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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Random encounters and caramel nights

I saw a woman on the train platform the other night who looked remarkably like a friend of mine from back home. Not a twin-like resemblance, but rather close. Close enough that I had to get closer to make sure it wasn't her.

We wound up sitting across from each other, and I saw that the woman next to her was reading one of my favorite books, and I told her so. After that woman exited, my friend lookalike started talking to me. There was an easy quality to our conversation that made me certain we would be friends if it wasn't just a chance encounter on a train but rather a more prolonged conversation. I know because that's how I've started all of my best friendships. She had bright eyes and an open face. I told her how she looked like my friend, and I think both of us wished that the train ride was longer, but after discussing our travelling lives and cities we'd both lived in, as well as her sister being in medical school and our professions, she had to go.

Part of why I love public transportation and travelling really is the people that you meet - I've had some great conversations on planes and trains and buses that stay with me. These random connections to strangers are part of what makes life incredibly appealing, and my sojourns more meaningful. It's a good thing, too, because I travel so much for my job.

Tonight was a perfect night too - with a sweet wind that caressed my face and spun my hair. These are what I call caramel nights - nights where the gentleness and beauty overwhelm the senses and you just want to drink it all in. Nights pregnant with possibility, nights that I fall in love with the city and my surroundings. These are the evenings that taste like caramel - sweet, creamy and rich with flavors that you want to hold onto forever. Small treasured moments that you savor but which ultimately melt away. Good night, sweet night.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Belated thanksgivings

1) The love and generosity of friends and family, without which this past year would have been much more crappy. I'm glad I have such wonderful, supportive people in my life.

2) Sound body and mind. Can't stress enough how important recovering my wellbeing has been, and how crucial my fam and friends have been as well. Rediscovering my health helped to set me on the right track, and I am very very grateful.

3) Diversions like Heroes, Colbert Report, and Blogger. A simple and trivial thing, but important for maintaining my happiness and relieving boredom.

4) A great team that I enjoy hanging out with and whom I trust. It makes my waking hours fly by quickly, and we have some wacky insane fun.

5) A new Congress. Now let's see where it goes.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Insult to injury, or how not to be a sore loser

Via wonkette, I saw the story on Sepia Mutiny (which is like a desi wonkette - this is a super-high compliment) about this crazy Christian woman who ran against Minnesota State Senator Satveer Chaudhary, who has a high position in the state legislature as Majority Whip and is a practicing Hindu (this gets relevant soon.) Anyway, not content with losing graciously (she got trounced with only 36% of the vote) and having a polite concession call, she sends him a wacko email:
I’ve enjoyed much of this race, especially the people I’ve met…even you! I see your deficits—not all of them, and your potential—but not all of it. Only your Creator knows the real potential He’s put in you. Get to know Him and know yourself…you’ll be more interesting even to you!

The race of your life is more important than this one—and it is my sincere wish that you’ll get to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He died for the sins of the world, yours and mine—and especially for those who accept His forgiveness. . .

Pay attention…this is very important, Satveer. Have you noticed Jesus for yourself…at some moment in time, yet??? [Editor: emphasis added]
I would have yelped and ran - actually, I couldn't believe my eyes upon reading the email earlier today, so I jumped up and told my friend from the land of a thousand lakes, and she said that it's par for the course. Anyway, I believe in freedom of speech, but it's frankly incredibly insulting and disrespectful to proselytize in your concession, and to lecture the winner on seeing their deficits, and their potential (but not all of it.) It's wrong in so many ways I'm not sure where to begin.

As if this losing candidate didn't flame out completely and lose any credibility for a second run by having her email broadcast on local TV, she further decides to join the ranks of the Felix Allen "Macacas" (they'll be playing Trent Lott's "Dixie Stroms" later this season in the Playa-hater showdown.) She spits out a nasty comment on the Sepia Mutiny blog, full of nonsense signifying nothing, in an act that the esteemable Wonkette Pareene calls "Cooking Omlettes with Jesus H. Christ himself":
Eggs are fragile creations, and a broken Humpty Dumpty hard to glue…but the Creator of all things takes an egg, and breaks it with superior life from the inside out…lets life form inside, and peck its way out and twin chicks set foot on earth with voices and purpose—with bodies and smallish minds that grasp little. Some fractured human ideas lead to more of life and more knowledge of the lack of knowledge, even in the talking heads found everywhere—that fragment into even less so easily.
I would be inclined to think that it was some joker except that the incoherent tone matches the first email. Also, it would be funny if it wasn't so sad - I have no friggin' clue what the woman is talking about!!! Satveer gets the last word in, however, as he emailed her original "concession" to WCCO-TV.

Maybe she also emailed newly elected Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, her "best wishes" on his victory here on earth, but not in heaven.

Younger Asian American Democrats win big this cycle

I am a huge proponent of young Asian American Democrats because I look up to their drive and dedication to public service. I just read that Scott Kawasaki, Fairbanks city councilman, was recently elected to the Alaska state legislature at the age of 30 (maybe 31?) I haven't seen him mentioned by any other Asian American blogs or national organizations, but this one's a keeper. He's a Western Democrat, and opposes the Patriot Act like newly elected Senator Jon Tester of Montana. The Alaska Dems defeated one incumbent Republican in the State House (Kawasaki) and one in the Senate, as well as picking up 2 Republican-held open seats. Who says Governor Dean's 50 state strategy doesn't work?!? I remember reading Matt Bai's NYTimes Magazine piece on Dean's leadership at the DNC (read the whole thing, it is that good and prophetic - unlike others, I have always found Bai's writing sharp and incisive), and how after a visit to the Alaska field troops, Dean told his DC staff to get the money for another state party organizer for Alaska, and thought: 1) he's really truly committed to the grassroots if he's willing to contest Alaska and 2) Terry McAuliffe never would have done that.

