Sarah Palin No Pork Queen

Sarah Palin is a former beauty queen.  But she most certainly is NOT a pork queen.

Pork, of course, refers to earmark subsides doled out to states on the federal government dole.  Often, it is given out to Senators and Representatives on the basis of their seniority or clout.

There are a spat of articles out there talking about all the pork that Sarah Palin received, and even applied for.  And, as is often the case with hit pieces, the media tells the truth, but only part of it – the parts that contribute to an agenda without the benefit of the parts that would undermine that agenda.

Alaska receives more earmarks per capita than any other state.  But that is no surprise, when a few relevant details become known.  Because of its special nature, Alaska will likely ALWAYS receive more earmarks per capita than any other state.

An Associated Press article – with a highly suggestive and frankly biased title – begins by saying the following:

ST. PAUL, Minn. – John McCain touts Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a force in the his battle against earmarks and entrenched power brokers, but under her leadership the state this year asked for almost $300 per person in requests for pet projects from one of McCain’s top adversaries: indicted Sen. Ted Stevens.

That’s more than any other state received, per person, from Congress for the current budget year, and runs counter to the reformer image that Palin and the McCain campaign are pushing. Other states got just $34 worth of local projects per person this year, on average, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group.

Palin actually reduced the state government’s requests for special projects this year to 31 earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 person, in the wake of President Bush’s demand for a cutback in earmarks.

The state government’s earmark requests to Congress in her first year in office exceeded $550 million, more than $800 per resident. But there’s only so much Palin could do with state bureaucrats used to a free-flowing spigot of federal dollars from Washington.

“I have championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress,” Palin said in her vice presidential campaign trail debut last week.

Palin’s current request to Stevens, “would still put Alaska No. 1,” said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks closely.

The AP story about “Palin’s pork requests confounding her reformer image” simply points out a brute fact that by itself sounds devastating without any accompanying context: that she asked for almost $300 per person for spread over 31 projects, making it the nation’s number 1 state in terms of earmarks per capita.

The “#1” figure will get a lot of attention, but only because of rampant bias that doesn’t allow a presentation of the full picture.

Let me begin by presenting two evidences that should put this slightly in context:

1) A state by state map of earmark receipts

2) A state by state listing by population

By looking comparing these two maps side by side, you will notice that 1) states with high populations have significantly lower per capital earmark spending; and 2) states with low populations have significantly higher earmark spending.

Furthermore, one has to consider the sheer size of Texas in considering federal earmark money.  Alaska is absolutely HUGE – more than TWICE the size of Texas.  You could pour a whole bunch of small northeastern states into Alaska, and have a lot of room left over.  With that said, is it really a surprise that such a state would need more federal money?

Consider something else.  And take Obama’s state of Illinois by comparison.  You drive across Alaska, and I’ll drive across Illinois, and we’ll see who gets to the end of which state first.  That would be bad enough.  But now let’s do it in Winter time.  In all likelihood, they’ll find what’s left of you next spring.  Alaska has some of the most extreme conditions in the world.

These are simply a bare facts that cannot be disputed.  And to tear into a state like Alaska – or its current Governor – for something that is uniform throughout the nation, is simply unfair.  And had the article been objective, it would have presented this information.

It didn’t, because it wasn’t.

What this article does by (what I think is deliberate) omission is similar to the Governor of Oklahoma concluding that he is doing a great job compared to the Governor of Louisiana, because he isn’t wasting a ton of federal money on Hurricane relief.  In the same way, comparing Illinois with Alaska in earmark spending is patently ridiculous.

But even in an article that seems to go out of its way – with an incriminating title and a glaring omission of exculpating facts – there are still nuggets of truth that underscore just how incredible a job Sarah Palin has done as a reforming, cost-cutting governor.

Look again at the reduction in earmark spending that Governor Sarah Palin has fought for and won:

From “more than $800 per person” to “295 per person” amounts to at least a more than 63% reduction in spending.

Governor Palin has slashed the budget by nearly 2/3rds.  Name one other governor who has done that.  Just one.

And again, would knowing that fact change your impression of Sarah Palin as you read the article?

Maybe a different way of looking at it would help.  Suppose Sarah Palin was a personal trainer, and you came in weighing over 800 lbs.  Imagine if, just over a year later, Sarah had you weighing in at 295 lbs.  If someone from a competing personal training outfit told you, “Yeah, but you’re still fatter than anyone in the gym,” would you agree and fire Sarah as your personal trainer, or would you throw your water bottle at the other personal trainer in outrage over ignoring the progress already made?

