The facts about Phoenix and Arizona are so numbingly, depressingly undeniable that I will offer a more impressionist view of the month I've spent there. What infuses everything is the heat. September was virtually impossibly to enjoy because of the constant drumbeat of 105 degrees or higher. Most people here have no memory of the time when the city started to cool down in September, just as they have no memory of the agriculture, shade trees, irrigation canals and much smaller urban footprint that made that cooling possible. So they either slog along, or brag with a bit too much frantic insistence that they don't have to tolerate Ohio winters. I hear people say moronic things like, "There are nine nice months and three hot months." Maybe in 1965 -- Now it's more like five nice months and seven of varying degrees of unpleasantness.
The follies continue at the government of one of the most populous counties in America, a county desperately in need of good government and urban solutions yet won't find them. There's a sense that the entire edifice will soon collapse in the face of federal investigations if not the vengeance of a righteous God. At Phoenix City Hall, meanwhile, absence is the biggest presence. Phil Gordon, who began his two terms as mayor amid so much optimism, is barely visible. City council has descended into a paralyzing partisanship. The economy of the entire metro area remains in a depression, and who really gives a rat's ass if the rich in north Scottsdale are still rich? As a result, every municipal government remains in crisis and can only cut back what were inadequate services even in "flush times."
The hysterical turbocharge from the Jim Crow anti-immigrant SB 1070 has dissipated but not before making the idiot Jan Brewer's election a near certainty. Those debate gaffes that amused America? That's her. And the Arizona GOP. And the Arizonans who will vote them back into office yet again. An electorate of long pauses and no thoughts. All the years of Republican governance here, the low taxes and bare regulation -- the state's fiscal situation is a disaster and the economy is a joke. No matter.