Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cowardly, Woman-Beating Legislator Daniel Patterson Does it Again.

A domestic abuser, always has one weakness that stands out:

He will repeat the behavior. That's not to say that a person with a history of violent attacks on domestic partners or others can't learn to not behave violently, but to do so requires that he first acknowlege that he has a problem with it and go through all the sometimes difficult steps to change the way he responds to people.

Unfortunately, representative Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson) is not one of those who has ever acknowleged he has a problem. Recall that back in March a story broke in the Three Sonorans blog detailing both past police reports in which rep. Patterson had attacked others, and also his assault and battery on his then-wife, Jeneiene Schaffer. Rep. Patterson was at the time going through a messy divorce from her and was living with his campaign manager, Georgette Escobar.

Some of us in the state party put together a series of resolutions (each time being blocked by various bureaucratic inefficiencies) targetting Patterson's violent behavior (and Republican Senator Scott Bundgaard, whose domestic violence episode was front page news.) Our first resolution was posted here along with a synopsis including rep. Patterson's denial on his blog when I asked him about it, which I soon determined was a lie.

One person did believe all his denials. Whether because he is a smooth talker, or because the truth would otherwise be too awful to face, his campaign manager/girlfriend, Georgette Escobar, always stood by Patterson and refused to believe the stories about how he treats the women in his life.

Until now, that is. Apparently Escobar got all the convincing she needed when Patterson went after her, beat her up and drove her out of the house. I actually do commend her for going public with it quickly. Rep. Patterson for his part is cowering in his home and refusing to let anyone on the property to serve him with a restraining order from Escobar (he's known to be armed, so when he refuses to let anyone on the property it's a threat best taken seriously.) This is also in character for him. On one previous occason when police were investigating a violent episode he had with Schaffer he took off, called his home and when a police officer answered he refused to return until after the officers had left. Safe to say that Dan Patterson knows how to do two things well: he knows how to beat up women and he knows how to run away and hide afterward.

He can't hide out forever though, the legislature is in session and he will be expected on the floor.

And I for one hope that the rest of the Democrats in the legislature call for an ethics inquiry, instead of waiting for the Republicans to do it (and if the Republicans do then I will say a laudatory word about them-- at least they had the backbone to confront Mr. Bundgaard and eventually get him out of the legislature.)

Rep. Patterson needs to resign. And if he doesn't then his colleagues should form a bipartisan coalition against him.

As a Democrat, I would like to invite Rep. Patterson to leave the Democratic party. We are a party that is on record as condemning domestic abuse, especially by members of the legislature (we finally got that voted on in Yuma in November.) And unlike someone who (still inexcusably) loses their temper one time, rep. Patterson has done this again, and again, and again. The only safe place for him is a jail cell, but as long as he is out of one he should also be out of the Democratic party.

UPDATE: The state party is coming around on this. State chairman Luis Heredia and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell have both called on Patterson to resign (though being careful to word it in a way that suggests their primary reason is that these allegations are a distraction) and rep. Katie Hobbs has submitted a petition signed by fifteen house Democrats (out of seventeen who could have signed it, given that there is one Democratic vacancy and the other seat is held by Patterson) to ethics committee chair Rep. Ted Voigt asking the house ethics committee to open an investigation into rep. Patterson. Rep. Voigt has taken the preliminary steps to do so.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why those who blame the Obama administration for higher gasoline prices are on 'empty'

It seems as though Republican critics of the Obama administration in particular are ecstatic, even gleeful at the recent rise in gasoline prices.

Leaving aside their parochial reasons for this, it's worth rebutting some of the spurious claims that are being made in this regard.

First, there is the claim that the administration contributed to this increase by placing a moratorium on deep water drilling after the BP disaster and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline. Second (and this relates to it) is the ongoing narrative that the U.S. doesn't have enough refining capacity and therefore our supplies of gasoline (and other refined products like heating oil and jet fuel) are limited.

Let's begin with the first claim, that administration actions taken to protect the environment are the cause of the present price spike. There are two basic flaws here: 1) they do not acknowlege the reasons for these actions, and 2) these charges are not true at all.

The reasons why the administration made these decisions are quite plain.

If you go back to after the BP disaster in early 2010, businesses all along the Gulf Coast suffered as beaches were closed, tourists stayed away and the fishing industry suffered severe and lasting damage. More than that, however, the inept and bumbling attempts by BP and its contractors to cap the spill in deep water made it plain that the supposedly fail-safe systems failed, and they had no idea what they would actually do if the system did fail. In this context it was only prudent for the administration to put a six month moratorium on deepwater drilling until the reasons for the leak could be determined and methods to contain and cap such a spill developed. Imagine if they had not placed a moratorium and then another well, somewhere else in the gulf had blown out and created twice the disaster. The President is sworn to protect the United States of America and in the face of demonstrated incompetence by the drilling rig's operators he was right to follow the mantra, 'first do no harm.'

