Only About Three Weeks to Go!

So with three weeks until the election, where are we? What do I think is likely to happen? Who will be the next president?


Damn right.

Yeah, I think she’s pretty much gotten this sewn-up. Hillary will, bar something horrible happening, be our next president.

But what of the other races?

Well, I suspect the House will stay in Republican hands. I just don’t think it’s going to move, at least not this time. Come 2018, or 2020, and we’ll see.

The Senate? I think it’s going to go Democrat, but it’ll be close, and I could easily see a 50/50 split. But if that’s the case, we’ll have Tim Kaine there to cast the tie-breaking vote.

So that’s that for the national stuff. But my home state, Arizona, is getting pretty interesting this year. We could see some great changes in how we vote, but it’s all dependent on, as so many things are, marijuana.

You see, there’s a ballot measure that would legalize it here. I’m all in favor, of course, because freedom matters to me. And the fact that it’s on the ballot could overturn decades of conservative voting in this state.

If the marijuana legalization initiative passes, then I expect Hillary will win Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio will finally be kicked out of office, our state House and Senate might go Democratic (though the Republicans have gerrymandered the shit out of our state, so who knows?), and maybe, just maybe, John McCain might finally be defeated, as he should have been after 2008.

Now if marijuana legalization doesn’t pass here, then I suspect none of those things will happen. But with luck, it will, and this state can begin to wake up from its long, local nightmare.


22 Years Later…

So a judge here in Arizona has dismissed all charges against Debra Milke, a woman who was convicted of the murder of her four-year-old son. You can read a bit about it here and here. But what I’d mostly like to focus on is the fact that the case was thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct.

You see, it turns out that the lead detective in the case claimed she confessed to the crime. There was no record of this happening and no witness to the confession. The detective in question said he threw away his notes on the interrogation. The detective also had several instances of misconduct in various other cases, including lying under oath. That information was withheld from the jury by the prosecutors.

Saldate had been suspended five days for taking “liberties” with a female motorist and lying about it to his supervisors. Four confessions or indictments had been tossed out because Saldate had lied under oath. Judges suppressed or vacated four other confessions because Saldate had violated a person’s constitutional rights.

Well, how charming.

So basically an innocent woman (or at the very least, one the state never proved was guilty), spent 22 years with the specter of death hanging over her head, and did so at least in part because of a detective with a history of lying, and a prosecuting attorney’s office that refused to share evidence of that lying with the jury.

If this sounds familiar, it should, since the previous blog article I wrote was about the same subject, though in that case the person convicted of murder was actually killed by the state. Whoops.

This is yet another great example of why we need to get rid of the death penalty. It’s expensive, it’s not a deterrent, we’re one of the only civilized nations that still uses it, and in cases like this, where you have a prosecutor stepping over the line, it can all too easily lead to an innocent person being killed.

A Great Example of the Generational Gap

So there’s this Class One douchebag named Andrew Thomas who is running for governor here in Arizona. Here’s his campaign ad.

He’ll stand up to the gay lobby! Because they want equality, and that’s fucking unreasonable! And those dammed liberal judges who did things like…well, there aren’t examples, but you know how they are! But the real threat to our state are those dirty, horrible Mexicans! Coming up here and going on welfare and taking our jobs! Bastards! The real bliss of this ad comes with the incredibly racist map of Arizona with the Mexican flag superimposed over it and the big NO symbol over that. Just in case you didn’t get the hint.

So basically what I get from this man’s ad is that he’s a racist, homophobic, bigot. I also notice that in that little group of people he’s got around him at about the 10 second mark, there isn’t one non-white person. Whoever is creating these ads is a clueless buffoon for letting that happen.

But the real problem with this ad is that it shows how incredibly out of touch and tone deaf the modern Republican party has become. Very, very few people under the age of 30 would be likely to vote for this man, and pretty much no one who is Hispanic is going to. I’d hope no gays would, either. So basically he’s going out of his way to piss off and alienate two large and growing demographics, and one group of people that crosses all demographics.

