Saturday, April 30, 2016

Last Call For Zika Gets Real

A Puerto Rican man died from complications of the Zika virus earlier this year, the first reported death attributed to the disease in the United States.

The victim, a man in his 70s, died in February from internal bleeding as a result of a rare immune reaction to an earlier Zika infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Puerto Rico now has 683 confirmed Zika infections in its outbreak, which began in December; 89 are in pregnant women, according to Dr. Ana Ríus, the territory’s health secretary. Fourteen of those women have given birth, and all their babies are healthy, she said.

Seventeen patients have been hospitalized for Zika-related causes in Puerto Rico. Of those, seven had Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare form of paralysis that strikes about two weeks after an infection and, although frightening, is usually temporary.

The man who died was a resident of the San Juan area who fell ill withfever, rash and other typical Zika symptoms early this year, said Tyler M. Sharp, a C.D.C. epidemiologist working in Puerto Rico.

“That illness resolved,” Dr. Sharp said. “But very soon after, he had bleeding manifestations.”

He was hospitalized and died within 24 hours.

The condition that killed him, immune thrombocytopenic purpura, is similar to Guillain-Barré in that the Zika infection triggered his immune system to produce antibodies that attacked his own cells. In Guillain-Barré, they attack nerve cells, while in this case, they attacked the platelets, which cause the blood to clot.

The death was not described earlier because it took time to be sure Zika was the cause. “We had to check with family members, his personal physician and the doctors who managed him to be sure he didn’t have something else going on,” Dr. Sharp said.

I'm sure Republicans will get off their asses any time now and approve emergency funding to help fight this virus.  How many more people will die in the meantime, well, hey, it's just Puerto Rico, right?

Except of course the most likely point of entry into the mainland US will be in Southern states.  You might hear some concerns if things play out like they did Ebola in say, Texas a while back.

Clinton Goes Off

I thought that this Hillary Clinton interview with CNN was actually somewhat amusing.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton says she has experience dealing with men who “get off the reservation” like GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak,” Clinton told CNN Friday.“I’m not going to deal with their temper tantrums or their bullying or their efforts to try to provoke me,” she said. “He can say whatever he wants to me. I could really care less.”
That's exactly how Trump should be treated.

Trump has been attacking Clinton in recent weeks, from calling her “Crooked Hillary” to accusing her of using the “woman card” to get votes.

Trump escalated those attacks Thursday in an interview with the "Today" show, saying “without the woman’s card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to even run for city council positions.”

“I think the only thing she has going for her is the fact that she’s a woman,” he said. “She has done a terrible job in so many ways.”

He's such a dick.  Let him and his followers rot in the ashes of time.

Like A Kansas Tornado, Con't

Over in Brownbackistan, Kansas Republicans are facing a wipeout in November at the state level unless they find a way to plug the state's $290 million hole.  Things are so bad for Republicans across the country right now that state lawmakers are considering the unthinkable: eliminating GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's business tax exemptions.

Kansas lawmakers are moving forward with a bill to roll back the state’s income tax exemption for business owners, Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature policy.

The bill would repeal the exemption, which allows the owners of limited liability companies and other pass-through businesses to avoid paying any state income tax, on Jan. 1, 2017.

Rep. Mark Hutton, R-Wichita, said the bill is estimated to bring in about $220 million annually into state coffers.

“It’s a structural change we believe puts us on a stronger path,” Hutton said.

The state wouldn’t begin collecting the tax revenue until the 2018 fiscal year, which will start in July 2017, because of the delayed implementation. That means the bill won’t help the state out of its current $290 million budget hole.

“There’s a lot of people who want that vote,” Hutton said. “They believe it’s at least time to have the conversation.”

Read more here:

Kansas business groups and the Governor are predicting that anyone who votes for the rollback will face obliteration by voters.

“The Governor does not believe taxing our small business job creators is the way to grow the Kansas economy. An important component in attracting and retaining businesses is a stable regulatory and tax policy environment,” Eileen Hawley, Brownback’s spokeswoman, said Friday.

Hutton’s proposal drew strong opposition from business groups upon its unveiling.

“The business community is not the reason we’re in the current situation that we’re in. They only represented 29 percent of the tax relief in 2012 and yet they’re the ones that are being singled out,” said Mike O’Neal, president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and a former speaker of the Kansas House, who oversaw the 2012 tax reforms.

O’Neal said that 20 percent of respondents to a recent poll of business owners conducted by the chamber said that the tax changes helped them stay in business. “So a vote in favor of this is basically a vote to shut down 20 percent of those people, who but for the tax reforms in ’12 would have gone out of business,” he said.

Once again, Brownback has already been re-elected and doesn't have to face voters anymore.  Kansas state lawmakers however do.

Will they go down with Brownback, the most unpopular governor in the country?

We'll find out.

Read more here:

The AirBnB Up There

Given the tech industry's absolutely dismal record on diversity, it's no surprise that business models based on the "sharing economy" come complete with all the internal biases of the people sharing them.  AirBnb is a perfect example, where people looking to stay a night or two are matched up with people who can rent out their homes for short term stays and owners can accept or reject people wanting to stay there.

Guess who has a problem getting a place to stay?

Quirtina Crittenden was struggling to get a room on Airbnb. She would send a request to a host. Wait. And then get declined. 
"The hosts would always come up with excuses like, 'oh, someone actually just booked it' or 'oh, some of my regulars are coming in town, and they're going to stay there,'" Crittenden said. "But I got suspicious when I would check back like days later and see that those dates were still available." 
In many ways Crittenden, 23, is the target audience for AirBnb. She's young, likes to travel, and has a good paying job as a business consultant in Chicago. So she started to wonder if it had something to do with her race. Crittenden is African American, and on AirBnb, both hosts and guests are required to have their names and photos prominently displayed on their profiles. 
Crittenden shared her frustrations on Twitter with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack. She started hearing from lots of friends who had similar experiences. 
"The most common response I got was, 'oh yeah, that's why I don't use my photo.' Like duh. Like I was the late one," Crittenden said.

And of course it's not just her, racism is baked into the system because America is a racist nation, period.

