By Jake Johnsn
Common Dreams (8/14/18)
The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) President Donald Trump signed into law during a jingoistic ceremony at Fort Drum on Monday authorizes $22 billion in spending for nuclear weapons that could wipe out the human species, 77 new F-35 fighter jets, and $717 billion in military funding overall, but the corporate media apparently decided that the worst part about Trump signing this “obscenity” of a bill was his failure to acknowledge that it is named after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“Trump snubs John McCain during bill signing intended to honor him,” NBC News complained in a headline that was repeated almost verbatim in Business Insider, the Washington Post, The DailyBeast, The New Republic, Bloomberg, and many other major news outlets after Trump signed the (emphasis added) John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.
“Can’t think of anything that better sums up the moral bankruptcy and cliquishness of D.C. media than the uniform meltdown over a $717B defense bill—one that codifies funding for Saudis massacre of Yemeni children—not being properly credited to McCain as if that’s the goddamn problem,” media critic and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) contributor Adam Johnson wrote on Twitter, highlighting just one of the countless grotesque components of the NDAA.
The $82 billion military spending increase authorized by the 2019 NDAA could easily pay for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) free public college plan, which is estimated to cost $47 billion a year.
“The myth of U.S. as noble but flawed defender of Human Rights and Freedom is our civic religion—the one thing all Serious pundits, pols, think-tankers, and high status media creators must accept,” Johnson added. “McCain is this myths greatest avatar, this is why they rush to his defense so vehemently.”
Others similarly ridiculed the corporate media’s obsession with the bill’s official title over the devastating effects it will have on actual lives overseas—a topic that elicited little concern from those penning offended tweets and headlines on behalf of McCain, a fervent supporter of endless war.
Predictably, Congress’s bipartisan support for and Trump’s subsequent signature of one of the largest military spending bills in American history was not met with the usual consternation and hand-wringing from pundits about how the U.S. can afford such funding.
But, as The Intercept‘s Alex Emmons has noted, the $82 billion military spending increase authorized by the 2019 NDAA could easily pay for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) free public college plan, which is estimated to cost $47 billion a year.
The one question that is never asked
In a column last month, Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi posed the simple question corporate media outlets never deign to ask when it comes to spending on the Pentagon, new nuclear weapons, and shiny fighter jets: “Can You Think of Any Other Ways to Spend $716 Billion?”
“The ease with which this massive spending increase passed exposes all the howling we always get from think-tanks and the press whenever any ambitious social program is proposed. It’s all bunk—all of it,” Taibbi concluded. ” Ask experts how much it would cost to make higher education at public colleges and universities free, and you’ll get some big numbers. You will also hear strident opposition in op-ed pages to how ‘unrealistic’ the idea is, even though most free-ed proposals would fit easily into an $80 billion-per-year outlay. Nobody ever calls massive increases in military spending ‘unrealistic.’ Not even when Donald Trump wants them.”