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CyberAlert -- 08/17/2001 -- Tax Cut Blamed for Shortfall

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Tax Cut Blamed for Shortfall; CNN: Bill "Elvis" Clinton "The First Rock Star President"; "Conservatives Use Floggings..."

1) The Bush White House re-allocating money from Social Security to general revenue? ABC anchor Charles Gibson immediately blamed the tax cut: "They need it...because they're strapped because of the tax cut." CBS's John Roberts referred to how Democrats will blame the "huge tax cut" for "jeopardizing the surplus."

2) The "mid-August convergence" of Bill Clinton's birthday and the anniversary of when Elvis died prompted CNN's Bill Schneider to gush: "Elvis, the first rock star. Clinton, the first rock star President. It's no secret that Bill Clinton drew on Elvis for inspiration. You might say Elvis won the 1992 election for Clinton." And it grew more fawning.

3) Monday's New York Times also conveyed the same analogy: "Mr. Clinton's Southern_style charisma evokes comparisons with Elvis." The same story also praised Clinton's life story: "From humble origins in an Arkansas town called Hope to his hairsbreadth escapes from a long series of scandals culminating in impeachment, Mr. Clinton is an outsized protagonist with commensurate flaws. His story has the makings of a classic..."

4) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift held up a liberal Congressman with a solid pro-abortion voting record as "an unlikely champion for expanded stem-cell research." Clift marveled at how in California "only Gary Condit has a more conservative voting record," but her hero earned a mere 16 percent rating from the ACU.

5) The New York Times blamed "a Republican-backed law" for making it too easy for the INS to deport illegal immigrants, even those in fear for their life back home. But the law in question passed with overwhelming bi-partisan majorities in the House and Senate and was signed by President Clinton.

6) Headline in Thursday's Washington Post: "Conservatives Use Floggings as Way to Beat Back Reforms."


Corrections: The August 15 CyberAlert quoted Smith County, Texas District Attorney Jack Skeen, in recounting the crime committed by death row inmate Napoleon Beazley, as saying on CBS's The Early Show that he "then came back around and shot Mr. Luttig at point black range." Black should have read blank.
The same item on several occasions misstated Skeen's last name. It is Skeen, not Skane.

>>> Tax cut favoring and pro-life comments from an actress repeated. On Thursday night CBS re-ran the July 16 edition of the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn on which Patricia Heaton, co-star of CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond sit-com, admitted that she voted for Bush, boasts to her friends about the then-coming tax rebate and is "pro-life." To read what she said or to watch a RealPlayer clip of her political comments during her appearance, refer back to the July 18 CyberAlert:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010718.asp#10 <<<

1

The White House announcement that it planned to re-configure revenue allocations from previous years, in order to shift $4.3 billion into general revenues so as to ensure that surplus Social Security tax revenue will not be spent, prompted ABC anchor Charles Gibson to immediately blame the tax cut for the reduced general revenue: "They need it...because they're strapped because of the tax cut."

On Thursday night CBS also jumped on fears about dipping into the imaginary Social Security "trust fund," but it's hard to fault the networks for making such a big deal about the sacrosanct "trust fund" when both parties play the game of pretending it exists and promising to protect it. Gibson, however, went a bit far in describing the administration's discovery of a relatively piddling $4.3 billion as "a budget bombshell."

CBS's John Roberts recalled Bush's promise to not spend Social Security money, then let Ari Fleischer defend the new allocation before he referred to the "huge tax cut" as he passed along the Democratic spin: "But Democrats, who had hammered the President for jeopardizing the surplus with his huge tax cut, today denounced the change as an unprecedented accounting gimmick meant to rescue Mr. Bush from a political embarrassment."

In relaying the liberal spin blaming the tax cut, neither ABC or CBS, nor CNN's Major Garrett on Inside Politics, pointed out, as did FNC's Jim Angle, that the majority of the income tax revenue reduction this year was caused by the rebate checks -- an idea championed by Democrats such as Tom Daschle. And neither ABC or CBS raised the point that the tax cut is helping the economy rebound so there will be increased revenue next year.

The NBC Nightly News and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams didn't touch the subject on Thursday night.

More about the August 16 stories on the ABC and CBS evening shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Charles Gibson announced: "In Washington today there was something of a budget bombshell and it's of interest to everyone in the country who pays taxes. The Bush administration says it has found $4.3 billion of your money in the federal budget that wasn't there before. The administration says it comes from using a different accounting system. ABC's John Cochran is with the President in Crawford, Texas and John the Democrats are screaming that it's not new accounting, that the Republicans have dipped into the Social Security money."

