Monday, July 28, 2014

Bernie Sanders Comes Through Again For Vets As Deal Reached To Reform the VA

sanders-obama-msnbc Sen. Bernie Sanders has delivered for our veterans. Sen. (I-VT) will be unveiling compromise legislation with House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller that will fund and reform the VA.

According to The Hill:
Leaders in the House and Senate have reached a deal on legislation to reform the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department and are poised to unveil it on Monday.
Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), told The Hill in an email that an agreement has been reached that will “deal with both the short-term and long-term needs of the VA.”
The VA bill appeared in doubt last week as Sanders and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) — the chairmen of the two Veterans Affairs’ committees — butted heads over rival proposals. But they kept talking over the weekend, and on Sunday suggested a deal was at hand.
Sen. Sanders is often thought of as a fighter and voice of the left. He took Republicans to task after they killed his VA bill earlier this year that looked prophetic after the scandal at the Veterans Administration broke. He has never backed away from calling out the hypocrisy behind the Republican willingness to send men and women to war, and their refusal to fund the care that the troops are entitled to when they come home.

Sanders has been willing to compromise in order to help the nation’s vets. In June, he worked with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to get a veterans healthcare bill passed in the Senate. On Monday, he will announce compromise legislation with his House counterparts that will give vets access to the healthcare that they need.

Bernie Sanders is showing congressional Republicans how Congress is supposed to function. The legislation process is not a zero-sum game. It isn’t supposed to be made up of winners and losers. The legislative process is based on compromise. Our members of Congress are supposed to give a little and meet in the middle in order to do what is right for the American people.
By never giving up, and always working hard, Sen. Sanders has delivered for our veterans. Bernie Sanders deserves to be praised for being a fighter, but deserves greater praise for doing his job in the way that it is supposed to be done.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bank of America and Other Megabanks Say They Want to Make Nice With Poor People: Don't Buy It

By Lynn Parramore
How do we hate thee, Bank of America? Let us count the ways:
We hate thee for thy mortgage misdeeds, foreclosure frauds and grotesque fees. For unnecessarily kicking people out of their homes, extorting money from military families through predatory loan rates, and treating thy customers like garbage.

For basically being too-big-to-fail/too-big-to-jail blight on the economy and society thou hast proven to be, time and again.

Bank of America has earned itself the worst reputation of any big lender in the U.S., and that is no small feat. The megabank has incurred so many legal costs for its various frauds and abuses, to the tune of billions, its profits have seen a dip. Whatever is a big bank to do?

Under increasing pressure from regulators and widely despised by the public, Bank of America now wants us to believe hat it will make nice with poor people. In a recent report in the New York Times, we learn that BofA and other giant banks are trying to launder their public images by talking about offering low-fee services to people who have been left out of the banking system. BofA has launched a banking account it claims is intended to prevent troubled customers from running up fees for overdrawing their balances.

That’s very interesting, because so far, its accounts have been designed to do the opposite, which is why a lot of poor people don’t have bank accounts in the first place.

BofA’s public campaign showing us its touchy-feely side involves asking low-income people to create collages representing their emotions about money. One image shows a woman who appears to be naked wearing nothing but words like “power,” “want” and “desire” scrawled across her skin.

Other banks like JPMorgan, are following suit with lower-cost prepaid debit cards, checking accounts and what not. As the Times points out, it’s a bit difficult to start cheering:
"It is hard not to be skeptical, particularly because the banks, most recently in the subprime housing crisis, have traditionally wrung vast profits from some of these same customers, who paid steep rates for loans and high fees on basic checking accounts.”
You can say that again.

So here’s the real deal. Under the scrutiny of regulators, these banks have gotten cautious, so they’re trotting out a couple of products that are somewhat less rapacious than their normal fare (nonsensical fees still apply, they’re just lower). We’re guessing that the minute the regulators turn the other way, many of these targeted low-income customers will find themselves hit by some unexpected fee hikes that will send them right back where they came from, the land of the unbanked.

That’s how things roll in the oliogopoly that is the American banking system, where customers have the illusion of choice, but in reality face an industry dominated by a few gigantic players who decide how much abuse they can get away with at any given time. Bank of America is sort of like the lead dog in a small pack of rabid animals constantly scouring the landscape for prey. Whatever it signals, the rest will do, and the most vulnerable customers will be ripped, chewed and spit out.

According to Mehrsa Baradaran, an assistant law professor at the University of Georgia, more than one out of four Americans either don’t have a bank account or do have one, but primarily rely on unscrupulous check-cashing storefronts, payday lenders, title lenders, or pawnshops to survive. In her view, the best option for them would be to do their banking through the U.S. postal system. Elizabeth Warren, and many other progressives, have gotten on board with this idea.

Sounds kind of odd, until you consider that the post office comes with several advantages and an infrastructure that makes it uniquely suited to this role. For example, it has branches in many low-income neighborhoods that were long ago abandoned by private banks. Also, people have a sense of familiarity and comfort with the postal service that they will never have with the likes of BofA or JPMorgan.

Post offices already offer financial services like money orders, and postal banks could add things like savings accounts, debit cards and even simple loans, without relying on a profit model that takes advantage of people.

This is not a new idea. Baradaran notes that in 1910, President William Howard Taft created a government-backed postal savings system for recent immigrants and the poor, which lasted until 1967. Unfortunately, times changed as private banks got bigger and more powerful, and the poor were pretty much thrown to the financial wolves:
“By the 1990's, there were essentially two forms of banking: regulated and insured mainstream banks to serve the needs of the wealthy and middle class, and a Wild West of unregulated payday lenders and check-cashing joints that answer the needs of the poor — at a price.”
In a world in which cash is increasingly becoming obsolete, the poor urgently need financial services. But believing that giant banks operating in oligopolistic conditions and thinking of little beyond profit maximization are the answer is nothing more than a fairy tale. One that ends badly for those who can least afford to lose.

