Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why Lie About It? We Are Not Morons

I am going to buy a pair of flip flops and attach them to my car so that as I drive around, everyone can see what a real set of flip flops is like and compare them to Palin's position on earmarks. For obvious reasons, McCain has taken a page out of the Rovian handbook by exclaiming constantly and fervently that Palin is against earmarks. She says as much deriding the "Bridge to Nowhere" as the central theme to her campaign to convince voters that she is one of them. The irony of this position, based on selling the lie, is that she doesn't need to lie about it. McCain didn't need to lie about it. This year, Palin, who has been governor for nearly 22 months, defended earmarking as a vital part of the legislative system. "The federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship," she wrote in a newspaper column. The LA Times documented with particularity Palin's earmarking history. Here it is:

"In 2001, McCain's list of spending that had been approved without the normal budget scrutiny included a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in Wasilla. The Arizona senator targeted $1 million in a 2002 spending bill for an emergency communications center in town -- one that local law enforcement has said is redundant and creates confusion.

"McCain also criticized $450,000 set aside for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla that was requested during Palin's tenure as mayor and cleared Congress soon after she left office in 2002. The funding was provided to help direct locally grown produce to schools, prisons and other government institutions, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

"Wasilla received $11.9 million in earmarks from 2000 to 2003. The results of this spending are very apparent today. (The town also benefited from $15 million in federal funds to promote regional rail transportation.)

"The community transit center is a landmark: a one-story, tile-fronted building with a drive-through garage. Its fleet of 10 buses provides service throughout the region. Mat-Su Community Transit Agency officials say the building was made possible with a combination of federal money and matching gifts from a private foundation.

"Taylor Griffin, a McCain campaign spokesman, said that when Palin became mayor in 1996, "she faced a system that was broken. Small towns like Wasilla in Alaska depended on earmarks to take care of basic needs. . . . That was something that Gov. Palin was alarmed about and was one of the formative experiences that led her toward the reform-oriented stance that she has taken as her career has progressed."

"Palin, he said, was "disgusted" that small towns like hers were dependent on earmarks.

"Public records paint a different picture:

"Wasilla had received few if any earmarks before Palin became mayor. She actively sought federal funds -- a campaign that began to pay off only after she hired a lobbyist with close ties to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who long controlled federal spending as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He made funneling money to Alaska his hallmark.

"Steven Silver was a former chief of staff for Stevens. After he was hired, Wasilla obtained funding for several projects in 2002, including an additional $600,000 in transportation funding.

"That year, a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, which combs federal spending measures to identify projects inserted by congressional members.

"When Palin spoke after McCain introduced her as his running mate at a rally in Ohio last week, she made fun of earmarking. She said she had rejected $223 million in federal funds for a bridge linking Ketchikan to an island with an airport and 50 residents, referring to it by its derogatory label: the "bridge to nowhere."

"In the nationally televised speech, she stood by McCain and said, "I've championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves."

"However, as a candidate for governor in 2006, Palin had backed funding for the bridge. After her election, she killed the much-ridiculed project when it became clear the state had other priorities. She said she would use the federal funds to fill those needs.

"This year she submitted to Congress a list of Alaska projects worth $197.8 million, including $2 million to research crab productivity in the Bering Sea and $7.4 million to improve runway lighting at eight Alaska airports. A spokesman said she cut the original list of 54 projects to 31.

"So while Sen. McCain was going after cutting earmarks in Washington," said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, "Gov. Palin was going after getting earmarks.""

Appearing yesterday morning on the popular TV show, The View, McCain said categorically that Palin was always against earmarks. Later, a spokesman for him corrected the Senator. This is a variation of the bait and switch routine used by con artists. Say something wrong deliberately about a big issue to give people the wrong idea while the crowd is large and the cameras are running and then later use a minion to correct the statement in a manner that few will hear about.

Reading and thinking about the above, one can only reach one conclusion. It is idiotic for Palin to lie about her position on earmarks. It is wrong for McCain to lie about her position on earmarks. The fact is that she took advantage of Ted Steven's power to bring in large amounts of federal funds to her city and her state which would be both remarkable and commendable if only the Republican ticket decided not to lie about it, but both candidates are treating the public as stupid idiots in order to sell the campaign as one of change. They must think we are morons. This is the Achilles' heel of the ticket.

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