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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

GOP Doublespeak on Earmarks Continues; Even AP Can't Keep Straight Face

I'm trying to go cold turkey on the Sarah Palin posts (I made it three days without a post focusing on her), but when she makes the desperate mendacity of the Republican Party so obvious, I can't resist.

And neither can the Associated Press in its reporting of yesterday's McCain-Palin campaign stop in Missouri, where the two criticized Obama for requesting nearly one billion dollars in earmarks for Illinois:

"Just the other day our opponent brought up earmarks — and frankly I was surprised that he would even raise the subject at all," Palin said. "I thought he wouldn't want to go there."

Obama hasn't asked for any earmarks this year. Last year, he asked for $311 million worth, about $25 for every Illinois resident. Alaska asked this year for earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 for every Alaska citizen [Sara Kugler, "McCain, Palin Criticize Obama on Earmarks," AP via Yahoo News, 2008.09.08].

I just mashed up some numbers on earmarks and population by state. In 2005, before all this presidential election brouhaha really got going, the median per capita earmark for the 50 states and District of Columbia was $69.57 (enjoyed by folks in Oklahoma). Alaska ranked second, the only state to bring home* more than one thousand dollars per citizen ($1,062.98). Only D.C. got more per capita, $1,263.67. Illinois ranked 44th, drawing $36.94 per citizen.

For perspective, South Dakota ranked 15th, with Thune, Johnson, and Herseth finagling $109.42 for every man, woman, and child in our fair state.

Among the states, seven of the top ten winners of earmarks per capita are among ten least populated states. And overall, states that went for Bush in 2004 were slightly bigger winners of earmarks per capita than Kerry states (Bush states averaged $63.62 per capita; Kerry states, $58.78).

You can download my spreadsheet and play with the numbers yourself. In the meantime, I will continue to view the Republican rhetoric with a strange combination of mirth and disgust as McCain and Palin repeatedly trot out the most blatantly deceptive sound bites I've ever heard. As Obama said this weekend, the GOP must think we're stupid.

p.s.: Sioux Falls Regional Airport has just won a $500K federal grant to help in its effort to convince American Airlines to give Sioux Falls a connection to Dallas. Any local GOP ready to argue that's a reason to throw Johnson, Herseth, and Thune out of office?

*I keep wanting to say earn, but that's clearly not the right verb for earmarks.


  1. Amazing, isn't it, that the crowd will go wild for an outright, verified lie?

    I can't believe Palin is still using that "Thanks, but no thanks" bite, and I especially can't believe she's still being cheered for it.


  2. chuck ritter9/09/2008 8:05 AM

    Would it matter what your using it for? I suppose Tim Johnson could explain that one to US, since he's on the Appropriations Committee.

  3. McCain/Palin aren't distinguishing what the money is used for, chuck: they are trying to create the impression that earmarks are bad and that they are crusaders against earmarks... both of which are misleading statements. The GOP is trying to win by consistently deceptive campaign rhetoric.

  4. Hi flyingtomato,

    Apparently you haven't read the latest on the "thanks but no thanks". I showed info about it last night in another of Cory's threads (reposted here for your convenience)...

    Update on the Bridge to Nowhere:

    The Alaska Democrats (read: Palin's opponents) credited Governor Palin with canceling the project.


    When their page started to get national attention as journalists investigated the bridge project, they pulled the webpage down.

    Also, it comes out on CNN (transcript, video) that while running for governor, Palin was initially in favor of a bridge to Gravina Island. She felt the residents in SE Alaska needed better access to their airport than what the ferry system provides, but at that time the estimates on the project were about half of what the official estimate amounted to later on when she was already elected. Seeing the cost double, she then perceived the project as being wasteful of American tax dollars, and publicly sparred with Ted Stevens (AK Republican Senator) over the issue.

