Thursday, September 11, 2008


Here is a good short video from Robert Greenwald, “I’m John McCain and I approved this message” (it’s a must watch – and forward it on to others):

The corporate media has always had a difficult time handling outright lies by a president or a presidential candidate. While it is perfectly “objective” to identify a lie as such, it isn’t “balanced” – and superficial “balance” has become the touchstone for journalistic integrity these days. So all truth becomes relative. The press will indulge in a he-said/she-said reporting of “both sides” even if one side is demonstrably, objectively false.

The Rove junior varsity that is now running the McCain campaign is counting on the media’s self-inflicted inability to call out transparent lies. The most blatant example is the whole narrative of Sarah Palin as “reformer.” At the Republican convention, and in dozens of speeches since then, Palin has said, “I told Congress ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ on that Bridge to Nowhere”. The only problem is that she supported that project and acknowledged the inevitable only after Congress killed the earmark. Even then, she kept the money.

Even the
Wall Street Journal called out that statement as false (albeit in rather mild terms):

Record Contradicts Palin's 'Bridge' Claims


The Bridge to Nowhere argument isn't going much of anywhere.

Despite significant evidence to the contrary, the McCain campaign continues to assert that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told the federal government "thanks but no thanks" to the now-famous bridge to an island in her home state.

The McCain campaign released a television advertisement Mondaymorning titled "Original Mavericks." The narrator of the 30-second spot boasts about the pair: "He fights pork-barrel spending. She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere."

Gov. Palin, who John McCain named as his running mate less than two weeks ago, quickly adopted a stump line bragging about her opposition to the pork-barrel project Sen. McCain routinely decries.

But Gov. Palin's claim comes with a serious caveat. She endorsed the multimillion dollar project during her gubernatorial race in 2006. And while she did take part in stopping the project after it became a national scandal, she did not return the federal
money. She just allocated it elsewhere.

"We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge," Gov. Palin said in August 2006, according to the local newspaper, "and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative." The bridge would have linked Ketchikan to the airport on Gravina Island. Travelers from Ketchikan (pop. 7,500) now rely on ferries.

A year ago, the governor issued a press release that the money for the project was
being "redirected."

"Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer," she said. "Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened."

On Monday in Missouri, Gov. Palin put it this way: "I told Congress thanks but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere. If the state wanted to build a bridge we would built it ourselves."

Senior adviser Mark Salter pointed to her role in killing the project while in office and allocating the money elsewhere. When pressed further that it was actually Congress that stopped the earmark, Mr. Salter said: "She stopped it, too. She did her part."
Mr. Salter added that he welcomed a fight over earmarks with the Obama campaign.
Democratic candidate Barack Obama used a town-hall style event in Flint, Mich., to attack Gov. Palin over the "Bridge to Nowhere" debate. He accused the vice presidential nominee of lobbying for the bridge and then hiding her initial position when she ran for governor and the project became unpopular.

"You can't just make stuff up. You can't just recreate yourself. The American people
aren't stupid," he said. It's like "being for it before you were against it," Sen. Obama said, a reference to a damaging statement John Kerry made in 2004.

Why is this one issue such a big deal? Sen. McCain's anti-earmarks stance has been paramount to his campaign. The Arizona senator has blamed everything from the Minneapolis bridge collapse to Hurricane Katrina on Congress's willingness to stuff bills full of pork barrel spending.

As such, Gov. Palin's image as a "reformer" is part of the storyline the McCain campaign needs to complement the top of its ticket. Her quip about passing on the bridge and "building it ourselves" has been a staple of her stump.

But she's drawn considerable fire as result. Sen. Obama's campaign released an advertisement pointing out her original support of the bridge. And on Monday, an
Obama staffer emailed a photo of Gov. Palin holding up a T-shirt that was made
shortly after the bridge caught national attention. It reads "NOWHERE ALASKA"
and "99901," the zip code of Ketchikan. ...

ThinkProgress even has a site online, “
Lies to Nowhere,” counting the number of times Palin has repeated this lie. As I write this, it is already up to 29.