Cochran provided the Bush team's retort: "Well Charlie, the counter-argument from the Bush White House is that past Presidents, including Republican Presidents, have used the wrong accounting system, that under their system the money would have been credited erroneously to the Social Security trust fund. Instead the money can now be used for tax cuts and spending and Charlie, it's money the Bush administration really needs."
Gibson asserted as fact: "Well, they need it, John, because they're strapped because of the tax cut."
Cochran offered a more complete explanation: "Not just tax cuts but tax revenue, which is down because the economy is down. And next week the White House will predict that economic growth will rise to 3.2 percent from the present 1.7 percent. If the White House is right tax revenue will go up. If the White House is wrong, big trouble, Charlie."

-- CBS Evening News. Anchor Bob Schieffer set up the story by emphasizing the impact of the economic slowdown:
"The slow economy has reduced dramatically the size of the federal budget surplus, but today the White House said that, in a change in accounting procedures, they have been able to turn up some new money that turned up on the Social Security side of the federal ledger, and Democrats are crying foul already. John Roberts is with the President in Crawford, Texas."

Roberts explained, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Not six months ago, Congress was rolling in record revenues wondering what to do with all that money. The question now: Where did it all go? In January, the surplus, excluding extra monies from Social Security, was pegged at $125 billion. Since then, $74 billion went to the tax cut, the economic slowdown took out $40 billion more. What's left is precious little to meet spending priorities without busting the budget and plunging into the Social Security surplus for the first time in three years."
George W. Bush: "I want the members of Congress to hear that once we set a budget, we're gonna stick by it. And if not, I'm gonna use the veto pen of the President of the United States to keep fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C."
Roberts reminded viewers: "President Bush has pledged to leave the Social Security surplus untouched for the next decade and is scrambling for every budgetary dollar he can find. The White House today announced that by simply changing an accounting procedure, it had found an unexpected $4.3 billion that otherwise would have been off limits in Social Security. Officials denied the move was to give the President a fiscal and political cushion."
Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary, back on the job in Crawford: "This is a more accurate way of accounting. This is the way it should be done if you want accuracy to be your guide, and this is what any good business would do."
Roberts countered: "But Democrats, who had hammered the President for jeopardizing the surplus with his huge tax cut, today denounced the change as an unprecedented accounting gimmick meant to rescue Mr. Bush from a political embarrassment."
Gene Sperling, former Clinton Economic Advisor: "They're changing a rule that everyone has lived by for 65 years at the last moment solely to cover up a very serious political problem."
Roberts concluded: "Now, the White House today shot back that there would be a small budget surplus this year despite the Democrats' best efforts to spend it all. None of this will have any effect on the monthly Social Security check that seniors receive, but it does make great political capital and ammunition for next year's elections."

Ammunition the networks will be pleased to fire if the Democratic spin blames the tax cut.

2

If new CNN CEO Walter Isaacson is still wondering why conservatives think CNN is biased to the left, he should cue up a tape of Thursday's Inside Politics in which Bill Schneider fawned over Bill "Elvis" Clinton. With the anniversary of the death of Elvis and Bill Clinton's birthday just three days apart, CNN's John King offered a bit of a stretch as the network celebrated the "mid-August convergence" of the two dates.

"Elvis, the first rock star. Clinton, the first rock star President," Bill Schneider gushed as he began his piece. Schneider soon outlined other parallels: "Clinton had a talent for convincing anyone listening to him that he was speaking only to them, just as Elvis convinced someone in the 100th row that he was singing only to them. Presley drew on black culture for inspiration. Clinton draws on black culture for solace."

Schneider fondly recalled how in 1992 Clinton "used Elvis to demonstrate that he had the common touch, and Bush didn't." He concluded that like Elvis, Clinton "has found life after political death" as he's "trying to do good: Fight AIDS and racism. Clinton is now a free man, a pure celebrity, being paid record amounts of money to tell his story. At long last, Clinton can be Elvis."

Fill-in Inside Politics anchor John King set up the slow news day report with a reach for a connection between two anniversaries: "Now, the story you've all been waiting for, the Elvis Presley-Bill Clinton connection. Today is the 24th anniversary of the death of the King of Rock and Roll. And three days from now, the former President of the United States celebrates his 55th birthday. That mid-August convergence was enough to get our Bill Schneider all shook up."