That night, after meeting with Dean at the sad little storefront office that houses the state party, Alaska’s party chairman, Jake Metcalfe, announced to 400 assembled Democrats at a fund-raiser that Dean had just promised to hire an additional organizer for the state. The ballroom erupted in grateful applause as Dean sat there beaming. The members of his staff, gently rolling their eyes, began calling back to Washington, warning the political staff that they would need to find the money for yet another salary in, of all places, Alaska.

In just a few hours, Dean had nicely demonstrated why so many leading Democrats in Washington wish he would spend even more time in Alaska — preferably hiking the tundra for a few months, without a cellphone. . . . . .It’s true that adding a second organizer in Alaska will cost the national party only a modest sum, maybe $35,000 this year, but that same money could pay the salaries for canvassers in Pennsylvania or Connecticut, where a few thousand votes could mean the difference between swearing in Speaker Hastert or Speaker Pelosi next January. Overall, Dean’s investment in state parties could cost the D.N.C. as much as $8 million this year
Now we have a new Asian American legislator in Alaska of all places who won handily over his Republican opposition. Plus he is anti-Patriot Act because his grandparents were interned during World War II, so we know that he is someone who stands for his principles, for civil rights and civil liberties.

This is the difference between having someone like Gov. Dean who believes in the grassroots and who is willing to really listen and not just pay lipservice to Asian American involvement and service with the party. It's what Carville doesn't get when he dumps on Dean - that Dean is a leader because he inspires us, and he sticks to his vision, even when everyone else thinks he's crazy. He's a leader because he has followers, unlike Carville, whose public smearing isn't being echoed by anyone - not Rahm, not Donnie Fowler who ran against him for DNC Chair, not Hilary. Not even Harold Ford who Carville put forth as a better DNC Chair candidate. Hell, Democrats even made gains at the state level in North Dakota, and South Dakotans decisively voted down an abortion ban.
UPDATE: Steve Gilliard sez:
What attempted coup?

It was more like drunk Uncle Jim demanding the car keys to get more beer. Finally, someone pulled him aside and told him to shut the fuck up and eat more cornbread.

Carville was spouting off because he thought he had power.

Dean sticks to his guns because he knows it takes time to build a farm team and to (re)build a base and a winning coalition. And I wouldn't be surprised if he was secretly surprised that the groundswell victories have happened so soon after he took office, but I give him a lot of the credit for having the vision to win by running in all 50 states, because you don't win by running in only 40% of the states and districts.

Other Asian American Dems who won new seats this cycle include 37 year old Blong Xiong, the first Hmong American and Asian American Fresno city councilor. And Steve Hobbs, a 36 year old Iraq War veteran from Washington State who opposes the war, and won over a 12 year incumbent Republican state senator. Also give a warm welcome to Kris Valderrama, a labor and civil rights activist, and 31 year old Saqib Ali, who is a South Asian American man endorsed by the Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police (!!!), who both just won their first seats in the Maryland state legislature. (Hmm, I wonder if George Felix "Macaca" Allen helped boost Asian American turnout across the river - you think? It kinda makes me wish Allen was sticking around to make stupid comments in 2008 and increase our turnout, but not enough that I wanted to see his mug back as the Senator from Virginia.)

Howard Dean's 50 state strategy has dividends not just for the farmers in Kansas or the fishermen in Maine. It benefits Asian Americans and Asian American candidates too. And soon I'll be able to say that it benefits Asian American farmer candidates from Kansas and Asian American fishermen who want to run for political office in Maine, with the way Asian Americans are running for office, uniting disparate groups of voters, and winning all over this crazy beautiful patchwork country of ours. Because hell, we already have our Asian American artist/actor/activist elected official, Cy Thao from Minnesota. And while we could use more like him, we need some diversity in here! I want to see the day that we have at least one Asian American elected in every state, at every level. I want to see us represented in proportion to our population, and I want to see the full spectrum of our Asian Pacific Island American heritages included.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Virginia, Delaware GOP lost, wandering in desert

Coming on the heels of James Carville's idiotic call for Howard Dean to step down from his DNC Chairmanship and his oversight of the 50 State Strategy, we get articles about the self-destruction of the bankrupt (literally!) Delaware state party and the resignation of the chair and Exec Director of the Virginia GOP.

Via dailykos, Delaware's GOP chief and staff have all lost their jobs due to cashflow problems:

The Delaware Republican Party has fired its entire paid headquarters staff, effective at the end of the year, blaming a post-election cash shortage. . .

He said unpaid volunteers will perform the office manager and communication director jobs until the party is on a better financial footing, but that the GOP will look for a new executive director.

"It's a very, very difficult job and something I'd rather not do," Strines said. "But it's something we have to do to keep the doors open."

The dismissals follow disappointing Election Day results for the GOP, highlighted by the loss of three state House of Representatives seats and the defeat of Ferris Wharton, the Republican candidate for state Attorney General.

House Dems might have fought over their number 2 spot, but now we are going to move forward together (Rahm is kissing and making up with Dean.) Meanwhile, VA, a formerly red, trending blue state, can't figure out what direction the Republican party should move to - more taxes or less? More spending or less?

RICHMOND, Nov. 15 -- Last week's defeat of Sen. George Allen has widened the rift between moderates and conservatives in Virginia's Republican Party, a rift that is likely to deepen at the GOP's annual meeting early next month.

Party leaders, elected Republicans and activists in both philosophical camps have been eager to blame one another for gridlock in the General Assembly and bitter disputes in the past. Now they are also looking to explain why they keep losing elections.

