Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kerry bows out of 08

Well, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts finally bowed out of the 2008 presidential race. I don't know why it took him so long to see that he had no real grassroots support for this one - perhaps he was blinded by the $13 million that he had left over from 2004 that he didn't fully use in trying to win. I could have told him that he had no chance even before his senior Bay State Senator teddy Kennedy told him he'd go with someone else if JFK didn't make up his mind already.

I could have told him that the days after wrapping up the 04 election, when we found out he still had that 13 million sitting in reserve. What I saw during the campaign wasn't true fervor about him as a candidate, it was mostly generated by genuine fear of another four years of Bush. This presidential cycle, we need someone with genuine appeal, and a genuine base.

It is time for new ideas and fresh faces - Al Gore has responsibly realized that, and has respectfully ceded that territory to new people who can use the Gladiator-like terrain to hopefully hatch new policies, new directions for our country.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts on State of the Union

Via dailykos. Damn, that first video was priceless.

Share your thoughts; I'll be updating as he drones.

So I thought that Bush had some missteps as usual, wavering greatly in the middle and losing steam. Not to mention totally sugar-coated his newfangled and disgusting, dare I say, bankrupt health care plan. It truly was momentous to see Nancy Pelosi sitting behind Bush's left shoulder. Funny to have Clinton right behind Obama, and Kennedy sitting next to him. Did the cameras set it up that way or what? Condi looked very venomous, Laura looked starched, shiny, and robotic. Also, what was with Cheney laughing and winking behind Bush as Bush brought up energy independence?!?! So unprofessional. I bet that when he "accidentally" shot his friend, he was laughing about it as well.

This was a super defensive speech by a president who claims he will balance the budget within 5 years?!? Cutting god knows what programs for the poor, elderly, and disabled.

I thought I would write more about Dubya but I was struck by the confident, stately, dignified, pitch perfect response by Virginia Senator Jim Webb (hat tip Crooks and Liars.) It hit all the right notes, ranging from the shrinking middle class and his own experiences waiting for his dad to come home from war, the sacrifices he and his family have made, but their proud history of service. In many respects, he sounded a populist's call to arms, even referencing "robber barons."

"When one looks at the health of our economy, it's almost like we're looking at two different countries [nice borrow from Edwards' Two Americas theme] . . . it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day. . . In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone, and our best hope . . . is losing its seat at the table."

I was incredibly proud when Governor Gary Locke was chosen to be the Democratic party's face, but Webb's response is the classiest and just spot-on one I have ever seen. The stark contrast between his leadership and Bush's lack thereof is mindblowing. This contrast is strong because of several areas:

1) Webb is a former Navy Secretary to the neocon Godfather, REAGAN. That he has come around 180 degrees like this and can rhetorically kick Dubya to the moon is craaaazy. He demonstrates the power of rational thought and steady leadership and experience. Bush comes off as nothing more than a Johnny come lately in a flypaper suit. He blows Bush away.

2) Webb is a fighter for the little guy - he gets that the middle class is being squeezed dry. He also manages to throw former Republican president Roosevelt's quote about not cozying up to corporate "robber barons" in Bush's face. He manages to be empathetic while strong and commanding, without taking on the victim's mentality that Repubs accuse the Dems of.

3) Webb's personal and family history of military service
Bush evaded going to Vietnam, while Webb proved himself with distinction. Much like the difference between Webb's choice of footwear during the campaign, and that ex-senator George "Macaca" Allen, it is easy to see that Webb's principles come from the heart, and his deep history. Recall the flareup between him and Bush when he greeted Bush as a newly elected Senator and asked for his boy, and all our soldiers to be brought home. This highlights the distinction. It is the difference between a young boy playing cowboy dressup and the real deal. (Between Webb and Obama, these guys are completely redefining how hot Democratic masculinity can be!) Whoa, nelly!

4) This was as riveting and powerful a speech as Bush's was dry and stale. To the degree that the first thing the FOX pundit said was that it was a "masterful" speech by Webb.

5) Let's not forget, Webb's Senate victory over the much-maligned (justly so) Allen is why we have the Senate in the thinnest of wins. It is why we are able to move forward a real agenda for change.

If Webb wanted to catapault himself into the top ranks of VP candidates (and set himself up for a future presidential run), this is an excellent way to do it:

When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing. I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country. I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot. My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues ­ those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death ­ we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us ­ sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

And finally, the kicker:
These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

All I can say is that if it had been him instead of Kerry running, we would have won in 2004.