Schneider began: "John, Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley: brothers under the skin. Elvis, the first rock star. Clinton, the first rock star President. It's no secret that Bill Clinton drew on Elvis for inspiration. You might say Elvis won the 1992 election for Clinton."
Al Gore at the 1992 Democratic convention: "I have to tell you, I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid growing up in Tennessee; that one day, I'd have the chance to come here to Madison Square Garden and be the warm-up act for Elvis."
Schneider, as the taped portion of his story kicked in: "Elvis was everywhere in the '92 campaign."
Bill Clinton, singing as Elvis: "You know I can be found."
Clinton in normal voice in same interview: "That's all that I can do."
Clinton singing some more: "Sit home all alone."
Schneider: "President George Bush made fun of Clinton's Elvis fixation."
President George H.W. Bush at the 1992 Republican convention: "I guess you'd say his plan really is Elvis economics. America will be checking in to the 'Heartbreak Hotel.'"
Schneider: "But Clinton knew what to do with that. He used Elvis to demonstrate that he had the common touch, and Bush didn't."
Clinton in 1992: "You know, Bush is always comparing me to Elvis in sort of unflattering ways. I don't think Bush would have liked Elvis very much."
Schneider: "How much did Clinton and Elvis have in common? Rock critic Greil Marcus wrote, quote: 'As white male Southerners without family money, hillbillies, no-counts, white trash -- Presley and Clinton always had to prove themselves.' And they did, by connecting with people. As Marcus says: Clinton had a talent for convincing anyone listening to him that he was speaking only to them, just as Elvis convinced someone in the 100th row that he was singing only to them. Presley drew on black culture for inspiration. Clinton draws on black culture for solace. They were both culturally polarizing figures. Censors tried to shield Elvis' gyrating hips from public view to protect the country's morals. Elvis brought in the culture of the '60s. Clinton came out of it. Conservatives believe the '60s corrupted American culture with an ethic of self-indulgence. Well, these are two self-indulgent men, both famous for their appetites."
Clinton on Elvis: "In his later years, he did a lot of good work, but his life was a lot sadder and it is not the memory I think he would want us to have."
Schneider: "When told of Elvis' death in 1977, a Hollywood cynic remarked, 'good career move.' And it was. In death, Elvis became bigger than life, a cultural martyr. Graceland is his shrine. His memorabilia are cherished. He is imitated. He is loved. America loves bad boys who try to do good. Elvis once asked President Nixon to make him a narcotics agent."

Schneider, back on live with King on the DC roof from which Inside Politics broadcast: "Clinton, too, has found life after political death. And he's trying to do good: Fight AIDS and racism. Clinton is now a free man, a pure celebrity, being paid record amounts of money to tell his story. At long last, Clinton can be Elvis. [imitating Elvis] Thank you, thank you very much.
"And you know, John, just like Elvis, you are the King."

King: "Not quite."

And no one else could quite be inspired like CNN's Schneider to pay such tribute to Bill Clinton based upon such a flimsy link to Elvis.

3

Okay, not no one else but Schneider. How about no one else but the liberal media in general as Schneider may have been inspired by a Monday New York Times story which proclaimed: "Mr. Clinton's Southern-style charisma evokes comparisons with Elvis."

That line appeared in an August 13 Times profile of Robert Gottlieb, the editor who will handle Bill Clinton's book. Reporter David D. Kirkpatrick admired Clinton's life story, insisting:
"Presidential memoirs are typically self-serving attempts to recast history, settle scores and pose for posterity. But Mr. Clinton's life has unusual potential. From humble origins in an Arkansas town called Hope to his hairsbreadth escapes from a long series of scandals culminating in impeachment, Mr. Clinton is an outsized protagonist with commensurate flaws. His story has the makings of a classic, if Mr. Gottlieb can extract it."

Kirkpatrick used the Elvis analogy in contrasting Gottlieb with Clinton:
"Mr. Gottlieb himself is a character of a very different sort, and the prospect of their collaboration was an amusing picture to some of his friends. Mr. Gottlieb has long cultivated a reputation for a highly-refined and eccentric Bohemianism. He is known for his dual passions for classical ballet on the one hand and collecting kitsch like plastic women's handbags on the other. It is an image very different from the former president's. Mr. Clinton's Southern-style charisma evokes comparisons with Elvis. Mr. Gottlieb keeps an Elvis lamp among his collection and listens to Beethoven at home."

If you are registered with the online version of the New York Times, you can read the entire story by going to:
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/13/business/media/13GOTT.html?pagewanted=1

4

Eleanor Clift held up a California Democratic Congressman with a solid pro-abortion voting record as "an unlikely champion for expanded stem-cell research."

MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed that in her latest "Capitol Letter" column for Newsweek's Web site, Clift baldly asserted that the liberal is an "unlikely champion" of full federal funding for stem cell research that would destroy human embryos. But, as the MRC's Rich Noyes discovered, the California Congressman's voting record shows his support for taxpayer-funded abortions and even late-term abortions.

Here's how Clift started her column posted this week: "Cal Dooley is an unlikely champion for expanded stem-cell research. But Representative Dooley is a Democrat who represents a heavily Hispanic and Catholic district in California's Central Valley. Among California Democrats, only Gary Condit has a more conservative voting record. Yet Dooley was one of the first members of Congress to react strongly against President Bush's decision on limited federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Dooley pointed out the missing link in Bush's decision, and that is the fate of the estimated 150,000 embryos currently languishing in fertility-clinic storage tanks around the country."