Friday, July 25, 2014

David Gregory: Dead Head Talking?

By Lloyd Grove

NBC News’ chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, and Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are jockeying to replace the moderator of Meet the Press.

Whenever he got around to reading the unpleasant item in the Page Six column on Wednesday, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory could not have been happy with NBC’s tepid denial that his job is on the line.       

 “We heard the same false rumors and suggest you take them with a grain of salt, as we did,” the New York Post’s premier gossip column quoted a so-called NBC spokesperson.

 “Just a grain of salt?” Gregory might have thought to himself. “Not even a teaspoon?”       

The spokesperson’s quote—which seemed to some observers an act of premeditated murder—was in stark contrast to NBC News President Deborah Turness’ ardent display of support for Gregory only three months ago, when The Washington Post claimed that NBC had hired a psychologist to interview his friends and relatives to help him get a handle on his television identity.       

“I wanted to reach out to reiterate my support for the show and for David, now and into the future, as we work together to evolve the format,” Turness wrote then in a memo to the staff. “NBC News is proud to have David in the important anchor chair of ‘Meet the Press.’…He is passionate about politics, and is committed to getting answers for our viewers on the issues that matter to them the most.”        

The 43-year-old Gregory, who has been hosting NBC News’ venerable Sunday public affairs program since December 2008 to inexorably declining ratings, didn’t respond to an email requesting guidance on his situation.

But the Page Six item—which suggested that Turness will replace Gregory at MTP shortly after the midterm elections in November—prompted an energetic round of speculation among network insiders about who planted it, for what reason, and which ambitious on-air personality will dislodge Gregory from the anchor chair of the third-place Sunday show.       

In multiple conversations that I had with people inside and outside NBC after the item appeared, it was taken as a given that Gregory is toast. The Post reported viewership has sunk an alarming 43 percent—and in recent months MTP has been beaten consistently by ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos and CBS’s Face the Nation, hosted by Bob Schieffer—since Gregory assumed the unenviable position of taking over for the late Tim Russert, who turned the show during his 16 years as moderator into No. 1 must-see Sunday television.
In multiple conversations that I had with people inside and outside NBC, it was taken as a given that Gregory is toast.
The principal pretenders to the MTP throne are NBC News’ chief White House correspondent and political director, Chuck Todd—who anchors The Daily Rundown, MSNBC’s weekday 9 a.m. show—and the cohosts of the three-hour-long Morning Joe program that precedes it, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

According to my sources, Scarborough, 51, a Washington-savvy former Republican congressman from Florida, and Brzezinski, 47, the supremely well-connected daughter of former White House national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, have been aggressively angling for the job in the event of Gregory’s all-but-certain demise. If they were to be picked as MTP cohosts, it would represent a complete departure from the 69-year-old program’s traditional format. On Thursday, Scarborough tweeted: “There have been numerous stories with NBC News sources saying Mika and I have been 'aggressively angling' for MTP. That is false.” There might be a difference in nuance, of course, between “aggressively angling” and “making no secret” that you want the job, as an informed source told me about Scarborough and Brzezinski.

An NBC insider told me the duo had believed they had an understanding with top news division executives that they would be named cohosts of the Sunday Today show in addition to their Morning Joe duties. Then Turness arrived at NBC from Britain’s ITV News in August 2013 and undid the agreement, I’m told. “They were furious,” my source told me, referring to Scarborough and Brzezinski.

While some observers have expressed skepticism that Scarborough, an erstwhile professional politician, should be made co-anchor of a public affairs program that aspires to be strictly nonpartisan and down the middle, Scarborough’s supporters cite the example of Stephanopoulos—who was a sharp-elbowed Democratic operative and a top adviser in Bill Clinton’s White House before he became ABC News’ chief anchor, cohost of ABC’s top-rated Good Morning America, and the host of the frequently top-rated Sunday show.

Indeed, the much-revered Russert, before he joined NBC News, was an aggressively partisan top aide to Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

The 42-year-old Todd, who has occasionally clashed with Scarborough on the air, leading some to believe that there’s little love lost between them, has slimmed down in recent weeks to fighting trim.

Todd, who wears a goatee, is also deeply knowledgeable about politics and Washington folkways.

Neither Todd, Scarborough nor Brzezinski returned my phone calls, but it’s widely assumed that either the Todd camp or the Scarborough-Brzezinski camp dropped the dime on Gregory, although one veteran NBC producer mischievously suggested: “The people who planted the item are the same people who are making the decision.”

Kentucky town opens filling station to the public

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) — Somerset's city hall ventured into the retail gas business Saturday, opening a municipal-run filling station that supporters call a benefit for motorists and critics denounce as a taxpayer-supported swipe at the free market.

The Somerset Fuel Center opened to the public selling regular unleaded gas for $3.36 a gallon, a bit lower than some nearby competitors. In the first three hours, about 75 customers fueled up at the no-frills stations, where there are no snacks, no repairs and only regular unleaded gas.

The mayor says the station was created in response to years of grumbling by townspeople about stubbornly high gas prices in Somerset, a city of about 11,000 near Lake Cumberland, a popular fishing and boating haven.

The venture got a thumbs-up from customers who let their vehicles reach near-empty in anticipation of the city-run station's opening.

