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Excellent video from the Obama campaign. It sums the situation quite well.

John McCain and Sarah Palin would simply be a continuation of the past 8 years of Bush/Cheney policies — and America can’t afford that anymore.

Of all the things I have to say annoys me about politicians is how they will stretch the truth in order to make themselves look good. In the case of Sarah Palin…it’s pretty much an outright lie. At the GOP convention last week Sarah noted that she opposed the “Bridge to Nowhere”

““I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress “thanks, but no thanks,” for that Bridge to Nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, we’d build it ourselves”

(KCTV, “Full Text: Palin Accepts Nomination“, KCTV5.com, Kansas, City, KA, September 3, 2008 )

Unfortunately Sarah’s not telling the truth. The facts are that she supported the “Bridge to Nowhere” (a project to link Ketchikan, AK with its airport on Gravina Island) while campaigning for the post of Governor of Alaska. So much so that in a debate as a gubenatorial candidate she said that she would fight for the earmark to build the bridge (Bernton, Hal and David, Heath, “Palin’s earmark requests: more per person than any other state“, The Seattle Times, September 2, 2008 ). Not only that but she supported many other earmarks for Alaska both as Governor as well as Mayor of Wasilla, AK. As governor she requested $499,900 to assess halibut harvesting as well as money to light airports in the Alaskan bush. All these earmark requests were coming at a time when the Federal deficit was soaring under the Bush administration and Alaska’s coffers were overflowing with money because of soaring oil prices and a major tax increase which Governor Palin signed into law in late 2007! (Bernton, Hal and David, Heath, “Palin’s earmark requests: more per person than any other state“, The Seattle Times, September 2, 2008 )

As Mayor of Wasilla she hired Washington Lobbyist Steven Silver, a former aide to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, to represent the town. After Silver was hired the town received earmarks from the Federal government for several projects including:

  • $600,000 for a city bus facility
  • $1.5 million for a local water and sewer project

(source: Hamburger, Tom, “Palin relied on earmark system she now opposes“, LA Times, September 1, 2008 ). The total amount of earmarks which then Mayor Palin received amounted to a total of $27 million dollars!

Now claiming on the campaign trail that as Governor of Alaska she has slashed earmarks from $550 million dollars down to just under $200 million dollars (a reduction of two-thirds!). Unfortunately that also is a lie. In 2007 Alaska requested a total of $254 million dollars in earmarks for an actual reduction of around 22% — not the 66% that Governor Palin claims. (Bernton, Hal and David, Heath, “Palin’s earmark requests: more per person than any other state“, The Seattle Times, September 2, 2008 ) And for 2009 it continues (and here she is out on the campaign trail decrying the earmark system) some of the earmarks that Alaska has requested from the Federal government include $25 million dollars for “Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery” and $3.2 million dollars for seal and sea lion research. (Hamburger, Tom, “Palin relied on earmark system she now opposes“, LA Times, September 1, 2008 ).

In the end it appears that not only is Governor Palin lying about her record she is also what the Republicans call a “flip-flop” — one day she’s for it, the next day she’s against it. Will the real Governor Palin please stand up?

Last night’s acceptance speech by Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States was excellent. Senator Obama did what he needed to do — define himself and counter Senator McCain’s claims that he’s elitist and out of touch with Americans. The Democrats have done quite well for themselves this week and it was good to see Bill Clinton come out unabashedly in favor and in support of Senator Obama. If anyone is out of touch with the state of America and Americans it’s Senator McCain and the Republicans.

Consider that Senator McCain and the Republicans have been chanting the tired old mantra of “Drill Here! Drill Now!” for several weeks — knowing full well that drilling “here” and drilling “now” will do absolutely nothing to lower energy costs here in the United States in the near or mid-term future. It’s all a matter of producing a platitude that resonates with the fears of Americans rather than their aspirations. The Republicans are way off the mark and out of touch with Americans these days and it represents a dramatic difference in perspective. Paul Krugman in his latest op-ed piece in the New York Times notes

Democrats say and, as far as I can tell, really believe that working Americans are getting a raw deal; Republicans, despite occasional attempts to sound sympathetic, basically believe that people have nothing to complain about.

(Krugman, Paul, “Feeling No Pain“, The New York Times, August 29, 2008 )

As Krugman outlines in his opinion piece the census of 2007 shows that Americans are worried about the direction this country is taking. And that was in 2007 — before the financial crisis really tightened its grip on the economy and made it’s impact known. Median incomes for American families fell between 2000 and 2007, poverty was up, health insurance down. And even with all these indicators pointing to significant problems the Bush administration puts its head in the sand and proclaims that the economy is “basically sound” and there are no problems. At least no problems that tax cuts for businesses and the rich won’t cure.

On the health care side we are facing a looming crisis. Health care costs are increasing faster than the rate of inflation in the United States on a year-over-year basis. Employers, facing an economic downturn, are looking to cut costs whereever they can to stay profitable. That means cutting the health care benefits of workers or pushing more of the costs of health insurance onto workers who are seeing the power of their paycheck decline already due to the skyrocketing costs of gas, food, and electricity. As these individuals face declining health care the Republicans can only repeat their tired old mantra of “tax cuts for businesses will cure the economic ills.” Many Americans don’t even have health care insurance.

visiting the emergency room in a medical crisis is no substitute for regular care. Furthermore, while a hospital will treat you whether or not you can pay, it will also bill you — and the bill won’t be waived unless you’re destitute. As a result, uninsured working Americans avoid visiting emergency rooms if at all possible, because they’re terrified by the potential cost: medical expenses are one of the prime causes of personal bankruptcy.

(Krugman, Paul, “Feeling No Pain“, The New York Times, August 29, 2008 )

As for health care coverage, President Bush and Senator McCain seem to think that the emergency room at the hospital is “affordable” health care. In fact President Bush stated so last year: “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” (Bush, George W., HealthCareTalk.net,July 10, 2007).

It’s hard to sympathize with the plight of people when you don’t even connect with their problems. And therein lies the Republican’s dilemma. How can they relate to voters when they don’t even recognize their problems. The disconnect is so bad that former McCain economic advisor, the former senator Phil Gramm, described America as a “nation of whiners.” (“Dr. Phil Gramm knows what ails America“, LA Times, July 11, 2008) How out of touch can you be?

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