Lies & Damn Lies -The Bridge to Nowhere – Who voted for it? Who voted against it?



By John Powers, Chicago Daily Observer  Monday, September 8, 2008 Last Update: 4:43 p.m.
Now that Alaska is front and center in the news again, it is a good time to catch up on a favorite story, The Bridge to Nowhere, using the Washington Post US Congress Votes Database.

Though Gov. Palin originally supported the earmark spending on the Ketchikan bridge (“to nowhere), she eventually killed the project, chosing to spend Federal money on other infrasturcture programs.

However, Sen. Biden and Sen. Obama voted for funding the Bridge, even when given a second chance by Sen. Tom Coburn, who proposed shifting earmark funds to Katrina relief.,1628/


The End of the Bridge to Nowhere

September 21, 2007 1:43 PM


Lindsey Ellerson

–>ABC News’ John Cochran reports: The Bridge to Nowhere is gone.  Not the victim of aging frames, bolts and joints.  No, this bridge has collapsed, even before it was built, after an onslaught of angry editorials, furious anti-pork citizens groups, and caustic jokes on late night TV.

First, that name.   It was not accurate.   If built, the bridge would have gone somewhere.   It would have replaced the ferry that takes residents of Ketchikan, Alaska (population 8,000) to the local airport on Gravina Island.  In 2005, Congress approved $223 million for construction.

In Washington, groups such as Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste, rallied their troops to try to block the money.   They said the island was home to far more deer than people (50). 

The bridge’s main sponsor in the Senate, Alaska Republican Ted Stevens, was outraged by any attempt to prevent his state from getting federal funds.  In 2004, with the help of Stevens, his state got special projects worth $645 million.  That was $984 for every Alaskan.   By contrast, Congress handed out less than $3 to every Texan.  And a Texan was, and still is, the President. 

But the barrage of publicity was too much for his fellow Republicans.  Senator John McCain, R.-Ariz., cited the Bridge to Nowhere as a perfect example of wasteful spending.  Senator Tom Coburn R-Okla., a longtime foe of pork spending, tried to shift the money to rebuild an interstate highway damaged by Hurricane Katrina. 

Senator Stevens grew even more outraged: “I don’t kid people.  If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state…I will resign.”  He did not resign.

An uneasy compromise was reached.  Congress took away the money for the Gravina Island bridge and another Alaskan bridge which was almost as controversial.  Instead, Congress gave the money to the state with the understanding that it was not required to use the funds specifically for bridges.

Friday, the state of Alaska officially sank the Bridge to Nowhere.  Governor Sarah Palin, also a Republican, said “Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport.”  “But,” she said, the bridge “is not the answer.”  Palin has told state transportation officials to look for the most “fiscally responsible” alternative.

A spokesman for Senator Stevens was not immediately available for comment.

Venezuela’s Chavez, “Go ahead and squeal, Yankees” – Isn’t it time to Boycott CITGO Oil & Gas

Monday, September 08, 2008

MOSCOW —  Russia said Monday it will send a naval squadron and anti-submarine patrol planes to Venezuela this year for a joint military exercise in the Caribbean, a deployment that comes amid increasingly tense relations with the United States.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ridiculed any U.S. concerns over the joint exercise with the Russian forces, saying, “Go ahead and squeal, Yankees.”,2933,418481,00.html

Posted 1/11/2006 11:16 PM     Updated 1/13/2006 12:18 PM                                                            Has Citgo become a political tool for Hugo Chávez?                                                     By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

One of the USA’s largest refiners, Citgo is a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). As such, it ultimately belongs to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, an avowedly anti-American leader who counts Fidel Castro among his closest friends. Some worry that Venezuela’s ownership of more than 6% of U.S. refinery capacity gives Chávez, a former paratrooper given to wearing red berets and military fatigues, the power to cripple. 

Citgo, which sells gasoline through more than 13,500 retail stations in the US is known for its iconic sign towering over Fenway Park’s left-field wall.

Next time you need to fill up – drive on past that Citgo and stop at the Exxon down the street.

The Truth about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac / $900 Billion in Corrupt Lending Practices

Ok, so the Feds have announced they will be taking over lending giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The two institutional lenders either hold or back half of the outstanding mortgages in the US.