Crittenden's story fits within a larger finding that racial discrimination on AirBnb is widespread. Michael Luca and his colleagues Benjamin Edelman and Dan Svirsky at Harvard Business School recently ran an experiment on AirBnb. They sent out 6,400 requests to real AirBnb hosts in five major American cities—Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington. 
All the requests were exactly the same except for the names they gave their make-believe travelers. Some had African American-sounding names like Jamal or Tanisha and others had stereotypically white-sounding names like Meredith or Todd. 
Luca and his colleagues found requests with African American sounding names were roughly 16 percent less likely to be accepted than their white-sounding counterparts. They found discrimination across the board: among cheap listings and expensive listings, in diverse neighborhoods and homogenous neighborhoods, and with novice hosts as well as experienced hosts. They also found that black hosts were also less likely to accept requests from guests with African American-sounding names than with white-sounding ones. 
Luca and his colleagues found hosts pay a price for their bias—when hosts rejected a black guest, they only found a replacement about a third of the time. In a separate study, Luca and his colleagues have found that guests discriminate, too, and black hosts earn less money on their properties on Airbnb.

So black hosts and black guests are discriminated against openly, and there's basically nothing that they can do.  There's a reason I don't use "sharing economy" services like Uber or AirBnb, because there's no protections there.  The fact that you can pick and choose who you let stay in your home is arguably the major selling point of being a host, as well as being able to pick a host as a guest.

People want to do that.  "I'm not staying in her home, it's probably dirty" or "I don't feel comfortable letting them stay here" happens a lot more than people will ever admit.

The larger problem is the tech world's idiotic insistence that the internet makes race invisible or irrelevant, when clearly the opposite is true.  And that's because the flawed business models are nearly all invented by white techbros who have never had to think a day in their lives about their privilege.

"I don't see color" doesn't work in reality, folks.  At best, these guys are clueless to the point of being unaware of the damage they are causing, at worst, they know damn well their business model allows people to "curate" who interacts with them for money in ways that would be legally actionable in traditional business arrangements, and gosh, maybe that's the point.

This has been repeated in too many ways for it to be coincidence, guys.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Last Call For Not Dodging A Bullet

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is actually pretty glad that the GOP told the Queen City to go to hell and picked Cleveland instead, considering what's coming with Trump and his "supporters" in July.

It was a sad day in May 2014 when Cincinnati leaders reluctantly withdrew their bid for the Republican National Convention after learning their facilities weren’t good enough. 
Hand-wringing soon followed over the outdated U.S. Bank Arena and lack of public transportation, which had cost the city a week-long event worth more than $200 million in direct spending. 
Now, two years later, some Cincinnatians are actually relieved the city lost the convention.

As Cleveland prepares to host the RNC in July amid threats of riots and concerns about delegate safety, many in Cincinnati’s political and business circles are quietly glad that they will not host what could be the most tumultuous convention in decades. 
“We’ve seen the violence at the Donald Trump rallies and I just think it’s probably best that it’s not coming here,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. 
Political conventions are usually tame events full of party pageantry and expensive dinners that bring an economic boom to host cities. 
Yet this year’s RNC could see a real floor fight between frontrunner Trump and those who want to deny him the nomination. If he doesn’t win it, Trump said in March that riots would follow.

It's beginning to sink in to Ohio voters how much of a disaster Trump is going to be, but it doesn't mean he can't still win the state, or the nation.  I don't think he will myself, but the other point is that the abstract "riots in Cleveland" because of the convention is going to affect real people, and it's not going to be Trump voters that are going to feel it when Cleveland PD breaks out the "urban pacification systems" on a hair trigger.

I understand why Mayor Cranley would be relived.  It doesn't mean Cuyahoga County isn't going to bleed.

Ed Man Walking

You guys didn't really think all these years that Ed Schultz really cared about anything other than his own wallet, did you?

Back when he hosted a prime-time talk show on MSNBC, Ed Schultz divided the world into heroes and villains. The heroes usually included Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The villains were most Republicans, and especially Donald J. Trump. When Trump obsessed over Obama’s birth certificate and academic credentials in 2011, Schultz branded him “a racist.” When Trump flirted with running for president the next year, Schultz ridiculed him. “Who has shown any interest in Donald Trump being the next president of the United States other than Donald Trump?” he fumed. “Mr. Trump, stop embarrassing yourself!” 
Another bad guy was Russian President Vladimir Putin. Schultz delighted in ripping conservatives for what he called their “love affair” with the Russian leader and his ability to make Obama look weak on the world stage. “They hate Obama so much they will even embrace the head of the KGB ... ‘Putie’ is their new hero!” Schultz said in one 2013 segment. In another, he smugly reminded conservatives about Putin’s “nasty human rights record” and the way his “reckless behavior” was “crippling” Russia. More generally, Schultz often framed GOP opposition to Obama as “anti-American” or “unpatriotic.”

That was all before last July, when MSNBC abruptly canceled The Ed Show after a six-year run and dumped the 62-year-old prairie populist from the network. By the time Schultz resurfaced this January, he had been reincarnated in a very different journalistic form: as a prime-time host, reporter and political analyst for RT America, the U.S. branch of the global cable network formerly known as Russia Today, funded by the Russian government. 
Gone is the praise for Obama and Clinton. Gone, too, are the mocking references to “Putie.” And gone are the judgments about others’ patriotism. Schultz’s 8 p.m. RT show, The News with Ed Schultz, now features Putin-friendly discussions about the failings of U.S. policy in the Middle East, America’s “bloated” defense budget and the futility of NATO strategy. 
Even Trump is getting a new look from Schultz. Speaking at various points on RT in recent months, Schultz has said that Trump “has tapped into an anger among working people,” is “talking about things the people care about,” and even, as Schultz recently declared, that Trump “would easily be able to function” as president
Those are strange words coming from an ex-MSNBC liberal better known for casting Trump as a racist lout. But RT is a strange place. It styles itself as an edgy CNN or BBC, delivering unvarnished news and commentary with a mostly hip, young cast. But just under the surface is a bought-and-paid-for propaganda vehicle trying to nudge viewers toward Russia’s side of the story at a time when Moscow has increasingly become an international pariah, estranged from the West over its military aggression in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere, its elites sanctioned and its economy struggling with isolation, decaying infrastructure and collapsing energy prices.

Yes, I know any article coming from Politico Magazine about the state of our political media is hysterical, but it doesn't mean that Schultz isn't the opportunistic, self-obsessed jackass that he always was, the same jackass who famously told liberal voters to stay home in 2010 because Obama had failed the country.

