Flagstaff, Arizona

Phoenix kind of sucks, too much sprawl (though it’s obvious they’re trying hard to make downtown happen, and with a few more years of attention it just might), but Northern Arizona is really great. Obviously there’s the Grand Canyon, which earns the name (if you’ve never been, go!), but there are plenty of nice towns around too, and some beautiful country to investigate. I sometimes think I could live in Flagstaff, though there are some things that would drive me crazy about it as well after a while. It’s a great place to visit, though, a really cool college town with enough hipster coffee shops, excellent bars and really great restaurants to last you a week at least. Definitely recommend the “The State Bar,” which is all Arizona brews and typically has pretty good live music. You’ve also got your Sedona and its red rocks and hippie vibes, Prescott and the whole Old West feel. Admittedly there are some pretty obvious “Trump Country” areas as well that you pass on the drive, so there is definitely a variety of things to be found there. It’s not heavily populated but it’s more liberal than you’d figure a congressional district spanning that much space would be. Very nice people as well.

All I’m saying is that, when the United States breaks up sometime around 2023, the new sovereign United States of Pacific America–constituting the former California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Hawaii–really should try to annex this territory.

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It makes no sense–the army and the militarized police would make quick work of hillbilly militias if it came to that–unless you think for three seconds about what sort of tyranny could actually be fixed by a bunch of vigilantes with guns. It’s tyranny in the sense that reconstruction was tyranny, and in all fairness, guns were extremely effective as a defense against that specific “tyranny.”

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I think this line of thinking about contemporary politics is more pernicious than saying, “I got nothing.” This is in large part because we had an eight-year experiment of it and it got us nothing. As a lot of people pointed out around 2013/2014, it wasn’t fair to blame Obama for gridlock because he didn’t have a majority in the House and the filibuster still largely existed in the Senate. This was absolutely true! But it was irrelevant, as he made it so much a part of his brand that having it fail to appear–even if it wasn’t his fault–was blamed on him. He trusted John Boehner. That didn’t work out. Then he thought the fever would break in his second term. There wasn’t any logic to this, and it also didn’t work out. It got us the sequester, in fact. Then people revolted over his Syria strike and he couldn’t get Larry Summers into the Fed Chair (he must be the one person in America who actually likes Larry Summers, incidentally), and this was when you started to see a lot of pieces to the effect of, “Why can’t he just get stuff done?” I have no idea if he was so stung by this criticism that he decided to double down on forever war and the party-damaging TPP, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he had.

Journalists should understand how legislation passes, of course, and I’m not sure they all do. They could have reported that Obama was reaching out and that Republicans were just saying no to everything. But even if they had…I’m not sure O would have had much better approvals anyway. Democrats can make overtures but only Republicans control whether these will be reciprocated. And yes, promising bipartisan outreach isn’t the same as promising bipartisan cooperation but that’s a really difficult nuance to get across. Probably too difficult to get across even if the media didn’t suck like it did. So…maybe don’t depend on it?

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Obviously we’ve been over this, but I’m not sure why exactly I’m supposed to trust the objective reporting (for lack of a better term) of a paper that is gross enough to publish stuff like this. Then again, I’m not sure why I’d trust a paper whose objective reporting includes endless dapper Nazi and “Trump voters approving of Trump” pieces either, not to mention their choices in October 2016.

