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November 09, 2018


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Sinema would win by a landslide in a Pacific Northwest or Yankeedom Senate election. Her winning the popular vote in her home state Arizona will be stolen by right wing kooks who run the place. The kooks are so much worse than the mafia.

I feel pretty much the same about "Independents" as I do about 3rd parties. Pick an approximate set of values and your party already. Some want to feel above it all I suppose. The NW valley, 303 corridor is sprawling rapidly with the same old stuff in the same old way, and much shares the same LD as the Sun Cities. And yet the newly arrived and young families filling those areas haven't budged the Republican stronghold in the NW valley this election. The Dems presented a full slate of first time candidates and had more PCs and volunteers than ever, so maybe something will budge in 2020 (or the Repubs will go the Trent Franks route). The 2022 redistricting should be interesting. But it's tough to be optimistic that enough are woke when the same voters who beat back prop 305 voted voucher architects back in. Like they say, there's no crazy without az.

I am very sensitive to the "purity test" liberals and recognize their folly, but in the case of Sinema, I at least understand that it is not always so simple. I voted for her while absolutely not trusting her. She supports (or said she does) sending troops to the border of Mexico. And she does not support allowing refugee children into our state. Knowing that she must somehow attract republicans in this desert Mississippi, she chooses really odd issues about which to turn rightward. I've watched her go from fire breathing liberal to something altogether different. She's the type of democrat that would vote no on impeachment if impeachment went that far. I like the D next to her name, and a couple of her dresses, but not her inconsistent ideology.

Once upon a time congress was a check on the president and the president was a check on congress.

These days it is imperative that we make sure that neither party controls the white house, the senate and the house. In the recent past, when one of the parties controlled all three entities, they didn't govern, they ruled by power and force. They shoved their agenda down our throats.

The modern day form of checks and balances is to let each party keep the other in check, since when left to their own, they abuse power. Cults don't govern, they RULE and BULLY their people.

I'm not a lawyer or an expert of any kind, but I don't see how the Republicans can monkeywrench the Arizona senatorial election. Sinema is ahead, so she has field advantage that will likely strengthen as the count goes forward.

It's a different story in Florida, which is why that drama is so gripping. The execrable Rick Scott is threatening legal action to protect his lead. This is not unprecedented since Florida Republicans did the same thing in 2000 in shutting down the recount of presidential votes. They then got a Republican SCOTUS to declare Bush the victor because of his 14th Amendment "rights". This is how authoritarianism looks. Democrats couldn't answer it without calling into question the very legitimacy of our constitutional governance. In hindsight we can now see that Republicans have utterly no scruples or reverence when it comes to free and fair elections. Their only principle is power.

I caught a meme on Facebook this morning that Democrats are finally rediscovering their true North Star in the presidency of FDR. This is a classic fairy tale in which a good man dared to dream big and made life better for everyone, unlike the neoliberal corporatists who since Bill Clinton have triangulated their way to being indistinguishable from the Republicans.

You have to give up a lot of historical context to believe this stuff, or more likely, be utterly ignorant of actual history. FDR governed during an unrepeatable moment in American history. We were mired in a grave economic crisis and a majority of Americans felt the distress personally. FDR was able to craft a set of responses precisely because of this. What upended the New Deal coalition was the cultural revolution of the 1960s. This in turn became the predicate of a political counterrevolution in which change itself was portrayed as the enemy. Pretty much everything since then has been an asterisk to this disruption along with and the misuse of "feelings" to justify corporate power over our political lives.

It's a minor irony that America's "left" has also decided that "feelings" matter more than reality itself since it's this phenomenon that turned the Republican Party into a full-blown cult and made our current descent in Trumpism inevitable. The problem is that liberals cannot answer in kind because we are not a tribe so much as a coalition. Wishing we were a tribe, like the Bernie Bros do, doesn't change this reality.

Social and economic anxiety leads to some fairly horrifying attempts at mood alteration. This is what we're doing today. 45% of Americans are fine with demagoguery and authoritarian rule. Another 10% are vague about it but not necessarily opposed. We on the left do not have the luxury of imagining these people being different than they are. This is what Trump has exposed in our body poltic: we are fearful, angry and easily bamboozled by charlatans.

This morning, Trump was asked a question about Michelle Obama's new book and her "contempt" for him personally. Trump deflected the question by accusing Barack Obama of "deflating" our military. Scapegoating is a classic technique of demagogues, so we shouldn't be surprised. But it's a reminder that democracies can fall apart very quickly when citizens weary of complexity and nuance. We're already there. If you're not worried, you're not paying attention.

"We on the left..."


Phoenix is not skin cancer capital of the nation. Apparently the Northern states have higher rates of melanoma and cancer than Arizona (https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/index.htm). Of course I only started paying attention to this after I had a stretch of skin cancer surgically removed from my back. Now I get my skin checked every six months, something that people from every political persuasion should agree on and participate in.

Trump's next move will be to introduce an infrastructure initiative. Democrats in a bipartisan spirit help pass it and the credit goes to Trump who ran on it but chose to give billionaires another tax break instead. Withholding support gives Trump a cudgel to beat the Democrats with.

