Home National Politics Rep. Connolly Blasts Republicans for “Soviet”-Style “Censorship at its Worst”

Rep. Connolly Blasts Republicans for “Soviet”-Style “Censorship at its Worst”

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As you can see from this video, Gerry Connolly is hopping mad, and I don’t blame him one bit. Basically, the issue here is that, since the NY-26 special election – in which a Democrat won in an overwhelmingly Republican district, in large part on the issue of Republicans’ plans to demolish Medicare – the GOP has been making political changes to Democratic “franked” mailers attacking the Ryan Plan, aka the “Destroy Medicare Act of 2011.”  

Believe it or not, the House Republican majority – Can’tor, BONer et al – is now prohibiting the use of language like “to eliminate Medicare as we know it” and are replacing it with neutral/non-descriptive/Orwellian language like “to change Medicare.” They are prohibiting the use of “a privatized system that would provide future seniors with a voucher to pay part of their cost to purchase private insurance” and recommend replacing it with “a revised government program with support from private insurance companies.”  They want to remove the word “voucher” and force Democrats to use their rhetorical “premium support system” language.

These changes, and the many other changes the Republican majority is insisting upon, are outrageous and un-American. A few choice quotes from Rep. Connolly follow. I couldn’t agree with him more on this one.

It’s Orwellian in nature. This is like Soviet censorship.  It’s intolerable. The Majority on the Franking Commission is way overstepping their boundaries.  Their job is to make sure that members of Congress are not sending out mail pieces that are overtly political.  They are trampling on free speech.  It is an outrage of unprecedented proportions.”

“Unbelievable.  I stunned that the majority would engage in an exercise of this breathtaking censorship, and all because the Republicans are feeling some heat on their plan to kill Medicare.

“The Majority’s edits of my newsletter speak for themselves.  Many of these phrases were approved in newsletters that went out the door prior to the NY 26 special election.  They are censoring factual content that in some case were their own words. They are changing their tune due to political fallout and bad poll results.”

I can’t even describe the Ryan Plan as ‘the Ryan Plan.’  I can’t describe the Republican plan as a voucher system, even though the Republicans called it that until the NY 26 special election.”

“Facts and reality are inconvenient truths, but that doesn’t mean the Republican Majority gets to suppress them.  They are trying to alter reality.  They are trampling on Minority rights.”

“Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and the Speaker will intervene.”

  • pontoon

    Democrats to mail out anything from Washington to their constituents which include the words “Ryan Budget Plan”, “voucher program”, et cetera.  How in the H*ll can they get away with this?  Who is on the “Franking” committee?  Has the mainstream media picked up on this one yet….or will they just let it pass?

  • aznew

    I predict this will generate a considerable amount of blowback that will hurt the GOP.

    The fact that Republicans are using ham-fisted tactics to censor Democrats will only serve to amplify the volume and impart credibility upon the Democrats’ message.

  • independent in arlington

    I think we would all agree that some of the phrases Rep. Connolly is complaining have been rejected (like “to eliminate Medicare as we know it”) have political overtones. (Even if, as in this case, it is truthful).

    Perhaps the answer is to get rid of the franking privilege.  There is no doubt that every piece of mail sent this way – by every Representative and Senator – is drafted in such a way as to confer electoral advantage to the sender.  Why should the public being paying for campaign literature?  Moreover, it just opens the door to the kind of shenanigans described above.  Republicans have done it first, but I’d be willing to bet that the Democrats will now do the same thing when they get a chance (and of course they will).

    Why not get rid of whole process and eliminate the problem?

  • kindler

    …for standing up and raising hell where hell needs to be raised.

    It’s not too surprising that a party that attacks scientists for pursuing homest research, and promotes wacko conspiracy theories instead, would take an Orwellian approach to Congressional mailings too. But we need people with the cojones to stand up and say so, loudly — and kudos to Gerry for doing so.  

  • Teddy Goodson

    and no amount of posturing over “both sides do it” or “will do it,” or “most mailings are political” and so we should end franking, cuts it.  All that posturing is the usual muddying of waters that accompanies each new depredation by the authoritarian Republican party. Republicans are so used to having their own way, and, through corporate ownership of the mass media, hearing their own talking points regurgitated endlessly as if they were “fact,” that they simply cannot tolerate letting their opponents have any way to get their own message out.

    You can be sure that Democratic message would never show up in the echo chamber of corporate mass media, and so the newsletters of Democratic congressmen are almost the only avenue left in which that party can get its message out (in this case, not just the message, the— gasp!— facts).

    It reminds me of how the oppressed Russians under Stalin circulated hand-written or hand-printed news, novels, and reports of purges, called zamizdat, since all other outlets for the truth were denied. More and more, the Republicans resemble the very thing they pretend to abhor, the Communist-socialist Soviet Union

  • is the Republicans’ tool of choice to get unpopular legislation passed.  They’ve been doing it for ages.  Remember the “Clean Skies Initiative” that allowed more polluting, and the “Healthy Forests Initiative” that opened up national parks for logging?  What about “personal accounts” for privatization of Social Security?  Then, once the secret wiretapping program was revealed they quickly named it the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” or TSP.  Not to mention the USA PATRIOT Act (where, for the first time, USA stood for something else) – the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act?

    This language found its way into the media and into the common discourse.  It is fraudulent, and it needs to be exposed and stopped.  Now that they are imposing it on the minority, this is a perfect opportunity to bring their tactics to light.