Steam Whistle News Feed – October 21, 2022

It’s election season now in America.  Or has been for the last month, maybe.  That’s about when the candidate flyers started to asphyxiate my mailbox—people who didn’t engage in any political activity the past two years looking to unseat someone in the state legislature or Congress, because hundreds of thousands in outside dollars wants them to spread the right wing way of life all over the country.  I live in Oregon, and the state has had a vast majority of Democrats since God or a more informed person knows when, and that makes them rife for the likes of…I don’t know…an Alek Skarlatos to be forced into politics like a wood splitter by wealthy, pretty-far-right Republican backers and accomplish what God and a far-less-informed person could possibly fathom for this state in Congress. 

I wanted to spend the entire space they give me writing about what I’ve been seeing the last two weeks during the 2022 American political campaigning season, and the stories coming out about transparent political maneuvers on the part of both party leaders to shore up their brand, their cause and their side.  But there are too many other things going on worth mentioning, so I’ll have to only give it half the space here. 

Joe Biden ordered the release of 15 million barrels of oil out of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help lower fuel prices for American voters.  The man himself denied it was a political maneuver, but, it turns out, since February every time gas prices go down, Biden’s approval rating goes up.  Economically speaking, there are more issues that Americans feel pressed by than just fuel prices—‘inflation’ (which is kind of tied in with fuel prices) and ‘the economy in general’ (whatever that means), according to a Gallup poll taken last month—but Joe Biden knows when elections are being held, which way the wind’s been blowing, and what’s at stake for the party he leads in Congress. 

Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, pulled the stunt of rounding up and arresting twenty felons, all convicted in the past of either murder or sexual abuse, for illegally casting a vote in the 2020 elections.  It turns out, though, in interviews with a few of those felons, state employees had encouraged the felons to register and to vote in almost every occurrence, allaying their trepidation about going back to prison sometimes with nothing less glib than, “Well, just fill out this form, and if they let you vote, then you can.  If they don’t, then you can’t.”

One case has already been thrown out by a judge, but it doesn’t matter.  It was never done for anything more than brand image—fodder for a masturbatory press conference; one person gaining at the expense of others needlessly losing, and losing big.  That’s right—Ron DeSantis is no different than those fools on YouTube and TikTok who care more about themselves, their social media accounts and the dollar signs their followers represent than those who aren’t, or the real, sociopolitical issues they often interject themselves into without knowing what the hell they’re talking about or actually doing to make things worse.

In its final hearing open to the public, the Jan. 6 select committee played audio of Steve Bannon telling a room full of his associates in China that Trump was going to lie and say the election was stolen from him, no matter what the outcome: “[Trump]’s going to sit right there and say they stole it. … That’s our strategy,” he declared. 

There it was, for America and world to see and hear.  And Trump has.  And staked his laughable-yet-somehow-laudable political career on it.  It’s too bad so many Americans, particularly on the right, don’t like to read, listen, or otherwise accumulate information in the hopes of making the most informed decisions about important political matters in their lives.  They just tend to wholeheartedly believe a thing because it tells them they’re right to believe that thing in the first place.  Without at all catching the irony as they slowly catch the eddy and swirl down the drain.  Of the rest of society.

Greed became a global activity clearly on display this past week, though I’m guessing many folks can’t really see past the forest for all the 10% of trees sucking up the soil’s nutrients when it comes to capricious, unfettered corporate or big money gouging, for fear of that forest turning into some massive, economic Rainbow Gathering, by which I mean the country becoming communist, socialist or being overtaken by anarchist mobs who want to take away all the assets those fat cats (and, after that, the average American) have sleazed (and worked) so hard to accumulate.

Russian and possibly Spanish oligarchs are banding together to save their ridiculously-valued fortunes, because nothing brings fat cats together like the prospect of being worth only fifty million dollars instead of a hundred.  Several have been indicted in NY federal court in a case involving a Spaniard with a big company and Russian with another big company, both claiming to have connections to seriously-connected, bigwig scumbags in the Russian and Venezuelan governments, out of which there transpired the brokering of oil sales, the transferring of sensitive U.S. military tech to Russia and (of course) the laundering of all the money involved, sometimes via cryptocurrency, sometimes into shell companies, almost all of which were a violation of U.S. and international law.

Secondly, the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (CCOAC), made up of executives from around 20 of the world’s massively financially successful companies, is quietly proposing to hit the mute button on global shipping manifests from hereon out.  What’s that mean?  It means that no investigative journalist will, via those previously-public manifests, be able to trace the abuses of forced labor around the (mainly) Third World through the supply chain back to any company (likely with an executive on the CCOAC, or with one who knows one) who purchased goods produced via such means.  The manifests are basically like logs, and those logs would get flushed before anyone outside the stall would ever be able to lay their eyes on them.

Third, Elon Musk told investors he’s going to cut 75% of the workforce at Twitter should become head honcho (and, right now, it looks like that’s going to be the case), because: money, though it’s likely it’ll set the company on the slow track regarding the next several years of security and content moderation.  Also somewhere in there, Pfizer said they’re going to charge somewhere in the ballpark of $120 a dose for a vaccine once it stops being bought up by the government for public distribution. Which is, ironically, up from what they were charging the U.S., by almost $100.  But now they won’t look like bad guys if they go back to gouging, because the press heat has died down on COVID death rates because not so many people are dying, and now’s the perfect time to finally get back to their business-as-usual, highly profitable business practices.

And lastly: call it greed or call it not knowing the entire story (I call it greed), Gavin Newsom is putting his foot down and declaring that California’s newest rich person tax measure is bad for the everyone in the state, so “Hey, person not worth anywhere near a million dollars: DON’T VOTE FOR IT BECAUSE YOU’LL SOMEHOW BE AFFECTED!”  Folks who make more than $2 million a year, or around 43,000 people in the state, are going to have to pay 1.75% more after they file to help pay for the future of electric vehicles, their necessitous charging stations and other clean-air efforts, raising a total of about $5 billion a year.  Newsom claims it’s a money-grab by the ridesharing company (and gig economy pimp [that’s not a compliment]) Lyft, who has already pumped $45 million into it, but people on the ground involved in drawing up the ballot measure say Lyft got involved way after the fact, and that Gavin Newsom just ain’t being straight with people. 

Out of curiosity, I went and looked up Gavin Newsom’s net worth, just to see.  $20 million, the internet told me. 

I’m just sayin’, that’s what the internet told me.

And, finally, don’t think systemic racism exists in the system?  Or, if you do, don’t know how to cite it to those who don’t, or refuse to believe it because they got some bigotry or prejudice (or racism) going on in their own system, social or central-nervous or otherwise?  Then take a gander at these three articles that came out just this week about what’s still at play in the mortgage industry, the healthcare industry and the telecommunications industry.

Maybe you’ll think differently.

But probably not.