A final fact is presented by the Associated Press article, but not forcefully enough: “there’s only so much Palin could do with state bureaucrats used to a free-flowing spigot of federal dollars from Washington.”  Governor Palin is doing an amazing job cutting a budget of pork, over and above the complaints of a state system that has depended on pork for years.  She can’t do it all at once, and only a fool would think she could.

I’m presuming you’d have the latter response.  Remember that when the Democrats bring this issue up.  Because they’re going to bring it up again and again.

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17 Responses to “Sarah Palin No Pork Queen”

  1. merge divide Says:

    It’s humorous that you don’t mention her initial support for the “Bridge to Nowhere”… nor did you acknowledge that even after the media made it a national scandal, Palin still kept the federal funds for the project, even though she stopped construction. It’s also interesting that you didn’t delve into Palin’s history with Stevens a little deeper. You will soon feel very foolish for writing this post.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    I didn’t have to, because I knew someone would do it for me.

    What I try to do in this article is show how a story lies by presenting an incriminating-sounding factoid while leaving out other relevant facts that would make the “incriminating” factoid seem a lot less incriminating if it were just presented.

    What I’ve seen in reading a LOT about Sarah Palin is that she has a true record of a reformer, who has taken on both corruption and fraud at every level.

    My view of Palin on the Bridge is that she simply saw it as something which – at the time – was not a fight she could win. It is kind of like WWII; we didn’t just attack Germany – we had to fight our way to the point that we could attack Germany. Palin waited for the right moment, and when it came, she was ruthless. There is no question that SHE killed the project, and killed it over considerable opposition.

    Palin’s record with Stevens doesn’t even begin to compare to Obama’s record with Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers (who helped him get his start in politics), or Tony Rezko.

    I only feel foolish when I find myself trying to reason with fools.

  3. Bradley B. Says:

    The issue is not and never has been whether Palin’s earmark requests were larger/smaller or better/worse than those from other states. The issue deserving attention is the misrepresentation of her record in a dishonest attempt to portray her as a crusading spending reformer. The false and misleading “I told Congress thanks but no thanks” story about funding for the “bridge to nowhere”. The hiring of a professonal lobbyist to bring back federal dollars for her Alaskan town. McCain saying the jet was sold on ebay for a profit when it wasn’t sold on ebay at all and was ultimately sold for a loss. Individually these stories are trivial, but collectively they add up to a clear picture of deliberate distortion and dishonesty. This is the issue, and one that will not go away.

    You say, “What I try to do in this article is show how a story lies by presenting an incriminating-sounding factoid while leaving out other relevant facts that would make the “incriminating” factoid seem a lot less incriminating if it were just presented.” Did you write this without a hint of self-conscious irony? Because for anyone paying attention, it’s precisely this kind of half-truth marketing that characterizes the McCain Palin campaign. E.g., “I told Congress thanks but no thanks! (and I’ll leave it to someone else to point out that, yeah, I actually took the money).”

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    As to your second paragraph, you simply misunderstand a crucial distinction. Nowhere on my blog do I claim to be “objective”, “impartial”, or a “journalist.” The people and the publications that I am citing and discussing DO so claim. You are simply completely wrong to say that my point is not valid simply because I myself am a partisan. THE POINT IS THAT THEY ARE AS PARTISAN AS I AM – AND THEY ARE MISREPRESENTING THEMSELVES IN A WAY THAT I DO NOT.

    Now, as to your first paragraph, it goes more to prove my first. Much of what you are spouting at me is simply not quite true – but you got it from a media outlet that only presents part of the truth.

    As Governor, Palin most definitely DID oppose the bridge to nowhere – against opposition that came from (in addition to Dems) her own party. And she in point of fact DID tell the federal government that they could have the money back; it was the Alaska legislature that kept it, and NOT Palin.

    Palin DID put the jet on eBay – and the very fact that you are writing to complain to me that a governor repudiated and sold a private jet that would have made her life easier and more luxurious simply proves how partisan and ideological you are. The jet – bought new, sold used – sold for a little over $2 million, a pretty good price, that went back to the people. And you’re trying to pervert that? How DARE you complain that it sold “at a loss.” Are you saying she should have kept it and luxuriated in it instead, and that would be better? Take a look at yourself!

    As Governor, Sarah Palin cut earmarks by nearly 2/3, and cut her budget of over $half a billion. Meanwhile, Barack Obama – who is bitching about Palin’s earmark’s – requested over $1 billion in earmarks and received nearly $3/4 of a billion.