This is a win-win for the McCain/Palin ticket. The Bridge to Nowhere story helps build Palin’s image as a “reformer” (even if the “details” are “in dispute”). And to the extent the issue of earmarks is engaged, it plays on McCain’s turf. Congressional earmarks have been a cause of his. He has blamed them for the all country’s economic problems despite the fact that they are essentially irrelevant to the economy and trivial even in the context of the federal budget.

To put this in context, the federal government’s total debt currently stands at roughly $9,500,000,000,000 ($9.5 trillion – up almost $4 trillion under George W. Bush). The fiscal 2008 federal budget is roughly $3,000,000,000,000 ($3 trillion). Our budget deficit for the year will end up somewhere between $400,000,000,000 and $500,000,000,000 ($400 and 500 billion). According to the
Citizens Against Government Waste, the total value of wasteful earmarks this year is roughly $17 billion. As John Cole writes:
In other words, when McCain talks about earmarks, he is talking about 3% of our annual budget deficit, .6% of our annual budget, and a number too small to even report when discussing our national debt. Or, put another way, he is talking about two months in Iraq, something he wants to keep going indefinitely.

The Obama campaign doesn’t win by having the presidential campaign focus on trivia about trivia.

But the Bridge to Nowhere lie is only one of many lies the McCain camp has been telling. For example, McCain and his surrogates tell audiences at every opportunity that McCain will cut their taxes while Obama will raise them. In fact, 95% of Americans will get a bigger tax cut under Obama than under McCain.

Here is BusinessWeek on the subject:

Obama vs. McCain: Taxing and Spending
The candidates' opening salvos reveal widely different views. Obama calls current policy "the most fiscally irresponsible in our history"

by Jane Sasseen
They've parried over gas taxes (, 4/15/08) and fixes for the housing crisis. Now, as the general election campaign kicks off, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have begun to hammer away at each other's tax and spending programs.

Obama, who has begun a two-week tour around the country to highlight his views on the economy, derides McCain's plans to extend the Bush Administration's tax cuts, eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, and slash corporate taxes. Campaigning in St. Louis on June 10, Obama called the current Administration "the most fiscally irresponsible in our history" and argued that McCain would be even worse. "I've said John McCain is running to serve out a third term, but when it comes to taxes, that's not being fair to George Bush. Senator McCain wants to add $300 billion more in tax breaks and loopholes for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans," Obama said.

As McCain revs up his campaign, he has wasted no time in trying to paint Obama as a typical tax-and-spend liberal. He argues that if the Senator from Illinois is elected,
America is in store for the biggest tax increase since World War II. "Under Senator Obama's tax plan, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise—seniors, parents, small business owners, and just about everyone who has even a modest investment in the market," McCain said in a speech to the National Small Business Summit in Washington, also on June 10.

First Round to Obama

So where does the reality lie? According to a new analysis by the
nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a joint venture between the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, two Washington think tanks, this round goes to Obama. The TPC took a look at the various tax proposals put forth by the two candidates and estimated that Obama's plan would lead to a boost in aftertax income for all but
the highest earners, while taking a smaller bite out of government tax revenues than would McCain's plans.

Len Burman, a former Treasury tax official who is now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says if Obama's proposals—which include plans to rescind the Bush tax cuts on couples making more than $250,000, close corporate tax loopholes, and tax private equity earnings known as "carried interest" as ordinary income—were adopted in 2009, for example, married couples with earnings in the lowest quintile of the population would see their aftertax income rise 5.8%. Those in the next quintile would see an increase of 4%. Those breaks would be paid for by those with high incomes: the top 1% of taxpayers would see aftertax income fall 8.4%.

Under McCain's proposals, by contrast—including an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, a corporate tax cut, and a larger reduction in estate taxes than Obama would support—far more of the benefits would go to the top. If his plans went into effect in 2009, married couples in the bottom fifth of the population would see aftertax income go up just 0.2%, while those in the next quintile would see a 0.7% hike. But those in the top quintile would see a bump up in aftertax income of 2.7%.

