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, February 28, 2007

Anti-Hmong racism in the Ivory tower

From the Madison campus of University of Wisconsin, I bring you exhibit #1 in stupidity:
Leonard Kaplan of the UW Law School, who made ridiculous stereotypes about Hmong people during his class, as reported by the Capital Times.

Law student Kashia Moua, a Hmong who grew up in Eau Claire where she said neighbors built very high fences to separate themselves from her family, organized the meeting with a widely distributed e-mail.

In that e-mail, she quoted several remarks that Kaplan allegedly made, including: "Hmong men have no talent other than to kill," "all second-generation Hmong end up in gangs and other criminal activity" and "all men purchase their wives, so if he wants to have sex with his wife and she doesn't consent, you and I call it rape, but the Hmong guy is thinking, 'Man, I paid too much for her!' " [Emphasis added.]

What kind of misogynistic, racist bullshit is this?!? Why hasn't he been fired yet? I can't believe this guy is a professor whose job is to educate and inform, and he spews this type of hateful bile. His degrading words are way beyond the pale for there to be any sort of misunderstanding. THERE IS NO GRAY INTERPRETATION of these words, and since he won't even discuss what he said, he has a very flimsy defense.

A student who was in the class, Nam Dao, said in an interview that Kaplan was lecturing about cultural assimilation and how to craft laws when many different cultures are involved.

"He made references to certain Hmong stereotypes, particularly the dowry system and the gang problem in Wisconsin," Dao said. "He used the dowry example to show that it is difficult to craft laws that apply to different cultures. He used statements about Hmong gangs and Hmong men not having education and job skills to illustrate the idea that Wisconsin was not doing a good job of assimilating the Hmong."

But Dao added that "when he was talking about cultural differences," Kaplan actually believed the stereotypes he was describing.

I saw professors like this in college. They claimed to be liberal and they would present a music or English or history class with a stereotype but not deconstruct and provide context to the stereotype so that the students would go away thinking that:

1) whatever stereotype was presented was factual because the professor has credibility and authenticates the stereotype, if you will; and
2) it was okay or proper to repeat these ethnic/religious/gendered stereotypes because a figure of respect has done so.

What has to be done is exactly what the UW students are doing - correcting the misinformed professors and including the rest of the community in the dialogue. Without addressing their mistakes, your other classmates and your professor will continue to believe and teach those falsehoods, and think that it is perfectly alright to do so. Indeed, they may repeat these things with nary a thought, perpetuating more hate and bias. I can't believe this professor is so cowardly he can't stand to go to a forum held with the Law School Dean and face up to his students and the rest of the law school community. What kind of remorse or understanding does that show? He gets to voice his opinions, but he can't stand to listen to what people think? That is not free speech or discourse because it's a one way street, and he's not going to learn anything. If the Rosie "Ching Chong" O'Donnell debate provides any illumination, it is that these mistakes can be true learning opportunities to bridge gaps in understanding, but that the individual actually has to be ready to hear it. There is no pedagogy of the oppressed or of any kind here because he seems to have absented himself from discourse, being "uncertain" that he wants to attend a public forum.

The kicker is that "In 2002, he was honored by the International Academy of Law and Mental Health for his distinction in pursuit of scholarship, pedagogy and human rights initiatives in the field of mental health." [Emphasis added.]

You would think that a professor of human rights might have a little more tact or understanding. Supposedly he apologized for the "misunderstanding" and here are his remarks to the reporter about the incident:

"I have nothing but great respect for the Hmong community. I did apologize to the students for the misunderstanding, and I want to be part of any educational or healing experience that comes out of this in these volatile times," Kaplan said.

"I can't go into it further at this time. I have such respect for the Hmong community. This is a terrible misunderstanding. That is not who I am, and I don't want to increase any more pain for anybody. I care about my students, and I think I am a good professor."