  5. Rob_N Says:

    Michael,

    Alaska may be a big state with few people, but it’s also one of the wealthiest given its natural resources. Instead of giving everyone in the state $3200 in combined refunds and pay-outs (which she did earlier this year), perhaps Gov. Palin could’ve paid Alaska’s own way rather than relying on Federal hand-outs. It’s the classic ‘welfare queen’ scenario, except on the level of being an entire state.

    And rather than being new when purchased (where’d you read that?) it was in fact a used jet when the state bought it to transport prisoners and government officials (perhaps they will be one and the same in coming months as Gov. Palin’s mentor Sen. Ted Stevens goes on trial for corruption).That’s right, that airplane transported prisoners nearly 3/4s of the time it was in use… flying aorund in a prison jet is hardly what I’d call a “luxurious” lifestyle but suit yourself.

    Then again, Gov. Palin didn’t really actually fire that personal chef and managed to somehow take a per diem paycheck for “travel” while she stayed at home, costing Alaskans tens of thousands of dollars.

    And the reason Gov. Palin put the jet on eBay in the first place was because that is state law — no matter what, property to be sold by the state is put on eBay as a first measure. If a given piece of property doesn’t sell there, then other options are pursued.

    To Bradley’s point about the McCain-Palin ticket saying one thing but in reality doing the exact opposite, you may wish to note that Sen. McCain has repeatedly lied by saying that (A) she sold it on eBay — she didn’t — and (B) made a profit on the sale — she really didn’t.

    The reality is the plane didn’t sell on eBay. It was listed, but didn’t sell. After that the task of selling it was handed over to a broker who ended up selling it at a $600,000 loss (not a “profit” unless you use the fuzziest of math). That broker just happened to sell it to a wealthy fellow whose wife donated money to the Republican Speaker of the Alaskan House. That Republican Speaker was the one who put the buyer in touch with the state’s airplane broker. (The buyer, again, paid $600,000 less than the state paid for it after only a few years of use. Pretty good return on his wife’s $1000 political donation “investment” to the Republican Speaker.)

    And finally, please list your non-existent $1 billion in earmarks from Sen. Obama.

    That, unfortunately, is yet another McCain lie based on fuzzy math. And, even more unfortunate, it’s another out-and-out whopper of a lie… not some little fib.

    For someone who complains so much about what you perceive to be a lack of the whole-truth-and-nothing-but you sure seem to be missing quite a few facts yourself.

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    Where did you get the idea that anybody’s claiming that the jet sold at a profit? Tell you what: go down to the auto dealership, buy a car, drive it around for a while, and then try to sell it. On my planet, you will sell it for less than you paid for it. Maybe yours is different?

    Sarah Palin did not buy the jet. There was nothing she could do about the actual purchase. But she COULD sell it, and put the proceeds back into the state. The fact that people like you are criticizing a decision that has been wildly popular with Alaskans – just like her getting rid of her executive chef at the governor’s mansion and getting rid of the governor’s limousine would be a GOOD thing for anyone who is not a partisan ideologue. So you are simply revealing your true colors.

    By taking the per diem, Palin did nothing wrong. She was entitled to it by law. She STILL saved dramatically over per diem over her predecessor, so even in this area – she has been an improvement.

    The state of Alaska isn’t as rich as you think it is, but thanks in great part to Sarah Palin, who stood firm on deals with the oil companies, it is richer than it used to be.

    Obama requested over $1 billion. He did in fact obtain $740 million. I DID link to their itemization on a separate article.
    https://startthinkingright.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/in-the-earmark-game-obama-beats-mccain-740-million-to-nothing/

    By the way, John McCain got a 100% rating from Citizens Against Government Waste this past year. Barack Obama received a 22% rating – and Joe Biden got a 0% rating.
    https://startthinkingright.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/presidential-pork-obama-biden-in-hog-heaven-mccain-kosher/

    So you keep barking at Sarah Palin’s earmarks – it just keeps proving what hypocrites you people are.

  7. AJ Thompson Says:

    Excellent article/good facts!

  8. Michael Eden Says:

    AJ,
    I appreciate that. My main goal is to try to inform and motivate conservatives/Republicans. My second goal is to try to persuade independents.

    I really don’t give a damn about the liberals, as I’d have a better chance of convincing a brick.

