More on my fiction writing

« Maps of Phoenix | Main | Growing up, in photos »

August 17, 2021

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Thanks for another thoughtful column on our firebird city. This town won't see growth like before, and in most ways, that's a good thing. The big issue is diversification from construction and hospitality. Phoenix is diversifying, but we're still a "branch office" town for the most part. In a world where offices in general won't be as important.

Another excellent article Rogue. Thank you.

I have a friend that left Phoenix after many years for what he describes as Eden.
Nixa Missouri!
Here by the mountain its turned green. Lots of rain. Very Humid.
Good spaghetti at the old Dairy Queen in Superior but the Road to Miami washed out.
1960 Phoenix was a nice Village.
Even better in 50.

Consider for Front Page candidacy, from the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/16/climate/colorado-river-water-cuts.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

In a First, U.S. Declares Shortage on Colorado River, Forcing Water Cuts

Arizona farmers will take the initial brunt, but wider reductions loom as climate change continues to affect flows into the river.

So ... yay for Phoenix being No. 5?

After the 2008 crash, I thought Phoenix was done - I believe I even wrote those words in this space. But brave predictions can be foolhardy as any would-be pundit soon discovers. The escape from my hometown hell turned into a much worse hell in Portland, where we're taxed like New York City but governed like a hippie commune.

What did Phoenix do right? Nothing beyond giving people what they want. Say, stuccoed chalets with EZ-care front yards, wide roads to drive on, and plenty of big-box shopping. Laugh all you want, but it's hard to argue with that success, fraudulent as it may likely become in the not-so distant future.

Phoenix in 1950 was a flawed paradise. So were many if not most American towns and cities. Look at pictures from that time period and you'll see a lovely town centers, architecturally coherent and well-ordered, along with stately bungalows on shaded streets. My mother's hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma, was gorgeous in a way Phoenix never was. Today, it's as forgettable as any drive-through exurban agglomeration.

Could Phoenix be a better city today if we had done things better or differently? Well, maybe, although it's difficult to argue with a hypothetical. In the 1970s and '80s, Portland did everything right, from growth boundaries to effective mass transit, and it's failing spectacularly in 2021

Phoenix (or, The Valley) had a skill set, which defined it for better or worse. Build fast and cheap and let the market determine its ultimate destiny. It was never going to be a great city for that reason. There are no Edens with 1.6 million motorized consumers. Can anyone think of a great city that came of age in the post-war period? Neither can I, and that is probably our collective tragedy as a species.


What will the city's rank be when the spigot runs dry?

I hear ya, Cal, the transformation of vegetation with the mega monsoon this summer is remarkable. Saguaros that looked to be done for have plumped up to epic proportions in just a few weeks. South Mountain turned from brown to green just as quickly.

Not just Phoenix, but the model for the American economy is the cancer cell, unlimited unfettered growth--until it can't...

Harking back to an earlier discussion about livability, this caught my eye:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/08/11/climate/deaths-pacific-northwest-heat-wave.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20210812&instance_id=37748&nl=the-morning&regi_id=130225432&segment_id=66041&te=1&user_id=6f3e857b62dba555f91bf3e4df436edf

Soleri, I had forgotten that we had Lawton in common. I worked for the newspaper there for a couple of years. Lawton bulldozed its interesting downtown and built a mall. And this is an Army town, hardly the most beautiful or prosperous in Oklahoma (OKC has done some good things downtown). Lawton avoided a downtown slum and mall-anchored edge city, but at such a dreadful cost.

I was kicked out of Phoenix for calling the crash, writing about tetchy issues such as water, dangerous ones — especially history. I had hoped to live in Willo for the rest of my life, but it was not to be. I can take some pleasure in light rail (WBIYB), the Biomedical Campus, ASU downtown, convention center, and infill — all causes I championed.

Seattle has been hurt by a move from pragmatic liberal city leadership to the "woke" far left. But, unlike Portland, it's a Superstar City with such a diverse economy and so much depth that it still is a wonderful place to live.

I'd go back to Willo if I had the money, but I chose the wrong parents. And I'd be going to the losing side of America.

“Phoenix in 1950 was a flawed paradise.”
Soleri, in 1950 you were about 4 years old. Your Phoenix city experiences while living (8 miles from “downtown”) in the Slope were probably trying to catch the gold fish that swam in and outside your house. A big day might have been going up the hill to North Mountain Hospital and chatting it up with the monkeys your dad kept. One of which Ed the Phoenix cop shot and killed. Ed got fired later.

Phoenix was a flawed Paradise as a result of European genocidal occupation of the Americas. Resulting in T.R. approving the building of dams. Dams are one of “manunkinds” biggest mistakes.

At 81 with 71 years in the Great Sonoran Desert I watch daily as the apartments and trailer courts and large homes for those wealthier old rapidly dot the sand landscape. No ocean to wash them away Just floating Icebergs to provide the life sustaining water.

Your reasons for moving to Portland governed by hippies are your reasons. What I find in interesting is a “Hippie” government in the midst of a state that originally appeared to become a state for “whites only.”

Meanwhile Manifest Destiny in the United States lives on. Now what to do about migration from Afghanistan and Mexico and Central and South America. Already Whites appear to have achieved Minority status. Definitely requires an Audit?

