July 19, 2002
By Joseph Arrieta
For the second night in a row God's air conditioning has
swept through the San Francisco estuary, prickling flesh and
making the CEO of Calpine sweat.
When that carbuncle of corporate incompetence Dick Cheney
showed up here 18 months ago to bless the $30 billion electricity
ripoff by Dynergy, Calpine, and Enron he told us "conservation
is a virtue but not sound policy." We'd have to build a power
plant a week for 2 years just to keep up.
Calpine was stupid enough to believe him. Californians, of
course, are well aware of the benefits of conservation from
living through several droughts. In just 90 days Californians
whapped a full 15% off the demand curve last summer with efficient
lighting and less AC use. Now Calpine is on the hook - overextended
to build plants that there simply is no demand for. If it's
a hot summer Calpine will survive with the demand spike, but
a cool one will spell its doom.
Ralph Nader and the Greens are nowhere to be found. Nader
was asinine enough to get Bush elected, but apparently not
fool enough to come out here and state that Al Gore would
have acted just like Dick Cheney in responding to our energy
crisis. It would have been fun to have Nader around for a
punching bag, but he hasn't obliged.
Gray Davis scurries around, apparently unaware that his painfully
centrist posturing during the electricity ripoff blew one
of the greatest political opportunities of all time. A populist
stance against the corporate energy crooks would have made
him a hero with at least a 70% approval rating, a total walk
for this year's election and a perfect setup for the 2008
presidential run, but now all he has is an incredible mess
with enormous potential liabilities. Fortunately for him the
state Republicans used the Dick Cheney Stupid model in choosing
his opponent: a corporate CEO millionaire with no government
experience who probably used an illegal tax shelter last year.
Stupid (no need to use his name, no one will remember it in
5 months) refuses to release his tax forms to refute the charge.
The election for Governor here is over.
Not that many Californians are really paying attention in
the first place. Almost all of the populace is focused on
regular life and dreading the day they have to pay attention
to politics. After the stolen election, electricity debacle,
tech meltdown and the realization that the President and Vice
President are just two more corporate crooks Californians
are doggedly keeping their heads down while chugging through
a summer of work, play and life. Despair is simply not an
option, even if it's the only alternative given in our barren,
crooked political landscape.
Once in a while our Senators will chime in through the cacophony
of political media noise, but it hardly registers for more
than a day. Dianne Feinstein is in eternal disgrace for her
incredible gullibility in actually believing the Enron-esque
revenue projections from the crooks who stole the election.
She voted for Bush's tax cut and still shows up for work every
day thinking she represents her constituents. At least she
voted against the estate tax the second time, but it will
never erase the stain of her imbecilic capitulation to Bush's
Every single House member from the San Francisco estuary
is a Democrat and none will lose this fall. The only blip
in the monotony of news from our House delegation was the
bravery of Mike Honda, my rep. He voted against the resolution
condemning the ruling determining "Under God" unconstitutional
in the Pledge.
Sure the Democrats were craven weenies in denouncing the
reasonable, correct decision. But thank God that they did,
for the last thing our citizens needed was a daily verbal
barrage from sanctimonious hypocritical Republicans, thumping
their bibles while we bomb weddings and ignore the poor. It's
bad enough we have to hear Bush preach corporate accountability
- hypocrisy like that might have been just too much.
No Californian is even remotely concerned with the "war."
They want Osama caught, of course, and the perpetrators of
9/11 brought to justice, but the idea that Californians are
in unity with a country actually fighting is ludicrous. Only
a tiny fraction of the populace actually knows someone serving
the armed forces, and no one has asked anyone to contribute
or sacrifice for the "war," so no one really cares. The Republicans
sheepishly bleat in unison to whatever the President wants
them to, but they're ignored. Being 15 points behind in the
registration base and nominating Stupid for Governor makes
that easy to do.
The State budget is a horror with an unbelievable 30% shortfall
in expected revenues. Californians have learned to ignore
the ludicrous budget process and just pay attnention to the
results when they finally come up with it. The budget is late,
but the pain from its cuts and tax increases will not hit
for several months, so it's simply ignored.
Californians noted last week that The Fix on the east coast
media is still locked in when the Washington Post editorialized
that Bush's Harken corporate crookedness was so much ancient
history. Whitewater makes Harken look like a stroll through
the park, but never mind, The Fix must be upheld. The New
York Times confirmed The Fix last year with their He Would
Have Won Anyway recount bleat. The revolution won't be televised,
and it certainly won't occur in print. The San Francisco
Chronicle is now a Hearst newpaper, and Tony Ridder hired
a new Republican editor for the gutted San Jose Mercury
News. The long slow slide of journalism mediocrity continues
while Californians fire up their browsers.
Californians still have not gotten used to the idea they've
been written off by the Republicans - along with the entire
west coast. Over a fifth of the needed electoral votes for
2004 have just been handed to the Democrats. It makes for
interesting calculations by the political junkies, but for
most Californians it just means another reason to keep their
heads doggedly down - there will be no help from the Feds,
for anything. Nothing.
We passed our own global warming legislation, but with The
Fix and The Writeoff no one thinks it will be taken seriously.
California is headed toward a classic low-turnout election
with a likely 1-2 House gain and the regular stable of Democrats
being elected again. It could be worse.