Could it be that Donald Trump thinks that the military is the enemy of the people, too, in addition to the media? The Trump administration has ordered the defunding of Stars and Stripes, the “local paper” for the military. The publication has been in existence since 1861 but the fiscal year 2021 defense budget has zeroed out the $15.5 million annual subsidy which keeps it in business.

Stars and Stripes has a colorful history. It was started when a group of Union soldiers under Ulysses S. Grant, who were pressmen before the war, took over a local newspaper office which had been abandoned by a fleeing Confederate sympathizer publisher and began to ply their trade on behalf of their fellows in uniform. USA Today:

Since then Stars and Stripes has launched the careers of famous journalists such as cartoonist Bill Mauldin and TV commentator Andy Rooney. And its independence from the Pentagon brass has been guaranteed by such distinguished military leaders as Gens. John G. Pershing, George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower once reprimanded Gen. George Patton for trying to censor Mauldin cartoons he didn’t like.

Just one more battle between the Trump administration and the rest of sane government, where, not surprisingly, there is push back.

…the president’s fiscal year 2021 defense department budget request… zeroed out the $15.5 million annual subsidy for Stars and Stripes. But Congress, which under the Constitution has the power to make decisions about how the public’s money is spent, has not yet approved the president’s request.

In fact, the version the House approved earlier this summer explicitly overruled the decision to pull the plug on Stars and Stripes, restoring funding for the paper.

So far, the Senate hasn’t acted. But in a letter released earlier this week, 15 members of the chamber, including combat veteran Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and four Republicans, called on Defense Secretary Mark Esper to “take steps to preserve the funding prerogatives of Congress before allowing any such disruption to take place.”

In a separate letter, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Trump ally, makes a similar request. “As a veteran who has served overseas, I know the value Stars and Stripes brings to its readers,” he wrote, telling Esper that shutting down the paper before the Senate acts would be “premature.”

There’s a $700 Billion defense budget on the table and a palty fifteen million is not going to make it or break it. Stars and Stripes is on the front line daily, informing and entertaining troops and frequently it’s in place when the internet is not. Nevertheless, the memo the Trump administration sent out is putting it out of business unless cooler heads prevail.

In a heretofore unpublicized recent memo, the Pentagon delivered an order to shutter Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that has been a lifeline and a voice for American troops since the Civil War. The memo orders the publisher of the news organization (which now publishes online as well as in print) to present a plan that “dissolves the Stars and Stripes” by Sept. 15 including “specific timeline for vacating government owned/leased space worldwide.”

“The last newspaper publication (in all forms) will be September 30, 2020,” writes Col. Paul Haverstick Jr., the memo’s author.

This is yet another time to call and write our elected officials. Our troops need our support on a daily, personal basis and Stars and Stripes provides that. Whoever thought up this daft idea of defunding Stars and Stripes does not have the best interests of the military at heart. Here’s what Charlie Pierce says:

My guess is that it comes from the same authoritarian impulse that has led Camp Runamuck to attack the independence of the Voice of America, which was handed over to an administration* crony who’s already meddling with VOA’s political coverage. The president* doesn’t approve of an independent private media, so it’s logical that he’d move like a bitch on any government media that acts independently. But S&S is an institution dating back to the Civil War.

So, like so many things, the survival of S&S rests at the moment with the invertebrate body that is the Republican majority in the Senate. Maybe.

This is a terrible idea. If the Senate approves this, they’re out of their minds. There is no other way to view this other than as another slap in the face to the free press and one more unjustifiable outrage on the part of this president* to the military. Trump is already trailing in polls with the military and doing this, the month before the election, is throwing gasoline on the fire.

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. PDT

Trump folds under pressure.

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  1. CNN is saying that his train has jumped the tracks this week and I tend to agree. None of this can be helpful to his campaign. (but I could be wrong)

    • There is a hard core of his idiot supporters who don’t care about anything. They’re the “5th Avenue” crowd, the ones who wouldn’t care if he shot somebody. But he’s lost a lot of people who voted for him in 2016. That’s what’s going to take him down. Such is my belief, in any event. He had Never Trumpers against him in 2016, but he didn’t have a concerted effort, like Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump, all of that. I can’t see how he can withstand all this heat. Plus, the big deal is he promised people the moon and you see what he has delivered: 60 million unemployed and a botched pandemic response. And no wall — just a scandal and an indicted Steve Bannon, in lieu of a wall. There have to be some people who are disillusioned with this.

  2. My father received and faithfully read The Stars and Stripes for his entire adult life. When he was done with it, I used to line my parakeet’s cage with the colorful front page of that paper! Patriotic Parakeets, I always say. It would be a crime (from a crime-ridden administration) if it was discontinued. ?

  3. Will this disgusting adjunct to his already-nauseating comments about the heroes buried near Bellau Wood be the proverbial final straw for the cowards in the Senate? Will any of them finally stand up for something other than their own ticket on the gravy train? If not, if this horror show continues, then the long-overdue death of the GOP is assured come November.

    • No. Their evil hypocrisy is out in the sunshine, but given the “feedback” I’ve given these cowards, it’s clear they can’t handle the TRUTH.

  4. Donald Trump is working very hard to “take the money and run”! He is squeezing every last dollar out of the US budget and, I have NO doubt, slipping it into his own filthy criminal corrupt pockets. He is doing it as fast as he possibly can. He has been better at bankrupting America, at stealing us blind, at burning it all down, than even I thought he would — and I knew he would steal everything possible if he had to use dynamite to blow it out of the ground! So when he “shuts” things down you can bet he’s looking at their budget and thinking how he can get that money for himself…. again…. and again…. and again…. We will be bankrupt for decades or forever. He is leaving a burning hulk of a country that used to be. Thanks, McConnell!

    • My guess? It was one of those times when they had to hold him down while they put on some weird BDSM device that hold a guy’s “junk” and fitted for electrical shock. And jolt him enough times and with enough juice to force his compliance. Discussions are probably underway to have a full fledged male chastity belt put on him until the campaign is over with to get him to behave. Because he’s dragging everyone down with him and they know it. Besides, how else can they ensure he will sign their Presidential Pardons?

      • Sure, P J, but Wile E Coyote could have seen this plan as a bad one from jump. As others keep saying, his ignorance of American culture really shows through at times like this.

  5. When Lindsey Graham was serving overseas, there were precisely three sources of current news: AFR, Armed Forces Radio; Stars and Stripes, and one TV station. In the Pacific theater it was called FEN, Far East Network. Some people had a subscription to Time or Newsweek but of course it arrived rather late. These days, most service members have access to the Internet, so to be fair, the old outlets are probably unnecessary now. But still—What is Trump’s problem?

  6. How far we’ve come since people naively thought the Access Hollywood tape would end Trump’s campaign in 2016!
    This is a war of attrition. If it takes one outrage after another to chip away at Trump’s base of support, so be it. Let’s hope it brings down the rest of the Republican Party as well.

    • I’m afraid 240 yrs of lies & hypocrisy to create a consumer culture that teaches no real history & no civics is coming home like karma on Crystal meth. However, that’s even more reason to speak up & get into “good trouble.” Hey today I’ve had the FBI, the Carrboro & Chapel Hill police hang up on me. Must be doing something right. It’s snowing like hell here in the old North State…snowflakes everywhere. I’m unarmed. They are armed. Yet they CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH. The police implied it’s ok if armed right wingers show up at polling places but they had a problem with me being armed with a sign saying FUCK TRUMP. Figures. They are Trump’s police gang.


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