"I'm tickled to death that they're trying to do something," Ed Bullock said as he filled up his car. "I'm glad they made the investment."

The venture unnerved local filling station and convenience store operators suddenly competing with the city in this Republican stronghold. Critics said the government has no business imposing itself into the private sector, and one store owner branded it as socialism.

Mayor Eddie Girdler, however, is standing firm behind the idea of the city-run station. The canopied station on the outskirts of this southern Kentucky town was converted from use by government vehicles into one that can also cater to anyone looking to fill their tanks.

"We are one community that decided we've got backbone and we're not going to allow the oil companies to dictate to us what we can and cannot do," Girdler said. "We're going to start out small. Where it goes from here we really don't know."

The amount charged motorists will be based on an average regional price for gas, and will include a small markup to cover costs, the mayor said. The city isn't out to make a profit, he said. Instead, the goal is to lower gas prices and lure more lake visitors into Somerset, he said.

Four nearby stations in Somerset were selling regular unleaded for $3.39 a gallon Saturday. The prevailing price in town had been in the mid-$3.40s per gallon late in the week, said Melody Price, office manager at Somerset Fuel Center.

Duane Adams, a convenience store owner in Somerset, sees the city's station as a slap in the face that could hurt his business.

"They've used the taxpayer money that I have paid them over these years to do this, to be against us," he said. "I do not see how they can't see that as socialism."

Other retail groups, including the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association, urged other municipalities not to follow suit. "If milk got too high, are you going to build a dairy?" said Ted Mason, executive director of the Kentucky Grocers Association and Kentucky Association of Convenience Stores.

Girdler, a Republican in his second term, said the city isn't looking to put anyone out of business.

"We don't care if we don't sell a drop of gasoline," he said. "Our objective is to lower the price."

George Wilson, the town's economic development business coordinator, said gas prices in Somerset are often 20 to 30 cents a gallon higher than in neighboring towns. Many lake visitors fuel up elsewhere, costing Somerset millions of dollars in retail sales, Girdler said.

Several customers at the city's station said they had no objections to the city's investment as long as it moderates gas prices in town.

"I'm glad somebody finally got some sense and lowered the prices," said Patty Gossett.

Another customer, Samir Cook, said he hopes the city-run station drives down prices.

"As long as I can get gas cheaper, that's really what I care about," he said.

Adams, the convenience store owner, disputes the city's claim that Somerset gas prices trend well above the regional average. The Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association said there have been many times in recent months when Somerset's gas prices dipped below the surrounding area.

Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, said a staff attorney involved in the industry since 1973 could not recall another city getting into the retail gas business. The National League of Cities said it was unaware of another U.S. city with such a venture.

Somerset had several built-in advantages in starting the venture, the mayor said.

The city is purchasing gas from a hometown supplier, Continental Refining Co. The city purchased a fuel storage facility for $200,000 a few years ago. Now, up to 60,000 gallons of regular unleaded gas can be stored there for the retail business.

The city spent less than $75,000 to convert the fueling center into a retail operation, the mayor said. Much of the investment went to upgrade pumps and add computer software to handle credit card purchases.

He doesn't expect the venture to cause a drain on the city's $64 million budget, and said the intent is to have it break even.

The station features 10 nozzles for public use and is open for credit card purchases nearly around the clock.

"It's been carefully thought out," the mayor said.

Listen, People - Paul Ryan Explains How To Be Poor The Right Way

By Susie Madrak

Listen, People: Paul Ryan Explains How To Be Poor The Right Way
Another "brilliant" pile of crap from Rep. Paul Ryan's big fat genius brain! 
On Thursday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his much-anticipated proposal for reforming the way the federal government tries to alleviate poverty. The core part of his proposal, the Opportunity Grant, would give participating states a lump sum of money rather than funding virtually all the current anti-poverty programs. And states would be instructed to hand that money down to community groups that work with poor people, because, as Ryan writes, “They are more effective than distant federal bureaucracies” and have “intimate knowledge of the people they serve—as well as their ability to take the long view.”
The underlying thesis is that those who are closest to actual poor people will be best able to figure out how to help them. But Ryan fails to take this idea to its end conclusion: that poor people themselves, being the closest to their own situations, are the most knowledgable about what they need to improve their lives. Instead, his proposal calls for low-income people to meet with providers to create a “customized life plan,” a contract that includes goals and benchmarks, as well as penalties for missing any steps.In describing what this would look like, Ryan outlines the minimum requirements:
• A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
• A timeline for meeting these benchmarks
• Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
• Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
• Time limits for remaining on cash assistance
There would be bonuses for people who meet their goals ahead of time, such as finding a job before the time allotted, although the bonus wouldn’t likely come in the form of cash but in something like a savings bond. But if they miss those goals — say, in the current American economy where there are more than two job seekers for every opening, they struggle to find a job in that time period — the poor person would face consequences, “most likely immediate sanctions and a reduction in benefits,” Ryan writes.

An entirely different approach would take out the middle man of the providers and let poor people decide for themselves how best to improve their lives. This could be done by simply giving money, without strings attached, to the poor. While it may sound radical, there have been experiments that have done just this and found positive results.
Also: what Greg Sargent says.

Whole Foods Yogurt Is A Sugary Mess

Whole Foods has stringent guidelines for anything placed on its shelves such as no products with high-fructose corn syrup or artificial colors. But according to a recent Consumer Reports test, Whole Foods has falsely advertised the amount of sugar in its 8-ounce Greek yogurt.

