Steam Whistle News Feed – August 26, 2022

So, I’ve got a question. Has there ever been a president in modern history who continued to generate so many bumbling political headlines after he left office—and his administration generate such negative press, still—than Donald Trump? Just think back to the last fifty, seventy years or more. How much did you hear about the continued political exploits of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton after they were gone? Even Barack Obama? Nixon might be the only one, but that’s because he’d committed such unpardonable, high-office offenses in the eyes of the general public. Though the Watergate scandal was laughable in comparison to the more serious, clandestine crimes against humanity and foreign states committed by nearly every modern administration before and since (Nixon’s own Operation Menu and Operation Freedom Deal are good examples of that), it nonetheless drew outrage from a considerable chunk of the populace by virtue of being so high profile.

And domestic.  That was big.

If the Watergate Hotel had been built in East Timor, I guarantee you no one would have ever heard about it.

Trump’s continued fame is birthed from the same belly of Shame and Underhandedness as Nixon’s.  Only it’s far more brazen and unintelligent.  Or maybe ‘impetuous’ is a better word.

Nah.  Unintelligent.

Maybe it’s because he’s still dangling the carrot of his 2024 presidential candidacy out there for all the editors, columnists and talking heads who continue to want to eat it up, like that half-clad fan dancer who shows no more than the skin her outfit’s already exposing when she switches fans, and still has her audience drooling for more. This is how Trump has always operated; he’s made it very clear in his first book, The Art of the Deal, that one of the keys to success is to keep everyone guessing at your next move.

But all this pointless news about the warrant and affidavit that led to the search and seizure at Trump’s home, and his influence in Republican primaries—it needs to end.  But, of course, it won’t, as long as the media makers keep believing it’s relevant.  Now, news about his likely criminal interference in the official counting of ballots in Georgia, and his administration’s efforts to strong-arm the FDA into telling everyone hydroxychloroquine was the best treatment for COVID-19—okay, that’s news.  It stands to provide sustenance for those mentally malnourished, middle-of-the-road voters who still don’t know whether they’d cast their vote for Trump if he ran again for president, and for that, it deserves to stay on store shelves.  Because it might just convince them not to.  But that other stuff can be pulled, as far as I’m concerned. 

Meanwhile, this week we were all reminded just how much information Amazon continues to collect on people, and how that will grow with its buyout of One Medical (for $3.7 billion) and merger with iRobot (for $1.9 billion).  It’s estimated Amazon is responsible for 38% of all e-commerce sales in the U.S., and its Echo devices are found in 70% of the homes of those lazy Americans who just have to use smart speaker technology.  

If you think that’s fine, and believe Amazon when they tell the public in so many words that nothing bad will ever come of how much they know about you—nor their burgeoning, wrist-scanning, grocery-store-checkout technology—then take a look at Moderna, who recently sued Pfizer and BioNTech for allegedly stealing its mRNA vaccination technology.  It doesn’t matter that lives were being saved, what matters more is that Pfizer raked in twice the profit from their COVID-19 vaccine last year ($36 billion) than Moderna did. 

And if you think that’s fine, too, and that that’s capitalism and just what these big companies do, I say: You’re absolutely right.  They do whatever they want to do, as long as it keeps them from losing too much money in the marketplace.  Which means if your personal health or privacy falls into that category, they’ll chuck either one right out the window.

Moderna makes this quite clear through this bit of reported capriciousness: In 2020, they declared that any patents involving its COVID-19 vaccine wouldn’t be enforced during the pandemic.  But since the winds of disease have now shifted, they’re currently saying, with supplies of the vaccine making their rounds all over the world, that the pledge will soon be “updated.”

Meaning ‘rescinded’.  And all this—let’s not forget—after lobbyists for Big Pharma fought and then crushed the World Trade Organization’s proposal to allow COVID vaccine patent-sharing among producers of generic pharmaceuticals so they could make cheaper versions of the drug and assist in allaying outbreaks all over the Third World.

And in the same vein, the EPA finally got around to designating two perfluoroalkyl substances, PFOA and PFOS, as “hazardous,” in new legislation being dubbed the ‘Superfund law’.  Maybe you’ve heard of these things already. (You’ve likely been carrying them around inside your body for years, like some mother tiger shark carrying her little cannibal embryos, only instead of eating each other in there, they’re just pretty much hanging out inside you, partying.) The move doesn’t ban the chemicals outright, but forces polluters to let the EPA know when they’ve been dumped into the soil or water.  Which is f—ing brilliant, by the way.  ‘Hey, criminal?  We’re going to give you some space, and when you’ve realized that a crime had been committed on your end, well, we ask that you come and notify us, and we’ll allow you to talk about what you’re feeling regarding it.’  And the criminal goes, ‘Get away with the crime, roll the dice on someone ratting me out, or spend time in jail / pay the cash in fines…’

And every single time decides to roll the dice.

But all that aside, why were these substances in the environment in the first place, in some cases going all the way back to the 1940s?  Because a.) they were never properly tested before they were used in carpets, makeup, cookware, child safety seats and as domestic flame retardants (which don’t actually retard flames, by the way, if you look into it); b.) there was little to no such government regulation back then; c.) any prevalent research that, over time, was forthcoming got suppressed; and d.) the chemical manufacturers continued to pay lobbying organizations and firms to convince lawmakers the stuff was absolutely fine, and to keep it on the market.  And as if right on cue, the spotlight turning to see their Gollum-esque forms gnashing their teeth and stomping their feet, the American Chemistry Council, which “represents major chemical companies,” cried foul at the EPA’s move, saying the regulation was “an expensive, ineffective and unworkable means to achieve remediation for these chemicals.″  Which, if I didn’t say it already, don’t ever break down in the environment, and are unconscionably hazardous to human health.

Way to feed into the stereotype there, chumpo. Way to do that.