Thank you Senator Webb for showing Virginians true leadership. I am positive that next election (assuming you aren't running for higher office and even if you are), Virginians will reward your courage with a landslide victory. Virginia and the country have been thirsty for leadership like yours, and thank god you're in office as opposed to Allen. Thank you for this clean, elegant and utterly devastating rhetorical kill. Thank you for showing America the power and strength of the Democratic vision.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Song of always

Damn, I don't have time to be writing this but I was reviewing some of my older writings and experiences from before I started blogging.

There are certain memories that fill me with a desperate longing to be back on that campaign or in that moment. I sometimes live, stuck in the glories of yesterday, musing about all the joys and tears of long ago - and lo! Out spring a new crop of tears. There's really only one thing that gets me as teary, and it's the topic of immigration.

Almost all of my best friends are the sons and daughters of immigrants, or immigrants themselves to this country. Immigration is not just around me, it is me. I am it. My story.

It is a dream of America that ties our hearts all together - a dream that hard labor can and will reap bountiful fruits, a good life, a good education for the kids (or for yourself). It is a dream of an open door, a window, a bridge. All these symbols of freedom and opportunity and success.

When I think back on, or think about the Asian Americans amongst us who don't celebrate our immigration histories, who barely know the struggles that our parents and grandparents and so on faced, I wonder how we can pretend that we are not part of the vital struggle to contribute to these United States. It amazes me that we deprive ourselves of the richness of the knowledge and wonder of embracing our lives for what we are. What our ancestors were. I know that I wasn't always proud of being the child of immigrants. It marked me as different, speech-impaired, almond-eyed and yet the focus of stares.

How can we reconcile these forever truths? The truth that American history has not always been so bold in revealing her nature, that after we jumped off of ships, we were coolies for hire, migrant workers, that we were considered mongrels and perils and less? The truth that after being used for our skills, our strength, our knowledge, we were shunned and tossed aside, rejected and ejected from entering what we call the Beautiful Country?

True that, some days these thoughts drive a stake into my heart the size of the once and only Golden Spike in Utah which sealed two railroads into one, a marriage of convenience and commerce, but we were the bastard children excluded from the ceremony. Nevermind that we gave our lives, limbs, and hearts away.

True that, lonely days echoes of internment shriek like a gale force in Tule Lake which isolated us, abandoned us, and yet we brought forth some kind of self-government. Yea, even oppressed, we fought for ourselves, our country. Whether through playing baseball within the barbed wire or fighting on the frontlines, we fought for justice, even if our service, our humanity, our citizenship was not recognized.

True that, sleepless nights like this, wile my smooth hands swim across the keys, my friend's mother turns thread into jewels, birds, flowers. She, the modern day Rapunzel high above the city, locked in her Chinatown (my town, your town) fortress for pennies on the score. Her head bent intently over this spring's latest design. What of her designs?

In this land of the free, I can only say that our wounds, our love, our forgiveness, our hope are all part of the talk story, the Paj Ntaub, the backbone of America. Immigration weaves around me and through me and I sing our hurts and sorrows, our blessings and tomorrows.

No fears, I am grateful to my ancestors, and to all those who tread the path before.

This is my daily prayer.

Recent news of note wrapup

I don't have much time to do a full-on posting, but I've got a great on in the works which will have to wait until I finish my latest project. Although procrastination may push it out there early.

So onto news of note:

1) Immigrants who were granted green cards through aslyee status may have those revoked by the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) if they are found to have been gong home to visit dying relatives, etc. Via Miami Herald.

2) So far the major Democratic presidential candidates who have announced or are "exploring" are (in rough order, going backwards):
Bill Richardson (Gov. of New Mexico)
Hillary Clinton (NY Senator)
Barack Obama (IL Senator)
Chris Dodd (Connecticut Senator)
John Edwards (former NC Senator and 2004 veep candidate)
Dennis Kucinich (Ohio congressman)

Six candidates, six different views on how to shape and change America. Like some cheesy relity tv show line, only one will win! (The presidency of course - since we will have a Democrat elected in the 2008 general election.)

3) On the Republican side, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas announced. He's a movement conservative, highly liked by the religious conservative base. He's one of the top two dark horse candidates to win, in my book (other one is ex-gov. Huckabee of Arkansas who has yet to announce.)