And speaking of great maps:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldseem%C3%BCller_map
When the “spigot goes dry” was covered in the introduction by Charles Bowden in the 2nd edition of Killing the Hidden Waters.
The Fire Next Time is here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/09/fires-rage-around-the-world-where-are-the-worst-blazes

"I'd go back to Willo"
Jon the folks in Willo didn't want you to leave.
But as when you departed, Phoenix now and in the future cannot offer you the benefits of Seattle and other "great" cities.

I regularly visit Arizona museums and notice that they are struggling to stay alive.
Lunch at the Phoenix Art museum is good.

The future of great cities.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/222093.City

Cal, do you self-flagellate for being white or for being an occupier? There are, however, no innocent human beings despite the compulsion to divide our species into "woke" and "evil". This is what drives me nuts about Portland, btw. It's full of kids, who having maybe read a bumper sticker once, decide that their skin-deep grasp of reality entitles them to judge other human beings. Calvinism is an interesting religion, and you are aptly named given your tendency to see yourself as saved.

Soleri. Yes all that. I look up the big words after my nap.
Glad U liked my posts

"Calvinism"?
I'm more into Luddism with a Hunter/gatherer mentality.

Lawton OK. That makes three of us.
I passed thru Lawton in the winter of 95 and stayed with my Army kids for a couple of days on my backing venture to DC. Except for the Armys occassional gun range practice I found it to be a quaint tree lined town. I got a hair cut and a massage for ten bucks. And then moved on to stay with a out of prison armed robber at his family ranch on the Red River. Before heading to Dallas and a look at the JFK memorial and contacting an old pal that was the current Dallas police Chief.

Soleri the excellent article in Jon's Front Pages support your comments.
"The case against crisis mongering."
By Matthew Yglesias.
It's raining here.

Really miss that Dairy Queen in Superior. Great place to visit after a hike. Also miss the stockyards below the Stockyards, East High School, cottonwoods next to the ditches and canals, AiResearch, sitting on a car hood at 40th Street and Sky Harbor watching planes arrive and depart, and four-wheeling in the Salt river bed after the night shift.

Back in the early 50's When there was only Terminal One at Phoenix Sky Harbor my parents idea of fun on the weekend was to sit on the terminal roof with a picnic lunch and watch the planes come and go.
Since highway 60 is awash now is a good time to take a right in Superior and travel to Winkleman and take a left up the highway along the Gila River and into Globe.
Globe still has a few fine old structures and an OK museum.
And some old
real Spaniards as old as a 107 and still driving. The rain has stopped for a bit.. Its been a good traditional Monsoon. Finally!

Electricdog
You ever eat at the Left Seat restaurant on Airline Drive?
Lots of old eateries are gone
as are Bill and Rabitt.

My apologies if this is too far off the subject, but some of the ads in this article about "Bachelor's Beat" from 1969 might be of interest to the people who were here during that time. Don't know why I didn't post it in the past.

https://flashbak.com/bachelors-beat-march-7-1969-part-1-59119/

@Soleri, I value your contributions in the comments. But please, please dial down the woke outrage.

You ever hear the youngest millennial and Gen-Z cohort, whom are your foils, say "OK boomer"? You're becoming the "OK boomer" guy. Never become the "OK boomer" guy.

It's the ultimate dismissal, since there's no retort or defense to the boomer label. It's like being shoved into quicksand; trusting your instincts will harm you.

I have my own criticisms with the same factions you refer to as woke. Oh, and as a heads-up, no one self-describes as woke anymore. Just like no one self-describes as a hipster or a yuppie. "Woke" is a slur that describes a caricature of a person and not a label someone earnestly identifies with. Reactionaries love to say it to puff themselves up.

I know where these youthful, energetic activists are coming from. It doesn't mean I align with them, and I have specific criticisms of them. But in order to lob an effective criticism, you have to understand their values first to see their weak spots and deficiencies.

Otherwise, you come off as a reactionary. Younger adults have a superior defense and criticism to be unswayed.

Bobson, I'm neurotic about a lot of things, but I'm mostly free of the worry that I might seem insufficiently hip to America's teenage sophisticates.

That said, I do feel pathetic when I think my opinions matter even one whit. Thanks for the humility reminded. As much as we vent and spew, we don't change anyone's mind here or elsewhere.

"I chose the wrong parents." You too? I still kick myself for mot being born to rich folks.

John Mcwhorter and Andrew Sullivan recently did good columns on WOKE.

Bobson, I would love to be educated about what the kids values are and where they are coming from.

Granted, I don't have lot of data points beyond what I see at the gym and in bars and restaurants, but their primary values seem to be manifested by phones, tattoos and piercings, in that order of importance. I rarely see an engaged conversation or much awareness of others.

100 octane:
Loved the BB print. The Hi-Liter was one of my "offices" during that period. Noel want on to bigger and better things, i.e. legitimate theater and even appearances on Wallace and Ladmo that was the big time in Phoenix then.
The real star at the Hi-Liter was a big tall blond named Haley. She even managed to lose her "top" after a significant bribe one night.
I fell to earth in Phoenix in 1937. One can only imagine the changes I have have since then.
Today we are building houses where Coyotes and rabbits had trouble making a living.
Once again to the hustings: WE ARE SCREWING OURSELVES OF A PLACE TO STAND!!!

@DoggieCombover, a good place to start to learn about Millennials and Gen-Z are the Pew Research surveys. Pew's polls are really robust and broad-based.

Start here: https://www.pewresearch.org/topic/generations-age/

Enter "pew millennials" (without quotes) and you will also get similar generation-based surveys and research from educational institutions.

