So wealthy Republican Gov. Douglas A. Roscoe Jr., aka "Doug Ducey," has ordered the state Commerce Authority to "rebrand" Arizona.
As Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller pointed out, the state's problem isn't image but reality. If you doubt this, read through our Arizona's Continuing Crisis. Scan eight years of columns here. Correct those appalling problems identified and the Grand Canyon State will regain its luster.
But I'm not sure the in-state media are prepared, or would be allowed, to go far enough in examining the situation.
Arizona is at or near the bottom of almost every measure of economic, civic or social well-being, a national beacon of bigotry and know-nothingism, precisely because of the ideology Gov. Roscoe worships. Getting there has required an enormous amount of civic vandalism but Republicans got it done.
Specifically, this one party has controlled the Legislature, the most powerful branch of government, since the 1980s. All but two governors were Republicans. At the same time, the GOP moved from being a mass political party to one of ever more extreme "conservatism." Centrists were pushed out. Incumbents feared a challenge from their right, so became ever more ideologically enslaved. The result is what I labeled in 2001 the Kookocracy.
So Gov. Roscoe and the reverse-evolutionary-poster of legislative leaders own this one. And don't forget the retrograde move to Diane Douglas as Superintendent of Public Instruction. By comparison, her predecessor John Huppenthal resembles Horace Mann.
They own it but there are no consequences at election time. The same holds true for the High Sheriff for Life. The old Anglos would vote for him, pace Edwin Edwards, even if he were "caught in bed with either a live boy and a dead girl."
Every step, they have been enabled and funded by the charter school racket, the private prison racket, the assorted hustles of elected officials, the national right-wing infrastructure epitomized by the "Goldwater" Institute — an advocacy and litigation outlet that local media persist in calling a "think tank — and, most of all, the Real Estate Industrial Complex.
Wrecking the state has been quite profitable. Why do they hate Arizona?
All I can guess is that Gov. Roscoe, with that ever-helpful business background, wants to bamboozle the capital and talent so needed with a slick advertising campaign. He looks in the mirror and sees Scott Walker's running mate. But a state is not an ice-cream franchise scheme.
If he is so naive as to believe: Why us? Arizona has followed the national playbook of cutting taxes and regulation, defunding education, being cruel to the poor and attacking women's reproductive rights. Why aren't we Texas (with championship golf!)? — then he's dumber than even I think. Behold, dear voters, the consequences of believing intelligence and education represent an off-putting elitism.
Texas is sui generis, with massive oil wealth, numerous real corporate headquarters, real cities, a huge population, world-class universities and the benefits that come from a century of bringing home enormous amounts of federal funding.
In Arizona, the anti-city policies espoused by the right have been especially damaging. Phoenix, more tolerant and diverse, deserves better. Has Gov. Roscoe lifted a finger to make the Phoenix Biosciences Campus into Houston's Texas Medical Center (which was Jeff Trent's vision)? Has he even been to Houston?
Also, Texas is different in that it has a significant chunk of its population that deeply, passionately loves the state and its mythology. Most Arizonans think love is sunshine, cheap housing, wide streets and relatively quick access to San Diego and Vegas.
And love will only get you so far. Take away Texas' unique advantages and you get Kansas. All over the New Confederacy, states that have followed the ALEC playbook are hurting compared with their blue competitors. Only Arizona and Mississippi have achieved this low with such élan.
Even "tasking," to use the corporatespeak profaning the Queen's English, the Arizona Commerce Authority shows the rebranding is another short hustle. Competing states have real commerce departments with real economic-development toolkits. This "public-private" successor to the old Arizona Commerce Department still awaits a thorough proctology exam by an investigative reporter.
As for the humor this exercised provoked, I guess it beats thinking about climate change. But I can't laugh. It hurts too much. The joke is on Arizona.