That's all for now. Take care folks, and try not to get sick like me while working on deadline - it truly sucks!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Activism, and how it happens

for me, it was the growing and/or sudden awareness, like fits and spurts, that something was wrong. But it was not enough to recognize that an individual event was wrong, through organizing I came to see that there were underlying systemic problems that were greater than the one fuse point that touched off the whole controversy (or whatever it was.)

Now I tend to think big picture all the time - I can recognize the similarities between previous battles that I've fought or marshaled, what tactics to use, the winning strategy. There are numerous instances in which the issue is entirely different, but the actions of people and how they gather, where they gather, who or what they gravitate around, are all replays of previous battles.

So early to love, life, and liberty comes the crashing revelation of patterns. Those borne out of the swirl of childhood games, popularity contests, story plots. We see and recognize you, embrace you as part of the whole fabric, and start again. A new tapestry, a new chance to bear the glorious banner and lead like Joan of Arc.

Activism is the spark that sets the whole forest aflame.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Little Asia on a Hill?

This is my gut response to the recent NYTimes article, Little Asia on a hill.

The topic of Asian Americans "crowding" top high schools and colleges has
been rediscovered in the past few months, mostly because of Daniel
Golden's newish book, which I admit I haven't read. Also b/c of the Wall St
Journal article
from a while back that discussed white flight at a
Cupertino high school where parents of white kids were pulling them out
opf the district because they were afraid their kids couldn't compete
against Asian Americans.

There's whole dissertations and books done on this topic, and so much to
discuss in places that the article is lacking, since it simply reaffirms
the model minority stereotype that Asian Americans are some "super race"
that is exceptionally smart and hardworking. Mind you this formulation was
always in contrast to those "lazy welfare queens" and followed by the
question, "They (Asian Americans) made it - why can't you (African
Americans) get off your butts, work hard, and succeed?" Neither stereotype
is fair.

For Asian Americans, the model minority stereotype is coupled with a deep
immigration history - we were the only group to be specifically excluded
from immigrating to the US based upon ethnicity. The Chinese Exclusion
Acts began in 1880s and expanded to cover the whole triangle of Asia, and
were not lifted until the 1940s. They were based on a fear of the "yellow
peril" that was "taking our jobs and stealing our women." But even then,
the population remained low and only saw an uptick with the passage of the
1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act which allowed for family
reunification. Furthermore, the families that came immediately afterwards
tended to be very highly educated, connected and/or wealthy (excepting
mine, which was only highly educated.) Hence, the false perception that
Asian Americans could move here and instantly win the Horatio Alger dream,
gaining skilled jobs and sending kids to the top public and private
schools. And even this, a cherished and oft-belabored point, is just a
myth - there are plenty of highly educated immigrants who were physicians
or professors back home who open delis or drive cabs or work as grocery
cashiers here.

First, let's look at this statement in the New York Times by the chancellor at Berkeley, Robert J. Birgeneau, if there is a perfect demographic recipe on this campus that likes to think of itself as the world’s finest public university — Harvard on the Hill — he demurs.

“We are a meritocracy,” he says. And — by law, he adds — the campus is supposed to be that way. If Asians made up, say, 70 percent of the campus, he insists, there would still be no attempt to reduce their numbers. . . "And many Chinese-Americans are a lot like Caucasians in some of their values and areas of interest."

This cannot even be said to hold true for upper middle class and middle
class Chinese Americans, much less for the Chinese American immigrants who
toil for below minimum wage in Chinatown, or my friend who was smuggled
over here, and still owes the snakehead tens of thousands of dollars for
her journey alone, not to mention her mom's and sister's. Not sure what
values and areas of interest does he mean seeking upwards mobility? But
really, who doesn't want to be upwardly mobile? The Mexican farmworkers I
met burned with a desire to escape the fields. If he is talking religion,
most white Americans practice Christianity, whereas this is decidedly not
the case for Chinese Americans, who may be Buddhist, Taoist, or Bahai
instead or agnostic (many shunned religion in the aftermath of Mao, and
this has carried over.) Perhaps the best way to examine the statement is
to see who he is implicitly comparing Chinese Americans to - what groups
are not like Caucasians? I would guess that the implicit statement he is
making here is that "many Chinese Americans (unlike Latinos and African
Americans) are a lot like Caucasians in some of their values (hard
working) and areas of interest (seeking education.)" And that is just
wedge politics at its dirtiest, hidden behind a veneer.