The gist: Millennials and zoomers are on the left side politically and socially, and across generations, are more progressive than their generational cohorts at a similar age.

Also, much to the horror of _ucker Carlson and the Trumpvolkisch, demographically the Great Replacement has been afoot since the 1980s. More babies are nonwhite and mixed-race. The U.S. is also becoming more metropolitan, so that means they are living in areas that are going to be maladaptive toward Trumpian-flavored rightwing politics. Blue cities are more strongly blue, and suburbs are heading in that direction if not already there.

Something else going on: A demographic truism has been that Republicans can win on age alone as people turn conservative as they get older. Generation X (disclosure: I'm in this cohort) put a stop to that.

Older X'ers who came of age in Reagan's time (the '60s children) might have been brought into the Republican fold, but younger X'ers (the '70s children) had George W. Bush as our Trump. Since we hadn't entered middle age yet, and we were the Iraq and Afghanistan war fighters -- the Dubya era gave us two wars we lost and the Great Recession that wiped out a chunk of our wealth.

For these younger X'ers and millennials who came of age in Obama's time, the social and economic conditions under Obama's presidency were much better coupled with being witness to history of America's first Black president who also happens to be great, Obama may be the Democrats' Reagan. There's very little likelihood of X'ers swinging rightward for the foreseeable future.

@Bobson Dugnutt, your optimism (I think?) reminds me of soleri, long ago, when I first started following the comments here.

43000 votes across 3 states and Trump would have been in an electoral college tie. Despite all of Trumps obvious failings and criminality. Along with the Republican gains in the House, I fail to see things getting better soon. Actually never.

Not looking to argue, and I hope I'm wrong. But democracy seems to be moving backward in a lot of places, including the USA.

America's multicultural/multiracial democracy depends on a national identity that binds us together as a nation. That's mostly gone now, which accounts for the unhinged rancor in our political lives. The center no longer holds. While we might want to think elections manifest emerging realities, the truth is that they're much more likely lagging indicators. The various forces that constitute culture and identity are too complicated to put on a ballot or craft into a dominant belief system. You are, of course, welcome to try. America's youthful idealists will soon discover the revolution requires more grit than their sanctimony can deliver.

America is now a post-modern nation desperately trying to reconstruct its center from random segments of the fringe. This is why Bobson's analysis seems naively optimistic. The youthful left is, sorry to say, "woke". They are earnestly illiberal in the sense that they use their collective hunch as an opportunity to police thoughts. The hope here is that they can use their group authority to create a coherent national identity from obscure academic theories like CRT and other aspects of identitarian politics. The problem is that reality is not so easily crammed into such ideological pigeonholes.

Portland has turned me into a "reactionary" because its leftish certitude is inherently unstable. The basis of any functional society is good order. It you believe, like America's new authoritarians, that order matters less than justice, you will soon discover you have neither. The former is the predicate. The latter is the hoped-for outcome.

The old center, which I belonged to, was post-war liberalism. It allowed for differences of opinion because it reflected the center in a country more alike than unalike. Now that it's collapsing, we are free to ponder which "authority" speaks to us individually. I'm opting out because I don't need semi-literate children telling me what to think, or white nationalists telling me who to hate.

In my view, optimism would presume a level playing field. That doesn't exist and is only likely to get worse with the gerrymandering orgy that will soon be taking place. Republicans control the majority of state houses and with the built in advantage in the Electoral College, it's anything but level. Blue places becoming bluer means nothing in that algorithm. I'd not bet against a Republican Congress in the next election.

Reasons to be optimistic!
The USA has over 750 military bases around the world and 175 years of military intervention in other countries.
And then there's Charlie Kirk who has eased into Limbaugh's spot.
And the War at home.
My advice
Do not do the WOKE at the Highlighter.

@Soleri, to paraphrase the late Donald Rumsfeld -- You go to war with the reality you have, not the reality you might want or wish to have at a later time.

I believe I mentioned it on the comments once before but it bears repeating. Wokeness is wrong. Magaism is wrong. Believing wokeness and magaism are equally awful is Wronger than Wrong.

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wronger_than_wrong
RationalWiki (funny): https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Wronger_than_wrong

Wokeness is bothersome. Magaism is an existential threat.

I completely understand why many of us regard wokeness (or synonyms intersectionality, identity politics, etc.) as a threat. For one, it acknowledges rationality but sets its aside for being fraught.

Two, the ideology is received wisdom from the ivory towers. For plebeians, we have no way of engaging or critiquing the material because we are not steeped in the culture of the ivory tower. The most telling aspect of wokeness is its fastidious, overly complicated language.

Three, and this is where I think the core of our objections lie, is that a lot of us here are cis, straight white men with at least a college education and do or did at one time attend a Christian church. Wokeness scapegoats us and our inherent privileged social position as the source of the psychological, physical and material suffering of those outside the group.

Well, no surprise that we're bothered. It's natural for us to not want to be scolded by women. It's natural for us to not want to be second-guessed for our advantages when our national creed and Protestant interpretations of Scripture imply individual agency determine our life trajectory. It's an affront to us to see identical sexes express affection for one another or resistance to gender-conforming roles.

I get that.

Continued ...

Continued from above.

You know what, though? We can, and should, see wokeness as bothersome.

However, here's why I remain optimistic that the US will not drown in wokeness.

1. Identity politics has a water's edge that leaves most of us parched. It just doesn't have much appeal, not even among populations identity politics intends to write historical wrongs for.

