Jason Tseng

Palin Speech: Did Somebody Order a Fact Check?

Filed By Jason Tseng | September 04, 2008 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: election 2008, fact checking, McCain campaign, palin, palin speech, republican convention, Sarah Palin

Somewhere amidst flipping between the season premiere of America's Next Top Model and the new episode of Project Runway, I stomached my way through what I could of the Republican National Convention. (Republicans always leave me with an upset stomach. Do you think they've curdled? I am lactose intolerant after all.)

Palin's speech definitely hit the marks on being energetic and charismatic. Although, I noticed the Republicans tone was generally cynical and bitter, as opposed to the DNC's themes of hope and renewed faith in the country. Palin took several swipes at the Dems and our nominees for President. While I whole-heartedly believe that the Republicans had every right to criticize the Democratic nominee, I am unsure about all the facts that Palin presented in her speech. Especially considering how adept the Republican spin machine is at fabricating "truth."

I decided to roll up my sleeves and do some research (albeit with the help of much smarter people than I) and fact check some of Ms. Palin's assertions.

PALIN: "Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems - as if we all didn't know that already. But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all."

FACT: Palin stated that she disagreed with politicians who claimed we couldn't drill our way out of America's energy problem.
When asked on July 11, 2008 to respond to assertions that increased drilling would not solve the energy crisis and the dependence on foreign oil, Palin simply responded with "I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can't drill our way out of our problem or that more supply won't ultimately affect prices. Of course it will affect prices. Energy being a global market, it's impossible to venture a guess on (specific) prices." link


PALIN: "Senator McCain also promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest - and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works."

FACT: Palin opposed funding for crucial education and health care spending.
While Palin might have indeed used her power of veto to cut spending on things she deemed contrary to the "public interest," she might have gotten a little trigger happy with that veto gun. She vetoed $10,000 to replace unsafe sports equipment at an Alaskan elementary school and vetoed $36,000 to repair school buses in Tanana City. Since when are schoolchildren not included in the "public interest?"

She also vetoed over $4 million dollars worth of spending that would have replaced outdated equipment, expanded surgical wings, and help supply health centers and hospitals across Alaska. Evidently, sick people also aren't of "public interest."


PALIN: "Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown... I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities."

FACT: Under Palin's brief tenure as mayor, Wasilla government spending and debt skyrocketed. Since the Governor is so proud of her mayorship of Wasilla, let's take a closer look, shall we?

  • Total government expenditure increased by 63% under Palin's mayorship. [Wasilla Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2003, Table 1]

  • Palin supported increasing Wasilla sales tax From 2 to 2.5 percent resulting in a $14.7 million increase in Wasilla residents' tax burden (that's $2,092.52 per capita).

  • Palin left behind almost $19 million in long-term debt, compared to her predecessor's debt balance of $0. Hmmm... sounds vaguely familiar. Where have I heard about a new Republican administration that squandered large surpluses into record deficits?

PALIN: "It was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau ... when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol' boys network."

FACT: Palin chose a well known lobbyist for Oil Companies for a Lt. Governor, who had made tens of thousands of dollars from a Canadian company vying for an Alaskan pipeline contract. Moreover, while mayor of Wasilla, she hired the city's first federal lobbyist. So much for opposing special interests... she actually employed her own!

And what about all that rhetoric about coming in as an outsider and shaking up the "good-ol' boys network?" She had the support of the recently disgraced Alaskan senator, Ted Stevens, who attended her fundraising and campaign events in her support. Stevens was accused earlier this year of failing to report on thousands of dollars of gifts he received from special interests.


PALIN: "I came to office promising major ethics reform, to end the culture of self-dealing. And today, that ethics reform is the law."

FACT: The ethics reform she signed into office wasn't even her brain child. The state legislature had done most of the work on it, and even so... her own Republican colleages, like Rep. Bob Roses of Anchorage, believed the reform was weak and "didn't go far enough."

On top of that, this self-styled champion of ethics in governance is herself under investigation for abusing her state power in attempting to get a state trooper fired, to satisfy a family grudge over a messy divorce.


PALIN: "I suspended the state fuel tax, and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress."

FACT: Under her Governance, Alaska has sought over $589 million in earmark spending from the federal government. In this last year alone, Palin has requested over 31 individual earmarks, totaling in over $197 million. Before her gubernatorial term, Mayor Palin procured $26.9 million in earmarks for the city.