Through a series of tests, Consumer Reports found Whole Foods 365 Every Day Value Plain Fat-Free Greek Yogurt contained more than triple, and sometimes five times more, the 2 grams of sugar listed on its label. After analyzing six samples from six different lots they found “an average of 11.4 grams per serving.”

Even though all yogurts, including plain, contain the naturally occurring sugar lactose, it still didn't make sense. The yogurt lists 16 grams of carbohydrates per serving on its package and lactose “provides the vast majority of carbs in yogurt.” They concluded?  The numbers don't "add up.”

This isn't the first time Whole Foods' yogurts have been fact checked. In another test, Good Housekeeping said Whole Foods' yogurt's calcium content sounded too good to be true. In their own test they discovered the 365 Nonfat Greek Yogurt  contained nearly 100 milligrams less than its purported calcium content, from 600 to 500 milligrams. Still, they added, it's within the legal 20% margin of allowance.

Whole Foods was understandly thrown off by Consumer Reports' findings and told them: “We are working with our vendor to understand the testing results you have provided. They are not consistent with testing results we have relied upon from reputable third ­party labs. We take this issue seriously and are investigating the matter, and will of course take corrective action if any is warranted.”

More Than 1,000 New York City Residents Claim to be Victims of Banned NYPD Chokeholds

By Alyssa Figueroa

July 24, 2014  |  
According to the New YorkDaily News, numbers from the Civilian Complaint Review Board reveal that more than 1,000 New York City residents claimed to be victims of NYPD chokeholds in the past five years. The numbers were unveiled as the Board prepares to conduct a study of the allegations.

The Daily Newswrote:

As of July 1, the CCRB had received 58 chokehold complaints against the NYPD this year, but had only substantiated one of them.
Out of the 1,022 chokehold allegations reported between 2009 and 2013, only 462 of the complaints were investigated. Out of that number, just nine were substantiated, according to the CCRB.
There wasn’t enough evidence to prove a chokehold was used in 206 of the cases investigated, officials said.
The New York Times reported that chokehold allegations in the city have increased from a decade ago, despite the fact that NYPD banned the use of the chokehold 20 years ago.

The city’s police commissioner, William J. Bratton, admitted that it appeared a chokehold had been used on Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six who died last Thursday. A video captured of the scene shows NYPD officers alleging that Garner was illegally selling cigarettes. Garner says he’s done nothing wrong, that he’s sick of police harassment and that such harassment “ends today.”

Officers proceed to arrest him, while one throws his arm around Garner’s neck from behind. Garner says repeatedly that he can’t breathe before his body goes limp.

“It ends today” became the rallying cry for anti-police brutality protesters. Last weekend, Reverend Al Sharpton rallied more than 300 people to call for justice for Eric Garner. And on Wednesday, protestors held a candlelight vigil for Garner on the eve of his funeral and then marched to the precinct station house where the involved officers were stationed.

Following Garner's death, Bratton announced that all 35,000 officers will undergo retraining while the department reviews its tactics. But a senior police official told the New York Times that one of those tactics they are thinking of increasing is the use of tasers—a practice that has been fatal in the past and is dangerous for people with heart problems.

Perhaps even more egregious is the attitude some cops have taken toward the case. As PolicyMic reported, a look at police officer forums reveals some officers’ defending the NYPD’s handling of Garner. “Harsh words from public figures are good on paper, but they will become meaningless if the attitudes of these police officers don't change,” the author of the piece wrote.

This culture of violence is the outcome of the “broken windows” policing Bratton helped introduce and popularize, says Nick Malinowski, member of New Yorkers Against Bratton, an ad hoc group of parents who have lost children to police violence, activists, social workers, etc., formed after NYC Mayor DeBlasio announced he would bring back Bratton as NYPD Commissioner.

New Yorkers Against Bratton held a press conference outside city hall Monday, demanding that Bratton resign after Garner’s death, and to “move away from this idea that the police officers involved — this was just a bad cop sort of a thing” and understand it as a systemic issue, Malinowski told AlterNet.

Malinowski said the group also demands a federal investigation into NYPD’s culture of brutality, especially as the city’s promises of investigations, reviews and retraining often amount to empty rhetoric.

“Bratton, when he first came in, said that they were doing a unit by unit review of every aspect of the NYPD and they had this new guy they brought in to do the training,” Malinowski said. “Somehow they didn’t uncover all these issues and have to do another review of the department. So I don’t quite understand.… You would think that use of force, which has been an issue with the NYPD forever, would have been something they identified as a problem in a training initiative in the first review of the department.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put his arm around Garner’s neck, has been stripped of his gun and badge while the investigation is underway. A medical examiner is still investigating Garner’s official cause of death.

Sharpton said he intends to meet with Garner’s family to discuss filing a lawsuit against the department. He also plans to meet with the U.S. Department of Justice to talk about the case.

At Garner’s funeral on Wednesday, Sharpton called on New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Bratton to seek justice for Garner.

He said, “Y'all said: 'Give me a chance' … And some of us, even under attack, gave you a chance.

You're in city hall now. Now we want you to give justice a chance. We want to see what you're going to do about this.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sarah Palin's impeachment plan backfires

Washington Post reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and MSNBC’s Karen Finney talk about the DCCC fundraising money off of Sarah Palin’s calls for impeachment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jon Stewart challenges John McCain to a Wrong-Off

Perdue Wins Georgia Runoff

By Taegan Goddard

David Perdue (R) stunned Georgia's Republican political establishment Tuesday by capturing the party's U.S. Senate nomination in his first run for office, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Perdue "toppled 11-term Rep. Jack Kingston (R) by a narrow margin, setting up a battle of political newcomers with famous kin in the fall... In addition to his famous last name and lingering political network from his cousin, Perdue deployed $3 million of his own money to back his bid. Still, he was outspent by Kingston and allied Super PACs - including the deep pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce."

