The Rep. Pramila Jayapal is on a roll. Over the past two days, the Democrat from Washington has orchestrated two of the most memorable exchanges in two separate sittings of the House. At first, she exposed the exposed racism and political motivations behind Attorney General William Barr’s attacks on Portland protesters. In the second one, she’s all caught up, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a series of lies about Facebook’s business practices.
During Jayapal’s Tuesday about Barr’s interrogation, the attorney general tried to deny that law enforcement officials used tear gas to disperse protesters to the photo of the president op near Lafayette Square f ‘June. Officials admitted they used chemical eye irritants in the attack on protesters, but, Barr said on Tuesday, “Tear gas is a particular compound” that was not used. Jayapal was firm. “I’m starting to lose my temper,” I told him, after refusing to address the substance of the question for the third or fourth time.
Barr also tried to defend the deployment of federal agents to remove racial justice protests in Portland under the guise of protecting federal buildings. Meanwhile, he denied ever hearing about armed protesters in Michigan who, calling for house orders to go ahead, attacked the state capital and threatened to lynch Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in May. Jayapal pointed out the disparity in his answers to these two groups of protesters. When Barr tried to interrupt her to say she cared only about the protests affecting federal property, Jayapal stopped him. “This is my time, and I’m controlling it,” she said. Continued:
When protesters carry Confederate and Swastikas cannons and flags and demand that the Michigan governor be convicted and shot and aligned, you are somehow unaware of this … why are becoming the personal agenda of the president. But when black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism, and the president’s own lack of response to those critical issues, then by force you remove them. with armed federal officers, peppercorns, because they are considered terrorists by the president.
Unlike her Democratic colleagues, who actually asked Barr about racism in the police forces and his fears about voting by mail, Jayapal did not bring Barr into the record with any statement. particularly harmful. But her line of questioning offered more than just the empty satisfaction of a good burn and the pleasure of seeing a fair legislator exercise her power over a man who abuses his routine. Many people do not have the time or inclination to watch long sessions of Congress. If there is big news, they have to read the news or watch the clips in their evening news, but much of the substance of these hearings often goes unnoticed. Reacting to Barr’s outrageous deflections with the outrage they deserve, Jayapal assured him he would make headlines. He then gave viewers and readers a concrete example of the Trump administration’s racist hypocrisy, in plain language. Unlike Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who said in an address Tuesday that “anarchists should be prosecuted” – leading some progressives to argue that Trump and Biden are “two sides of the same coin.” munita “. It focused the blame where it belonged: not on political dissidents, but on state entities trying to suppress them.
Her line of questioning offered more than just the empty satisfaction of wealth burns.
On Wednesday, Jayapal came out in the spotlight again. The House antitrust subcommittee convened the tech world giants – Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook – to answer questions about the their anti-competitive business practices. Jayapal began her interrogation by Zuckerberg by quoting emails and statements from multiple Facebook executives, including the Chief Executive himself, who I’ve said Facebook should block competitors from gaining market traction and copying their products if necessary. Then, she asked him, “Has Facebook ever taken steps to prevent competitors from approaching them by copying competitors?”
Zuckerberg dodges. So she redesigned: “Since March 2012, after that email conversation, how many Facebook competitors ended up copying?” “Congresswoman, I – I can’t give you a number of companies,” Zuckerberg replied.
After Zuckerberg said he doesn’t remember any conversation in which he threatened to copy competitors’ products if they didn’t let Facebook acquire their businesses, Jayapal read quotes out loud from a transcript of an online chat he showed to Zuckerberg who did just that, in a conversation with the founder of Instagram. “Facebook is a case study, in my view, in monopoly power, because your company harvests and monetizes our data and then your company uses that data to explain competitors and to copy it acquires and kills rivals, “Jayapal said. “These tactics enhance Facebook’s dominance, which you use in increasingly destructive ways.”
These hearings are not evidence. In some cases, their public value is largely theatrical: The bigshots they are called testify to a hedge and a stall, while members of Congress pontificate from their seats, making a spectacle for their constituents. Wednesday’s hearing agrees with this mold. The antitrust subcommittee had already been investigating these companies for more than a year, conducted hundreds of hours of interviews and collected more than 1 million documents. At the hearing, members did not extract much new information. Their main job was to make public the information they already had – and to care for their constituents. And Jayapal has proven to herself that she is truly qualified to combine performance with substance.
If there was ever any illusion that elected officials in this pseudo-democracy could be trusted to respect the laws governing it, the events of the last few years had to put an end to that hope. Strong corporations and politicians will not run themselves, and many members of Congress do not risk angering the donor class unless there is a public outcry to justify it. Jayapal did not catch Zuckerberg in a defensive position on the unjustifiable consolidation of Facebook’s power in the tech industry. It laid the groundwork for the rest of America to understand what Facebook was doing, overcame the cynicism of Zuckerberg’s exoneration attempt and hooked the labels between Facebook’s anti-competitive strategies and the r its role in the erosion of American democracy. If Congress Democrats hope to build popular support for breaking or imposing stricter regulations on monopolies like Facebook, they will need people like Jayapal – who represents a district where many Amazon employees live – to sell to the public on the urgency of the issue.
There is great value when we confront abuses of power directly, in the view of the public, with such clarity.
Jayapal’s week of sunshine comes on the heels of another remarkable show of strength at Home. Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on the floor of the House and addressed her Republican colleague, Rep. Ted Ted Yoho, who called her a “bitch’s bitch” in front of an audience of journalists. She got a lot that approved (and deserved) her press coverage of her speech, in which she listed Republicans who used their wives and daughters as shields against allegations of misogyny. Some want to dismiss the quotable, passionate, TV-like addresses – and heated exchanges like Jayapal’s – as biased sound bindings with little concrete political import. But it is of great value that abuses of power be confronted directly, in the view of the public, with such clarity. It gives people who have not paid much attention an accessible explanation for why they should be worked out and the language they need to explain it to others.
It also gives many of us a worthy proxy for our impotent anger, which transforms feelings of power into those of power. Yoho insists he said bullshit, le bitch, and besides, he says, Ocasio-Cortez deserved it; Zuckerberg insists that the threat he posed to Instagram was no threat. It is enough to make every observer rational and incensed if you worry – and yet, here are two members of Congress assuring her that she is not. It is a formidable prophylactic against political apathy to see the fury of seemingly uncontrolled injustices expressed on a public stage by an elected official. It is representative democracy at work.
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