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.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Not ready to make nice

Just wanted to spotlight this Dixie Chicks song and music video, which never fails to give me chills every time I watch it. It's an unforgettable political statement, and the imiages are indelible. The stark contrast between black and white, the paint on her hands and dress, the jail stripes, her large soulful eyes framed in dark mascara peering out of a pale and luminous face that is holding all of us to account for our actions and lack thereof.

Way to take a stand, girl.

Everything changes, everything heals

I'm still trying to find resolution to everything that happened this past winter, the past year really. I catch myself processing while driving, while waiting for the lights to change. I'll let myself wonder why I let the situation get so bad, why I didn't get out sooner. Then I'll smile because I sound like I'm the victim of an abusive relationship, when really it's just workplace politics gone horribly awry. Sometimes I'll be lost in reverie on the commuter rail instead, and happy for the chance to have some time to myself. Me, my thoughts, and my unending attempt to find meaning.

When I think about all the crazy ugly behavior that I witnessed in my past life, it's hard to make sense of it all. Which is understandable. Much of it was nonsensical malice or outright incompetence that made my many waking hours miserable. But the truth is, I can't reclaim any of that time, I can only start anew with each ticking minute. I can only impact what lies ahead of me. And the fires in me don't burn as much as they used to - the wound's healing and it's my decision whether I want to keep rubbing and scratching at it. Granted, it's a fixation much like the addiction of organizing, but few if any addictions are healthy. And do I want to be raw forever?

Naturally the answer is no, so I just have to stop picking at the memories and enjoy my newfound freedom.

I have to learn how to let go of all the resentment and pain that I had allowed to fester inside. I already took that first step, now I just need to let nature take its course and wash away the sharp prickly bits the way oceans turn jagged rocks into smooth pebbles.

Besides, the two people who contributed to making my life hell were demoted, and one resigned. So events cycle, embers turn to ashes, and everything changes, everything heals. All in due time.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

George Allen can't escape his past

Not sure if this is real or parody, but it reads like something out of The Onion - namely, a Confederate group is now blasting Allen for turning his back on the Dixie flag, and all that it stands for.

Allen's reversal irks supporters of Confederacy

But this time, it's not coming from the people who abhor the Dixie symbol. It's from the people who revere it.

State leaders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have scheduled a news conference today to criticize Allen's recent remarks that the Confederate flag could be seen as a symbol of hate.

"George Allen was a good friend of ours, and we don't appreciate him turning on us to get out of political trouble," said Frank Earnest of Virginia Beach, commander of the Virginia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "He's degraded us, the flag and our heritage."

... "All we're asking is that he cease and desist using the Confederate flag to get himself out of trouble," said Brag Bowling of Richmond, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans national Board of Directors. "The flag's too important to be turned into a political football."

Not sure that this particularly helps keep the story of how Allen is a racist out of the papers. If anything, it perpetuates a meme. Also, it is one of the funniest articles I have read in a long time. If satire, great job. If an actual story, I'm not sure how the reporter kept from cracking up while writing it.

And for your entertainment, Slate has created a hilarious George Allen insult generator. No, not something that makes up slights of George Allen, but one that allows you to pick a category that you belong to ("fat", "Indian", and "bald" are some) and it will spit out a George Allen customized zinger and subsequent nonapology-apology explanation. Via the always snarkalicious wonkette. Still gotta say, I think if anything, Wonkette has improved under Alex Pareene's tenure, and I didn't think it was possible. So thanks!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Iowa hypothetical says McCain and Guiliani beat Dem contenders

I sure as hell hope this Iowa poll isn't accurate, because it says that either McCain or Guiliani would beat any one of the following Dem presidential contenders: John Edwards (ex-Sen. of North Carolina), John Kerry (Sen. from Mass.), Tom Vilsack (Gov. of Iowa) and Hillary Clinton (Sen. from NY.)

John Edwards is the only one who comes close to McCain or Guiliani, and Edwards and Kerry both defeat Sen. Bill "Cat-killer" Frist (R-Tennessee) and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Clinton does not defeat any of the Republicans.

This poll is pretty bad news for Gov. Vilsack, since he doesn't seem to be able to carry his own state (a fate shared by presidential aspirant Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who couldn't deliver his state for Kerry in 2004.) It is also pretty crappy for Hillary, given Iowa's first in the nation status that has remained unchanged even in the new DNC calendar.

Given that Iowa seems to have taken a rightward tilt, why do we let it preserve this status? Or maybe it's the bellweather that we don't want to acknowledge.

Allen gets called out by DC political dean

Via dailykos and youtube, Larry Sabato, who is one of the most respected pollsters and political commentators in DC, and widely known as highly nonpartisan, confirms that George Allen took delight in being called a redneck, and that Allen used the term "n-----" to refer to African Americans. He goes on the record with Chris Matthews, who doesn's seem to have much love lost for Allen.

Sabato also reads the tea leaves and says that Virginia is trending far more purple, and that Allen's redneck persona is growing old and antiquated, just as I called it yesterday. He says, "Virginia is as much a mid-Atlantic state as it is a Southern state, and it's no longer as conservative as George Allen was, or is, depending on the day of the week." [OUCH!]

Chris Matthews asks the critical question: "Let me ask you about this, are there people out there in Virginia who are a bit conservative on the issue of race, and are happy about this?"

Sabato feels the need to defend his home state from being tarred by association with George Felix Allen, and replies: "I happen to have been born here, and grew up here. I would say that the Virginia I grew up in during the '50s no longer exists. This is a much more tolerant state."

You know, it was bad enough when the stories first broke in salon.com, but it should be acknowledged that salon is mostly a progressive magazine. Now that the AP wire services has picked up the story, it's a whole new ballgame. Cos that stuff gets syndicated EVERYWHERE.

