Wednesday, March 22, 2017

On the Theory and Practice of Bullshitting

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 2:00 PM

  • Courtesy of big stock
Bullshit has become such a pervasive form of political speech in the Trump world, it deserves attention as a specific rhetorical style. Most of us use the word to mean something is incorrect: "That's bullshit!" The first time I heard the term "bullshit artist" was in the 1971 film, Carnal Knowledge, where two college students, played by Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel, used it as a semi-complimentary exclamation after some amazing thing the other one said, the rough equivalent of "No way, dude!" But since American philosopher Harry Frankfurt published a short book, On Bullshit, in 2005, the term has been used to refer to a specific form of speech.

The staid and proper Fareed Zakaria talked about Frankfurt's book and about Trump as "bullshit artist" on CNN in August, 2016, during the heat of the presidential campaign and again a few days ago. They're both reasonably short and worth a listen.

Zakaria quotes Frankfurt's book to distinguish between lying and bullshitting. “Telling a lie," Frankfurt writes, "is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point." Bullshit, on the other hand, "is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false . . . [It] has spacious opportunities for improvisation, color and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art.” Frankfurt concludes that "bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

Trump is a legendary bullshit artist—he's been indulging in it throughout his adult life — who piles heaping helpings of narcissism and pathology on top. Our own Doug Ducey is a lower level practitioner, but skilled nonetheless. We see him practice his art regularly when he adopts the mantle of "friend of education." He never tires of complimenting himself for pushing Prop 123, without acknowledging that it resulted in schools getting a portion of what the state owed them by law, and mostly from the schools' own money, the state land trust fund, not the state budget. That makes him less antagonistic to public education than many of his Republican colleagues, but a friend of public education? Hardly. And he's in danger of doing himself injury as he pounds himself on the back for "supporting teachers" by adding a few hundred dollars to their yearly salaries. Both assertions are half true, half false and all bullshit.

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Does This Mean We Can Call It McSallyCare Now?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 1:08 PM

  • Courtesy of Martha McSally's Office
Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ02) broke several weeks of silence on her position on the American Health Care Act, the GOP's replacement of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), by announcing yesterday that she not only supports the AHCA, but is taking credit for several new elements in the bill.

In a prepared statement released yesterday, McSally called the Affordable Care Act "an unmitigated disaster in Arizona—leaving us without real choices statewide.

"The exchanges for 14 of the state’s 15 counties are devoid of competition because they are left with only a single insurer selling coverage," McSally said. "However, the transition to new system will take time and those on Medicaid and ACA exchanges deserve continuity and stability during the transition. Over the past weeks, I have proposed detailed, specific changes to the AHCA that would provide better coverage and a stable transition for seniors, the disabled, children, and middle class families. Through lengthy negotiations with House leadership and the executive branch, I am pleased to have played a role in moving this bill in the right direction."

McSally's support for the legislation earned her praise from House Speaker Paul Ryan (who said McSally's "unwavering commitment to her constituents and her tenacity throughout the negotiating process has led to positive changes and I believe this is a better bill as a result of her involvement”) and even a shoutout from President Donald Trump himself.

There have been changes to the legislation ahead of a rush to a vote on Thursday, March 23. They include $75 billion in tax credits for older Americans, who are projected to see their healthcare premiums skyrocket under the legislation. (How exactly that $75 billion will be doled out isn't spelled out in the legislation; instead, the Senate is supposed to figure that part out); turning Medicaid into a block-grant for states and allowing a requirement that able-bodied adults work if they want to have Medicaid coverage; and a faster repeal of taxes related to the Affordable Care Act. You can read more about the changes here if you're feeling wonky.

McSally's enthusiasm for the latest version of the legislation isn't shared by all of her GOP colleagues. It's coming down to white-knuckle time on Capitol Hill as tomorrow's vote on this legislation approaches—and it appears that the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus still aren't on board. As The Hill reports:

Speaking to reporters outside a Freedom Caucus meeting after a White House meeting, the group called on leaders to start over on ObamaCare, saying the replacement bill does not have the votes to pass Thursday.

"The opposition is still strong," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the group.

