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.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Allen's history with a hate group

Ugh, I got back from an extended weekend to find that my internets, my series of tubes, was down.

So there's been more to macaca-gate in my absence, including this Nation article that uncovers Allen's ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group (including a photo of Allen with the organization's president, and Charlton Heston, the Hollywood face of the National Rifle Association.)

Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.

In 1996, when Governor Allen entered the Washington Hilton Hotel to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations, he strode to a booth at the entrance of the exhibition hall festooned with two large Confederate flags--a booth operated by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), at the time a co-sponsor of CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.

According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen.

But it wasn't just a photo op, Allen had deeper ties to the organization:

But George Allen's relationship with the CCC is different; it went beyond poses and portraits. In 1995, he appointed a CCC sympathizer, Virginia lawyer R. Jackson Garnett, to head the Virginia Council on Day Care and serve on the Governor's Advisory Council on Self-Determination and Federalism. According to the CCC's Citizens Informer, Garnett delivered a speech before a CCC gathering saying that the Federalism Commission was "created to study abuses by the Federal government of constitutional powers that rightfully belong to the states."
There's very little you can say to justify this type of pandering to a group that has a history and organizational mission this virulent:

Descended from the White Citizens' Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South, the CCC is designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In its "Statement of Principles," the CCC declares, "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
But you can sure bet Dick Wadhams will try. Or who knows - maybe he will play up Allen's ties as red meat for the base?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Allen apology poll-tested?

I have guests in town and lots of errands to run.

Damn. I thought the Monkey story was dead, but Hotline says otherwise. In a shocker, Allen's apology was motivated instead by declining poll numbers as opposed to any true regret.

Here's what the poller asked:

A NoVa voter reports receiving a telephone survey asking pointed questions about the nature and scope of Allen's apology.

The dial room in question, according to the caller, was "Central Research."

Allen's campaign won't discuss its polling; the Virginia GOP disclaims any knowledge; the NRSC says it hasn't done a poll, either. And Webb's campaign has no idea, either.

The first portion (after asking about general favorability and initial ballot) was about Allen; the surveyist asked:

1) Have you seen/read/heard the Macaca comment?

2) Do you consider the comment racist?

3) Have you seen/read that Allen had apologized?

4) Should Allen say he is running for president while he’s running for senate or should he not comment on any 2008 presidential aspirations at this time?

The second portion tested attacks on Webb.
Hmmm . . . dirty tricks. That couldn't be Dick Wadhams, could it? It doesn't seem to fit his dastardly profile. . . or could it?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Allen FINALLY apologizes to Sidarth

Senator George Wallace, er George Allen, finally actually apologizes directly to SR Sidarth for calling him a macaca (monkey; aka a racial slur). This is over two weeks later.

If George Allen and Dick Wadhams had actually had him apologize earlier, this news story would have faded, instead of stretching into 3 weeks, in which Allen's opponent, James Webb, has ballooned in the polls.

Hopefully this is the last nail in the coffin - I'm tired of blogging about soon to be ex-Senator Allen!

PS: But wait, there's more! You, too, can have the opportunity to be George Allen's monkey as the Webb campaign is hiring a new, paid campaign tracker (no doubt a necessity because Allen's consistently saying stupid stuff.

Also, Governor Dean, chairman of the DNC, disses Allen's competence on Hardball:

"I served with George Allen when he was Governor. I don't think he belongs in public service. There are Republicans who are capable and smart, thoughtful people, and he's not one of them. "

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

APIA Power Play: John Liu Seeks Citywide Office

John Liu, Democrat from Queens and the only Asian American in the New York City City Council (that is bquite possibly redundant), is term limited, and is seeking a higher, citywide office. The New York Times article today gives him some love. Sorta. Here's the piece: Political Trailblazer is Quick to a Microphone

Still, there is praise in many corners for Mr. Liu, who holds the distinction of being the first and only Asian-American to win a major elective office in New York City. Peter Vallone Sr., a former City Council speaker, said that as the first Asian-American on the Council, Mr. Liu was simply fulfilling his responsibility as a trailblazer, breaking new ground in New York’s well-worn arena of ethnic politics. The opinion is echoed by Mr. Liu.

“It’s not something I sought,” Mr. Liu said in a recent interview at City Hall. “In fact, I wish I were the ninth, or the tenth. But I happily accept the responsibility that comes along with it. There’s a lot of pressures that come along with it, but also lots of opportunity.”

Given the precedent he has already established, there are those in City Hall who speculate about whether Mr. Liu aspires to become mayor.

“Am I interested in running for higher office?” Mr. Liu said in response to a question. “Yes, I am.”

Commenting on whether he might run for mayor, he said: “There’s no question that it’s good to be mayor. But I’m a member of the City Council. I’ve got enough on my plate.”

. . . Still, bounding through City Hall in an F.D.N.Y.-E.M.S. windbreaker, meeting with reporters on the building’s steps, shaking hands with lobbyists and constituents, he displays an enthusiasm for his job that is undeniable and practically infectious.

But then there's also the lead which highlights how Liu has some sharp elbows in terms of getting media coverage:

Few members of the City Council can mobilize news conferences as quickly and effectively as Mr. Liu, and few have shown his willingness to do so. In his five and a half years on the Council, that has become a hallmark of Mr. Liu and his seemingly tireless aides, who are known to send reporters as many as four news releases a day detailing Mr. Liu’s various undertakings.

Yet Mr. Liu’s tendency to stray across district lines to speak out on issues, particularly those affecting Asian-Americans, has also earned him sharp criticism from some of his colleagues. Some portray Mr. Liu’s aggressive marshaling of the news media as little more than grandstanding, and accuse him of not alerting them to news conferences in their own districts, much less inviting them to stand alongside him in front of the cameras.

