• The best piece I have seen on the extremism driving the government shutdown — and worse to come — is from Andrew Sullivan. "I regard this development as one of the more insidious and anti-constitutional acts of racist vandalism against the American republic in my adult lifetime." I highly recommend it.
• Ezra Klein writes, "Markets (still) aren't too worried about the debt ceiling. Sometimes markets are wrong." I examined this earlier this week: Default "is no longer just a scary story economists tell each other over campfires. It is barreling toward us." My column is here. Also, Wonkblog offers this useful primer to the issue.
• I find it telling that President Obama and Congress quickly ensured that the military would be paid. Forgive me for thinking of the Roman Empire and the power of the Praetorian Guard. One wonders what happens when our dysfunction reaches such a level that a new Caesar decides to take his legion across the Potomac. Meanwhile, we see plenty of stories about National Parks closed and GOPers escorting World War II vets into their memorial, but little about the poor and vulnerable being hurt.
• It's a laff riot, tears allowed, to watch the Scottsdale City Council try to "fix" the linear automobile slum that McDowell Road and other parts of south Scottsdale have become. They, after all, helped cause the problem by allowing car dealers to decamp north and, with the "I don't go south of Bell" mentality, otherwise neglect this area. It is the classic metro Phoenix problem of ageing mass-produced subdivisions divided by enormously wide highways called "streets." It is difficult to turn such an area into "a heritage corridor" aside from a drive-by illustration of tragic mistakes. This was once a wonderful area, with Los Arcos Mall and Coronado High School. But it always had the ticking time bomb of bad, car-centric civic design and the constant pull of the next real-estate hustle somewhere else. For all its money and even with ASU Skysong, Scottsdale is caught in the same mindset that perpetuates miles of blight across the region.
Some have asked me to "focus the conversation" better. Should I? Or is the open-thread format working?