Last week, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, hadn't sought earmarks or special-interest spending from Congress, presenting her as a fiscal conservative. But state records show Gov. Palin has asked U.S. taxpayers to fund $453 million in specific Alaska projects over the past two years.
These projects include more than $130 million in federal funds that would benefit Alaska's fishing industry and an additional $9 million to help Alaska oil companies. She also has sought $4.5 million to upgrade an airport on a Bering Sea island that has a year-round population of less than 100.
Wonder how may poor people fly around the barrier islands of Alaska?
I live near one of those private airports and the sound of the newest, latest-greatest personal jets makes one think one must be living in Iraq, or some other military hot spot.
Saw an article not long ago that pretty much said that private airports are not getting the security they should be getting, post 9/11 and all. Apparently when it comes to flying without being made to feel like a criminal or having your 5 year old kid's name on the watch-list, get rich quick! (oops, nevermind, Ted Kennedy was on a watch-list of somekind, for months. Maybe this rule of thumb only applies to Republicans.)
One would think, that in this "going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket" world in which we live, private airports could be one of the biggest dangers we face, because the wealthy are just simply too important to fly public aircraft or to fly private aircraft into or out of public airports, like the one just over the 5 rivers from here. God, it takes all of 30 minutes to drive to the public airport. To the very wealthy that is just too much of an inconvenience, not to mention all the airport security the rest of us must be subjected in order to feel safe.
So, is their convenience putting the nation at risk? What's the deal?
While the rest of us find ourselves running through airports in our sock feet, carrying our shoes and our carry-ons, convinced we are safe because we have been subjected to the airport security Nazi-fest, which it seems was designed to harass and unnerve even the most law-abiding among us, the airlines cram all kinds of un-searched crap into the underbelly of the plane we are about to board.
It's called "security awareness," not security. The more "they" harass us the safer we feel? Maybe that works for some of us. Maybe we do feel safer, the more we are searched, made to undress in public places and generally made to feel like a criminal. It doesn't work so well for me. It basically pisses me off.
Hey, if it works for you, just run out, commit crime and threaten suicide. You can be guaranteed absolute safety in solitude....well...given that your jailer is not also a rapist or some other form of sociopathic nutjob.
In my air travel since 9/11, I have had the privilege of traveling overseas three times. Seemed like every time I left the country, the color-coded threat level found some reason to go orange before I could get back. While the European cities and, even Egypt, took all this in stride, all hell would always break loose as soon as I reached U.S.A. soil. It got to the point that I didn't mind traveling, as long as I didn't have to come home. Everything seemed normal in European cities. No overly officious security people, searching baby strollers or the walkers of old men. It occurred to me that Europe had been dealing with terrorrism, of one type or another, for decades. The Europeans don't feel the need to subject everyone to SS-like officiousness.
Maybe it's just me, but one thing seems obvious about all this. During a supposed war, it probably isn't the best idea in the world to piss-off your own people. Trust me, they will be pissed when they find out how many chemical companies and such, haven't taken the prescribed security precautions because to do so would cost too much money, that unckecked freight is being loaded into the belly of your flight, provided you make the damn thing after security gets through ruining your whole day, that nuclear plants are still vulnerable to attack by air, that private airports don't have to comply with a damn thing they don't want to and our seaports are, indeed, being protected by Dubai Ports World. (They just waited for all of the bruhaha to calm down and gave the contract to Bush's buddies in Dubai, anyway.)
Basically, if I'm not crossing an ocean, I'd rather drive. It takes less time and it's easier on the nerves. Now, If I only had an electric car......
Now, for some more McCain/Palin lies................
Sen. McCain has made the battle against earmarks and wasteful spending a centerpiece of his campaign. He has never sought earmarks for his state of Arizona and vows to veto pork-barrel spending bills that come to his desk as president, saying these projects should go through normal budget review. And he derides the argument that states often make: that they're funding important projects.
"If they're worthy projects they can be authorized and appropriated in a New York minute," he explained on his campaign bus earlier this year, before Gov. Palin joined the ticket. "If they're worthy projects I know they'd be funded."
During an appearance Friday on ABC's "The View," Sen. McCain said Gov. Palin shared his views, and hasn't sought congressional earmarks. "Not as governor she hasn't," he said.
In fact, in the current fiscal year, she is seeking $197 million for 31 projects, the records show. In the prior year, her first year in office, she sought $256 million for dozens more projects ranging from research on rockfish and harbor-seal genetics to rural sanitation and obesity prevention. By comparison, her predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski, sought more than $350 million in his last year in office.
The McCain campaign said Sunday that Gov. Palin's overall record is one of fiscal discipline. "Her record is cutting the number of earmark requests from the previous administration sizably," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, and she has vetoed wasteful state spending.
As for Sen. McCain's televised comments on Friday, Mr. Bounds added, "If he gave viewers a mistaken impression, it certainly wasn't intentional."
In an interview with ABC News on Friday, Gov. Palin herself suggested she no longer seeks earmarks for her state. "The abuse of earmarks, it's un-American, it's undemocratic, and it's not going to be accepted in a McCain-Palin administration. Earmark abuse will stop."
When pressed about her record as governor, she said: "We have drastically, drastically reduced our earmark request since I came into office. This is what I've been telling Alaskans for these years that I've been in office, is no more."
Alaska's success with earmarks is due in part to the power of Sen. Ted Stevens, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The state's earmark requests stand out in part because its state government is among the wealthiest in the U.S. Flush with oil and gas royalties, it doesn't impose income or sales taxes. In fact, money flows the other way: Every man, woman and child this year got a check for $3,200.
The McCain campaign has also come under fire for saying on the stump and in TV ads that Gov. Palin killed the controversial "Bridge to Nowhere," a $223 million earmark linking the mainland to a sparsely populated island. In fact, she supported the project initially and killed it after it was widely criticized and Congress allowed the state to use the funds for other projects.
On the campaign trail, Gov. Palin has repeatedly attacked Sen. Obama on earmarks. "Our opponent has requested nearly one billion dollars in earmarks in three years. That's about a million for every working day," she said at a rally in Albuquerque, N.M.
Sen. Barack Obama requested a total of $860 million in earmarks in his Senate years, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. That doesn't include $78 million for projects that were national in scope and had been requested by many lawmakers. Sen. Obama halted all earmark requests in fiscal 2009.
It is difficult to compare Sen. Obama's earmark record with Gov. Palin's -- their states differ in size, for instance, and the two candidates play different roles in the process. But using the same calculation that the McCain campaign uses, the total amount of earmarked dollars divided by the number of working days while each held office (assuming a five-day workweek, every week, for both), Gov. Palin sought $980,000 per workday, compared with roughly $893,000 for Sen. Obama.
Mr. Bounds, the McCain campaign spokesman, called this an "apples and oranges comparison" because Sen. Obama sought more than Gov. Palin and because she cut earmark requests.
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.