  9. Rob_N Says:

    Michael asks, “Where did you get the idea that anybody’s claiming that the jet sold at a profit? ”

    I got it from John McCain’s own stump speeches, in which he himself said, “She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — made a profit.”

    Do you, sir, support Sen. McCain but not even know that he’s bald-face lying like this on the campaign trail?

    Or maybe John McCain’s the one from another planet…

    (By the way, do you insult all your readers, or just the ones who point out facts, whether you like those facts or not?)

    PS: As you noted in your earlier post on earmarks, hypocrisy is defined as saying one thing but doing another. In that regard, Gov. Palin claiming she is “against pork” while resting on a record of pork-fueled spending is the textbook definition of hypocrisy. (And that money she lobbied for and spent came from you and I in the other 49 states. Sounds more like “Alaska First” than “Country First”.) Sen. Obama isn’t the one lying about earmarks. He’s not going around the country saying he’s anti-earmarks.

    PPS: Yes, such things as healthcare, emergency preparedness and the like actually are worthy causes despite your rhetoric. You may wish to note that unlike Alaska, the state of Illinois actually contributes more to the Federal government than it receives back. It isn’t even close to Alaska’s open handed record as the #1 state chewing on Federal pork

  10. Michael Eden Says:

    Let me ask you a question: after Sarah Palin sold the jet, was there MORE money or LESS money in the state coffers?

    If you don’t need something, and you can sell it, then anything you get for it is a PROFIT. I’ll bet you’ve never had a garage sale in your life because all the stuff you own isn’t worth as much as you originally paid for it. The rest of us get it. Sarah added over $2 million dollars to the state coffers.

    The jet was a foolish and wasteful thing to buy. Sarah Palin recognized that, and sold the jet. Now, if you think it was a wise and prudent thing to have, and if you want your state government to buy a bunch of private jets for their officials, then I can understand why you are so bitter about Sarah Palin’s selling hers. Otherwise I think you are just plain biased in a frankly warped and nonsensical way.

    Tell you what: keep telling every one you know – shout it in the streets – that Republican Sarah Palin canned her private chef, sold her limousine, and then sold her private jet – and who would ever want a governor like that? You’ll do McCain-Palin a LOT more good than me!

    As a Governor, Palin CUT the earmark budget by 63%. As a Governor, she cut the state budget by half a billion dollars.

    As a senator, Barack Obama wanted $936 million dollars worth of earmarks. And he got $740 million in earmark money.

    She cut and cut. He spent and spent.

    Now, if you can’t understand that comparison, I’m sorry, but I really have little choice but to mock you.

  11. Michael Eden Says:

    Thought I’d add the text of a link I cited above:

    CCAGW’s 2007 Congressional Ratings came out yesterday and you may be wondering how the presidential nominees did.

    • Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) 2007 rating was 10 percent, making his lifetime score 18 percent. The 2008 Congressional Pig Book contained 53 earmarks worth $97.4 million for Sen. Obama, including $1,648,850 for the Shedd Aquarium.

    • Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) received the worst possible rating in 2007 with 0 percent, while his lifetime rating is 22 percent. According to the Pig Book, Sen. Biden had 70 earmarks for a total of $119.7 million in fiscal year 2008, including $246,100 for the Grand Opera House in Wilmington.

    • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) received a score of 100 percent* has a lifetime rating of 88, has never requested nor received a single earmark, and has pledged to veto any spending bill that contains any earmarks.

    Now, if you want to keep trying to make the frankly idiotic argument that Barack Obama is some kind of fiscally responsible guy, and McCain-Palin aren’t, then I will REALLY start in with the mockery.

  12. Rob_N Says:

    Michael,

    You started out in your original blogpost by noting how incredibly large Alaska (twice the size of Texas… you could fit several northeastern states in it… start out driving from one end of Illinois vs one end of Alaska and see who gets to the end first…) and now you’re reduced to claiming that a plane isn’t necessary for a governor of a state that size.

    In other words, your spin has you talking in circles.

    By the by, selling things for less than what you originally paid for them has never been considered a “profit”… it’s called a “loss” for a reason.

    Again, your spin has you talking in circles.

    I may be supporting Sen. Obama, but with folks like you supporting Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin the rationale for supporting Obama writes itself.

    PS: You might want to check out Sen. McCain’s record on earmarks one more time, since you’re clearly on the path toward yet another Big Mac of a lie.

    You can ignore reality all you want Mr. Eden; it doesn’t make it any less real.

  13. Michael Eden Says:

    Rob,
    All you have to do is demonstrate that the selling of the jet was a bad fiscal move, and you might actually have a point.