What I found most interesting about the article were these paragraphs:

Well aware of the high-profile opportunities that come from his singular position on the City Council, Mr. Liu seems determined to broaden his appeal so that the mantle he wears does not yoke him to just one ethnic base. He has used his role as chairman of the Transportation Committee to promote other legislation, including a bill, which became law in May, to require the city to set aside 54 disabled-accessible vehicles.

Although he is an immigrant from Taiwan, Mr. Liu does not speak the Mandarin of his parents, and his comments to the Asian news media, which pay him a great deal of attention, must be translated. “There are non-Asians who look at me and see an Asian, and there are Asians who look at me and see an American,” he said.

I think that's a sentiment many of us understand. Despite his words, make no mistake - Liu has fought for Asian Americans throughout the five boroughs, including restaurant workers trapped in elevators.

He has smartly built a new political machine in Queens (The NY Daily News on Liu's fight against the rap station Power 105.1):
It was only a matter of time, and political fairness, before Asians, who make up 11% of the city's population, began to claim a seat at the table of power, alongside our black, Latino, Irish, Jewish and Italian communities. That long-overdue time has come, and we can thank Queens Councilman John Liu for it.
The danger for the community is if he stops fighting and instead gets co-opted. I think this is the last post for today, my wrists are tired of typing.


Allen's Campaign Manager Spins Out

Dick Wadhams, Senator George Allen's campaign manager for reelection, sent a very wordy, misspelled memo out today. And it is full of the dirty tricks that I warned he would pull.
Memo from Dick Wadhams


To: GOP leaders/Allen campaign leadership
From: Dick Wadhams, Campaign Manager
Re: Notes on a tough week
August 19, 2006

I think it is obvious that this past week was difficult one for Senator and Mrs. Allen and the campaign. It is very clear that the news media created what they call a "feeding frenzy", with the Washington Post alone doing major stories on the same issue for 5 consecutive days.

Literally putting words into Senator Allen's mouth that he did not say (by speculating, defining and attributing meanings and motives that simply are not true), the Webb campaign and the news media seeming worked hand-in-hand to create national news over something that did not warrant coverage in the first place.

Even after Senator Allen apologized to the Webb campaign staffer in specific, and to anyone who may have been offended in general, the news media continued to print and re-print the same speculations and inaccurate portrayals of Senator Allen's comments. Never in modern times has a statewide officeholder and candidate been so vilified in a desperate attempt to revive a campaign that was fast-sinking - the Webb campaign.

This is funny because Wadhams is just trying to spin the whole thing away, but in fact, he's propelling Webb's name everywhere, and Webb has pulled to within 2 points of Allen, which means it'll be a crazy busy fall, and if the trend continues, Webb could be ahead of Allen even by next month.

A DailyKos poster has the memo and adds his two cents:
Finally, I've got just one simple question for you: if George Allen truly does have "a long, positive, successful track record as a member of the House of Delegates and House of Representatives, as our Governor and now as our United States Senator," then why the hell don't you run your campaign on that wonderful record? Why, instead, do you spend all your time, money and energy attempting to tear down an American Hero like Jim Webb?
My question exactly.

By continuing to spin about this, Wadhams just keeps the "macaca" story in the media. And believe me, it's not a pretty one, because it simply reinforces the "George Allen is a racist" meme. Plus Webb has been gaining African American support as a result, and in a state where 20% of the population is African American, that's not petty, that's the election.

(sorry, this was supposed to go up earlier, but I accidentally hit the save as drat button instead of publish.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

More Allen Antics (TM)

Wow, Senator George Allen (R - VA) sure keeps me busy blogging. I had seen this video on youtube on Friday, but couldn't pinpoint which Confederate soldier was him, singing along at a Confederate dressup:

"Hurrah for Southern Rights, hurrah. . . now when Northern treachery attempts our Southern rights to mar, we hoist the bonny blue flag with a single blue star. . . like patriots of old we'll fight, our heritage to save"

All of this is code for "Let's fight to save slavery and preserve white supremacy" but set to jaunty music. (I had to listen to the whole thing 3 times just to get those few lyrics, someone owes me a visit to a super-industrial shower cos I feel dirty, and not like Christina Aguillera.)

So which one was Allen? Was it possibly the dreamy one with the nice sideburns? Or the one with the extra shiny buttons ('cos a soldier's appearance is tantamount to success, don't you know?) Perhaps the one with the natty white beard? Wonkette makes it easy for you (and me).

UPDATE: George Allen's once large lead evaporates according to the newest poll out: Allen 48- Webb 45

Hawaii face-off - Senate

Off of Racism Week, and onto more substantive political analysis. For those of us in the mainland, Hawaiian politics never come to mind. However, Hawaii is the only US state where Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the majority minority. This is what makes the Senate and 2nd Congressional District races particularly interesting, as Ed Case, the 2nd District's Congressman, is challening incumbent Senator Daniel Akaka (Democrat). This has created the standard musical chairs routine, and now there are a number of candidates for the open Congressional seat (I'll cover this in another post.)

What makes this state politically interesting is that it is the reddest "blue state" -- in 2004 , the national GOP in the form of Dick Cheney, made a few passes there, causing Democrats to invest some money in the state. Although the state's Congressional delegation is all Democratic, the governor, Linda Lingle, is a Republican.
Senators : Daniel Inouye (D), Daniel Akaka (D)
Representative(s) : Neil Abercrombie (D), Ed Case (D)

The 2004 Census figures show a very diverse state:

Column 1 = Hawaii pop. Col 2= US pop.
White persons, percent, 2004 (a) 26.5% 80.4%
Black persons, percent, 2004 (a) 2.2% 12.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2004 (a) 0.3% 1.0%
Asian persons, percent, 2004 (a) 41.8% 4.2%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2004 (a) 9.1% 0.2%
Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2004 20.1% 1.5%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2004 (b) 7.9% 14.1%

(Sorry, one of these days I will figure out how to format in tables properly.)

