Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Vindictive Republican Bastards

It is one of the little things that really pisses me off. Quite frankly I get more irate over it than I do over the war in Iraq or the Patriot Act, because I take it personally. Even though I'm in Brooklyn most of the time these days, I'm still a San Franciscan as well, and I really chaps my ass.

Every once in awhile some yahoo Republican proposes draining the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Now if you don't know what it is you need some background. Hetch Hetchy is a valley in Yosemite National Park. It was John Muir's favorite place, and a place photographed often by Ansel Adams. Muir considered it more beautiful than Yosemite Valley. Durring the great era of the great California Water Projects in the early 20th Century, the valley was dammed to create a fresh-water reservoir and electrical generation system for San Francisco. Environmentalists have been yelling to have it dynamited ever since.

Of course it makes no sense to do so. Hetch Hetchy provides 20% of San Francisco's electricity while providing water to 2.4 million customers in the bay area. It's also high quality water too. Having sampled the water in The Sity and compared it to places around the bay who draw their water from the delta, I can atest that the water coming directly from the Sieras is much better. And just today a report was issued saying that the delta is on the verge of colapse.

It makes no economic sense to tear down the dam. But Republicans love to float the idea for two obvious reasons: 1) it targets San Francisco, the conservatives favorite whipping boy (maybe a bad analogy, since many in SF don't mind bneing tied to the whipping post). It is an easy club with which to bash The City, which is seen by people on all sides of the political spectrum as the capital of liberal politics. It's a way to kick the liberals a bit--and the GOPers do it with viscious glee, whether in a frenzy of delight over being in power or out of spite, now that they are out of power. 2) It is a perfect wedge issue with which to divide two of California's strongest liberal constituencies: San Francisco liberals and environmentalists. Naturally, the environmental loby loves the idea, setting them up for a colision course with their traditional allies in The City. Sowing the seeds of discontent is a key republican strategy, and if they can divide the California liberal vote they might win a few seats there come next congressional elections.

And so the Bush administration has included in its new Natioanl Parks budget money to study the positive effects of restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley. Since San Francisco is home to both California's senators and to the new Speaker of the House, that dam isn't going away anytime soon, and the money will be stripped out of the budget quickly. But actually funding the study was never the point. The point was to create an issue that would divide the liberal vote and give the GOP a weapon to wield against the California dems in two years. I garauntee that when the congressional races heat up, you'll hear about how those three women from San Francisco torpedoed an important piece of environmental legislation in order to play to their hypocritical liberal constiuencies. It will, of course, be bullshit. Yes, San Franciscans want to fight keep the Hetch Hetchy project running. It's in their interests. But it's also in the interests of the rest of the state, which already has far too litle water and electricity to go around.


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