Jim Galloway: 5 reasons Perdue shocked Georgia's political world

Peach Pundit: Does anyone know how to poll this state?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why Tiger Woods Will Never Win Another Major

By Dr. Sammy

Woods is instinctively a predator, on the course and off, and it's not clear that a kinder, gentler Tiger has the mental edge needed to win.
Why Tiger Woods Will Never Win Another Major
It's Thanksgiving Day, 2009. Tiger Woods is happily married, he's everybody's favorite golfer, and he owns 14 major golf championships. It is pretty much assumed that at some point in the coming few years he will tie and surpass Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors, cementing himself as the greatest golfer in history.

That evening - and here the details are a bit fuzzy - but it seems that his wife Elin finally realizes that her devoted husband has been serial humping every cocktail waitress on five continents and in a fit of ... call it dismay, I guess ... attempts to neuter him with a 9 iron.

Let's review Tiger's competitive results since that moment:
2010 Masters T4
2010 US Open T4
2010 British Open T23
2010 PGA T28
2011 Masters T4
2011 US Open DNP
2011 British Open DNP
2011 PGA Missed Cut
2012 Masters T40
2012 US Open T21
2012 British Open T3
2012 PGA T11
2013 Masters T4
2013 US Open T32
2013 British Open T6
2013 PGA T40
2014 Masters DNP
2014 US Open DNP
2014 British Open 69
In sum, 19 majors have been played. Woods took part in 15 of them and has zero hunks of hardware to show for his trouble.

Over the weekend, as Rory McIlroy closed in on his first Open Championship and third major overall, I found myself listening to a lot of sports radio as I drove around running errands. As is always the case, the subject was as much Tiger as it was Rory. That's how it works: no matter who's winning, the subject is always Tiger. Specifically, a series of hosts and guests wanted to talk about the most important question in sports: will Tiger ever win another major?

The verdict was almost unanimously yes, and individual opinions ranged from sure, he'll probably he'll win another one to heck, he could win a bunch more. The reasoning centered primarily on his health and age. In short, he hasn't won any since Obama's inauguration due to injury, and he's still young enough, by golfer standards. Only a matter of time.

I respectfully disagree. Yes, Woods has battled injuries. And yes, a number of majors have been won by golfers older than he is right now. I have no problem with these arguments, per se.

But they're the wrong arguments. Tiger's losing streak isn't a function of physical issues, it's a function of his mental issues. He's lost the Eye of the Tiger, as it were, and if he doesn't get it back he's done. And he is unlikely to get it back.

Wait, you may be thinking. Tiger has won a lot of tournaments since the scandal. True - eight of them, I think. He was the PGA Player of the Year, the PGA Tour Player of the Year,  the leading money winner and the Vardon Trophy winner just last year.

However - and this is key - no majors. And only majors count. Who says so? Tiger does.
I once listened to a radio interview as the host tried to engage Tiger Woods on the topic of his legacy, with the general thrust being “what if you don’t break Jack Nicklaus’s record for most majors?” Repeatedly – as in six or seven questions in a row – Woods refused to even acknowledge the possibility. He just kept answering with one word: “Eighteen.” As in, the number of major tournament victories needed to equal Jack’s epic tally.
So in Tiger’s head, nothing matters in life past wins at the British, US Open, Masters and PGA. Other tournaments are nice, I’m sure, but they don’t really count and second in a major is last.
If that's the only standard that matters to him, who are we to argue?

Woods' historic successes arose as much from his psychology, his attitude, as they did from his athletic and technical skills. And that psychology wasn't just an on-the-course thing - it was the same psychology that drove him to hound-dogging every woman he laid eyes on.

Woods doesn't have a shot in his bag that dozens of other players on the tour don't have, but he had, once upon a time, a relentless confidence, a killer instinct and an unparalleled mental toughness that let him make those shots more consistently and under greater pressure, and in doing so this edge let him put his opponents under even greater pressure. All the true greats have/had it: Jordan, Rivera, Montana, Borg, Pelé, Gretzky. They were born for crunch time.

If you know sports, you understand that the difference between tenth and second is nowhere near as great as the difference between second and first. More often than not, at the highest levels of competition the gap between first and second is almost purely mental.

It's also true that psychology can be fragile. Athletes need to be in just the right zone to succeed. Sometimes that means the right system, the right position, the right coach, even the right city. There have been guys who were naturally comfortable in smaller markets who just couldn't hack it under the glaring lights of the big city. A superstar striker (like Red Bull star Thierry Henry) might languish if you move him outside (which happened when he left Arsenal for Barcelona a few years back).

Even weekend warriors know what I'm talking about. I had to be near the top of the order in baseball, for instance. If I wasn't hitting somewhere in the leadoff to cleanup range - preferably first or third - I felt like I was being punished. I'm not excusing my attitude, and I know that hitting 8th and hitting leadoff have a lot in common: it's the same pitcher, the same bat, the same ball, the same umpire, the same hard slider. But my lifetime average in the 6-9 slots was probably a good hundred points lower than it was when I was hitting 1-5. There was no reason but my own head.

The question I'm easing up on is the one none of the highly paid network or newspaper pundits seems interested in addressing: to wit, can a kinder, gentler Tiger Woods be successful the way that the appalling alpha-douchebag, King of the World Tiger was?

