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OK, Lou Dobbs is out at CNN.  Part of the story is “who fucking cares?”  But I think we’re capable of thinking clearer than that.

Apparently, CNN was so not into Lou Dobbs’ re-birth as an anti-immigrant xenophobe that they gladdly threw him $8 million to split ASAP rather than pay $12 million to keep him on their team for the next year and a half (the remaining length of his contract), decent ratings or not.  And while Dobbs’ late career move to the racist, anti-immigrant right is generally what he’s known for (that and his willingness to use his prime time slot on CNN to give quasi-legitimacy to the ‘birther’ movement) I see a little bit more here, and I find it somewhat fascinating.

Dobbs moved, after all, from being a boisterous cheer-leader for free market capitalism and neo liberalism (with all its WTO, IMF, NAFTA, etc alphebet soup glory) to being decidedly on the side of “middle class America”- lamenting U.S. corporatism and cronyism, as well as the rising pay inequality and umemployment of post-industiral America.  In so doing, Dobbs helps expose a dirty little trick of both the mainstream media and mainstream politicians: that the term “middle class” is code for “working white people”.  In post modern (post-industrial) society class analysis is far more complicated that Marx’ original observations or simple notions of haves, have-nots, or working class vs ruling class.  And it’s not enough, as has often been the case, to merely add in the middle class and call it an acurate breakdown of society.  But Dobbs aimed for and nailed a crucial part of the U.S. electorate: the working white folks, who often see immigration and immigrants (largely) as a threat to their own livelihoods or security at best, or a scary, un-trustable, evil unknown at worst.

And perhaps the most important word in that last sentence is “electorate”; not only because it notes that segment of the population’s relative voter turn-out (or, at least, capability of), but- more so- in a more true display of what wields power in capitalist America, because it is that segment of the population most apt to frivolously spend their money on complete and utter bull shit which, whether on the retail, wholesale, distribution, development, or marketing end, is taking the hard-earned money of one person and lining the pockets of someone up the chain.

Dobbs may certainly be best known for his immigration stance, but his surprising switch from corporate, free market stooge to “defender of the middle class” is far more interesting- and telling- than I often see it talked about.  “Middle class America” (i.e., working white people) is a substantial block- in terms of votes, but more importantly in terms of spending power.  The danger that Dobbs perpetuates is in confusing racial issues into the mix, by making it “us from here” (not literally as in Native Americans of course, but Northern Europeans) versus “those from there”.

Pretty interesting little segment from Sky News.  Like a whole lotta other folks, I found Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat movie entirely hilarious (as well as fairly clever), and was looking forward to laughing my ass off while watching Bruno.  From the looks of this though, Cohen either let his desire to make American’s laugh over-ride the politically and socially more important facts of the Palestinian-Israel conflict, or worse, Cohen is just a full-on Zionist prick.  Either way I’m keeping my $8.

(cross posted from GMD, my response from a post someone put up there recently)

For starters and a little bit of background, I was personally very involved with the Second Vermont Republic during its infancy and early years.   I was so precisely for what it seems are some of the reasons that the folks at ASR Blog are stirring these things back up over at GMD- namely, that the very conversation about secession, regardless of how “realistic” it is or isn’t, is one that by its own nature gets us talking about our individual rights, our rights of self-determination, of local autonomy, and the role of distant (“foreign”) ruling forces (empire, imperialism, etc).   By merely talking about or proposing secession and the dismembering of the American Empire, and in the mere act of considering it, we find ourselves in a very, very important political conversation about the role of the State, and the very nature of human life and society; we arrive in a conversation that fundamentally informs how we act socially and what we push for and desire politically (and, importantly, why we do so and towards what ends).

For myself and many others, this is an incredibly important part of any political conversation, but unfortunately not one that happens often enough at all. Base political dialogue in the United States carries a whole host of assumptions that, quite frankly, if examined and considered on their own could positively effect the nature and outcome of many of those very political issues that grip the country and even the world.

I eventually chose to cut formal ties with SVR because I morally disagreed with the thrust of the organization which insisted that SVR be (or claim to be) a politically and morally neutral group with but one singular opinion: that Vermont should secede from the Union and that in fact the Union should be dismantled.

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On liberal sites such as Vermont’s GMD perhaps there’s a “reasonable” debate about how to deal with neo-Nazi scum in our community; on the other hand, I prefer this:

Gang of queers force Nazi out of Albany Pride march

We found 41 year old “Spanish Blue Blood,” a self proclaimed “stormtrooper” of the National Socialist Movement and senior moderator of the NSM’s official party forum, sitting on a bus bench waiting for a crew that never showed… [And beat his ass]

The second he saw us he split for the street
but didn’t get far til we caught up with him and gave him what he deserved.