See the work of The Liberal Patriot, whose authors back up voters' sentiments with polling results and surveys.

https://theliberalpatriot.substack.com/

2. Identity politics is doomed because it is Deeply Theoretical. It's the academic equivalent of being Extremely Online in internet culture.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremely_online

Marxism is a Deep Theory ideology. On the right, libertarianism is also a Deep Theory ideology. Liberalism and conservatism, on the other hand, have the lived experience of wielding power and seeing its limits and feeling its consequences and have learned to be morally elastic to survive.

Deep Theory fully forms an idea through an analysis, then through practice tries to make real-world assessments to conform to theory. Marxism inevitably expresses itself through revolutionary communism. What's the first thing that happens when communists capture power? Huge populations of people die of famine. Libertarians set out to create intentional communities of like-minded believers and collapse almost immediately. Their results mirror this amusing Vox article:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/21534416/free-state-project-new-hampshire-libertarians-matthew-hongoltz-hetling

Three, it shows ideological elasticity is important because the American left at least exhibits the capacity to put aside differences and be able to simultaneously respect boundaries and live outside of them.

The Democrats have a challenge. Republicans win because of demographic homogenity. Whites are the majority of the country, and Christianity is the majority religion. The modal Republican is a married white evangelical male who is in the upper-third tax bracket, and America's political regime gives this voter a house advantage.

On the other hand, the Democrats are defined by being a majority out-group party. They have to aggregate a policy that alienates as few people as possible. (If you look at the internal dynamics of Democratic voters, you'll see coalitions of mutually hostile identities. The majorities of Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Pakistanis, and trade unionists and environmentalists are Democrats. It's impossible to advance the interests of one without alienating another.)

Yet there is a minority in the Democratic coalition: cis-het white males who've for some reason stayed Democratic despite the swings toward Nixon, Reagan and Trump.

This is an essay I encourage you to read. Science fiction author John Scalzi wrote a piece by a white man, for white men like him, and explains the nut of wokeness angst why it's so hard for us to accept criticism. It's called "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is."

Here is the essay: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

Here is his response to the 12 most common objections he's received: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/17/lowest-difficulty-setting-follow-up/

Wanta be woke
Read Jon's Front page article
"The All American Base World"
from the Tom Dispatch

I know the part about being scolded by women from an early age. My twin sister became a evangelical Christian as a teenager. What animated her was not just the "conviction" in her heart but a thirst for justice. Jesus was the means to achieve this on Earth, and she was more than eager to let people know what they had to do - or not do - to deserve His love and compassion.

Some 60 years later, she's still animated by justice but without the Jesus part. She's now "woke" from within, convinced that if humans shared, played fair, and redressed all inequities, that life in this earthly vale of tears would finally resolve on behalf all those left behind. Karl Marx may have pointed the way forward but the new dispensation has less to do with class than race and gender.

Anytime we mix volatile categories, say, politics and religion, we're asking for trouble. Even if you could convince white males that they have undeserved "privilege", you could never quite translate this into a constructive engagement with actual political issues. Is it unfair that white men have more power than, say, black women? Only if you think categories of identity are somehow central to our civic life.

A bigger problem is the airy abstraction called "justice", which even if we could rigorously define it still wouldn't exist in the real world. Making it the linchpin of political life is as insane as demanding we all love one another. Yes, it's a noble sentiment but politics necessarily takes place in this world of partial and imperfect people. What this would amount to in practice is a kind of chronic mind-fuck where we quibble about fairness to the point that the process itself freezes up.

What's poignant about this moment in our political life is just how much progress traditional liberalism was making before the zealots upped the ante and decided progress wasn't quite good enough, that we needed to have complete equality or the whole process was a sham. But short of bringing back the gulag, I doubt there's any way humans can enforce rigid codes of belief and conduct without a significant part of the population opting out altogether. This explains, at least partly, the zeal Republicans have to run against CRT since they can easily see just how alienating this ideology will be to the "unwoke", which is a majority of voters.

I admit to be being unsympathetic to the idealists. History is full of manic actors sowing the wind while their fellow countrymen reap the whirlwind. Ideologues practice a kind of moral myopia where only they know the truth. This is obnoxious, to say the least. Often, it becomes deadly, as we saw through much of the 20th century. That said, many people are easily seduced by grand cosmological explanations for human history and life. Righteousness is its unmistakable signal, forever flashing its dazzling lights into the eyes of the transfixed and certain.



Bravo!

Cal, I have eaten at the Left Seat from the '60s to '90s. Also enjoyed picking up my Dad at the original terminal before Terminal 2 got built.

Thanks electricdog
Im back from my Ashura event.

Flagellatism for being an occupier? "There are, no innocent human beings despite the compulsion to divide our species into "woke" and "evil"."
Maybe?
https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/8/21/white-women-washing-the-uss-civilising-mission-in-afghanistan

Soleri, we are living on the precipice indeed. I don't offer optimism. I don't offer pessimism. Do I know things will get better or worse? I have no idea. I am trying to guess correctly.

I am not emotionally or morally invested in wokeness or the fashoid galaxy centered around Donald Trump. Well, I am actively hoping for the annihilation and disintegration of the fashoid galaxy and get another 80+ years of prosperity and progress like we got by being on the right side of World War II.

I'm arguing that there are 81 million people in the U.S. right now -- spanning from wokes to progs to liberals to centrists to a couple million or so Republicans and Lincoln Project types -- who guessed correctly that the U.S. has manifold problems and the way forward is to have heated disagreements and disappointments over who gets to hold economic, political and cultural power.