Let's face it, that look in Tiger 1.0's eye coming down the back nine on Sunday with a three-shot lead was the same look he probably had as he stared out past the velvet rope. On the course it was "hand me the 8-iron and watch me step on this bitch's neck." Off the course he was like Al Czervik in a brothel: "bring me the blonde, the redhead and three of the brunettes. I'll have one of those, three of those, a box of these.... Hey, everybody, we're gonna get laid!"

Tiger 1.0 was a predator, on the course and off. And that was central to his identity. It was more than what he did. It was who he was.

When the details of his sexcapades began trickling out - day by interminable day - it set up a fairly predictable chain of events, including the non-apology apology press conference, rehab (because cocktail waitresses are an addiction - I'm pretty sure it says so in DSM-V somewhere) and eventually a divorce that reportedly cost him more hundreds of millions of dollars than I have hundreds of dollars.

The key in here was the rehab part, because it was critical that Tiger change. The werehound-on-a-Viagra-and-angel-dust-cocktail act had to change if he hoped to salvage his brand and his marriage (and let's not kid ourselves, it was in that order).

So he did rehab. He made an effort to be nicer to people (an effort that frankly looked liked it was painful for him), to acknowledge the existence of reporters and to limit the number of F-bombs dropped per round. All of which goes in service of the goal of making Tiger a better human being.

But to what extent did the process of building the nicer, cuddlier Tiger 2.0 neuter the essential edge he needed to dominate the game of golf? If you'll pardon me putting it this way, to what extent does his on-course success hinge on the F-bombs, treating reporters, regular people and other peasants like lepers and fucking every woman in sight? Can you significantly alter the man's fundamental essence without compromising the psychology that made him one of the two greatest golfers in history?

So far, the answer seems to be no.

I hate to be cynical, and I always like to believe the best of people, especially those working hard to do things the right way. I don't know Woods (don't really want to, truth be told), and I can't assess from personal experience his state of mind, his sincerity, and most importantly, his attempts to hitch his physical gifts to a psychology that's clearly alien to him.

But we know that he was treated like a golden god from the time he was a toddler, and he has been pressured, since that fateful Thanksgiving night, to behave like, to be, something I don't believe he intuitively understands.

I have no idea how athletes at any level and in any sport can be expected to succeed if, in crunch time, they have to abandon their instincts and instead of being themselves, be their antiselves.

It's entirely possible that when all is said and done, the only road back to the top for Tiger Woods runs directly through a gauntlet of porn stars, high-priced professionals and cocktail waitresses.
That's not a pretty picture to contemplate, I know, but humans are complex animals.

So are Tigers.

About Dr. Sammy

Dr. Sammy's picture
Sam Smith is a writer and photographer living in Bend, Oregon. He's the founder and publisher of Scholars & Rogues and by day works in the exciting world of marketing. Sam holds a PhD from the University of Colorado and loves craft beer, Chelsea FC and Scottish Terriers perhaps a bit more than is strictly healthy.

The Republicans Lie – About Everything

By Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Republican dishonesty, not only about what they do and what they would like to do, but about the world we live in, are endemic. And the situation is getting steadily worse as Republicans daily seem more unhinged, leaving liberals and progressives shaking their heads in dismay.

Do you remember last year when Public Policy Polling revealed that more Louisiana Republicans blame President Obama for the mishandling of Katrina relief efforts than blame President Bush? It is a matter of public record that Barack Obama was only a freshman senator then, while Bush had been president for half a decade. Almost half of Louisiana Republicans didn’t know who to blame.

Of course, Republicans have also blamed Obama for the Iraq War and routinely pretend that there were no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil while Bush was president (9/11 anyone?).

Not only that, but Fox News has excised any subsequent Bush-era terrorist attacks from public memory. Republicans have also conveniently forgotten that Bush presided over the economic collapse of 2008. Obama wasn’t elected until November 4 of that year and did not take office until the following January.

Of course, President Obama is currently being blamed for the immigration crisis at the border that Republicans are responsible for. Bush signed the law; Obama gets blamed.

Republicans attack President Obama for taking too many vacation days. In reality, as Al Sharpton pointed out on August 9, 2013,
[Obama] has taken 92 days of vacation since he was sworn in. How many did President (George W.) Bush take by the same point in his presidency? Three hundred and sixty seven. Yes, more than a full year of vacation.
PolitiFact has rated this statement “mostly true” in that Bush spent some working vacation days at his Texas ranch. I remember Bush being on vacation all the time; Republicans don’t even remember Bush.

Republicans want to sue and impeach President Obama for signing executive orders, even though he has issued far fewer executive orders than President Bush, whose executive orders were not the object of Republican complaint.

For example, on September 25, 2012, pointed out that “Obama has issued 139 executive orders as of Sept. 25 [2012]…Bush issued 160 executive orders through Sept. 20, 2004, a comparable amount of time.”

As of June 20, 2014, Obama had signed 182 executive orders. Bush signed 173 in his first term alone, and 291 during his entire presidency.

Again, if you want to count executive orders you can do so; it’s a matter of public record and the University of California Santa Barbara helpfully tracks them by year and president. Republicans prefer just making stuff up because the facts do not agree with the fantasies they want to push.

Republicans have claimed Obama is adding to the deficit (while they add to it themselves via tax breaks for their rich owners) when in fact he has been steadily reducing the deficit. In fact, last year, Obama shrank the deficit to a 5-year low. And as Paul Krugman points out, there was never a crisis in the first place. As with all their other scandals, it was manufactured by conservatives to advance their anti-Social Security and Medicare agenda.

Democrats like to believe that when they engage the Right in debate that they do so on more or less equal terms. Both sides are, after all, comprised of sentient human beings. But Republicans have given substance to the old childhood taunt, “I am rubber, you are glue, words bounce off me and stick to you.”