The Washington Post has the whole juicy story. Delicious to read, delicious to watch. Watch conservatives run even farther right after reading about the failure of their party heads, and listening to GOP electeds say that Virginians need to pay taxes:
This week, the state party's top officials, Chairman Kate Obenshain Griffin and Executive Director Shawn Smith, resigned, taking responsibility for presiding over two devastating losses: Allen's and Jerry W. Kilgore's in the governor's race last year. . .
"There are a lot of other reasons for his defeat," said Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax), a leading moderate in the House. "But his message, obviously, didn't resonate. A continuing of the no-tax mantra is failing. Sooner or later, you have to face reality that you do have to pay for things."
The horror, the lovely horror. Republicans generally don't air their dirty laundry in public, preferring to snicker as Dems tear each other apart. Well, I'm enjoying watching the GOP intraparty battle tear apart their farm team candidates, and torpedo their agenda. Besides, it's not like the state Repub parties are going to find their Moses at the national level since Rove's Congressional projections of keeping both the House and Senate were overly optimistic and his disciple Ken Mehlman has left the building. Keep searching, lonely sheeple.

Welcome to the real world of Congress, welcome to the real. . . Los Angeles???

Trent Lott, crazy Senator from Mississippi, who lost his leadership position for praising Strom Thurmond (infamous racist who ran for President on the States' Rights line), just won back a position in the Republican Senate leadership. Why did Lott lose his seat in the first place? Because at Strom Thurmond's birthday party, Lott said,
"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
Lott meant, if slavery were still in place, the country wouldn't have the problems of civil rights or equality. As Jon Stewart says, "He's now Minority Whip - the jokes just write themselves." Or as Colbert says, "That is a great step for him - of course Minority Whip is one step away from being Grand Wizard."

On a happier note, one of the reasons why I love Minnesota's new Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim American in Congress, is because he blew off President Bush's reception for newsly elected Congresscritters to attend a meeting with the AFL-CIO.

Unfortunately, Ellison got asked the stupidest question by a CNN reporter who accused him in a non-accusation accusation of working for and with our enemies.

Ellison is an African American Muslim. What if Beck had picked on him for being African American instead of Muslim and said instead, "Prove to me that you're not a thief because you're black. I'm not accusing you of being a thief, but that's the way a lot of Americans feel." There would be a crazy amount of press and outrage over Beck's idiocy if he made the statement that way.

Lastly, via Americablog, I saw this youtube footage of UCLA campus police repeatedly tasering a student who might be Muslim. Horrifying but real. He says, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your fucking abuse of power. . . I got tased for no reason, I was leaving this godforsaken place, and you detained me." Other students are protesting their abuse of the student, and a student who asks for an officer's badge number gets threatened with their own tasering. This is really creepy and Orwellian, and I can't believe university "cops" are doing this.

TAKE ACTION by voicing your outrage to UCLA Interim Chancellor Norman Abrams:
Telephone: 310-825-2151
Fax: 310-206-6030
Email: chancellor@conet.ucla.edu

Let UCLA know that this is not acceptable at all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Asian American Senate leadership

Americablog has a fascinatinig look at the anticipated Senate committee chairs and members - of special note is that both Asian American Senators from Hawaii Inouye and Akaka (congrats on re-election!) are chairing committees. Akaka will chair the Veterans Committee, which is a fitting role since he served in WWII, and Inouye will head the Commerce Committee.

Akaka's other assignments include: Armed Services, Banking, Energy, Homeland and Government Affairs, Indian Affairs (also fitting because of his Native Hawaiian constituents who are trying to gain recognition)

CHAIR: Akaka

Inouye's other assignments include: the politically potent Appropriations (they dole out the moolah), Commerce, and Rules (lair of the wonks and procedural masters like Harry Reid), and Indian Affairs (also fitting because of his Native Hawaiian constituents who are trying to gain recognition)
CHAIR: Inouye
Nelson (Fl)

These are some plum assignments, especially for Inouye, and I'll be waiting eagerly to see what type of leadership roles Asian American Congress members take in the House after the dust settles on their end.

Base-building the hard way

Over the past 6 years, I watched as Bushco made horrendous decisions that sent our kids off to war, gave hard-earned taxpayer money to companies (Bankruptcy Bill, the sham of Medicare Part D), took away our civil liberties - you get it. The list of horrors goes on and on. The worst part was, Bush would do something that once upon a time we would have thought was too brazen, too over the top corrupt, and each time, a little part of me would die.

The parts that thought government was for the people, by the people - those went first. Then slowly but surely, I became cynical, hardened, even bitter about our ability to create social justice, or even social change in such a crazy messed up world. And I was an activist, so it's not that I just sat back and complained - I went out and fought the good fight in my corner of the world.
Idealistic parts of me that previously thought anything was possible shut down and went into hibernation, afraid to step out into the sun, afraid of being broken permanently. I would hear about Bush's latest crazy scheme, and think, "Ok, well, he's shooting for the moon with that one (social security)" as opposed to getting really pissed and motivated. I would think that I should be surprised, but that I wasn't, and that there were more horrible ideas that they were waiting to unveil. Or I would get pissed, and then really fatalistic. I was scared to believe that there was a ray of sunshine at the end, and I bet anything that it's how Rove wanted it. Believe me, those were dark and gloomy days of little hope and much self-flagellation.

So it is good to read an inspiring story from New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District on how an underfinanced, undersupported, underwatched dark horse candidate who ran as an anti-war activist against a better financed primary challenger, and then a Republican incumbent in a district that hasn't elected Democrats for three decades - won on the strength of her faith in the people and the democratic process. It reminds me of why I got into the fight in the first place, and that sometimes the underdog does win.

Folks, I give you the warm tingly-inducing story of Carol Shea-Porter as told by her accidental campaign aide on what can only be called people-powered politics. She won againist all popular wisdom and she did it under the radar screen, by reaching out and touching people. The campaign did the difficult grassroots work and they made it happen. It makes my inner idealist want to run around outside and turn cartwheels.

