"Stand up, Texas, against California's bullying"

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Is this evidence of the widespread prejudice against California I cited earlier?

Hyperlink: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printstory.hts/editorial/920006

Copyright, Houston Chronicle, Fair Use for Educational and Research Purposes Only.

May 23, 2001, 6:18PM

Stand up, Texas, against California's bullying

By JONATHAN WILCOX

LADIES and gentlemen: May I present to you the Hon. Bill Lockyer, attorney general of the state of California, from the May 22 Wall Street Journal:

"I would love to personally escort (Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth) Lay to an 8 x 10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, `Hi, my name is Spike, honey.' "

When you stop gagging, join me in celebrating Lockyer's crude, lewd and unsubdued behavior. It has stripped away whatever veneer of respectability California officials had by virtue of the offices they hold and exposed them as braggarts and bullies of the first order. But they also wield enormous and destructive power -- and they intend to use it.

The sooner Texans realize this the better.

As citizens of the state that is home to much of the nation's energy production, the people of Texas are intimately familiar with the booms and busts of the oil and natural gas industries. Sometimes, prices are high, new supply is nigh and willing buyers can only sigh.

Other times, gluts occur, demand fluctuates, competition grows ruthless and revenues seep out like the last remnants of black crude from a stripper well.

These are the principles of American capitalism, free market forces and the give-and-take and push-pull that separate this nation's economic capacity from all others. It is a fundamentally fair system, it has served us remarkably well and every time we have tampered with it, it has been to our ultimate detriment.

Witness California's partial "deregulation" of its electricity market.

The Golden State, for all its vanity, pride and preening machismo, actually knows very little of tough times. Sure, we can handle the occasional spectacular episode, like an earthquake or wildfire. That's part of the thrill of living in California.

But when it comes to our economic expectations and their interrelationship with our desired lifestyle, we only know the California way: more, more often and with no end in sight.

And if we don't get what we want, when we want it, it's someone else's fault.

In that light, it is no surprise that we are saddled with our current governor, Gray Davis, and our current law enforcement chief, the aforementioned Lockyer.

Despite his frequent jittery appearances on national television, Davis is a politically shrewd man. He may not know which public policy choices are best for the state's future, but that's not his highest priority.

Item No. 1 on Davis' "To Do" list is to get re-elected next year. But this has been complicated by the state's year of energy woes, Davis' ineffectual response and the fact that California is a largely one-party state.

Of California's eight statewide elected offices, seven are held by Democrats, including Davis and Lockyer. You don't have to be a Delphic oracle to discern that if Davis gets tossed out, he will take more than a few of his political brethren with him.

So, as California tiptoes toward its long, hot summer of rolling blackouts and unprecedented electricity shortages, Davis is busy digging his personal bomb shelter. He's preparing for the big one, calculating that while the damage will be great, and the fallout potentially lethal, he and the other cockroaches, like Lockyer, will survive.

How will they do this? By finding some fall guys to take the rap.

Call it the Texas two-step: First, Davis declares "war" on Texas energy producers. Next, Lockyer says he expects to file civil charges against suppliers, with, he hopes, criminal counts to follow.

For a demonstration of how not to deal with Lockyer and other California aggressors, examine the rejoinder of Mark Palmer, Enron's vice president for corporate communications. Lockyer's comment about Lay, he said, "is so counterproductive that it doesn't merit a response."

Wrong. Weak. Ineffective. Decency in the face of demagoguery may be dignified, but it's little more than an invitation to further abuse and, for Enron, public villainy.

Enron had a chance to do something corporations under hostile government fire only dream about: Embarrass, disarm and neutralize a corrupt public official out to smear their good name.

By challenging Lockyer to either reassess or renounce his remarks, Enron could have injected common sense and rare truth into a debate that has become twisted and warped by the tirades of California officials. Best of all, Enron could have extracted the kind of retraction that would have adorned Lockyer with the scarlet "A" of contrite politicians: apology.

Lockyer and other state officials may not yet know the ceiling of scorn Enron will tolerate from them. But they surely know the floor: Joking with journalists of the pleasure they would take from the arranged assault of Kennth Lay in a California prison.

Wilcox is a former speechwriter for California Gov. Pete Wilson. He can be reached at jwilcox1967@earthlink.net.

-- Robert Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net), May 28, 2001

Answers

I never thought Lockyer was too bright. But, to make such dumb, totally classless, repugant remarks is just plain, dowwright disgusting.

-- JackW (jpayne@webtv.net), May 29, 2001.

As one of those Californians Texans are being asked to "stand up" against, I can only say that Bill Lockyer's remarks are in a grand tradition of American political hyperbole. Right now Enron and four other energy companies (two of which are also based in Texas) are systematically and methodically bleeding our state dry because 1) they got the better of us on a power deal four years ago, and 2) the Texan energy industry veterans running the country these days are giving them the green light to do it. As far as I'm concerned it is Ken Lay who is "Spike" and the entire population of California who is locked in the prison cell with him futilely begging for mercy and frankly, I'd love to see the tables turned.

-- Mark Gabrish Conlan (mgconlan@earthlink.net), June 02, 2001.

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