Now I’m sure if he were questioned about this and felt like being honest, Thomas, as well as most other politicians running in primaries, would justify the language by saying, well, you know, it’s a primary, and he has to attract that core of conservative voters. But you know, if your party’s core constituency is made up of people who believe that dirty Mexicans are destroying this country and that gay people are a threat, then you have to ask yourself if your party is really worth supporting, or if it should just be allowed to die.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter much in the end, because at the rate things are going, the Republicans are going to continue to alienate themselves from all the voting demographics that aren’t extremely rich/extremely poor older people, and seniors. And that will be just fine.

Yay, Arizona. Woo-hoo. Go, Us. Etc.

So yesterday the people of Arizona took two hours to execute someone. The process began at a bit before 2:00, and didn’t end until about two hours later when the person in question finally died. This was done in the name of everyone who lives in this state, so people like me have blood on our hands. Yay.

This was a case rather similar to that of what happened earlier this year where a man was basically tortured to death by Oklahoma. And just like in that case, it looks like a new set of lethal injection drugs were used to do the grim deed. Of course we don’t know the details of what drugs were used, since the state’s keeping that a secret and, for some bizarre reason, the courts are letting them do so. I believe the logic is that it would embarrass the company that provides the drugs. Well, tough shit. We still need to know what drugs are being used and who is making them.

Beyond that, if you’re the sort of person who reads this story, smirks and says, “Two hours of painful death? Just what he deserved!”, then you’re immoral scum, and I hope you never speak to me or contact me again. Seriously. Unfriend me on Facebook, stop reading my blog, and generally remove yourself form my life. If we’re going to have a death penalty, which I don’t think we should, but if we do, then it needs to be quick, clean and merciful as possible. Anything less not only damages the person being executed, but also frankly taints us all with the stench of evil, and should force us to ask how we’re any different from the person we just murdered.

Reasons Why Phoenix is Actually a Pretty Decent Place


Vice has published an opinion piece about why Phoenix basically sucks. It’s a silly, twee little piece that doesn’t entirely square with my personal experiences of having lived here for the last nine years. First, go read the article. Then we’ll do a point-by-point on it, shall we?

Everything Is Beige

Like a giant, concrete version of The Thing, Phoenix is a bloated tangle of tasteless architecture that never seems to stop ballooning outward.

The one thing you’ll notice is everything looks exactly the same. It’s an ever-replicating mirage of beige skies, beige walls, beige houses, beige cars, beige people. Sometimes you’ll see a flash of color, but it won’t last long before the local HOA stamps it out like a cigarette butt.

The beige thing is nonsense. The skies are generally clear and blue. Beige walls? Maybe, but the houses tend to be white, which is smart, since that reflects heat. Same with cars. I’m not sure what “beige people” is supposed to mean.

All that said, the architecture here does tend to be very boring, and we do not have the best, most interesting skyline around. But Phoenix has only been a going concern as a major city for the last 50 years or so. Give us another 50, and then check back.

Shopping Malls And Movie Theaters Are Cultural Landmarks

Forget that Phoenix nightlife is so barren you can stagger downtown at 11 PM and find everything empty. “Snowbirds” (rich, white morons from Canada and Michigan who visit during the two weeks of winter) only come here for the fucking malls anyway. Chandler Fashion Center, Desert Ridge Marketplace, Tempe Marketplace, Scottsdale Fashion Square—they all have the exact same names, the exact same stores, and the exact same idiots who wear sunglasses indoors.

Are they? I haven’t noticed this, but let’s take the author at face value and assume that, yes, shopping malls and movie theaters are cultural landmarks. There might be some good reasons there. For example, malls have air conditioning. When it’s 120 outside (which almost never happens, but we’ll get to that later), you want air conditioning. Also, “white morons”…both racial and obnoxious. And in my experience no one, anywhere, except perhaps for people who visit Bloomington, travels to a large city “for the fucking malls”.

Further, what’s wrong with movie theaters as cultural landmarks? Movies can be a great art form! There’s nothing wrong at all with viewing theaters as a cultural landmark. I’m willing to bet the snob who wrote this doesn’t have much problem with Broadway as a cultural landmark in New York City.

Politics Takes Precedence Over Culture

When Arizona SB 1070 passed, allowing cops to demand proof of residency based on “suspicion” of immigrating illegally (read: having brownish skin), there was a national uproar. A laundry list of musicians, including Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, Conor Oberst, and Kanye West refused to tour here for a few years.