We need the infrastructure bill but it won't do to give Trump another four years which is all too possible. Dems can help w/o folding (all too expected) by demanding the bill comes with funding achieved by recovering the revenue lost by 2018's tax cut-and under no other circumstances.

Thank you, Matt. Nicely said. Yes, Sinema is far better than McSally of course, but she is shady. Presents differently in every state where she speaks at fundraisers. In a state with a higher bar politically, she'd be examined past her looks and smarts.

Krystan Sinema will be the first elected Democratic senator elected from Arizona since 1988. This is an achievement not in spite of her "moderation" and squishy stands but because of them. You will not elect a liberal firebrand from Arizona because the demographics aren't there yet. Instead of complaining about reality or blaming Democrats for being pragmatic, celebrate the fact that someone much smarter than yourself realized what you have to do in order to win.

Sinema's political presentation will likely become more liberal as Arizona becomes more cosmopolitan. In the meantime, the choice is simple: either cut off your nose to spite your face (the go-to strategy of the Green Party) or understand politics has one overriding goal: winning. When it becomes about your purity, chances are you're a Beautiful Loser for whom nothing is ever quite good enough.

With all due respect. I "feel" bernies philosophical groupies had a pretty profound effect on this election. Hopefully the next two years will bring a melding of dreamers and "Realists."
PS. As more ballots got counted the campfire sputtered out tonite due to an out pouring of sobs and tears.

In case u missed it, Talton was at the Burton Barr (Republican) library tonite.
I can remember when Jon was a republican!

Cal, just imagine if Bernie's philosophical groupies had voted for Hillary. The nightmare we're living through, and democracy won't survive, might have been averted. Yeah, keep telling yourself lefty purity rituals wins elections in a country as racist and ignorant as ours.

Soleri, i guess i wasn't clear. I think bernies people finally saw the light enough to get some of them elected.

Soleri, the color in this election


soleri -

All animosities aside, please consider this good-faith perspective as re: Clinton.

Oh, god yes, Trump was (is) a horrible specter as regards to winning the presidency. And I won't dispute that the horror would have been avoided if Ms. Clinton had won.

But that is kind of the point. There is a different kind of danger when the country is in danger and the immediacy of the danger is not felt - I feel that a Clinton win (which I certainly hoped for after the Sanders loss) might have taken the edge off of our national emergency.

I will agree that Trump added to our national emergency in his quintessentially right-wing way, but we do have a status-quo emergency that is sheltered in the neoliberalism (please don't consign that term as something obtuse) that plagues the status-quo DNCC, and I fear that a Clinton victory would have "kicked the can" of that emergency.

One can say that Trump has put the emergency in our face. I hate it and I like it.

This country needs crazy structural and priority changes. While Trump flails about and makes foolery as he tries to play president*, there are notable things that he points out (like "why we spend so much on military?" and "wtf with the outsourcing?") that resonate even from his clueless reactionary "intuition" that bear reflection.

His xenophobia and racism is deplorable, and I wouldn't follow him to a public toilet, but he naively raises questions that the current "respectable" politic simply won't touch.

So I'd say that he's an inadvertent asset in the guise of a complete ass that we could well do better without even if he does raise important questions... inadvertently.

I guess I'm just trying to say that Hillary would have been just perfect for the PTB in that she would have continued the swept-under-the-rug policies that have plagued us since the post-Reagan/Clinton years.

I'm not a purist, despite all that you allege. I am an alarmist, because there is a great blaze creeping across the Republic.


Petro, I get that I'm a drone on this subject - the necessity of realism and political pragmatism. I'm not this way in order to be a killjoy. It's because there's no other way forward short of demanding a kind of ideological conformity that simply doesn't exist for Democrats. The right has a much easier time here because for them politics is more about cultural panic and white identity.

The two of us agree on 95% of policy goals and values. What we disagree on is the means of enacting them. That is, how do we get enough people voting for reasonably progressive candidates without scaring allies or emboldening opponents? It's a tricky game because we're playing on an unlevel playing field with the right, which has immense structural advantages in media, corporate donations, and our antique constitutional framework. We can't simply wish away the right's evil juju. It's a fact we have account for when we craft both messaging and policies.

The vague charge of "neoliberalism" doesn't help here since it's intrinsically ahistorical. The Democratic Party veered to the center out of an instinct to survive after the Reagan landslides and the ongoing decline in manufacturing and unions. When Walter Mondale ran for president in 1984, he announced himself as a New Deal Democrat who would tell the truth, that is the necessity of raising taxes. He was crushed even in the Rust Belt and by white working-class voters. This is why the DLC was born to find a "third way" out of what appeared to be a permanent impasse in our political purpose.

What Bill Clinton and Barack Obama showed is that Democrats can win who don't scare voters with tax hikes and sweeping policy proposals. Both presidents were demonized unrelentingly on the right as "socialists" nonetheless. The culture war began to supersede all other concerns as Republicans brazenly attacked the idea of an America where simple differences could be debated in good faith. Instead, it became a kind of cosmic mind-fuck where nebulous "values" mattered more than real-world issues. Republicans had unlocked and freed the dark energy of hate in our national conversation. Their party detached itself from real-world governance as it increasingly undercut the ideal and honor of self-government. It's this vandalism that leads directly to Trump.

