Monday, October 23, 2006
In Today's Dispatch:
An Eye on the Right
The American rightwing is a fascinating mixture of bottom-line driven corporations and fierce ideologues interested in advancing their single issues. We single out the pharmaceutical and oil and gas industries, as well as the anti-immigration movement, for this Dispatch, but we could have just as easily highlighted the libertarian gang wreaking  havoc  with ballot initiatives this year, the corporate-backed front groups assailing hard-working Americans , the contractors seeking to profit from privatization , or any of a host of other groups engaged in the public debate out of a weird mix of rightwing principles and deeply vested personal interests.
The snapshot below provides a clear indicator of how many of these organizations work, though. Honest, offensive statements followed by half-hearted and often bizarre apologies. Astroturf front groups whose names indicate broad membership, but whose membership lists are often limited to a handful of powerful companies. Scare tactics to convince consumers that what's best for the company's bottom line is inevitably best for the consumers. And efforts to scare and intimidate Americans away from voting.
Typically, the Eye on the Right is just an on-going feature. We're dedicated to presenting a forward-looking, progressive agenda. But it's important to keep an eye on those who oppose us, so we'll continue to offer up these longer, more in-depth pieces from time to time.
PhRMA's Plans to Tighten Grip on State Politics
The pharmaceutical lobby has earned itself a nasty reputation in American politics. Recently, PhRMA, the major drug industry trade association, got caught first trying to commission propaganda  -- a novel about terrorists poisoning Americans by targeting drugs set for reimportation -- before walking away from the project and having it backfire. The result? A thriller where poisoned drugs still come into the country -- but this time, the terrorists are backed by a pharmaceutical company looking to scare the American people.
The plot is fiction. The motive is not. The pharmaceutical companies go to great lengths -- typically successfully -- to protect higher profits and find new ways to get more and more money out of consumers and taxpayers who fund prescription drug benefits for the elderly and low-income Americans.
What's the cost of the drug industry's maneuvering? Oregon knows first hand. The state embraced a preferred drug list and went so far as to require that doctors looking to prescribe alternatives to the preferred drugs listen to recorded messages regarding the cost and efficacy of the compared drugs. The legislature ended up shelving that requirement, though -- a move that costs the state $400,000 per month  in higher drug costs. Oregon's preferred drug list placed a premium on both cost and quality. Unfortunately, it turns out that are prescription drug companies aren't much interested in keeping the costs low.
Immigrant Bashing Enters Mainstream Politics
As the immigration debate has heated up, xenophobia has moved into the mainstream in American politics, with high-profile efforts of rightwing politicians and elected officials to tie themselves to vigilante groups and even openly racist organizations and nearly unprecedented efforts to intimidate voters.
In other places, rightwing immigrant-bashing has had ironic and sometimes funny results. In Arizona, an anti-immigrant candidate hired undocumented immigrants  to appear in an ad explaining how he would crack down on immigrants. And a Colorado lawmakers' efforts to make it tougher for immigrants to get ID resulted in his daughter  being unable to get her driver's license. The irony is thick, but the stakes are high. While laughing at the hypocrisy, it should be clear that these results also make plain how unrealistic these rightwing solutions are.
Greasing the Wheels: Big Oil Plays to Win
If there's a lobby less liked than the pharmaceutical lobbyists, it is probably big oil. Not only have these folks been pulling it in hand over fist in recent years, they've been getting giant tax breaks, charging consumers a ton, and fighting tooth-and-nail to avoid any regulations that would stem the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
But what they lack in popularity, they more than make up for in ingenuity. And they seem to have written a new playbook for political victory. The first chapter is probably entitled "Winning Means Never Being Afraid to Lie."
An Eye on the Right
Interested in researching the right?
The Institute on Money in State Politics  -- The Institute collects state-level campaign finance data and issues reports on donation habits of various industries
Outrages of the Week
Arizona's immigration policy results in legal backlash, federal law enforcement intervenes in Colorado Governor's race, ballot problems may cause election woes, Schwarzenegger tries to rewrite the law, and a candidate runs for Illinois office (from New York).
Outrages of the Week 
Three Steps Forward
Two Steps Back
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