Editor’s note: The following is a collaboration between Whitney, Stacy, and myself.
The night before last, Ian linked to this absurd bit of nonsense written by Craig “Scoop” Medred (no need to go to the website and give them the traffic). Medred is a simpleton who, inexplicably, gets paid to write for the left-wing blog, Alaska Dispatch. His sole raison d’être for the Dispatch, evidently, is to channel his obsessive hatred of Governor Palin by taking random bits of information and twisting them into discordant narratives to make her look bad. No deception is out of bounds, whether it’s taking things out of context, making them up out of thin air, or drawing conclusions wholly inconsistent with the facts, Medred has done it all.
In the piece to which I referred above, Medred has outdone himself. He uses Governor Palin’s prescient Facebook Post on the need for states to end irresponsible spending by, among other things, ending lavish and unaffordable pensions for public employee unions, as an excuse to launch into a 2160 word screed that’s as lengthy as it is farcical. In his article (I’m being charitable), Scoop, among other things, manages to laud the fiscal responsibility of Frank Murkowski while comparing Governor Palin to Hugo Chavez and Joseph Goebels. You can’t make this up. Medred undoubtedly had to wipe the drool off his computer (and fellow Dispatch colleagues) as he maniacally banged away on the keyboard.
Medred’s tirade presents such a target rich environment that it’s difficult to know where to begin…or what to leave out. We’ll highlight a few of the most asinine “points” Medred attempts (and fails) to make. He first recycles the oft-repeated, but easily debunked (most recently in the New York Times), liberal talking point that Governor Palin doesn’t write her own Facebook Notes before taking issue with her record of fiscal responsibility. Specifically, Medred singles out an excerpt from Governor Palin’s Facebook Note:
Alaska, it was posted on Facebook, knew how to manage a budget back when Palin was governor and “ran a surplus because we incentivized (sic) businesses, I didn’t spend it on fun and glamorous pet projects for lawmakers — though that would have made me quite popular with the earmark crowd. In fact, I vetoed more excessive spending than any governor in our state’s history, and I used the state’s surplus to bring our financial house in order …”
First, Scoop attempts to twist what Governor Palin wrote in order to leave the implication that she doesn’t understand earmarks:
Earmarks are government expenditures dictated by the legislative branch of government instead of the executive branch. Alaska’s Legislature doesn’t do earmarks, which left some legislators wondering about Palin’s earmarks comment.
This is sophomoric on Medred’s part, and constitutes an aggressive and willful missing of the point. Either that or a sign of his unfamiliarity with the English language which, after reading Medred’s musings, is not altogether implausible. Medred’s apparent lack of recognition of the word “incentivize”, which Merriam Webster defines as “to provide an incentive”, lends credence to this possibility. But I digress. At no time does she write, or even imply, that she had the ability to stop non-existent earmarks passed by the Alaska legislature. It’s crystal clear to everyone (other than Medred, so it would seem) that she is simply suggesting that the same people who are so addicted to earmarks would also have loved to receive some “free” taxpayer money from her for their pet projects. On this point she is absolutely correct, as the Alaska legislature’s decision to override her veto of Obama’s Porkulus plan demonstrates. Stupid statements like this are why jokers like Medred, and the lefty blogs they write for, have no credibility.
Medred’s next demonstrates his…er…mastery of the budgetary process:
…everyone in Alaska knows precisely where Palin’s huge budgetary surplus came from.
It came from oil.
So, according to Medred, there is only one side to the budget equation: revenue. That, of course, is nonsense, which I suspect even Medred knows as he quickly changes the subject and provides his few readers a history of rising oil prices, which is as tedious as it is irrelevant. Government revenue almost always rises. The problem is government spending, under most governors and presidents, rises even faster. Not so under Governor Palin, who actually cut state spending during her tenure. But this fact doesn’t fit with Scoop’s narrative, so he twists, spins, and obfuscates, as Ian noted the other night, in a futile attempt to portray Governor Palin as, well, an irresponsible Democrat (pardon the redundancy). Governor Palin is anything but fiscally irresponsible, although other liberals have tried (and failed miserably) to make this charge.
In the real world where, evidently, Medred doesn’t reside, Governor Palin has a long history of tight-fisted fiscal conservatism. She has fought against reckless government spending her entire career and has consistently and repeatedly cut government outlays. As governor of Alaska, she was one of the few political leaders who actually reduced the amount of government spending year to year, as opposed to simply reducing the rate of growth in spending which, incidentally, is what career politicians consider a “spending cut”.
