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Bill Bradleys article on the dirty dozen contracts [The Dozen Rip-Offs, December 1420] does an excellent job of exposing the real damage done to the states energy policy and consumer rates by Governor Gray Davis hasty embrace of long-term obligations that perpetuate our addiction to natural gas. These contracts must be renegotiated to remove the long-term stranglehold on consumer rates and facilitate the rapid expansion of renewable energy in California.
I must, however, take issue with Bradleys explanation of recent events relating to the bailout of Southern California Edison. Bradley incorrectly states that the settlement deal crafted by the California Public Utilities Commission would cost several billion less than the bill Davis failed to get through the Legislature. In fact, the Legislature considered (and ultimately rejected as too favorable to Edison) a total ratepayer-funded bailout in the range of $2.5 to $2.9 billion. By contrast, the PUC accepted a deal that would guarantee Edison no less than $3.3 billion. Had the PUCs more generous package been before the Legislature, it would have been soundly rejected as excessive.
When Southern California consumers notice that their electric bills are not coming down over the next few years, despite lower power prices across the West, they can blame the governor and his PUC for circumventing the Legislature and making a rich deal intended to protect Southern California Edisons shareholders by forcing ratepayers to pick up the very expensive tab for the failure of deregulation. Once again, consumers have become the insurers of last resort for public-policy failures.
Matthew Freedman, staff attorney
The Utility Reform Network
Re: Whos Bin Smokin What? [Dissonance, December 2127]. There is a fundamental conflict between a U.S. imperial policy that requires the continuation of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and South Asia, and the understandable desire of the worlds people to be free from fear of future 9/11s. The language pro-war left-liberals are using comparing premodern religious radicalism to historic fascism seems designed to cut off all debate in favor of an imaginary rerun of World War II. If the negative moral category of Islamo-fascism allows us to connect all the terrorists from Casablanca to Manila, then the only thing delaying the creation of a free-fire zone for U.S. military operations over half the globe is fitting pretexts. What makes the situation even more threatening is that the Bush administrations formulation of a foreverwar against an elastically defined global terrorism is far broader than the more limited conflict that some left-liberals want to fight against fascism. Marc Cooper, Christopher Hitchens and others already seem to be more than halfway down this slippery slope of support for an open-ended war the U.S. and its rent-a-coalition partners have only just begun.
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s words may be the best antidote to the confusion sown by Marc Coopers diatribe against the anti-war movement and on behalf of the basic justice of the U.S. military response. As usual, Cooper sets up an idiotic left-wing straw man to knock down. I have never heard any peacenik suggest that Osama bin Laden is poor or oppressed, or that he or Mullah Omar, for that matter gives a hoot about the poor and oppressed. Rather, the argument has been made that such power-seeking figures like fascists generally, whether of the religious or the secular type are able to harness and exploit the rage and frustration of those who do have legitimate grievances. Were the U.S. government to spend on international justice and constructive aid the amount it happily spends on bombs, the conditions that breed recruits for terrorism could be turned around.
Reading Coopers column next to Bill Bradleys dizzying world tour of all the places the U.S. military may strike next [Where to Now?, December 2127], one realizes just how high the stakes are. We must take on this notion that any military action can be just that sacrifices the lives of countless civilians in order to keep ones own soldiers out of firing range. I shudder for the human beings who have the misfortune to live in the vicinity of the U.S. militarys next triumph. And for us.
GOERING ALL THE WAY
Re: Greg Goldins Assault on America II [New World Disorder, November 30December 6]. Osama bin Laden would love a civil trial so he can rise from the dock and use the occasion for a long-winded speech in defense of terrorism, just like Hermann Goering did at Nuremberg when he declared himself not guilty in front of the 35mm movie-newsreel cameras.
THE LOUDEST GENERATION
Re: Rolling Back the Years [New World Disorder, December 1420]. Ben Ehrenreich is right on target in his exposé of the conservative underpinnings of Tom Brokaw, Steven Spielberg, et al.s nostalgia for the World War II generation. Yes, its very much another chapter in the culture wars that seek to turn back the clocks and erase, if not the results, then at least the memory of social ferment that occurred during the 60s and 70s.
TOONTOWN FACING URBAN FLIGHT
Rico Gaglianos article on the labor dispute at Nickelodeon [Naughty Nick, December 2127] has been gnawing at me all week. Like most parents, I have become an expert in childrens TV, and Ill say here and now that
SpongeBob SquarePants, Fairly Odd Parents and especially Hey Arnold! are three of the best-written shows on television, period. The Amanda Show, on the other hand, is basically Cher for preteens. Why are the Amanda crew rewarded with residuals and benefits while the cartoon writers get squat? Its an absurd distinction, and eventually the best animation writers will abandon the medium just to survive.
JACK ON THE BOARDS
Re: Steven Leigh Morris Waiting for the Cable Guy [December 1420]. Actors who focus on showcases are looking for the golden ticket that one-in-a-million chance that a casting person will notice them, bring them in to audition, and then have the producer and director all agree that they are the one for the job. Slim chance. The actors number-one rule is: Work begets work. Do the work, and more work (paying) will find you. Circus stunts (read: showcases) and game-show appearances dont count.
Secondly, I make my living as a commercial actor. When I do a Jack in the Box spot, I have not abandoned the theater I am subsidizing it. Only 35 percent of small-theater budgets comes from ticket sales; the rest of that cash comes from the pockets of writers, directors and actors.
Manohla Dargis review of The Royal Tenenbaums [High Hopes, December 1420] was the best Ive read in years. This review and her tribute to Pauline Kael [September 1420] were the two most memorable works of writing this year in your newspaper. Tell her I think shes brilliant!
Ella Taylor begins her review of the film Ali by writing the worlds most famous boxer, training for a rematch with George Foreman. George Foreman and Ali only fought once! I know that most of your staff is made up of Noam Chomskyregurgitating, self-righteous dweebs who typically frown upon things such as boxing.
EDITORS NOTE: Actually, it was Taylors National Reviewciting, self-deprecating twerp of an editor who confused George Foreman with Joe Frazier and suggested changing fight to rematch.
Contrary to what appeared in last weeks feature The Neurotic Superhero, Stan Lee wrote the Marvel Comics adaptation of the Spider-Man movie, not the movie itself. Also, in the issue previous to that, U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt was indeed misidentified in a photo caption as Senator.
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