Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It's been so long since I wrote here that it took me some time to remember my password. It gave me the opportunity to go back and look at previous posts and I think the writing holds up pretty well. If anything, I'm a worse writer now that I'm not blogging regularly.

My sense of narrative is failing, to say nothing of poetic turns of phrase. I don't write poetry anymore. If that's not a sad and short statement of where my life is, I don't know what is.

It's not that I'm unhappy, quite. You could say that I'm comfortable, except that I'm still searching for who I am. So I hope to blog here more often, to sort through what's happening in my life and to have a record of how my life is progressing.

Reading earlier posts, they're so raw that it still hits me. Naive, angry, hurt, cynical but not jaded. Part of me wishes that I never hit the jaded wall, that I always remain just on this side of hope. I'm older and hopefully wiser. Or at least people look up to me for advice. I feel like an old timer these days, less bitter and more contemplative. Happier to spend a day cooking and eating with friends, and less inclined to try to overturn the scales of justice.

It's what I've always wanted. So why can't I sleep at night?


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Aging with and without grace

I just re-read some of my old posts. God, I used to be a much better writer. I guess you could say I usually write better out of a place of angst, and these days, I don't know if it's angst or inertia or malaise.

When I was younger, I burned hotter, with the fiery zeal of an evangelical. These days, I think I see more grey in everything. In my hair, in the cracks between the sidewalks, in between the fissures of my heart. Forgive me, but I have lost the martyr's passion and gained the bittersweet wisdom of age. The wisdom that says, "Yes, volunteering to be cannon fodder is sexy, but so is staying in bed and sleeping for once." The same jaded voice that says, "Innocence once gone, never regained."

I can't look at what is so cynically, and yet calculatingly called "the professional left" without throwing up a little. Because that label is at once searingly true and blindingly false. There are enough people jostling around who are paid organizers who should have hung up their shoes a long time ago cos they checked out and they;re never going to come back in from the cold.

There are also all these people who I don't understand. The hacks who make and break campaigns. The ones who eat the cash they're paid without caring much for the issues. The "do as you're told" ones. I don't understand how they think. I've never taken a job where someone told me how to think and actually parroted those phrases back. I've also been questioning, even in my faith. I've been privileged to be a believer, and damned to be a believer, and well, I guess there remains a deep reservoir of idealism in this old, greying mare.

It makes me angry when people who should be better are not. It makes me angry when my friends sell out their beliefs, even if those don't dovetail with mine. Jesus Christ, all that I want is for the people I love to live brilliantly. And yet everyday I see more friends just making the motions. With the exception of one friend who gave up on it all and took a hermit's life, I just don't know. We're aging, the lines growing deeper. The lives growing greyer?

On lack of sleep

I don't know what I'm doing these days. The days go by in a blur and the nights similarly whiz past. And I can only think about one thing and one thing only. I'd say that I'm consumed with this but it's not quite accurate.

I do things that are nonsensical, I give away things that I can't get back. Sometimes I worry about why my head is so deep in fog but I can't seem to pull myself out of it regardless. Maybe for days or hours here or there but then I get plunged back in.

It's like drowning, over and over again. Tonight I'll go to sleep. Tomorrow, I'll drown again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I've been remiss in updating this blog. Family concerns have been kinda stressful, and personal matters have been pressing.

I've had some highlights and lowlights of my career over the past year and a half and I have yet to sort through all of this.

I'm not sure what to do with the blog since I update so rarely now.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I am in submission again. I have resubmitted to crazy hours and too much needless stress. I had a life all stable, and then I turned it topsy-turvy.

This time, the challenge is balance. I have been here before, I have walked these tangled lines, I have run past the bramble thickets. The choices are different, the choices are the same. The outcomes are both larger and more insignificant.

My god I miss the campaign life. I miss the highs, the lows, the close friendships and the vitality. The rush of the vote count. I miss the one on ones, the victorious feeling of converting a maybe into a key ally. I want to leave no stone unturned.

This time, I am made of stronger material. I am in better shape, mentally and physically. I read people like scantron.

It helps.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On Coakley

I'm stil following politics, just slightly less religiously than in the past - so for example I am watching Massachusetts and massively pissed at how Coakley ran her race. You can blame the party for lack of support all that you want but the truth is that voters like to see their candidate out for more than 10 minutes at a time, and they like to see a candidate who doesn't disdain facing the voters.

Coakley may well be a good Senator but just because you think you can rest easy especially in a "change" election, well, there's no voter that likes being taken for granted. You still gotta work like you want it. And she didn't seem like she wanted it. She sniffed at the idea of "standing outside Fenway Park [map], in the cold, shaking hands.” She then said that gladhanding basically wasn't worth her time when she had the support of a small town mayor. Take that plus her dissing Curt Schilling as a Yankees fan. YEah, she dissed the star pitcher who led the Red Sox to an 04 victory against the Yankees. Doesn't play well deep in Red Sox country. Plus her staffer's gaffe in wiping out a conservative columnist in the final days of the campaign. All bad. Bloomberg looks better for having endorsed Alan Karzei, founder of CityYear. Sam Yoon looks better for having endorsed Congressman Mike Capuano.

She's not the most progressive of the primary candidates, and indeed I have a friend who worked in her office who never wanted to work in the AG's office again. But she would have been good on a lot of issues, and she would have been a good Democratic vote in the Senate. But being privileged and being distant doesn't win you votes. Yes, this is Massachusetts, which has had Senator John F. Kerry, who was pilloried for being a windsurfing snob, in office for 20-odd years and Senator Ted Kennedy (may he rest in peace) for more than half his life. But I've seen both work a room and a convention hall, and they can both turn on the charm whether it's a donor, a voter, or an average citizen. And they do it because it's part of their jobs to respond to the public. Coakley lost because she ran as much from the crowds as she did the . You can't only like the idea of being a Senator, you gotta work for it.

Dan Drezner, a professor at Tufts writes, "I don't want to live in a swing state ever again" after being barraged by calls from surrogates and the campaigns, and likely some 527s and PACs urging him to vote for or against a candidate. All I can say is, I've been on the ground in swing states in presidential elections, and that ain't the half of it. Real swing state residents have people knocking on their doors repeatedly at all hours, their mailbox and doorstep gets cluttered with campaign lit, they get leafletted at the grocery store, at school, and at church. Not to mention the state fair and wherever you go to try to escape this stuff. Your tv is full of commercials about the candidates - cable or mainstream channels. You turn on the car radio and it's blanketed with ads.

Anyway, there's not a lot to be hopeful about in this special election.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Obama v Bush as Star Trek v Star Wars

Pretty funny and accurate, from Newsweek.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Judy Chu wins primary

Very exciting - Judy Chu wins the Democratic primary and advances to the runoff election, where she'll face off against an opponent with a familiar name, Betty Chu. (Betty is apparently a distant cousin.) It'll be an interesting matchup since it'll feature two Asian American women, but Judy should be a lock to win the heavily Democratic district.