Lets tell the truth about the sudden and dramatic worsening of the mortgage markets. The foreclosure rate has nearly doubled since the end of March. There are those facing foreclosure due to the slowing economy, but that number of individuals has remained consistent over the months and matches past historical numbers. The “recent financial results and trouble in the mortgage market has shifted to homeowners who took out exotic loans with little or no proof of their income and assets”. Half of Freddie & Fannie’s  losses come from sour Liar Loans.

The Obama/Biden ticket are trying to make political hay – claiming the that the culprit for the current surge in foreclosures is the economy – when in fact the blame should be laid squarely on “egregious lending practices and rampant speculation by home builders and small investors alike”. For those of us who don’t use “egregious” in everyday speech, Webster’s says it means: conspicuously offensive <flagrant errors>; especially : so obviously inconsistent with what is right or proper as to appear to be a flouting of law or morality <flagrant violations of human rights>.

The Mortgage Industry nicknamed these “egregious” loans “NINJA or LIAR LOANS”.

The Detroit Free Press, known to be a liberal publication, defined  “NINJA LOANS” as loans where little or no effort was made to verify a borrowers income or assets. The FREEP pointed out that NINJA stood for  NO INCOME, NO JOB, NO ASSETS.

NPR, long noted for its liberal bias, referred to “Liar Loans” as, ” where the lender makes no effort to verify the income reported by the person receiving the loan”.

Details of the Feds intervention, which could cost taxpayers billions, are not yet available, but are expected to include the departure of Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron. Losses on liar loans could total $100 billion, according to Moody’s

Why did the Mortgage Industry recklessly pursue the use of “Liar or Ninja Loans”? The answer to that question is simple – PROFITS.

“The loans were also immensely profitable for the mortgage industry because they carried higher fees and interest rates. A broker who signed up a borrower for a liar loan could reap as much as $15,000 in fees for a $300,000 loan. Traditional lending is far less lucrative, netting brokers around $2,000 to $4,000 in fees for a fixed-rate loan”.                                        

In some area the problem has been worsened by Internet or Ebay Home sales. The Associated Press reports that one County in Ohio had, “been hit particularly hard by the nation’s foreclosure crisis…. more entrepreneurs are buying vacant houses from banks and government agencies and selling them on eBay, often to buyers who have never been to Cleveland.” “The flipping often happens so fast that officials at Cleveland’s overburdened building and housing department have a hard time keeping up”.

Details of the Fannie & Freddie intervention, which could cost taxpayers 100’s of billions, were not yet available, but are expected to include the departure of Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron. 

The departure of these CEOs is not enough. Liar and Ninja Loans should be prohibited by Congress.

If the Democrats want to effect real change – they need to start telling the real truth. The Freddie/Fannie bailout is directly due to the fact that the institutions embraced reckless lending practices. If the true problem isn’t recognized, it can’t be fixed.

McCauleysweblog: The following Articles describe the role of “political ideology” in the Financial Crisis – How Politics fueled the crisis:

Professor Stan Liebowitz: The Real Scandal –

Professor Thomas J DiLorenzo: The CRA Scam and its Defenders:

John R Lott, Jr : Analysis – Reckless Mortgages Brought Financial Market To Its Knees,2933,424945,00.html


Washington Mutual replaces CEO Kerry Killinger

BY SARA LEPRO, AP Business Writer 2 hours, 58 minutes ago

NEW YORK – Washington Mutual Inc., ravaged by losses from sour mortgages, replaced Kerry Killinger as chief executive of the nation’s largest savings and loan on Monday, adding him to the growing list of banking bosses ousted by their boards. Its shares sank almost 22 percent.

Battered by rising mortgage delinquencies and defaults, and by the sinking value of its mortgage portfolio, WaMu has lost nearly 70 percent of its market value this year.

Killinger, who was stripped of his chairman title in June, became CEO of the Seattle-based thrift in 1990 and built WaMu into one of the country’s largest banks with a heavy focus on the types of mortgages at the heart of the housing bust.

The company expects losses in its residential mortgage portfolio to total $19 milion.     


Michigan’s Dem Governor Granholm appoves of Obama Tax Policy – matches her policies of last 6 yrs

Barack Obama’s economic plan for the country doesn’t represent change. His plan isn’t new. It has been tried before, many times. President Jimmy Carter tried the same programs in the late 1970’s with disastrous results.  