I. The Senate race: Akaka v. Case

Senator Daniel Akaka is the only Chinese American member of the Senate (and one of two Asian American senators, both from Hawaii) as well as the only Native Hawaiian in the Senate, and the chief sponsor of a bill for federal recognition for Native Hawaiians. Akaka has been a leader for Asian Pacific Americans as part of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. During WWII, he served in the US Army of Engineers. His campaign site describes his childhood:
Danny Akaka was born in 1924, the last of eight children. His grandfather emigrated from China in the late 1880s and married a Native Hawaiian. His father worked as a molder for the old Honolulu Iron Works Company while his mother cared for four sons and four daughters. The Akaka children grew up in a poor but close-knit family. They all lived in a tiny, two-bedroom house in Pauoa Valley. “We didn’t have much,” recalls Akaka, “but we were raised in a very spiritual manner with a great love of family, which our parents passed on to us. Looking back, I’m amazed at how they were able to give us so much of the things that really mattered when they had so little.”
He sits on the following Senate committees:
  • Armed Services,
  • Energy and Natural Resources,
  • Governmental Affairs (GAC), Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
  • Veterans' Affairs,
  • Indian Affairs.

He previously also served on the Select Committee on Ethics. Akaka might become the ranking Senator of the Homeland Security committee if Dems take back the Senate and kick Joe Lieberman out, a scenario that is growing increasingly likely as Lieberman alienates rising numbers of Senate colleagues.

Congressman Ed Case is a lawyer by training who replaced the esteemed late Congresswoman Patsy Mink in a special election. Case had previously run unsuccessfully for Governor.

Rep. Mink was the first non-white woman to serve in Congress, as well as author of the historic Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act that legislated gender parity in higher education, most notably in sports. Mink was a major civil rights figure, and was one of the 13 Representatives who protested the awarding of Florida's electoral votes during the debacle of the 2000 elections because of voter disenfranchisement (in a clip shown during Farenheit 9/11.)

Case is a cousin of the fabulously wealthy Steve Case, founder of AOL.

A recent Honolulu Advertiser article highlights the main differences between the candidates:

Akaka, 81, squarely addressed the issue of his age, saying the elderly should not be cynically dismissed as frail and disposable but valued as kupuna who have wisdom and experience.

The senator also embraced his role as a liberal who has challenged President Bush on the war in Iraq, the USA Patriot Act and tax breaks for the wealthy, suggesting that the moderate Case would not stand up to the administration.

"Who is going to do that for us in Washington, D.C.? Who will be the alternative voice, that persistent conscience?" Akaka asked. "Will it be Republicans? Or even individuals who claim to be Democrats but vote to the contrary?

"Or will they just rubber-stamp the administration's decisions?"

Case, 53, acknowledged that the primary is a difficult and emotional choice for many but asked people to look honestly at the need for leadership transition. He said planning for transition is routine in business, the military and in many families and warned that it would be a mistake for Hawai'i to fail to recognize its importance in the Senate.

Case's argument for "leadership transition" is specious - as Akaka pointed out during the debates, Congressman Neli Abercrombie would be a natural fit for the next Senator from Hawaii. Furthermore, rubberstamping Bush's agenda does not equate to "leadership" for Case. Case fails here to make a sound argument FOR himself, rather he is just engaged in trying to bring down Akaka. A major policy difference here: Akaka voted against the Iraq war, as someone who has seen firsthand the ravages of war, whereas Case remains in support of his vote for the Iraq war.

Akaka portrayed himself as someone who has been able to be "that alternative voice, that nagging conscience."

"Will it be Republicans or even individuals who claim to be Democrats, but vote to the contrary?" Akaka asked. "Or will they just rubber stamp this administration's decisions?"

Case said, however, that Akaka has been named the "most liberal member of the Senate" and is backed by the "far-left one percent."

Turning his attention to the war in Iraq, Akaka said he sees himself as someone who will "demand of this (Bush) administration a strategy and timetable for peace and how we intend to ensure a stable and democratic government in Iraq."

But Case said Akaka was one of only 13 senators who voted to demand that American troops pull out of Iraq in one year.

Akaka has been endorsed by progressive Democrats including Dennis Kucinich and Barack Obama (who grew up in Hawaii) and the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, a spinoff of the Progressive Democrats of America.

MyDD has a good analysis of how conservative Ed Case is, and finds him very far to the right:

The National Journal on Feb 24th published an ideological ranking of all members of Congress. Overall, Ed Case was the 25th most conservative Democrat in the House. 22 of the more conservative Democrats came from the South, so I guess you can say they don't have much freedom on how to vote. Of the two non-Southern Dems, both came from conservative districts that voted for Bush. After looking at the scoring, I can comfortably say that Ed Case is the most conservative Democrat in the House who has a choice on how to vote! The others HAVE to support Bush-- Ed CHOOSES to do so.
Progressive Democrats are working to kick Joe Lieberman out of the Senate on the mainland, and should be rightfully worried about getting a conservative Dem like Case in exchange.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Webb gains on Allen

Another hat tip to Americablog for covering the Allen-"macaca" fiasco so well: apparently Allen's racist quip has brought the attention to Webb's campaign that I predicted it would, and now Democrats are looking at this as the possible sixth pickup in the Senate that we need to take back a Democratic majority!

From the WashPost:

Political analysts also said they sense a more competitive race.

"If the race wasn't on Democrats' radar screen before, it is now," said Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report.

A week of national headlines -- none good for Allen -- has the potential to change the Virginia campaign from a Democratic long shot to one that could help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate next year, political analysts said. But only if Webb, who has struggled in his first run for office, can translate the temporary boost into lasting momentum.