It is also not a terribly fair and balanced article in that he doesn't
explore root causes, choosing to hover on the surface of a very divisive
and explosive issue. It's 5 pages and he could have gone at it from a much
less covered angle, but he went for the easy filler. Even the title pisses
me off. Egan neglects to interview any Asian Americans who benefitted from
affirmative action, and I know people who fit into this category. Second, California was the first state, followed by Washington, and Michigan just passed a similar proposition this past election cycle.

Asian Americans of all ethnicities were actively opposed to Prop 209 in
Cali and Prop 2 in Michigan. I find it bizarre and yet interesting that he
chooses to focus on California, the state with the highest Asian American
population by far. California is an oddity, not representative of the norm
or even the future of other states in this respect. It is also interesting
that California was the first state to pass an affirmative action ban,
because California was also the heart of the Know Nothing movement and the
anti-Asian American backlash of the 1800s which resulted in riots and
lynchings. Anti-Chinese American sentiment in California ran so high that
former Governor Leland Stanford (whose name graces another top institution
of higher learning) ran and won back then on a platform of exclusion.

In 2001, the Committee of 100 commissioned a survey of Americans' attitudes toward Chinese Americans, with some disturbing key findings including that 25% of Americans have negative feelings toward Chinese Americans:

"23% of Americans are uncomfortable voting for an Asian American to be
President of the United States. This is in contrast to 15% compared with
an African American candidate, 14% compared with a woman candidate and 11%
compared with a Jewish candidate. "

Personally, I am strongly pro-affirmative action. I don't believe in the
2003 Supreme Court ruling which decided that it was okay to get rid of
race-based acceptances because "in 25 years there will be no more racism."
Would I like to see more Asian Americans accepted at institutions of
higher learning? Yes - but I would like to see a wider range of
socioeconomic groups, as well as more Pacific Islanders and refugees.
Mostly it's Indian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese American students at the
top tier schools, not Hmong or Cambodian Americans. Moreover, it tends to be students from wealthier families who can afford to pay $40,000+ a year. I have benefitted by
being in diverse environments with people who had different backgrounds
and immigration and racial histories than me.

Also a friend who worked in admissions at a highly prestigious school said that the school would reject Asian Americans with amazing scores and that she thought there was a quota. Asian Am enrollment at this school ranged from 8-10% over the past decade. (I realize this is anecdotal.)

Moreover, I hate when admissions is cast as Asian Americans taking the places of African Americans and Latinos when the people who are usually saying this mean that they are scared that spots are being "taken" from Caucasians. Because the opposite game gets played as well, where opponents of affirmative action say that it hurts Asian Americans. Never forget it is a wedge issue that the Right uses quite effectively. When I heard about Jian Li, the Yalie kid who is suing Princeton for denying him admission, I had two thoughts: 1) not crying for the kid; 2) not crying for that elitist institution either.

In reality, schools should abolish the legacy system which strongly advantages rich kids. (Incidentally, the same "they're taking my job/woman/place in school argument was made about ethnic white immigrants and Jews before. It's not a new argument by any means, and it's pretty much the same people recycling it over and over.) I also recognize that not all schools have the financial ability to do this, but I think schools like Harvard could and should lead the way. I think that Derek Bok (new president of Harvard who replaced the atrocious Larry Summers introduced the loan-free acceptances for kids from families making less than $50,00/year as a way of partially rectifying the imbalance, and I applaud him for taking that first step. But higher ed as a whole needs to find solutions and fast, else the days of $500,000 college degrees and a deeply segregated underclass are not far. (Some argue we've already reached the latter.)

Immigrant concentration camps take effect

I thought I wouldn't be posting much but lots of stuff going on including Toys R Us conntroversy, which I think they resolved well after flubbing it - there were three babies born at midnight, and the Chinese American baby won in a drawing, but the company disqualified the mother because she is undocumented, so the prize money went istead to an African American mother in Atlanta. (Wedge much, Toys R Us?) the third baby was Latino. After much protest, the corporation changed its stance (fairly quickly, too, once masasive media started rolling.) Rosie/WalMart: look to them as an example of smart corporate PR crisis management. It almost seems Solomon-like, although instead of splitting the baby in half, they're giving each baby a prize of $25,000.

In other news, the NYTimes published a racially provocative article titled "Little Asia on a Hill" about the Asianification of UC Berkley after the passage of Prop 209. I will have a lengthy piece on this soon.

Found an awesome immigration law prof blog which includes Bill Ong Hing, former EEOC Commissioner under Clinton, as one of the writers!

