Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Conversation with Author Bruce Bartlett, Part 1: Tax Bill Is "Dreadful Legislation"

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Bruce Bartlett served as an advisor in the Reagan Administration and in the Department of the Treasury in the George H. Bush Administration. He later worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis and is now a newspaper columnist and a New York Times bestselling author whose books include The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics, and The New Way Forward. In October, he released a new book The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts From Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks. This interview is taken from an upcoming appearance on the radio version of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel, which will air at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM. The Range will feature more of this interview tomorrow.

Let's get right to what's happening in Washington. You are certainly not a fan of this GOP tax proposal that's moving forward this week.

No, I think its dreadful legislation, and the proof of that is that the Republicans are trying to rush this thing through in the dead of night without anybody knowing what the hell is in the legislation. If it's so great, they should be detailing it, all its various provisions, instead of keeping them secret. So I think this is just going to be very harmful to the economy if it passes. I've been saying I think it will have zero impact on growth, it might even reduce it. It's a replay of what was done in Kansas a few years ago, which was a disaster. I think the second the legislation is enacted, all these Republicans, who blithely increased the budget deficit and the debt by $1.5 trillion, will suddenly notice that the deficit is mysteriously and unexpectedly gotten $1.5 trillion bigger. They will insist that spending must be slashed. I think people really need to be aware that this is just phase one of a two part plan to, basically, downsize and decimate the government.

In particular, you think they are going to target the entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Well, they will have no choice because (A), they cannot raise taxes because they've all signed a tax pledge that prevents them from doing so and, besides, it's against their ideology anyway. And (B), defense will have to be exempted because that's what Republicans do, they exempt defense. If you take that out, you take out things like interest on the debt that can't be cut, all you're left with to get serious money is entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Because there's not much left in the government that it does, that you can get hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of spending cuts out of.

You were actually there for the 1986 tax reform that was done during the Reagan Administration and that seemed to be a bipartisan project that really took a serious look at loopholes. How does what you're seeing this year differ from what you saw in 1986?

Well, there's no comparison whatsoever. The 1986 Act had, as its underlying premises, that it would be revenue neutral, so the cuts in tax rates were paid for dollar-for-dollar by base broadening, by getting rid of loopholes. And secondly, the legislation was distributionally neutral. That is, that no particular income class got more than any other class. It was pretty even across the board. This legislation has virtually no reforms of any kind in it. It's just random tax increases to pay for huge tax cuts for the wealthy that is going to greatly increase the national debt and lead, inevitably, to cuts in Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security.

Yet, it's being presented as a once in a generation opportunity to do that kind of similar tax reform as 1986. That's really a fig leaf that they're placing on top of this.

I would say it's just a lie. It's just a flat-out lie.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Laughing Stock: X-Mas is for Overindulging!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 5:52 PM

Breaking good at the casino

Ranked in the top 20 of Rolling Stone’s 2017 list of favorite stand-up comedians, Bill Burr rolls into the Tucson comedy scene via the Southern Arizona route on Friday, Dec. 2. He’s performing at Desert Diamond Casino, Sahuarita as one of that venue’s select few comedy offerings. The show is at 8 pm; tickets are $35 to $60.50. Visit this website for tickets and more information.

Burr has produced five, hour-long stand-up specials, and the streaming, animated Netflix series, F is for Family, freshly picked up by the network for a third season. Burr also delivers a twice-weekly rant via his popular Monday Morning Podcast. He has appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Falon. Yet some will remember him best as Patrick Kuby in Breaking Bad.

Estrogen Hour’s offering up virgins, again.