"They don't have the votes to pass this tomorrow. We believe that they need to start over and do a bill that actually reduces premiums."
Meanwhile, a new Morning Consult poll shows the legislation's popularity continues to plummet:

Since the Congressional Budget Office released its cost estimate of the Obamacare alternative last week, showing steep coverage losses, the legislation’s approval rating has dipped six points, from 46 percent to 40 percent. Obamacare’s approval rating, on the other hand, sits at 46 percent, as it did in February.
McSally has made a career of refusing to go out on a limb for controversial legislation. You have to wonder why she picked this slender branch to get out ahead of an issue.

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Local Danish Bakery Serves Up Savory Desserts

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 9:41 AM

Steve Hashemi greets customers at the register, while Sherry Hashemi prepares a coffee drink. The Hashemis named their business after their daughter. - HAILEY FREEMAN
  • Hailey Freeman
  • Steve Hashemi greets customers at the register, while Sherry Hashemi prepares a coffee drink. The Hashemis named their business after their daughter.

With their light, flaky exterior surrounding gooey insides, Danish pastries are as close to perfection as it gets.

Luckily Tucsonans don’t have to settle for the semi-stale, packaged varieties found in warehouse clubs across town. For authentic, baked Danish goods, locals need look no further than the Catalina Foothills area.

Mona’s Bakery (4777 E Sunrise Dr # 113) is Tucson’s only Danish bakery. Owners Steve and Sherry Hashemi opened Mona’s in 2001 before settling into their current location. 2017
marks its tenth anniversary in the Swan and Sunrise area.

I remembered to snap a shot midway through devouring my  Danish pastry. - HAILEY FREEMAN
  • Hailey Freeman
  • I remembered to snap a shot midway through devouring my Danish pastry.
“Danish pastries are very popular in all parts of the world,” Steve says. “If you go to Africa or Asia people still ask for these pastries.”

According to Steve, the Danes are unique in the way they fold dough for their pastries. A typical pastry contains 28 layers of Danish dough and 27 layers of butter, according to Steve. At Mona’s, Steve makes his own dough from scratch. Their pastries require the use of special butter, which is imported from Europe. Mona’s also gets its cheese and other raw ingredients from Denmark.

Steve, who graduated from culinary school in Jutland, Denmark, begins baking each morning at 4 a.m. By closing time, Steve says that “80-90 percent” of the product is sold. The bakery sells sandwiches, breads and coffee drinks, but their cinnamon rolls and cinnamon flats are the most popular menu items.

“We’ll sometimes run out of the individual cinnamon rolls by two in the afternoon,” Steve says. “They are very, very popular.”

These cinnamon rolls are customer favorites. - HAILEY FREEMAN
  • Hailey Freeman
  • These cinnamon rolls are customer favorites.
Another favorite, especially during the holidays, is the kringle. Danish kringles are pastries filled with nuts, cheese, or fruits. Pretzel-shaped kringles are sold in Denmark, while American bakeries generally offer oval-shaped ones.

Steve mentions how some of his first customers were winter visitors from Wisconsin and Michigan looking for kringles. Today, his bakery attracts people from all over the U.S.

I first tried Mona’s after returning home from a family trip that included a stay in Solvang, California. Otherwise known as the Danish Capital of America, Solvang boasts numerous delicious bakeries. I was looking to satisfy my craving for a good raspberry-filled Danish pastry. Mona’s didn’t disappoint.

Having Danish heritage, I’m naturally also a fan of ebelskivers. I generally top these spherical, dough delights with powdered sugar and pair them with a healthy glob of berry jam. Unfortunately, Mona’s doesn’t sell ebelskivers, so locals are left to get their fill during the Tucson Meet Yourself weekend or take on the baking venture themselves.

For all other Danish dessert cravings, Mona’s Bakery has got you covered.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Arizona ACA Enrollment Down 3.3 Percent. Cost For People With Subsidies Down 13.3 Percent.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 12:12 PM

  • Courtesy of bigstockphoto
This is one of those "All I know is what I read in the papers" (cowboy hat-tip to Will Rogers) posts. The AP has an article on current ACA/Obamacare enrollment in Arizona which is full of informative facts and figures. Unfortunately, the AP headline, which is factually true, leaves a skewed impression of what's actually happened.

The AP headline reads:

That's true, but it's misleading. My longer headline, I think, summarizes the information in the article more accurately:

Arizona ACA Enrollment Down 3.3 Percent. Cost For People With Subsidies Down 13.3 Percent.

