Deceptive anti-government article in the Seattle P-I

The Seattle P-I often publishes click-bait photo essays, which ask the user to click through a series of Getty images to read short summaries.  The photo essays hardly count as “articles”. The first page is a rewording of some source article. The reader spends most of her time clicking through the pretty photos. I suppose the Seattle P-I likes the cheap (free?) content and needs the ad revenue.

A recent photo essay is particularly low quality.

Called “The worst-ever wastes of US public money”, the photo essay is deceptive for several reasons.

First, the article omits some boondoggles that are far more costly than the ones it included.

The disastrous, ill-conceived war in Iraq has already cost $2 trillion; estimated eventual cost is as high as $6 trillion (source).

And what about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet program? Each plane costs $400 million, twice the original estimate. The entire program’s estimated cost? $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion.  The program has been plagued with technical difficulties, and numerous critics claim the plane’s design is inferior.  For example, Pentagon’s big budget F-35 fighter ‘can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run’;   F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a Lemon (“Military expert Pierre Sprey, the founder and designer of the F-16 & A-10 Warthog airplanes, explains why the F-35 will not cut it on the modern battlefield”).

The list of boondoggles they do include — copied from GoBankingRate.com’s 20 Biggest Boondoggles in the U.S. — ranges from #20 “Missouri’s Pruitt-Igoe Housing Projects: $36 Million” to #1 “California’s High-Speed Rail: $68 Billion”.

Not all of the projects are primarily wastes of government. #12 is “New Jersey’s Revel Casino: $2.4 Billion”. That failure was mostly a failure of corporations, not government.  Morgan Stanley took a $900 million loss on the casino.   Republican Governor Chris Christie signed onto the project, guaranteeing $216 million in tax incentives.

In fact, progressives aren’t in favor of all government programs.

Ten of the projects (#19, #18, #16, #15, #14, #10, #9, #7, #6, and #4) involve road and bridge construction. I can agree that the projects are largely wasteful. But progressives, such as me, generally oppose government spending on roads, which has the effect of subsidizing auto use and sprawl.

#10 is “Washington’s Big Bertha $3.1 Billion.”  Most Seattle progressives (environmentalists in particular) opposed spending on the tunnel and wanted public transportation instead.

Often government programs are corrupt or benefit the wrong people. But the solution isn’t to get rid of government. The solution is to fix the corruption and mismanagement.  But a tried and true GOP strategy is to make sure government works only for the 1%. Under-fund and corrupt the programs that do help the middle class.   Oppose regulations that might prevent abuses. Then blame government for the failures.

#1 in the list of boondoggles is California’s high speed rail. But construction began in January, 2015.  It’s too early to call the project a boondoggle. It’s a worthy goal: build high-speed rail from LA to San Francisco.

#17 is about Maryland’s sewer system. $1.1 billion is the estimated total cost.  The original projected cost was $700 million.  The scheduled completion date is in 2018. That doesn’t strike me as a terrible cost-overrun.

#5 on the the list is “Texas’ Superconducting Super Collider: $11 Billion”. But, in fact, $11 billion was the revised estimated cost; “only” about $2.4 billion of that projected cost was actually spent (according to this article and this article).

Let’s not forget, too, the billions of dollars wasted by corporations. Most businesses fail. Microsoft recently wasted $7.6 billion on its acquisition of Nokia and another $6.2 billion on aQuantive.

For the record, here are images of the headlines, followed by the text of the original article appearing in Seattle P-I.

Seattle P-I headline 1

Seattle P-I headline 1

Seattle P-I headline 1

Sometimes, the government uses the money its taxpayers send each April 15 wisely, like building schools or paying benefits to veterans.

Other times, the government could save itself and taxpayers a lot of hassle just by throwing our money in a big trash can and setting it on fire.

Recently, the consumer finance site GoBankingRates collected the 20 biggest boondoggles in America, and perhaps not surprisingly, almost all of them can be put on the tab of either a state government of the feds.

 If you thought the $435 hammer at the Pentagon or the Navy’s $640 toilet seat sounded like ridiculous wastes of money (they’re actually more like “creative accounting”), you’re not going to be happy with the $1.3 billion the government spent on an interstate that doesn’t actually connect any states.

Or the $2 billion on a dam that failed the first time they tried to fill it (killing several people in the process).

Check out the photos above to see the 20 biggest wastes of money in America, according to GoBankingRates, along with why they are and will continue to be such gigantic money pits.

As I mentioned above, the P-I got the content from GoBankingRates.com. In the original article, there’s a link “View All.”  If you click on it, you get to see the list of projects, and their corresponding images, on a single page.  The Seattle P-I makes readers click through the images to see the list. Annoying!

All our reps but McDermott voted to fund the Syrian rebels

Reps DelBene, Kilmer, Larsen, Heck and Smith voted Yea on the McKeon Amendment that funds the arming of Syrian rebels. “The amendment would authorize the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups or individuals.” (source). Only Rep. McDermott voted Nay.    All Washington State’s Republican reps voted Yea as well.

Sounds like another dangerous waste of money.