Just like the U.S. has had throughout our 250-or-so years. We've had out-groups throughout our history incorporated into the in-group and the result has been an expansion of patriotism. (Again, I encourage you to read the Liberal Patriot Substack to see the promise and peril for the Democratic coalition, but the common thread is that the love of our nation is never in doubt on the left side.)

I will say this in caps, and in bold: WOKENESS IS NOT A THREAT. It has very limited appeal and it's not even gaining traction among Democrats who, you know, actually vote. Lawmakers don't have the bandwidth to turn theory into policy, and politicians and voters alike are woke (sorry) to how radioactive it is at the ballot box.

The sentiment has a water's edge and it is a fashion that will come and go according to its own logic, and it will end in not a bang but a whimper. Here's how: The overeducated college students who embrace X-idpol will grow up and realize that real life is nothing like college. They'll have to work, please family and friends, and pay bills. X-idpol doesn't solve this.

I predict "woke" beliefs peak right around age 26. (Adulthood really begins when Obamacare kicks young adults off their parents' health plans and they'll need to make themselves employable. ;) )

I also predict that a lot of urban activism in big cities will disappear when we start to invest in higher education. If Peter Turchin is right about elite overproduction theory, activists don't want social change. They want tenure.

It'll be a continuation of the American dream, however people will define it.

If magaism continues its forward march, we can expect the American nightmare.

We've survived four years of a kakistocracy (a Greek term literally meaning "rule by shit"), and the durability of Republicans and 74 million Trump voters shows that less-than-a-majority of Americans yearn for a kakistarchy (a civilization composed of shit from top to bottom).

I shouldn't even have to say this, but:
* Democratic voters remain rooted in objective reality. Trump voters believe reality is another stab wound in the back they collect.
* Democratic and independent voters recognize we are under siege from an insidious virus and trust expertise to say masking, vaccines and physical distancing reduce our risk. Trump voters choose to be an oppositional culture and play Russian roulette with their cardiovascular system.
* The Democrats did not set the table for a Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong or Pol Pot who can inspire followers to carry out industrial-scale genocide.

Just look at the body count amassed by the American white right. Look at how the rightwing has embraced violence (e.g., bake sales for Kyle Rittenhouse; the kidnap attempt of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; most mass shootings and the terror attempt this week at the Library of Congress to name a few).

Jan. 6 should have removed all doubt as to what Republicans are. Their words and deeds show that once the insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, Republicans identify with the magawaffen.

Bobson, I detest fascists as much as you, which is one reason why I get nervous when the left begins to emulate the right's authoritarian impulses. Telling other people what to believe is fine for evangelists but problematic for a politics that needs to show it can govern without resorting to thought control gambits and victim hierarchies. Ultimately, people will vote for security over sanctimony when the chaos grows. At that point even liberals will slink off to places where they don't have to worry about cops preserving the public order. That's a primary human need and the basis for any human community. What the left doesn't get is the centrality of this instinct.

Democrats will lose elections if they're perceived as being soft on crime and/or "defunding" the police" along with the basic rules of civilized behavior. It's why Biden didn't crush Trump in a landslide last year. It's why Trump's share of Hispanic, Asian and Black males voters increased in 2020 over 2016. It's why the 2022 and 2024 will give Republicans control of Congress. It's why if you're not nervous about people like Cory Bush of St Louis sending a signal that Democrats prefer social workers over police officers, you are going to lose despite what the socially-anxious left think is their cultural edginess.

Last year, Portland was ravaged by left-wing anarchists who rioted nightly downtown. The matriarchal left refused to condemn their violence. They minimized, deflected, and temporized but never criticized them. They even blamed the Proud Boys and "double agents" but never the proto-fascists who wrapped themselves in the mantle of BLM. It's almost as if the left's performance art mattered more to them than basic public order itself.

The voters, however, do notice this stuff, which is why as the summer of 2020 wore on, Democrats went from an overwhelming favorite in November to losing seats in the House and barely beating the worst president in American history. This is why you worry about fantasy-based cultural movements like critical race theory. It's sending a signal to average voters that common sense matters less to Democrats than being culturally hip and "empathetic".

I'm living in a city that is committing political and economic suicide because it can no longer tell the truth. It prefers victimhood dramas and academic theories to any sober assessment of real-world human needs. Yes, it's a delightful city in many respects because it's non-conforming and quirky. That is, it was until it revealed itself as a small, frightened place where the opinions of one's hipster neighbors matter more reality itself. There is, sadly, a rigid code of sllence here where contrary evidence is routinely ignored. Otherwise, the fascists win! This absurdity will eventually kill the Democrats along with democracy itself.

"Democrats lose."
You can add immigration and food and gas prices to that also.

Bobson, I hope you're right.

Soleri, I think you're right.

What a mess.

Off-topic but noteworthy: Irony and karma have a love child.

KOLD, Tucson's CBS affiliate: Arizona audit report delayed following COVID outbreak on Cyber Ninjas team

https://www.kold.com/2021/08/23/draft-report-arizona-audit-delayed-due-covid-outbreak/

Mother Nature: "COVID, venture forth and kill the dumb ones."

COVID: "I will Mother, but there will be collateral damage."

Mother Nature: "I know little one, but such is the tragedy."