I just googled "George Allen" and the first three news results were:
"George 'Macaca' Allen is finished" - Alternet
"Sen. Allen denies using racial slur" - ABC News
"George Allen is in trouble" - Yahoo! News

All three are entirely on the money. When Allen can't escape the issue of using a racial slur (and that's what it is when the stories about you for close to TWO MONTHS are about your usage of racially insentive language), then he is done with. And since the macaca videotape broke on youtube on August 12-13th, and I'd guess that the "Allen uses the n-word" stories will go on for another 2 weeks, I'd say he only has about 4 weeks to convince Virginia voters that he's not a racist hypocrite. Meanwhile, Virginians will shudder every time they hear his name, because when they turn on the national news and hear the word Virginia, it won't be about anything good like Virginia Beach or how Douglas Wilder was the first African American elected to the governorship since the Reconstruction, and it was in their home state. It'll just be about George Felix Allen's racist mouth.

Also, George Felix Allen gets slammed by the Weekly Standard, a conservative mag: George Allen Monkeys Around: Forget the presidential campaign. Can he still win his Senate race?

Buh-bye Georgie, it was real swell knowin' ya. . . or something like that. Ditto for the man you're trying to copy in the White House.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weekend wrapup, including more George Allen

1) Senator Akaka (D- Hawaii) beats Congessman Ed Case (D-Hawaii) for the Democratic senatorial primary, 55-45. Good for Hawaii, they will retain a great senator. Additionally, Mazie Hirono, the former Governor, won the tightly-contested Dem primary for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, the one that Case left to run for Senate. That one was a squeaker, with nine candidates!

2) The most trusted cabbie on Capitol Hill is a South Asian American by the name of Mohinder Singh. He drives around DNC staff, including Gov. Howard Dean! Plus, he is a Democrat, and he will soon receive citizenship.

3) Congressman Kline (R-Minnesota) has a District Director who lives back in the olden days. At a campaign stop, Mike Osskopp, Kline's director, tries to deride his boss' opponent's supporters for "driving all these Jap and German cars". I guess this is an underhanded way of saying that they are un-American. Unfortunately for Osskopp, it was all caught on tape. And by the way, when Consumer Reports picks ALL Japanese cars for its 2006 Top Ten list, all it means is that Kline challenger Colleen Rowley's supporters are smart and well-informed.

4) Yes, last but not least, Power and Politics' favorite hypocritical senator, Goerge Felix Allen, decides in an abrupt change-of-heart to embrace his Jewishness. . .

And use it as a shield against criticisms of racism.

Because Allen doesn't seem to know when and how to keep his mouth shut. According to a former football teammate, there was a highly freakish hunting incident:

Shelton said he also remembers a disturbing deer hunting trip with Allen on land that was owned by the family of Billy Lanahan, a wide receiver on the team. After they had killed a deer, Shelton said he remembers Allen asking Lanahan where the local black residents lived. Shelton said Allen then drove the three of them to that neighborhood with the severed head of the deer. "He proceeded to take the doe's head and stuff it into a mailbox," Shelton said.

Can you imagine being part of that poor family, and having your sister go get the mail, only to find a severed deer head?!?! Or how unsafe that family must have felt in their own home, intruded upon by some anonymous person who thought that such a prank was funny, when to them it was a signal that someone wanted them dead?

No, Senator George Allen, somehow I don't think that the Jewish community will embrace you. They know you to be a Johnny-come-lately, and I doubt that they are interested in defending someone who grew up idolizing the Confederate South and hanging out with KKK-type groups.

They know you are a man who in one breath dehumanizes a young college student and then says that beinig considered Jewish is like having "aspersions cast" upon your character, and then whips his two-faced head around to say that he "embraces his heritage." Then in the next breath:

"His Jewish heritage is "just an interesting nuance to my background," Allen said, adding: "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops."" (WaPo)

No wonder the editor of the Forward, which "outed" Allen, has this to say:

Some Jewish leaders said that Allen's angry reaction to the question about his Jewish heritage bothered them.

"He was visibly uncomfortable and called it an 'aspersion,' " said J. J. Goldberg, editor in chief of the Forward. "What is it that makes him so uncomfortable with it? It raises more questions about who the guy is."

I have one answer for who this guy isn't: the next senator from Virginia.

Virginians are going to be sick to death of having their home state represented by a two-faced, racist, frat boy senator. People who aren't super political get sick of having their state portrayed in such a fashion. Allen's antics are like that of Dubya, and people are just waiting to show both of them the door.

Also, Dubya's "story", or what the public thinks of him, doesn't include someone who is as overtly racist as Allen - no nooses in the law office at least.

You know why Allen was so deathly scared of this story coming out? Because the day he owned up to his roots, he lost his base. The base that he made fun of Siddarth to, the base that he has emulated and cultivated his entire life. So now Allen has no base, and if you consider that 20% of the state is African American, and that Northern Virginia (the metropolitan, Democratic base) keeps electing their candidate to the Governorship, Allen has a very short political future ahead of him.

Welcome to the Real Virginia.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm a person not a megaphone, or how not to do political PR

Looking at the comments for my blog, some guy is using the space to flog a trivial campaign for Senate. I am not going to give this matter more attention, except to say that if you work for a candidate who is Asian American or who prioritizes Asian American issues, please send a press release to ME, at my email. I welcome finding out about new APIA candidates and their positions and backgrounds. If I see something of interest to me, or that I think might interest my readers, I might post on it, if I have the time. If I find a candidate who really speaks to me, who holds progressive values, then I write about them. But I won't brainlessly post PR drivel (unless it is hopelessly misspelled and therefore funny.) And in that instance, I won't say anything nice.

Also, I am a progressive Democrat. So if you are a Republican looking for some coverage, this probably ain't the place. Unless you are running in Louisiana and APIA. Or some unlikely place like Utah. And if you don't know what APIA means, please don't even email me.