Michigan’s Governor, Jennifer Granholm, has supplied us with a real life example of what happens when you put Obama’s proposed tax and spend programs in place.  Granholm’s destruction of the Michigan economy is a real life illustration of what is to be expected with an Obama victory in November.

Note that both Granholm and Obama learned their economic theory at Harvard Law School, even though Harvard Law doesn’t really teach economic theory. The theory adopted by Granholm and Obama is not the sole theory taught at that prestigious school. Why did these politicians adopt the particular theory they believe in? It might be due to the fact that neither spent their formative years in the US. (Obama in Indonesia, Granholm in Canada). They favor a more Socialist Europen Economic Model of the world. (Europe is presently in a recession and relative to the US, is in a more negative position) or it may just be that the Liberal wing of the Democratic Party has always favored this type of “progressive” tax and spend model. The conservative wing of the Democratic Party (Clinton White House) does not favor this “tax and spend philosophy”.


What has happened

Granholm, Michigan’s intensely unpopular Governor, took office in 2003. The Michigan economy had begun to slow in 2002, the year prior to her coming into office. The state unemployment rate was 6.2%, the national average was 5.7%. By the end of 2003 the jobless rate had grown to 7.2 percent, the national rate was 5.7%. There was a job loss of 35,000, however, the unemployment numbers only reflected an additional 4,000 out of work because 31,000 people left the state. 

At the end of 2004 Michigan’s jobless rate was 7.3 percent, the National jobless average 5.5%. The state lost an additional 35,000 residents and thousands of additional jobs.     

At the end of 2005 the jobless rate dipped to 6.1% while the National rate dipped to 4.2%. The State continued both its job loss and population flight.

At the end of 2006 Michigan’s jobless rate jumped to 7.2%, the National average was 5.0, one third lower than in Michigan. The State lost a net 90,000 jobs and over a hundred and fifty thousand residents.

At the end of 2007  Michigan’s jobless rate was 7.6%, the National rate was 4.9%. The state lost 120,000 jobs. 

Between 2003 and 2008 two people fled Michigan for every person coming into the state. The total  job loss (the unadjusted number of jobs eliminated from the State) totaled almost 2 million, the net job loss number is lower because auto or industrial jobs were replaced by service industry jobs.

Warning before the storm

When Granholm first took office in 2003 she announce a long list of liberal social experiments she described as “investment opportunities” to improve Michigan’s economy. Of course she wouldn’t increase the taxes of the “working classes”, just taxes on businesses and the “rich” to fund these “investments” in “infrastructure”.

The first warnings came in 2003. Numerous publications (Wall Street Journal, Detroit News, Free Press, NYT, etc) and scholars from around the country and world warned that increasing taxes in a slow or stalled economy was a risky proposition. The advise was not heeded. report.pdf

The first of the tax increases took place in 2003.

The Governor was warned that this would start a vicious cycle – increased taxes make the products or services produced in your state more expensive and less attractive – those products and services are less attractive to buyers – they buy fewer of the goods and services – delivering less tax money -meaning another tax increase is necessary and so on and so on ….. This is exactly the type of death spiral Michigan is in at this time. report.pdf

How many tax increases?

The first property tax increases were made in 2003. The have continued annually. Property taxes continue to escalate out of control.–,1221054250

The Michigan foreclosure crisis is not fueled by adjustable rate mortgages, it is being fueled by job loss, population flight and citizens being taxed out of their homes.

Michigan currently has 1.2 million more dwellings than families to fill the dwellings. One of the darker jokes about Michigan is that the only thing slowing the population flight is the fact that home sales are so slow.

Home values and home ownership

The middle class working families of Michigan had a long history of multiple home ownership. Tens of thousands of Michigan residents had summer homes or cottages in Michigan’s “north country”. Higher property tax rates and the elimination of decades old property tax credits forced the sale of thousands of these “summer homes”, previously held by some families for generations.  

The average home price in Michigan is approximately $200,000. A home valued at $200,000 in 2003,  is now valued at $150,000. In 2003 the property tax on the $200,000 house was $3,000. The tax today on the $150,000 home is $7,000.      

The Michigan sales tax increased from 4% to 6%.