On top of that, her own candidate, John McCain, criticized her in recent years for her earmark spending:

Three times in recent years, McCain's catalogs of "objectionable" spending have included earmarks for this small Alaska town, requested by its mayor at the time -- Sarah Palin... In 2001, McCain's list of spending that had been approved without the normal budget scrutiny included a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in Wasilla. The Arizona senator targeted $1 million in a 2002 spending bill for an emergency communications center in town -- one that local law enforcement has said is redundant and creates confusion. McCain also criticized $450,000 set aside for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla that was requested during Palin's tenure as mayor and cleared Congress soon after she left office in 2002. The funding was provided to help direct locally grown produce to schools, prisons and other government institutions, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group." [LA Times, 9/3/08]

PALIN: "In fact, I told Congress -- I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere."

FACT: Palin was FOR the "bridge to nowhere" before the was against it. In October of 2006, Palin was asked is she would support funding for bridges to Knik Arm and Gravinda Islands (two "bridges to nowhere"), and she responded,

Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist. [Anchorage, 10/22/06, republished 08/29/08]

Even after announcing her opposition to one of such bridges, she continued to fund a second "bridge to nowhere" to Knik Arm.

PALIN: "I understand that we must reduce our dependence on foreign energy. I've worked with our state's energy producers to expand our production so that we can have a safe, reliable supply of energy produced here in the United States."

FACT: Palin supported exporting Alaskan natural gas to Japan and other Asian countries - even as depleting natural gas reserves forced Alaskan businesses to shut down. What happened to reducing American dependence on foreign oil and sustaining the job market in America? Oh, right... anything for a quick buck. [Platts Inside FERC, 6/9/08] [Alaska Journal Of Commerce, 11/25/07]

PALIN: "Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines ... build more new-clear plants ... create jobs with clean coal ... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources."

FACT: Palin has consistently cut funding for renewable and green energy. In 2007, Palin vetoed $20 Million toward a Fire Island Wind Farm Project. "[Sen. Hollis] French and [Anchorage Mayor Mark] Begich both lamented the [Palin] veto of $20 million toward a Fire Island wind farm project and connecting transmission lines." [Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), 7/30/07] And again, in 2008, Palin cut $20 million for Chugach Electric Association Wind Farm.[Anchorage Daily News, 6/30/08]

========================
Those are a few of the inaccuracies that I found in her speech last night. And I'm sure that only grazes the top of the iceberg - the iceberg whose melting because of global warming is, according to Palin, not caused by human activity. Oh, and that melting iceberg, also is not actually a threat to the polar bear (currently listed as an endangered species). Palin actually supports a law suit by oil companies to disallow the argument of the polar bear's endangered status and the threats the species faces due to the loss of habitat from global warming, in the decision-making process of increased drilling in Alaska.

Palin hates polar bears.

Exhibit A:

Cute-PolarBear-Cub-SittingOnSnow.jpg

That last one... may or may not be true. But I wouldn't be surprised!


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Jason, thanks for doing the research on this. And according to NPR last Friday, Sarah Palin does hate polar bears.

Fact checks against the Republican spin machine are vital. I wonder if any of the speech writers bothered to check their version of Palin's vision with her own actual record?
In any case, well done and thank you Jason. Reading posts such as yours lighten my mood and brighten my day. The truth is only a bitter pill to swallow when the lies that sugarcoat it are stripped away.

Gillian Cameron | September 5, 2008 3:05 AM

Having been raised in a Republican household, my general rule of thumb regarding ANY comment coming from a member of the GOP runs thus:

Q How can you tell a Republican is lying?
A His/her lips are moving.

It's an old chestnut, but it hasn't failed me yet.

Jason: Thank you for all your work on this.
There will be a debate between now and election day between the Vice-Presidential candidates. It should be most interesting.

I wonder if anyone out there believes that Governor Palin has the experience necessary to step in if necessary to be President? Compare her experience with that of Senator Biden.

I think the choice is very clear.

VERY good post, Jason. You obviously worked hard to get all of these facts together.

My hat is off to you.

And my middle finger is extended towards Alaska.

PS - I'm so glad you joined the Project. I've loved reading your posts. I always learn something!

The community organizer one is the one that pisses me off the most. The reason we need community organizers is because these folks failed when it comes to giving people who need it a helping hand.

But they're authoritarians, so I'm not surprised that they don't like the idea of people forming communities and organizing - it's perilously close to union organizing, I suppose.