Plus the latest Rasmussen (independent polling firm) shows Allen at 47, Webb at 42. Not half bad for a former Reagan military guy who was twenty points behind in April. That's quite a head of steam, and three more months until the election. I dare say that if Webb can keep up the momentum, he'll be even or ahead in two months, which sets him up perfectly for November's general election. Moreover, the poll finds that while Allen's approval numbers have fallen from 70% to 57%, Webb's approval rating is at 47% with 20% unsure what to think of him. This basically means that now is the time for Web to really get out there and get his message and platform across - to cement voters' opinions before Allen's campaign does the job for him. And make no mistake - despite his foolish error, Allen still has some of the best guns in the business who are no stranger to winning by smearing opponents (Dick Wadhams) -- some call him "Rove's heir apparent."

Wadhams has lost only one of the nine statewide campaigns he has worked on. Now that Rove's tenure as pre-eminent consigliere is drawing to a close—at a press breakfast shortly after the November 2004 election, he said he wouldn't run another presidential campaign—Wadhams is emerging as his most obvious successor.

. . . In those races, Wadhams didn't hesitate to run attack ads and regularly belittle his opponents. His approach mirrors not only Rove's but also that of the late Lee Atwater, creator of the Willie Horton ads that helped sink Michael Dukakis. While most campaign managers are defensive about going negative, however—Atwater, for example, claimed he got the idea for the Horton ads from Al Gore's primary campaign—Wadhams is entirely unapologetic. "There's nothing wrong with going negative," he once argued. "Staying positive is a disservice to the voters because differences between the candidates are never revealed."

. . . Not every candidate would allow his or her campaign manager to act as a mouthpiece. But Wadhams' approach limits a client's chance to screw up. Given the weaknesses of some of the candidates he works with, that's probably vital. Republican Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, for example, nearly blew his re-election chances in 2000 when he called Arabs "ragheads."* Instead of featuring candidate speeches or press conferences, Wadhams understands that controlling the message starts with making sure you don't hand ammunition to the opposition, so he deluges reporters with written press releases and phones them himself, sometimes as many as five times a day.
This is one of the reasons why candidates regularly have trackers at opponent's speeches -- you never know what might pop out of their mouths. Expect to see Wadhams handling more communications and deflecting the criticisms, if not starting to go negative ASAP.

Oh, wait, here he is in the Post:

Dick Wadhams, Allen's campaign manager, said: "The fundamentals of this race have not changed, which are the Democrats have a candidate who is incapable of taking a position on any issue."

At any rate, the race is heating up, which is good news for Dems and Chuck Schumer of the DSCC. I'm looking forward to watching Sidarth's political star rise.

This Week in Race

Or as Wonkette likes to call it, "Racism Week," some clever individual has created a faux George Allen blog complete with graphs and psuedo-apology.

Additionally, Andrew Young, the guy who WalMart hired to improve its public relations image, as they try to build more big box stores in low-income urban neighborhoods, recently had quite the case of verbal diarrhea:

The civil rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired by Wal-Mart to improve its public image, resigned from that post last night after telling an African-American newspaper that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had “ripped off” urban communities for years, “selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables.”

In the interview, published yesterday in The Los Angeles Sentinel, a weekly, Mr. Young said that Wal-Mart “should” displace mom-and-pop stores in urban neighborhoods.

“You see those are the people who have been overcharging us,” he said of the owners of the small stores, “and they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs.”

Mr. Young, 74, a former mayor of Atlanta and a former United States representative to the United Nations, apologized for the comments and retracted them in an interview last night. Less than an hour later, he resigned as chairman of Working Families for Wal-Mart, a group created and financed by the company to trumpet its accomplishments.

Damn, I always thought you hired spinsters to improve shoddy images and to better relationships with people, not to reaffirm portrayals of you as an uncaring, racist behemoth that locks janitors in at night and discriminates against female employees. (And is being sued in the nation's largest ever class action suit.) What's kinda funny is this guy does PR work for a living and he fucked up in a print interview. I think that in many cases it's easier (and more understandable) to mess up on TV -- that blinking red light can be intimidating and it's live. But when you're just one on one with a reporter, or talking over the phone, you have much more of an opportunity to self-edit.

I guess Young's logic here is that while it's bad for minority mom-and-pop stores to profit off of African Americans, but better for an international corporation that is America's largest employer of the working poor, a company owned by a megarich white family in Arkansas to do so?!? 'Cause you know WalMart's produce is perfectly fresh and impeccable.

Anyway, his "apology" is also pretty hilarious:
“It’s against everything I ever thought in my life,” Mr. Young said. “It never should have been said. I was speaking in the context of Atlanta, and that does not work in New York or Los Angeles.”
Well, right. Because it's okay to localize your comments about greedy Jews, Koreans and Arabs to Atlanta because they've never had race riots there, unlike New York or Los Angeles. So obviously that makes your comment okay.

Responses from national leaders below:

His remarks drew forceful condemnation from Arab, Jewish and Asian leaders.

The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, called the comments “very hurtful.”

“The sad part,” he said, is that “even people of color and even minorities who suffered discrimination and prejudice are not immune from being bigoted and racist and even anti-Semitic.”. . .

Margaret Fung, executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said, “Andrew Young should know better than to resort to derogatory ethnic stereotypes about Korean storeowners in black neighborhoods.”

Khaled Lamada, former president of the Arab Muslim American Federation and currently director of outreach for the Muslim American Society, said that Mr. Young’s statements were “not fair” and that they “shame” the Muslim community.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said “these are stereotypical remarks that any leader of the civil rights movement should run away from rather than utter.”

Explaining his comments about Koreans, Jews and Arabs, Mr. Young said he was referring to the history of retail ownership in the neighborhood where he lives in southwestern Atlanta.

