I was just going to plunk this into a link roundup, but upon re-reading it I like it so much I really want to highlight it. It has everything Loyal Readers™ crave: the appalling truth about how our government and media actually operate, witty snark, and a cudgel with which to clobber conservatives, all of it expressed by someone who clearly relishes the opportunity and/or understands the necessity of doing so.
A few weeks ago, a blogger at Daily Kos who goes by mtosner posted The Biggest Scandal in US History That We’re Still Not Talking About, based on this truly excellent 3-part work of investigative journalism by Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr for Reuters from July.
That would be July of 2013.
Take it away mtosner:
The above is roughly what 8.5 Trillion dollars would look like… and those are $100 bills. Take another look and let that sink in for a bit… I find it absolutely astonishing that the pentagon could lose track of this much money and for there to be no MSM coverage of this scandalous amount of mismanagement and fraud. Where is the demand for accountability? Why is the first question to ANY candidate for president not “What would you do about the massive fraud and waste at the Pentagon?” Where are the hearings, nay indictments, that are warranted when a sum equal to 1/2 of our national debt can be sent to the pentagon to never be accounted for.
In an update, the author also notes the fact that since 1996, the Pentagon has been required by law to be “audit ready.” In the nearly 20 years that have passed since then, no real accounting systems have been implemented, much less actual audits. I have been traveling the last day or so through the part of our country I refer to as Pennsyltucky, with brief stops in Latrobe, PA, Lexington, KY and Memphis, TN (don’t ask), and I can attest that every television screen in sight is broadcasting Republican warmongers whinging about the Iran deal, and no one appears the slightest bit concerned with the mysteriously missing EIGHT AND A HALF TRILLION DOLLARS. Why just this morning, I caught my BFF George Pataki yammering on CNN about how the U.S. got “nothing” from the Iran deal. And here I thought “not going to war with Iran” would be less expensive in terms of blood and treasure than, you know, actually going to war with Iran. Silly me. I mean at this point, what’s a few more trillion dollars down the rabbit hole, plus thousands more dead and maimed soldiers, millions of dead, maimed and displaced Iranians, and yet another politically unstable country in the Middle East? “Nothing,” that’s what.
Of course $8.5 trillion worth of Pentagon corruption and/or incompetence (with no end in sight) affects virtually everyone across the nation, but soldiers and veterans suffer the worst of it by far. Just read the first part of the Reuters series to see what “supporting the troops” looks like in practice.
With all of that as backdrop, mtosner urges us to get our game on and work that $8.5 trillion into every political conversation we have, especially with conservatives*. To wit:
“What’s that? Body cameras for all cops will be too expensive? How bout we find 1/10,000th of the money we sent to the pentagon.”
“Oh really? There’s 500 million in provable food stamp fraud going to poor people how bout the 8.5 TRILLION the pentagon can’t account for?”
“Oh really? You think Obama care is going to cost us almost a trillion dollars over 15 years? How about the 8.5 Trillion that just disappeared into the ether at the pentagon? What’s you’re take on that?”
“Oh really, you’re concerned about deficit spending and the debt? Fully 1/3 of the national debt it is money we sent the Pentagon and they can’t tell us where it went. It’s just gone.”
“College for everyone will cost too much? You must be really pissed at the 8.5 Trillion, with a ‘t’, dollars the pentagon’s spent and can’t tell us where it went.”
Moreover mtosner is correct that the corporate media’s silence on this issue (among others) ought to require the modification of the oft-used term Military-Industrial-Complex to Military-Industrial-Media-Complex. Then again, when defense contractor GE owns NBC—including MSNBC, beloved by liberals who think Rachel Maddow is as leftist as it gets—perhaps it’s redundant. As mtosnter points out, “It seems for few hundred million in ‘be all you can be’ ad buys the MSM will keep it’s mouth shut.”
I do have a few nits to pick with mtosner, though, who suggests that this exercise exposes conservatives’ hypocrisy. This is true as far as it goes, but conservatives are notoriously impervious to charges of hypocrisy no matter how blatant (just think of all the sexual shenanigans by the Traditional Marriage™ types). But my bigger disagreement with mtosner is the characterization of any of this as “scandalous,” as if it represented some kind of aberration in the way things ordinarily operate. It isn’t. It only appears that way if you buy into the illusion that we are living in anything resembling a constitutional democracy.
*Unless you are simply enjoying sharpening your fangs, I don’t generally recommend having conversations with conservatives, ever, unless there is an audience. In that case it’s your goddamn patriotic duty to mock them mercilessly and thereby, perhaps, enlighten your fellow citizens. It’s not like the corporate media is going to do the job for us, people.