Yeah, right. A good professor learns from his students as much as he teaches, and sets aside his ego to do so. Besides, who ever heard of a law school teacher that was afraid of a forum?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Anything but atheist aka, the silent Asians

Atheism comes in dead last as a quality that voters would want in a presidential candidate. In the poll, voters would be twice as likely to vote for a Catholic, African American, or Jewish candidate for President than an atheist. It's the only category where a majority of voters say the would NOT for for them based on that quality.

Whereas 94% of people polled claim that they would be willing to vote for a black candidate, only 88% would vote for a woman (poor Hillary.). And Hispanic candidates have less luck, with 87% willing to vote a Latino into the White House (poor Richardson.)

Gallup poll:
If your party nominated a well-qualified Candidate For WH '08 who was _, would you vote for that person?

Yes No
Catholic 95% 4%
Black 94 5
Jewish 92 7
A woman 88 11
Hispanic 87 12
Mormon 72 24
Married for third time 67 30
72 years old 57 42
A homosexual 55 43
An atheist 45 53

Noticeably, the poll doesn't include Asian American, since it seems not to have crossed anyone's mind at Gallup that this is a possibility. One day, someday, we'll have a candidate to call our own. (Obama personifies the immigrant dream, the immigrant experience, and even grew up in the APIA-dense state of Hawaii but he isn't officially of the tribe.) They might be hapa, or really friggin' wealthy as most candidates have to be nowadays, and they might even have their own brand of star power. Keanu Reeves '12 anyone? Until then, we don't even get to find out if we poll worse than atheists (though something tells me that we probably would do about as poorly.) Then again, the Committee of 100's poll in 2001 at a recent peak of anti-Asian sentiment said that 23% of Americans are uncomfortable voting for an Asian American president:

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.

It's interesting to see what numbers have changed, although obviously Gallup and C100 use different methodologies. So who knows, maybe there's chance. Right now the best contenders in terms of respectability and prominence are former Wash State Gov. Gary Locke and ex-Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta. But who knows if they'd want to be in that type of constant stress all the time. So are you going to be the one to break that ceiling?

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bridging gaps in understanding

AAAAAAARGGGHHH, I had a four part post that went the way of the dodo when I had too many windows open and Firefox crashed, and even when I hit restore session, the "recover post" link on the new blogger didn't do jack for me. What use is the new Blogger I ask?!?!

So now I have to do a really abbreviated walk-through of what I was thinking because I already wasted 2 hours of time that should have been spent working/sleeping.

Item one: congrats to Beau Sia, slam poet extraordinaire, who finally got Rosie O'Donnell to apologize (not in the trite "I'm sorry if you're offended" way but in a genuine fashion (hat tip Mike2Cents.) I know that I didn't think Rosie's outburst was very funny or a big deal, but I'm glad that others pressed the point and turned it into a teachable moment, a means of educating through discomfort.

Item two: I've been following the Anna Mae He story. My heart broke when I heard that as a result of all this conflict, she no longer considers herself Chinese, but Mexican:

The attorneys representing the Hes were also upset by comments made in a national newspaper by Anna Mae saying she was Mexican not Chinese.

"Our hope is that the Bakers will do everything they can, to make this transition easy for Anna Mae and not have her say things that don't really serve this transition process," they said.

It reminded me a lot of the young girl in the "A Girl Like Me" video which replicated the psychology study that the Supreme Court referenced in Brown v. Board of Ed which ended segregation (officially if not practically.) The interviewer gives a young African American girl 2 dolls, one white and one black. She asks the girl to point to the good doll, and the girl points to the white one. Then she asks "which is the bad, evil doll?" The girl gestures to the black doll. Then the interviewer asks, "give me the one that looks most like you?" and the girl's eyes, hands stray to the white doll, but then she hesitates and pushes the black doll across the table. The pain in her round eyes is as deep as the racial divides that still exist.

The Bakers even put out photos of Anna Mae, in a desperate attempt to win public support, even after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in favor of her biological parents. I hope that they can come together to help ease the transition because this is one confused girl and she's going to grow up really angry if this isn't handled properly.