But that was a while back and that’s all over now, right? Not really. Earlier this year, the local government threatened to pass SB 1062, a sort of anti-gay bill that nobody really understood, probably because it was written in crayon by stoned squirrels. The fallout was extremely similar to SB 1070, and our governor vetoed the bill only after the NFL threatened to take the Super Bowl elsewhere.

Even now, when you look at most band’s tour dates (which I do quite often), it’s something along the lines of LA, Boulder, Houston or Austin, Albuquerque, and San Diego. Phoenix is still often skipped over, and the general public’s perception of Phoenix as a bunch of racist, gun-toting, fag haters hasn’t helped.

This is much more of an Arizona problem than a Phoenix problem. In my experience, most people in Phoenix lean right, but not insanely so. On the other hand, outside Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson, you have one of the reddest of red states. It’s hard to do anything progressive here and it’s hard for Democrats at the state level to do much. On the other hand, Phoenix has a Democrat for a mayor, we have a couple of Democrats in Congress, and when I moved here, the state as a whole had a Democrat for our governor.

But, yes, it doesn’t help that Phoenix gets lumped in with the greater problems the state itself has. For example, “the local government” referenced up there in connection to SB 1062? That’s actually the state government, not the local one in Phoenix.

The Local Government Pisses All Over the Public Like Drunken Apes

Really, this is true wherever you go, but it’s extremely blatant in the Valley of the Spun. Every six months or so, in a greed-driven mentality still wrought from the days of Manifest Destiny, our legislature pens some Orwellian bill that clearly aims to rip off or jail anyone who isn’t rich or white.

Even if independent voters make up the biggest bloc in the state, their input is drowned out by constant bickering between useless Democrats and violent Republicans invested in the drug war. In rare instances when the public does have its meek voice heard, as in the case of medical marijuana, the state is quick to turn around and sue over it. The dumbasses we call “leaders” constantly lose these fruitless court battles, but in the process, millions of tax dollars are wiped up with shit and flushed down the john.

Our state’s governor, Ms. Jan Brewer, grins like a sad, melted puppet whenever she tries to feign solidarity with the public, but it’s clear that she and her best bud, civil rights abuser Sheriff Joe Arpaio, are more interested in keeping local prisons full of nonviolent offenders. Makes sense that Brewer is making boatloads of money through her connections in the incarceration industry. Legalizing pot or allowing immigrants to coexist would cut into profits! Keep that drug-war money rolling in!

Brewer is kind of a sad little waffle of a woman. I will give her points for expanding Medicaid (something her own party sued her for), and for vetoing SB 1062, though why she took more than ten seconds to do that is beyond me. But she’s going to be gone soon, and good riddance.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Speaking of Joe Arpaio, the civil-rights-abusing sheriff has been elected six fucking times.

This is a man who claims Obama’s birth certificate is forged, has his critics arrested in the middle of the night on trumped-up charges, and has been accused literally dozens of times for abusing inmates, many of whom were beaten to death or had their necks broken, all while failing to investigate hundreds of sexual abuse cases.

Then, “America’s Toughest Sheriff” treats his inmates like his personal court jesters, emasculating them with pink underwear as he watches them sweat in his “Tent City”—a jail made of Korean War-era tents that reaches temperatures of 150 degrees in summer. And all of Joe’s stupidity and callous disregard for justice has cost the city more than $50 million so far.

Also, Arpaio might run for governor. So we have that to look forward to.

Now that said, there’s no excuse for the existence of Sheriff Joe. I can’t blame the rest of the state for him being in office. That’s one we in the greater Phoenix area have to take a hit for. He costs our county millions defending his stupid little stunts, and he really does make us look like the national joke when it comes to his ideas of law enforcement. He’s really a complete embarrassment and I sincerely hope that after he fails at his bid to become governor, he takes his ball and goes home.

All that said, I’m inclined to doubt that Tent City reaches temps of 150, since that’s about 16 degrees hotter than the hottest temperature ever recorded in all of human history.

A shantytown of bars for freshly divorced Glendale dipsticks, Westgate City Center also houses stadiums for our sucktacular sports teams. The only use this whole area ever served was the time we hosted the Super Bowl. But despite bringing in a record-breaking $500 million to the local economy, the city actually ended up $2 million in the hole on that one. Cool.

