoked the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who called for “bold, persistent experimentation” in his New Deal package of relief and reforms following the Great Depression.

“We need that. Not partisan rancor, not petty politics, not halfway measures. To get this economy going with so many people sequestered at home requires massive federal spending and investment,” Brown said.

He called for the immediate launch of ambitious infrastructure projects to reopen hospitals, bring internet access to rural areas, and build roads, highways and high-speed rail. The projects, he said, would be staffed through a jobs program that would provide a livelihood for millions of Americans now facing prolonged unemployment.

“I would call this really a Rooseveltian moment. And it ought to take into account all the problems that we have. Whether it’s the maldistribution of income and opportunity, whether it’s the pending challenge of climate disruption, all these things are on the table,” he said. “Unfortunately, if we can’t do them right in calmer days, it’s going to be very difficult.”

Known for sprinkling his comments with historical references, Brown cited Roosevelt numerous times and also namechecked economists John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August Hayek, inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller, and Supreme Court Justice Edward Douglass White, who served in the early 20th Century.

But the names most cited were Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, the president and Senate majority leader whom Brown held accountable for both an inadequate COVID-19 response and a fractured populace.

“If the choice is Trump for another four years … all these problems, from my vantage point, are going to get much, much worse, dangerously so,” Brown said, looking ahead to the November election.

“We have a lot of challenges and probably the biggest is building trust in our leadership, which is now being done better by our governors than by those occupying a power pole position in Washington,” he said.

Brown, a longtime Democrat whose own presidential aspirations fell short, predicted that an era of greater national unity lies ahead — but it requires abandoning far-reaching proposals from both the political left and right.

“I think we do need a unifier. I know we need polarization to activate the electorate, but in governing we need someone who reaches beyond the particular issues that are currently the stuff of campaigning,” Brown said.

“And that’s why politics is not all that satisfying and why politicians are not enduringly popular.”

Fielding audience questions, Brown weighed in on a range of topics.

On the future of financing higher education in California, he said, “We need to change the university from being an arms race of amenities to one that will be more limited but also fully creative. … The current course is not sustainable without a rising burden put on students, and I think that would be very wrong.”

On his signature issue, combating climate change, he called for an era of “planetary realism” and noted that the coronavirus emergency offers a sober lesson: “If you delay, if you don’t seize the moment when you can, you pay a much bigger price.”

And on maintaining hope amid an array of global threats, Brown took a poetic turn:

“I look out the window here and the wind is blowing on the walnut tree in front of me, the oak trees, the leaves, they’re flourishing” even amid drought, he said. “The rabbits are running around, the dogs are chasing the squirrels, the coyotes are howling at night. …

“Life — just to be here and be part of it — is quite a lot. So to worry, to think about down the road how it’s going to turn out? That’s fortune telling. That’s ouija board stuff.

“Do what you can do in the moment that you have. And God will take care of the rest.”

 

Pandemic Highlights Deep Needs and a Big Price Tag, Newton Says

Public policy lecturer Jim Newton was featured in a New York Times article about the progressive initiatives put in place to help people bear the burden of the pandemic. As the country begins to reopen, the political left in California and across the country is arguing that normal wasn’t working. Many leaders hope that temporary measures – including the release of thousands of people from state jails and prisons, the elimination of cash bail for most crimes, makeshift shelters for homeless people, and providing children in rural areas with laptops for remote learning — will become durable solutions to long-standing problems of inequity. Newton highlighted “an abiding tension between accelerated momentum toward Democratic goals and a constrained ability to finance them.” He explained that “going back to a normal in which those problems just return doesn’t feel acceptable, particularly to the left.” The pandemic, he said, “both emphasizes the needs and highlights the big price tag.”


Newton Recommends Highlighting Biden’s Expertise

Public policy lecturer Jim Newton wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on Joe Biden’s appeal as a presidential candidate with experience. Modern presidential candidates tend to identify either as “experts” or “authentics,” Newton said. He described candidates Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney as experts, well-versed in political issues but sometimes coming off as stiff and removed, while Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are authentics whose frankness also has an appeal. While Biden is accustomed to presenting himself as an “aw-shucks populist who appeals to working people,” Newton argued that he may be better off highlighting his expertise. “During a crisis of this magnitude, expertise is essential and authenticity seems superfluous,” he wrote. While Americans chose to vote for Trump during a time of economic prosperity, Newton predicted that the coming election will favor expertise. Emphasizing his experience on health and economic issues may help Biden beat Trump in November, Newton said.


Luskin Summit: Former Gov. Jerry Brown

In his new book, “Man of Tomorrow: The Relentless Life of Jerry Brown,” award-winning journalist and bestselling author Jim Newton explores the unconventional arc of former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s career. Newton, the editor-in-chief of UCLA Blueprint magazine, reveals the complex and often contradictory nature of Brown’s personality and politics–and how his leadership stood up to the Trump White House on policies related to climate change, immigration and more. Newton and Brown will discuss Brown’s career, his impact on national politics and his take on the future.

This event is being organized and sponsored by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall in coordination with Writers Bloc, Los Angeles. Registration is being handled by those organizations.

Newton on Papadopoulos’ Congressional Run in California

Jim Newton, public policy lecturer and editor of Blueprint magazine, spoke to Los Angeles magazine about George Papadopoulos’ congressional run in California. Papadopoulos, a former adviser to President Trump’s campaign, served 12 days in a federal correctional institution for making false statements during the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He is currently running in the special election to represent California’s 25th congressional district. Running as a Republican, Papadopoulos hopes to get elected by relying on his Fox News fan base and his association with Trump, the article said. Hitching your star to Trump may work in some parts of the country but not in California, Newton warned. “An affiliation with Trump is just not enough to put you over the line. It may be enough to boost book sales and drive some name recognition,” but ultimately it is not enough to win a congressional seat, he said.