They are literally impervious to facts.

And not only is President Obama magically to blame for all Bush’s manifest misdeeds, he is somehow also to blame for every misdeed committed anywhere in the world.

Everything that happens is somehow Obama’s fault and John McCain has turned himself into Chuck Norris, able to strangle the butterfly that flapped its wings in Siberia to prevent a typhoon hitting the West Coast. Only John McCain, who voted for the Iraq War, could have stopped the Iraq War.

This must make sense only to Republicans, who nod their heads sagely.

If only they could do so in strait jackets, which is arguably where they belong.

Republicans live in a world where women’s bodies magically repel unwanted sperm and where some equally mysterious alchemy turns sperm in the anus into the AIDS virus, where such a thing as “legitimate rape” exists and global warming and evolution do not.

This is a world where slavery really wasn’t so bad and anyway, whites were the real victims, apparently moping about and wishing they could be slaves too.

And what do you say to egregious and sustained Republican insistence that racism is a distant memory, or that women have attained equality of pay with men? Of all people, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has no right to call a Democrat delusional, not when the platform and ideology of his party is completely founded on delusion.

Tough to tell if any of those things are crazier than creationist Ken Ham calling for an end to the space program because any aliens we find are going to hell anyway, as though the Space Program was ever a proselytizing effort. In the end, how does one compare and rate samples of excrement?

Ham’s real problem is that if the space program continues, we are almost certain to find life on another world – and sooner rather than later – thus bringing his creationist fantasy down around his ears.

This is a world where Kirk Cameron knows more than Stephen Hawking, where he and others can throw stones even while complaining they are being stoned. I could go on, but this article would never end, because, by myself, I can’t keep up with the fast and furious flow of Republican mendacity.

Far from creating a straw man, Republicans have created a straw country, one where nothing is as it seems, one that has no relationship – not even a passing resemblance – to the actual fact-based world in which we live.

In short, Republicans lie.

They lie about everything.

They even lie about lying.

The world laughs. The Democrats – and the American people – are left holding the bag.

The Republicans Lie – About Everything was written by Hrafnkell Haraldsson for PoliticusUSA.

Idaho tribe cancels Ted Nugent casino concert over rocker’s racist comments

By Travis Gettys

Ted Nugent David Defoe Flickr
[Image: Ted Nugent Live via Flickr/David Defoe]
A Native American tribe called off a scheduled performance by Ted Nugent over concerns about the rocker’s history of racist and hateful statements.

Nugent had been slated to perform Aug. 4 at the Couer D’Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho, until the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch called Monday to ask about the concert.

The Hatewatch blog reported that tribal officials “sounded completely caught off-guard” by the request for comment, but the tribe abruptly cancelled the performance later that day.

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights – for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity,” the tribe said in a statement.

The blog reported that Laura Stensgar, the executive marketing director for the casino, apparently made the decision or approved of it.

But she said after the cancellation that the tribe did not want the casino to be used as a platform for the “racist attitudes and views that Ted Nugent espouses.”

Nugent, whose hits include “Stranglehold” and “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” has made numerous offensive comments – many during performances, when he sometimes wears an Indian head dress.

“Unfortunately, when we booked him, we were looking at him from an entertainment perspective, as an 80's rock ‘n roller, who we thought folks might enjoy,” Stensgar said.

She and the tribe’s chairman, Chief Allan, expressed regret for booking Nugent to perform.

“We know what it’s like to be the target of hateful messages and we would never want perpetuate hate in any way,” Allen said in a statement.

A Texas town paid Nugent $16,000 not to play at its Fourth of July event this year after complaints arose over his scheduled performance.

The GOP's 'crude' intentions

Republicans refuse to show a united front during a time of foreign crisis, instead criticizing the President and push an agenda to lift decades of crude oil bans. Ed Schultz, Rep. Jim McDermott and Mike Papantonio discuss.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Republican Ideology Has Its Worst Week Ever

By Becky Sarwate


Though you’d never guess by listening to its representatives speak, it was a terrible week for modern Republican ideology.

Those right-wingers who love to call President Obama weak on foreign policy, setting him in relief against their favorite bare-chested strongman Vladimir Putin, are scrambling to crawl under the nearest rock.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the icon of conservative male virility lent support to war criminals who shot 80 children from the sky.

Per a report from the Associated Press:

“On Thursday, Putin blamed Ukraine for the crash, saying Kiev was responsible for the unrest in its Russian-speaking eastern regions. But he didn’t accuse Ukraine of shooting the plane down and didn’t address the key question of whether Russia gave the rebels such a powerful missile.”

If gathering rumors are to be believed, Russian interlopers may have already absconded to Moscow with Malaysian Airlines Flight 17′s “black box” recorder. And as of Saturday morning, the crash site in Eastern Ukraine remains unsecured.

As evidence decays and/or is purposefully tampered with, Putin’s Thursday statement may be the closest thing we ever get to an admission of the truth. A wise person once told me that when an unpleasant man tells you something about himself, believe him. And by shying away from implausible deniability (a sport in which the Russian thug routinely indulges), Putin is speaking loud and clear.

Russian sponsorship of the downing of the defenseless civilian airliners. Yeah, that’s real bravery.

Keep talking McCain Nation.

Moving onto another human tragedy a little closer to home, the Republican Party continued its parade of heartless, xenophobic double talk about the Central American child immigrant crisis.