Business and personal income taxes have been increased repeatedly. Michigan’s Single Business Tax was replaced, to create a better business climate and “lower taxes”. The replacement, the Michigan Business Tax,  was not only, dollar for dollar, identical to the prior tax, but the rates have been substantially increased.

As the Michigan economy continued a downward spiral the warnings continued throughout 2004, 2005 & 2006. Pundits and professors warned – STOP THE TAX INCREASES. The warnings were not heeded.

Taxes have continued to increase year after year.

In November 2007 a huge additional tax increase was passed. Business taxes went up 22% and  other taxes on the residents of Michigan by 13%. The tax increase was intended to raise over 1 Billion dollars – the money would be used for additional “investments”. The Governor promised the new tax would solve the problems of the State and “bring prosperity to all”. The Billion plus dollar tax increase was passed despite the continued warnings that it would further slow the economy and would never generate the promised revenue.

In May 2008 the State announced that additional tax increases will be necessary to prevent a suspension of services. Last years 1 Billion increase is generating $500 million less than expected, creating yet another budget shortfall and the need for additional taxes. The improved economy promised by all these increases is no where in sight.

Michigan’s 2008 budget is $44.8 Billion dollars.  In 2003 the budget was $38 Billion. The State has lost 2,000,000 jobs while increasing taxes by $6 Billion dollars. The people of Michigan are now the 5th most taxed in the nation. 

Michigan government employees have not felt the pinch or belt tightening of the average Michigan resident.   According to the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy the average salary and benefits package of a state employee is $75,000 a year, private sector workers have an average salary and benefit package of $58,000 – this number is still substantially above the national average of $48,200. Rarely will you see such a gap between state employees and those they serve.    

Michigan’s median income continues to drop. Poverty is on the increase. Detroit’s poverty level is 33%, the highest poverty level of any major city in the Country. Flint and Kalamazoo are tried for 5th in the nation (cities with a population between 65K & 250K) with a poverty rate of 35.5%.

There appears to be no end in sight.


Michigan led the Nation into the recession, how can following Michigan’s economic policies lead the nation out?


Michigan has at least two, major, stumbling blocks to recovery.

The first is education. The state ranks 39th out of 50, The state needs better educated workers, better educated to complete for world class jobs. Educated well enough to stop electing officials who continue to tax the state to ruin.

The second stumbling block to reversing this cycle is tax reductions, Michigan must drastically reduce the tax burden it imposes if it wants to attract businesses and the jobs they bring.

Compare what Granholm has done to Michigan with what Democratic Governor Strickland is doing in Ohio.


Michigan’s auto jobs are not moving over seas. The are moving from Michigan to other States where the economic environment made auto production more competitive. The BIG THREE – renamed the Detroit Three – by Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House – are losing sales volume – even in Michigan. In Michigan Toyota car sales are up 36% while US auto sales are declining. The Toyota’s are being built in the US, just not being built in Michigan.

Barack Obama’s suggested economic change is not new … its a return to the past, to the policies of Jimmy Carter. To see his economic principles in practice just look to the economic success of Michigan. The Country cannot afford to be this successful.

Ohio’s Dem Governor says “No” to Obama tax plan, says Obama’s view of Ohio is wrong

The following article was published in the Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2008. The article was authored by Mr. Strickland , the current Democratic Governor of Ohio. Mr Fisher is the Democratic Lieutenant Governor of that same state. 

The authors are correct – we should not believe all the gloom and doom about Ohio – Ohio has adopted progressive policies that are working and provide a brighter future for the people of that state. The gloom and doom recently described by the Obama/Biden ticket on their way accross Ohio is false.

A dark cloud on the horizon – the proposed tax policy of the Obama/Biden ticket, which would double taxes on dividends and capital gains and increase marginal tax rates to 60%, could undo all of the ground work put in place in Ohio.

You’ll note a stark contrast between the competitive tax policies adopted in Ohio and the policy proposed by the Obama/Biden ticket. If, after you read this article, you are interested in another real life comparison – take a glance at my post “Why Obama is wrong on economics – Look to Michigan”.

The policies proposed by Obama/Biden will cause business contraction and job loss.



 Don’t Believe the Doomsayers – Ohio’s Economy is doing Fine.

September 6, 2008; Page A9

Ohio is going to be a hard fought-over state in this presidential election. And consequently, the economy of this bellwether state has become highly scrutinized.