Item Three: Kenneth Eng's op-ed in Asianweek called "Why I Hate Blacks" which was taken down by the site (you can find a copy of it within the link.) I haven't been reading the papers as much recently because I have been slammed with a double whammy of work and travel, but I had read Eng's increasingly deranged writings and dismissed them as the work of a science fiction writer, which is to say "not based in reality." However, this one included jawdropping statements like this:
Contrary to media depictions, I would argue that blacks
are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been
enslaved for 300 years. It’s unbelievable that it took them
that long to fight back.
On the other hand, we slaughtered the Russians in the
Japanese-Russo War.

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Eng needs to apologize and Asianweek needs to stop running his "thought" pieces. I read Asianweek because of strong writer like Emil Guillermo, Phil Tajitsu Nash, and Maeley Tom. I enjoy it because it is a weekly publication that I can go to for national and Bay Area APIA news. But I will stop reading and publicizing it if Asianweek does not amend its ways.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Organizers' blogs

Instead of working/sleeping/eating, I am websurfing. Today's treasure is this site by an anonymous organizer (possibly for ACORN) who goes by the nom de guerre Notes on the life of an Organizer.

Low wages? Covered.

Organizing the unorganized? Yup.

Organizing the low wage workers on pretty low wages yourself? Doubly yes.

More truth and honesty like this, please.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lord of the Chings

Dialectic over at the Fighting 44s has this hilarious parody of Lord of the Rings: Lord of the Chings. for those of us who grew up on Tolkein, the stereotypes are apt and funny:

In discussing the superiority of the Elves, our attention is also naturally drawn to the Numenorian Men, or the Japanese. They are both hyper-advanced, inventive, and live on an island of miracles and wonders.

...A brief note on the
gods, or white people. They broke up continents physically in Middle-Earth; they did it politically all over Asia. It is said that the universe began when the gods started to sing. They sang in harmony for some time, and while the content of the song is never specified in The Silmarillion, it probably involved prancing around barefoot outdoors, wearing shoes indoors, and committing mass slavery, genocide, and/ or drug trafficking on five continents (plus one Indian sub-continent).

Bwahahaha~ enjoy the weekend, folks.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Graffiti 2.0

I am so in love with light-painting/ graffiti for the new age. The first time I saw light applied to the sides of a building was the delicate curlicues that adorned the wedding cake that is Philly's City Hall -- ethereal, but tourism nonetheless.

So when I saw Graffiti Research Lab's beautiful protest art on youtube, I followed them over to their site. It's the progenitor of the mooninite ad hoax that Comedy Central hipped Boston and 9 other cities to. Some people ask why no one in New York freaked out when Boston like the dainty priss it is cried mass hysteria after 2 weeks of no one noticing. GRL's Jesus 2.0 video and the Homeland Security threat tower might help to answer some of your questions. Although the postaLED does look more like a bomb than the mooninites, and I could see people getting panicked about that.

Don't forget to check this awesome public art culturejam in NYC done collaboratively with the Anti-Advertising Agency.

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Supreme Court says thank you for smoking

UGH. The US Supreme Court overturned the Oregon Supreme Court's ruling against Philip Morris for $79.5 Million in punitive damages.

What's even weirder is how they arrived at a 5-4 decision:
Justice Breyer’s majority opinion, Philip Morris USA v. Williams, No. 05-1256, was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Samuel A. Alito Jr. The dissenters were Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

It is typical for the court’s punitive damages rulings to cut across the usual ideological lines. In fact, the only real surprise was the vote by Justice Stevens, who had previously voted with the court’s majority to support limits on punitive damages.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Stevens said he was “firmly convinced” that those earlier decisions were correct. But he said that “in my view the Oregon Supreme Court faithfully applied the reasoning in those opinions to the egregious facts disclosed by this record.” He said that “no procedural error even arguably justifying reversal occurred at the trial in this case.”

Stevens' reasoning was that juries can only punish defendants for harm done to the person who is suing, not to those who aren't having cases tried as well. It was a line that the company had used successfully, saying that the Oregon jury was encouraged to consider all the health concerns of Oregonians who had smoked a Philip Morris cigarette.