Jill Kimmel headlines The Estrogen Hour, Sunday, Dec. 3 at Laff’s Comedy Caffe. - THE ESTROGEN HOUR
  • The Estrogen Hour
  • Jill Kimmel headlines The Estrogen Hour, Sunday, Dec. 3 at Laff’s Comedy Caffe.
At first, Jill Kimmel didn’t want to be known as Jimmy Kimmel’s sister. Naturally, it’s the one thing everyone wants to know since she recently reclaimed her maiden name. The issue was that she wanted to make it as a comedian on her own. Her accomplishments, including a featured role on season two of Comedy Central's Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City, and performances for US armed services around the world, have since tucked that under her belt. So with her family name, Kimmel headlines the December edition of Tucson’s celebration of women’s comedy, The Estrogen Hour. The show is at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, at Laff’s Comedy Caffe. Make reservations at All proceeds from the $15 admission benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Veteran Tucson comedian Nancy Stanley hosts TEH, which she co-founded with Mary Steed. Dec. 3’s first-time comedians, called Comedy Virgins, include Linda Chorney, Shann Oliver, and Leigh Spencer. Repeat Estrogen performers are Tucson comedians Lisa Andris, Charlotte Bellflower, Jennifer Finley, Cindell Hanson, Edna Meza Aguirre, Suzie Sexton and your humble scribe, Linda Ray.

Aw. Remember kvelling for that li’l tree?

Hearts warm. Tear ducts leak. And everyone is that broken little tree, looking for love. Arizona Rose Theatre Company, the little theater that could, is staging Charlie Brown’s Christmas in their pop-up space across from the Container Store in Tucson Mall. Following the short play, the show includes a revue of familiar holiday music.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; through Dec. 10. Admission is $15; less for children and military; $2 more at the door. Make reservations online.

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Tucsonans Travel to D.C. To Argue Against the Republican Tax Bill

Posted By on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 4:50 PM

  • In the Senate Finance Committee Meeting Room
Eight Tucsonans gathered in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to try and persuade Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake to vote against the tax bill working its way through Congress. One version of the bill passed the House. Senate Republican leaders are wheeling and dealing with on-the-fence Republicans, all but two of whom are needed to pass the bill. As I write this, as many as eight senators, including Flake and McCain, haven't made a firm commitment.

Alma Hernandez, senior organizer of Arizonans United for Health Care, brought five people with her from Tucson, many of whom were visiting D.C. for the first time. Joan and I, who were already in D.C., joined them. In the group were teachers, graduate students, retirees, a small business owner and a public defender. Our day was organized by the Center for American Progress, who set up the events, shepherded the group through the labyrinthine corridors of power and arranged for us to attend the CNN Town Hall on the tax bill Tuesday evening.

Neither Flake nor McCain were available to meet with the group, so we met with staffers. Individuals shared their stories. Julie Simmons, a cancer survivor and small business owner, said that her personal health insurance and her ability to provide insurance for her employees depends on the existence of the Affordable Care Act, which will take a serious hit if the tax bill passes and the individual mandate is eliminated. Tony Zinman also survived cancer and understands the huge expenses which can be associated with combating the disease. As a public defender, he works with many Tucsonans on the margins of society who depend on the kind of social services which could be endangered by the budget cuts which would inevitably follow the Republican tax cuts. Ellen Stark and Alma Hernandez, both in graduate school, spoke of the student loans they need to complete their degrees. They worried that eliminating the graduate student tuition waiver would make it more difficult for students and discourage potential students from entering degree programs in the future. Hernandez said Latinas like her are underrepresented in her graduate school program, and increasing students' debt burdens would make the situation that much worse. Sunni Lopez and other teachers complained that low salaries were already driving teachers from classrooms. Eliminating the $250 tax deduction for purchasing classroom supplies would make it even harder for teachers to make ends meet.

Many in the group expressed admiration for courageous stands both senators have taken. McCain is famous for bucking his party leadership. Though Flake has voted with Trump consistently, he has demonstrated moral courage in recent statements about the many troubling aspects of Trump's presidency. The group expressed hope the Arizona senators would recognize the fatal flaws in the tax bill and vote No.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

$59 Million Can Focus the Mind, Even If You're Facebook

Posted By on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 3:59 PM

Facebook is facing the possibility of a $59 million fine if it allows hate speech to remain on its site for more than a week. Not here. In Germany. As a result, the company is adding 500 new contractors to the 700 it already hired to review posts for illegal content.

