REAL VS. PAID PATRIOTISM
The U.S. military spent more than $10.4 million in recent years for patriotic displays at professional sporting events. The Seattle Seahawks and Sounders football and soccer franchises pocketed $600,000 for events that viewers might have mistaken for teams’ charitable support of troops, according to an investigation by U.S. lawmakers.
The alleged paid events included a Washington National Guard re-enlistment ceremony at CenturyLink Field, says a 150-page report from Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake. The Seahawks disputed ever getting paid directly, although payment for such events was in their contract.
Flake and McCain described this kind of activity as “taxpayer-funded patriotism.’’ Reporter Adam Ashton wrote about the military’s dishonest marketing gimmicks last week in The Olympian and News Tribune.
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What’s next? Paying children to salute the flag in school?
State Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren said only federal, but no state, tax money paid for the staged patriotism. She said the state’s contracts with sports teams for marketing have not included on-field event subsidies since the new 2015 fiscal year. But payments do go for public address announcements and other promotional help.
Shagren makes a valid point. The National Guard relies on volunteers, so recruitment is needed. Still, that shouldn’t require bribing wealthy sports franchises to act patriotically. If cash is paid, events should be labeled as advertising.
The Guard plans an on-field event on Nov. 15 with the Seahawks that has no taxpayer subsidy. That’s how it should be.
BEN CARSON’S PREDICAMENT
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has put himself in a fix that may be harder to solve than his 1987 work as a surgeon separating twins conjoined at the head.
He appears to have fabricated stories about his past, including a whopper that he’d applied to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was offered a scholarship, but neither happened, according to POLITICO. The news site said Carson’s campaign admitted the fabrication when confronted with evidence that West Point had no record of him even applying for admission, but Carson’s camp later denied it admitted anything.
CNN found fault with other claims in Carson’s autobiography. These included claims of trying to knife someone and to hit his mother with a hammer during his youth. This caused Carson, the GOP’s No. 2 candidate in several polls, to ask of the public — “do you think I’m a pathological liar like CNN does?”
Based on Carson’s views, that may be the wrong question.
His denials of human-caused climate change are counter to science. He’s a literalist about the Bible. His personal religious views have led him to think the great pyramids in Egypt were built to store grain, not the bodies of mummified pharaohs.
Perhaps the better question to ask is whether Carson is too loopy to be president.
A THIEF OF TIME?
The former manager of the Olympia Farmers Market faces criminal theft charges for allegedly taking 335 more paid vacation days than she was entitled to from 2004 until 2013. Charlene R. Haney was arraigned last week and goes to trial next Jan. 25 — more than a year after she retired.
The alleged overpayment was worth $159,000, according to police. Haney had been in charge of payroll and preparing paychecks.
This raises questions about the adequacy of the market’s ongoing financial oversight. The problems did not come to light until after Haney retired in 2014 and a new manager, Bryce Dazell, noticed irregularities in the books.
If Haney is convicted, restitution is in order.