When somebody shows you who they really are, you should believe them.  And Ed Schultz going from happy liberal warrior to now taking Putin's paychecks is something you could have predicted six years ago.

After all, he still gets to trash Obama either way, and that's all that he waned to do in life.

How Bitter Will Bernie's End Be? Con't

The Sanders camp has finally moved to the acceptance stage of electoral grief and is now coming to the Clinton camp for negotiations for a unity ticket. Greg Sargent:

The signs are everywhere this morning: The Clinton and Sanders camps are now signaling how the Democratic primaries might wind down without too much noise, contentiousness, disruption, and anger. Could things still get very ugly? Yes. But at this point, that’s looking less likely than the alternative. 
In an interview with me, Rep. Keith Ellison, a top supporter of Bernie Sanders who is also the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, suggested the Clinton camp had some work to do in order to appeal to Sanders’s supporters. But he also carefully noted that Sanders would not do anything to imperil the party unity that will be required to defeat Donald Trump. 
“Young people have a set of priorities that make them want to support Bernie Sanders,” Ellison said. “If hypothetically she wins the nomination, in order to get people to support Bernie, she’s going to have to carry the banner that Bernie carried in an overt way. She’s going to have to make it clear to people who support Bernie that she gets where he’s coming from.” 
But Ellison added: “Every Bernie supporter knows that this Supreme Court issue is looming. We’ll have party unity….everybody has a responsibility to make sure there will never be a President Trump. Bernie has been around a long time….he’s not going to hand this country over to Donald Trump.”

Bernie is a lot of things, but he's not stupid.  You don't survive Congress without being able to negotiate and compromise at some level.  It's what a lot of the Tea Party stalwarts are finding out the hard way in this election cycle.  Perform or be replaced by somebody who will.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Sanders is increasingly focused on seeking influence over the party agenda as a way to wind things down. He’s hoping for signs of genuine commitment to priorities like debt free college and a $15 minimum wage, and to reforms to the nomination process that might maximize participation among the sort of young, unaffiliated Sanders voters who were excluded from the New York primary.
On the Clinton side, the Post reports that a top Clinton backer, Senator Dianne Feinstein, is now calling for both camps to “work together, across our party, to have a platform that represents the views of Democrats.” And:

In 2008, after the divisive primary season concluded, Feinstein opened her Washington manse to host a secret unity meeting between Obama and Clinton. She said she would reprise that role for Clinton and Sanders. “I’d be very happy to offer that,” Feinstein said.
The other day, another top Clinton backer, Senator Sherrod Brown — who has great credibility among economic progressives — also offered in an interview with me to take part in any negotiating efforts to unite the camps. He even suggested that Clinton “should work with him on the platform,” and offered some areas of common ground they could reach on financial reform (an area of real disagreement), such as how to toughen up Dodd-Frank’s requirements for big banks’ plans to wind down in a crisis.

Clinton, for her part, isn't stupid either.  Sanders has definitely pushed her platform to the left on a number of issues.  The trick here is to be as gracious as possible and to share the credit (if at times to even give the credit to Sanders) in order to unify the left.

Remember, she's been through this before from Sanders's perspective.  And she ended up Secretary of State as a result.

We'll see if Bernie is that clever, but he seems to have at least surrounded himself with competent surrogates at the top end, Sherrod Brown and Keith Ellison are pretty sharp and are used to doing heavy lifting on negotiating with other large egos.

That this was the plan has been apparent for a good six to eight weeks now, with the primary essentially being over back on March 15, if not March 1. Reconciliation and unity was always going to happen, because this is what adults do in a system that requires compromise and moving forward.

Hatchets get buried, guys.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Last Call For Trump Cards, Con't

I know that Republicans will fall in line and that Trump will get minimum 45% of the vote in November (in a two candidate fight), the question at this point is if he gets any more than that.

I'm Greg Sargent argues in fact that Trump may not even get 45%.

The basic case for nominating Ted Cruz rather than Donald Trump is that, while Cruz would arguably be the most right-wing nominee in modern American history, and would probably lose to Hillary Clinton, he would not unleash the sort of blood-dimmed tide of down-ticket destruction that Trump would. 
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll lends some support to this view: It finds that Trump’s numbers are unspeakably awfulamong all the voter groups that Republican strategists had hoped to improve the party’s performance among in 2016. On the other hand, Cruz’s numbers aren’t that great among these groups either — they are certainly worse than John Kasich’s are. 
First, Trump. Marvel at these findings: Trump is viewed unfavorably by 67 percent of Americans overall; 75 percent of women; 74 percent of young voters; 91 percent of African Americans; 81 percent of Latinos; 73 percent of college-educated whites; 66 percent of white women; and 72 percent of moderates.

People dislike Hillary Clinton, surely.  But they friggin' hate Donald Trump.  Ted Cruz fares little better.

Could Trump win somehow by running up a huge margin among white voters — particularly blue collar whites and white men? Well, Trump is viewed unfavorably by 59 percent of whites overall, and he is even viewed unfavorably by majorities of non-college whites (52 percent) and white men (51 percent). And Trump’s awful numbers among college educated whites and white women (detailed above) make the run-up-the-white-vote strategy look still more far fetched. 
Now, Cruz. The Texas Senator is viewed unfavorably by 53 percent of women; 50 percent of young voters; 51 percent of blacks; 46 percent of Latinos (versus 32 percent who view him favorably); 65 percent of college educated whites; 56 percent of white women; and 55 percent of moderates. All of that is significantly better than Trump. But he’s underwater with all these groups, and Cruz’s struggles among college educated whites and women (particularly white women) lend some credence to the Democratic assessment that Cruz’s conservatism on social issues could prove crippling among key swing voter groups.

So no matter what, Hillary's 40-ish favorable numbers may be enough, compared to Cruz's worse and Trumps far more awful ones.

Drug Paraphernalia

Missouri Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill opened up a can of whoopass on executives and investors of Valeant Pharmaceuticals before a Senate hearing on Wednesday, and it was glorious.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is one of two U.S. congressional panels investigating sky-rocketing price increases of certain decades-old drugs acquired by companies including Valeant and Turing Pharmaceuticals, a company founded by Martin Shkreli.

Ackman, a major Valeant shareholder, appeared Wednesday alongside the company's outgoing Chief Executive Michael Pearson and Howard Schiller, a board member and former chief financial officer.