Why I found it is another, less felicitous matter - I saw the dailykos posting that said that the US had managed to build those concentration camps I had written about earlier, as it could potentially be holding Chinese American immigrants as well. The Austin American-Statesman says:

"The T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a private detention facility in Taylor, is emblematic of new federal policy that detains all unauthorized immigrants from countries other than Mexico while the government determines whether they should be deported.

The Taylor center is used for that purpose, but it and a smaller one in Pennsylvania share a distinction: They are the only two such facilities in the country that hold immigrant families and children on noncriminal charges. "

Kellog Brown & Root was one of the corporate vampires in overbilling charges in Iraq, got a $385 million contract last year to build them, and now is building initernment cmaps for whole immigrant families who are not from Mexico. Here's an update on the project from June 06. It's unclear if the OTM (other than Mexican, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement says) detainees include undocumented Chinese families, but I will do more research.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More on Asian Americans in state Cabinets

It seems that current Virginia Governor Tim Kaine continued a smart practice of his predecessor Mark Warner (a former top contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination until he dropped out.) He has numerous Asian Americans in top Cabinet and sub-CAbinet positions, based upon this article in Asian Fortune on who Kaine is bringing with him on an Indian trade tour: "Secretary of Technology Aneesh Chopra, Deputy Secretary of Finance Manju Ganeriwala, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade Vivek Kundra."

Jennifer Granholm, the first female (and Canadian!) governor of Michigan, nominated Teresa Takai as the first woman and Asian American to head the Department of Information and Technology.

Regular readers know that my current obsession with Gubernatorial cabinet members results from newly-elected Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's lack of any Asian American appointees, given that these are two of the most supposedly progressive states in the country, with the highest Asian American populations. I mean, Michigan's executive is beating you on this point, and Asian Americans only make up 2.2% of the population in Michigan, a figure lower than the national average. I don't understand why these two executives in NY and Ma who represent so much promise and change, fail to capitalize on that promise by appointing well-qualified Asian Americans.


ex-Senator Allen's racist heir

It looks as though Virginians are going to have to do more housecleaning - Congressman Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) is a certified cuckoo. First he said that Muslims have no business holding elected office.

Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., made the comments in a letter sent to hundreds of constituents about Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress.

"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district, and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped." Goode wrote.
[Emphasis added]

God/Allah/Krishnu/deism of your choice forbid that America actually be a diverse country. Cos that founding principle of religious freedom was only supposed to apply to Christianity, as in "you are free to practice whatever religion you choose as long as you worshipi Christ."

And this was supposed to be his apology. Those Virginian electeds are CRAAAAAAZY!

Virginians' heads are hanging in shame again, as it's back to being portrayed as a state that can't help but elect racist dimwits. As a local paper writes: "REP. VIRGIL GOODE, a Republican who represents Virginia's 5th Congressional District, makes few national headlines, and it's too bad he couldn't keep it that way. Mr. Goode stirred up a storm of controversy recently by stating that Muslims have no business holding elective office in the United States. It says that right there in whatever document he carries in his breast pocket where a copy of the Constitution should be."

This guy must be in constant communication with Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota.

But Ellison got the last word in, as he was sworn into office on a copoy of the Koran . . . which was formerly owned by a prominent deceased resident of Rep. Goode's district - none other than Thomas Jefferson. Talk about a snappy comeback!

Another district constituent (living) had a succint comment to make, carefully stenciling in the word "BIGOT"
underneath his district office window, in a gold paint that blended in with his nameplate so that it looked rather official. Too funny. All I can say is I hope Virgil Goode faces the same miserable downfall as his apparent mentor, ex-Senator George Felix Allen.

(PS - yeah I know this whole tawdry saga has been reported on already, but this past week and upcoming week are going to be a bit slow in terms of blogging - travel and work responsibilities take precedent. Unfortunately not a paid blogger . . . yet. Anyone want to pay me to blog? Please?)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Asian Americans movin' on up in politics

Yesterday I posted about how Governors Deval Patrick (MA) and Eliot Spitzer (NY) hadn't named any Asian American cabinet members. That hasn't changed, but I caught this NYTimes article about Indian American Kris Kolluri, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's Secretary of Transportation, serving asa Acting Governor for a day or two while everyone else above him in the political pyramid was out on vacation.

