I don’t even have a TV, because I am unbearably self-satisfied. So I didn’t watch the 60 Minutes segment and can’t compare it to other TV programs. For all I know, it is as good as any TV. That said, I read the transcript and had some thoughts.
1. They spent an hour on this? Man, TV is slow. I read that in five or six minutes and even for five or six minutes, I thought it was light on content. This internet business is nice. I’ve gotten used to much denser content.
2. Chance of Rain is completely right. The Twain quote is overused and a mark of weak thought. I’m putting it in the category with the Reisner-derived cliche “cotton, alfalfa and rice” as an early signal that the person isn’t going to offer anything new.
3. I’ve been meaning to complain about the “water war” framing for a while now. This one:
People have died over water. You know, movies have been made about the wars of water in California,” Gov. Schwarzenegger told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl.
“Chinatown,” Stahl remarked.
“Exactly,” Schwarzenegger replied. “So water has been one of those issues.”
It’s one of those issues that is pitting Californians against each other for every last drop.
Seriously, we are not in a water war. I can tell you this because if it were a war, I’d be on the front lines. I am a water bureaucrat, baby, deep in the trenches of the decades-long water war. In real life, this means I work in a very ordinary cube in ordinary clothing. No one ever takes any shots at me. (Sometimes, someone suggests that I re-phrase something before we release it to the public.) No one took any shots at anyone during the protracted negotiations for the new water legislation. So far as I know, Judge Wanger walks to his car un-escorted and unafraid, which means that we are really and truly not in a water war.
Instead, we’re in an extended, complicated, multi-party conflict over resource use that will be resolved through incremental progress in courts, administrative plans, white papers and legislation (or maybe earthquake-caused collapse of Delta levees). I am sorry if that doesn’t give our Action Governor a boner, but that is not a war. The conflict is not exciting.
4. I’m surprised at how little the TV host says. She echoes and prompts, and offers no synthesis. I guess that’s not her job.
5. Political implications, eh. They’re down the conventional faultlines, so you already know them. I guess I wish they’d told more interesting parts of the stories. How ARE people reacting to high new water bills? Have they changed behavior and which water uses did they sacrifice? Are growers monolithic, or are there some who are glad to have some of their competition sidelined? How are bank officers deciding to offer credit next year?
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Just FYI: As an easterner who lives within countless gallons of always-flowing water, I’ve never once heard that Twain quote. Must be one of those California things, like being colder in August than in February.
You guys are lucky.