And I now REALLY want to read the Tipping Point, which has been on my list of books to read.
I'm not averse to finding inspiration and ideas from all and any sources, since I'm right now on a campaign against a big nasty Goliath.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lieberman likes to swing both ways

Electorally speaking, that is. Lieberman, the former 2000 DEMOCRATIC vice-presidential candidate who got ousted from the party line in his 2006 Senate race, received huge cash influxes from Republicans in his race against upstart millionaire Ned Lamont, who was powered by the grassroots and netroots.
He said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he will begin his new term as a Democrat because it would make him part of the congressional leadership. The senator is in line to become chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. . . . . .

He was asked about the possibility that he might switch caucuses if he became uncomfortable as Democrats sought to enforce party discipline, particularly if the GOP offered to keep him as a committee chairman and respect his seniority.

"I'm not ruling it out, but I hope I don't get to that point. And, and I must say, and with all respect to the Republicans who supported me in Connecticut, nobody ever said, 'We're doing this because we, we want you to switch over,' " he said.

Joe Lieberman has ALWAYS wanted to have his pie and eat it too. Well, enjoy your little cry for attention, you are becoming increasingly irrelevant. I'm sorry if you are "uncomfortable" as a Democrat and want to be formally known as an "Independent Democrat, capital I, capital D". I don't feel sorry for you, not one bit. You want to be a Zell Miller, have the guts to go whole heartedly instead of just namby-pambying around. Now the majorty of Americans who voted in a Democratic House and Senate to check the excesses of the Bushco administration has to deal with your pussyfooting and backstabbing for at least two more years. AAaaarrrgHHH!

It's not like I didn't expect this or anything, having blogged about the challenges of Lieberman before.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

SR Sidarth on the post-Macaca moment

SR Sidarth, whom lame duck Senator George Felix Allen nicknamed "macaca," a type of monkey, gets the last word ini a WashPost op-ed: I Am Macaca. In it, he owns his identity and describes how his experiences with the people of Virginia up and down the cmapaign trail were far more hospitable than the senator himself.
I was singled out at a GOP picnic, identified as "macaca or whatever his name is" -- despite the fact that Allen knew my name, as we had been traveling the same route for five days -- and then "welcome[d] to America and the real world of Virginia."
Allen's actions that day stood out because they were not representative of how I was treated while traveling around the state. Everywhere I went, though I was identifiably working on behalf of Allen's opponent, people treated me with dignity, respect and kindness. I cannot recall one event where food was served and I was not invited to join in the meal. In southwest Virginia, hospitality toward me was at a high point. . . .
The following day, at the picnic in Breaks, even after Allen's comments highlighted my outsider status, I was not allowed to depart without eating, because as one woman put it, "Political differences are set aside at the dinner table." In the same spirit, I was given accurate directions to Allen's next event, held in Bluefield the following morning.
Sidarth knows that Virginians were ready for a real leader in Jim Webb, and he is glad that the voters are done with the politics of hatred and division. As am I.
The politics of division just don't work anymore. Nothing made me happier on election night than finding out the results from Dickenson County, where Allen and I had our encounter. Webb won there, in what I can only hope was a vote to deal the race card out of American politics once and for all.
It sounds as thought Sidarth learned a lot from the experience, and that he is a pretty mature college senior. I wish him the best, and remain impressed by how he has handled all the attention. It is a fitting end to Allen's career.

Feingold bows out of '08 presidential race

Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat from Wisconsin, decided not to join the 2008 presidential race today. This is a real shame because Feingold has been a reliable progressive vote and a man of conscience. He was the sole senator to vote against the Patriot Act in
2001, and he proved successful in removing some of the more onerous parts of the act. I would have supported a man of his caliber and resolution for president, but at least Wisconsinites know that he will continue to serve them diligently.

This leaves the Senate race wide open for someone to run from a progressive, lefty stance, and thus I believe Feingold's dropping out most benefits John Edwards. Although Edwards will be running as a populist, he won't be running on the exact same civil liberties, campaign finance reform platform that Feingold did, and he doesn't have the ability to say that he was always against the war, since Feingold voted against it and Edwards for it. If former Virginian Governor Mark Warner's dropping out benefitted Hillary (both are centrist Dems) and Edwards (both are Southern red state Dems), then this latest development increasingly sets up Edwards as the choice for progressives. Unless someone else who is a red state Dem who previously won three national elections chooses to hop in the race...

And we're off to the 2008 races, as Vilsack announces his formal candidacy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Carville is the next Zell Miller

James Carville, the infamously bug-eyed politico who thrived during the Clinton era, is calling for Howard Dean to be replaced by Harold Ford, who ran and lost in Tennesee for Senate this cycle.

Dailykos has the whole debate, including a response from Dean's spokeswoman that notes:
After the Republicans have admitted to a thumping, why is it that the only one complaining on the Democratic side is James Carville, who today in addition to trashing Howard Dean, praised the RNC, the outfit that brought us the racist ad that defeated Harold Ford, James' supposed candidate for Chair?
Now, the equivalent job over at the Republican National Committee is open, and possible replacements include Carville's own wife, Mary Matalin. I think that the RNC could do worse than her, but my real concern here is: why does anyone listen to James Carville, especially if he helped to defeat us from within in 2004? Anyone else find this particularly suspect? Carville's own star has been falling after the end of the Clinton era, and he no longer takes any domestic candidates. One wonders if this isn't because he finds the need to help his wife lead the RNC? (And apparently not to subvert it from within, either.) Interesting factoid from his website: his wife nicknamed him serpent head. No, it doesn't make me trust him more either.

If you read his biography, which helpfully provides his political milestones, Carville helped get Zell Miller elected to office. Zell Miller is the former Senator from Georgia who spent all of his time excoriating Democrats, and even spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention as an angry, crazy-eyed, crazy-haired Democrat-hating Democratic senator. I'd be weary of any "advice" from Carville's mouth, since his remarks seem calculated to drive a deeper wedge in between the grassroots Deaniacs and the DC elected leadership. To me, it does indeed look like Carville wants a war. He could then step in and be the moderator, all the while leakinng secrets about how the Democrats were at each others' throats to his wife who would use those to undermine us.