Ackman joined the board last month as Valeant faced mounting scrutiny by members of Congress, prosecutors and regulators over its drug pricing, business practices and accounting - issues that have caused its share price to plummet almost 90 percent since August.

Valeant has about $30 billion of debt and has been negotiating with creditors, some of whom issued notices of default after it missed a deadline for the filing of its financial results.

Ackman said Wednesday that one of his top priorities is to protect the company from bankruptcy. Later, in response to a question from Reuters, he expressed confidence that the company will recover.

“There is not going to be any bankruptcy of Valeant,” he said. “We were in a death spiral, and we have taken steps to deal with the banks. We are going to file our 10K on time. We brought in a new CEO.”

Pearson, Ackman and Schiller all told lawmakers on Wednesday they regretted Valeant's pricing decisions.

"The company was too aggressive and I, as its leader, was too aggressive in pursuing price increases on certain drugs," he said.

But many lawmakers on the panel appeared skeptical. They questioned Valeant's business model of investing little in research and development, and the company's practice of acquiring decades-old drugs and raising the prices.

Senator Claire McCaskill, the panel's top Democrat, angrily asked each of the panelists at one point if they could recall one drug that Valeant didn't raise the price on.

"Not in the United States," Pearson responded, while Schiller was only able to come up with the name of one drug Valeant acquired after its purchase of Salix.

"That is not social good, that is social bad," McCaskill said

Even worse, Valeant disclosed that current CEO Michael Papa will be taking a measly $1.5 million a year base salary...and stock options that could be worth tens, if not hundreds of millions.

On Wednesday evening Valeant disclosed Papa’s employment agreement. A first look at the compensation terms indicate the embattled company plans to continue offering stock awards that reward a focus on aggressively increasing the company’s share price.

Documents Valeant filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate Papa could make nearly $100 million if its stock can return to an October 2015 level of $150 a share. If Valeant’s share price hits $270, Papa will make well over $500 million in stock awards, along with cash bonus awards. The stock closed at $34.92 Wednesday.

One stipulation in the agreement, a lockup requiring Papa to own shares for a number of years, wties his rewards to sustainable growth, in theory. But Papa’s stock incentives, called performance share units, are similar to the arrangements that turned Pearson into a paper billionaire as Valeant became a stock market darling.

So yes, Mr. Papa would be a moron to pass up hundreds of millions by not jacking up prices once again on life saving drugs, because his job is to do exactly that.

That's how the game is played.

Frankly, Stein's Monster

Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein has been relatively quiet this campaign (or completely ignored, your choice) but she's definitely making some noise with this offer to Bernie Sanders.

While overly presumptive Republican presidential candidates are rushing to announce potential vice presidential running mates, one presidential candidate is openly courting the idea of a bipartisan unity ticket.

Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, wrote an open letter to Bernie Sanders, asking the Independent Vermont senator to consider ditching his attempt to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for a real “revolution for people, planet and peace” alongside Stein. 
Stein, who has long called on Sanders to join forces with her in the interest of their “shared goals,” wrote to Sanders over the weekend: “I invite you to join me in pushing the boundaries of that system to a place where revolution can truly take root.” 
“You’ve proven that in today’s rapidly changing America, a populist progressive agenda covered by the media and the televised debates can catch on like wildfire and shake the foundations of a political establishment that seemed invulnerable just a few short months ago,” Stein wrote to Sanders, asking if “in this wildly unpredictable election where the old rules are giving way one by one, can we think outside the box and find new and unexpected ways to synergize beyond obsolete partisan divides?”

I can't imagine Bernie's ego allowing him to consider being Jill Stein's running mate, but if he did, you could pretty much start printing out the inaugural ball invitations for President Trump the second he actually took her up on the offer.

You thought Ralph Nader was bad for the country?  A Stein/Sanders Green Party ticket would absolutely hand the White House over to the GOP and would be an unmitigated disaster.

I pray that Bernie isn't this stupid.  Signs are very, very clear that he's ignoring Stein overtures here, and that he should continue to do so.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Last Call For As Callous As They Come

The city of Cleveland has settled a lawsuit with the family of Tamir Rice for $6 million over the shooting death of the then 12-year-old boy by police for the crime of carrying a toy gun in Ohio.  But the settlement isn't the awful part. The response from the Cleveland's  largest police union is.

The head of the Cleveland rank-and-file police union says the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice should use money from a $6 million settlement to educate children about the use of look-alike firearms. 
Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association association, was criticized on a national scale for statements he made to the media in the weeks and months after two officers in his union were involved in Tamir's death. 
The usually talkative Loomis issued a news release that said "we can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms
"Something positive must come from this tragic loss. That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm," the release continues.

Now, stop and think about this.

First of all, the police union is telling the Rice family how to spend their settlement over the death of their child.

Second of all, the police union feels the need to tell the Rice family that it is their duty to educate Cleveland's kids to not play with toy guns so that Cleveland cops don't murder them in cold blood.

I have never seen anything more awfully callous, more reprehensibly disgusting than this release.

Steve Loomis, you are without a doubt a monster.

School Daze, Con't

The destruction of red state public schools continue as the Republican plan to fund white schools at the expense of black ones is creating a new era of school segregation.  Today's example: Sumter County, Alabama.

The front door at Livingston Junior High in rural Sumter County is something of an early warning system. It screeches so loudly that visitors can hear it — from the parking lot. Once inside, the scale of disrepair becomes clear. 
“In the girls restroom, they may have four or five stalls, but only one works,” says principal Tramene Maye, giving a quick walking tour. “And the funds are limited, so what do you deem necessary? If one is working, that’s what you’re going to allow to continue.” 
And Livingston’s problems don’t end with a loud door and broken toilets. One former classroom leaks when it rains. Garbage cans catch some of the water, but the moldy smell and buckled floor prove they miss plenty. Around the school, it’s a similar story: broken windows, peeling paint, cracked floor tiles. Maye insists there just isn’t enough money to fix it all. 
“We have 580 students. Everything should be functioning,” Maye says. “When you have to spread that money thin like that, it’s hard to put it in the right places. But we do the best we can.” 
Sumter Central High senior and star student Jewel Townsend’s school is in better shape than Livingston, but she says it’s still hard when she travels to schools and sports facilities outside the district. 
“I see that Sumter County doesn’t have that,” she says, her voice catching. “It’s like, ‘Wow,really? Why can’t we have that?’” 
This largely low-income, all black school district doesn’t have a baseball or soccer team. And, says superintendent Tyrone Yarbrough, “we would love to have music and art in all of our schools. We don’t have that. If we had us some kids who were interested in, say, orchestra … we don’t have that.”