“Almost everyone who has come into my community has moved in, made money and moved out and moved up,” he said. “That process is still continuing.”

Well, okay. I guess that makes your words acceptable?!? What a non-apology, again. Plus the cherry on top is that this man not only used to be a civil rights leader, but also a US ambassador to the United Nations. Damn, watch him work those mad diplomacy skills!

Somehow I have the feeling that this won't help WalMart with their recent profit slump. But I'm sure that the folks over at WalMart Watch and Wake Up WalMart are thrilled.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

George Allen's racist past comes back to haunt him

Sorry to be all over George Allen like white on rice, but I just find the issue so fascinating. Plus Allen's campaign just doesn't seem to know how to do spin control -- the latest half-assed apology/explanation coming out of the Allen camp is that "macaca" doesn't mean monkey, dirty Arab, or the n-word. No, instead, it means "shithead" according to reports from the National Journal's Hotline blog:

Three Virginia Republicans confirmed to the Hotline that several Allen campaign aides and advisers are telling allies that the word was a made-up, off-the-cuff neologism that these aides occasionally used to refer to tracker S.R. Sidarth well before last Saturday's videotaped encounter.

According to two Republicans who heard the word used, "macaca" was a mash-up of "Mohawk," referring to Sidarth's distinctive hair, and "caca," Spanish slang for excrement, or "shit."

Said one Republican close to the campaign: "In other words, he was a shit-head, an annoyance." Allen, according to Republicans, heard members of his traveling entourage and Virginia Republicans use the phrase and picked it up.
I'm really not sure how calling someone a shithead is better than a racial epithet, but given how well this incident feeds into the "George Allen is a racist" narrative (which is true because of his history,) I'm sure the Allen campaign is willing to settle for using four-letter words, instead of pissing off the 30% minorities in the state. Also, Ryan Lizza over at The New Republic actually did two articles on George Allen's troubled relations with race, including his love of displaying the Confederate flag all over the place, through his teenage years through 2000. He concludes that there's a debate about what Allen's history means for the '08 run, that while some are disgusted by Allen's views, others champion him all the more:

But there's a second view. It is best expressed to me by Stevens, now a consultant to John McCain. He argues strenuously that I should not write a piece about Allen and the Confederate flag. He says it would be unfair to Allen. But, when I explain Allen's record on the issue, he makes another argument that has nothing to do with fairness, and I figure out why he is so forceful. "Well, you also realize you're getting him votes for the primary, right?" Stevens says, alluding to key states in the South. He raises his voice to a shout: "You're getting him votes! Big time!"
What I find funny about McCain's staffer's outburst is that McCain is also prone to slinging racial slurs, most famously during the 2000 Republican primary when he referred to his prison guards during Vietnam as "gooks." Then again, as Rob Corddry said, "Here in Virginia, it's not clear whether this helps or hurts the guy." Playing to a racist base, now that's the quality that will get Allen the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

George Allen vs. James Webb w/UPDATE

The infamous Senator George Allen (Republican of Virginia), of "macaca" fame, is in a contested senatorial race with former Reagan Navy secretary James Webb, who is running on the Democratic line. (Yes, this is pretty shocking, and just goes to show how far right the GOP has gone, to have a top Reagan military aide running as a Democrat.)

A Mason-Dixon poll for Virginia newspapers found Allen (a one-term Senate incumbent) leading James Webb 48-32, with 20% of voters still undecided. This isn't necessarily the worst news in the world, since the general incumbency rule is that if you are polling under 50, you're in some trouble, and you better get your butt out of Iowa and New Hampshire and pay attention to voters back home. Moreover, it reflects a very high name recognition for Allen which is understandable given that he used to be a Virginia congressman, and then Governor.

So now that we've laid the context for the election, let's look at the population. The 2004 updated Census figures show that African Americans make up almost 20% of the population.

White persons, percent, 2004 (a) 73.8%80.4%
Black persons, percent definition and source info Black persons, percent, 2004 (a) 19.9%12.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent definition and source info American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2004 (a) 0.3%1.0%
Asian persons, percent definition and source info Asian persons, percent, 2004 (a) 4.4%4.2%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent definition and source info Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2004 (a) 0.1%0.2%
Persons reporting two or more races, percent definition and source info Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2004 1.5%1.5%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent definition and source info Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2004 (b) 5.7%14.1%
White persons, not Hispanic, percent definition and source info White persons, not Hispanic, percent, 2004 68.7%67.4%

This is really not the greatest news for Allen, given his stormy relationship in the past with groups like the NAACP over his embrace of Confederate issues (from Wiki):

In 1995, 1996, and 1997, Allen proclaimed April as Confederate History and Heritage Month and called the Civil War "a four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights."[1] The proclamation did not mention slavery and was subsequently repudiated by Allen's Republican successor, Governor James Gilmore.
Combined with the large immigrant boom in Virginia, this incident is going to remind minority voters why they should vote for Webb instead. (Plus, this incident is going to increase Webb's name recognition.) Given the coming Democratic surge, with an overall Dem-GOP advantage of 12-18 percentage points in multiple national surveys asking people: "If the congressional election were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate in your district or the Republican candidate?" This is a pretty major advantage that Dems and Webb will have going into November, as long as they can keep it.
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the Daily Show's coverage of the "macaca" issue from last night. (I tried to find it on Comedy Central but I guess they haven't uploaded it yet.)

Best line? Rob Cordry saying "I don't know what 'macaca' is, but it sure sounds racist. This being Virginia, we're not sure if this helps or hurts Allen."

Sorry it's been George Allen week here. He just presents himself as such an easy target. And especially since he's been considered a frontrunner for the Republicans in 2008, I feel like it's only fair to expose him and his witticisms to a greater part of the population. Now, just because he happens to say "stupid sh**" (in the immortal words of Jon Stewart) doesn't mean that would derail his chances for 2008, would it? Besides, it would help boost his credentials with some folks. I mean, it would be so terrible if he lost his Senate seat and therefore any credibility as a presidential candidate. Sorry, just day dreaming here. . .

