The Great American Military Rebrand, by Matt Taibbi

The U.S. is the most geographically secure country on the planet, which is why the government has to spend more on the military and its aligned intelligence services than the next seven or eight countries combined. From Matt Taibbi at

A new defense bill crammed with political pork smashes records, but you likely didn’t hear the news, because War is Good again

Prince Harry addresses the U.N.

Fifteen years ago, as the Bush years waned and political division began skyrocketing, one thing everyone agreed on was that “earmarks” were bad. A trifecta of scandals involving prison-bound congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, Republican super-lobbyist (and future Kevin Spacey role) Jack Abramoff, and a $320 million “bridge to nowhere” exposed an intricate system of legalized payoffs both parties scrambled to oppose.

Earmarks, those handy appropriations tools congressfolk used to slip million-dollar favors into the budget, had been ballooning in number for over a decade and looked so bad upon reveal, “corruption and ethics” became the top issue in the 2006 midterms. The Cunningham affair was the worst, featuring a congressman who wrote a “menu” of bribe services (he should have consulted Stringer Bell for legal advice there) and handed out tens of millions in dubious deals to a defense contractor named Mitchell Wade. The San Diego Tribune reporter who broke that story explained:

In return, the contractor showered the congressman with gifts — helping him finance a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, a condo overlooking the nation’s capital, exclusive use of a yacht on the Potomac, antiques, private-jet travel and prostitutes.

Fast forward to last week. As January 6th hearings, a presidential fist-bump, and a Kardashian spawn’s gender reveal gobbled attention, the House quietly passed a monster $839 billion defense package. It was “the definition of a bipartisan bill,” chirped Alabama’s Mike Rogers, as 180 Democrats and 149 Republicans joined to smash by tens of billions previous records for military spending. With this already underreported story, just one news outlet, Roll Call, described a “first of its kind” report published by the Department of Defense Comptroller’s office, which revealed at least $58 billion of “congressional additions” above Joe Biden’s budget request.

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