In more affluent districts, local property tax revenue makes a big difference for schools. But in rural Sumter, which is mostly farms and timberland, there isn’t much to tax. It’s also hard to raise rates on what is there. 
In Alabama, local voters have final say on tax hikes. Sumter school supporters have tried and failed twice in recent years to raise local rates. While some states send extra need-based dollars to districts like Sumter that serve lots of disadvantaged students, Alabama does not.

Sumter County school board member Julene Delaine says Sumter schools have another challenge. While basically all of their students are African-American, roughly a quarter of the county’s population is white.

“They live in this county, but they will not send their children to the schools in this county,” Delaine says. Instead, many white families send their kids to a local private academy or outside the area. “We shop in the same place. We eat at the same restaurant. So why can’t our kids go to school together?”

Because you're black.  And the same questions we black folks asked in 1966 about America, well, we're still asking those same questions and looking for answers in 2016.

Welcome to third world America, where white kids go to private schools and black kids go to schools with metal detectors, broken toilets, no sports, no art, no music, and no goddamn hope. We wall kids and parents like this off from the world, chain anvils to their legs and throw them in the deep end and say "This is America, boy. If you're worth saving, you'll save yourself."

Start swimming.

Docs Caught In Oklahoma's TRAP

Hey look, Oklahoma is trying to end abortions in the state again, and this time if they can't regulate clinics out of existence, they'll just regulate abortion-providing doctors out of practicing medicine.

A bill that will revoke the license of any doctor who performs abortions has landed on the desk of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R). While the conservative governor hasn’t yet said whether or not she will sign it, the Republican-dominated state legislature is eager for this proposed law to see the light of day, saying it will “protect life.” 
However, abortion rights advocates say the legislation violates the Constitution by banning a doctor from providing a medical procedure that is entirely legal. 
“Whether this bill is signed into law or now, the fact that it’s made it to the governor’s desk is appalling and offensive,” said Dr. Pratima Gupta, a member of Physicians for Reproductive Health. 
And, Gupta added, it will force doctors to give their patients deceptive and unscientific advice — that they should not go through with a requested abortion — in hopes of keeping their medical license. Many anti-abortion state laws already put doctors in this difficult situation. For instance,Arizona passed a law forcing doctors to tell their patients that an abortion is reversible — advice that remains unproven. 
“Patients trust me to care for them and give them the best medical advice,” Gupta said. “This bill would force us, as doctors, to go against our own beliefs.” 
In response to the bill’s advancement, Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, the president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), stressed that this legislation would only put women at further risk, as they may instead turn to unsafe, illegal methods to end their pregnancy. Politics, he emphasized, have no place in an exam room. 
“Health care decisions should be made jointly by patients and their trusted health care providers,” DeFrancesco wrote in a Monday statement. “Not by politicians who lack medical training and who clearly do not have women’s best interests in mind.”

Still, this is something of a bold new tactic and could effectively end abortions in the state, especially if the law remains in effect while it is being fought in the courts.  I'm not sure what GOP Gov. Fallin will do with this bill, but it's entirely possible a veto may be overridden.

I'll keep an eye on this one.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Last Call For That Poll-Asked Look

Over At No More Mr. Nice Blog, Steve M. calls shenanigans on that latest GWU Battleground State poll showing Clinton only head of Trump 46-43%.

That's worrisome -- but please note that the poll claims Clinton would beat Trump among Hispanics by only 17 points, 52%-35% (13% undecided). That would mean that Trump would do better among Hispanics than Mitt Romney did in 2012 (Barack Obama beat Romney71%-27%). Show of hands: Who (outside of Trump Nation) seriously thinks this will happen? (The recent Latino Decisions poll put the Clinton-Trump margin at 76%-11%, which seems realistic given the 2012 numbers and Trump's rhetoric.) 
Only 5% of Battleground Poll poll respondents were Hispanic; 77% were white and 12% black. That's a serious underrepresentation of Hispanics and overrepresentation of whites (Hispanics were 10.8% of the 2012 electorate, while whites were only 71.1%; the white portion of the electorate is expected to drop to 69% this year). 
Also, the Harvard IOP Poll has Clinton beating Trump 61%-25% among 18-to-29-year-olds. The Battleground Poll has Clinton beating Trump by only 49%-42% margin among 18-to-34-year-olds. Yes, I know about the "Trump Bros" phenomenon, but the Harvard numbers seem a lot more plausible.

Yeah, I'm not buying this either.  Trump doing that well among Millennials is highly suspect, but Trump doing better than Romney among Hispanic voters is complete and total hogwash.

If you believe this poll, Clinton would be ahead in California, New York, Florida...and is ahead in Texas 45-36% with 19% undecided, so you tell me how accurate it is.

So yeah.

Oh, and the Millenial stuff:

Again, Trump on the left column, Clinton on the third column, so unless you think Trump and Clinton are in a dead heat on white Millennial voters (and not even I think white people younger than me are that stupid) and within ten points on Hispanic Millennials when Trump literally wants to deport millions of Hispanic Millennial DREAM Act beneficiaries, then this is nonsense.

The Primary That Matters Today

One of the bigger contests today is the Democratic Maryland Senate primary race between Rep. Donna Edwards and Rep.Chris Van Hollen to replace retiring liberal Dem Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and yes for once The Hill's headline is right: one of these two is going to suffer a big loss today.

