Ragged Claws

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Gravity normal, air returning, terror replaced by cautious optimism

I was fairly cynical about yesterday's primary election, what with the demon sheep, the ad campaigns in which Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner attacked each other for doing and believing entirely reasonable things (and hotly denied the vicious calumnies of their opponents - they'll have you know that they've never held any remotely reasonable position in their entire lives, thankyouverymuch), and propositions which were the usual mix of decent ideas, half-cocked schemes so crazy they just might work, and abominations unto Nuggan. The worst of the propositions was probably Prop 16, which was local power giant PG&E's attempt to pass a law making it harder for elected officials to threaten power company profits. PG&E poured a lot of money into a campaign in favor of the law, and underwrote ads which framed the issue as one of voters restraining reckless politicians "who want to go into the power business." (For some utterly inexplicable reason! That has nothing to do with profit-gouging rate hikes or poor service by incumbent power companies! Because they're politicians, and like to burn taxpayer money just to watch the pretty, pretty flames!*) By contrast, the opposition seemed to have almost no money, and no presence whatsoever on the airwaves. My prediction was that the proposition would pass, and the notion of a public interest distinct from private profits would be eroded in California that much more.

And yet, despite the absence of any well-funded campaign to counter it, Prop 16 (narrowly) lost last night. (As wu ming at Calitics points out, there's considerable overlap between the counties with PG&E service and the counties with "no" majorities on 16 - to know PG&E is, apparently, to want the option of escaping from PG&E.) Following California politics involves a lot of disappointment (and occasional, tooth-grinding rage), so it's always heartening when the system somehow manages to confound your worst expectations for it.

*Apologies to Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner for any offense conveyed by the suggestion that politicians usually choose to act in the interests of their constituents. I of course take Whitman and Poizner at their word that they are creatures of pure ideology, who could never, ever be influenced by considerations of practicality or good governance.


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