Progressives are generally opposing the war-mongering. Dennis Kucinich gives 8 Reasons Why Congress Should Vote No on Training and Funding Syrian Rebels.  Also: PDA’s statement against the war.

Please phone our Senators and ask them to reject funding for the Syrian rebels: Murray [ 202-224-2621, (206) 553-5545] and Cantwell [ 202-224-3441 (206) 220-6400]

Rep. Jim McDermott on Pres. Obama’s strategy.

Plutocracy is comin, to the USA

New, alternative lyrics for Leonard Cohen’s “Democracy is coming, to the USA” (see videos below)


Lyrics © Donald A. Smith
       D               G           D
It's coming from corruption that's profane
             D          A                 D
From Grover Norquist's government-hating brain
       G
It's coming from the spiel 
       G_sus          G
That makes your head reel
    D           G                 D
when you listen to the right wing refrain.

          F#
From the Tea Party crazies
          Bm
From the Chamber of Commerce hacks
          F#
From neocon imperialists
          Bm
From Karl Rove's Super-PAC
 A                    G       D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

---------------------------------
       D               G           D
It's coming from tax cuts for the rich,
       D          A                 D
From the Supreme Court, the 1%'s bitch.
       G
It's coming from evil folk 
       G_sus           G
like David and Charles Koch 
    D                          G                D
and from Bill and Barry's traitorous rightward switch.

          F#
From Citizen United
          Bm
From Clarence Thomas's smut
          F#
From John Robert's smirk 
          Bm
From Anton Scalia's butt
 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

---------------------------------
      D               G           D
It's coming from the wars. Open your eyes.
            D            A                  D
Killed millions. Wasted trillions. Hear the cries.
       G
From the disaster in Vietnam
       G_sus           G
to the debacle of Afghanistan
    D               G         D
to the war in Iraq based on lies.

          F#
From the CIA's dirty deeds
          Bm
From collateral clone attacks
          F#
From targeted assassinations
          Bm
From illegal wire taps
 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

---------------------------------
          A         G
    Bail out, bail out,
         D         G    D
    O sinking Ship of State!
             A
    To the Shores of Greed
             G
    Past the Reefs of Need
             D
    To the Squalls of Hate.
          A      G     D
    Bail out, bail out, bail out.

---------------------------------
      D               G           D
It's coming from your neighbor's SUV
      D               A           D
From the toxins that are killing off the bees.

       G
It's coming from Big Oil,   
       G_sus           G
and the fracking and the spoil
    D                   G        D
and climate change denial fantasies. 

          F#
From ugly suburban sprawl
         Bm
From filthy factory smoke,   
          F#
From the local big box mall
         Bm
From David and Charles Koch
 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

-------------------
      D               G           D
It's coming from right-wing media hosts
            D            A                  D
From the wingnuts with their hate-filled posts.

       G
It's coming from Fox News
       G_sus           G
and its pro-corporate views
    D                    G          D
that are unfair and unbalanced at most.

          F#
From Limbaugh and Glenn Beck
         Bm
From Bill O'Reilly's rants
          F#
From Hannity and Savage's drek
          Bm
From Dennis Miller's cant

 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

---------------------------------

       D            G           D
It's coming from income inequality,
      D                 A         D
From tax loopholes  for Apple and GE.

       G
It's coming from tax havens   
       G_sus           G
and accounting tricks so brazen
    D             G           D
it's a wonder they're not on TV.

          F#
From low capital gain tax rates 
          Bm
From Walmart and Goldman Sachs
          F#
From Boeing and Microsoft
          Bm
From tax enforcement cutbacks.

 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

Here are two versions of Leonard Cohen’s original song.

Mother Jones article calls Patty Murray a hawk

The January/February issue of Mother Jones has an article “Can’t Touch This:  The wars are winding down. It’s the age of sequester. So why won’t the Pentagon live within its means?”.   The article lists examples of the tremendous waste in the Pentagon budget and identifies Senator Patty Murray as one of the key liberal hawks (“Democrats who want more money for the military but aren’t keen on domestic cuts”).

Adam Smith on the defense cuts

Ranking House Armed Services Democrat Rep. Adam Smith, of Washington State, says of the defense cuts: “The single biggest take away from Strategic Choices Management Review is that Congress, by allowing sequestration to exist, is abdicating its constitutional responsibility to responsibly fund the military and to provide for the common defense. Through sequestration, Congress is forcing the Department of Defense to make some extremely difficult decisions that will undermine military readiness and put more unneeded stress on our troops, civilian employees, and military retirees.”

Hagel Outlines Bold, Painful Cuts to Army, Carriers, Pay, Benefits To Cope With Sequester

But William Hartung, head of the arms and security project at the Center for International Policy, didn’t buy that, saying Hagel’s actions “are too little, too late. Key questions like changes in military compensation — and even how to cut the $52 billion in FY 2014 — have yet again been kicked down the road.” Hartung accused Hagel of of understating DoD’s “ability to make sensible procurement cuts by protecting systems like the overpriced, under-performing F-35 combat aircraft.”