One lawmaker will see a fruitful congressional career come to a screeching halt with a primary loss and be left to face an uncertain political future. The other will be a big favorite to win a November promotion and become a fixture in the upper chamber, where Maryland hasn’t been represented by a Republican in three decades. 
The race has intensified over the last several weeks, and Monday was no exception, with the Edwards campaign calling Van Hollen “a business-as-usual Washington insider.”
The candidates, who are both 57, spent Monday on a final whirlwind campaigning blitz that brought them to schools, diners, senior centers, bustling Metro stations and sleepy neighborhood streets for a last-minute door-knocking effort. 
“You’ve got to run hard across the finish line,” Van Hollen told The Hill after meeting voters at the Harford Senior Center. 
The race has been much closer than initially expected. Van Hollen is the more prominent figure, with a longer congressional resume; he’s a budget gladiator and de facto leader who has close ties to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); and he boasts a big cash advantage, outraising Edwards by almost $5 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. 
But Edwards has been a force in her own right. She was tapped by Pelosi to co-chair the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee; she’s won endorsements from powerful groups like EMILY’s List that have spent heavily to promote her campaign; and in an election year that might send the first woman to the White House in the form of Hillary Clinton, Edwards, a single mother, is hoping to ride those coattails to become just the second African-American woman elected to the Senate in history. 
Edwards’s campaign on Monday expressed confidence that voters will side with “someone ... who understands their lives.” 
“We are making sure everyone we contact knows the choice they face, between a business-as-usual Washington insider looking for a promotion, or a bold change-maker who will fight every day for everyday Marylanders just like Barbara Mikulski,” spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said in an email. 
Several recent polls have shown Van Hollen gaining an edge, including a Monmouth University poll released last week that has him up by 16 points. But earlier surveys had Edwards ahead, and many observers expect Tuesday’s contest to be a nail-biter. 
“There’ve been all kinds of conflicting polls,” Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) told The Hill recently. “The only conclusion you can draw from the polls is that it’s a close race.” Like Mikulski, Delaney has remained neutral in the contest.

Of the two, Edwards has been the most liberal and the candidate I hope to see carry on Maryland's strong blue tradition in the Senate.  Van Hollen is somewhat too close to DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for my taste, and we all know by now how I feel about her.

Van Hollen will win unless Baltimore turns out big for Edwards.  We'll see.

How Bitter Will Bernie's End Be?

With contests in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island today and 462 delegate up for grabs for the Democrats, it looks like Hillary Clinton is about to slam the door in Bernie Sanders's face, and as Greg Sargent notes, Team Bernie is heading for the exits.

All the latest polls suggest that Hillary Clinton is heading for sizable wins in delegate-rich Pennsylvania and Maryland tomorrow, which probably means that scrutiny of Sanders’s true intentions for the endgame of the nomination process will only intensify. 
But it’s now becoming obvious that Sanders is, if anything,ratcheting down expectations for this endgame. One potentially key tell was on display in the four interviews that Sanders gave yesterday to the Sunday Shows: One on ABC, one on CBS, one on NBC, and one on CNN
In every one of them, Sanders repeated variations of the formulation: “We’re going to take our campaign through California.” “We intend to take the fight all the way through California.” “We’re in this race to California.” “We’re going to fight for every last vote until California and the D.C. primary.” In other words, Sanders promised to battle until the final votes are cast, which he has every reason and incentive to do
But this appears less ambitious than what Sanders telegraphed only a week ago. Last Sunday he was asked directly whether he would take the contest “all the way to the floor in Philadelphia,” and he replied: “Yup.” Last week Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver flatly stated: “We’re going to go to the convention.”

That's definitely a step backwards for the Sanders campaign, and it's coming from Sanders himself, in four different interviews on Sunday.  That's not accidental.

So what now?

Of course, one cannot dismiss the possibility that Sanders might still try to battle for the nomination on the convention floor. But all of the above is much more consistent with an endgame in which Sanders fights on until the voting is completed, makes one last push for super-delegates to switch, discovers they aren’t willing to do so, and then enters into serious unity talks over how he might influence the convention proceedings and the Democratic Party’s agenda in the fall campaign
At that point, the question of how the Clinton campaign, not just the Sanders campaign, handles the conclusion to this whole process will play a big role in influencing what happens. It’s still unclear whether the Clinton camp will see a need to make any concessions to Sanders in order to win over his supporters and unite the party. But it will be in the interests of Clinton and the Democratic Party to ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible. They’ll likely conclude that there is greater risk in not making any meaningful gestures towards unity than in making them. What this might look like is the subject of a future post.

The polls are showing that Clinton could get as many as 250 to 300 of those 462 delegates. If we split the difference and call it 275, that would get her to over 1,700 pledged delegates and 2,200 with super delegates, which means she'd only need about 150 more to hit the 2,383 she would need to win.

She could get that with 276 delegates up for grabs in May in Indiana, West Virginia, Guam, Oregon, and yes, here in Kentucky.

In other words, Clinton could very well have the 2,383 delegates she needs before California and New Jersey on June 7.  So unless you think Bernie will somehow magically get 100% of the California vote, he's done.

Frankly, this race was over back on Super Tuesday on March 15.

So let's get on with the cleanup stage so we can take out the GOP, guys.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Last Call For Rodent Intercourse 101

The GOP operation to take over state legislatures and House districts has been an unqualified success on a scale that defines just how impossible it will be for Democrats to ever have control of the US House for at least another decade, and probably two. This excerpt from author David Daley's new book shows us just what abandoning Obama in 2010 cost us: the House may not be in play for another 15 or 20 years at the least

