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December 18, 2013

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Maybe I'm mistaken, but I've never seen anything approaching a suburban style sub-division in Yarnell. What I do recall was lots of trailers, double-wide mobile homes(non-moving trailers)and little cute houses.

It was always the kind of haphazard housing you'd find in Globe or Safford, not like Prescott Valley or Flagstaff.

Were they clustered amongst boulders and brush? Yes. And were they close enough to the valleys and cliffs? Definitely.

One of the reasons you need a strong middle class is to have stakeholders in place who can weigh the good against the not-so-good. What happened in Arizona is evidence that perspective is a luxury usually denied to people who are not fully vested in the future of their community. They don't fully listen to the Lisa Simpsons of society because they see themselves as hapless Homers, people struggling to get by in a state that seems hostile to non-economic interests (abortion and guns excepted). The people who love Arizona are not enough. You need people who are on the fence but moved by the loss of the state's ineffable beauty. You get close to a majority when there's enough economic diversity and wealth to break the stranglehold of industrial monopolies. Arizona is not one of those states. Neither is West Virginia, which would just as soon blow the tops of its beautiful mountains for a few lumps of coal. Nor is Wyoming, which is fracking and strip-mining its own way to the apocalypse. States with strong and diverse economies can protect themselves and their future. Europe, for the most part, can do that as well. It's why cloudy Germany is the world's greatest solar power producer.

I'm going to disagree in advance here with Cal. You can't simply plant saguaros. You can't wish for Malthusian outcomes in order to save the environment. You need enough economic wealth to do that, which you can then leverage to counterbalance the power of the oligarchs. There is not enough counterbalance in Arizona, needless to say. The growth lobby runs the state, owns most of the media, and suffocates dissent. If you want to understand in a simple formula why it is insane to vote Republican, that's it.

Climate change is not being addressed in America for these reasons. Most 1st-World nations take it much more seriously than we do. This is why the right's attack on the commons is part of a larger conspiracy to disable democracy. Once people are struggling just to stay above water, the last thing they care about is the environment. The oligarchs get that. That's why their attack on the middle class goes hand and hand with an attack on environmental protections and regulations. It's almost a point of pride with them to spite the nation with grotesque income inequality and Goebbels-like political discourse. Once they crippled the middle class, it was like a panzer-romp through Belgium.

During the apogee of the American middle class, the government created the EPA, established clear air and water acts, even moved to protect endangered species. Imagine doing something like that today in America's politcal wasteland. Richard Nixon, no less, was the president then. The next Republican presidential nominee will probably propose killing the EPA outright. Behold your constitutional republic now, citizens. Instead of a balance of powers you have unchecked plutocrats buying political power wholesale. You might ask yourself if they can ever be rich enough. The answer is no.

Doh!

Soleri wrote:

"During the apogee of the American middle class, the government created the EPA, established clear air and water acts, even moved to protect endangered species. Imagine doing something like that today in America's politcal wasteland. Richard Nixon, no less, was the president then."

I can't argue with Soleri that Nixon's brand of Republicanism was quite different from that of a Mitt Romney.

Don't forget, however, that Nixon's creation of the EPA by means of an executive order was a way to consolidate -- in a single executive administrative body under the president's control (since he names the agency's director) -- the ennvironmental bodies and powers created by Congress in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

I know next to nothing about the EPA under Nixon but I'm always suspicious when a president gathers unto himself the threads of power under the appearance of facilitating the mission of his political enemies (a Democratic Congress). Republicans simply didn't have the political power to stand in the way of the environmental movement of the period. The best they could do would be to subvert it by bringing it under the control of a Republican executive and then using more subtle means to rein it in. Creating an executive-controlled environmental rule-making and rule-implementing body that topped all environmental entities in the country may have been the best way to do that.

There is also a broader point that is often overlooked by political commentators when examining the history of progressive legislation.

From 1933 through 2000 there was only a single, two year period when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress under a Republican president: the 83rd Congress (1953-55). That was well after the progressive legislation of FDR had been established and become popular, and well before later progressive legislation supported by President Johnson and others. As for tax cutting, Eisenhower himself had big plans for an interstate highway system and, as a good conservative, needed the revenue to balance the budget: so he was ready to veto tax cuts proposed by a Republican controlled legislation.

It was a very short, two year window of opportunity.

Congress was split for much of the Reagan administration (Republicans controlling the Senate and Democrats the House) hence the incentive for political compromise on the part of Reagan and Republicans in general.

