Friday, October 16, 2009

The Katan saga

So far the Courier's coverage of the current flap over Paul Katan's ballot status seems pretty straightforward, better then it has been on occasion. The comments are fascinating, in that so many people can blame him for filing suit and "costing the taxpayers money" after the judge has agreed that yes, the City screwed up and really is legally out of bounds.

Should Paul have done the big-man thing and quietly retired from contention when the City told him to sit down and shut up? I expect that argument only flies with those who would have liked him to sit down, shut up and not run again. And perhaps Paul learned a thing or two from Bush v. Gore a few years ago.

I've known Paul since he started getting involved politically years ago at Access13. In those days he similarly refused to shut up and sit down, it caused friction with the established order and got him chucked out of the room a couple of times. But he usually had a point, and the establishment learned that chucking him out did no good. We also learned that he is honest and conscientious, and while he keeps an eye on his ideals, he also knows how to express them in practical terms and work to build useful consensus.

I know directly that this lawsuit is not the path Paul would have chosen, rather that he feels bound by principle and loyalty to the people supporting his campaign. The City can't be allowed to get away with scotching his bid for office out of hand, no matter what his real chances are of winning. Our system of law is not based on who's the strongest. It's about a fair shake for everyone, and I applaud Paul for taking that stand.

Why things fall apart. A little on entropy for your Friday instant mind-expansion.

Editorial: SRP profligacy no real surprise

And the unnamed Courier editor's petty outrage is no surprise, either. But seriously, so what?

The editor fulminates breathlessly about executives of a big, overprivileged corporation throwing money around as if it's news. Sorry, editor, that's the norm in this country, and a large proportion of our voters are so used to it that they'll defend to the death a rich guy's right to spend the shareholders' dividends and the employee pension fund on whatever makes him happy, simply because that's how we measure success, after all.

I'd love to see the editor extend this logically and point out how drug and health-insurance companies hold us all hostage to their expense accounts, or how arms manufacturers find ways to gin up convenient wars. The editor might even find some common ground with Michael Moore on this if he were to really think it through.

But that's a forlorn hope. The editor is only peeved that SRP, using entirely legal means, is slowing down a certain massive public-works boondoggle that the editor thinks is a Good Thing. So he undertakes the only political tactic he can remember, which is to smear the opponent in hopes of making ill-informed people mad. This worked so well for Karl Rove, after all. Unfortunately all the public outrage in the world would have exactly zero effect on SRP. The company simply does not care, and it's above regulation.

I'm no fan of SRP, and I'm looking forward to the day the Legislature gathers enough political will to begin limiting the company's purview and power. So rather than sling gratuitous mud at SRP, I suggest that the editor put some effort into research on why the company's constitutionally secure position is a Bad Thing and what we can all do about it.