Another politician with the foresight to appoint an Asian American is former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who appointed Eugene Huang as the Secretary of Technology. This was no slouch of a position as Virginia's tech valley has drawn a goodly number of jobs and residents to the state. Huang is by all definitions a rising star as the youngest cabinet member in Virginia history at the age of 28 and current White House Fellow.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (of the easily misspelled last name) just appointed Tammy Duckworth, Iraq war vet and former congressional candidate to head the state's Department of Veterans' Affairs. She has to be confirmed by the state legislature, but should prove to be an invaluable voice (btw, this is one of the smartest hiring decisions the man with the difficult name has made.)

And it's not as though Duckworth was even the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a cabinet post in Illinois - that honor belongs to Shinae Chun: "In 1989 Chun made Illinois history when Thompson appointed her to be the director of the Department of Financial Institutions." Let's remember that former Gov. James Thompson was a Republican, and he did it over 20 years ago - that's what makes the appointment extraordinary.

Other governors, Democratic and Republican, in less progressive states have recognized the value of the Asian American community and the wide berth of talent by appointing Asian Americans to cabinet posts. So really, I don't think that it's asking too much that the Democratic Governors of the nation's two most Democratic states appoint at least one Asian American to a high-ranking cabinet position within their respective administrations. As Colbert would say, "Governors Patrick and Spitzer -- you're on notice."

It's not as thought Asian Americans aren't building our bench team ever deeper and wider - just look at the five new Asian American mayors who are being sworn in in California. The San Jose Mercury News has a look at this diverse group, who were all born abroad and embraced America and decided to run for office: Taiwanese American Kris Wang (Cupertino), Chinese American Otto Lee (Sunnyvale) who served in the navy, Japanese American Yoriko Kishimoto (Palo Alto), Filipino American Jose Esteves (Milpitas) and Taiwanese American Eileen Kao (Saratoga).

Also pretty cool is that Kao, Wang and Kishimoto are Asian American women - strong sisters who are representing all of their constituents.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Governors and their Cabinets

Well, newly elected Governors Deval Patrick (MA) and Eliot Spitzer (NY) have named virtually all of their cabinets (the top plum assignments anyway) and to date, there are NO Asian Americans in them. Sure, they might have Asian American staffers, but no Asian American Secretaries of Transportation/Education/Health/whatever.

I had hoped that the Governors of the most Democratic States could do better than Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger who named A.G. Kawamura Secretary of Food and Agriculture (not insignificant in a state which exports so much of our nation's fruit.)

Patrick at leasat appointed an Asian American (Lev Wing) to his executive transition team and appears to have many Asian American transition staffers, but it's not the same thing.

Since Spitzer was confirmed today and Patrick will be confirmed in 2 days, I see little hope that the situation will be rectified. Asian Americans like Norm Mineta have served with distinction ini Presidential Cabinets under Clinton and Bush Jr. I fail to see why and how they overlooked our community's best and brightest.

In better news, South Asian American Jay Goyal will be the firist Asian American to serve in Ohio's state leg - congrats!

McSweeney's food reviews

Damn, I wasa supposed to get more sleep as a New Year's resolution, but instead I have found myself sucked into reading pages upon hilarious pages of reader-submitted McSweeney's new food reviews. (Think reviews of new types of food, not their newest prinnted food reviews.)

Here is one that is dead on:
Sprite ReMix

Submitted by Ed Page

Unwrap several packages of regular Spree candy (not the chewy kind) and place the candies on a hard surface. Take a hammer and pound the candies into a fine powder. Pour the powder into a glass of regular Sprite and stir. Now take a drink. This is Sprite ReMix.

I have laughed, I have cried, and I have sympathized with the tasting of items novel and nutricious, sublime and suspicious. And I will continue to read on until there are no more archives. Strangely I feel hungry...

Happy New Year

2006 was a mixed year for me that had an uplifting turn - I got out of my crappy old job and started anew. Here's to fresh starts and the promise of a singular new year full of promise. I spent my New Year on a bridge with thousands of other kindred spirits full of exuberance, watching the night-time sky burst into flames. I felt noticeably happier, lighter, more free. With an airy breath, I blew away the dark cloud that had peristed in hanging around and embraced the warmth of a thousand hellos.

Perhaps my favorite memory is watching the fireworks in winter, the falling ashes reflected upon glistening snow, mouth agape as we watch hundreds of feet below.

I believe 2007 will be a good year - we already have a new Congress for a change. Best wishes for a new year full of laughter and joy! Happy new year's, baby.