So here's a tip: don't burden the readers with press releases, and don't spam-comment. It is really annoying to me, and I will reinstate moderated comments if need be. But I would rather not, since I would like to get some dialogue going.

Sen. Allen rejects any claims of being a Jew

Senator George Felix Allen (R-Virginia), who seems to have a perpetual case of foot-in-mouth disease, recently appeared at a public debate with his opponent Jim Webb, former Navy Secretary to Reagan. He must be getting antsy, because he had a wacky and defensive reply to a FOX News reporter who asked him if his mother or any ancestors had any Jewish lineage:
"I'm glad you all have that reaction," Allen said to the audience as people jeered the questioner. Allen lectured Fox about the importance of "freedom of religion and not making aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs."
The question wasn't worded in the most polite of fashions, but since when is it a bad thing to recognize and take pride in having a Jewish identity? One wonders if Allen has known it all along and decided to camoflauge by wearing Dixie flag pins and posing for photos with the Council of Concerned Citizens or if he is more like Chappelle's blind character Clayton Bigsby.

Allen asks why is his ancestry relevant, and the answer is that it wouldn't be if he didn't make a career out of pandering to Southern Poverty Law Center-identified hate groups. Plus the defensiveness is just plain weird. He makes it seem like it's an insult that the reporter asaks him if he's a Jew. Which to him, it might be.

Who knows what goes on in his crazy mind? I'm curious to see how Dick Wadhams gets him out of this one. Allen's been pegged by local and national media as a racist, and the narrative's sticking in voters' minds. Plus, the term "macaca moment" is now part of the political lexicon:

After a 24-hour Iraq-a-thon, Sen. George Allen was clearly hoping that yesterday's debate in front of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce would offer up a different topic of conversation. So what does he get? A question about whether his mother taught him a racial slur and whether he's tried to cover up that his grandfather might have been a Jew.

It's been that kind of a month for the Republican once hailed as Virginia's sunniest politician. August's "listening tour" of the commonwealth, meant to display his great connection to the state he's served as governor and senator as well as voters' appreciation of that service, might as well have ground to a halt after his words to a dark-skinned volunteer for his opponent James Webb hit YouTube. Even conservative talk radio now defines an ill-fated blunder by a politician as a "macaca moment."

Keep up the good work, Felix! I guess this makes you drop even lower on the Haaretz rankings of presidential candidates on Israel, cuz if you can't even acknowledge your lineage you can't be trusted to vote for the homeland.

Elaine Chao broadcasts error

The ever perfectly-coiffed Barbie doll Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao today sent out a historically inaccurate email commemorating the "55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention" who met to sign the Constitution. Except that it was only 41. And three refused to sign.

Although, to be fair, it probably wasn't the impeccable Chao who sent out the department-wide email but rather a hapless flack, who Chao will proceed to publicly flog.

Or maybe the DOL will just send out an update a month later and adjust the number downwards to reflect reality, which is what they do with all the "job creation" numbers on a monthly basis.

Wonkette has the scoop.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Modelminorities on tv

Asianweek has a short article on a new AZN tv show featuring four Ivy League hopefuls in the ri senior year of high school. The producer says:

"Admittance into an Ivy League university is the dream of many Asian parents, and it is also the anxiety of their children who apply to these schools," said producer Joy Huang. "This intimate view into their experiences will definitely hit home with students and parents alike."

I'm not sure that this is something that would draw my attention. I went through all that a long time ago, and so really it'd be like watching me and my parents then, or my cousins and my aunts n' uncles now. Which is to say: painfully bad tv. Not sure who really wants to relive all that. Although now that I think about it, perhaps there is some tv value in watching a straight A student whine that they only got into Columbia and not Yale. . . Nah.

Colbert supports Allen's "ethnic rally"

So hilarious - Stephen Colbert describes photos of Senator George Felix Allen's "ethnic raaley" (hey, ythat's how they spelled it, not me!) He commends Allen for finding an Indian American kid, or "minicaca" and for finding lots of Vietnamese friends. Again, I must preach the youtube gospel.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Maryland teacher lashes out at South Asian students

This was so good I decided to forgo an hour of sleep to post on it. Apparently a Montgomery County teacher . Washpost via Newsblog:

Montgomery County police say Carol J. McVey, 49, began screaming at the group of Gaithersburg High School students and one of their teachers for saying "assalamu alaikum" -- a greeting that means peace be with you -- while they rehearsed the speech in a classroom.

"Islam doesn't mean peace, it means killing everyone for peace," she told them, according to a charging document.

The students were working on a speech that they intended to deliver at a memorial service at Kingsview Middle School that day. . .

"Because of you our families died in New York!" she allegedly yelled, threatening to go to the principal's office to ask that Kulsum Malik, the teacher who was with the students, be told to leave, the charging document said.
Luckily the prinicipal kept his/her head and told the police to drag the crazy teacher out. Of course, she had to get in her two cents while being dragged out the door: "On her way out, McVey "yelled at a Hispanic teacher about the inappropriateness of speaking to students in languages other than English," police said."

Fortunately for the kids, this was only a substitute teacher, not one who they had as an educator poisoning their thoughts for years. The sub picked the wrong school district to mess around in - Gaithersburg has a really high Asian American population, with families who moved there for the great public schools. There's bound to be an outcry over this, and rightfully so.

DNC outta NYC, or Minnesota rules!

Two quickie posts, both political. Blame Allen for not doing anything grossly retarded for my blogging laziness.

1) DNC Convention should NOT be in NYC. I wholeheartedly agree with Kos on this one. Minor quibble: Minnesota is not a blue state going purple. It's been a purple state for some time, with possibly blue trends for this election cycle.

That said, I support the Twin Cities over Denver - more APIAs in Minnesota, so we would have a bigger presence.