“Spanish Blue Blood,” who lives in the Colonie area of Albany, had been trying for weeks to draw up enough people to stage a counter protest of Albany’s Capital Pride march but apparently he couldn’t even get a single person out. He recently celebrated his 41st birthday on June 9th so we delivered some belated gifts-in the form of tightly
balled fists. The gang beat him until the cops showed and we made our way back into the park with no arrests.

-A motley crew of queers, anti-fascists, and anarchists

That, friends, is the “politically correct” way to deal with neo-Nazi’s in your community.  Good on Albany.

Now that the inauguration is out of the way we can get back to reality, free from the burden of noting the historical moment of Obama’s presidency.  Yes, it is exciting that a person of mixed race is president- yes it will continue to feel exciting for some time even.  Almost equally exciting is the mere fact that we’ve survived the Bush presidency (many, many haven’t- though at times it seemed like even fewer would).  As I watched the inauguration on television, his nervousness and the grandeur of all that was happening was so thick I felt it myself.  He seemed humbled and awestruck, as he should, and determined and confident, as he should.  My opinions or disagreements or beliefs- nor anyone else’s- take away nothing from the historical magnitude, on a multitude of fronts, from the fact of Barack Obama’s inauguration (yet another poison arrow for the conclusions of post-modernists).

If we hadn’t before, we have now heard perhaps several accounts of the fight of the civil rights movement, the realities of segregation, and the horrors of institutionalized racism.  Many are powerful, bewildering, and heartbreaking.  Almost all of them have been dug out in recent days and weeks and months to help illustrate the nearly unthinkable reality of Obama’s presidency (although then there’s Dr King in 1964 predicting a “negro president in less than 40 years”– pretty close prediction, really).  None of these stories should be forgotten.

At the same time, these stories aren’t done being told.  Racism is alive and well and not just in the dark corners of the rural South.  Though the form of institutional racism as seen in segregation and Jim Crow are off the books, it’s still very much a part of the economic and social realities of this country.  For instance, the county that I grew up in was extremely wealthy and very white, except for three bigger cities which had a mixed race population and were largely devoted to middle and working class  households, and ghettos.  I grew-up in one of these cities, where at my high school a quarter of the student body doesn’t speak English at home, half of the students are racial minorities, and over one in ten are on school-sponsored meal assistance.  Also at my high school, a system is used for tracking students into classes which were for “college bound”, “average, maybe community college bound” and “lets just try to get this kid to pass high school with whatever diploma we can give ’em”.  Not only were these tracks- which, academically speaking, there could be a good argument made that such division by skill-level is to everyone’s benefit- clear divisions based on race, but more so, based on class.  There were few, very few, kids in the lowest level of tract who were white or not living in poverty conditions; there were also a disproportionate number of whites (compared with their overall make-up of the student body) in the “college bound” tract and though not made up only of kids from better means, all the kids whose family’s had more wealth were in this group.

In effect, though my high school was made-up of 2,000 kids from a very diverse array of racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds, classes were largely divided by wealthier whites and impoverished colored people.  It’s a more subtle institutionalized racism, because exceptions were common and no signs read “this classroom for whites only”- but if lived in a certain part of town, you were immediately placed in one track or another.  I, for instance, was placed in the “college bound” classes and had to literally fight my way out to the middle level track (because I was entirely disinterested in the heavier work load of the upper level classes- my high school brain said “I can do less work and get through high school? well, OK, that sounds good”).  I also really enjoyed the “tech ed” classes- electronics, auto mechanics, woodworking, graphic arts (which back then didn’t involve computers but old-styled printing and photo development) and in this wing of the campus (obligatory shout out here to the E House crew!)- oddly separated from the rest of the building by a long, long hallway which always gave one the feeling they were somehow abut the run in to Freddy Cougar- about 80% of the students were black.

And none of that is going to change because of who’s in the White House.

Of all the ways that racism exhibits itself, perhaps the above example seems far less than the horrors of the blood that has been spilled.  Perhaps by the generality of these things rather than the directness of “whites only” signs we don’t even see what’s wrong with these facts- perhaps we could even point to the fact that there is opportunity- there are colored people in those “college bound” classes, there are working class and even impoverished kids- this is a positive, it is progress from where we’ve come.  True for sure, but is still not justice.  It is still not equality.  And because of that, there is not freedom.  There’s plenty to be hopeful for with Barack Obama as president, but there is also plenty to detest about the reality of life in the United States.  Racism, and more directly, classism, is alive and well and very much institutionalized, and it doesn’t feel any better because “a black man” is president.