    One of the following statements is true, making the other false:
    – It cost more to fly around in a private jet
    – It cost more to fly commercially in a regular passenger plane.

    Prove the first is true, and you prove that my “spin” is taking me in circles.
    Fail to prove it, and you prove that you are just another leftist ideologue who would say down is up if it helped you.

    Start by finding out how much it costs to operate a private jet. Then find out how much it would cost to fly commercially.

    It shouldn’t take very long before you start feeling like a real idiot for making your argument above.

  14. Rob_N Says:

    Michael,

    Why do you keep trying to distract away from the fact that Sen. McCain (and Gov. Palin now too) have been caught in lie after lie after lie?

    You’ve been saying ‘down is up’ throughout the thread by claiming a “loss” on the sale of the plane is somehow a “profit”. It was Sen. McCain who said she sold it on eBay (a lie) and that she made a profit (another lie).

    Now, from Gov. Palin’s detailed interview with ABC News’ Charlie Gibson we learn, in her own words, that she admits Alaska under her watch as governor this year in 2008 was “abusing the system” (her words, not mine).

    This admission comes in the same week that Sen. McCain lied to Barbara Walters by claiming that Gov. Palin had not requested earmarks while governor.

    FYI – Lest you start complaining that the news media is somehow biased against McCain, Mr. Gibson you may (or may not) recall was part of ABC’s tag team (along with George Stephanopolous) who drilled into Sen. Obama on a bunch of irrelevant anti-Obama nonsense during one of the final debates between Obama and Sen. Clinton.

    Sir, there is an ideologue on this blog — you. Unfortunately for our fellow Americans all you offer is mockery, spin and distractions from the very topic you brought up. Are McCain supporters really this desperate to sweep the truth under the rug?

  15. Michael Eden Says:

    Rob,
    Palin sold a private jet, dumped her chef so the family could cook meals for themselves, and got rid of the governor’s limos – and you’re offended by it!

    I am a partisan. But if the shoe was on the other foot, I would not be so insane as to try to make your argument. It is patently ridiculous. I would probably try to claim that she only did these things to give her an “appearance” of cutting costs to benefit her career – but I wouldn’t be so crazy as to try to REPEATEDLY make the argument that selling a private jet and giving the money back to the state was a BAD idea.

    Biden takes a train home from Washington. I might argue that he’s only doing it for appearances, but I am not so completely biased that I would try to make the argument that it’s BAD for him to take the train. But that is what you are stooping to, Mr. non-ideologue.

    Are you typing from a mental ward or something?

    I notice that you don’t want to take me up on my challenge to prove that the private jet would be more cost effective than flying commercially.

    Palin has the highest approval rating of any governor because the people of her state know what she’s done – and they like it.

    Yes, I mock you. And I will keep mocking you as either an idiot or a loon every single time you write me with such passionate fury over the fact that Sarah Palin sold a private jet and gave the money back to the state.

    You must BE in a mental ward, because you clearly have nothing better to do than harangue me with the same nonsensical point over and over and over. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again. Enough!

  16. Rob_N Says:

    Michael writes, “The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again. Enough!”

    On that we agree. ;)

    On the fact that you’re ignoring my points and apparently taking part in some other argument that I’m not privy too… we clearly disagree. And how is a “private” jet private if it’s state-owned? Does Alaska use “private” snow plows to clear roads and “private” security to patrol its highways? That’s a pretty silly way of avoiding the point I was making — that McCain lied when he said Gov. Palin sold it on eBay (she didn’t, because it didn’t sell) and that she made a profit on the eventual sale (she didn’t, the state lost several hundred thousand dollars when it sold the plane to a friend of the Republican House Speaker).

    By the by, do you always go around insulting your fellow Americans when they correct your errors? How’s that working out for ya?

  17. Michael Eden Says:

    The term “private jet” refers to the type of jet it is; a better term would be “corporate jet.” Both terms refer to a small jet aircraft designed to hold only a few people.

    Now, do you think you did anything other than make yet another totally asinine point in that distinction?

    I’ll let someone else decide if I’ve ignored your points. Your whole argument is a ridiculous waste of time as far as I’m concerned.

    The number one way to know you’re talking to a liberal is they continually whine about being insulted. I guess its the lib talking point from Barack Obama – the guy who attacks McCain in 77% of his ads, and then claims that McCain (who only attacks Obama in 56% of his ads) is a horrible person for using attacks.
    http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/09/obamas_run_more_negative_ads.php

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