Congress was fully controlled by Republicans during the latter 1990s but under Democratic President Clinton (with his veto power) compromise was again the order of the day, all the more because Republican control of Congress was on slim margins and they did not have the 2/3 supermajority needed to overrule presidential vetos.

By contrast, in the first two years of the Obama presidency, when Democrats controlled both the White House and both houses of Congress, some fairly liberal legislation was passed (e.g., Obamacare). As Soleri likes to point out, Democrats were still somewhat constrained by the lack of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and by the presence of conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

It seems to me, then, that, despite a fundamental shift of the political center to the right, the history of progressive legislation is one of Democratic power in practice.

From a resident of Flagstaff. thanks for writing this essay.
Which will get us first, the looming water shortage or the flames?:

"...the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson have the money and the political clout to lay claim to surface water and build dams and pipelines that can divert most of the state’s runoff and even groundwater supplies to the urban areas, he said...unless the state comes together to provide water for the future, the urban areas “will reach out and scavenge all the water in the state." - Massive State Water Shortage Looms

"...First, we must acknowledge that we’ve reached peak water in the American west. We have promised more water to users than nature provides. Until demand and supply are brought back into balance, groundwater levels will continue to drop and our rivers will continue to run dry, destroying natural ecosystems. Second, we must acknowledge that there are limits to new supply and that we must turn to the demand side of the problem. This means figuring out how to use water more efficiently and productively, and thinking about moving some water-intensive activities and products to more water-abundant regions...Finally we have to stop assuming that the water available for future use is the same as in the past. Climate change ensures that it won’t be, but until politicians start to heed the warnings of climate scientists and the on-the-ground evidence of the current water situation, our water problems in the west, and elsewhere, will worsen." - Peak Water in the American West

Yarnell a better investigation than the first.
http://www.azcentral.com/news/arizona/free/20131204arizona-wildfires-yarnell-safety-recommendations.html.

"I'm going to disagree in advance here with Cal. You can't simply plant saguaros. You can't wish for Malthusian outcomes in order to save the environment."
soleri, of course your are correct but I feel better when I toss it out there and someone responds with a better thought.

I know next to nothing about the EPA under Nixon but I'm always suspicious when a president gathers unto himself the threads of power...

This is how politics is supposed to work. Grubbiness! Intrigue! Insincerity! It's how a lifelong racist - LBJ - could engineer the epic civil rights legislation of our era. It's how Bill Clinton triangulated against congressional Democrats during crucial moments in his presidency. You want a president who never compromises? Well, there's the presidency of George W Bush, forever cultivating the aptly named "base". And our side has the alternative universe of President Ralph Nader. Or should I update that to Elizabeth Warren?

Nixon kept enemy lists and worked with Democrats. Odd to think that this brilliant paranoiac was actually planning legislation for universal health care before Watergate spoiled everything. Was Nixon a squish? A nebbish? No, but he understood history and he wasn't a counter-revolutionary romantic in the manner of Ronald Reagan. He couldn't have been because America was a centrist nation with a strong middle class. It's why Lewis Powell, surveying that landscape, wrote the pivotal memo back in 1971 detailing how the right could capture the discourse with think tanks and lobbying, a process that culminated in the 1978 Supreme Court case granting corporations First Amendment privileges.

Make no mistake: the right won this battle by confounding the middle class with culture war bullshit. Whispering "nigger" in the collective ear of the Duhs and Ignos still works (example: the Tea Party). It's why the Dumb White Voter phenomenon haunts this nation so grievously. But make no mistake: a strong middle class is the only effective counterbalance to corporate power. That no longer exists. It's why the right continues to drift ever further into extremism. Call it American Weimar. The corporate coup could only work if it convinced the middle class that it was under attack from "others". The others were not the Jews and they didn't have to be. They could, in fact, be the least powerful, most disadvantaged group in America. Once political discourse took up residence in our reptilian brain, the battle was lost.

Excellent comments Emil and Soleri.
From a friend of mine reference the New Times article and is relative to this issue.

"cal
thanks. of course they are right about the water. i think the real limit to phoenix (and tucson and the whole state of new mexico) is economic. they are colonial economies living on federal dole and pensions and both will diminish. the water sources while redundant will also decline. but in the end, phoenix must find an independent economic reason to exist. so far, it has not."
C

And so they suspended this Duck Dynasty character for making homophobic remarks and there is outrage! The "Duhs and Ignos" are circling the wagons and lighting up Facebook with their support for this bigot.

I like the way modern social media seduces morons and entices them into the sunlight.

