Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 28, 2010

IF THE GOP WANTS TO TALK ABOUT PROPAGANDA, WE CAN TALK ABOUT PROPAGANDA.... Of all the things for congressional Republicans to pick a fight over, this one seems especially misguided.

As the secretary of health and human services explains it, the government has an obligation to spread the word about the new health-care law. To that end, the department spent millions of dollars printing a glossy brochure and mailing it this week to 40 million Medicare beneficiaries detailing what Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called "the facts."

Among the facts:

There are "Improvements in Medicare You Will See Right Away." There are "Improvements in Medicare You Will See Soon." There are "Improvements Beyond Medicare That You and Your Family Can Count On." And that's not all: These improvements "will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care."

This hardly seems unreasonable. Given the significant changes to the health care system in the new Affordable Care Act, it stands to reason that the Department of Health and Human Services would produce materials informing the public about the new policy.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and some of his cohorts are complaining that the brochures constitute illegal government propaganda.

If McConnell and the GOP really want to talk about government propaganda, we can do that.

In 2001, the Bush administration sent letters to taxpayers through the Treasury Department to tout tax rebate checks and the "long-term tax relief" the administration was offering. McConnell & Co. thought this was fine. In 2004, Bush/Cheney sent out letters through HHS to tout Medicare Part D, and GAO later found that the taxpayer-financed letters included notable omissions and other weaknesses." McConnell & Co. had no problem with this, either.

The Bush administration also had a nasty habit of using our money to secretly pay political pundits to agree with its agenda; creating fake-news segments to be distributed to local television statements, to be aired without public disclosure; and hiring retired military officers to appear in the media to say they agree with the Bush administration's policies.

And just this week, House Republicans launched their "America Speaking Out" project, an election-year gimmick funded entirely by taxpayers.

In all of these cases, Mitch McConnell and his cohorts thought these efforts were entirely legitimate and an appropriate use of Americans' tax dollars.

But an HHS brochure about Medicare changes qualifies as illegal government propaganda? Please.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Therefore publicizing the facts is a direct, blatant attack on republicans.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on May 28, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Repigs: Rank hypocrites of the highest order. Period.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on May 28, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Mitch McConnell complains about everything. Now that he has Broder mouthing that normal political practices are criminal, we can expect him to push the envelop as far as the conservative mainstream media will allow. Remember, there is nothing loyal about Republican opposition. Party above all and all that.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 28, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Using government money to publicize facts about how government can help people to do things other than blow up foreigners has always been anathema to Republicans - and anything Republicans don't like has always been illegal.

After all, we've always been at war with Eurasia...


Posted by: RepubAnon on May 28, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

It's real simple.

1) The Repubs complain about the Dems doing something the Repubs do much more of

2) Dems point out the Repubs hypocrisy

3) MSM reports fair and balanced that "Both sides do it" and the story dies.

4) Repubs keep doing it. The Dems apoligize.

Works every time

Posted by: martin on May 28, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

We complained when they did it and we had a point. Using the government printing press to announce changes as "improvements" may as well be propaganda. There are trade-offs for everything - higher taxes, e.g. - that can render any change debateable. Better to simply announce the changes and leave it at that.

Still, these changes are vastly better than the ones they inflicted on the American people. Say it loud, say it proud, but don't make the citizens pay for it.

Posted by: walt on May 28, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

You can add Karl Rove's infamous powerpoint presentation to government employees to the list.

Posted by: Marko on May 28, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

But you and I we've been through that ,
and this is not our fate ,
So let us not talk falsely then ,
The hour is getting late .

Posted by: FRP on May 28, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Why should the government pay for brochures advertising measures that were rammed through congress with the nuclear option?

Posted by: Al on May 28, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Is Mitch McConnell throwing fecal matter again? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 28, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAR...now I just look for reasons to use this...didn't know for such a long time what it meant...fits here though!

Posted by: Dancer on May 28, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

And more than a year after Bush left office, the Social Security Administration is still sending alarming letters with my annual benefit projection claiming that the system is in trouble.

Posted by: Lukeness on May 28, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

I got my brochure earlier this past week, it was short, informative and simple to understand. I can understand why it was needed and how helpful it will be to a lot of seniors who do not bother to read about what is going on, or perhaps cannot understand. It certainly was an improvement on the big book that is sent out to explain medicare each year which is too thick and hard to understand.

Posted by: JS on May 28, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP strategy:

Republicans insist that government is the problem, then prove it every time they get elected.

Posted by: chrenson on May 28, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Heaven forfend you would let people know about new options to improve their day-to-day life.

The republicans continue to be morally bereft.

