I haven't been on a plane since January of 2020 when I flew back from Seoul just as the pandemic was kicking into high gear. Luckily for mea, I've been masking up on planes for 30 years so the guy two seats ahead of me who coughed and sneezed all the way across the Pacific only infected my best friend-- "You scare people with that mask"-- and not me. My paranoia is getting sick on planes, His has always been planes crashing. He has literally boarded planes and then de-planed when he decided the aircraft wasn't up to his standards of safety. I'm planning a trip to Europe and my flight just got changed from a Boeing 757 to a Boeing 767. The 767 appears safer, but it isn't a straight-forward question and answer. is that something we should have to be worrying about?
And this from someone who flew on every rickety airline in the world, including Nepal Air, where they sacrificed a cow when the plane wouldn't take off, and Timbuktu Air, where the stewardess argued with a passenger about taking a spear on the flight. (He won the argument but he had to agree to stow the spear for takeoff and landing.)
Believe it or not, Congress has ultimate jurisdiction over air safety. What do they do about it? Many of them take massive bribes from the airline industry to look the other way... while hoping for the best. Meanwhile, it is legitimate for the flying public to ask if Boeing put an unsafe plane in the air-- and why didn't Congress do something about it?
The chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee is Rick Larsen, a corrupt New Dem and political hack from Washington state. Boeing owns him. Why is he the chair of the subcommittee charged with air safety? Why isn't he in prison?
Larsen's challenger this cycle is progressive school teacher and activist Jason Call. Yesterday, he pointed out that "The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced on February 15th that investigations into oversight failures by the Federal Aviation Administration in regards to the Boeing 737 MAX crashes would be reopened. This was in response to a woefully inadequate report issued by FAA where it was revealed that no disciplinary action was taken against Boeing employees responsible for certifying the safety of key technologies that were behind both crashes. This despite findings that those same employees were directly pressured by management to overlook safety concerns."
He made the case that the renewed investigations must also focus on the lawmakers themselves-- the ones who failed in their oversight duties. First and foremost is Larsen, of course, who took $47,245 from the airline industry last cycle, second among Democrats only to House Transportation Committee Chair Pete DeFazio. The Republican ranking member, a similarly corrupt scumbag, Garret Graves of Louisiana accepted almost as much as Larsen last year ($38,500). Nice ole bipartisan corruption! The other Democratic members on committee on the take include Julia Brownley (New Dem-CA) and Cheri Bustos (New Dem-IL). It's a New Dem kind of thing-- they teach it in New Dem school.
Last cycle, Boeing spent $7,693,818 on legalistic bribes to Congress. Most of the bribery was laundered through the party committees:
McConnell's Senate leadership Fund- $750,000
Schumer's Senate Majority PAC- $250,000
Jason told the media yesterday that "The accountability for these crashes is not only with the FAA, but with the failed oversight of the FAA by the House Aviation Subcommittee. The subcommittee knew of problems with the FAA’s Organization Designation Authorization program as far as as 2012. The problems they seek to investigate further now should have been looked into a decade ago." He further told me today that he'd be "disappointed if no progressive media outlets look into this further. This a unique opportunity for a progressive, no corporate money candidate to go toe-to-toe with the poster boy for lobbying-centered corruption, highlighting circumstances where that corruption led directly to the deaths of members of the public. If the media ignore this, they are also failing in their jobs as oversight."
Call's communications director noted that:
In 2013 when Larsen was named ranking member of the subcommittee, he committed to “making sure the FAA streamlines its testing and safety certification process for new technology and equipment.” During Congressional investigations into battery fires on board the new 787 in 2013, Rep. Larsen acknowledged problems in FAA’s safety certification process, yet he pushed for no substantive changes at FAA to address it.
“[O]ver the past two months to solve problems with the new 787 Dreamliner's fire-plagued batteries, one player has been strangely silent: Congress,” reported the Associated Press in March 2013, “The unusual bipartisan silence reflects Boeing's political clout, wielded by legions of lobbyists, fueled by hefty political campaign contributions.” This behavior by Boeing continued undeterred and unaddressed by Rep. Larsen during his leadership of the House Aviation Subcommittee. Over the next five years until Lion Air Flight 610’s crash that killed 189 people, Rep. Larsen received $26,000 in contributrons from Boeing’s political action committee.
“The pressure that Boeing has exerted on the FAA to authorize failed components is the same pressure they exert on members of Congress like Rick Larsen to look the other way: through huge campaign contributions,” said Call, “This ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ routine of Congressional oversight is never in the public interest, and in the case of the Boeing 737 MAX program, it was disastrous. It could have been avoided.”
Jason Call does not accept any campaign contributions from a corporate political action committee. He believes that the inherent conflict of interest between members of Congress responsible for overseeing industries and campaign contributions from those same industries should be eliminated. Rep. Larsen’s acceptance of industry cash while he decided against bold action against corporate giants like Boeing demonstrates a severe lack of leadership in the public’s interest. Call believes that this record of putting profits before people is not befitting a member of Congress who is seeking to lead the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee.