Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Who gets paid off

Andrew Perez and Julia Rock (Jacobin) report:

Big Pharma’s massive lobbying campaign and advertising offensive against Democrats’ drug pricing plan saved the industry nearly half a trillion dollars. That represents a return of more than 1,700 times the investment the drug industry has made on lobbying Congress this year.

This outcome illustrates why industry groups are willing to throw ungodly sums of money at influencing Washington lawmakers. While spending hundreds of millions on lobbying and advocacy efforts might seem exorbitant, it’s nothing compared to the hundreds of billions these business interests stand to lose if legislative decisions don’t go their way.

In September, House Democrats estimated that the drug pricing provisions in their Build Back Better agenda reconciliation bill would save $700 billion over a decade. Democrats’ compromise drug plan — negotiated by pharmaceutical industry favorites Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Representative Scott Peters of California, and Representative Kurt Schrader of Oregon — would only save $250 billion during that same time, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a pro-austerity think tank. The difference equals $450 billion in savings.

According to data from OpenSecrets, the pharmaceutical and health products industries have spent $263 million on lobbying in Washington so far this year. Dark money groups with ties to Big Pharma have run misleading ad campaigns promoting the Democrats who worked to gut the party’s drug pricing measure, and they have also spent millions on ads attacking the entire concept of allowing the government to negotiate drug prices — an idea that is broadly popular and one that many other countries have implemented

In a new tax return we obtained, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) disclosed donating another $2.7 million in 2020 to Center Forward, a dark money group that’s spent at least $1.2 million touting Sinema in Arizona in recent months. PhRMA, a powerful drug lobbying group, contributed $7.2 million to Center Forward from 2016 to 2020, accounting for more than a quarter of its revenue.

That's it for me tonight.  I had to work over and my feet are killing me.  Even the toenails hurt.  I need the weekend and I need it really soon.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:

 Wednesday, November 17, 2021.  Seems like we cover a bit of everything today.

Starting with a video.

Complaints came in to both the public e-mail account and the two private ones (the private ones are for community members, the public one is  Community members at least knew I probably hadn't watched the video.  I didn't.  As I've noted in community news letters and here at this site, I go through what is sent into the public e-mails (or something that I get a phone call to note) and that goes up as is possible.  Most of it I never look at.  David Swanson goes up without reading because I know he's not going to drop the f-word unless he censors it like "f**k" -- we have to be work safe.  So if I am putting stuff up and see David, he goes up if I've got space that day.  I do stream Richard Medhurst and CONVO COUCH -- but sometimes it's after they're posted here.  The bulk, I don't.

This was Aaron Mate and I didn't look at it, I just posted it.  Then the avalanche of e-mails came in.  

Elaine and I looked at a few as we were stretching and warming up before getting on the treadmills and Shirley was actually already up and called to ask if I'd looked at the e-mails in the public account?  (No, I was only looking at the community members e-mails at that point.) 

In "Media: Save us from the know-it-alls," Ava and I noted that Aaron had an article on how the media amplified Russia-gate and that we read it with the intent to praise him.  But we read it.  It wasn't worthy of praise.  It was promoted as a rebuke to Rachel Maddow and the piece had a photo of Rachel at the top.  As we noted:

"Russia-gate has no rock bottom" is the title and right below the title there's a photo of Rachel Maddow.

Good, he's going to get to the point and document and explain her various deceptions, right?

Wrong. Not counting pull quotes (even his own from previous articles) or Tweets, just the new words he typed for this article, he's at 1387 words before he gets to a sentence with Rachel Maddow's name in it.


By way of comparison, we're not even at 1000 words yet and we've already established Rachel's shady character -- something we've been doing for years

1387. Does Aaron have a point to make about Rachel because we really don't have that kind of time. More to the point, we don't need to make that kind of time.

The video is Aaron on the topic of Russia-gate and it's another epic fail on his part.  I don't get that, by the way.

I think Amy Goodman is a sell out and much worse.  She's truly a gate keeper.  She rose to national attention posing as anti-war but as we all saw repeatedly once Barack Obama was president, she promoted pro-war lies and for the war on Libya alone, she should have been rebuked.  She's also, I firmly believe, the biggest reason PACIFICA RADIO has the financial problems that it has.  

No one at PACIFICA should be making a million or more dollars a year.  The fact that she and cronies used lies and blackmail -- I'm referring to the chin whisker queen Leslie Cagen among others -- to steal ownership of DEMOCRACY NOW from PACIFICA is bad enough.  That they then rammed through a contract that provides Amy with millions and also the ownership of every episode of DEMOCRACY NOW is appalling.  That type of money should never have been given to a public affairs program.  Never.  Having done so, however, the least PACIFICA should have gotten from it is ownership of the episodes.  She and her crew of liars used real problems and created new ones as they conspired to steal the program from PACIFICA -- Amy didn't even create the program and it's funny how in her telling of the show, over and over, she leaves out people like Salim Muwakkil who were there at the beginning and created the show but are not profit participants in any of the riches the shows managed to scarf up.

Then there's her insistence that all PACIFICA stations -- actual ones and satellites -- carry her program which morphed into them airing it twice a day, which then morphed into the program being given the best slots on the schedule, etc, etc.

As an activist and as a 'journalist,' I can't stand her.  What's gone on with Rittenhouse -- the media pimping lies -- is something I've seen Amy do repeatedly and life is too short to continue with that nonsense so I don't watch the show anymore or listen to it.  BIG NOISE or some group like that?  We walked away from those 'documentary' film makers as well because they lied to.  I'm referring to how an African-American woman, a mother of a child involved in the story both Amy and that awful documentary outlet were covering, they interviewed her, shared her comments briefly and then dropped her and her eye witness statements because they didn't fit into the White Faux Left narrative that they were trying to promote.  The mother felt abandoned and betrayed.  I know because I've spoken to her.  It was huge, how they removed her eye witness statements and changed the story into something else completely.  I hit on it here repeatedly in real time because I knew the woman was very upset about it.  And she had every right to be.  Three White people distorting what was going on in her community and disappearing what she had offered because it didn't fit the changing narrative that was so important to Amy and boyz.

After that?  It was probably full on war.  On my part, I know it was.  And I ensured that those clip jobs passed off as books wouldn't have the publishers' interest anymore.  When you do something like that to a person, what she did to that African-American mother, you prove how hideous the press is.  And that woman was really destroyed by that.  She was fighting for her son's life and the way she was betrayed was disgusting.

So, no fan of Amy Goodman here.  

But Aaron worked at DEMOCRACY NOW! for years and I marvel over that in his writing and in videos like the one above.  Not a fan of Amy's, but she does know how to communicate.  She will tell a guest during a break -- and has -- that they're going into the weeds and losing the audience.  She will also re-direct them in the middle of an interview.

Aaron loses everyone in that video above beyond his own small core of devotees.  

And they could be a large group of devotees if only he'd learn to communicate.

As Brandon e-mailed, "I can't keep my head up while streaming this.  I'll be yawning, I'll almost fall asleep, then I'll hear 'piss tape' and think they're actually going to talk about something but they're back to boring in ten seconds."  

Agreed.  Whether foreign or not, the names of the players they invoke are foreign.  The bulk of America doesn't know the people being spoken of.  The 'resistance' does.  They were obsessed with glorifying these liars.  

Aaron's 'expert' guest at one point talks about Aaron's ''listeners."  He's an idiot who doesn't grasp that this is on video.  What's Aaron's excuse.  

Bobble Head TV?

Is that what we have?  I did a comic in high school and people rightly noted that I really just drew heads in panels and had them talking.  I didn't do bodies, I was trying to tell a point with words.  It was wrong and I laugh about my stupidity even now.  But what's Aaron's excuse?  He's not a kid in school.

He's got a video program and he could be emphasizing these unknown people by playing clips and showing who they are and doing any number of things.  Now maybe he suffers from Streisand Syndrome and can't give up his many close ups?

I have no idea.

But this is a complex story -- Russia-gate.  Making it more complex and more difficult to follow is not going to inform or educate.  The people e-mailing me are not e-mailing because they hate Aaron Mate.  They took the time to try to get through that video.

Aaron worked with Amy Goodman all those years and he never learned how to communicate?  How to simplify complex events?  

Some people are e-mailing asking if Aaron is trying to bury the exposures about Russia-gate?  They're asking that because they can't believe anyone would take this issue and make it so damn boring and hard to follow.

He needs to simplify.  He also needs to choose guests better.  The subject needed an expert.  Hint to Aaron, THE NEW YORK TIMES rarely employees experts.  Bringing on a former writer for that paper was always going to be a mistake.  Bringing on one who published a book on Russia-gate months before the recent revelations was also going to be a mistake. 

That 'expert' did the typical TIMES move -- argue brief points in the book while accepting the overall lie.  That's why some of you were shocked by the efforts the man made to blame Russia over and over in Aaron's interview and your disbelief that Aaron didn't correct the guest.

It was a mind numbing segment.  

Presumably, Aaron cares about the topic and about setting the record straight.  If that is indeed the case, he needs to do a better job.

And for any of his devotees who want to e-mail, it's not my job to do his job for him.  I've offered a media critique above.  We do that here and Ava and I do it at THIRD.  We also cover Iraq and veterans issues and music.  And things that come up in the e-mails.

I don't have to disprove Russia-gate.

First, it's not my scope.  Second, I have nothing to make amends for.  Even before I knew how to properly pronounce Aaron's last name (muh-tay was how it was pronounced on every episode of DEMOCRACY NOW when he was with that show -- Amy does the credits at the end of the show) somewhere in 2018, we already called out Russia-gate.

Aaron thinks he's the last word on that topic (and corporate journalists are noting to me the smirk he's developed when he's a guest on programs, FYI).  He's not that important.  The work I've seen him do is so unimpressive.  Apparently, he did good work at one point and maybe will again.

But he was not a leading voice on Russia-gate and he was not a needed voice.  We never needed him.

We only needed common sense.  We never pimped the lies of Russia-gate and that was even before I'd spoken to Stephen F. Cohen about it the first time.  I knew Stephen.  As did Elaine.  Elaine called out Katrina for not standing up firmly for her husband -- on a DEMCORACY NOW appearance, among other things.  (Elaine says to add that she has a scar on her shin from when Katrina, as a young girl, kicked her.  I was there, I love that story.  We were fundraising for a cause and meeting with her father and Katrina reeked of urine so Elaine asked her if she'd had an accident and needed to change and she hauled off and kicked Elaine in the shin.)  Stephen was a hero on refuting Russia-gate and he did so in a way that people could follow.

But even before we'd talked to Stephen the first of many times about Russia-gate, I was refuting it and calling it out.  We were on campuses Monday through Friday every week and people were raising this.  All it required was common sense.  

All this time later if Aaron wants to hold people accountable, he needs to do so in a way that people can follow.  His coverage is in the weeds and it's all too foreign.  He needs to focus on key actors and connect them (he does briefly in the video above try to note a Clinton chain of connection but he blows even that).

He's failing.  If that's the best he can do, then I am appalled by him.  I hope it's not.  I hope I'll still e able to praise him before this site goes dark.  (And I wish that could happen tomorrow -- the praise and this site going dark.)

Before we move away from this topic, let's note two Tweets by a real expert -- and excellent communicator -- Jonathan Turley:

While even the Washington Post admitted that it got the Russian collusion story wrong, Schiff insists that he was absolutely right to promote the debunked Steele dossier. Schiff’s interview may be the final proof of the death of shame in American politics.

...We now live in a post-shame era where the only shame is yielding to the impulses of decency or decorum. The Russian collusion scandal served its purpose and Adam Schiff would be the first say that there is no shame in that.

(Disclosure, I've known Jonathan for many, many years.)

Common sense can do so much for you.  It can let you grasp early on that a story is just too good to be true.  It allows me to ignore a whore in Arabic media who is praising Mustafa al-Kahdimi and failing to note his long friendship with Mustafa.  Without hsi friends in the press, Mustafa's real image would be known.  Mustafa worked as a journalist and is able to round up his usual press posse to cover for him whenever he's in trouble.  There are apparetnly no standards or ethics at many Arabic outlets which refuse to disclose in their flattering coverage of the inept Mustafa that Mustafa used to write for their rags and that he is friends with the 'reporter' offering 'objective' praise of Mustafa.

Common sense will carry you far.  It seems, for example, that the fact checker at THE WASHINGTON POST is now being seen as a whore.  Glenn Kessler is one, yes.  And that's been obvious for years and he was infamous in 2019 and 2020 for going after any serious rival to Joe Biden for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  He twisted their words, he cut off the sentences he was 'fact checking' and much worse -- he flat out lied to go after Beto.  But with Joe Biden?  Where were you, Aaron Mate?  With Joe it wasn't fact check his statement.  It was fact check his intent which Glenn magically knew.  So Joe made very few mistakes according to Glenn.  

Glenns aren't uncommon.  But who knew Arabic media was filled with them?

Mustafa remains determined to be prime minister for a second term.  None of those attempting to build coalitions presently share that desire and the Iraqi people are fed up with him.

If he was almost assassinated -- if he was -- it really hasn't registered as a major issue to the Iraqi people.  They sort of shrugged and went on with their lives. The other reaction was that it was all a p.r. move by the US government to try to sway sympathy to Mustafa.  That group is growing.  And this week's move on Arabic social media regarding this is to argue that when the story was first being told, to make it seem real, the public was told that certain bodyguards were injured in the 'attack.'  And then thse bodyguards were disappeared and never heard from again in order to sell 'brave' Mustafa.

The whole story has appeared managed (because it was) and that's only increased the belief of some that it was not a real attack.

If indeed it was a US move, it was a dumb one.  

Husam Gazalee Tweets:

I'm afraid the chief owes the Iraqi people an explanation. Instead of the losers in the elections asking to meet her to explain their “worries”, she meets them in their places. There must be something missing here? #Iraq #MustafaAlKadhimi

For those who don't recognize him, that's Iraq's disgraced former prime minister.  He's the one who helped make some Iraqis fond of thug Nouri al-Maliki.  We documented that here and we were apparently the only ones to register Nouri's rise -- which is reflected in the initial ballot count.  One 'expert' felt the need to e-mail the public account his 'observations' which were that Nouri was old and forgotten.  Hmm.  Ballot count didn't bear that out and maybe if you actually paid attention you would have seen Nouri's popularity grow as Adel Abdul Mahdi (the man in the photo above) stumbled, fumbled and failed repeatedly up until he was forced to resign.  In fact, he even failed at his resignation.  He announced he was resigning, after all, and then took forever to actually leave office. 

Forced out of office for rank incompetence and, yes, that did make people fond of thug Nouri.  Not all people.  But enough to allow him and his State of Law to do very well in the October 10th election.

I'm about to be nice -- or what passes for nice from me -- and not name someone.  But I will note that they are on Iraq's electoral commission -- I verified that with a friend at CNN who I forwarded the e-mail to.  He insists that I'm wrong about the vote counting continuing and maintains it was finished around November 9th.

My response?  Fine.  If I was wrong, I was wrong.  I'm wrong all the time.  But, help me out ___, if the count has been completed for over a week now, why hasn't it been released?

And to me, the fact that it hasn't been released is far more appalling than if the count were still ongoing.


The following sites updated: