Good Pork, Bad Pork – Where’s the Beef?

Even I have to admit that reading too much of the left-wing blogs is not a balanced way to keep up with the news. I did see Sarah Palin give her acceptance speech, and she is a talented speaker, the crowd adored her, and clearly she speaks for many women and men who feel like their values have been ignored. And what a great word ‘values’. Kind of like ‘faith’. Uplifting but unspecific, so that everyone can assume that values means, ‘people like me’.

So getting down to specifics, has John McCain chosen a running mate who exemplifies his values and the agenda of his party? To start, let’s look at that left-wing broadsheet, The Economist…

From pork to petrodollars
Sep 4th 2008 | ANCHORAGE
From The Economist print edition

Sarah Palin’s home state is awash with money

JOHN MCCAIN’S decision to anoint Sarah Palin as his running-mate looks eccentric for many reasons. Not the least is economic principle. Thanks in part to Mrs Palin, Alaska’s economy is built on two things that Mr McCain has spent the last few years railing against.

The first is federal spending, especially the little-scrutinised grants known as earmarks. Between 1996 and 2006 per-capita federal spending in Alaska rose from 38% above the national average to 71% above. Scott Goldsmith, an economist, reckons a third of all jobs in the state depend on it. So needy are the citizens of the “last frontier� that the looming trial of Ted Stevens, Alaska’s senior senator and champion pork-rustler, for failing to disclose gifts is viewed not just as a political scandal but also as an economic threat.

Mrs Palin has been less single-minded in her pursuit of pork than other Alaskan politicians (which is, admittedly, setting the bar pretty high). But she can take credit for the other pillar of Alaska’s economy: windfall taxes. Last year she championed a tax hike on oil companies which is helping bring in huge sums—more than $10 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June, according to the companies that pay them. Suddenly flush, the state has promised $1,200 to every man, woman and child, ostensibly to cover the high cost of fuel.

In other words, if a President McCain keeps his promise and vetoes every bill that comes across his desk that contains earmarks it will be tough times in Alaska. From that radical rag, The Washington Post…

The senator from Arizona has made a crusade of battling pork-barrel “earmarks,” but the whopper here is the assertion that Palin opposed her state’s notorious Bridge to Nowhere. She endorsed the remote project while running for governor in 2006, claimed to be an opponent only after Congress killed its funding the next year, and has used the $223 million provided for it for other state ventures. Far from being an opponent of earmarks, Palin hired lobbyists to try to capture more federal funding.

Now, there’s been a back and forth as to whether Alaska is big (geographically), or small (population). So you can’t make a direct comparison between a state with huge distances and a state like Rhode Island, where you feel put-upon if you have to venture out to Woonsocket. So I’m wondering if any interviewer will ask Governor Palin to outline the specifics of her earmarks, and why they are not like the bad earmarks her running mate will veto.

Today’s Providence Journal has a headine, ‘Poll finds McCain gaining among those looking for change’. This to me is one of the weirdest things about the race. A long-term Republican politician running against the record of his own party. From a major newspaper of the decadent region of Appalachia, the Louisville Courier-Journal…

MITT ROMNEY (former Massachusetts governor): “We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

With all the talk about ‘change’ it would be easy to assume that the Republicans have been locked out of power for eight years, instead of running Washington. It’s like the good Republicans are promising to save us from the bad Republicans. And there’s good pork and bad pork. I hope someone will pin down Senator McCain to explain which kind of pork is nourishing and good for the Forth of July barbecue, and which kind is deadly, artery-clogging fat.

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7 thoughts on “Good Pork, Bad Pork – Where’s the Beef?

  1. There is illusion and delusion. Alaska, for those who have never been there, is very different from the “lower 48.” And the differences extend to much of the so-called earmarked spending. Apart from the nonsense of Ted Stevens’s bridge, the earmarks are for a host of necessary projects. These include military infrastructure (everything from bases to radars to distribution centers to extreme weather laboratories), development and environmental projects, and projects we are obligated to provide for the 30 or so ethnic minorities of Alaska, speaking 22 languages, and with whom we have treaty obligations going back to the purchase of Alaska from the Russian empire. The manifold environmental, geological and other mapping by the federal government, soils and permafrost work that can only be done in Alaska, fisheries and otehr biological work that can only be done in Alaska, earthquake studies and shorline/coastal studies are, again, work that can only be done in Alaska. The international cooperative projects with the Canadians and the Russians, as well as a host of other countries, also take advantage of the unique qualities of Alaska. People forget Alaska is larger than all but 18 countries in the world. The oil (and gas), and timber, and fisheries, royalties are due the state, as they have been for decades. Governor Palin is not the first governor to rebate royalty income from oil to Alaskan citizens. If ever there were a rational for more drilling everywhere, the rebate of royalties to citizens is certainly a major consideration. Would it not be desireable for all households to receive $1200 royalty payments each year? Of course, unlike Alaska, most states will simply dump the money into the state treasuries and spend it on more government waste, while the federal portion of royalties will find a similar fate. The Alaskan model is unique, but has applications elsewhere and these transcend party or candidates.

  2. Excuse me, but Rhode Island has the Atlantic Ocean, University of Rhode Island occasionally does a little research there, and Brown University does internationally recognized research on HIV. We have a few schools and hospitals and historic sites such as the First Baptist Church in America, as well as a naval base.
    Don’t underestimate us because we are small. And I would not accept any money to have them drill in Narragansett Bay, we just cleaned it up.

  3. Nancy,

    I consider you a very sensible person. We have not often agreed but I think it would be a fun and productive event if we sat down to discuss various issues.

    But, I think the thing many in the left are refusing to see is the uber-appeal of Sarah Palin not just to the right but to many moderates. Painting her as some pork-barrel run of the mill politician is a bad angle in my opinion. She’s demonstrated time and again a willingness to go against the grain – one of your sources make mention of her taxing big oil companies despite – or regardless of – her husband working for BP.

    And as the left continues to make Palin the story, McCain v Obama morphs into Obama v Palin…and one thing Obama adherents may be afraid to admit is that Clinton held her once she figured out this was actually going to be a race. Obama is trying to stay above the fray – pig reference withstanding – and I think that’s the best angle.

    Stop moaning about the lack of qualification of Palin and instead focus on the wrong direction McCain will take the country. That’s what Democrats need to do, and let go the ‘spicy’ stories latent within the Palin biography.

    Because more the Democrats drag her name through the mud, the more folks like myself and moderates will give her…and by extension, John McCain a second glance.

  4. and Donald, Alaska has nothing on Rhode Island. We’re on the Atlantic, we had German submarines off our coast in WWII. We are the birthplace of religious freedom in the new world. We have bars that are older than the Declaration of Independance, that actually supplied the courage the patriots needed to do revolutionary stuff like burn the Gaspee. Brown University and our hospitals do cutting edge research into HIV and other diseases. And our people are as real and American as any in the other 49 states, we just talk funny.

  5. Nancy-even as a relative interloper to Lil’Rhody(24 years)it has become obvious to me that if we are going to discuss the history and idiosyncracies of our state,we will need a whole”sublog”(is there such a thing?)-I realized I had begun to figure this place out when I began to “get”some of Don Bousquet’s more arcane cartoons.When I first got here,3/4 of them made no sense.

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