Even as Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper offered a ray of humanitarian hope in writing, “If Denver or other communities in Colorado want to offer their support and sponsorship while these children are in the legal system, the state respects and would defend that decision,” and Pope Francis publicly cautioned the devout to love and protect the kids, a dark strain of ugliness continued to permeate the official GOP response.

This past week, retired medical doctor and Republican House member Phil Gingrey told NBC News, “The border patrol gave us a list of the diseases that they’re concerned about, and Ebola was one of those…I can’t tell you specifically that there were any cases of Ebola, I don’t think there were, but of course Tuberculosis, Chagas disease, many – small pox, some of the infectious diseases of children, all of these are concerns.”

These alarmist and disgusting comments continue to undercut our nation’s once-vaunted reputation as a refuge for freedom seekers. On a secondary level, you have to wonder if the GOP understands that they won’t be able to erase Hispanic voter memory in 2014 and beyond. Yet the certainty that the party is briskly digging its own electoral grave doesn’t do much to relieve the dire and fearful predicament of the kids. They’ve run from terror only to be treated as enemy invaders by the Land of the Free.

This year has been unbelievably tough for those in favor of contemplative, deliberate foreign policy, sensible gun and comprehensive immigration reforms and last but not least, liberty for the GOP’s most discounted “special interest group” – women.

New York Times commentator Timothy Egan makes the case this week that the SCOTUS’ disastrous Hobby Lobby decision does more than assault female reproductive freedom. It also takes a swipe at our founding principle – the separation of church and state.

He writes, “In the United States, God is on the currency. By brilliant design, though, he is not mentioned in the Constitution. The founders were explicit: This country would never formally align God with one political party, or allow someone to use religion to ignore civil laws. At least that was the intent. In this summer of the violent God, five justices on the Supreme Court seem to feel otherwise.”

As Americans continue to grapple with the Supreme Court’s increasingly partisan suppression of human rights in favor of corporate ones, the media is finally (finally!) beginning to take the five Catholic male justices responsible to task in a semi-bipartisan way. Meanwhile, Democratic Congressional leaders are trying to develop and pass legislation that would grant women access to everything promised by the Affordable Care Act. May they be relentless.

It was a week when modern Republican claims to be defenders of freedom, limited government and human dignity were clearly exposed as money and power grabbing, racist scams. Individual rights trump all else – except for women who want to make their own family planning decisions.

Give us your tired and your poor – unless they are frightened brown children. We have no money to take care of them properly as dictated by law. Those funds are subsidizing the lifestyles and business ventures of the one percent. And that weak-willed, effeminate Obama. If only he’d man up and covertly supply terrorists who murder international civilians like that macho Vladimir Putin.

Conspiracy radio host Alex Jones calls MH17 downing a false flag

By Tom Boggioni
Sunday, July 20, 2014 18:34 EDT
Alex Jones2
Assembling a collection of newspaper headlines, out of context quotes, and rumors of unsourced tweets, analysts and correspondents for Alex Jones’ Info Wars have cast doubt upon the evolving consensus that Russian separatists in the Ukraine shot down flight MH17, explaining that the downing of the flight is a ‘false flag,’ designed to foment an international war in the region.

Introducing the segment, Lee Ann McAdoo said, “Here we are, teetering on the edge of World War III, and the globalists really seem to be accelerating their plan. It used to be a lot easier to convince the masses of whatever  their  global agenda was with the propaganda arm of the media.”

McAdoo went on to explain that the globalists, “…used to set small fires here and there, fires that we could easily stamp out here at Info Wars. But now, they’re just going to go ahead and set the whole world on fire all at once.”

Pointing out that within 24-hours of the downing of flight MH17, the “neo-con wing of the establishment has already decided that Russia is to blame,” McAdoo shared clips of Senator John McCain and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggesting that Russia or Russian separatists might be involved, with neither asserting it as a fact.

McAdoo suggested the jetliner could have been shot down by Ukrainian forces or might have been an accident.

Comparing the missile attack on the Malaysian airliner to the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898, precipitating the Spanish–American War, Info Wars David Knight explained that the international media is indulging in ‘yellow journalism,’ in the manner of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.

Knight shared a cartoon from the era showing American citizens being searched for secret messages to Spain and compared it to TSA pat-downs at the airport. Knight additionally claimed that President Obama was using the crash as a distraction from other world events, including hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

Asking why MH17 was flying over war-torn Ukraine, even though it was not prohibited, Knight added that the flight was asked by the air controller to fly at 32, 000 feet, making it easier to shoot down and lower that American flights which traditionally fly at 35,000 feet. Knight did note that 32,000 feet is consistent with European flights.

Referring to an unspecified video  having something to do with the crash, an Info Wars correspondent pointed out  conflicting time stamps without pointing out what it meant, before adding the authenticity of videos information was “unconfirmed.”

Info Wars’ Paul Joseph Watson  helped connect the dots suggesting that Ukraine was responsible for shooting the plane down instead of Russia, by reporting on “panicked tweets” from a Spanish air-controller who was in the tower at Kiev Boryspil airport who claimed — “unconfirmed”– that “three minutes before the radar tower lost contact with the Malaysian airlines plane, it had Ukrainian fighter jets surrounding it. He said Kiev shot it down.”

The Spanish air-controller also tweeted that Kiev authorities threatened tower employees telling them to “shut up.”

Watson noted that, unfortunately the Twitter account has now been deleted.

As further evidence many mentions were made of the Ukraine shooting down a Siberia Airlines Flight 1812  in 2001, stating that the country had a history of shooting down airliners.

No correspondent mentioned the downing of KAL 007 in 1983 by Russia.

Watch the video below from Info Wars: