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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

George Bush is a golddigger

It could just be me, or my dried tofu sheet and frozen vegetable diet as of late (read: malnutrition makes the brain rot), but I think this is a pretty catchy remix of Kanye West's Golddigger: George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People.

Oh, should clarify: I'm boiling said tofu and freeze-dried edamame and adding some Trader Joe's frozen beef shank. Perhaps that sounds slightly less disgusting?


It's okay, the foodie in me is dying a little with every bite, but it's so quick and easy. And healthier than cheesy mac when you're on the run.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

MC Rove is painful

Over at politico, Ben said he refused to link to the Karl Rove video. So naturally I jumped over to youtube, and what did I find?


I have never seen a sadder white man dance more pathetically, and yes, this includes the guy in the club last weekend. I am not laughing, I just feel bad for Rove, despite all the misery he has caused. He looks like a stuffed robot, dancing at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner in front of. . . omigod, is that Michelle Malkin?!?

AWB (awkward white boy): "He's a man, he's a treasure trove, tell me what is your name?"
Rove (croaking like a mummy): I'm MC Rooooove.
AWB: "That's right, you can't be beat, because he's so white from his head to his feet. But he will rap it when you give him a chance. Look at him move, doing a rappin' dance."

AWB can't even help himself from laughing at Rove's sockpuppetry. He looks and moves like a little doll on a string. And the have a token black man weaving from side to side with Rove.

Folks, I would do my usual transcription duties, but this stuff is too hard on the ears and eyes. If I listen to this one more time, I'll have to scrub my eyes with brillo pads and fill my ears with cement.

The level of surreal has gone through the roof. Plus the very awkward white guy rapping does a terrible job.

Is this what has got Lurita Doan so totally paranoid? A dancing bobblehead?

Forget the wiretapping and the voter purges, the treason charges, and everything else that hasn't been uncovered. This shit's truly criminal.

Ick, here's a longer version from FOX News hosted on wonkette.

Full version below.

Hillary's righthand woman

Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's traveling chief of staff, is a 32 year old South Asian American, the daughter of 2 academics, one Indian, one Pakistani.

While I don't really like how the Observer article portrays her as "Hillary Clinton’s mysterious, glamorous and eerily unflappable aide de camp", as though she is some mystical, magical Oriental who can vocalize her thoughts without saying a word.

I feel bad for the woman, especially since it seems like she likes her privacy, but working on a campaign sometimes means being the focus of intense scrutiny. On the other hand, it seems that she's helping Hillary understand Islam, which is really wonderful.
Assistant Secretary of State Dina Habib Powell is a fellow member of that exclusive club, and has become fast friends with Ms. Abedin.
Ms. Powell, a 33-year-old who was born in Cairo, is also a Muslim, also speaks fluent Arabic and is also uncannily stylish—she says she has been told on many occasions that she is Ms. Abedin’s Republican doppelgänger. She had some insights into what her colleague is really passionate about.
“[Huma] certainly feels a deep responsibility to encourage more mutual understanding between her beliefs and culture and American culture,” said Ms. Powell. “I think you will see Huma coming out of that role in the background.”
Hopefully, she will push Hillary and the campaign to do more outreach to, and understanding of all APIA communities.

Death knell for the McCain campaign?

Well, first Senator John McCain (R-AZ)'s presidential campaign claims that they won't make their fund raising goals, despite him having hired all the top political staff way back when. While this might just be an expectations ploy, there's no arguing that his stubborn clinging to the Dubya playbook and failed Iraq War policies hangs on his poll numbers like a dead weight.

Now we get confirmation that McCain's chief of staff, Rudy Weaver (who is now a Chief political advisor to the campaign) approached top Democrats about switching parties in 2001. (Hat tip political wire.) This had been rumored but never before confirmed. As reported in The Hill (read the whole thing, it's really good):

In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist.

Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about switching parties, but in McCain’s case, they said, it was McCain’s top strategist who came to them.

At the end of their March 31, 2001 lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Bethesda, Md., Downey said Weaver asked why Democrats hadn’t asked McCain to switch parties.

Downey, a well-connected lobbyist, said he was stunned.

“You’re really wondering?” Downey said he told Weaver. “What do you mean you’re wondering?”

“Well, if the right people asked him,” Weaver said, according to Downey, adding that he responded, “The calls will be made. Who do you want?” Weaver this week said he did have lunch with Downey that spring, pointing out that he and Downey “are very good friends.”

Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle also confirms meetings with McCain to discuss committee assignments:

Daschle noted that McCain at that time was frustrated with the Bush administration as a result of his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primary.

Daschle said that throughout April and May of 2001, he and McCain “had meetings and conversations on the floor and in his office, I think in mine as well, about how we would do it, what the conditions would be. We talked about committees and his seniority … [A lot of issues] were on the table.”

Here's the money line:

McCain consistently shot down the rumors, though Weaver acknowledged this week that the senator did talk to Democrats about leaving the GOP.

Weaver disputes the Democrats' version of things, though, saying that he was approached by top Dems. Nonethless, after Jim Jeffords defected from the GOP, talks with Chafee and McCain ended.

McCain’s links to Democrats were so clear that Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) — now a close ally of McCain — publicly criticized him in the early part of 2001 for keeping “unusual company.”

Jeffords pulled the trigger on May 24, 2001, throwing control of the Senate to Democrats. Chafee and McCain then broke off their discussions with Democratic leaders, according to Democrats.

Downey said he talked to Weaver at least once a week during McCain’s discussions with Democrats, asking him questions like, “What is the state of play?” and “Where are we?”

“Weaver was very active in this,” Downey said, “None of this happens without Weaver.”

Damn. I'm not sure how he intends to get past the primary with this one. Weaver has since become a Democrat, and is doing a poor job of protecting his former boss. For the Christian conservative base, this has got to be the last straw. Although this piece of info elevates him for the general, it's doesn't really matter because as hard as he sticks to the Bush 2000 playbook, Steve Schmidt can't spin his way out of this one. The lingering doubts will always be there when the voters go to the polls. And yeah, bipartisanship or the semblance of such might get Ahr-nuld elected in California, but the California Republicans are like Connecticut Democrats.

This type of hesitation will not play well in South Carolina, and it's no wonder that McCain is doing poorly in primary polls in his own state.

Look at how poorly former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was doing in his own backyard, and how quickly he dropped out. McCain knows he has more than that going for him, so he'll stay in it for the long haul, but don't be surprised if the general exasperation amongst the Republican base leads to someone outside the top tier of soft GOP candidates (McCain, Guiliani, Romney) to someone much more palatable - think Huckabee or Brownback. Their alliance and allegiance to the rightwing evangelical movement is unquestioned, and unlike the top tier, there's no photos of them in drag, blue state ties, or repudiation of Jerry Falwell which have to be recanted.

Me, I'm psyched that this tidbit was uncovered because I actually feared McCain the most for the general election, regardless of his idiotic insistence on embracing the failures in Iraq. I think that his military record, and "straight talk" (even if he forgot how to do it in an express fashion) make him a compelling general election candidate.

Meanwhile, I think our top three candidates (Clinton, Obama and Edwards) are incredibly strong, and Democrats in general seem to be happy with our field. I'm feeling like a Blue America in '08.

Update: Interesting, it may be that Steve Schmidt, Rove protege and Arnold's campaign manager and former press secretary of Matt Fong, 1998 California Republican candidate for Governor, left the McCain campaign to be a partner at Mercury Public Affairs. And if that's the case, I echo Azi's question: why don't they mention McCain in the hiring press release? Could it be that they don't want to associate themselves with a flailing campaign?

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Small offerings

Life distracted me. The twisting, forsaken leaves,
Correspondence limited and stilted,
Different states and hearts.

Once we were so close our hands held
Each other's hopes. But
Like a jellyfish desiccating,
I was too feeble to pronounce the truth.

There was no nobility in my turning away.
Just a fear of justice, that if I did not act the patsy
If . . . the silences were insufficient ransom,
Then what about me? I had no power.

No voice. No gale force upon the plains
For complaints were not readily heard.
How we hurt each other.

In/justice like a sieve,
Truly it was unfair to portray you as a guide or even Cassandra.
I accept these truths too late,
Too eager to watch our self-erected idols tumble.

Now I can ask. Now I don't ask, still -
And now my acceptance of life changes like
Ordinary extraordinary rites of passage
Never before pertinent, never self-righteous
Until now. Time glanced through your lashes
And swept it all away.

Remind myself. It began with a drawing of a hat.
So simple an offer of friendship. Small requests
Like offerings. In truth I resented your power.
I gave you reflected glories, I sought the turmoil in knowledge.
Were you my Eve? Was she the snake?

Captivated I stepped outside the bounds
When she accused, and we were weak. Certain things
I did not want to know, did not want to confirm or deny.
Would not stand anywhere except on the fence.
To this day some barbs remain in my heart. My heart for yours.

Like an observer of the end of empires I ran from the wreck.
It did not manifest then. Only later. Now I trace the dim paths
Back to the impetus impulse impediment.
All the pearls come undone. All the flowers trampled, songs unsung.

In the end I could not measure
Your many trails, the prodigious chains of your polygon heart.
Voraciously the summoning of multiple personalities,
Desires and destinies
Shattered upon the end of a trembling finger.
Me, I point. I have only myself to blame.

No, you whisper, and you take my hand,
Cocking it upon yourself.

Now, leave.

(For A.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Check in

Continuous hours without sleep: 43

Thought pattern hazy.

When it pours it rains, so I realize I've been neglecting my blog. Like any living organism, it needs to be watered or it wilts. I'm in a bit of a head funk because I heard that a friend is in a very bad place. I wish I could help her but I'm not in the same state. It's not even contiguous.

So I needed a funny to cheer me up and Zuky's post on the Voice's technical analysis of "This is Why I'm Hot" fulfilled that need perfectly. I love the logical breakdown.