Posted by: JCT on May 28, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Just like with the Obama tax cut for the middle class, a large percentage of "Real Americans" don't believe they are paying less taxes, even thouggh their payment decreased or their refund increased by thousands of dollars.

Same as it ever was.

McConnel or Boehner lies, Fucksnooze, Drudge, and Limbaugh promote the lies, and half of America won't believe the information when they recieve it.

"Bubba, it says here that Massey still has to keep you on our insurance plan even after you turn 18 in September."

"Awww, don't beleive that Paw, I heard on the radio that's jes guvmint propoganda."

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 28, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Reply to martin: You ARE fully aware that Republicans control the MSM, aren't you? Just to refresh you memory, here's a short list on who runs the major media outlets -- all of these men are DIEHARD RIGHTWING REPUBLICANS:

CBS -- Sumner Redstone (Chairman & majority stockholder of CBS Corporation & Viacom)

NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC -- Jeff Immelt (Chairman & CEO of General Electric)

FOX -- Rupert "Herr Goebbels" Murdoch (Chairman & CEO of News Corporation)

ABC -- Bob Iger (Chairman & CEO of Disney)

CNN -- Jeff Bewkes (Chairman & CEO of Time Warner)

Posted by: Rich S. on May 28, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone has missed the biggest political propoganda tool ever devised since the 1940's - FOX News.

Now that North Korea is in the news again, every time I see snippets of their state sponsored news broadcasts proclaiming victimhood to the southern aggressors, I can't help but think about the close paralles to our own media. And with no apparent irony, I'm sure of all the Republican wingnuts are thanking their lucky stars for living in a free country with a free and open press. Their actual choosing the Republican propoganda broadcast station for their primary information source says alot about them, this country, and human nature in general.

Posted by: Oh well on May 28, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK


I work in the government services biz and I can tell you right off that if we don't publicize changes-even ones as overcovered as HCR-we get hit with a lot of "why didn't you stinking bureaucrats tell me?"

And, no, we never prepare the pamphlets by apologizing for the change and saying it sucks and will make everything worse.

Posted by: howie on May 28, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

"... this one seems especially misguided."

You keep repeating that phrase whenever these GOP attacks come along. I don't think it means what you think it means. As we all know, reality has a decided liberal bias. In order to keep the world in balance there needs to be a countervailing conservative force and that is IOKIYAR. It isn't hypocritical for Republicans to complain about Democrats doing what they do because Democrats have the advantages of reality and facts. Republicans need something to level the playing field.

Level playing field?...isn't that a liberal concept?

Never mind...

Posted by: majun on May 28, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Reply to Oh Well: I sure as hell haven't missed the propaganda tool that I usually call the "Nazi channel" -- Faux Spews. Remember: Kim Il Jong (dictator of North Korea) ran amok starting nuke reactors during "Der Fuehrer" Dumbya Bush's eight year reign. And here's the five letter reason why nothing is really being done to keep him on a short leash: N-O O-I-L.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: Rich S on May 28, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

The propaganda is very transparent on Morning Joe. Where can we who gives a hoot apply pressure of the people who demand fairness in discussion and reporting from the Corporate main stream media. I really have to hold my nose and a trash can when i watch Morning Joe. Even the paid progressive guests must sign a waiver before they sit down at that table. They check their journalistic cojones at the door!!!.lets apply collective pressure to MSNBC to demand some fairness and less propaganda!!

Posted by: Calija on May 28, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Reply to Rich S.: You betcha!

Posted by: martin on May 28, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Be careful Martin -- you're starting to sound an awful lot like Sarah Palin ;-)

[just kidding -- have you noticed yet that "You betcha!" is her signature phrase?]

Posted by: Rich S. on May 28, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans, especially the teabagging contingent, consider America to be "theirs", as in "we're taking our country back." So whatever they do is OK, but whatever the Democrats or anyone who isn't one of "them" does is illegal.

Posted by: qwerty on May 28, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

It's especially hypocritical considering they tried their best to mislead the voters, leading up to passage of the act, on what was actually in in. I suppose a brochure is not necessary when everybody could just go online and wade through it page by page, but when a significant portion of the goverrnment doesn't bother to read it - yet busily misinforms you about what it does and does not say - who's going to do that?

Posted by: Mark on May 28, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

It becomes painfully clear that the political system is completely broken. Maybe it can be repaired if the GOP decides to place some kind of minimum IQ requirement on its office holders, say 60.

Posted by: rbe1 on May 28, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Good God, these people are RIDICULOUS.

Where is the sanity in the Republican party? Where???

Posted by: Hannah on May 28, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK



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