Thursday, October 23, 2014

Last Call For The Gas Face, 2014 Edition

TNR's Danny Vinik argues that since you can't really blame Obama for when gas prices were $4 a gallon two years ago, that you can't really credit Obama for when gas prices are below $3 a gallon now.

Remember in early 2012, when gas prices were approaching $4 per gallon? Republicans were eager to blame President Obama for consumers having to pay more at the pump. “[Obama] gets full credit or blame for what’s happened in this economy, and what’s happened to gasoline prices under his watch,” then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed. “This president will go to any length to drive up gas prices and pave the way for his ideological agenda,” he said in February 2012. House Speaker John Boehner made similar comments
Those comments never made any sense, because Obama has very little control over gas prices, which are determined by global supply and demand. In 2012, as the economy recovered, demand for gas rose as consumers decided to drive to work and take more weekend vacations. That pushed gas prices higher. The president isn’t entirely powerless to affect prices, since he can approve drilling permits and pipelines to increase the supply of oil. But his influence is still limited. Even after the recent explosion in U.S. oil production, the country still produces just 10 percent of global crude.

Except that's an easy way to let Republicans off the hook for their mendacity in the first place.  It's easy to say that the GOP's comments weren't deserved, but it won't stop them from saying patently false garbage like this anyway.

Governor Kitzhaber Of Ore-Gone

Don't look now, but something unexpected happened on the way to Oregon Dem governor Jon Kitzhaber fourth term:  his fiancee Cylvia Hayes (yes, Cylvia with a goddamn "C") is about to wreck Kitzhaber's career and hand over the state to raging Tea Party asshole Dennis Richardson.

First there were conflict of interest allegations. Then came the admission of a sham marriage with an immigrant. And now it appears a farm was purchased in order to grow a great deal of marijuana. 
But the scandals don’t center on Kitzhaber himself. Instead, the main character in Oregon’s October Surprises is Kitzhaber’s fiancĂ©e, Cylvia Hayes, who the governor elevated by bringing her on as an adviser and calling her the state’s “First Lady.” 
The latest revelation about Hayes is that she planned to farm marijuana on 60 acres of land in rural Washington back in 1997. Hayes told reporters Monday that while she “planned” to use the expansive property to grow pot, the operation “never materialized” and the land went into foreclosure. 
Also in 1997, Hayes entered a sham marriage with a Nigerian immigrant, for which she was paid $5,000. The fraudulent marriage was revealed [in early October]. 
The story was sparked by retired real estate broker Patrick Siemion, who found marijuana trimmings on the property after it was foreclosed. Siemion told The Oregonian that it was clear to him Hayes was the leader of the operation. 
“She did all the talking, all the negotiating,” he said. Siemion did not return a call from The Daily Beast. 
Hayes told reporters that she was “not proud of that brief period” in which she and a “dangerous man” who abused her lived on the property near the Canadian border. She also insists she was not “financially involved” with the down payment or mortgage payments on the property.

That's the bad news for Kitzhanber.  This is the horrific, possibly career-ending news for him.

A dramatic shift in poll numbers has taken place since Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign became riddled with scandal. A poll commissioned by KATU has Dennis Richardson with a surprising double-digit lead
Even Dennis Richardson himself is surprised by the new numbers “It was just amazing to see that kind of a flip,” Richardson told KXL. “People finally have figured it out, that with cover-ups, waste, investigations, sweetheart deals, and pay-for-play they finally decided that’s not going to work for Oregon’s future.” 
Kitzhaber, who was up 13-points before a steady dose of negative press is now down 17-points. With 18% of those polled saying they have shifted allegiances, and were once voting for the governor but are now voting for Richardson. 
Richardson says he has met some of those 18% who have switched sides “I met some in the grocery store who said ‘I have been a Democrat all my life and I never thought I would vote for a Republican, but this isn’t about party, this is about integrity, honestly and honor.” Richardson said. “They all have different reasons, but they said ‘we’re voting for Richardson, we want to give him a chance.”

A 30-point swing in the space of a month?  Here's hoping Oregon survives Richardson, whose record in the state legislature paints him pretty squarely as an anti-choice, anti-gay Tea Party bigot who thinks sexual orientation is a "behavior" that doesn't warrant any "special protections" and that he would have personally stopped the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre if he was an armed teacher.

His number one goal?  The end of Medicaid expansion in Oregon, which will leave 200,000 plus without health insurance coverage.  Richardson called Medicaid expansion "delusional" last year.

So think carefully before kicking Kitzhaber to the curb, Beaver State.  You're about to give yourself a much worse problem.

It Was Always About Voter Suppression

Bloomberg News doesn't pull any punches in the headline of this piece: "Republicans Set to Gain From Laws Requiring Voter IDs".

Republicans are poised to gain next month from new election laws in almost half the 50 U.S. states, where the additional requirements defy a half-century trend of easing access to the polls.

In North Carolina, where Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan’s re-election fight may determine the nation’s balance of power, the state ended same-day registration used more heavily by blacks. A Texas law will affect more than 500,000 voters who lack identification and are disproportionately black and Hispanic, according to a federal judge. In Ohio, lawmakers discontinued a week during which residents could register and vote on the same day, which another judge said burdens lower income and homeless voters.

While Republicans say the laws were meant to stop fraud or ease administrative burdens, Democrats and civil-rights groups maintain they’re aimed at damping turnout by blacks, Hispanics and the young, who are their mainstays in an increasingly diverse America. Texas found two instances of in-person voter fraud among more than 62 million votes cast in elections during the preceding 14 years, according to testimony in the federal case.

“You’re seeing the use of the election process as a means of clinging to power,” said Justin Levitt, who follows election regulation at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “You have more states passing laws that create hurdles and inconveniences to voting than we have seen go into effect in the last 50 years.”

The bottom line is that over the last several years, Republicans at the state level are making it harder for people to vote in order to keep Democrats from voting.  Texas's law was found to be a modern "poll tax" by a federal judge, but was reversed within days by the conservative-dominated 5th Circuit, stacked with Republican appointees.

The Republican Party wants fewer people voting.  That will help them in races across the country, and they know it.  Laws forcing people to buy IDs are illegal unless the state provides those who can't pay IDs free of charge, but of course the process for signing up for that requires the Board of Elections to approve such waivers in a bureaucratic nightmare that takes months, if not longer.  Voter ID laws in all these states specifically eliminate state college IDs as valid, so students can't vote.  Instruction for getting these IDs in Spanish are curiously difficult to locate.  Early voting is being eliminated in states like Ohio for no good reason other than arbitrary decisions by Republican Secretaries of State, especially Sunday voting, to stop black churches from bringing people to the polls after service.  The list goes on and on.

You have to admit, the GOP really thought this one through.  They know that if they can keep adding requirements they can lower turnout across the country.  It'll help them cling to power just long enough to do some real damage.

Remember, none of this "rampant voter fraud" was a problem with a Republican president.


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