George Allen's troubling history of racism

Yesterday I wrote about Senator George Allen (Republican of Virginia) calling an opponent's campaign aide "macaca." Today I want to take readers deeper into Allen's troubled history on race and his longtime embrace of the Confederate flag.

Americablog reminds me of this great piece by one of the few writers at The New Republic whose writing I like, Ryan Lizza: George Allen's Race Problem. It talks about him driving around with a confederate flag on his car in high school, hanging up a Dixie flag when he was governor, and refusing to vote for Martin Luther King, Jr's holiday. Lizza wrote the article back in April, but it paints a picture of a man who can't escape his authentic self.

Some choice snippets:
Campaigning for governor in 1993, he admitted to prominently displaying a Confederate flag in his living room. He said it was part of a flag collection--and had been removed at the start of his gubernatorial bid. When it was learned that he kept a noose hanging on a ficus tree in his law office, he said it was part of a Western memorabilia collection . . . He issued a proclamation drafted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month. The text celebrated Dixie's "four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights." There was no mention of slavery. After some of the early flaps, a headline in The Washington Post read, "governor seen leading va. back in time."

. . .
In 1984, he was one of 27 House members to vote against a state holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, "Allen said the state shouldn't honor a non-Virginian with his own holiday." He was also bothered by the fact that the proposed holiday would fall on the day set aside in Virginia to honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. That same year, he did feel the urge to honor one of Virginia's own. He co-sponsored a resolution expressing "regret and sorrow upon the loss" of William Munford Tuck, a politician who opposed every piece of civil rights legislation while in Congress during the 1950s and 1960s and promised "massive resistance" to the Supreme Court's 1954 decision banning segregation.
It has a photo of Allen from a high school yearbook, and he's wearing a Confederate flag pin on his lapel. Allen tries to play like he's one of the good ole boys from the South but in reality he went to high school in California.

In high school, Allen's "Hee Haw" persona made him a polarizing figure. "He rode a little red Mustang around with a Confederate flag plate on the front," says Patrick Campbell, an old classmate, who now works for the Public Works Department in Manhattan Beach, California. "I mean, it was absurd-looking in our neighborhood."

. . .
It was the night before a major basketball game with Morningside High. The mostly black inner-city school adjacent to Watts was coming to the almost entirely white Palos Verdes High to play. When students arrived at school on game day, they found graffiti spray-painted on the school library and other places. All five people who described the incident say the graffiti was racially tinged and meant to look like the handiwork of the black Morningside students. But it was actually put there by Allen and some of his friends. "It was something like die whitey," says Campbell. The school administrator, who says he is a Republican and would "seriously consider" voting for Allen for president, says the graffiti said, "burn, baby, burn," a reference to the race riots.
Thus it should come as no surprise that he felt the need to racially taunt a 20 year old college student with the epithet of "macaca" (which can also mean the n-word) in front of an all-white audience in his beloved, non-native South. I guess that's what is also probelmatic about the whole thing to me -- Allen, a California transplant to Virginia, is telling someone who was born in Virginia, grew up there, and went through the public school system: "Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." It's just another example of how people believe Asian Americans to be perpetual foreigners, although this time it's not the simplistic and naive, "Where are you from? Where are you really from?" routine but rather demonstrates a darker "mean streak" as even Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review has commented.

Here's the newest WashPost article on the Allen gaffe with a picture of SR Sidarth.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Senator Allen "apologizes" and updated action alert

So Senator George Allen (R-Virginia) recently called his opponent's aide (one Indian American college student named S. R. Siddarth) a "macaca" and welcomed him to America, to Virginia, playing his race for laughs in front of an all-white audience. No big deal, right? Because he really was referring to his nonexistent mohawk.

Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."

Does this kid look like he has a mohawk? I think not. What is more disturbing is the meanings of variations of macaca or macaque - everything from monkey to "dirty arab."

Well, now George Allen (son of a famous football coach and presidential aspirant for 2008) has decided to "apologize":

Reached Monday evening, Allen said that the word had no derogatory meaning for him and that he was sorry. "I would never want to demean him as an individual. I do apologize if he's offended by that. [italics mine] That was no way the point."

Note the crucial "if" - the same non-apology that people use when they aren't truly sorry. It's a truly disgusting way to "apologize" where the "apologist" is saying, "I am only saying sorry because you are offended." Because obviously, otherwise, there's nothing wrong with the comment. It's the apology people use when what they mean is, "I wouldn't have to be apologizing if you weren't offended."

Allen said that by the comment welcoming him to America, he meant: "Just to the real world. Get outside the Beltway and get to the real world."

But the apology, which came hours after Allen's campaign manager dismissed the issue with an expletive and insisted the senator has "nothing to apologize for," did little to mollify Webb's campaign or Sidarth, who said he suspects Allen singled him out because his was the only nonwhite face among about 100 Republican supporters.

"I think he was doing it because he could, and I was the only person of color there, and it was useful for him in inciting his audience," said Sidarth, who videotaped the event for the Webb campaign. "I was annoyed he would use my race in a political context."

Told of Allen's apology, Todd [Webb's spokewoman] added, "I hope Allen realizes that Virginians come in all colors."

The apology was probably brought on by the Washington Post editorial this morning condemning Allen and his narrow-mindedness. Key graf:

"MY FRIENDS, we're going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas," Sen. George F. Allen told a rally of Republican supporters in Southwest Virginia last week. "And it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something." Whereupon Mr. Allen turned his attention to a young campaign aide working for his Democratic opponent -- a University of Virginia student from Fairfax County who was apparently the only person of color present -- and proceeded to ridicule him.
Also kudos to Webb's spokeswoman for framing the issue well. If I were the young man, I would feel really dirty and pissed. Here he is, a college student who just wants to get involved in civic engagement, doing a job that is common in all campaigns, and then he gets demeaned by a sitting senator for his ethnicity -- called a monkey or something worse.