I did the money math. Give 1,200 workers something like $60,000 in salary and benefits, and it costs Facebook $72 million. Get fined twice and it costs $118 million, and you still haven't dealt with the problem. The new German hires are a no-brainer for Zuckerman & Co.

The situation in Germany doesn't translate easily to the U.S. We have First Amendment protections they don't have in Germany, and given the anonymous interference in our elections, hate speech on Facebook is far from our biggest worry. But the point is, if Facebook can ramp up diligence on its site for fear of losing money in another country, it can do the same kind of thing here because it's the right thing to do—or because it fears people will get pissed enough at the company that they'll take their posts and find a new home at another internet social provider.

At the end of the year, Facebook is planning to roll out a new tool here which will let users find out if they liked or followed Russia-based content over the past few years. The move is a hint of what the company can do if it wants to, but it's not nearly enough. The listing will only show if you had contact with the ads or posts. It won't show the content. Better would be to create pages filled with the actual posts divided by topic so everyone can get a sense of the kind of disinformation they were subjected to. That should be doable. And it still isn't enough if the company doesn't use what it has learned to prevent a similar proliferation of propaganda during the 2018 election cycle. Times a-wastin'. We're already well into the next election cycle.

C'mon, Mark, you're an immensely talented guy surrounded by some of the best cyber talent in the country. Do it right this time. Don't Zuck it up.

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No Joy in 'Mudbound': Powerful Performances Drive a Bleak Tale to a Devastating Finish

Posted By on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 1:17 PM

Director and co-screenwriter Dee Rees paints a bleak picture of post WWII Mississippi in this performance powerhouse that showcases the talents of Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke and, most notably, Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton).

After the war, a traumatized Jamie McAllan (Hedlund) returns home to stay on a farm with his brother Henry (Clarke) and wife Laura (Mulligan). Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) also returns to the farm but, while both men were regarded as heroes overseas, their return is fraught with alcohol abuse for Jamie and rampant racism from town folks towards African American Ronsel.

Henry and Laura have problems of their own dealing with the troubled Jamie and Henry’s hateful father, Pappy (a sinister Jonathan Banks). This is one of those movies that you know won’t end well, and while Rees allows for occasional moments of relief, it is a mostly somber affair with a devastating finish. Mitchell continues to emerge as one of his generation’s best actors, while Hedlund does perhaps his best work to date. Both actors put full body and soul into their roles, and they create characters that definitely leave a mark.

The always reliable Mulligan is great as the wife forced to live out her life on a muddy, flooded farm in order to appease her dopey husband. Clarke paints Henry as a man of little commitments and quiet reserve, the kind of guy you can’t depend upon in a fight. The movie is packed with stellar acting, and Rees does a solid job with the technical elements.

Streaming on Netflix during a limited theatrical run.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Laughing Stock: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

Posted By on Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 3:20 PM

Sari Baliak of Phoenix headlines Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby, Nov. 30 at Club Congress. - MATT SANTOS
  • Matt Santos
  • Sari Baliak of Phoenix headlines Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby, Nov. 30 at Club Congress.
“From an intellectual academic level,” says Rebecca Tingley, a fine arts Ph.D and former cast member of Chelsea Handler’s show, Girls Behaving Badly, “I have been exploring how things surrounding women and their sexuality is always a secret.

“If you have an abortion it's a secret. If you're having your period it's a secret. If you are a woman that’s sexual, that’s supposed to be secret.” And, as we lately have been reminded, repeatedly and deeply disturbingly, molestation and harassment are always secret. Until they aren’t.

“Being able to talk frankly about sex from a female perspective demystifies it,” Tingley says. As a veteran New York and LA standup comic, she decided, “Let's just make a comedy show about sex so we can talk about whatever we want.” The result, Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby, debuted successfully in October, and returns to Club Congress from 8 to 9:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 30. Doors open at 7:30; admission is $3.