2) Keith Ellison stands to be the first Muslim EVER elected to Congress, and the first African American from Minnesota. Dual first honors duelling for attention. He's been a civil rights, environmental, labor, LGBT, immigrant, you-name-it advocate. He's fought all the good fights, and gone through being bitter and angry to the brighter side, asking, how can I be effective? In short, he's real. A man of the people, a populist who won't undercut immigrants, and nominated by the Minnesota DFL (Democrat-Farmer-Labor) party to boot. He beat out the retiring Congressman's handpicked successor, and has generated comparisons to Paul Wellstone.

Well, I guess these two tidbits are linked by the Minnesota connection. Which just further goes to prove - hold the convention in Minnesota - they believe in a more open politics that promotes the best and most qualified candidates. They believe in breaking down barriers and electinig fighters. They look past race and religion-baiting to elect strong candidates who will serve them honorably.

Damn, I am just so impressed with this man, because as much as I admire Obama, there's a slight movie star, celluloid, unreal quality to him. Like he's a saint walking on earth. Ellison is much more complicated and less poised. He reminds me of some of my friends who outgrew their angry asian man days, but who still keep the flame burning and rely on those memories, that political consciousness, as fuel for the work that they do. It's also why I was attracted to Dean - he was very unscripted, even raw, and his wife Judy had her values in the right place in not wanting her personal life to be invaded. So she came across as slightly awkward in TV interviews, which I found charming. Maybe nowadays we just expect all our candidates and elected officials to be pitch perfect, always on for the media. Although it can be damned funny when they slip (like Burns' statements), I'd rather have someone who is telling me the truth all the time.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Perchance to dream

How do we enable dreaming? When I was younger and had less troubled sleep, I would frequently remember my dreams whether I was an ant circling a mountain, or back in some wretched slasher version of high school that had ghouls coming out of lockers, I dreamed. It defined me, or at least a quarter of my breathing life.

Nowadays I find my nighttime landscape barren. Or elusive. Once or twice a month, maybe, I wake unhappily, struggling to grasp onto fanciful wisps o' the id. I can't describe my frustration at the feeling of surfacing, nor my longinig to submerge my mind and memories in the murky waters where minor gods and demons dwell. If only it were as easy as casting pennies into a well.

So on these rare occasions I will my psyche downwards and draw it back inside of me in search of the knowledge that I am sure is waiting. Each time the surety of recovery drives me to succumb to the sirens below. Some say it is not possible to fish for mermaids, but my quest only ends when harsh slices of light fall upon my disconsolate face.

Hope and healing

The Coming of Light
by Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:

the coming of love, the coming of light.

You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,

stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,

sending up warm bouquets of air.

Even this late the bones of the body shine

and tomorrow's dust flares into breath.

Sen. Burns-like-crazy still smarter than Allen

Joining the ranks of the Republican Senate lunatics (sorry, Allen isn't crazy, just racist) is Senator Max Burns, another R(acist) from Montana. First he said that the firefighters were lazy bums, then he told an audience he had a "nice little Guatemalan named Hugo" as a housepainter but he wasn't so sure of his immigration status. Shortly after that snafu was caught on tape, Burns said that the United States is up against a faceless enemy of terrorists who "drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night."

Yeah, that one was captured in all its glory and distributed via youtube as well. Now he goes to a debate in Missoula, Montana, and he has to deal with audience memebers at a high school not only booing him, but shouting defamatory comments like "PSYCHO!" at him when he was just accusing his challenger, Jon Tester, of making illegal phone calls and business trips to Taiwan.

Of course, I'm sorry. Defamatory only applies when it's not true. I meant derogatory. Where are my manners?

So it appears that Allen has a challenger on his hands for the title of "Biggest foot-in-mouth of GOP", except that Felix has come back swinging with an "Ethnic Ralley" and photos to prove that he does care about the macacas. Or at least can stand to be within 5 feet of them. I thought Burns almost had it there, too. Well, here's to you Felix. Only you can make pandering look so difficult.

(Again, I love Wonkette for catching the stupid mistakes that no one else does.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Webb ahead of Allen in polls!

It's happened.

Remember how I said that Jim Webb had a good chance of beating George Felix Allen, racist senator from Virginia, because of Allen's offhanded "macaca" remark, how the "macaca moment" was going to change the dynamics of the race? I said that Webb could build upon his upwards momentum, and lead in the polls, and then in the voting booths?

Well, I predicted that Webb would be even or ahead in two months, and he did it less than one. Apparently Allen's dog-whistle ethnic slur disgusted Virginians so much that Webb is already ahead by almost an 8 point spread (50.4 to 42.9), and it's only early September. Plus this is a Wall Street Journal poll, so please don't think it tilts Democratic!

In honor of Webb's amazing ability to gain ground so quickly, I am going to donate to the campaign.

Read the poll and weep, Felix. Your days as a legislation thief are numbered.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fung Wah and Walmart: the High Cost of Low Prices

Via angryasianman, I read this article on a Fung Wah bus that overturned on its way from New York to Boston. This isn't the first traffic and safety violation that Fung Wah has had on its record, but people continue to ride the bus because of its everyday low, low prices. Just see below:
Last August, a Fung Wah bus bound for New York caught fire in Meriden, Conn., and 45 passengers were evacuated moments before flames engulfed it. . .

The Chinatown-to-Chinatown buses, which are called tour buses and whose seats cost $15 each way, are cheap alternatives to trains and more expensive bus lines such as Greyhound.

Tuesday's accident didn't deter people from using the popular service. Dozens of people lined the sidewalk Wednesday, waiting to board one of Fung Wah's 20 buses.

Kristina Schwab, 22, of New York, said she was a little nervous about taking the 3 p.m. bus to Boston but practical considerations ruled.