    The other quotes of hers that are usually taken out of context on this issue are ones where she was in Ketchikan during her gubernatorial campaign telling the citizens that their city isn't "nowhere"... since the bridge project was already going by its nickname in the national news. She was promising to help the locals, but certainly didn't commit herself to the full cost of the official project that eventually landed on her desk.

    So, in essence, she does deserve the credit for canceling the pork here.

    And interestingly enough... Senators Biden and Obama voted to protect the Bridge to Nowhere.

    Kind regards,

  5. Hi Cory,

    Which politician is running on the platform (and record) to fight all pork he sees? Oh wait, that was Ron Paul.

    Well, I guess I'll have to settle for the guy who promises he's going to veto the first big-spending pork-barrel earmark bill that comes across his desk, and who "will make them famous and you will know their names".

    Kind regards,

    PS Your analysis is based on numbers from 2005, when Sarah wasn't even governor. How exactly is that fair?

  6. David: p.s.: read the original post. The original AP source cites data for this year. Palin and her fellow Alaskans are enjoying more earmark dollars per person this year than Obama and his Illinois constituents.

  7. David, check your eighth grade civics. Governors do not cancel congressional legislation.

    Palin flip-flopped only after the ridicule became untenable, the funds were not going to pass through congress, and after the I35 bridge fell into the Mississippi - as exemplified by McCain's blistering critism of wasting money on the Bridge and Road to Nowhere. http://www.minnesotaindependent.com/8052/mccain-connected-35w-bridge-collapse-to-palins-pork .

    "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

    -John Adams, Dec 1770, Boston Massacre Trials

  8. chuck ritter9/09/2008 2:08 PM

    Then you better check them better, Anonymous.

    The real problem is that something REAL might come out about Sarah Palin and no one will believe it. There's the MSM and bloggers again crying moose.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Hi Cory,

    Yeah, I know the AP article had 2008 numbers... but your spreadsheet was based on 2005 numbers.

    Actually... that proves a better point...

    In 2005 (by your crunching) Alaska collected $1,063 per citizen. In 2008 (after Palin was elected), the AP said it was $295 per citizen. That's a reduction of over 72%.

    Looks like solid reform to me.

    Kind regards,

  11. If that number is correct, then Palin's claim can be, "Sure I'm a reformer! Now Alaska is only claiming four times the national median (at least the median from 2005 -- can anyone find a more recent earmark breakdown for all 50 states?)."

    Reform. Pfft. By your argument, Obama is still the better choice, since he has requested 100% less in earmarks this year.

    And the point remains that Palin is creating a false image about herself based on her constant repetition of her false claim about the Bridge to Nowhere. She was against it only when everyone started looking. I thought the Bergan moral compass would go berserk over such conditional ethics (doing what's right only because the whole nation is watching).

    For a "Dem," David, you're sure spending a lot of time trying to defend the other party's propaganda.

  12. Hi Cory,

    I'm not standing up for one party or another... just defending the honor of a woman that the whole nation is beating up on.

    Earmarks are an important issue to me. I want bureaucracy slashed to its minimal essential core. I want the government to reallocate money from pork projects (and the military-industrial complex, and social security, and Medicare, etc.) to paying off the debt. Then once we bought back our country, we can drop federal taxes to $1 or $2 per person per year.

    By the way it sounds, only one of the two tickets has a similar philosophy. Only one is trying to win voters on this issue. And when I check the facts about McCain and Palin's background, sure there are some minor inconsistencies, but they are true to their message. A 72% decrease is huge reform for only 2 years. What was IL's earmark decrease? (Barack himself didn't do much legislation this year - earmark or otherwise - because he has been campaigning for President since early 2007.)

    Also, you must not have checked my above links about the Gravina Bridge project... the Alaska Dems themselves credited Palin with canceling the project. And she has a reasonable explanation for what happened: thought it was a good project when she was campaigning, but the actual numbers came in double what she had expected.

    So far the trajectory of each smear against Palin has been about the same:

    1) At first Trig supposedly wasn't her baby, and then we find eyewitness and video proof of her pregnancy.