But much of this scrutiny has focused only on the admittedly tragic loss of manufacturing jobs, while overlooking major investments in tax reform, technology and higher education. Things in Ohio are not as the news coverage has made them appear.

[Cross Country]
Dana Corporation’s automotive parts manufacturing plant in Lima, Ohio.

There’s no question we face serious economic challenges, and that the national economy’s decline has hit citizens hard in the wallet.

But the state has too many strengths, too many successes, and too noble a history to be portrayed as a poster child for the country’s economic woes. Look under Ohio’s hood. Its engine is being redesigned and retooled in ways that offer important lesson on how to make an economy more competitive in a global marketplace.

The biggest shift is in taxes. Ohio business leaders told us that our tax structure was outdated and made the state uncompetitive. So, in a bipartisan manner, we restructured our tax laws to lower the burden for business.

By 2010, Ohio will be one of only two states without a general tax on corporation profits or a property tax on business machinery, equipment and inventories. This year is the last for Ohio’s business property tax; next year is the last for the corporation profits tax. And Ohio’s personal income tax rates are falling by 21% across the board.

Between 2005 and 2007, Ohio’s per capita state tax burden has already fallen to 38th in the nation, from 27th, according to the Federation for Tax Administrators. When the new tax cuts are phased in, Ohio’s business taxes will be the lowest in the Midwest.

Exports, meanwhile, are booming. In 2007, Buckeye State exports totaled more than $42 billion, up 11.1% from 2006, making Ohio the only state in which exports have increased each year since 1998.

The labor force has experienced a dramatic shift in recent decades. There has been a loss of 254,000 manufacturing jobs over the decade ending in 2007. But there has also been an increase of 262,700 professional, health and education jobs over the same period.

Consider just one example. The Ohio State University Medical Center created 3,742 new jobs between 2001 and 2007 by targeting research grants related to cancer studies. Industry models show that $100 in research expenditures creates $222 in wealth in the local economy.

Research-generated jobs, however, require different skills than many in our manufacturing workforce have to offer. So we are investing the money needed to help workers gain the skills they need.

We’ve combined higher education and economic development funds to create a $150 million Ohio Research Scholars program, which will bring 26 world-class scholars to state campuses, individuals whose research specialties align with our economic development priorities. This investment builds on many others. The state has created a $1.6 billion Ohio Third Frontier program that invests in high-tech, advanced materials, bioscience, advanced energy and aerospace industries. The state is spending $250 million in a higher education internship program, and freezing tuition for two years for undergraduates so that more students can afford to stay in college. We’re also spending $100 million in scholarships for students studying science, technology, engineering and math.

Ohio recently passed a bipartisan $1.57 billion jobs stimulus plan that will invest strategically in our infrastructure, future work force and growth industries such as biosciences and renewable energy. Our new Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard requires at least 25% of electricity sold in Ohio to be generated from new and advanced technologies by 2025. This will create vast new opportunities for green energy businesses in Ohio.

Already, Ohio has more alternative energy-related projects under way than any other state. The state’s extensive manufacturing supply chain provides thousands of products to the alternative energy industry. And Ohio is home to the largest fuel cell supply chain in the country. Our welders, machinists, electricians, iron and steel workers are retooling and transferring their skills to retrofitting buildings, building mass transit, installing wind and solar power, and manufacturing energy-efficient cars and trucks.

Ohio now leads the Midwest in the growth of venture capital investments in the biosciences; we rank first nationally in per capita clinical trials and operate the largest center for stem cell and regenerative medicine between the coasts. In the U.S. News & World Report rankings, Ohio leads the nation with four of the country’s top 15 children’s hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic meanwhile has spun off two dozen start-up companies in the past decade, and averages 200 inventions each year.

Companies are responding to our business-friendly environment. Ohio ranked number one in both 2006 and 2007 in major new and existing business facilities expansion, according to Site Selection magazine.

Despite the portrait some paint of Ohio, we believe our greatest opportunities for economic growth still lie before us. And in our future, from tires to polymers, from auto glass to solar panels, from steel bars to wind turbines, Ohio will show that it reinvented itself.

Mr. Strickland, a Democrat, is governor of Ohio. Mr. Fisher, a Democrat, is lieutenant governor of Ohio.

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