"It's still a good deal," she said.
Sound familiar? Perhaps it's because everyday, college students and others looking to save a few bucks pick their bottom line over other concerns, like safety and long term consequences. Kinda like how many people know vaguely that Walmart is bad or that it's all sweatshop made items, and yet continue shopping there regardless. I know plenty of people who do so, and it's because when you're short on cash, that's your immediate concern, as opposed to how a big box store is going to impact your local economy and employment 10 years down the line (if it's still standing), or what the working conditions are like for people in faraway third world countries. If people don't care that they might be burned alive in a hulk of metal, why would they care about longterm consequences? That is, if people even know these companies' poor safety records. It takes continual exposure to the facts (and the more graphic the better) to make an impression on most people.

So groups like Walmart Watch and WakeUp Walmart are starting to make a dent in Walmart's shiny feelgood armor but have a lot of work ahead of them. The first step is repeated negative publicity for Walmart, preferably about something that directly impacts their target audience in the next year or month, not dangers far off in the distance.

More Allen antics caught on tape

Via youtube, the DSCC clipped the CSPAN debate over Allen's wholesale copying of Durbin's amendment, and stealing his introduction. Unfortunately it only has a dialogue between Senators Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), Stevens (R-"internets=tubes") and the increasingly red-faced and flustered Allen. I took the time to transcribe their dialogue:

ALLEN: The difference was on blast mitigation, we just incorporated blast mitigation in there. The main point, the the main concern was making sure the professional services were there,
The adequacy of the devices and the adequacy of the health care professionals, I think was actually fairly identical. . . It strikes me we're going down the same path here.

STEVENS: Let me ask you a question. I believe the main difference was the senator from Virginia said "may" and the senator from Illinois said "shall" in terms of the $19 million. You used the Senator from Illinois' term "shall."

ALLEN: That's modified, thank you, I didn't consider that a major difference. The point is that it's 19 million dollars, and it shall be appropriated, uh, for this function.

KENNEDY: So you've accepted what was in the Durbin amendment, and that is that it shall be spent.

(ALLEN blathers. . .)

KENNEDY: I think that because I was a cosponsor, I didn't pay close attention to the presentation, but I was a cosponsor of Senator Durbin's amendment, which as I understand was printed. And listening to the senator from Virginia, it appeared it was virtually identical to what the senator from Illinois had proposed. And I'm just glad that we'll have an opportunity to take action on it.

IMHO, Kennedy is too polite to Allen - he should have driven the point home harder that Allen stole the whole defense appropriations amendment. But it's funny to watch Allen bumble around. For people who have never sat in or watched legislating sessions or subcommittee hearings, our electeds sure say a lot of stupid stuff that never makes it on camera. Which is a shame, because if it did and their constituents knew, the voters would fire their asses pronto.

Did I mention I love the democracy of youtube? Get used to stuttering and fumbling, Felix, the cameras are following you. Everywhere.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I was looking for some poetry for a friend's wedding, and I stumbled across PoetrySnark, which is like Wonkette, but for the high/lowbrow poetry world. As evidence, I present:

Mark Strand (pimp)

'Nite folks, posting might slow down over the weekend - I got some bidness to take care of.

Mineta's replacement already associated with failure

Damn, I got sucked back in after reading Wonkette's eagle-eyed post about Mary Peters, Bush's new nominee for Transportation Secretary to fill the esteemed Norm Mineta's shoes (I knew there was an APIA tie-in somewhere. Plus the first link has some great historical footage of Mineta.)

To replace this man, a real pioneer:
His family's displacement inspired a lifetime of crossing frontiers. He learned from his first expedition: Those in power decide where you drive. In 1971 in San Jose, he became the first Asian American mayor of a major city; in 2000, the first Asian American Cabinet member; and in 2001, the first Cabinet member to move directly from a Democratic to a Republican Cabinet.
The White House picked this woman:
For all those suffering sleepless nights since Norm Mineta fled town under cover of darkness, the White House finally found a new Transportation Secretary.

You might find this difficult to believe, but the administration’s choice is an executive from a gargantuan highway-engineering company involved in popular projects such as Boston’s Big Dig and the incredibly successful rebuilding of New Orleans!

I checked the article that Wonkette referenced, and damn if Alen Pareene isn't right - the family of the woman killed in the Big Dig tunnel named HDR, Inc in the suit:
The suit also named Gannett Fleming Inc., the tunnel design firm; Bechtel Corp., a construction and engineering management company; engineering and construction management company Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas Inc.; Walsh Construction Co., which installed portions of the tunnel wall and ceiling; architectural, engineering and consulting firm HDR Inc.; and Powers Fasteners, which provided epoxy fasteners and anchoring materials.
(I loved Ana Marie Cox's irreverence, but I am digging Pareene's wit and style as well.)

In short, a huge downgrade. Even Bush alludes to it in a stab to the front:

Her obscurity pales next to Mineta's brand-name status in Washington. He honed his sharp political skills during two decades in Congress and a stint as President Bill Clinton's Commerce Secretary.

"Mary Peters knows the legacy she has to live up to at the Department of Transportation," Bush said. "She will take this new post during a time of historic challenges for our economy and our transportation system."

Welcome to the big leagues. Welcome to the real Washington.

Hawaii CD-2: APIA candidates abound

So I promised that I would profile the Hawaii 2nd Congressional District race to fill current Congressman Ed Case's seat (he's running against Senator Daniel Akaka in the Democratic primary, a race that I have already analyzed.) And since I have a bit of a lull at work, I will fulfill that promise. Additionally, I am going to try to analyze the likelihood of Democratic candidates' chances more than their ideologies since I don't have a dog in this race.

Why do I find this race of interest? Because there are so many APIA candidates, and from different ethnicities, unlike most races on the mainland. Also because Hawaii is a blue state (the whole Congressional delegation is Democratic - a rarity) that some say is tilting red, another oddity in this political cycle when people everywhere seem to be getting sick of Bush and the Republicans. So it's the sociocultural and political factors that have me hooked. Let's look at how the candidates stack up, eh?