A few things about woke orthodoxy. It does indeed alienate some fence-sitting voters. I know a few. Between being told that you can think, do and say as you please by DT, And being told what to think and what not to think and say, a natural impulse is to choose the former and refuse the latter. Democrats tiptoe around this and do so at their peril.

As to Portland:
Mayor Ted Wheeler had no discernible strategy or plan during the civil unrest last year. He did not make a clear stand and alienated almost everyone on All sides of the issue, particularly the progressive elements ( Who seemed to see riot, vandalism and arson has a cost of doing business here, and police action against them as criminal.) A month before the general election Wheeler had an unfavorable rating of 63%, if I recall correctly. However, he managed to win reelection by a margin of 46% to 41%. It’s because his opponent was almost completely inexperienced, strident and divisive, declared, “I am with antifa.”

Maybe this shows that a majority of Portlanders are not with the ultra-progressive Orthodoxy, and not in line with the parodic, stereotypical lefty. (The zealots get the ink and do punch above their weights in getting results.) I’m concerned that ,”We’re all on campus now,” cowed by peer pressure, perhaps fearing that by speaking one’s mind in public, that one might be chastised, and perhaps be labeled as a racist or a fascist or, worse, uncool.

Just checked Wheeler’s approval rating in same poll cited above from The Oregonian- 26%

@Dawgzy:
Maybe this shows that a majority of Portlanders are not with the ultra-progressive Orthodoxy, and not in line with the parodic, stereotypical lefty.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

You are only half-correct though.

It's safe to say that Portland as a whole, and I'm talking about the city, Multnomah County, the Portland Metropolitan Area wants no part of the street skirmishes.

There's no side gaining any political advantage from siding with or against any of the belligerents on the streets.

There are about 2.5 million people living in Portland's three counties and Clark Co., Washington. About more than 99% but less than 100% of these 2.5 million residents can work, shop, play and live their lives without ever encountering any of the belligerents.

As for the belligerents themselves -- I know the IDs of groups causing the trouble but neither side deserves the respect of being acknowledged by name -- both factions are primarily recruiting and organizing online and are encouraging face-to-face confrontation. They are giving places and times to show up.

We don't have any idea who these people are or where they are coming from, so they might not necessarily be locals. Usually, they are identified if they get arrested, hospitalized or killed.

The numbers of belligerents on each side are pathetically minuscule, and that is the good news for all of Portland as no one wants to be part of the conflict unless they specifically show up to one of the skirmishes.

So how does this tie in to, in your own words, an "ultra-progressive Orthodoxy" -- oh wow, a capital "O" Orthodoxy no less with elaborate cathedrals and statues to kiss -- and "parodic, stereotypical lefty"?

The Orthodoxy implies a hierarchy with a creed and prescriptive thoughts and behaviors. Religious institutions who possess a moral order are called in by civil authorities to broker peace. The reason why Portland sees so much fighting is because the Orthodoxy is ineffective, or more likely, does not exist in the first place other than in your head, rent-free.

And who is a "parodic, stereotypical lefty" supposed to be? Which part of those three words determines whether a lefty is judged to be a good or bad person? Where is the line between earnest and parodic leftism? A stereotype is always bad, so how does a lefty avoid falling into the conformity trap?

I see a contradiction: A lefty can choose two paths. One is the political path, by negotiating and winning institutional legitimacy for their ideals. The other is the direct action route, the path a minuscule amount have chosen. They believe in achieving their ideals via attrition. Apply sufficient violence, destruction and extortion to the haves, and they will meet the have-nots in the middle by virtue of sustained casualties.

These are two very different people, and logically at most only one of these can be parody or stereotype at any given time. Which is it?

Bobson, the best way the left can win is by persuading centrists that they're not sanctimonious loons but realists who understand what average voters prefer is order to chaos and results to posturing. In Portland, even the mainstream left refuses to critique the anarchists and nut-jobs since the latter's cultural influence is disproportionate to their marginal numbers.

The current crisis springs from the left's inability to think outside its box of wishful thinking. When politics becomes performance art, the entire liberal project is tainted with airy theories and reality-denial. To look at Portland (aka Trash City) is to realize liberalism is no longer functional. It uses a code of silence to enforce the illusion of harmony, but it still can no longer manage to pick up its own garbage or police its streets and sidewalks. An abyss opens that swallows the basic agreement between citizens and their government. In a year of record-shattering murder and other crimes, the left's response is to defund and/or abolish the police.

Cultural revolutions don't usually end well since they're fundamentally insane to begin with. The Chinese figured this out 50 years ago. The tribal left postures endlessly but alienates many more than it convinces, particularly those over age 30.

Portland magnetizes virtually every neurotic tic that can surface in a population incapable of taking personal responsibility. The homeless love Portland since they can steal and do hard drugs with impunity. Gangbangers love that it can spray paint structures and drag race with no consequence of arrest. The loony left loves the freedom to topple statues of the politically incorrect (say, Abraham Lincoln) while enjoying the adoration of jargon-spouting academics. But civilization still demands rules if it hopes to survive. Sadly, Portland has lost both its common sense and grit.


"An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; An artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way"

Charles Bukowski

Previous post was supposed to start:
I believe I have found the perfect quote for the denizens of this space.
Proof reading is, obviously, not my strong suit

Well C.B was an artist

As an intellectual artist, I must say, "we find ourselves with two national political parties who are no longer able to govern".

Time to get some new pants

@Soleri, are you auditioning for D-Fens in a regional stage revival of "Falling Down?"

