Monday, February 07, 2005


Dem Demonizaton Watch

You can always tell who the Republicans are worried about by following their Dem demonization efforts.

Now President Boxer's George has already noted depictions of Sen. Kerry as a waffling sore loser and Sen. Boxer as loud, impulsive, cranky, and ill-coiffed.

But even more focused demonization efforts appear to be afoot regarding Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Howard Dean.

Quoting a Roll Call report, Political Wire says Republicans are targeting Reid:
"Drawing on a blueprint used successfully against" former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S-SD), the RNC "will send a 13-page research document today to roughly 1 million people -- a group that includes journalists, donors and grass-roots activists -- detailing Reid's alleged obstructionism among other topics."
And via Political Wire we have Karl Rove's messenger boy Robert Novak saying:
Democrats, who now acknowledge the inevitability of Howard Dean's election as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, are concerned about the massive negative research about him stockpiled by President Bush's political operatives.

The Dean file was compiled by Bush's re-election campaign when it appeared that the former Vermont governor was going to be nominated for president. It is a carefully researched compendium of Dean's often bizarre utterances.
And as we know, Republicans so hate politicians who say bizarre things.

If the GOP's demonizing you, you're probably doing something right.


Social Security & Media Intimidation

The RNC has threatened FCC action against TV stations exposing Bush's deceptive Social Security plans. The letter was intended as an indirect threat that their FCC licenses were in jeopardy. South Bend television stations received the letter from RNC attorney Michael Bayes, stating "As an FCC licensee...this letter places you on notice..." The following is a copy of the story by James Wensits from the South Bend Tribune from February 5, 2005:

"RNC asks stations to kill 'false TV ad' defends accuracy of Social Security spot.

Tribune Political Writer

SOUTH BEND -- At least part of the Social Security debate focused on the 2nd Congressional District again Friday, as the Republican National Committee sent letters to local television stations asking them not to air what it calls a "false TV ad" promoted by

Washington, D.C.-based immediately issued a statement defending the accuracy of its ad, which began airing on local stations Tuesday and which is critical of the president's plan to revamp Social Security.

The RNC letter drew a mixture of responses. One local station executive said he viewed the tone of the letter as "threatening." Another said he planned to investigate a statement in the ad and might decide to pull the spot if he found it to be misleading.

The national ad, titled "Working Retirement," debuted on local stations Tuesday.

"It has come to our attention that your station is currently airing, or may be asked to air, a false advertisement sponsored by a political organization known as," said the RNC letter sent to local stations on Friday.

"The advertisement in question falsely and maliciously makes reference to 'George Bush's planned Social Security benefit cuts of up to 46 percent to pay for private accounts ...' "

In his State of the Union address, the president said that "Social Security will not change in any way" for Americans 55 and older."

The RNC letter said that "what calls 'Bush's planned Social Security benefit cuts' is actually a plan that would hold starting Social Security benefits steady in purchasing power, rather than allowing them to nearly double over the next 75 years as they are projected to do under the current benefit formula."

The letter was signed by RNC Deputy Counsel Michael Bayes.

Jim Behling, general manager for WNDU-TV, said he is neither afraid nor cowed by getting a letter from a lawyer at the RNC, but may pull the spot if he determines that it is inaccurate. The ad contract calls for the spot to end its run on Sunday, according to Behling.

"It's about what's fair," said Behling, adding, "If we made the wrong decision based on insufficient information, then we have to correct ourselves."

Behling said he has reviewed documentation supplied by in support of the ad, and said the 46 percent figure seems to apply to people who will retire in 2075, and therefore haven't yet been born.

He said he plans to ask if the 46 percent "applies to anybody living today" and, if not, may decide to pull the spot.

According to supporting documents supplied to the stations by, the plan which serves as the model for the president's proposal would cut benefits because it changes the basis on which benefits would be calculated from wage levels to consumer price levels.

Based on Social Security Administration data, a worker born in 1977 who earned average wages and retired in 2042 would see benefits 26 percent lower than under the current benefit structure, $14,432 a year instead of $19,423 in 2004 dollars. An individual who retired in 2075 would receive monthly benefits 46 percent lower than under the current structure, the documents said.

Tom Matzzie, Washington, D.C., director of, said in a statement issued Friday that the information referred to in the spot is based on an analysis performed by the chief actuary at the Social Security Administration, and said his organization stands by the ad.

"Instead of threatening TV stations and trying to infringe on the free-speech rights of," said Matzzie, the administration should "come clean" and explain how big benefit cuts will be for future retirees, how much new debt will be required and how much financial services corporations will profit from the proposal.

Kevin Sargent, vice president and general manager for WSJV-TV, said he viewed the RNC letter as threatening.

The last two paragraphs of the letter said:

"As an FCC licensee, you have a responsibility to exercise independent editorial judgment to oversee and protect the integrity of the American marketplace of ideas, and to avoid broadcasting deliberate misrepresentations of the facts. Such obligations must be taken seriously and I urge you to decline to broadcast this advertisement.

"This letter places you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading. Your station should act responsibly and refrain from airing this advertisement."

"When a letter says 'this letter places you on notice,' " Sargent said, "that's kind of threatening."

Sargent said the letter didn't say that the RNC intended to go after the station's license, but "that kind of tactic is done to make you think it's possible."

Asked if he planned to pull the ad, Sargent said he had just begun to investigate, noting, "It's Friday afternoon."

Sargent said that in the meanwhile, he did not plan to suspend the ad, which is scheduled to run through Monday.

Todd Schurz, president and general manager of WSBT-TV, said it is not the role of the station to make political judgments, and to do so would be "grossly inappropriate."

"Our role is to be sure that the laws and regulations are followed and that the public has access to its own airwaves," Schurz said.

Schurz said the station began an investigation after receiving the RNC letter Friday afternoon but did not know when it would be completed.

"These things take a little time," Schurz said, adding that there was no intent to suspend the ad in the meantime. The spot is scheduled to run through Monday on WSBT-TV, whose parent company, Schurz Communications, also owns The Tribune."

The Bush aministration is continuing it's efforts to completely suppress the media. I urge everyone to write to your Congress and the local media about this story. Also, I would recommend republishing this article everywhere possible.

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