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The major reason why any ordinary people might have had an interest in defending Bill Clinton’s presidency all these years was because they supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations, which this post has nothing to do with. There’s really nothing much for progressives to like in that story–NAFTA, welfare reform, the crime bill, all stuff that greatly harmed Democrats (and America) on the one hand; and on the other, corporate giveaways like the DMCA, bank and telecom deregulation, and (also) NAFTA. Honestly the best deal was probably CHIP in exchange for capital gains cuts, which is practically the definition of a Faustian bargain. It was pretty bad all-around. I guess he appointed two pretty good Supreme Court Justices and had some slightly positive effect upon the economy, but other than that, I’m not sure how one would even defend this presidency on a progressive basis other than relativistically (which is typically the way it’s done). Not that I’m wishing that Bush Sr. had won in 1992, because Roe would be a thing of ancient history by now if he had. (The unlikely Perot win, of course, would have been like Trump winning, but at least Perot had better views on abortion and the like.) But, is there any reason to believe that a Mario Cuomo presidency would have been better? I think there is–Cuomo owed more to unions than Clinton did and represented the old pre-DLC Democratic Party, which it would have remained had he run. (Also, the idea that we needed Bill Clinton to win the general seems incorrect to me–he couldn’t even hold together Dukakis’s coalition on his way to a 42% finish. He won much of the South but in a three-way contest requiring much lower vote percentages. Not too difficult to imagine Cuomo matching Clinton’s general performance and also winning a second term based on the economy.)

Anyway, there are no more Hillary Clinton presidential aspirations so I have to wonder if anybody besides Jon Chait will bother to defend these choices. Of course, of course, the context was different. I can accept that to some degree for welfare reform and the crime bill. But nobody was pining for NAFTA. And all this sort of stuff was supposed to help Team D in a way that never happened. Triangulation was bad for Democrats because they just became one of the two options that Clinton rejected. Ultimately, triangulation was only beneficial for Bill Clinton.

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Top this:

Washington has nothing on Hollywood.

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So I heard about Nancy Pelosi’s epic speech. I didn’t think it was awesome. I worried that it would be a prelude to throwing in the towel. It’s too big a gesture, more than anybody was asking for, almost like something you’d do to try to dispel anybody from criticizing you.

Well.

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I went to the gym yesterday. This is something I don’t usually do, but I have this gym membership and sometimes I feel the need to extract some value out of it. Unfortunately one of the TVs is always tuned to FOX News (admittedly, another is always on CNN. Balance!). But I am always able to gather some tidbits from the experience. Such as:

  • They spent ten consecutive minutes on the latest “bombshell” FBI texts. Honestly, I’m sort of surprised it was that little. I didn’t have any access to the sound–I’m not that much of a masochist–though it was close-captioned. Look, obviously I am not going to agree with them on the import of this stuff but it really seemed like they couldn’t fill the time. They just had a series of random right-wingers on who said the same things. Yes, it’s an outrage. Yes, Tucker, they should be fired. Filler. Live by Trump Twitter I guess. (The texts, of course, fell well short of “Mwahaha, we will frame Trump with Russia!” but Trump does know how to keep the puke funnel locked and loaded, I’ll give him that.
  • Hilariously, the notion of Carter Page as a colluder with Russia was put in scare quotes. Guys.
  • Tucker Carlson seems as though he’s put on ten more pounds every single time I see him on his show. I can remember when he was the hunky conservative guy with the bow tie. (It doesn’t look like food fat to me either, if you know what I mean, but who knows.) Also, he’s a terrible actor. His concerned face would be laughed out of community theater. And the pained smile when he was trying to convey amusement was so painful to look at. I may be reading into things but man alive did I feel like I saw his soul in those moments. I honestly hope he’s okay, but it’s not like he was drafted into this.
  • Mark Steyn came on at a point and, ideology aside, I wonder why he is on television. Aside from some exaggerated mugging at the beginning when he was tossing out some japes, it was so obvious he was reading a teleprompter the entire time, his eyes fixed on the same place right below the camera, never moving. It was like when an athlete hosts Saturday Night Live. Talk to the camera you moron! (Also, the mugging was straight out of “the kindergarten teacher’s husband is subbing today.” Forced.)
  • Lotsa “gold” coin ads, which are all doctored to look like U.S. currency but aren’t. Are they still legal tender in Liberia? Or are they just completely worthless? The truly tragic part was one of these companies offering a free “fix your IRA” pamphlet. Goddamn it! Do not put your retirement money in fake coins, oldsters! Nobody’s going to accept those after the apocalypse!

Sorry, but that’s all I got. Just in case you were curious about what’s going on with all that…

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