What we have now works, and it won us the election, although Democrats right now have a fragile coalition, and I don't mean of voters. I mean, the powerful leaders like Pelosi, Rahm, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, and Chuck Shumer, set aside differences (ignored each other) long enough for us to win. As I said before, I am probably most afraid of us tearing ourselves apart, now that we finally have some power in DC. And even Rahm Emmanuel, who is as power-hungry as any other alligator in Washington, opted to go for Caucus Chair (4th highest position in the Democratic House structure) rather than confront Rep. James Clymer for the 3rd post. So I see our leaders mostly keeping their sniping to themselves. Except for bugboy, who wants to tear it all apart.

So let's not bite the proffered shiny apple from serpent head, and stick with what has got us this far, which is Dean's lonngterm vision, coupled with Pelosi's steel-gloved leadership and Reid's sharp tactics. Zell Miller knew enough to see his own way out of the Democratic Party, even if he was intent on doing as much damage as possible beforehand. Let's see if Carville can take a classier route.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

We own the Senate

The people have spoken, and soon to be ex-Senators Conrad Burns and Goerge Felix "Macaca" Allen finally conceeded. Ken Mehlman, head of the Republican National Committee, steps down (read: is fired) a day after Rumsfeld gets the chopping block. These days, it's sweet to be a Democrat. We now have a 51-49 majority in the Senate, which is nowhere near filibuster-proof, but we have lame duck Senators like Lincoln Chafee who are willing to step in and do the right thing and block Bush from renominating John Bolton as UN Ambassador (or unambassador if you like, that's how good he was at his job.) One of his most infamous quotes was:

''If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.'' Like the character Bizarro created by Otto Binder, Bolton Bizarro has a brain apparently functioning at a level of a kid -- or more accurately, Bolton Bizzaro operates on the level of a playground bully minus Ritalin.

Yeah, that's Bush's idea of bipartisanship - shake your hand in front of the cameras, and wait for the photogs to leave to spit in your eye.

No thanks, Shrub. You lost your political capital. You squandered it on gay marriage bans, hoisting immigrants as scrapegoats, presiding over the worst job market since Hoover, and destroying any shred of goodwill the international community had for us after 9/11. Adept at playing cowboy (like another George), you decided to go it alone on the Kyoto Protocol, and on the International Criminal Court. No accountability means you can't be prosecuted for war crimes by a jury of your peers.

We own the Senate, and now we intend on rebuilding this country by tackling issues that matter, that aren't just some window dressing programs. I want this country to heal. Your divisive tactics have inncreasingly torn us apart over the past six years so that brothers would no longer talk, so that friends avoided each other, and neighbors grew more distant. On one side of the divide, I felt the rift deepening, my own anger and frustration reached and the surpassed fever pitch as I saw how much damage you did to our country. To my country.

There were things that I could not discuss with friends or family, issues that cut gashes into our conversations, wounds that I never thought would heal. Issues that resonate deeply in my history, ini my daily life, that I couldn't discuss with certain loved ones because of all the stonewalling or yellinng that occured, without resolution. But now we've taken away your knife and grounded you. Because although the Republicans claim to be the "strong father" party, we're the ones disciplining you now, to make up for your 6 years of excess and corporate gratification. You stole from America's kids (NCLB, Pell Grants), you stole from our seniors and gave to Big Pharma (Medicare Part D), you stole fathers away from daughters (wars). Tell me why and how you can dare be surprised by the people's rebellion? On second thought, don't. All of America is tired of listening to your lies.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Affirmative action ban in Michigan passes

The saddest referendum to pass on Tuesday night was not Arizona Prop 103 which made English the state's official language (although it is a close one,) but rather Ward Connelly's (notorious self-hater and KKK embracer) ban against affirmative action in Michigan, which passed with 58% voting yes.

Why is this so troubling? Because Michigan was the strong defendent (under the leadership of former President Lee Bollinger, now at Columbia University) of affirmative action rights in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, two Supreme Court cases that were decided in 2003 and which heralded the end of affirmative action, as the final decision ruled that affirmative action would probably not be necessary because racism wouldn't exist in 25 years (I'm paraphrasing.)

The Detroit News has some info on how this will jeopardize not only people of color, but women as well, based on the experience of Californians and the passage of the similar Prop 209:

In California, subsequent court cases and interpretations that have followed in Proposition 209's wake shows that such ballot proposals go too far -- hurting women and men, rather than working to be more inclusive to all.

A case in point: Tens of thousands of scholarship dollars -- both public monies and private ones administered by public universities -- could be threatened by Proposal 2's passing, simply because they target girls, experts say.

So what if donors wanted to honor a grandmother and give the money to girls? No matter. The University of Michigan and other public colleges' officials are worried they will be restricted from giving out such money, since they -- the funds' administrators -- are publicly funded.

Michigan girls would be punished in other ways, too: Girls' science camps and other gender-specific, publicly funded programs are expected to be ended.

Just wanted to bring everyone's attention to one of the less publicized stories from this election. that will have a long-term effort and a greater reach than everyone expects.

Magic 8 balls and lotto

I looked into my magic 8 ball last night, and all my election predictions came true! I was totally spot on for the Senate (9 for 9), and the House pickups numbered 28 (possibly more since there are still some races that are contested.) I had predicted in between 25-30 wins for Dems in the House. The one thing I was surprised by was that McCaskill was able to claim victory sooner than Webb, but that was a very pleasant surprise since the early returns were depressing me and my friend in Missouri.

I hope the second part of my prediction doesn't come true as well, that Dems tear each other apart, but history says that we are voracious cannibals. Anyway, this was meant as a celebratory post. I think I should go buy some lotto tickets, or maybe I should call myself the new Larry Sabato, Virginia don of politics.

Also, Asian Americans really did an extraordinary job this cycle - I am particularly psyched about Hubert Vo increasing his lead from last time, to 54% over Heflin (guess voters like the honest guy), and Blong Xiong winning a Fresno City Council seat (hat tip you are here.)

And minimum wage referendums passed overwhelmingly in 6 states including Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio. Don't underestimate these in Democratic turnout - people have been starving under Bush and eager for a pay raise.

(PS - Sorry for the inconsistent posts, I know sometimes I flood my blog with love and other times I ignore you. That's campaign life.)

Everything changes

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's campaign tagline has been "On day one of the Spitzer administration, everything changes." Now I'm not so naive as to believe that just because we hold the House (congrats Madame Speaker) and the Senate (go Harry Reid), that everything changes immediately. We still have to hold our elected officials accountable. It is up to us to make sure that the Democrats remember what an opposition party looks, sounds, and ACTS like.

Of course, the feather in our cap is that Bush fired Rumsfeld today during a long, protracted, and painful (for him) press conference. This was supposed to be the kiss and make up one where he made peace overtures to the Democrats. Instead, he sounded nothing more like a petulant 8 year old who didn't get what he wanted, so he decided to scream and yell and throw some stuff around. Oops, broke your Transformer, little boy.

This doesn't mean that I'm not gloating today - I do have to allow myself to savor life's little victories.

But let's remember what race this all hinged on - the US Senate seat in Virginia. And that race was decided months ago by a courageous Indian American college student who decided to use George Felix Allen's words against him. And Asian Americans provided the decisive margin of vistory that led to Allen's Senate loss and the end of his presidential ambitions. Macaca this, you smug bully. Control of the Senate rested on your shoulders, and you failed because you motivated Asian Americans in Virginia and across the country to turn out like never before.

Felix got what was coming to him, because eventually every great bully takes a great fall, and the other George is going to have a nice long, slow one which will involve lots of lame-duck quacking - all noise and no substance. During which time, hopefully the Democratic Congress will go a-hunting and win ourselves a prize trophy - the 2008-2012 presidency.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Asian American wins across the nation

There are a number of incumbents who have proven thehir mettle and won their seats including California Rep. Mike Honda, MN state sen. Mee Moua, Sen. Daniel Akaka from Hawaii, and many more.

In races that were hotly contested, the margin of error was much less than the Asian American population in the district:

Virginia Senate: Asian Ams are 3.1 percent of voting Virginians. The margin is currently a fraction of 1 percent.

Pombo-McNerny (california): Asian Ams are 10.9% and the race is still uncalled.

Miissouri Senate:
Missouri's Asian and Pacific Islander race category experienced the largest percent increase, 55.1% growing from 41,758 in 1999 to 64,773 in 2000. Missouri's total population grew by 9.3% from just over 5.1 million in 1990 to slightly under 5.6 million in 2000.

These are the 2000 Census figures so you can expect the numbers to have risen some over 6 years. If the race is won by under 70,000 votes, you can better believe that Asian Americans had a role in it.

I wanted to give a shout out to all the political newcomers who are running against incumbents this cycle:

Connecticut: William Tong pulls an upset win over two term incumbent Donald Scherer for the State House. I had heard he was an up and comer, and I'm glad that he made it.

Kris Valderrama for Maryland State House in the lead

Mazie Hirono for Hawaii Congress leading

Votes still beiing counted:
John Chiang, who is running a serious, credible, and tightly contested race for Calif. State Comptroller

Not out of the running yet:
Bob Underwood for Gov. of Guam and former Congressman

TJ Cox, hapa businessman running in Modesto

Phillip Shinoda, running for Texas State House in Dallas

Wish them luck next time:
Tammy Duckworth (IL candidate) against Peter Roskam

Finally, reasons from AALDEF via the AFL-CIO why the Voting Rights Act matters:
  • Forty percent of the 14 million Asian American citizens have limited proficiency in English.
  • Asian American voter turnout jumped by 71 percent between 1996 and 2004, far outpacing increases for Latinos (57 percent), blacks (26 percent) and whites (15 percent).
  • In 2004, one-third of the Chinese American and Korean American voters said they used an interpreter to help them vote.
  • Asian American voters still are being disenfranchised in many states by a series of familiar anti-voter techniques such as incomplete voter rolls, improper identification, poor training of election officials and lack of interpreters.
It all ties together folks, we gotta turn out AND Protect our votes! Gnight for real.

Webb up by 3000

According to CNN TV although it's not on the SEc. of State's site which has a razor slim margin of Allen by less than 2000 votes and the Green candidate with 25,000. My body is giving up on me, despitea keen interest in finding out what happens in Virginia. So I will have to bid you adieu whilest I can still type ... a pickup in Kansas for House, as well as legislative wins via hotline:

Dem state legislative successes continue, as the party has picked up the IA State House. Before tonight, GOPers held a 51-49 advantage. The state Sen remains too close to call. Dems have picked up the NH Sen, the IN House and the MN House. A bright spot for GOPers: The party took enough seats to force the OK Sen to a tie. In ’04, GOPers won the OK House for the first time in 86 years.

I hope to wake up to a win in Virginia-Sen. Sweet dreams of victory.

Update: Okay, somehow I found a way to keep myself awake for a little while longer, long enough to see CNN call Virginia for Webb!!! Despite his name being chopped off on the ballots, despite heavy GOP efforts to intimidate voters, Webb is in and ready for the good fight. I like a military man.