UPDATE: Here's what you can do about it -- sign the Indian Americal Leadership Initiative's petition.

And people wonder why youth are cynical about politics. More on that in an upcoming post.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Abusive relationships

Happen in every type of relationship - romantic, platonic, and at work. And bad bosses are no exception, being the worst type of toxic friend and abusive boyfriend (or girlfriend), only you are tied to them not because of friendship, love or sex. It's about the money and the roof over your head, the food on your plate.

I had this realization awhile ago, but I didn't fully actualize it until I was physically and mentally out of that hellhole. Meantime, my partner and best friend had realized it long before me, saying, "You dislike him because he reminds you of X."

To digress, let me tell you the story of J and X. My lovely, smart, capable, immensely talented friend J is a whiz in her field, but has long been attracted to the worst of jerks. The kind that leave you at home to go to a party where they size up other women and hit on each and everyone of them in an attempt to compensate for their *ahem* short stature, in the belief that if you hit on 11 women who say no, there's always the 12th who acquieses.

I'm really not sure how exactly X finally worked his demon claws into J, since he was the ugliest, fattest, smelliest, laziest flea-bitten dog of a guy I ever met. J has tried to describe his "dark charisma" but I still fail to see any of his charms. Suffice it to say, perhaps the one thing he had going for him was that he had a razorsharp wit and often used it to slice at people's vulnerabilities. We'd all be having a drink and a laugh and all of a sudden, he used his perception to make a slighting remark that appeared to only sting on the surface, but actually made you feel like an exposed pig on the butcher's block while everyone laughed at X's comedic timing. (Yeah, I've been on the receiving end.)

The reverse of it was that on good days, he could use that to charm you into thinking that he was the wittiest, most erudite guy. J was always a sucker for the underdog though, so she somehow wound up sleeping with him, doing his chores, and generally slowly becoming his slavish subject. Questioning herself and her worth, her intelligence, her unmistakable talent. I have to underscore that this was not a relationship that anyone on the outside would understand. This wasn't the typical beauty and beast thing, it was a swan makes her bed with hyena type deal.

Always a bit self-conscious, she continued slipping under his spell. Soon he was restricting when she could see us, what she could wear, where they would eat. We tried to understand, and then we just tried to help her out of the situation. But it was as though she was blind or spellbound. Being a fairly strong-headed, independent person, I tried to comprehend this falling. But I failed to fully grasp the rationalizations that she made, or how she could make excuses for how he treated her, what he said to her, or to us as her friends.

We began to suspect that she was becoming codependent, that she was enabling his controlling behavior. But we were much younger then, and we didn't have the knowledge necessary to save her. Some of us called him evil, and meant it. I demurred, but I agreed that he had a malevolence, a bad temper, and that he frankly made me uneasy.

After two and a half very dark years, she escaped to another country where she was able to build herself back up, to piece herself together by rediscovering her strengths and talents. But she literally had to wander the desert to regain herself. When she came back from beyond the pale, it was evident that this was a different, stronger J. Her face beamed with inner courage; her body language was strikingly confident. She was able to break X's spell on her, and she ended the relationship (although he began stalking her to the degree that she had to file a restraining order against him.) She did all this with the help of friends, and a therapist.

Years after J ended it with X, I agreed halfheartedly with my partner that my boss reminded me of X, but I doubted the veracity of the analogy. I no longer do so. After being manipulated by a fat, greedy, lying, power-hungry bastard who caused me to lose my faith and respect for myself and my abilities, I realize that while I have been fortunate to escape being a battered girlfriend, I was in an abusive relationship nonetheless with someone who similarly takes delight in slashing away at people's weaknesses. finding what makes them tick and explode. It was of a psychological nature with my former boss. And I am happy to say that those words never sounded so sweet.

I was going to email my friend about my newfound realization, but she's now in a blissfully happy relationship with a decent guy who loves and respects her, and I thought that she probably wouldn't want to be reminded of all that pain. Not to mention that what I went through, though trying, is really nothing like an abusive relationship with a lover. But I wanted to tell her that I am sorry and that I now have a bitter shadow of understanding.

Part of me hated me for letting this happen.

Most of me hates him for being an addict, for being in a position of power and authority with which to tear me apart.

But the important part is that I'm free, I put myself back together, I've learned from this experience, and I've grown stronger for it. Or at least wiser. Free at last, thank god almighty, free at last.


Friday, August 11, 2006

How to Deal with Bad Bosses

For all of you out there with crappy bosses, here's a top 10 list of how to deal with them. Who knows when this stuff would/will come in handy.

Top 10 Tips for Dealing With Bad Bosses

  1. Protect yourself first by building relationships with co-workers and other managers. These relationships can be an important source of support at work—and it’s always helpful when a co-worker witnesses your boss’s bad behavior.

  1. Get it in writing when your boss makes promises—or threats. If there is an incident between you and your boss, write down your version with the date and time. Mail a copy to yourself in a sealed, postmarked envelope. This could be an important record of the incident later on.

  1. Talk to your boss about your concerns. Sometimes bosses don’t know when they are making bad decisions or treating employees unfairly. Plan ahead what you want to tell your boss. Practice keeping cool and speaking calmly.

  1. Identify the problem with your boss. Is it a short fuse? A problem with giving clear directions? Once you know exactly what your boss does that drives you crazy, it becomes easier to keep it from getting under your skin. And you can try alternate strategies to deal with your boss’s flaws. For example, if your boss gives vague directions, you might try repeating them back to him or her to make sure you understand them.