In July 2009 Chris Jankowski sat down at his Richmond home with the morning New York Times. It had been eight months since Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the presidential election, capturing Republican stronghold after stronghold and helping to usher in a Democratic supermajority in the Senate. On television and on the front pages of newspapers, pundits had openly questioned how the GOP would survive to the next election. Even the brightest conservative thinkers thought the 2008 results signaled danger for the GOP. 
That July morning, buried inside a story about state legislatures and census projections, Jankowski read something that made him think 2008 wasn’t so fateful after all: “2010 is not just any election year,” wrote Timescorrespondent Adam Nagourney, “it is crucial given that this class of governors will be in charge as their states draw Congressional and state legislative districts as part of the reapportionment process after the next census.” Jankowski immediately recognized the opportunity. As written in the Constitution, every state redraws all of its lines every ten years. That means elections in “zero years” matter more than others. Jankowski realized it would be possible to target states where the legislature is in charge of redistricting, flip as many chambers as possible, take control of the process, and redraw the lines. Boom. Just like that — if Republicans could pull it off — the GOP would go from demographically challenged to the catbird seat for a decade. At least. 
“I read it and I thought we could do this,” Jankowski told me. As one of the leading tacticians behind the Republican State Leadership Committee, Jankowski had spent years trying to arm-twist GOP strategists and donors to spend more on down-ballot races: state houses, state attorneys general, local judges. Those might not be the sexy elections to invest in, but donations that would be a mere drop in the bucket to a presidential or Senate candidate might make all the difference at the local level. And unlike gridlocked Washington, D.C., policy outcomes could actually be influenced in state capitals. 
Every state handles creating their district maps a little differently. Arizona, Iowa, California, Washington, Idaho, and New Jersey all use various commission models. But the vast majority of states leave redistricting up to some combination of the legislature and the governor. Jankowski looked for states that were likely to gain or lose seats after reapportionment, and would therefore be tearing up the old maps and starting from scratch with a different number of districts. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, and North Carolina made that list. He looked for states where control was tight, and swinging just a handful of districts might tip the chamber to the Republicans, such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia, even New York. Then he checked for states where Republicans might control the legislature and the governor’s office, and would therefore be able to lock the Democrats out of redistricting altogether. He didn’t want a Democratic governor, for example, to be able to veto a plan. 
The annual report by Jankowski’s organization, the Republican State Leadership Committee, laid out the mission for the world to see: “Drawing new district lines in states with the most redistricting activity presented the opportunity to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.” 
“Our pitch document said, look, there are 25 true swing congressional districts,” Jankowski told me as we sat in the conference room of his Richmond offices. “We went back to those races from 2002 to 2008, and we found that $115 million had been spent on those 25 congressional races. All hard dollars. We had a graphic on the screen: 115 million hard dollars or $20 million in soft and we can fix it. We can take control of these 25 districts. We can take them off the table.” They called their project REDMAP.

Obamacare became the wedge issue to win those 25 REDMAP districts, and the rest became history. Democrats were completely, totally unprepared to deal with countering REDMAP in any way. Taking 25 districts turned into taking more than 60, plus the state legislatures needed to gerrymander the districts to become permanently Republican.

And the Democrats got slaughtered. 2014 made it even worse.  Now best case scenario is that Donald Trump is such an awful candidate that the Dems make headway, but that headway will almost certainly be lost in 2018.

It will take two, maybe three census redistricting cycles to undo what the GOP has done at the state level. Ironically the rise of Trump and the death of Justice Scalia may do more to save the country than anything the Democrats have tried to do in the last six years, or the next sixteen.

Wicked Webb We Weave

If you had former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb on your betting slip on "Which Democrat would come to Andrew Jackson's rescue on the $20 bill first" congratulations, you're a winner.

One would think we could celebrate the recognition that Harriet Tubman will be given on future $20 bills without demeaning former president Andrew Jackson as a “monster,” as a recent Huffington Post headline did. And summarizing his legendary tenure as being “known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans,” as reported in The Post, offers an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness.

This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum. Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege. Meanwhile, race relations are at their worst point in decades.

Far too many of our most important discussions are being debated emotionally, without full regard for historical facts. The myth of universal white privilege and universal disadvantage among racial minorities has become a mantra, even though white and minority cultures alike vary greatly in their ethnic and geographic origins, in their experiences in the United States and in their educational and financial well-being.

Into this uninformed debate come the libels of “Old Hickory.” Not unlike the recently lionized Alexander Hamilton, Jackson was himself a “brilliant orphan.” A product of the Scots-Irish migration from war-torn Ulster into the Appalachian Mountains, his father died before he was born. His mother and both brothers died in the Revolutionary War, where he himself became a wounded combat veteran by age 13. Self-made and aggressive, he found wealth in the wilds of Tennessee and, like other plantation owners such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, owned slaves. He was a transformational president, hated by the reigning English American elites as he brought populist, frontier-style democracy to our political system.

I'm really not sure which is worse, Webb's revisionist views of Jackson, or Webb's revisionist views of race in 2016.  If you believe that white and black Americans share similar "educational and financial well-being" please do yourself a favor and go visit a black public school in your school district, and white one, and tell me they are in any way "similar".

Can't imagine why Webb got less than 1% of the Dem vote in this primary season, huh.

Bathrooms Going Bonkers

As predicted, after having lost on gay marriage, Republican bigots are rallying around state-level legislation denying trans rights in order to energize their hateful voters for 2016 contests and Ted Cruz is using it to try to save his failing campaign for the White House.

Transgender rights have become an unlikely and heated issue in the presidential campaign after North Carolina enacted a law that, among other things, mandated that people use the restroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.

Cruz has seized on Trump’s assertion that the North Carolina law, which also rolled back other protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people, was unnecessary and bad for business — corporations including PayPal and Deutsche Bank scrapped plans to create jobs in the state after the legislation was enacted. Trump said there has been “little trouble” with allowing people to use the restroom they want, though he later said that states should have the power to enact their own laws. Trump also said he would let transgender reality-television star Caitlyn Jenner use the women’s restroom at his properties.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he probably wouldn’t have signed the North Carolina law, while both Democratic candidates have condemned it.

“There’s been a significant amount of conversation about it on the presidential level,” said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, who said 50 anti-transgender bills have been filed nationwide this year. “In terms of it being new territory, the answer is yes.”

Cruz’s argument centers on the idea that allowing transgender women to use women’s restrooms would lead to deviants dressing up as women and preying on young girls. His campaign released an ad accusing Trump of capitulating to the “PC police” and asking viewers whether a grown man pretending to be a woman should use a restroom with your daughter or wife.

“Donald Trump thinks so,” the ad reads.

Cruz has woven his support of North Carolina’s law into his stump speech. There has been some backlash: A woman holding a “Trans lives matter” sign protested outside of a stop Cruz made in Allentown, Pa., on Friday.

Whether it's gay marriage 20 years ago or abortion issues ten years ago, the GOP has depended on measures designed to punish those people to get angry voters to the polls, especially in mid-terms.  It's worked in the past.  There's little reason to believe this won't continue to work in 2016, 2018 or beyond.

The notion that Trump-hating Republicans won't show up at the polls in order to get revenge on liberals is cute, but entirely wrong.  They'll show. They always do.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Last Call For Open Threat Season

The closer we get to a Clinton v. Trump blowout that costs the Republicans the Senate and maybe even the House, the more open the threats get from the GOP towards Hillary Clinton.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested on Friday that the FBI might leak reports of its investigation into presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Grassley, Iowa’s senior senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said an anonymous and unauthorized release of FBI investigative materials could result if officials at the agency believed prosecution of Clinton was stymied for political reasons.