In breaking news, these two are leading:
Tester over Burns (Retard Senator-MT)
Walz(ed) over Gutknecht (R-MN)
In a particularly sweet win, McInerny over super-corrupt Pombo in California's 11th
Perlmutter over O Donnell (Colorado me blue!)
CT-2 for Courtney (D) over incumbent Rob Simmons (if this pans out, it will be interesting to see why CT voters chose to hedge their bets in between relecting Lieberman to Senate and kicking out the incumbents in the House. I guess it's Conn. - they can only be so adventurous!)
Murphy (D) over Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania)
AZ Dem Atty Gen Patricia Madrid over incumbent Rethug Heather Wilson

Other CNN House calls for Tenacious D's:
Huge upset: Dem. Dr. Kagen over Repub Gard in one of the reddest areas of Wisconsin (vacated by former Rep. Green - R to challenge Wis. Dem Gov. Doyle.)
Altmire over Rep. Melissa Hart (Repub Congresswoman no more for Pennsylvania)
Mitchell over Cong. JD Hayworth (Arizona Repub)

Oh damn, I need my sleep but, I will do an APIA update. Because this staying up was worth it.

Democrats take House

CNN just called it. Senate not looking so hot in MO. WE're down to the wire in Virginia, and the race is getting close again (may go to recount.) I'm about to have a heart attack. (An expression - I am feeling better watching House and Governor returns rolling in.)

WE swept all 3 hot House races in Indiana, is there something in the air there, or is populism cominig home to roost? FNC calls IN 09 for ex-Rep. Baron Hill (D) over Rep. Mike Sodrel (R)

Underage page seducer Mark Foley's old seat goes to the Democrat: Mahoney, the newest Congressman from Florida, in a way-too-close contest: Mahoney 49-Foley 48. Creepy.

Republican Don Sherwood, who allegedly chocked his mistress, lost his Pennsylvania seat to Dem. challenger Carney

Arizona: Giffords defeats xenophobic hate-spewing Minuteman Randy Graf, who the National Republican Congressional Committee abandoned a long time ago. Unfortunately, Prop 103 has passed and now English is the official language of Arizona.

CNN's calling the other Nee Hampshire seat for Democrat Shea-Porter over incumbent Bradley: this could be a sweep of Pennsylvania contested seats and the New Hampshire congressional delegation!

CNN projects Dem Kristen Gillibrand to take out Sweeney in New York, now waiting on Davis v. Reynolds.

Lane Evans' old seat remains in Democratic hands in Illinois's 17th. Waiting on duckworth in IL-06....

ABC also calls FL 22 for Klein (D) over incumbent Shaw. Stephanopoulos: "This is a big big pick up for them."

Scummy Hastert wins in Illinois, but will soon be relegated to minority status.

Heath Shuler, former football player wins in North Carolina over incumbent Taylor (R)

Admiral Joe Sestak wins in Pennsylvania over totally corrupt Curt Weldon

Hotline has more:
Mike Acuri wins in NY, Sekula-Gibbs (R) wins Delay's old seat :( UPDATE: Fox is calling it for Dem. Lampson the Texas Ex-Congressman
Zack Space (D) wins over crazy incumbent Joy Padgett (R) in Ohio.
At 10:04 pm, FNC calls that Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT 05) has lost re-election to Chris Murphy (D). FNC's Garrett, on Johnson: "She ran locally, she did all the things in the Republican playbook ... it didn't work." Garrett, on GOPers: "Their only hope now is that the [House] losses are in the low 20s" (FNC).
At 10:11 pm, FNC calls that Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA 07) has lost re-election. U.S. News’ Barone: “Which district are we talking about?” (FNC).

CNN calls New Hampshire for Democratic challenger Paul Hodes over Charlie Bass.
We kept 2 Dem House seats in Ohio: Strickland's and Sherrod Browns'.

MO-SEN: The McCaskill-Talent numbers tightening

Governor's races (28-Dem, 22 Rep)
FL- they're calling it for Charlie Crist, republican.
Vermont - CNN calling for Republican incumbent :(
PICKUP in Arkansas (CNN) - Beebe wins over hutchinson (this is an open seat left by MEGA popular Huckabee, who is my pick for dark horse to win GOP presidential primary '08) This has to hurt Huckabee a little in that horserace.
PICKUP -Dem Bill Ritter defeats Congressman Beauprez in Colorado to win the Gov's mansion!
Iowa stays in the blue with Chet Culver (we need both Colorado and Iowa for 2008.) This might help departing Gov. Tom Vilisack's chances for 08 Dem primaries, and make up for the fact that he couldn't win his state in 2004 for Kerry.

Minimum wage: props pass in Ohio, Missouri.

State races:
Dems pick up State Senate, Executive Council, possibly both CDs in NH. (big for 08)

All you need to know

Baltimore Mayor O'Malley defeats sitting Republican Gov. Erlich of Maryland. Buh bye, that makes for 4 Gubernatorial pickups -- Patrick (MA), Spitzer (NY), Strickland (OH) being the others -- so the Gub balance of power is now 26 Dem-24 Repub.

Senate progress: We've picked up 3 of the 6 seats we need to get to a 51-49 Democratic majority to make Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader. Those would be Rhode Island (Whitehouse), Ohio (Brown), and Pennsylvania (Bob Casey).

House front: We've picked up 3 of 15. Keep on rolling, rolling, rolling down the river!
About where to get elections numbers:

CNN - for the latest Webb v. "Macaca" Allen dirt - a race that I am following intensely. also hit up the Virginia State Board of elections. Allen 49.68 to Webb 49.12: arrgh! This race keeps changing back and forth! So exciting to watch all the incumbent Republican reds get knocked out by blue upstart Dems in CNN's projections. They are flying fast and furious now! Webb-Macaca update: 87.27% of votes in, they are separated by .16% with Allen leading, so at least Webb is picking up! Shit - now it's Allen 50.05-Webb 48.75. Arrghh! The good part is that Fairfax County which is in Democratic vote rich Northern VA hasn't finished reporting.