Normally I would expect Kennedy, Souter, Stevens, and Ginsberg to be on the minority 4 side, so the pairing of Scalia and Thomas voting AGAINST Big Tobacco is a bit of a mindfuck. (Don't forget to read this LATimes hagiography of Scalia and his coming conservative rebellion.) Although I will say that he has an excellent sense of humor, even if it is not quite proper. Yeah, he was one of the only people openly bellylaughing (because he's untouchable) at Stephen Colbert's scathing whipsmart takedown of Bush, the White House press corps, DC culture, and the like at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Can we say, bought out by Altria? For more coverage, I bring you legal expert and former Wonkette abovethelaw writer David Lat:

Accidental migration and keeping the faith

I accidentally migrated to the "new" blogger. When I was trying to login last time, it directed me to the new blogger link, and try as I might, I was unable to navigate away. So I am stuck with the new blogger, like it or not, because they specifically say that once you move, you can't go back.

I am not happy with this bait and switch, but will have to live with it. I was perfectly fine with the "old" blogger and haven't seen the bells and whistles that make this blogger so wonderful, apart from adding some tags, which doesn't really matter.


I was pleased to see that retired. Major General Antonio Taguba, most famous for being the lead investigator of the Abu Ghraib scandal, is lobbying for Filipino veterans' equity. Sometimes it is nice to leave the spotlight so that you can say and do what you want. Hopefully the veterans will get some justice this Congressional cycle. I am sure that Congressman Mike Honda, who outlines APIA congressional priorities here, will be an ardent supporter, and as he reminds us, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) who was the initial sponsor of the Veterans Equity bill, is now Chair of the Veterans Subcommittee. So lots of progress, and we gotta keep on pushing.

Additionally, hsuperpolitical reminds us that yesterday was not just President's Day, it was what many Japanese Americans refer to as the "day of remembrance" because that's when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 (1942) which interned a whole group of American citizens.

On a lighter note, it's now the year of the Boar if you follow the lunar calendar. If you feel like you didn't get a proper fresh start on January 1, here's your chance to do it all over again. (I made no resolutions so I have nothing to break, just fresh ground on relationships and being more upfront about my own feelings.)

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bush tears apart consumer safety

Well, the old Republican Congress tried their darnedest to pass a bill that would have gutted local food and safety laws that are more stringent than the lax and toothless federal protection.

Consumers Union, the most trusted magazine in product reviews, said: "Food Safety – Although Congress was thwarted in its attempt to enact legislation that would have undermined state and local food safety laws, they failed to strengthen federal regulatory oversight over our food and product safety systems. For instance, they did not move to create a single federal food agency that could act quickly to prevent and deal with e coli outbreaks and the like, leaving instead the patchwork of federal agencies and weak oversight that exists now."

Then in the past 2 months we've had a Spinach recall due to E. coli, we've found Salmonella in peanut butter and cantaloupes. See, I always thought Salmonella was a meat-related bacteria -- how the hell does it get into jars of peanut butter?!?! I can ind of see it on the outside of cantaloupes more, but peanut butter?!? Next thing we know, we'll have salmonella bananas for breakfast.

Check out the latest google news for our buddies sam 'n ella. Not only do we have the delicious PB&Diarrhea combo, we've got some yummy hummus to go with that side of vomit.

Now, Bush's latest cowardly decision as the Decider is to bypass our elected representatives to recess appoint a Republican lobbyist to head up the Consumer Product Safety Commission which is like having the wolf watch the sheep:
"Baroody has served as the chief spokesmen for the National Association of Manufacturers, a group the San Francisco Chronicle described as "an industry group that opposes aggressive product-safety regulation and punitive fines."

I guess there's nothing Bush won't do for his corporate cronies, including getting all of America sick.