  1. Take back your life by establishing boundaries between work and home. Clearly define your time for work, family and friends. Remember that your boss pays you for eight hours a day—not 24!

  1. Manage your stress off the clock. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly to reduce stress and burn energy.

  1. Ask for outside help. If you think your rights are being violated, read the AFL-CIO “Know Your Rights” fact sheet. Contact advocacy groups in your community and look for legal clinics and other kinds of help. For example, Working America members are eligible for one half-hour of free legal consultation. Finally, if your boss ever becomes physically or verbally abusive, contact the police right away. Don’t be afraid to speak up andget help.

  1. Organize a union at your workplace in order to have a legal say over the issues that matter most to you, including wages, benefits and work environment. Union members, on average, make 28 percent more than people without a union and are much more likely to have employer-provided health care and pensions. Most unions also have a dignity and respect clause in their contracts. Click this link for more information on how to form a union at your workplace.

  1. Plan your exit strategy if the situation is unbearable and all else fails. Network with colleagues, update your résumé and watch for new job opportunities.

  1. Join Working America! More than 1 million members now fight for good jobs and a just economy. Visit www.workingamerica.org to join.


Once in awhile I look at stuff apart from politics. In my youtube.com haze (in a simicrum of computer replacing tv), I have watched lots of videos and come across a new fave summer song: OK Go's "A Million Ways to be Cruel" (watch it on youtube here) and then I saw this really cute Alaskan tribute to the OK Go dance here. It features this dude who I believe to be APIA. The dance features some great and zany fun choreography, and a "bullet time" chop.

The beat is catchy enough to rival the Killers' "Mr. Brightside" and the lyrics are infinitely better (courtesy of azlyrics.com):

Sit back, matter of fact, teasing, toying, turning, chatting, charming, hissing, playing the crowd.
Play that song again, another couple Klonopin, a nod, a glance, a half-hearted bow.
Oh such grace, oh such beauty, and lipstick and callous and fishnets and malice.
Oh Darling, you're a million ways to be cruel.
I should, I wish I could, maybe if you were, I would, a list of standard-issue regrets.
One last 80 proof, slouching in the corner booth.
Baby, it's as good as it gets.
Oh such grace, oh such beauty. So precious, suspicious, and charming, and vicious.
Oh darling, you're a million ways to be cruel.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Political Asian American on front page of NYtimes

Eric T. Tung, a Ned Lamont Supporter wearing a hat covered in Lamont paraphenalia, was featured on the front page of www.NYTimes.com. Yes, I like practically everyone else in the blogosphere have been following the Lamont-Lieberman race. For some reason, the Connecticut Secretary of State's website on the primary results is slower to update than the front page of the NYtimes. Why is this?

In other news, it's 84% reporting, with 51.9 Lamont - 48.1 Lieberman.

Update: Oops, I thought I had posted this already. At any rate, Lamont won and Lieberman seems hellbent on running as an independent, having received the support of non other than the infamous Karl Rove today. And to think, this man was once our vice presidential nominee on behalf of the Democratic party. He would have been a stone's toss away from the presidency, and he chooses to align himself with some of the most vicious people in politics, who employ discriminatory politics. There's a reason why his former running mate, Al Gore refused to endorse him over Lamont -- Ned Lamont is the real thing. And Joe Lieberman is an 18-year Senator who has had a long run, and doesn't know when to take a break.

I am not necessarily thrilled that politics and discourse in our country have become increasingly partisan and shrill, but I do worry when I see groups like the Club for Growth tossing out less ideologically pure Republicans on their side of the aisle, and Democrats continuing to nominate milquetoast candidates who don't represent the backbone of the Democratic party. For god's sakes, Vice President?!?!?! How can you go from being one of the standard-bearers of the party to kowtowing to the Almight Dark Rove?!?! Pure, undiluted power madness and a desire to hang on for dear filthy lucre. It's sad to watch a man self-destruct. Because we know that these are not his values. Or perhaps these are what has become of Lieberman's values. It still blows my mind.

Mr. Lieberman, a leading moderate Democrat, drew scorn from members of his own party for supporting the war and for forcefully defending President Bush’s foreign policy. Some voters also felt that Mr. Lieberman had lost touch with Connecticut after 18 years in the Senate, a period in which he was influential in national affairs, a vice-presidential nominee in 2000 and a presidential candidate in 2004.

Intense objections to the war in Iraq and a view of Senator Lieberman as “too close” to President Bush account for Mr. Lamont’s victory in the primary, according to the Times/CBS News survey of voters. About 6 in 10 of the Democratic primary voters surveyed said they strongly disapproved of the United States’s decision to go to war with Iraq, and almost 7 in 10 said the United States should start removing the troops in Iraq soon.

The perception by Connecticut voters is that you're too closely aligned with Bush, so your solution is to . . . kiss the Dark Lord's ring?!?

From the National Journal's Hotline blog:
According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President's political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office: "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."
Blows my mind. This is a true example of how power corrupts absolutely, and why it's necessary to kick the bums outta office.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Another vacation, another time. I took a week off to just let my mind wander, to read the trashiest pulp fiction, and to eat all sorts of junk food. In short, I went on a brainfast so that I did not have to think about anything vaguely intellectual, did not have to discuss or consider politics or politicking, power or persuasion. I took a week out to cleanse and detox from the stress and rigors of life and my job by watching Project Runway, Star Trek and Good Eats. It was lovely to be indoors the whole time, just escaping the hot hot heat while eating creampuffs.

While I was brainfasting, I can assure you that I gorged myself on food - everything from Cheetos to chocolate to camembert. Yeah, cry for the poor, over-edjumacated fool. I'll be back flagging roll calls and discussing Issues of Importence relatively soon. Til then, I'm enjoying my menage a trois with the sofa and the tv.