I…actually, I know nothing about Westgate City Center. Looking it up Wikipedia, I notice it’s a place I have zero interest in visiting. Also, not to nitpick, but it isn’t in Phoenix. It’s in Glendale, which is a different city, though I’ll admit, even I had to double-check that. Also, despite the dismissive tone of the article, I do note that the Superbowl will be there again in a little while, so that’s a chance for even more money to come into the local economy. I suspect this writer simply dislikes the overall “feel” of the place, and as I said, I have no interest in going there.

No One Is From Here

Phoenix natives are rare as vegan sharks. As a result, everyone acts like a permanent tourist with a distinct lack of generational identity. Instead, everyone whines about how much better it is in California or Illinois or where-the-fuck-ever.

I’m sure the case with many booming towns is the whole “no one is from here” thing. But four of my best friends (hi, Rob, Jess, Tanya and Josh!), are all native-born Phoenicians. I encounter people “from” here every day. So, from this increasingly stupid article, I can guess that vegan sharks are pretty common as well. Something to bear in mind next time I’m at the ocean.

Yeah, really this is a stupid point that doesn’t seem to bear out in reality.

The Environment Is Actively Trying To Kill You

Phoenix summers start in April and don’t end until October. The first three months are bearable, so we collectively laugh, asking ourselves why we complained so much about the heat last year. Sure, it was 109 degrees the other day, but we have our air conditioning and our TVs and we’ll survive, even if the electric bills average $400 per month. “It’s a dry heat,” we mutter through our blistered, sunburned lips, blandly reminding ourselves of our trademarked postcard platitude.

But then mid July rolls around. The monsoon season is lackluster, as usual, and does nothing to combat our “urban heat island,” which cooks the asphalt like a pierogi, blasting scorching waves back out at night. Now, even after sunset, the heat won’t escape, and suddenly it’s 105 degrees at 1 AM. This is worse than humidity, because at least humidity cools down in the evening. The heat is in your clothes. It’s in your hair. You feel your dreams evaporating as you sleep. Even swimming or air conditioning provides only brief relief from the perpetual sauna before you’re glossed in sweat again. And you have another two months of this to look forward to.

Plus, the entire urban void is surrounded by an ecosystem of death. If the sun’s UV rays don’t smite you, the scorpions, Gila monsters (the only venomous lizard in the entire US), rattlesnakes, mountain lions, bobcats, javelinas (murderous warthog things known to attack humans), tarantulas, and other deadly spiders sure as fuck will try. If that weren’t enough, we’re all doomed because…

I saw a couple of coyotes once. But that was it. I saw them once in nine years. I’ve never seen any of the other various species mentioned, and that’s at least in part because I live in the city. Now people in the suburbs might, but…so? Most of those critters are in most western states. I also love his veiled swipe at TV. Because, you know, Americans are just fat losers who only watch TV, and TV is the worst thing ever, ever, ever.

Also, while I do find it annoying to have it be really hot at midnight, I don’t know that it’s ever been over 100 at midnight, though we do often have nighttime lows in the upper-90s during the most extreme of summer heat.

Now onto the final point.

Phoenix Is (Supposedly) The Least Sustainable City Ever

Phoenix imports almost everything—food, gas, and especially water. Depends on whom you ask, but it doesn’t look like that equation is gonna work too well for us in the long run. We often experience record highs of 120 degrees or more, but climate change could make those temperatures even more common, topping 100 degrees from April to January. These heat waves mainly affect the poor, mostly killing homeless people, so it’s not something most people worry about. Yet.

Plus, the state is in perpetual drought and all that water we trickle in from the Colorado River, the Salt River reservoir system, and underground wells, continues to dry up. Eventually this place could resemble a ghost town like Tombstone. Some claim these scenarios are exaggerated, so maybe we’ll survive. Fear or denial, pick your poison. It’s all we got here.

I think, and I could be wrong, but I think a large part of our water comes from a big aquifer under the city. Now that clearly won’t last forever, so even if we aren’t importing most of water yet, we will in time. Oh, and I think that pretty much every large city in every country imports their various resources. That is unless I somehow missed seeing New York’s massive oil wells and gas refineries.