Nearly as conservative as Condit? According the American Conservative Union, Condit is indeed the least liberal Democrat in California's delegation, with a 48 percent lifetime rating. But runner-up Dooley only scored a 16 percent positive rating from the ACU, making him a pretty orthodox Democrat. And on the two votes that mattered to pro-lifers in the last Congress -- on partial birth abortion and taxpayer funded abortions, Dooley voted a straight-NARAL ticket.

Indeed, in 2000 Dooley earned a perfect 100 percent score from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) and a zero from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

So much for Clift's pretense that he's "an unlikely champion for expanded stem-cell research."

To read the remainder of what Clift had to say, go to: http://www.msnbc.com/news/614997.asp

To check Dooley's vote ratings:

For the ACU:
http://www.conservative.org/rating2000/ca.htm

For the NRLC, which only offers them in a PDF document:
http://www.nrlc.org/Federal/Scorecard/pagescore/CA.PDF

For NARAL:
http://www.naral.org/mediaresources/publications/choice/california.html

Each has a link to a page describing the specific votes the group evaluated.

5

The New York Times on Wednesday blamed "a Republican-backed law" for making it too easy for the INS to deport illegal immigrants, even those in fear for their life back home. But as Andrew Sullivan pointed out on his Web site, the law in question passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate and was signed by President Clinton.

On Special Report with Brit Hume on Thursday night FNC's Hume picked up on Sullivan's item. Sullivan, the former Editor of the New Republic, recounted in an August 15 posting:
"UNCONSCIOUS MEDIA BIAS: Nice sentence in the New York Times today about the 1996 Immigration Act, one of the most disgraceful pieces of legislation in recent years: 'Before passage of a Republican-backed law five years ago, only an immigration judge could order the deportation of someone who arrived without valid travel documents. Now an immigration officer can exercise that power, called expedited removal, on the spot, a move intended to cut down on fraud.' Of course, this is accurate. But it is also accurate to point out that president Clinton signed the law and that it passed the Senate 97-3 and the House by 333 votes to 87. That looks pretty bipartisan to me. So why the completely arbitrary nailing of Republicans?"

Good question.

The Times story by Eric Schmitt, headlined, "When Asylum Requests Are Overlooked," began from Texas:
"When Libardo Yepes, a soft-spoken Colombian cattle farmer, arrived at Miami International Airport last November with an invalid visa, seeking asylum, he told immigration officials that he feared for his life if he was returned to a country where rival factions had killed or kidnapped at least six of his relatives. But immigration officers deported him in less than 24 hours.
Mr. Yepes fled Colombia again and, after a three-month journey by land and sea, he was seized by Border Patrol agents in Texas after he crossed the Rio Grande in an inner tube in May. For more than two months, Mr. Yepes was held at a federal detention center here as immigration officials sought to eject him for good.
"Immigrant advocacy groups say that Mr. Yepes's story offers a troubling glimpse into how low-level immigration enforcement officers summarily deport tens of thousands of immigrants without proper papers every year. Among them, the advocates say, are many asylum seekers who are returned to dangerous situations without the hearings to which they are legally entitled for review of their claims of persecution.
"'I asked for protection because I was very afraid of going back to my country,' Mr. Yepes said in an interview here in Spanish, translated by his lawyer, Ilyce Shugall, of the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project.
"Immigration officials in Miami dispute that assertion and say Mr. Yepes (pronounced yeh-pess) came to this country to find work. But in early August, Mr. Yepes was finally allowed to tell his story to a specially trained asylum officer here, who found his account credible, and his case has been referred to an immigration judge who will decide his fate in the next few weeks. On Aug. 13, he was released pending that hearing from the bleak high-security compound here that houses more than 600 detainees, many of them criminals, to a refugee shelter nearby.
"Before passage of a Republican-backed law five years ago, only an immigration judge could order the deportation of someone who arrived without valid travel documents. Now, an immigration officer can exercise that power, called expedited removal, on the spot, a move intended to cut down on fraud...."

To read the rest of the New York Times story, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/15/national/15IMMI.html

For Sullivan's Web page: http://www.andrewsullivan.com/

6

"Conservatives Use Floggings As Way to Beat Back Reforms" declared a Thursday Washington Post headline. FNC's Brit Hume concluded his August 16 program by showing a shot of the headline, which he introduced by noting: "You've no doubt heard the accusations that big eastern newspapers, such as the Washington Post, have a liberal bias. And what better example than this headline in Thursday's editions of the Washington Post."

Alas, as Hume added, that was the jump page headline. The story wasn't about Tom DeLay. The Post's front page headline announced: "Iran's Cultural Backlash." The subhead: "Public Floggings Used as Tool Against Reform."

Interesting how no matter what the particular situation or nation, to the U.S. news media the bad guys are always labeled "conservative."-- Brent Baker


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