Let's look at the numbers in the article. Here's the overall picture for the state, according to the article.
Overall, Arizona saw a 3.3 percent enrollment decline in marketplace plans that are a key component of former President Obama’s heath care law, to about 196,000 people.
By the way, though it doesn't mention it in the article, that number is only for those buying insurance on the ACA marketplace. It doesn't include adults and children on Medicaid, which totals about 400,000.

A loss of a bit more than three percent of participants in the ACA marketplace? That doesn't sound anything like the Republican "Obamacare on life support" meme we hear so often, which often uses Arizona as a prime reason for pulling the plug. It sounds more like a reasonable yearly ebb and flow. However, the loss is far higher among those who don't qualify for tax credits. It's 23 percent. If you're a family of four, you pay the whole ACA cost when your income hits $97,000. If I'm reading this correctly, that $97,000 figure is the family's Adjusted Gross Income, which is total income minus deductions, meaning a family's actual combined salaries plus other income sources would be considerably higher, certainly over $100,000. According to the article, only the top 20 percent of Arizonans who get their insurance through the ACA marketplace pay full price. While no one wants to pay the full cost of ACA health care, which averages $611 a month, the top 20 percent who make over a hundred grand can manage it.

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Liz Needs a Home

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 11:00 AM


Hi, I'm Liz!

I'm a beautiful 3 year old yellow lab mix and I need a new home! I was transferred to HSSA from a different shelter and am a very sweet girl!

I have been getting along well with my kennel mate and love going out for daily walks with volunteers! Stop by HSSA Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd. and take me out in the yard to do a meet and greet, you wont regret it!

I need a home, but if you aren't looking to adopt you can still help homeless pets like me by donating to HSSA's fund to build a new home!

They are asking people like you to help them raise 3 million dollars! Click here for more information about the new shelter and how you can help today!

If you want to give me a home give HSSA a call at 520-327-6088 ext. 173 for more information!

Lots of love,
Liz (840131)

Cinema Clips: The Belko Experiment

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 10:00 AM

If this schlocky horror offering suffers from anything, it’s that it thinks it is deeper and cleverer than it actually is.

Penned by James Gunn, this silly movie pits a bunch of office staff workers against one another after a voice comes over their intercom telling them to start killing each other off, or everybody dies. The building is sealed, the “experiment” is put into motion, and the likes of Tony Goldwyn and John C. McGingley start acting like real, homicidal assholes.

Directed by Greg McLean, the film is fun on a very base level (If you like movies where lots of heads blow up, this one’s for you!). There’s a definite terror involved in not knowing whose head is going to blow up next, and the folks handling the gore factor do a pretty good job. It’s when the big reveal comes at the end, a big reveal that offers absolutely nothing in the surprise category, that the movie loses a few points.

John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane) is good as the protagonist, a guy who does his darndest to not join in on the inter-office carnage. You could look at this as deep satire, or a resonating meditation on the current state of mind control when it comes to government and employers in an increasingly paranoid society. I like to look at it as a film where brains go flying in a fairly convincing, somewhat entertaining manner.

Casa Video Top 10

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 9:03 AM

Some nights all we want to do after a long, exhausting day is change into that worn-out sweatshirt, grab our favorite snacks and curl up next to our furry friends on the couch for a mindless Netflix marathon. When even Netflix runs out of binge-worthy shows for your tastes, have no fear—Casa Video is here! Here are the current top ten rentals you too can snag from Tucson's favorite video store.


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Monday, March 20, 2017

Arkansas Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 12:14 PM

Hi, remember me? I'm Arkansas!

I'm a unique 1-year-old boy and I need a new home. I was transferred to HSSA from a different shelter so they don't know a lot about my previous living situation. My teeth look a little different, but I think that's what makes me special and unique!

I've been getting well with other dogs, and love meeting new people. I'm learning how to sit for treats and love to play! If you have a current dog bring them over to HSSA Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd. to do a doggy meet and greet!

I need a home, but if you aren't looking to adopt you can still help homeless pets like me by donating to HSSA's fund to build a new home!

They are asking people like you to help them raise 3 million dollars! Click here for more information about the new shelter and how you can help today!
I hope to meet you soon!

Lots of love,
Arkansas (838954)

Staff Pick

Frida: Portraits by Nickolas Muray

Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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