Here are the financials of what each candidate has raised, courtesy of Open Secrets:

Mazie K. Hirono (D)
Quentin Kuhio Kawananakoa (R)
Colleen Wakako Hanabusa (D)
Brian Schatz (D)
Gary L. Hooser (D)
Clayton H. W. Hee (D)
Ron Menor (D)
Nestor Ralph Garcia (D)
Bob C. Hogue (R)
Joe Zuiker (D)
Hanalei Y. Aipoalani (D)

These figures are from the June 30 deadline, so obviously coffers have increased since then, but it seems that Mazie Hirono, a Japanese American who served as Lt. Gov for 2 terms and ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 2002 (lost to Republican Linda Lingle in part of the whole Republican shakeup], has a fundraising advantage that's about two times ahead of her nearest Democratic primary challenger, Colleen Hanabusa. Hanabusa is a Japanese American state senator from the district who seems to be the candidate of business (this may explain the fundraising numbers.)

And now the racial breakdown from the US Census:


One race






Black or African American



American Indian and Alaska Native






Asian Indian


















Other Asian 1



Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander



Native Hawaiian



Guamanian or Chamorro






Other Pacific Islander 2



Some other race



Two or more races



The APIA breakdown in particular is of interest because there has never been a Filipino American in the US Congress before, and one of the likeliest opportunities for Filipinos to have a seat is in Hawaii, a Democratic state (as opposed to parts of the Inland Empire in California that have a lot of Filipinos but are solidly conservative.) Additionally, it's possible that with so many APIAs in the race, the vote could be heavily divided and Sierra Club endorsed candidates
(yes, they endorsed two people) Brian Schatz or Gary Hooser could win, since 27 percent of the population is white. Although Joe Zuiker has a compelling campaign pitch (he's a marathoner who's literally running for Congress), has low name recognition and funds. Hanalei Aipoalani was an aide to Patsy Mink shares Zuiker's weaknesses.

Additionally, Hawaii has never sent a Native Hawaiian to Congress, but did have Native Hawaiian delegates (before it officially became a state). State Senator Clayton Hee (couldn't find a campaign website for him) is a Native Hawaiian who is good friends with (but not formally endorsed by) sitting Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D) from the 1st Congressional District.

Of the APIAs that Hawaii has sent to Congress since its inception into the United States of America, practically all the Senators have been APIA, from Hiram Fong (R), followed by Spark Matsunaga (D), and then Daniel Inouye (D). Senator Akaka spans a very large chunk of the time, with the exception of Oren Long (D) who served for 1 term only in the beginning. Wikipedia has a good history of the delegation.

On the Congressional side, there have been Chinese Americans like Patsy Mink (D) and Akaka (D), Japanese Americans like Matsunaga and Pat Saiki (R). (End digression.)

Other factors
Hirono seems to be ahead in endorsements and definitely in name recognition (only 24% unfamiliar with her). Many of the big name political players that usually do high voter turnout have opted to sit out the primary (since there are so many candidates) and instead to support the Democratic nominee, so having any in-state endorsements is key. The Sierra Club's split endorsement will carry less weight on election day.

A June poll showed Hirono with the highest favoribility (52%) followed by Matsunaga (46%), then Hanabusa (39%). However, the poll had only 165 respondents and a measure of error of 8%, which is really quite high, and so you have to take this one with an even greater grain of salt than normal. So I also wonder how much Hirono and Matsunaga's favorability ratings are driven by their name recognition (Hirono having served statewide, and Matsunaga being the late senator's surname.)

Hirono's disapproval rating was fairly high — 24 percent — but on par with that of state Sen. Ron Menor. Hee had the highest "unfavorable" rating at 27 percent of those who had an opinion about him.

Still, Hirono is in an enviable position.

"I would rather be Mazie at this stage with name recognition and a relatively large disapproval rating than be where the other candidates are that don't have much disapproval but people don't know them at all," said University of Hawai'i political science professor Neal Milner.

The buzz around State Senator Ron Menor(who coincidentally should write a biography rather than a resume for his website since candidates should tell a story about themselves, and resumes are very dry and boring), and Honolulu City Councilman Nestor Garcia's race to be the first Filipino Congressmember has even made its way to other countries, but sadly they are lagging in financial support, and dividing the Filipino base vote, which is only going to strengthen Hirono's hand.

I think that Hirono has the upperhand in winning the primary because of her name recognition and her Washington contacts, and probably in the general election as well, since Hawaii has been so reliably Democratic. But with an eight way primary, anything can happen.

And now I must stop blogging because researching and writing this piece has taken about 2 hours out of my life and my wrists. But that's probably as much as you've ever known about Hawaii politics (if you've made it to this point, congrats!)

Sen. Allen is a lazy, thieving bastard

So we knew that Senator George Felix Allen, (R)acist from Virginia, was prone to confederate-flag hugging and minority-bashing, but coming quick on the heels of his "macaca moment" he decides to steal an amendment from Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Minority Whip and APIA supporter. From the Raising Kaine blog:
[It was] a Department of Defense appropriations amendment written, printed and prepared by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), and then announced the amendment as his own, moments before Durbin was prepared to introduce the amendment on the Senate floor. . .

--Already on the docket was Senator Dick Durbin, who was scheduled to introduce an amendment to the bill providing $19 million in additional funding for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center program, which provides treatment care and research for veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries. That meant that Durbin’s amendment had already been written, printed and prepared for introduction by Durbin.

--Yet, before Durbin could take the floor to introduce his amendment, George Allen entered the Senate Chamber and asked for permission to speak before Durbin. When permission was granted ahead of Durbin, lo and behold, Allen introduced an amendment to the DOD appropriations bill that, how could this be, was identical in language to Durbin’s bill with the exception of one word – the word “will” was changed in Allen’s amendment and replaced with the word “shall.” Other than that, the amendments were identical – Durbin’s amendment had been printed and set to be formally introduced, Allen’s bill had not been written or been placed on the docket to be introduced.