“Is there going to be political interference? If there’s enough evidence to prosecute, will there be political interference?” Grassley wondered aloud during a breakfast meeting with the Des Moines A.M. Rotary club on Friday. “And if there’s political interference, then I assume that somebody in the FBI is going to leak these reports and it’s either going to have an effect politically or it’s going to lead to prosecution if there’s enough evidence.

The senior senator’s musing came in response to a long answer to a very general question from one of the Rotarians about the status on inquiries into the email server and Clinton’s handling of the 2012 terrorist attack on a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Both issues for years have plagued Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate.

When asked by Radio Iowa reporter O. Kay Henderson after the breakfast if he was suggesting the FBI should leak investigative findings, Grassley expounded on his comment.

I wouldn’t be encouraging it because if it’s a violation of law, I can’t be encouraging a violation of law,” he said. “This is kind of my own opinion, this is something I’ve heard.”

Will no one rid Chuck of this troublesome Clinton?

Sure would be a shame if someone involved in the Clinton email nonsense went to the Republicans and laid everything out in order to try to affect the 2016 election.  Sure would be illegal if that happened but what can you do oh well wink wink.

If there was any actual evidence, don't you think we would have heard it by now, after nearly four years of this?  If the smoking gun existed, why not get rid of Hilary now and throw the Democrats into chaos?

Or are we waiting for an October surprise?

That's Some Class Sick Bernie

We've reached the "recriminations and blame" part of the Sanders campaign now that Bernie has finally figured out he's not going to win the nomination.

Confronted with poor performance in states with higher populations of low-income people, Bernie Sanders said his losses are due to those people not voting. 
"Well, because poor people don't vote. I mean, that's just a fact. That's a sad reality of American society," Sanders said in an interview with MSNBC's "Meet the Press" set to air in full on Sunday.

Stupid Poors! Why for you not vote Bernie more?

Host Chuck Todd had asked about rival Hillary Clinton's victory in 16 of 17 primary contests in states with the highest levels of income inequality.

“If we can significantly increase voter turnout so that low-income people and working people and young people participated in the political process, if we got a voter turnout of 75 percent, this country would be radically transformed,” Sanders said.

Sanders has often pinned his success rate to voter turnout. But he has lost among Democratic voters with household incomes below $50,000, 55 percent to 44 percent, across primaries where network exit polls have been conducted, according to the Washington Post.

Oh, so people making under 50k are voting for Hillary.  I guess they're not "real progressives" either, joining the ranks of the impure and unclean such as red state Democrats (who don't count), Southern Democrats (who reall really don't count), Democrats over 40 (who don't count), Dems making over $50,000 (who don't count and are probably all paid shills) and black Democrats (who never counted but if they would only do exactly what we tell them to do maybe they would).

Clinton still has massive problems, and I'm still wondering whether or not I even want to vote in next month's KY primary (as I fit into a number of groups above that mean I don't count), but Bernie needs to move into "graciously taking the loss mode" here and this is not how to do it. Even if he does have a point about 75% turnout, acting like people who don't vote for you are some sort of plague isn't the way to get people to turn out.

Sunday Long Read: Tiger By The Tale

This week's Sunday Long Read is Wright Thompson's fascinating ESPN piece on golf prodigy and legend Tiger Woods, and his fall from the heavens over the last ten years into despair and numerous affairs, and how the death of his father Earl, a former Green Beret, in 2006 all but broke one of the greatest to ever play the game.

THE DECADE SEPARATING the cemetery in Kansas and the marina in the Bahamas has seen Tiger lose many of the things most important to him, and the more time passes, the more it's clear he left some essential part of himself there in the ground between Miles and Maude Woods. How did all he'd built come undone so quickly and so completely? That's the question that will shadow him for the rest of his life. The answer is complicated and layered. He fell victim to many things, some well-known and others deeply private: grief, loneliness, desire, freedom and his fixation with his father's profession, the military. These forces started working in Tiger's life almost as soon as his G-IV landed back in Orange County after he buried his father's ashes. The forces kept working until finally his wife found text messages from Rachel Uchitel on his phone and he ran his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant (that car, incidentally, is owned by a man in rural Arkansas, who bought it used from a local dealer, neither of whom knew its own secret history).

After Thanksgiving in 2009, his life split open in the most public and embarrassing way -- can you imagine having to talk about your sex life in a news conference with your mom in the front row? -- but that car crash wasn't the beginning of his unraveling. In an odd way, it was the end. Everything he's endured these past seven years, including admitting that his golf career might be finished, is a consequence of decisions he made in the three years after he lost Earl. He'd been hurtling toward that fire hydrant for a long time. On some level, he even understood what was happening to him, or at least was invested in understanding. There was a book in his car the night of the wreck, and it ended up on the floorboard, covered in shards of glass. Its title was Get a Grip on Physics.

The topic fascinated Woods. He'd long struggled to sleep, and when he wasn't texting or playing video games, he'd read, often military books about lone men facing impossible odds, such as Roberts Ridge or Lone Survivor, or books about theoretical physics and cosmology. The intro to Get a Grip laid out the basic rules of early science, from Newton and Galileo, focused on the concepts of friction and gravity. These had long interested him. Five-year-old Tiger once made a drawing that showed stickmen swinging different clubs, with the clubface sketched, as well as the flight path of the ball, including distance and apex.

That drawing is a window into something Woods himself perhaps still can't articulate; even at that age, he was curious enough to be thinking about physics. From the beginning, his golf talent has seemed to be an expression of his genius, not the genius itself. He is a remarkable person, and not because he once won 14 important golf tournaments, but because he thinks about how he came to occupy his particular space in the world. "He certainly had his mind open to big questions, such as who he was, or who anyone was," says a close friend who requested anonymity, "and had his mind open to the idea that sometimes the question is the answer." Six pages into Get a Grip, author John Gribbin sums up a truth governing both the world and the relationship between Earl and Tiger Woods: "There was a fundamental law of nature which said that, left to their own devices, things move in circles."

I am always reminded that Tiger is just a few months younger than myself and has been through more than I'll ever imagine.  My life is pretty sane compared to his at pretty much any point along the line, and I wonder just how high a cost the man has paid over the years to accomplish what he has.

He's lost a lot along that road, more than I would be willing to pay, which is probably why he's got 14 major golf championships and I have a 2nd place junior league bowling trophy from 30 years ago.