The late Kathy Carpenter extensively documented Governor Palin’s fiscal conservatism in a post in April of 2009, although her analysis is likely over Medred’s head. Incredibly, after accusing Governor Palin of fiscal profligacy, he contradicts whatever point he was trying to make by allowing that Governor Palin’s final budget “did mark a reduction in state spending”. He then whines about Alaska’s infrastructure, implying that she should have spent more money. So essentially, Scoop accuses her of spending like Obama, then admits she didn’t before lamenting that she should have. Heh.
Scoop also has a problem with this line from Governor Palin’s Facebook Note:
“I returned much of the surplus back to the people (it was their money to start with!) through tax relief and energy rebates.”
Very simple, straightforward, and true. But not to the “brilliant” Medred, who sees through this nefarious subterfuge:
Yet another half truth from the half-term governor. Alaskans did get a $1,200 energy rebate in 2008, supposedly because oil and gas prices had skyrocketed at retail. There were no more rebates even though oil, gasoline, natural gas and electricity prices are now almost back to where they were two years ago and, in a few cases, higher.
Medred accuses her of telling a “half truth” because, although she provided an energy rebate in 2008, she hasn’t provided one since, despite the fact that energy prices are “almost back to where they were two years ago”. Precisely what private citizen Sarah Palin is supposed to do about energy rebates now is unclear to everyone but Scoop. But Medred isn’t done yet, as he can’t resist doubling down on stupid:
As for tax relief – to what tax relief does former Gov. Palin refer? Alaskans don’t pay income tax, so there’s no way to provide relief there. And the state didn’t up revenue sharing with cities and boroughs to provide them the money to drive down the property taxes in Anchorage or get rid of sales taxes in the many small Alaska communities from Kotzebue east to the Kenai and north to Wasilla, Palin’s stomping grounds. Palin did dump the tax on gasoline, but it was already so small that it was often lost in the week-to-week fluctuations in fuel prices.
This is bizarre. Medred is making the argument that because Alaskans pay virtually no taxes, her claim to have cut taxes must be false despite the fact that she eliminated one of the few they do (did) pay, the gasoline tax, as Medred himself notes. Get it? Medred appears to feign surprise that Governor Palin didn’t reduce or eliminate the taxes he would have preferred, but I doubt Governor Palin attached a high degree of priority to tax policy advice from a liberal blogger at the Alaska Dispatch, and given the mental acuity Medred demonstrates with his writing, can you blame her? Can anyone?
Medred also took a page out of Dan Fagan’s playbook of misrepresenting one of Governor Palin’s key piece of legislation—Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES):
ACES was not a business incentive for the oil industry. It was, Palin once liked to boast, Alaskans taking their “fair share” of the black crude pumped up from deep beneath the state’s North Slope.
Governor Palin, as with all of her policies, based ACES on the Alaskan constitution which indicates that resource development should be done for the “maximum benefit of the people”. Alaskans are the resources owners per their state constitution, so returning revenue from the oil companies to Alaskans is simply akin to stock holders receiving their portion of a company’s profit–their fair share.
Medred also claims that ACES hurt the oil industry in Alaska:
But it is worth noting the “equitable share” (or in the view of state conservatives, the big, fat tax) appears almost certain to be reduced by the Legislature this year because it appears to discourage the oil companies from drilling new wells. One might say ACES “disincentivized” the state’s biggest and most profitable business.
To the contrary, ACES incentivized oil exploration. As we highlighted this past summer when Dan Fagan made a similar claim:
ACES has been a business booster for oil companies. As was reported last summer, companies found Alaska’s oil tax plan to be rather conducive for business–both for business to thrive and the Pt. Thomson leases to be appropriately utilized after 30 years of inactivity (emphasis mine):
Alaska oil and gas production makes up about 12 percent of ConocoPhillips’ worldwide output. In the first quarter of this year, Alaska operations earned the company $240 million, or 29 percent of its worldwide exploration and production income.
In an April 23 analyst presentation, ConocoPhillips’ top executives in Houston made a point of acknowledging Alaska production tax credits as being a significant component in the company’s profit.
[E]ven though, under ACES, ExxonMobil and its partners should be able to recoup more than 45 percent of their $1.3 billion cost of developing their phase 1 Point Thomson project, it is doubtful the Point Thomson partners would have made the decision to move forward with the high pressure gas cycling project under ACES if they were not in danger of losing their leases to the State of Alaska.
Additionally, since ACES was implemented, the number of wells started has followed a positive trajectory, which would run completely contrary to Fagan’s false assertions.
Regarding any potential recent decreases in new oil well drilling, Medred conveniently fails to mention that following the Gulf oil spill this past Spring, the Obama administration suspended new drilling in the Arctic, which would decrease the number of wells drilled in the state of Alaska as a whole. Additionally, improper environmental oversight by the federal government halted new drilling in the Chukchi Sea.