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Bourdain blasts FoodTV

I don't love Anthony Bourdain (too much of an arrogant jerk, especially while eyeing the waitresses in Thailand) but he is dead on in his takedown of FoodTV. I can't stand Rachel Ray. I can't stand that there is now a restaurant in Boston named EVOO, and that people think it's good and chic. Semi-homemade Sandra Lee, Ace of Cakes, pretty much everyone except Alton Brown (who I adore) comes in for a good thrashing, esp. the guy in charge.

Here's a bite: "I’m sure they’re growing future replacement options in petrie dishes somewhere, conducting Top Secret focus groups at suburban malls with their latest Bright Young Hopeful."

Side note, I also enjoy watching Bobby Flay get beat down, but that's also because he's also an arrogant jerk.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

War, not tits

The ever snarkalicious Wonkette brings us this hilarious New York Observer article where the intrepid investigate journalist goes deep undercover to get the pretty people's mostly vapid perspective on Iraq at notoriously exclusive nightclub Bungalow 8. Yeah, it's like shooting fish in a barrel to get quotes like this, but still funny:

Next up was a blond woman in her late 30’s. She was wearing a black fedora from the men’s department at Bergdorf Goodman, a black Moschino dress and shoes by Christian Loubouton. I asked her about Iraq.

“A rack? You mean titties? Like a really big rack?”


“Don’t ever waste a moment in life. Fly to the moon and play amongst the stars, be happy, understand how lucky we are—and don’t fight,” she said. “I feel personally connected in one way—I’m a mother, and every day in Iraq somebody is losing their child. My little girl will never go to Iraq. I’m sorry, she’ll go to Prada.”

And that alone is worth the price of admission.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Terry McAulifffe flushes the immigrant vote down the drain

Terry McAuliffe, former Chair of the DNC under the Clinton years and the most inside of Washington insiders, recently threw immigrants under the bus on NPR (hat tip dailykos and Matt Stoller.)

A republican caller said that he would support Clinton for president if Democrats would "Eliminate your support for amnesty and wide-open borders. . . and you start getting self-deportation of the 20 million illegal aliens here that are taking the jobs, the wages, and the working conditions, and destroying them for working Americans, which I always thought Democrats supported." Nice Lou Dobbsian move to drive the wedge deeper.

What does McAuliffe do, given his mostly urban, liberal NPR audience? Does he defend immigrants' value to this country? No, he decides to suck up to this idiot caller:

I couldn't agree more. We've got to shut these borders down. These people shouldn't be coming in this country. We need to enforce our border protections. We have to do something for the people who have been here for years and have paid taxes -- you know, we're for the people who have been in this country and paying taxes and raising their family. But for the people who have not been here, who have been here illegally and have taken advantage of the situation, we need to have a plan to get them back to the countries they came from, and more important, which is the first thing John talks about, we have gotta shut these borders down. I couldn't agree more.

... I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, we all agree you've gotta shut the borders down. People who are coming into this nation taking our jobs.

ARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHH!!!!!! This is the former chair of the Democratic party. He is fucking with the Democrats' base vote. Asian Americans and Latinos voted overwhelmingly for Kerry in 2004, and Democrats in 2006 because we saw that they represented American values of inclusion and hard work, opportunity and freedom. Immigrants (and their children) overwhelmingly turned away from the hate-filled wedge politics that Republicans love to practice.

According to CNN exit polls, 61% of Asian Americans voted Dem in 04, and 62% in '06. AALDEF's exit polls are higher, with a whopping 79% in '06. According to an AALDEF press release, Asian Americans are incresingly voting Democratic: "AALDEF's exit polls found that since 1992, there has been a steady increase in Democratic enrollment among Asian Americans polled (40% in 1992; 52% in 1996; 58% in 2000), as well as a drop in voters who did not join any political party (29% in 1992 and 1996; 26% in 2000). Republican enrollment has also been declining among Asian Americans polled (25% Republican in 1992; 20% in 1996; 14% in 2000)."

CNN has Latinos voting 53% for Kerry in 04, NEP shows 58% in 04, and 69% in 06. The William C Velasquez Institute says 70% voted Dem in 06.

