They wish they knew how to quit me. Even though it's been two years since I wrote a column for the Arizona Republic, I keep popping up on various Web sites as the devil that's missed by the Kookocracy. After all, who can they now denounce as a SOCIALIST!! -- Clay Thompson? The pretty-in-pink Moms Like Me page? Anyway, this was brought home again in a story last week about a conference on the flatlined-in-a-body-bag Arizona economy.
One commenter generously wrote: "Jon Talton preached this for nearly a decade, yet no one believed him. In fact, the GOP-led Legislature and the Real Estate Industrial Complex put a lot of pressure on The Arizona Republic to silence him, and in the end, Talton was run out of town. Perhaps if those idiots had actually paid attention to what Talton had to say, then the state wouldn't be in this mess. And legislators wouldn't have to solicit advice from ordinary Arizonans, as they did just last week. Fools." This was followed by -- I am not making this up: "You mean John Talton the corporate socialist shill?" Etc. Spelling has never been their thing.
Back to this big summit, convened by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Chairman Michael Bidwill "said that...the state relies too much on retail and contracting revenues." Yes, he of the Arizona Cardinals whose taxpayer-funded stadium in the cotton field was meant to be a magnet for contracting and retail. Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs said, "It's overwhelming. It's really overwhelming when you look at all the areas where we are deficient." Duh, ace, as we said in fifth grade. You get the picture. Deeply unserious -- another summit to nowhere. But rather than go back to discuss the real problems and solutions, which you can find here, I want to encourage the Kookocracy to use Teabag Day to redouble their efforts.
Yes, Americans pay some of the lowest taxes among advanced nations. And, yes, they are getting screwed by the rich and the corporations that use outrageous loopholes to avoid paying taxes (any taxes in many cases). No matter. This is a day to stir up the resentments of the duhs and ignos -- against government and imaginary socialist plots. The "tea parties" are acts of civic vandalism and nihilism -- and, as Thomas Frank observes, helpful to the ruling oligarchs. (See also, Bob Reich's great "Citizen's Guide to Kooks, Demagogues and Right-wingers on Tax Day").
But I must admit, as I finger my urban pitchfork and my bag of Earl Gray, I see the Kookocracy slipping. The Legislature is in vapor lock. Gov. Jan Brewer is discussing the socialistic proposition that I raised eight years ago: whether Arizona's tax structure was adequate for its needs.
So where are the people of principle there? Men like Randy Pullen, the state GOP chairman, or the indefatigable Russell Pearce? The Kookocracy is going flabby. Arizona is lurching through the crisis no less muddlingly than it would have done under Saint Janet.
That's a shame. I'm serious here. Nationally, the Republican Party has been reduced to a Southern/rural regional party of angry white guys and no other policy than tax cuts. If pure, real conservative ideas were tried out in Arizona, this might lead the way to a GOP revival.
The Republican Party of Arizona has nearly complete control of the government. Admittedly, it is a party that has been so completely seized by the extreme right that it would denounce Barry Goldwater, John Rhodes and Paul Fannin as RINOs. But it is supposedly a party of pure principle, of ideas -- and the only impediment had been the Democratic governor -- or a RINO like Jane Hull. Now they have a governor who comes from the Ev Mecham wing of the party. It is backed by the ideological scribes of the (Bob) Goldwater Institute, who have their policy diktats fed to them by the national conservative think tanks. The states are the laboratories of democracy. So here is a chance to really show how these ideas work.
Instead, silence, obstruction. Arizona is greedily gobbling federal stimulus money (it already receives more from Washington than it contributes), and even talking about a tax increase. You'd almost conclude that the Kookocracy is not about new ideas and principled governance, but really just about keeping power. That can't be true, can it?
Follow Rogue's Kookocracy Watch for updates on the right-wing in total control.