Monday, October 04, 2021


Today I got into some arguments on Twitter about the utility of chasing Senator Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom. As a proudly contrarian public figure, Sinema has this coming; it's not assault, and we do pay her salary, so she should listen to protesters. On the other hand, tactics that ordinary people find rude regularly backfire on progressives. Did the restaurant confrontations of the Trump era ever reverse a single policy? What they do is engender sympathy for people who don't deserve it -- we get days of cynical, harrumphy "So much for the tolerant left!" coverage in the right-wing media (which is, in effect, the mainstream media in much of the country, even for swing voters), while mainstream media pundits stagger to the fainting couches:

It doesn't work for our side because there's a double standard. When anti-public-health rageaholics rip the masks off teachers' faces at school board meetings, the media -- right and center -- tells us it's the genuine voice of aggrieved Real Americans. When the anger is on the left, the right and center media also agree -- it's liberal fascism.

So what's the alternative? At one point today I posted this:

Or maybe "harass" isn't the right word -- but how about simply drawing attention to them?
Ordinary citizens rarely make life difficult for these people because the public barely knows who they are. Even advocacy journalists don't do much to change that. Here's a story from The American Prospect about a PAC linked to the pharmaceutical industry that has donated a lot of money to members of Congress who are now blocking the Biden agenda.
If there’s one nonprofit that can claim responsibility for the combination of deadlock and intransigence amidst a handful of corporate Democrats’ willingness to impugn the party’s own signature legislation, it’s the dark-money outfit Center Forward, which has played an essential role in channeling money to the party’s most maddening holdouts....

As Andrew Perez reported at the Daily Poster, Center Forward is heavily funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the best-known lobby shop in Washington, pledged $4.5 million to Center Forward between 2016 and 2019. In the 2018 midterm cycle, PhRMA gave Center Forward $1.2 million, and the group disbursed $1.3 million to Democrats....

Not long ago, Center Forward kicked off an ad blitz championing six Democratic House members, nearly all of whom went on to lead the charge to undermine Democrats’ flagship drug pricing reform bill, a multi-cycle priority of the Democratic caucus and of outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while also jeopardizing the Biden agenda bill being considered under budget reconciliation. Those reps, now infamous, should sound familiar: Scott Peters (D-CA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Lou Correa (D-CA), and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).
This is a good story -- and yet it never mentions the leaders of Center Forward or PhRMA by name. PhRMA's board chair is David Ricks, the CEO of Eli Lilly; its president and CEO is Stephen J. Ubl. The chairman of Center Forward is Bud Cramer, a former congressman. I bet you've never heard any of these names before. I hadn't until today.

It was good when Jane Mayer began writing about the Koch brothers. They'd shunned the spotlight, but they became widely known. That needs to happen to more of the people who really run this country. It may not be a good idea to chase them into bathrooms, but name them, and expose them for what they are. This won't change everything overnight, but it could be a start.

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