As for the “we often experience record highs of 120 degrees or more”…bullshit. Pure, unadulterated, bullshit. I’ve lived here for nine years. The hottest day during that time was last year when we reached 119. That was the fourth hottest day ever recorded, which implies that there have been only three days that were hotter, ie: 120 or thereabouts. The hottest day ever was 122, but that happened only once, and that was in 1990. Now I could easily see there being more days over 100, or even over 110, but that isn’t the same as the line of pure bullshit about 120 degree days.

Overall, Phoenix is like every other city. There’s good things and bad. I spent much of my adult life in Seattle. The weather was terrible, the cost of living was very high, and smugness of the locals occasionally got annoying. On the other hand, summers were beautiful, the politics were liberal and the smugness was generally tempered by a good sense of humor and generosity. Me, I could do without the two months of hell that Phoenix has during high summer, and I could certainly do without the politics. But it’s an affordable place to live, with plenty of great things to do. You just have to pull your nose up out of your navel to see them.

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And a Slow Sense of Sanity Returns

She vetoed it. Thank goodness.

I’d like to hope that threatening the state’s economy and trying to turn back the clock on civil rights by 50+ years will be enough to get these asshat Republicans out of office. I’d like to think that. But what will happen is that Republicans will vote for them anyhow. They will either do this because they agreed with things like SB1070 and SB1062, or they’ll do what a gay Republican friend of mine seems to be doing and simply rationalize away the problem. Also, I’ll lay down some money right now that the Arizona GOP will try to censure her for this and the Medicaid expansion. If they did it to McCain, after all…

Oh, Arizona…

There are a lot of things I love about living in Arizona. The fact that the temps have been in the low-to-mid-80s during the middle of February, for example. The low cost of living in Phoenix, the sixth-largest city in the country. The beautiful terrain.

On the other hand, our politics are unbelievably fucked-up beyond…well, beyond all belief.

We’re the sort of state where people can, and do, openly carry guns around with them. Because apparently Arizona in 2014 sometimes gets confused with Arizona in 1884. We’re the sort of state (and specifically, Phoenix is in the sort of county), where having a sheriff like Joe Arpaio is considered acceptable. We have this odd mix of local politics that, at least outside the metro areas of Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson, mixes the worst elements of extremist Republicans with the worst elements of extremist Libertarians. How fucked-up are our politics? They are so royally fucked-up that the Arizona Republican Party actually censured John McCain, a sitting, senior United States senator and former GOP candidate for the White House, for voting alongside Democrats too often. That’s how fucked-up things are here.

I had thought that was kind of the low point we’d hit with politics in this state, and then the GOP-controlled state legislature (previously noted for filing a lawsuit against our Republican governor for expanding Medicaid), passed a bill that is, essentially, the same bill the Kansas legislature killed a few days ago. You know, the one that was the subject of my latest article mocking Kansas.

Now admittedly, Arizona’s state legislature is notorious for being comedy-level stupid. This is the same group of people who manage our state’s economy so poorly that they had to sell-off parts of the state capital complex, and then lease them back, in order to make our budget. They are so incompetent that they keep cutting educational budgets to the point where the CEO of a major tech company said he’d have to reconsider doing business in this state, because he wasn’t sure he could hire a skilled and educated workforce. So the fact that this collection of ass-clowns has now passed, along party lines, of course, this latest bill is almost zero surprise.

It’s also worth noting that I’m 99% sure our governor is going to veto this. She’s someone with whom I disagree more often than not, but I doubt she’s stupid enough to sign this. If she is, of course, we can then expect several years and several million dollars to be wasted defending this bill before the courts; all the way up to the US Supreme Court which will say, “Yeah, fuck, no.” Though possibly they might dress it up a bit.

It isn’t correct to say that I’m surprised or deeply disappointed in Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature. I’m not. This is absolutely the level of stupidity I’ve come to expect from them. I would like to hope that anyone I know who is Republican in this state, and especially anyone I know who is gay and Republican, would find themselves unable to vote for the party next time around, but I know that won’t be the case. They’ll find a way to rationalize all this and set it aside. They’ll say, “the governor will veto it, so it’s a symbolic vote” (while ignoring what the symbolism represents), or they’ll point out that discrimination against gays is already legal here (you can indeed be fired for being gay, because the law doesn’t say you can’t), or they’ll simply scream, “BENGHAZI!” at you until you walk away. But I’d dearly like to hope they’ll learn from this exactly what their party is, and take that into account next time they vote.