The irony that perplexes both of us is that both Democratic and Republican voters largely want the same things - higher taxes on the rich, better and less expensive health care, gun control, infrastructure, and education. But when one party essentially controls the national conversation with made-up issues like migrant caravans, kneeling black athletes, and a War on Christmas, Democrats instinctively respond in kind. It's why left-wing identity politics can be both frustrating and inevitable - we want to change the subject but the other side has the megaphones while the media love a catfight because it mesmerizes all of us.

We're caught in the vortex of national psychosis with only a limited means of escape: a sweeping electoral victory that makes Republicans reassess their cynicism. I'm very pessimistic we can do this because Americans don't do realism all that well. Demanding Democrats go left in response to the right's insane culture war misses the problem altogether. Half this nation believes Democrats are very nearly satanic (see: Talton Fan Club). The far left and the entire right agree on something but it doesn't make the problem go away in which we're debating ideological phantoms and not actual issues.

You need two sane parties to govern. Period. You need two sane groups of partisans to vote. Period. Until we figure out a way to calm down the crazies on both sides, we're not going to accomplish anything. It's impossible without a national consensus. And the best evidence for that consensus will be centrists in both camps compromising for the good of the nation. Anything less is simply fantasy.

BTW, if you have time, I strongly recommend everyone read the link on The Front Pages, Rebirth of a Nation in Harper's Magazine.


Great stuff!

Soleri, even though you left town.
i remind you that you were and always will be a recognized member of the Talton Coffee Fan Club. I miss those days when you showed up at Urban Bean.
Sloper Cal.

Not long after Trump was elected, I posited that he may indeed make America great again because of what I was seeing in political energy, involvement and awareness among previously "unwoke" people, to use their vernacular. Nothing would underscore this more than the election of Sinema over an unabashed Trump toady, and who came to AZ I don't know how many times to campaign for her.

This is potent stuff, and yet there is still the quavering among the purists about Sinema. Soleri, continue to counter that argument as you so eloquently do, it blows my mind that people who vote for the 3rd party candidates--and I don't care if it's Jill Green or Ross Perot--are invariably voting FOR what they least want as an outcome. We live in what has become a two-party system, accept reality and deal with it.

Like the made up names that post here.
"Intellectual truckers with handles?
Cal Lash

Doggie, very true: elections in America are binary. The last time a 3rd party candidate won the presidency was, well, never. I like to tell people to vote for themselves. That is, vote for the coalition that most closely approximates your values and interests. The candidate per se is, in this sense, a figurehead you rally around. The power, however, is the coalition itself. That's your power if you're thinking clearly because it's unlikely a third party will ever have a broad enough coalition in order to win.

Had Al Gore and Hillary won their elections, we would now have a 7-2 liberal majority of the Supreme Court. We would have undertaken meaningful and far-reaching action on climate change. The EPA would be staffed with scientists instead of oil-industry hacks. There never would have been a Citizens United decision because there never would have been a John Roberts and Sam Alito voting for it. All that was necessary was the ironically named Green Party recognizing the broad contours of reality. Instead, their ideological purity helped leverage the exact opposite of their stated goals.

Coalitions are bulky and often frustrating because some of us want to make them reflect too exactly our own viewpoints. That's impossible. But in the real world, it's called democracy. This is what we give up when we make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Collate this:


I had my doubts but it seems enough Hispanics and free thinking Mormons showed up.


Congratulations, Kyrsten.

I saw on CNN this morning that Nancy Pelosi might not have the votes to become Speaker of the House. This kind of crap drives me nuts because she's been a remarkably effective leader for the Democrats, and one of the greatest Speakers in modern American history. But, she isn't telegenic, and the psy-ops specialists in right-wing media made her their go-to She Devil, occasionally alternating with Hillary Clinton in that role. So, we're at this point where we might decapitate a real leader for no better reason than some progressives buying into right-wing mind-fucks.

What is killing us politically on the left is out-of-control factionalism. There's only one progressive coalition, which we might as well call the Democratic Party. It can win elections because it doesn't make a fetish of its moonbeam idealism and sanctimony. It loses elections when it does. This isn't to say that strong progressives are incompatible with the party/coalition. They're a vital part of it. But they can't be the only part, which is why you need pragmatists. Nancy Pelosi gets this, which is why she earned her position. Yes, we need younger, fresher faces in the Democratic leadership. Still there is no one presently who comes close to possessing Pelosi's skills. In a better world, Pelosi would be popular precisely because she isn't a vacuous show horse like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But here we are...

Well said, Soleri.

Meanwhile, I am digging out of a nasty stomach bug so probably can't write this week. Thanks for your understanding.

Try chicken soup, Jon. It can't hurt.

Katie Hobbs i currently up by 13,171. Election night was a bit of a downer. Things have certainly improved. Give me an inch and I'll take it.

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