When asked by Senators Stevens and Durbin if his amendment was the same as Senator Durbin’s, George Allen agreed the bills were identical.

So, what are the odds that George Allen had the exact same idea as Durbin, the exact same dollar figure as Durbin, the exact same language as Durbin (save one word)? And why did Allen seek special permission to speak before Durbin unless Allen was seeking to take credit for an amendment to which Durbin had already prepared and written?

This is just about the most lazy and stupid (and hilarious) thing I have ever seen a sitting senator do. It's one thing to go into conference and change all the language behind the scenes (which is underhanded enough), but quite another to deliberately steal floor time right before a fellow senator is scheduled to present a piece of legislation, and use that time to present AN IDENTICAL AMENDMENT. It looks as though the cheating virus is going around the GOP. No, wait. It's an epidemic that is endemic to republicanus amoralus!

Did Allen think that 3 weeks of bad press wasn't enough, was he sick of having his name repudiated in the papers for being a racist? Does he somehow think that this stunt will win him points with the Republican base? (Well maybe - they did elect an idiot CEO who ran all his companies into the ground...) Today's mistake could have been easily avoided, and now it will probably cost him the election. Because no one likes being represented by a cheating, racist thief. Our job is to help tip him over that edge of no return and kill any presidential ambitions (his ranking already dropped due to macaca.)

Tactically, this was also the dumbest move Allen could have made. By copying the entire Durbin amendment, he not only demonstrates his lazy, cheating ass, he de facto acknowledges that he has no ideas on security/defense, and not only that, but the Democrats do have a vision, and that we DO IT BETTER. Looks like that "security voters" are slipping away here, I know that "security moms" already are leaving the GOP in droves.

This guy obviously isn't willing to work hard for the people of Virginia or put any thought into the legislative process. Virginians, you deserve better - elect a man who can think for himself, who will represent you with honor - ELECT JIM WEBB.

It looks as though Dick Wadhams reins on the campaign are slipping. Hey, all the Elephants are in freefall now that Rove doesn't call all the shots anymore.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Recent news of note

Sorry for the downtick and then sudden uptick in blogging. Sometimes I feel like ignoring the beast, and other times I have this overwhelming urge to feed it, pet it, and buy it a bigger cage.

Here's a very sobering dailykos posting with a vivid map of how far average state incomes have fallen under our esteemed leader, George W. Bush.

The number of Republicans in the country has sunk to a 3 year low - down to 31.9% of people admit their Republican affiliation.

The number of Democrats has grown slightly, from 36.1% at the beginning of the year to 37.3% now.

Those who claim to be unaffiliated have increased to 30.8% this month. That's the highest total recorded since Rasmussen Reports began releasing this data in January 2004.

Add it all together and the Democrats have their biggest net advantage—more than five percentage points—since January 2004.

Sweet, all this is adding up to a landslide midterm election, I just hope we can ride this wave of discontent until November.

The words I used to write

The words I used to write were (overly) precious,
thought-bombs infused with angst of indentity,
scented like ingenuity and the quiet life.

The scenes I used to create were digitally altered photographs
in black and white print, memories from real life,
other people's dreams and loneliness.

When I would write it was a compulsion, on travel, on longing.
Surges of words swirling inside, a short distance
to capture them on paper.

When I would watch I sat and immersed myself in stranger's worries,
bleak interactions at the grocery stores of suburbia,
put myself in their shoes to see if it felt right.

What was mundane was crucial, the shade of light
a barrier a tone poem a melody
with shadows the players.

What was once an outlet for confusion
replaced by the righteous anger of the newly baptized.
No trial by fire could have been more purifying than to see the world in all its allegory. . .

The words I used to write were innocent butterflies pulverized
by the bullets of war and when the lovers of this earth cried out
seeking a ceasefire, I merely turned the page of the newspaper.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Macaca moment changes momentum; a manifesto on race, politics and empowerment

Nice article in the Washington Post about how Allen has been on a mostly downhill slide since his macaca comment, and his delayed apology.

Interesting bits from the article:
Stuart Rothenberg, political prognosticator:
"We have a real race," said Stuart Rothenberg, who edits the Rothenberg Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter that tracks elections nationwide. "The race has changed fundamentally." Allen's "macaca moment" -- a term that has rapidly become part of America's political lexicon -- has breathed new life into Webb, a former Republican and Vietnam war hero who worked for Ronald Reagan.
Chuck Schumer, Senator from NY's newfound optimism about the race:

"Virginia is becoming a more Democratic state, in what is shaping to be a Democratic year," said New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the chairman of the Democratic campaign committee in the Senate, which has promised to help finance Webb.

"We think this is a neck-and-neck race," he said.

And Dick (Wadhams), Allen's campaign manager, refusing to let the candidate speak (as I predicted earlier), for fear that Allen would make further gaffes and so he can play the heavy:
Allen's campaign accuses Webb of failing to offer specifics. "Even his signature issue of Iraq . . . is still hazy at best and contradictory at worst," said Wadhams, who declined to make Allen available for an interview, saying, "I'm going to speak for him."
Also, a nice op-ed on "becoming a 'real' American" from a professor of theology:

The Allen incident offers evidence that America is not now or likely to ever be a color-blind country. How are South Asians to live with this truth? Resignation is not the answer. Vigorous political participation is. My youthful intuition that what makes me as American as any Mayflower descendant is citizenship — not race or ethnicity — was only partly on the mark. The piece of paper that validates our identities as American citizens can do only so much if we do little to struggle for recognition.
Since the term "macaca moment" has entered the lexicon, it recalls another racially-tinged term: Clinton's "Sister Souljah" moment.

In response to militant hip hop activist Sistah Souljah's comment after the LA riots that "If Black people kill Black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?"[1]
Clinton replied, "If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black’ and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech."