Don't forget he's a homophobe too. But really, is anyone surprised a backwoods redneck thinks this way? No doubt it will help sales of their Xmas CD. You should see the reaction to a HS in Florida dumping the Nathan Bedford Forrest name (foisted on in it in the 1950s by the Daughters of the Confederacy -- the students and parents democratically preferred the Valhalla Vikings).

xraymike wrote: "...First, we must acknowledge that we’ve reached peak water in the American west."

But have we? In 2010, agriculture accounted for 70 percent of Arizona water use, according to the Lincoln/Sonoran Institutes. Even in Maricopa County agriculture accounted for 47 percent of water use.

http://www.sonoraninstitute.org/images/stories/2010/WLWEC/Fact_Sheet.pdf

That leaves a lot of room for growth as agriculture is either forced to become more water efficient or declines as urbanization reduces agricultural acreage.

Also a variable is per capita water use. Regulations governing everything from lawn watering to car washing to shower flow rates to toilet flushes can extend water supplies. Of course, that assumes enforcement -- a big if, but to some extent it can be built into available market supply.

soleri wrote:

"This is how politics is supposed to work. Grubbiness! Intrigue! Insincerity!"

Still, principles should figure strongly into any pragmatic compromise.

Progressives consider today's Democratic Party to be weak, but consider who passed Reagan's first big tax cut package? The highest personal federal income tax rate in 1981 was 70 percent; in 1982 the rate dropped down to 50 percent. But Democrats in the 97th Congress (1981-83) controlled the House of Representatives 242 to 192.

In 1987 the top rate dropped to 38.5 percent; in 1988 it dropped to 28 percent, with both changes due to the Tax Reform Act of 1986. During the 99th Congress (1985-87) Democrats controlled the House 253-182.

That was some compromise!

The middle class in the US isn't coming back. To a great extent, the middle class heyday in the US between 1946 and 1972 was funded by a US economy which dominated exports to the world. Today's technology facilitates globalization of labor and the worldwide suppression of middle class wages. In 1970 it was manufacturing labor, today it is highly skilled professional work.

It is and will be a predator's economy of eat or be eaten. The real estate swindlers in Arizona exemplify this ethos.

BURN BABY BURN

I have asked some folks to look at this and get back to me.
http://www.sonoraninstitute.org/images/stories/2010/WLWEC/Fact_Sheet.pdf

Maybe a fact: "That leaves a lot of room for growth as agriculture is either forced to become more water efficient or declines as urbanization reduces agricultural acreage."
But we want more Urbanization?
I have been wearing a filter mask the past few days to keep from chocking to death on the foul air.
But technology will save us just as will god. As god lives in silicon valley.
Malthus had it pegged and I just bought a 100 pounds of Sahuaro seeds.

I love how Stern in his NT piece scoffs at the predictions of climate scientists but accepts the word of business leaders and bureaucrats uncritically.

I love how Stern in his NT piece scoffs at the predictions of climate scientists but accepts the word of business leaders and bureaucrats uncritically.

It's a sign how barren Phoenix has become as a civic enterprise that there's really no place for even the most anodyne dissent. Why on Earth would anyone want Phoenix to continue to grow? So you can sell more sex ads in the back pages of your "alternative weekly"?

No one fully knows how climate change will shake out in the coming decades. But let's stipulate that it's not likely to be kind to the planet, particularly its desert regions. Putting a happy face on this catastrophe is what The Wall Street Journal is for. An investigative report that validates the governing paradigm is worse than an insult. It's a betrayal to the few people who want Arizona to be more than a desert-gobbling leviathan. What a horrible piece of Chamber of Commerce puffery.

a quick research of Sonoran institute and Lincoln institute of land policy:
Several real estate developers on this board:
http://www.sonoraninstitute.org/about-us/board.html

And a former board member and still emeritus member.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/us/politics/22diamond.html?pagewanted=all

The web site is cited as a "fact sheet"
but whose facts?

Cal, Don Diamond swings a big bat in Tucson, a city where there was a culture of dissent during the 1970s. Along with Jim Click, the car dealer, he bankrolled the counterattack on Tucson's slow-growth movement. I think this points out, once again, how political movements can't simply be expressions of purer-than-thou ideologies. There has to be a strong middle class with an interest in preserving the best of Arizona. It's to Tucson's credit that it actually did have such a movement 40 years ago, in marked contrast to its soulless big brother to the north. BTW, the Tucson Weekly is still a much better rag than New Times, but even it could't withstand the pressure to silence the dissenters. I watched in horror over the years how it fired some of its best writers for treason against the local growth machine.

