Monday, November 22, 2010

Brewer picks Brutinel for Arizona Supreme Court seat

Congrats to Judge Bob Brutinel, whom I know to be a pretty right guy, for making the Supreme Court cut at last.

Update/correction, Monday: I confirmed over the weekend that, contrary to the previous version of this post, there is no Senate confirmation process for AZ Supreme Court justices.  I got wrong information from a trusted source, sorry about that.

Editorial: Trust ideology over sense

After wasting half his column on the 1070-boycott non-story, the unnamed Courier editor turns to the heroic efforts of our state legislators to address our historic lack of government revenue by reducing revenues further.

Building on Saturday's report on the ATRA presentation at the capitol, the editor touts the fabulous new ideas of our two newbie legislators, which, oddly, sound a lot like their old ideas: cut taxes on business.

That supply-side argument has been utterly demolished by facts on the ground since the Reagan debacle, but they can't let it go. After all, isn't it just common sense that less taxation of business will create more jobs? Isn't it just common sense that a mystical supreme being made all the rocks and bushes by hand? Faith springs eternal.

The JLBC, our state accountants, gave a presentation to legislators last week stating unequivocally that recent proposals to further cut taxes on business will be completely counterproductive and should not go forward. Our legislators, thrust into leadership positions without the experience to back them up, are simply discarding the advice of staff experts who've been working on our budgets in many cases for decades.

They admit that these tax-cut proposals are not even supposed to have any effect on the current downturn, phasing them in over years. It's purely an ideological move. Further, the JLBC reports that "Between FY 2007 and FY 2010,
Corporate tax receipts declined from $986 million to $413 million," indicating not only that businesses are paying half the taxes they were three years ago, but their total contribution to an 8.5-billion-clam budget is already very low.

And while it's true that personal-property taxes are much lower relative to business property taxes, shifting the burden from profitable businesses to strapped and fixed-income homeowners is just not gonna fly, so we can count on seeing that piece negotiated away in the legislative process, leaving us with more looming revenue losses.

These guys are fiddling with ideology while the state burns out. The editor ought to be able to see that and call it for what it is.

It's only unethical when it's called 'news'

On today's op-ed page, Tina Dupuy laments that the left doesn't have a strong, coordinated messaging operation, and makes the case for a sensible parallel to Fox News, leaving out the 'news' canard. Maybe she's missed it, but the left does indeed have the core of such a messaging operation, though we haven't had the wit to capitalize and build on it. It's called Comedy Central.

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Mahr are doing their best to counter the right's agitprop in a more ethical and positive way, with common sense, facts and above all good humor. They treat voters with respect for their intelligence and encourage greater connection to the political world, in ways that no news organization can. This is exactly what Dupuy is asking for.

Because of the pervasive loss of journalistic integrity in our media across the board, younger voters especially are turned off by news and straight punditry. They build personalized information menus for themselves out of everything from Foreign Policy to Facebook, and teevee news is at best a minor player in the mix.

Progressives would do well to take the comics more seriously as a model for communication. Note that while they are not journalists in the traditional sense, they are very long on the integrity of their information. This is the key, engaging people, building trust over time and maintaining it.