    2) At first Sarah wanted to censor books at her local library, and then we find out that the list was a hoax.

    3) At first Sarah is supposedly declaring that the Iraq War is "God's Will", and then the whole clip is played and we find that she was asking the church to "pray that this war is God's Will"... that we have Godly goals and intentions, rather than going over there for greed or other earthly goals.

    4) At first her husband had a DWI, and then we find that that was 22 years ago.

    5) At first, Sarah was supposedly a crazy Pentecostal with a dubious pastor, and then we find she switched congregations to a non-denominational church 6 years ago once the preaching went askew (something Barack apparently didn't do).

    6) At first, Sarah was supposedly a member of the Alaska Independence Party, then we find out she never was.

    7) At first she had a creationist agenda, and then we find out that she never pushed any science agenda on teachers.

    8) At first, Sarah didn't help special needs kids in Alaska, then we find out she actually tripled per-pupil funding.

    9) And then we have the (chauvinist) accusations that Sarah can't be a good mother if she's VP.

    10) And clearly she failed with her daughter Bristol.

    11) And she wasn't properly vetted.

    What is that? Huh? What is going on? Has any other politician gone through anything like the kind of freshman initiation she has in recent US history? Her selection was only 10 days ago... and there have been like 20+ smear attempts. This is relentless. And as soon as the truth comes out on one issue, the media/bloggers forget about it and make up a new claim. (ie Todd Palin would be the true VP... or Sarah had an affair [National Enquirer]... or the latest, a waitress in Alaska allegedly overheard her say [when Barack beat Hillary], "so the Sambo beat the bitch")

    Clearly Sarah is up against an "accuse-first, investigate-later" mentality... and Cory, you've been feeding right into it.

    Now I'm sure Sarah Palin is not perfect, and with all the reforms she's enacted (ie cutting 72% of jobs relying on earmarks) she has probably offended a few people. But her approach to politics resonates with me, and I think by this point she has earned the benefit of the doubt, and should be treated like a regular person, not a monster. (Ironically, today's Gallup poll of likely voters suggest that all this attention has actually given her ticket a near-10% lead.)

    Isn't it interesting that Joe Biden hardly gets any press at all? Even on pro-Biden sites like this one? (Much less, unfounded personal attacks...)

    Yeah, I am a Democrat, because Democrats are open-minded. I don't sell out to brands, labels, slogans, stereotypes, flippancy, or my own self-interest.

    Kind regards,

  13. Oh, David. Don't cloak your partisan baloney in faux nobility. She's a candidate for Vice-President and possible Commander in Chief, not a weeping damsel in distress. Your knight in shining armor complex is woefully misplaced, especially for a woman who defies honor by repeating lies.

  14. Hi Cory,

    Sounds like you only read the first sentence.

    Kind regards,

  15. Vindication (again):

    ABC News investigated the Wasilla earmarks and found that the numbers attributed to Sarah Palin were grossly exaggerated.

    Hey Cory... how about a retraction? Or are you really happy with accuse-first/dont-bother-to-investigate journalism?

    Looking forward to your next anti-Palin baloney.

    Kind regards,

  16. So if I'm reading the article right, Palin still requested more in earmarks as governor last year than Obama and Biden combined.

    She also took a city that had no debt and still left it $20M in the hole -- not exactly the mark of a fiscal conservative.

    Vindication? Hardly.

    The article also reinforces the point that the podium blather from McCain and Palin is doublespeak. The GOP is saying it is against a system that they are as addicted to as everyone else, particularly the small towns and rural areas the GOP pretends to champion. If McCain and Palin dropped their slogans and instead walked up to Joe Voter in South Dakota and said, "We want to eliminate the Mni Wiconi and Lewis and Clark water projects and repossess the Discovery Bridge," they'd lose South Dakota.

    There's the real issue: McCain and Palin just won't say what they mean. They are trying to win by a constant verbal shell game.


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