Tingley’s wheelhouse is “feminist comedy,” a genre that undermines the dour stereotype of feminism with a fun-house mirror perspective on the culture that’s spawned it. “Feminist comedy is a nice niche,” Tingley says. “But I also wanted (the sex show) to have broader appeal

Her concept evolved over a year’s worth of weekly counsel from ballet moms at the studio where she enrolled her daughter. She describes them as ‘very progressive women,” who happened to have family ties to Hotel Congress.

“I told them about my idea,” Tingley says. “What could we do that would just be across the board something people would talk about? How could we draw people to it as a fun thing to do? Go laugh about sex! Have some drinks downtown!”

The outcome was a talk show, with Tingley in the Johnny Carson role, sidekick Tammy King as Ed McMahon and Tucson favorite Randy Ford as what Tingley says is a cross between Doc Severinsen and Vanna White. Tingley opens the show, then leads a segment called “Catching up with Tammy,” wherein she queries King, just divorced after 25 years, about her latest discoveries in the single life. “I describe her as going through puberty again,” Tingley says.

Four guest comedians do ten -minute sets, then field questions from the audience about sex. Phoenician Sari Beliak, headlines the show; Tucsonans Josiah Osego, CJ Lundblad and a special guest round out the evening.

“We really are talking about sex and we want comics to do jokes that are headed that way.”

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Fill the Truck! Suddath To Host Food Drive on Tuesday

Posted By on Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 12:01 PM

Won't you chip in and help the needy among you in Pima County?
  • Won't you chip in and help the needy among you in Pima County?
Do you enjoy stuffing trucks and/or helping those less fortunate than yourself in Pima County?

If so, boy, are you in luck! Local moving company Suddath Relocation Systems of Arizona is teaming up with Move for Hunger—a nationwide nonprofit organization aiming at ending hunger that's collected more than 9 million pounds of food in the U.S. and Canada, respectively.

The two are teaming up to host a food drive to deliver food to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona next Tuesday.

Their goal is to collect as many food items as possible from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Broadway Road Safeway location (1940 E. Broadway) to help stock the shelves of the food banks.

The organizers ask that people bring any unwanted non-perishable food items from their home, or that they purchase said items when shopping that day.

Keeping food on the plates of Baja Arizona residents is of extra importance, given the 145,000 people in Pima County alone that face hunger, including one in four children.

For more information, visit the Suddath Gives Back page, or contact event organizer Rob Sowinski at (602) 252-5566.

Community Radio KXCI Giving Nonprofits a Boost for Giving Tuesday

Posted By on Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 11:00 AM

KXCI Executive Director Cathy Rivers is helping nonprofits raise money on Giving Tuesday and showing off the station's shiny new studio at Hotel Congress. - COURTESY KXCI
  • Courtesy KXCI
  • KXCI Executive Director Cathy Rivers is helping nonprofits raise money on Giving Tuesday and showing off the station's shiny new studio at Hotel Congress.
Local independent rock-and-roll station 91.3 KXCI is bringing the heat for this year's #GivingTuesday Celebration.

The station, in partnership with several local nonprofits, will broadcast from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. next Tuesday from its studio inside the Hotel Congress.

The goal of Tuesday's event, according to station Executive Director Cathy Rivers, is to help other nonprofits raise the funds vital to their very livelihood.

Rivers knows full well how difficult it can be for small nonprofits to raise those funds, especially with so many national and international emergencies occurring.

She hopes the day-long effort will help build a better Tucson, and help illustrate to the community how vital the organizations are to the city's livelihood.

Rivers knows how tough it can be to motivate the community to donate funds, given the station's turbulent fundraising drive this fall.

"Ultimately we knew we would be alright because Tucsonans always come through for us," Rivers said.

The station's generosity in helping other nonprofits is nothing new, as they've donated $220,000 worth of Community Impact Announcements to 100 local organizations.

Tuesday's event is merely the most recent example of that drive to help the city grow and thrive, Rivers said.

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