The best movie ever made about the politics of growth and water was 1973's Chinatown. It was startling to see an entertainment possess such stunning political clarity. The character Noah Cross (played by John Huston) was the composite identity of every western plutocrat selling off Eden for power and wealth. Cross was a rapist, literally and figuratively (the movie pulled no punches here, which was doubly ironic considering that it was directed by Roman Polanski). In the end, evil triumphed in LA, and it has triumphed in Arizona. I'm not naive about human nature. We're killer apes at our core who dress up our rampages with religion and "good works". Ponder Kemper Marley (or his loyal deputy, Jim Hensley) for a Phoenix version of that darkness. Arizona is lost because it never grew a middle class durable enough to create the institutional bulwarks you see in more enlightened places (e.g., almost any blue state). You want to scream about it but that won't change who we are. Arizona simply grew too fast for people root deeply in its soil. Riches more than saguaros and unblemished mountains explain why we came here. Ditat Deus (translation: Fast and Cheap.)


I watch Jack in Chinatown once a year usually in the summer. As I watch Elmer Gantry each year around xmas time.
More later have to go for a hike.

Arizona may be lost, but going down will be costly. Plus, I hate liars and stooges. Plus, I have some faith in putting out one outlet that seeks to provide a reality check on what's happening there.

So I keep writing this blog. And your comments make it much better.

I hope you're not sick of me.

Jon your column kick starts my day.
The planet may spinning off into outer space but as long as I can snort the Melange of your writing I will be in a good place.
From Still suit cal

Rogue, reading your blog and your friends comments are like finding ground, something solid in a world that floats as the wind blows.

Rogue Columnist is simply the best read!

CHINATOWN is numero uno.

"I hope you're not sick of me."

I hope you're not sick of us. Do you remember the olde JB Bayless store, Blakely glasses, Dyke and the Blazers etc....?

I remember going to college in Flagstaff and explaining to other students the actual meaning of "Doin' that Funky Broadway."

Maybe we need a "Phoenix characters 101." I remember Dyke and the Blazers, and when Dyke was killed, and even vaguely by whom. But who remembers Dingo, the little black guy with the bag full of live rattlesnakes-he was killed out by his hometown, Allenville...or was it Allentown? One-time black community out west of town, near the river bottom. I imagine Cal remembers Skippy Brazil and his mattresses from Mexico, and how he met his awful and ironic fate. Anyone remember the pudgy little guy who thought he was Elvis, and had a bevy of young women egging him on? He could only get through about one line of Hound Dog, so when they showed up somewhere, the novelty could wear thin fast. Heard that his father owned that south Phoenix supermarket, Milt's Food Fair, or Food City. Kaye The Dyke, who drove a Caddy convertible, dressed like Porter Wagoner, and always had a couple of beautiful young women beside her. Think she owned a nightclub, but not sure. Sorry about that off-topic digression, but Headless Lucy mentioned Dyke, and I remembered that Phoenix used to be a weird little city. Just had to scratch the surface and put yourself out there.

For your week end
2000 pages c0ndensed down to understandable.

http://daily.sightline.org/2013/12/16/the-entire-ipcc-report-in-19-illustrated-haiku/

I remeber Skippy and how is attorney got $50000 grand up front and then pled him out to a terrible sentence.
And I remember Monk and Bulldog and The Curve restaurant, the White Russians and the Pachucos and Ciots ball room where Jack Elam lost his eye in a fight and on and on. gotta run, mas tarde

Thanks, Cal, Suzanne, Drifter and Lucy. Pat: I will add that to the list.

I posted this last night on Facebook:

It takes some brass for S&P to downgrade Phoenix's credit rating, considering that Phoenix was allowed to sleepwalk into the housing crash because the same agency and its siblings declined to apply the same rigor to the Wall Street grifters that created the rackets in the first place. Of course, Wall Street and big finance were/are very important/lucrative clients.

Now Phoenix's austerians will want to do even more "belt tightening" -- which of course will hurt the city's ability to make investments in infrastructure and economic development, thus hurting the economy even further. Well played.

Urban Bean meet went well.
Lots of words tossed around.
Inviting S I Hayakawa for next meet.
Some topics of discussion
CIA Secret Hero medal to James Clapper.
Putin gets Nobel peace prize for Pardoning Pussy Riot and giving Snowden a place to live.
CIA priorities for 2014
Traitor Snowden
Enemy reporter Greenwald
Uruguay Marxist president Jose Mujica
Obama for shaking hands with Raul Castro

I thoroughly enjoyed our discussions. Thanks, e-dog & cal.

You were missed, Reb.

what will keep the Valley of the sun and smog going for a while:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/22/winter-storms_n_4490786.html

Never miss your column RC (or coffee!). Keep on truckin'.

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