You're putting it on thicker than drag queen makeup. Has Oregon allowed the reopening of yoga studios? Try yoga.

Portland's urban ills are catalogued well, and the goats are neatly scaped -- a coalition of performance-artist leftists giving voice to bums, junkies and vagrants. And only the sober countenance of "centrists" can save the city.

Why would your thesis be any less wishfully thought?

Portland is clearly going through torment right now. So is every city in the U.S. Ideology doesn't make a difference. And as much as I wish it so, it's not just a Trump-induced psychosis. Canada is recording rapidly escalating crime rates and notably drug overdoses in large and small cities, too.

I'm not an anti-government libertarian by any means, but government at any level is not capable of solving emergent problems.

Charles Marohn of Strong Towns offers a very good point about the core competence of government. An engineer, Marohn posits that there are two types of systems: complicated and complex.

A complicated system has several parts, linkages and supplements. It can be a machine that moves or infrastructure that is designed to stay in place.

A complex system involves living things, (e.g. a single specimen like a human or a plant), as well as the dynamics within and among living things and their environments.

Two big problems with systems thinking, leading to category errors or Fractal Wrongness: 1. Conflating complicated and complex systems and 2. Managing complex systems with complicated systems.

A complicated system is something that with enough advanced experience and observation, can be formed into a predictable form and behavior.

A complex system is constantly changing, both rapidly and slowly. Just one interaction can change all dynamics going forward. Complex systems are inherently unstable and constantly evolving.

A government is a complicated system. A governmental unit like a city is a complex system, like a natural ecosystem. A complex system like a city and produce and manage a complicated system like a government, but not vice versa.

A government solves problems through stable complicated systems like laws, deliberative meetings and bureaucracies. A polity, on the other hand, changes too fast for a complicated system like a government to understand a complex problem and solve it before it gets out of hand.

Bobson, I'm a city person. I left Phoenix because I despaired that it would never become anything more than a low-rent sprawlopolis. I had Portland in my sights since the early '90s and after a prolonged period of shepherding my parents through their old age, and then another period of post-crash paralysis, I finally made my move in 2013.

Portland back then was spectacularly beautiful. True, there were lots of bums downtown and some delusional anarchists, but the city worked well at every level. Today, it's a trash heap of homeless tents, window-smashing left-wing thugs, gangbangers armed with spray paint, and lots of pious ladies busy sorting out Portland's victim culture so we know who's to blame (white people) and who not to (say, non-binary and unhoused BIPOC).

The city can't pick up its garbage, paint over graffiti, pave its streets, or handle its epic spike in crime, but it is woke to the point of disallowing any dissenting opinions to its civic incompetence.

Most of what happened was cultural. That is, a shift in the political realm from taking care of real-world issues and moving toward performative acts of moral superiority. The right's culture war is mostly symbolic (guns, fetuses, and white skin) but the left's has a distinctly millenarian aspect. It might be secular in nature but its methodology is evangelical. It doesn't merely want to change the world but reality itself.

So, as I read through your gobbledygook about complex vs complicated systems, I didn't merely think you were deflecting so much as - understandably - changing the subject from the left's obsession with identity. Needless to say, that ideology will be a problem because a politics based on the chimera of appearance and ancient angers will be incapable of governing. You see this first and foremost in cities populated by sanctimonious and socially anxious young adults. See: Portland, Seattle, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and LA.

We who are somewhere on the spectrum of liberal politics need an honest debate here, and not merely the casual put-downs that poseurs like you toss about. We are not going to win elections when our ability to tell the truth is compromised by sheer lunacy and academic jargon. There are examples pointing a way out of this madness (see, Eric Adam's probable victory in the NYC mayor's race). That said, the real threat comes from a narcissistic culture that preens its detachment from the lives of ordinary citizens. They may not be hip but they are quite angry and about to tell the Democratic Party just how much.

The illiberal "wokeness" so aptly described by Soleri is also at work in Seattle. The city's longtime pragmatic liberalism has been overtaken by the far left. This is especially true on the City Council.

One of the candidates for City Attorney wants to stop prosecuting all misdemeanors. Thus, looting shops via shoplifting would be ok. The black police chief resigned because of the City Council's push to defund the police. Crime is rising.

The "homeless" population keeps rising because of Freeattle — legal pot, no prosecution for drug possession, a stood-down police force, and abundant handouts. There's no accountability for the social-service organizations that get six-figure staff salaries and have no incentive to address the problem. Laws against "encampments" aren't enforced.

Still, Seattle is a Superstar City with one of the most robust and diverse economies in North America. It has world-class assets. Here it's very different from Portland.

I fell in love with Portland in the '90s, but it also had an odd vibe. I knew I would never fit in. It has attracted some Phoenicians, including Will Bruder and ASU's Jon Fink.

I wonder how much Portland's worse situation is because, unlike Seattle, it doesn't have a daily print newspaper delivered. Seattle does, with the 11-Pulitzer-Prize-winning Seattle Times.

@Soleri, you have a really unhealthy fixation with wokeness.

Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.

Here's my contributions to the debate.
1. X-idpol is a phenomenon.
2. X-idpol has a water's edge. If wokeness appeals to anyone, they are already along the way there to begin with. If wokeness inspires hostility or bemusement, it will not move the immovable. (This has already happened. "Woke" and "wokeness" are now slur words use to mock the people and the very concept itself.)
3. You know who are really good about not being spellbound by wokeness? Actual, real-life Democrats who vote, run for office and manage campaigns. This goes unnoticed because this is the plain-farina version of politics that's boring but vital. It doesn't generate memes, distill into catchy 3-or-4-syllable slogans, or go viral on Twitter and Facebook.