In the case of the pipeline, the project was under study and on a schedule to be decided early next year. Because it crosses an aquifer that supplies drinking water to Nebraska, and because of a rupture in a similar pipeline that spilled crude oil into the Yellowstone river in Montana last year, there was a good reason to proceed with caution. Congress however intervened and forced the President to make a decision within sixty days. Again, the President followed the advice, 'do no harm' and said 'no' to the pipeline.

What of the economic impacts? Virtually none. In the case of crude oil production in the gulf, it was down slightly during the six month moratorium (which only affected deepwater rigs, a fraction of the total) but has since recovered. As we can see from the linked chart, crude oil production was affected far more by Hurricane Ike in September 2008 than any of the minor effects of the moratorium. As to the Keystone pipeline, even if approved it would not be built for years or be operating at full capacity until at least a decade from now, so it's a stretch to tie it to anything relating to present gasoline prices. Further, the administration has almost certainly done far more to reduce demand for gasoline over coming decades by increasing fuel efficiency standards for new automobiles than the drop in the bucket that the Keystone pipeline would increase supply, whether it is eventually built (along a less environmentally sensitive route) or not.

OK, what of limited U.S. refining capacity, also said to be responsible for an increase in gasoline prices? Again, that is false. In fact, last year the United States became a net exporter of refined products. Maybe what we need to do is implement a tax on exports so gasoline produced in American refineries would be cheaper to sell in the United States than abroad.

There are both long and short term reasons for the run up in oil prices. Long term, it is simply a fact that there are billions of people in developing countries (especially China and India) who are now beginning to earn enough money to be able to afford motor vehicles and use fuel. So globally the demand for oil is, and will continue to, increase. The price will also continue to rise with it. The only realistic solution for the U.S. is to get entirely off of that treadmill by moving towards electric vehicles and other alternative sources of fuel. Short term, the increasing tension around the strait of Hormuz certainly plays a part. The west (including the U.S.) has been increasing the pressure on Iran even to the point of risking a war in the strait over the Iranian nuclear program. These sorts of foreign policy complications are inevitable given that much of the world's oil supply comes from a small area along the far end of the Persan Gulf. To assume that the diplomatic temperature around the Persian Gulf does not affect the price of oil is foolish. It does, and right now it is causing us to pay more. However, the President is to blame for this only in terms of the fact that he is not backing off from his stated position with the Iranians. So at least let's get the facts right on that.

Monday, February 06, 2012

GOP gets rabbit ears on the Clint Eastwood Chrysler commercial

Republican Clint Eastwood is catching all kinds of grief for making a commercial for Chrysler saying that "It's time for the second half in America." Of course this aired during the Super Bowl, so the slogan was logical.

But beyond that, it clearly tags with Chrysler's comeback. They are trying to sell cars, and their comeback story is a big part of their sales campaign.

I don't see what the big deal is about it, but some Republicans are upset about the commercial, claiming that it is really about President Obama's re-election campaign and alludes to a second term. That of course is hogwash; the commercial is about selling cars.

This kind of paranoid overreaction does however say a lot about the psyche of a lot of the Republicans who are blasting it. They know that President Obama took a big risk and bailed out Chrysler and General Motors. It has in fact been a smashing success. Unemployment in the city of Detroit has shot down from over 16% when he bailed out the two auto companies to about 9% today. The city is making a comeback, and the resurgent auto industry is the main reason why. Republicans, including Mitt Romney, criticized the President for the bailout at the time. So now that Detroit is back they can't avoid seeing the credit going to the President. Maybe they'd prefer that Chrysler and General Motors not show off their successes until after the election?

They also know that this has been a good week for the president. Following the January jobs report in which almost a quarter of a million net jobs were created, new polls by ABC News and Rasmussen both have Pesident Obama jumping out to a statistically significant lead against Mitt Romney.

Having gambled on the economy failing, and doing everyting they could to obstruct and not cooperate with the President and make it clear they were being uncooperative, the GOP is now on the verge of getting caught in a political no man's land.

So the truth is that Karl Rove, Mark Steyn and some of the other Republicans who have jumped all over Clint Eastwood about this, are spooked. If they hear in the phrase, "second half in America" an echo of Reagan's "morning in America," maybe it's less that the message was overtly political as it is that they know they are on the wrong side of an improving economy, and their negativism won't last until November.
Flag Counter