Thus he distanced himself from the extreme views of Sistah Souljah and positioned himself firmly in the center for political gain, angering some African Americans in the Democratic party base, including Rev. Jesse Jackson. Clinton's "Sistah Souljah" moment was 14 years ago now.

What the macaca moment means for Asian Americans of all shades is that we, and the rest of the left, if not the country (hopefully), will not stand for having our race or ethnicity played for political points. What the macaca moment means to me is that it is the repudiation of a "wink wink nod nod" form of old school politics that involves drawing a protective, secretive circle around the politician and his or her base, and then using someone of a different race as a target, for fun and laughs.

My hope is that Allen's remarks and the subsequent firestorm of criticism means that American politics have entered a new age where not only is it is no longer okay to use African Americans as political bait, it is also no longer acceptable to use Asian Americans. And perhaps this trend will also make itself seen in the comedy world where it seems like stand up artists think the last acceptable racial epithets are those made at the expense of APIAs.

So I would like to echo in the belief that the "macaca" moment has not only changed the momentum in the Virginian senatorial race, but that it has also changed the meaning of American politics. I pray that "dog whistle politics" particularly on race is no longer acceptable, and that more Asian Americans get involved to hold candidates accountable.

And it's true as Reappropriate has commented that our community has no Malcom Yellow, no Sistah Souljah, no one established community leader that the press goes to for the definitive word on "the state of Asian America." But I think that's okay, that it's possibly a better thing for the community since I'm no believer in the great man theory of history or activism, despite the media's preference to shine a light on single people creating change. I don't want one individual to speak for us. We are a multi-hued multitude with immigration histories like tapestries in the fabric of America. We are a relatively younger demographic in terms of gaining critical mass in this nation, since we were denied "legal" immigration status for so long that we became an oddity, a circus freak show and sight to behold in some parts of the USA.

This spectacular reproduction of the Durbar of Delhi Procession was staged to compete with the shows at the newly opened Dreamland on the seaward side of Surf Avenue. A newspaper reporter described it. "There were gilded chariots and prancing horses, and trained elephants and dancing girls, regiments of soldiers and an astonishing number of real Eastern people and animals in gay and stately trappings. The magnificence of the scene was such as to make those who witnessed it imagine that they were in a genuine Oriental city." Four million park visitors in 1904, 5000 at a time, watched this show. There was a charm about the Streets of Delhi that kept them spellbound.
Don't get me wrong, I'm tired of Michelle Malkin and her antics getting more press than local leaders who are hard at work to create real social change. It doesn't surprise me that some of the leading Asian American pundits (Malkin, Ramesh Ponnuru to name a few) are conservatives whereas progressives like Vijay Prashad get less ink and facetime. Conservatives are adept at playing follow the leader, whereas progressives don't want just a figurehead, we want a real fighter with brains and guts, and the temerity to see things through.

Me, I wouldn't follow someone who wasn't in the trenches and who lacked sincerity and plain old life experience. So I'm drawn to Asian American leaders like Mike Honda, Helen Zia, and Chaplain James Yee - people who have struggled and overcome. I would follow someone like Wen Ho Lee, except that he very definitively does not seek to be the standard bearer for Asian America, and has largely declined press interviews.

We are still finding and defining our leaders, developing our voices and power, and I don't want any individual to start growing a cult of personality around themselves before we get a chance to fully empower ourselves. The way we empower ourselves is by becoming informed and getting active in local politics around issues that matter deeply to us. That's how we build the power of our community, and if people across the country do that, we'll naturally have leaders that emerge, the media will pick a golden child, and we'll have our Jesse Jacksons and more Mike Hondas.

Ideally, each and everyone of us is Malcolm X. So get to it - we all have a hell of a lot of work to do.

Copycat Republicans Get Caught

This is a funny story that I picked up from the Hotline blog: seven Republican candidates used the National Republican Congressional Committee's talking points, word for word, to answer the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired People)'s fabled questionnaire on issues like Medicaid and Social Security.

AARP claims to represent anywhere around 25-35 million people, not an insignificant number, and their voter's guides are valued as being fairly nonpartisan. So when you get caught copying pat answers, it's like being exposed as the cheating test-copying fraud that you were in sixth grade, only instead of a classroom, it's only the national and local political stage.

The Republican candidates caught cheating?

Andrea Zinga and Peter Roskam, both running in Illinois
Jeff Lamberti in Iowa
Chuck Blasdel in Ohio
Max Burns in Georgia

The funniest response was this disastrous attempt to spin the answer:

Van Taylor's campaign in Texas said the language helps the candidate understand the issues.

"It's only natural when we were running for Congress, he wanted to become as knowledgeable as he could on the issues," said Casey Phillips, Taylor's campaign manager.

The issue echoes 2004, when at least five Republican candidates lifted passages for the same survey.

Taylor should fire his manager, who apparently has come not to praise him, but to bury him. He's revealed two very embarassing things about his boss that voters in the 17th Congressional district of Texas should be aware of: 1) he's so dumb he can't wrap his mind around two of the most important domestic issues and 2) he's so dumb he got caught cheating. Actually, the last reveals something pressing about Taylor's idiot of a manager: he's so lazy he can't be bothered to come up with his own ideas. More rubberstamping of Bush's agenda, please!

But perhaps voters will reward Taylor for his lack of original thought and robotic copy and pasting, since Taylor is running to represent a district that includes Waco, home of the Branch Davidian cult, and President Bush's Crawford ranch.

What is surprising is that Taylor's website doesn't prominently show "Republican" anywhere on the front page. Maybe he wants to parrot lines while he's running away from the party? Here's to a man who wants to have his cake and eat it too!

Bonus points to the Democratic response which was sharp and on target:

"Nothing makes it more clear that Republicans stand for 'more of the same' in Washington than these plagiarized surveys," said Sarah Feinberg, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's press secretary.

So embarassing to get caught peering at other people's exams. Fifteen points from Taylor, for the laziness that comes from lies!