Although there is some controversy about CNN's exit polls, especially since they tend not to be conducted in language and may undercount in urban areas.

Stoller breaks down McAuliffe's response nicely:
He's also a global elitist, hanging out with the Clinton's on a regular basis, as well as other world leaders. So in his case, immigrants aren't taking his job. In fact, it's a lot more likely that real immigration reform, which would address NAFTA and poverty, would cost him and his friends money. Or maybe he's just a straight up racist. Or maybe, as the caller indicates, McAuliffe believes that 10% of the electorate is composed of racist Republicans that will sit out a election where they have the opportunity to vote against Hillary Clinton. I don't know which explanation makes McAuliffe come out worse.

Soller is completely right - the idea that any xenophobic Republican would vote for Hillary, whom they despise, is crazy. That McAuliffe fell for the gambit makes him doubly stupid. Oh yeah, and he happens to be the campaign chair for one Hillary Clinton, who voted to build a wall between the US and Mexico, but is now running for president.

By the by, I was really glad when Dean got voted in as DNC Chair - he gave the party back to the grassroots activists and the states. He succeeded in rebranding and rebuilding the party from the base up, as opposed to merely kowtowing to big donors in NYC. Dean is someone who is proud to be a Democrat, and makes me proud as well. Under Terry McAuliffe's direction, the DNC was only active every 4 years, and abandoned the state parties after presidential election cycle flings. There was no investment of staff or resources in keeping the local and state parties active in off cycle years and consequently, we kept losing market share in Congress. Plus volunteers got disgusted with being used and dumped. It doesn't surprise me that we lost seats from 00-04. And if you want to know what having a functioning state party means, look at the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate just 2 years after Dean took the helm - he gets the importance of engaging people, which was evident throughout his campaign and his leadership as DNC chair.

Oh yeah, and unlike McAuliffe Dean knows the importance of bringing in new voters like immigrants - when the horrible Tom Tancredo and Sensenbrenner legislation to prevent immigrants from seeing doctors or priests was going down, Dean took the time to meet with Asian Americans and listen to our concerns, for which I am incredibly grateful. He understands that you have to build the immigrant vote. McAuliffe never would have entertained the idea because he could care less about the average voter.

The way you build party loyalty and volunteer loyalty is by being loyal to them.

Clinton, of course, distanced herself from her lapdog's remarks. But it's hard to conceive that someone who is one of the most visible appendages of the Clinton machine would stray from his leash.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baca better back off

Man, Rep. Joe Baca, head of the Congressinoal Hispanic Committee, is whack. Fellow California Rep. Loretta Sanchez alleges that he called her a whore, and has quit the CHC, along with a bunch of other members, including progressive representtives Hilda Solis and Raul Grijalva.

If the allegation is accurate, what is this man doing as an elected official?!?!?! I have heard of tone deaf electeds, but this is "friendly" fire gone terribly wrong. Leave it to the Democrats to tear each other apart after working so long to regain the majority. What about some stately behavior, please!

His brand of crazy humor is best exemplified by this anecdote:

Once, he tried to organize a softball game between the Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus, suggesting members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus could serve as umpires. The game was not held.

Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the distinguished civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, who was beat down for participating in the Freedom Rides of the 1960s? Or what Congressman Mike Honda, who was interned as a child during world War II, thought?

Baca has piss poor taste, even frat boy taste in humor to suggest something that drives a deeper wedge amongst communities of color, to play black off brown and have yellow ruling, judging above all. Messed up, man. He should apologize, and quick. Or at least try to smooth over ill feelings so that Latinos have a cohesive, representative body in Congress.

Lite Brite aliens attack earth

(This might be the last post for a week or two as I'm getting very busy with a work project. )

Maldroid made this insanely viral video before the mooninite scare in Boston, but coupled with "Moon rulz" this is a damn good video and time appropriate too. (Also, the mooninites are heavily covered on the news site and i can't figure out whether the mooninite campaign is funnier, or the "Ad gone bad" scare visual is. Gotta be the mooninites, hands down. For we ARE the mooninites.) Plus one of the band members, Jerry “Prince J” Yamashita, is Asian American (I think.) And the tune is crazy catchy.

