No, I am not talking about the recent Atlantic article that quotes President Donald Trump calling US war dead as losers or repeats the disparaging remarks he made about the late Senator John McCain. This is something new that missed my radar but was brought to my attention by one of our regulars…thanks S.P.
I am talking about the Trump regime’s intentions to gut the venerable military news source, Stars and Stripes.
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.
The first Stars and Stripes rolled off presses Nov. 9, 1861 in Bloomfield, Missouri when forces headed by Ulysses Grant overran the tiny town on the way to Cape Girardeau. A group of Grant’s troops who had been pressmen before the war set up shop at a local newspaper office abandoned by its Confederate sympathizer publisher. And its independence from the Pentagon brass has been guaranteed by such distinguished military leaders at 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.
The paper has apparently been in President Trump’s sights for sometime and he took the money out of his Pentagon budget that supported it. However, that budget has never been approved by Congress and the government has been running on continuing resolutions that include funding for the paper. So once again we have the Trump regime flipping off the Constitution as it continues to build an Imperial Presidency. And I imagine that Stars and Stripes journalistic independence is a thorn in the president’s side.
As if an attack on the free press were not enough, the Trump administration’s rush to shutter Stars and Stripes also raises constitutional questions.
The memo ordering the publication’s dissolution claims the administration has the authority to make this move under the president’s fiscal year 2021 defense department budget request. It 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.
And although Congress hasn’t solved it’s funding dilemmas it appears that Stars and Stripes has bipartisan support:
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.”
It is hard to fathom why the Trump regime wants to shutter the newspaper…seems counter to the president’s voiced support of our military…and why they would want to take this up now after getting so much push back on their attacks on the post office…just seems bizarre. But nothing has been normal in the White House since January 2017.
So some final comments from the article:
The eagerness to kill Stars and Stripes is hard to fathom. As the senators note in their letter to Esper, the $15.5 million saved by eliminating the newspaper’s subsidy would have a “negligible impact” on the Pentagon’s $700 billion budget.
But it would have an enormously negative impact on the paper’s more than 1.3 million readers. It would eliminate a symbol of the U.S. commitment to press freedom, flout the judgment of generations of military leaders and usurp the authority that the Constitution gives Congress to make decisions about how the government spends money.
The president is doing this all wrong…he should be hugging the paper and its mission in just the same moronic way his hugs its namesake flag…instead of destroying a legacy symbol of American freedoms.