"It's just flat wrong" to say people would do worse under Obama, says Burman. "Most lower-and middle-class people would pay less taxes under Obama than they would under the proposals being put forth by McCain." …

[Jason Furman, the economic policy director for the Obama campaign] argues that the study demonstrates that McCain's tax plans would drive the tax code in a far more regressive direction. "Some 23% of the tax cuts they are proposing would go to households making more than $2.8 million under the McCain plan," he says. "That's a phenomenally large benefit for the super rich, beyond anything George Bush has proposed."

All Depends How You Figure It

The two candidates' tax plans would change overall government tax revenues in vastly different ways. But by how much? That depends on how the impact is measured. Under current tax law, the Bush tax cuts are supposed to expire for all taxpayers at the end of 2010, so the current estimates by the Congressional Budget Office for tax revenues beyond those years assume that rates go back to the levels in effect before the tax cuts took effect. The top income tax rate, for example, is assumed to rise from today's 35% to the old top rate of 39.6%.

Using that assumption as a baseline, the Tax Policy Center looked at the impact of all the changes in tax law that each of the candidates has proposed. If McCain's proposed tax changes were put into effect, the Treasury would lose $3.7 trillion in revenue for the 10-year period between 2009 and 2018, compared with what it would take in under current law. If all of Barack Obama's tax plans were put into effect, the loss to the Treasury would be $2.7 trillion in revenues.

However, no one in Washington believes all the Bush tax cuts will be rescinded. Even under a Democratic Congress and Administration, the Bush tax cuts are likely to be kept in place for most taxpayers. So economic advisers to both campaigns argue it is more realistic to judge the impact of their campaign proposals against the tax policies and rates currently in effect.

Under that scenario, the numbers for both candidates look far better, although Obama still comes out well ahead. Indeed, when compared with current tax policy, his proposals would actually increase revenues coming into government coffers. Although he has promised tax cuts to many middle- and working-class families, along with the elderly, the TPC concludes that those cuts would be offset by his plans to increase taxes on high-income families and to close corporate tax loopholes. Together, those moves would bring an estimated additional $734 billion to the Treasury over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center study.

Leaving the Treasury Short

By contrast, even using the more favorable comparison, McCain's proposed tax changes would still leave the Treasury coming up short. According to the study, McCain's combined proposals would slash tax revenues by an estimated $253 billion over the 10-year period compared with what would come in under current tax policy. …

[Read my
earlier post on this subject.]

To give you an idea how baldly the McCain campaign is lying, they are even running an ad that attacks Obama claiming as a source. The only problem is that never said what the McCain campaign is saying they said. From

A McCain-Palin ad has calling Obama's attacks on Palin "absolutely false" and "misleading." That's what we said, but it wasn't about Obama.

Our article criticized anonymous e-mail falsehoods and bogus claims about Palin posted around the Internet. We have no evidence that any of the claims we found to be false came from the Obama campaign.

The McCain-Palin ad also twists a quote from a Wall Street Journal columnist. He
said the Obama camp had sent a team to Alaska to "dig into her record and
background." The ad quotes the WSJ as saying the team was sent to "dig dirt."

…[T]he Obama campaign insists that no researchers have been sent to Alaska
and that the Journal owes them a correction. …

With its latest ad, released Sept. 10, the McCain-Palin campaign has altered our message in a fashion we consider less than honest. The ad strives to convey the message that said "completely false" attacks on Sarah Palin had come from Sen. Barack Obama. We said no such thing. We have yet to dispute any claim from the Obama campaign about Palin.

“Less than honest.” That means “lying” (the word that cannot be spoken).

The problem with trying to counter every lie is that you end up playing defense on your opponent’s turf. It really shouldn’t be up to Obama to point out all of McCain’s lies. That should be the job of the journalists who are being used by the McCain campaign as the conduits for telling those lies.

But the McCain team knows they won’t get called on their lies, or if they do they will have already established their larger narrative and forced the Obama team to play defense on McCain’s choice of issues. Because, hey … it works.

1 comment:

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