Maldroid - Heck No! (I'll never listen to techno)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Biden . . . *sigh*

Well, Kai already posted on Senator Joe Biden ((nominally) D-ATM, aka "Delaware") and his comment on Illinois Senator Barack Obama's pursuit of the presidency:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

But I couldn't help but put my two cents in, even if it's a bit late. How can I resist commenting on Senator Joe "All Indians run Dunkin Donuts" Biden?

Well, I can't see how Biden is surprised that a Harvard Law review president and former community organizer is articulate. Or bright. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that Biden doesn't hang out with a very smart bunch of folks. But clean?!? Where the hell does that one come from? Supposedly Biden meant to say "fresh" or "clean track record" but either way, the damage is done.

Jonathan Chait, who is one of the few New Republic writers that I like, has a pithy analysis of Biden's problems, and urges him to drop out of the race because he clearly can't win, and can't keep his mouth shut long enough to not be the source of ridiculous (and needless) controversies. Although Biden apologized, he absolutely got the first day of his campaign off to the wrong start, especially when articles like this one appear in New Hampshire, the first primary state.

I'll add one more: I think Biden deserves to be primaried, a la Lamont. I've thought this even before Biden's own macaca incident. He has essentially sold himself out to Bank of America, MBNA, and all the other credit card companies who are headquartered in Delaware for the mega tax writeoffs and as one of the chief pushers of the bankruptcy bill. Long a corporate lapdog, he has ceased representing the people of his state. He has been in office for 34 years - time to give some fresh blood a chance!

Work stress

Waiter Rant is focusing on his book, and the distance from the restaurant and his old boss is giving him some much needed perspective:

I’ve come to realize that stress burns the years off your life like a ravenous fire. Working for Fluvio was stressful. Some of the stress was my own damn fault. In any case, I’m glad I’m out of there.

This is the absolute truth - although I did not want to accept or admit it at the time, I was partially responsible for my previous situation - I could have left. (Granted, the hours I was working, and the travel I was putting in didn't leave a lot of time to be networking or polishing my resume.) This is not always the case for every employee or worker out there - some people work minimum or less than minimum wage jobs and if they left, they would either be hard pressed to find another job or they would be trading crappy pay and conditions at one place for the same at another, with different faces.

This is why I am glad that Congress is passing a new minimum wage bill (one version has passed the House and another the Senate, so they need to conference.) People will be making a minimum of $7.25 by the time it's fully implemented, which is a nice jump from $5.15, but remember that the minimum wage hasn't increased for about a decade! It's also why I read hui jeong's yul sheem series. I value our labor and contributions, as well as the stories and experiences that come along with them. Even if they happen to be unpleasant, it is a tremendous gift for someone to share what they learned at work with you.

Recently I shared some of my hard-won knowledge with an acquaintance. She is someone who I happen to know who was going through a rough situation, and needed an outside perspective to say: "I know what you're going through because I've been there. first you feel worthless, and then you begin devaluing yourself. That's when the problems really start. Get out while you can."

So I am glad that she is starting to seek an exit strategy. Other times, people believe that they have to stay and fight it out. This acquaintance asked me, "Part of me feels like I should stay and battle and see what lessons I can gain from it."

My response was that it is worthwhile if you can change the institution and its culture, and that it is an invaluable skill to learn, if you have fought the good fight already, and your opinions aren't valued, you're not doing your workplace or your career/happiness/sanity/health much good. Better to find a place where you are a good fit, if you can, and try to improve it.

I am really really happy with my work right now, and I feel very lucky. I wish some of my coworkers realized how good they have it, even if there are a few things that could and should be changed.

Compared to this time last year, I am not throwing up, having panic attacks, headaches, or any of the other symptoms that my old environment and team brought on. Friends and family alike remarked on how much happier I seemed at holidays, and I am. I value this good place and I wish everyone could find one of their own.