Soleri, you're concerned that one infelicitous tweet by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will lead to the downfall of the republic. It's plausible, yes.

Back to reality. Neither you or I are Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer or James Clyburn. It's up to them to keep her in the party line, since they are the three people who have actual power over her.

If AOC does actually lead to the downfall of civilization, it's not that America will be screwed. It means that America was screwed in the first place and inevitability has arrived.

Know who is to blame for this outcome? The supposed "sensible centrists" who do think there really are two sides of an issue that must be given equal credence, yet who are also very triggered when their intelligence, self-concept or social status are challenged.

The most caricatured elements of our political melodrama are who they are and what they are. It's the sensible centrists that don't have a clue about the crisis of our time.

@soleri:
So, as I read through your gobbledygook about complex vs complicated systems, I didn't merely think you were deflecting so much as - understandably - changing the subject from the left's obsession with identity.

I am deflecting and changing the subject from the left's obsession with identity because the deflection and changing the subject is the point.

You, soleri, are projecting your fears and objections of young adult leftists and it bothers you to an unhealthy degree. You don't have control over them, and other than partisan affiliation and ideological affinity, you cannot reach out to them because your and their life experiences are so different that your values systems are in conflict.

Soleri, I think you obsess more about wokeness and identity politics than they themselves do. The caricatures of them speaking in their fastidious language and their scolding approach to political problems do have a basis in reality, but they also enjoy and want to live outside of their identities and narrow experiences. Even among themselves, they don't want X-idpol theory to become an actual political program. (Hence why there's no modern American leftwing equivalent of a Lenin, Mao or Pol Pot).

The modal self-identifying leftie spends less time meditating on wokeness theory than you do.

So, I will candidly admit that I am changing the subject and diverting from "kids these days" because the moral panic deserves to have zero attention. The numbers are trivial, the threat exaggerated and the stakes so small. Also, by giving "woke panic" attention, it is a fringe esoteric issue that ends up being blown out of proportion because it draws too much attention that feeds on itself.

Now let me explain my intention of complex vs. complicated systems because the point went over your head.

Complex vs. complicated systems has everything to do why Portland can't get rid of graffiti, pick up its trash or remove scofflaws from the public sphere.

Activism is a contributing factor to the problems, but not the cause of it.

I point to you counterfactuals: Salt Lake City is going through the same exact problems Portland is going through with homelessness, drug use, etc. Yet Salt Lake City is so thoroughly Mormon in its politics, culture and economy that Mormonism alone should have been sufficient to preclude pathologies. SLC should have the easiest time forging consensus on solving the problem, but Utahns are having just as a hard time as Oregonians in solving the same ills.

You have Canada, where society is not collapsing at the rate it is in America, but they are also seeing spikes in crime and drug use.

It's happening everywhere.

Crime and social breakdown are occurring everywhere. This is a complex problem. The government's tools are all complicated.

A government can set up a process for having free graffiti removal or prompt garbage pickup. It won't be able to figure out why the graffiti was put there in the first place or why people get angry at the city when crews paint over a mural painted by children because it didn't receive a city permit.

That's complexity.

Soleri, you know very well Portland had homelessness and crime well before wokeness showed up. You'd also know Phoenix had a similar set of problems when you lived there.

The problems will be there after the activists abandon their sanctimony and long after you and I leave this Earth.

The first step is maybe not seek solutions from the same people and processes that created the mess we are in.

Rogue, I'm always wondering about the power of the Homeless Industrial Complex. They get a lot of tax dollars, which they inevitably use to burnish their own power and status. Their leading lights instruct us to be a "welcoming community", more so in our neighborhoods that the wealthier ones where the elite live. BTW, The Oregonian was long a right-wing rag but it's now "woke" and practices the No Talk rule about issues it thinks public discussion might disadvantage.

Bobson, centrism has one advantage over the zealotry that animates the woke. It can win elections in places outside Berkeley, Ann Arbor, Boston, Brooklyn, Minneapolis, and Seattle. This zealtory wouldn't be an issue if its cultural cachet was merely an epiphenomenon of liberal politics. We'd simply laugh at the few crazy radicals who want to defund the police. But as Trump showed in 2020, it's alarming because the right screams long and hard about it. The left is easily targeted by the right as firebreathers who will endanger the public safety. It also explains why professional pundits rarely describe America as a center-left nation. Democrats win in places where they're perceived as sane instead of woke, which is, as you say, most of America. The problem is that the kids have more cultural power than political smarts. They really believe their own bullshit.

In a prosperous and stable democracy, liberalism would be an ascendant value. Sadly, this not describe 2021's America, which is riven with angst and anger. It suggests that the Democratic Party not get over its own skis unless it freak out the working class that is still necessary to win in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. But the ideologues of the left seem oblivious to this glaring truth. It's almost as if they want to see Republicans win if only to prove what Beautiful Losers they are.

"Beautiful Losers"
You pegged it Soleri.
That psychological delusional impulse has been around since the snake and the apple.
Being a victim has strong addictive pull.

"epiphenomenon" Had to look this one up
NOUN
a secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process.
medicine
a secondary symptom, occurring simultaneously with a disease or condition but not directly related to it.
a mental state regarded as a byproduct of brain activity.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)