Democratic gains/holds (as called by the networks):
Ohhh, I think I feel a tsunami - CNN just called Rhode Island Senate for Sheldon Whitehouse, over incumbent Lincoln Chafee (R-Moderate). Chafee was one of the few Northeastern Republicans left. And Lieberman is set to win in Connecticut - he claims he will caucus with Dems. Let's see about that.
First Muslim American elected to Congress -Keith Ellison of Minnesota - and of course he's a Dem. I blogged about him earlier this year.
In Kentucky 03, which everyone said was a bellweather race, Yarmuth, an alt-weekly publicher, defeats Anne Northrup, a rubberstamp Republican.
Congressman Ben Cardin of Maryland is traing on up to the Senate - he defeated Michael Steele (R) (according to CNN).
CNN's also calling a second pickup in Indiana: Donnelly over Count Chocola (who thought we'd make so many gains in Indiana, a red state?)
Menendez holds his Senate seat in New Jersey
Brown wipes out Dewine (R-OH-Jack Abramoff's pockets)
Klobuchar wins the open Senate seat in Minnesota, which was vacated by Mark Dayton (D)
2 Gubernatorial pickups that will surprise no one: Spitzer in NY, Deval Patrck in Massachusetts - huuuuge spreads
Ted Strickland wins the Ohio governorship, winning over the corrupt Ken Blackwell (R) who was Sec of State, presiding over the 04 elections debacle! (This is huge for 2008, and Dems are going to sweep the statewide positions, including Secretary of State, ensuring that every vote WILL COUNT in 2008.
Sheriff Brad Ellsworth defeats incumbent John Hostettler in Indiana's 8th - the Fightin' Eighth! (this is one of 15 we need to take back the House)

Sick today!

Ugh, I woke up to a raging headache, churning stomach and feverish aching body. So I went back to sleep, and I woke up not too long ago and am going to post predictions from my warm bed. I was going to stay up the whole night watching election returns (esp. McCaskill v. Talent(less)) but I am not sure I will be able to. I'll try to update over the course of the night.

That said, my Democratic predictions for the Senate:
MO: McCaskill wins in a squeaker
TN: Ford loses
OH: Brown wins
PA: Casey wins with over 14 percentage points. Longer term effect is that Rick Santorum fades from the public's memory, and people only remember his last name as a vile concoction.
MD: Cardin wins
NJ: Menendez wins
CT: Lamont loses
MT: Tester wins over Sen. Burns-like-crazy, whose novel quote of the day was: "Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) told ABC's Donvan that Democrats didn't get what they wanted. Asked what that was, Burns said: "I'm not in prison." Yeah, because that's real confidence from a con man. It doesn't mean that after you lose your seat that you're not going to sit on a hard bench behind steel bars.
VA: Webb wins (Eat yer Confederate flag lovin' heart out, Allen!)

That makes for 7 seats won, which gives the Dems control of the Senate, 52-48. Well, this does include Bernie Sanders, who is Independent but cooler than the average Dem, and Lieberman, who is the opposite. But I think that this margin will allow for a Lieberman-proof majority rule. Now let's hope the Dems don't tear each other apart before we can start getting to the business of undoing all the destruction that Republicans have rained down on us the past 6 years.

House: Dems win 25-30 seats to retake the House, Hastert loses the Speakership and minority Leader and Minority Whip. Pelosi becomes Madame Speaker, Rahm Emmanuel becomes Majority Leader (I'm goiing out on a limb with this one because Hoyer would be the natural replacement.)

Oh yeah, and hopefully Rahm starts giving Howard Dean some props for hiring Democratic organizers for the state parties in places that we NEVER thought we'd be contesting, like Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The 50 state party is a long term vision, and I am really glad that Dean's efforts are bearing fruit so quickly. Thank you, Governor, for being our standard bearer.

Monday, November 06, 2006

lies and the lying bastards who tell them

An undercover ABC investigation that had college students wearing cameras into military recruiting centers found that - SURPRISE! - over half the recruiters caught on tape lied about students' chances of going to Iraq, the ease of exiting the army, and the likelihood of death.

This is some plain old crazy stuff that should not be going on. I have a friend in Iraq, but he went knowing the circumstances and the risks. He went out of loyalty to the brothers that he met. As the mother of a deceased soldier who was tricked into enlisting says, "Tell them the truth." That's all - the men and women (and also boys and girls - some of them are so young) who serve deserve to be told the truth about what they are getting into.

If there is one reason to go and vote tomorrow, it's because other young people are dying because of some lying bastards in Washington who fabricated WMDs, sold a fake bill of goods to the American and Iraqi people, and now it's time to hold them accountable.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Midterm Madness

Here is a totally addictive game from the Washington Post: Midterm Madness. You can submit your prediction of what the upcoming House and Senate look like, and you can change all the seats blue if you want (in my ideal world.) It's very very addictive for the hardcore political junkie like me, and highly educational for those who are merely interested.

There's also Fantasy Congress which was created by some University of Southern California kids, at least one of whom I believe is Asian American. Way to go, boys, you got some national press coverage! I haven't played it yet, in between the 2 hours it took me to put together my perfect 110th Congress and the lack of a social life, but you should go check it out - the idea is that it's like a fantasy baseball team and you draft crongresscritters who will have a lot of power to move legislation, then you track them.

I'm all about these political games, because it gets people interested in politics, and I love games. Oh, and politics can be very much a game (think RISK as realpolitik.) So it's all entirely fitting.

I know that starting at 8pm Tuesday night, I'm going to be glued to CNN and my computer screen, clicking refresh on different states' election return sites.

Let the 72 hour countdown begin...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happy blogiversary

I've brought you no presents, no fancy cake. Just some words of gratitude. Thanks for being there when I fell down a deep hole. Thanks for being my silent companion on the lonely roads. I must credit my family and friends with seeing me out of the funk I wasin, but it helped to be able to process my innermost thoughts to a tabla rasa.

When I started this blog, I was feeling lost and isolated. Thank you for helping me find direction. Here's to many more.