Medred wrongly suggests that the AGIA pipeline is at a “stalemate.” He writes:
But’s now more than two years on and the pipeline still hasn’t begun. Not a shovel of dirt has been turned. And it’s beginning to look like no dirt will ever get turned unless Congress comes up with some sort of cap-and-trade plan for greenhouse gases to encourage the development of clean energy (gas) over dirty energy (coal). Palin is, of course, opposed to cap and trade.
Craig Medred did manage to get one thing right in his piece. Governor Palin is indeed opposed to the cap and tax scheme, as are most Americans. He then claims that the only way to get AGIA rolling is to impose an energy tax on Americans. Huh? You don’t need to force massive regulations and burdensome taxes on to this nation to “encourage” energy development. We use energy, therefore we need it, and it’s irresponsible not to develop it ourselves.
That said, where he gets this notion that AGIA is at a “stalemate” is beyond me. He is dead wrong about that. The project is still right on schedule, receiving multiple bids during its first completed open season. It’s so successful that there’s even a rival bid which has just completed its own open season.
Natural gas pipeline firm TransCanada’s completion of an open season Friday is a first in Alaska’s history — and a key to financing the project.
TransCanada’s open season closed at 2 p.m., and the company announced shortly afterward that several major players have made offers to ship their gas through its line.
“So here we are two years later, and we’ve received bids for significant volumes,” said Tony Palmer, the company’s vice president for Alaska development. “That’s very encouraging from our standpoint.”
“The bottom note, there’s going to be some serious negotiations between many parties — that’s great,” said state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin.
Irwin and his deputy, Marty Rutherford, are among the key architects of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which set the stage for the open season process and for competition. They say the conclusion of TransCanada’s open season is proof that AGIA is working.
Regarding the stimulus money, Medred then repeats the revisionist history of Dermot Cole from the Fairbanks News Miner. He states:
And then there are all of Palin’s claims, again in the Facebook note, about what she did as governor with federal stimulus money sent north by Obama, money the state honestly didn’t need because it was in the luxurious position of funding its own stimulus from savings, instead of adding to the federal deficit.
Palin took nearly all of the money anyway, but now claims she did so against her wishes.
Obviously, it’s beyond Medred’s comprehension why running up huge deficits with wasteful spending, via Obama’s”Porkulus” boondoggle that failed to create any jobs or economic growth, might be a big problem. This might explain why he never understood Governor Palin’s argument against the state accepting money from the federal government with “big fat strings attached.”
Governor Palin has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s “stimulus” plan, and was so at that time when it was implemented during her term. To suggest she willingly took any money from the federal government under this misguided policy is to rewrite history. If it was up to her, the Omnibus Stimulus Project never would have happened in the first place. However, it wasn’t up to her and accepting any funds to her state was also a decision she did not have authority to make entirely by herself.
A comment left by a reader on the Dermot Cole, Newsminer piece caught my eye. I think this individual summed it up well. They said:
I don’t necessarily support Sarah Palin’s politics, but evidently you don’t remember that she was very publicly against the stimulus. There was a lot of recriminations toward her in the news and from the Legislature.
In the end, she went with the vote of the Legislature, against her better judgment. The flak she received on her veto of the $28 million was a stand that received extreme criticism from across the state. How soon the folks forget their own place in these decisions. The Governor has followed the will of the people. Wasn’t that her job?
It was her job, and she did everything she could to not burden Alaskans, indeed all Americans, with the onerous cost of the ill-conceived bill, even recommending that Obama veto it:
However, our spendthrift President didn’t listen, and with a stroke of the pen wasted nearly $1 trillion in borrowed money we could ill-afford. Once he signed that bill, the money was essentially spent, and there was nothing any Governor could do to stop it. The money could either be spent in Alaska, or some other state. Governor Palin, correctly, preferred it be spent in Alaska provided it didn’t come with strings attached. She vetoed that part of the stimulus that did. This, not surprisingly, is beyond the ability of Scoop (and Cole) to grasp. In the end, the politicians overruled her ability to do as much as she would have liked to have done to stand against this horrible policy. Her opposition was and is well known, the moronic musings of Medred and Cole to the contrary. Any “reporter” claiming otherwise is twisting the facts and distorting historical reality.
Update: This is hilarious. This Medred buffoon corrects one of his myriad falsehoods, then blames Governor Palin for not notifying him of his incompetence. That Governor Palin has better things to do than fact-check a third rate hack from a left-wing tabloid never crosses his mind. Ignorance is bliss, I guess. I still can’t believe he gets compensated for his tripe. Maybe he doesn’t, as Dan Riehl speculated when he caught Medred in a rather large whopper a few weeks ago:
He doesn’t read like someone intelligent enough to be a lap dog…maybe he gets his take home in dog bones and chew toys and humps legs in the office occasionally for a bonus, who knows.