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Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Week in Review: Pretty Fly for a White Guy edition


From the people who brought you Dick Cheney, try to imagine what 850,000 gallons of crude oil looks like. Then try to imagine that many gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico each day. That's what's going on next to New Orleans, Louisiana, a disaster that's shaping up to be almost the ecological equivalent of Chernobyl, already surpassing the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in sheer scope and magnitude.

6,000,000 gallons of black sludge is already washing up on the shore, meaning that it had to travel 40 miles, crippling if not outright killing the ecosystem in its wake and devastating the local fishing trade. It's as if the poor people of New Orleans, mere months after winning the Super Bowl, can't catch a break. And hurricane season begins in exactly a month.

It hasn't been a kind week for people of color in general. Last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that empowers police departments to ask ethnic-looking people for their proof of citizenship. Essentially, it legalizes racial profiling and the rationale behind this is so outrageous the ordinarily passive Obama Justice Department is thinking of investigating whether this new law is constitutional.

This noxious trial balloon having successfully passed over the Arizona desert, 11 other xenophobic states with large minority constituencies are trying to push through similar or identical legislation. The "Papers, Please" law has proven to be so polarizing it's seeped into Major League Baseball like the Gulf coast's toxic oil spill. There have been calls to boycott Arizona, one of our 50 states, regardless of the fallout to innocent people in any boycotted industry that may have been against the bill.

It wasn't a very good week to be a minority of any stripe, as the gay community was outraged to hear that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chief Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen recently implored Congress to not repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Gates' and Mullens' almost laughable rationale was that, even after more than a year of political pressure to end this contemptible legacy of the Clinton years, the Powers That Be are still claiming they hadn't asked the men and women in uniform what their thoughts are on the subject.

As a former military man, I can assure you that seriously entertaining the personal thoughts of any enlisted person in uniform has never been until now a top priority of one's superiors, especially with the Pentagon's top dogs. If they did, they'd ask our all volunteer military what their thoughts are about getting dropped into one war zone or another in an unjustly and illegally-invaded country. Suddenly, they're supposedly on a listening tour asking soldiers, marines and sailors what are their personal thoughts on what is supposed to be the most personal part of the human experience: One's sexual identity.

It was, however, a very good week to be a rich, white man, as Mr. Blankfein and Mr. Tourre of Goldman Sachs showed Congress and the country this week. Goldman Sachs has all but been proven to have bilked investors and the people of Main Street by selling them mortgaged-back and other securities handpicked according to their level of toxicity (the more toxic, the more profitable) and all the SEC can do is name one person in a civil suit. Criminal charges against Goldman is little more than a pipe dream.

When one reviews the past week, we saw vivid delineations of the same old story: Old, rich, white people fucking over poor people of color and other minorities and getting away with it, even laughing all the way back to the bank. British Petroleum posted unexpected record 1Q profits 135% higher than this time last year, Goldman Sachs reported profits of almost $3.5 billion in their own first quarter and Robert Gates and Mike Mullens are still firmly ensconced in the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, Latinos nationwide are in danger of becoming the new Jews of our brave, new world, gay people are still getting kicked out of the military and the mostly African American residents of New Orleans are now fearing the fallout of a toxic oil spill that may still not be cleaned up when hurricane season officially begins, a toxic spill that has affected sea, land and air.
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