On another note, I was impressed with John and Elizabeth Edwards during their press conference. They came across as very caring, real people who are still deeply in love. And his priorities are clearly in the right place. They're such a strong couple, and my thoughts are with them in this time of need.

Now I have to go to sleep because my brain feels like it's ready to topple over.

Update: Damn, I fell asleep in the middle of posting. Woke with with a dreadful headache like wearing a swimming cap way too tight, like a bad ass hangover without drinking.

Why racial profiling doesn't work

Former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta had it right when he said that the Department of Transportation under his watch would not allow racial profiling. (A lot of this was also due to his experience growing up in a Japanese American internment camp and knowing firsthand that it doesn't work, but doubly punishes people from those "suspect" groups.)

A recent suicide bombing involved a blonde Belgian woman:

In neighboring Belgium, people are still perplexed over what drove Muriel Degauque, 38, a blond, white Catholic, to convert to Islam and travel to Iraq to blow herself up in November 2005.

There was also a recent study done in Europe which concluded that racial profiling is virtually useless as a weapon in the "War on Terra":

The author of the study, Edwin Bakker, a researcher at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague, tried to examine almost 20 variables concerning the suspects' social and economic backgrounds. In general, he determined that no reliable profile existed -- their traits were merely an accurate reflection of the overall Muslim immigrant population in Europe. "There is no standard jihadi terrorist in Europe," the study concluded.

In an interview, Bakker said that many local police agencies have been slow to abandon profiling, but that most European intelligence agencies have concluded it is an unreliable tool for spotting potential terrorists. "How can you single them out? You can't," he said. "For the secret services, it doesn't give them a clue. We should focus more on suspicious behavior and not profiling."

This is pretty obvious, since if a country announces that they are looking for all green oompaloompas, terrorists will immediately start recruiting red giraffes to carry out their dastardly plans. Racial profiling only increases the efforts of terrorists to recruit those who look anything but suspicious:

Indeed, there are clear signs that al-Qaeda cells and affiliates are intentionally recruiting supporters from nontraditional backgrounds as a way to avoid detection, according to European intelligence officials and analysts...

John Horgan, a senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said terrorist groups are constantly trying to catch law enforcement officials off guard.

"One guiding principle for terrorist groups is to always maintain the psychological edge and the upper hand by doing things that are surprising to the enemy," he said. "So you'll see the use of a child, the use of a woman."

Incidentally, this is why when grandmothers and teenyboppers complain about being searched at the airport, I say tough lugnuts. Our country is arguably less safer, especially after Bush decided to go ballistic on the Axis of Evil, and exponentially decreased our global likability. So I don't enjoy the curtailing of our freedoms, but if searches are going to happen, they should happen to everyone equally randomly. (Although I have never seen this happen in practice, since every time I see a brown person in the airport line, they are being pulled over to the side for questioning.)

If only more people understood that the shirts proclaiming "I AM NOT A TERRORIST" are truth in advertising and not an invitation for a strip search, we'd all be better off.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DC sex scandals hushed up, sorta

Verrrrry interesting. A real Washington DC madam (Washingtonienne doesn't count) was going to sell her phone lists. Many bigwigs and administration officials were panicking. Then an anonymous news organization got a hold of her records, and they are allowed to either release or not release names and places at their leisure.

What this does for Palfrey is that it makes her seem like a team player. She might even get some not so anonymous donations for her effort. And she can still call on certain individuals during her trial.

Pretty smart on the new organization's part. they can discreetly let it be known about town that they are in possession of "the list" and then leverage that information for scoops and inside info on other stories that are sadly less lurid. Plus you can provide coverage for your buddies in Congress. Unlike regular blackmail, you can't go to jail. It's sorta like Mafia protection money, doled out in anonymous sources and off the record conversations.

Let's see which news org starts breaking the big scoops, and then we'll have a winner. (Well, everyone wins except for the people, who stay in the dark.)

Only in DC, folks. Only in DC.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Asian American slam poetry on youtube

Alvin Lau on his favorite golfer, Tiger Woods: "Tiger, You could have been a messenger, a Boondocks saint, a legend beyond the game whose clubhouses still reek the spirit of white colonial expansion, and the taming of the wilderness in the name of Western civilization. You could have been a hero to minorities everywhere. . .

Eldridge Woods, has ironically called you "Tiger", as if you have ambitions greater than putting greens. Like you're more than a slippery tongued Midas that turns all skin colors to gold ... And still think that money is the clockwork that runs modern living. You make me proud I was raised by struggling Chinese immigrants..."

More props. You make me proud. "First and last, a sheep in tigerskin" - way to call a brother out for not representing. Lau's "English" on his myspace page is also riveting.

Can I get some more Asian American slam poets on youtube?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What passes for diplomacy

This MAD TV youtube video would be funnier if it weren't so sadly descriptive of our president's policies: Introducing ......... the Apple iRack.

Also, this is perhaps the most innovative thing that Joe Lieberman has done since getting reelected: changed the seating chart.

Lieberman Hatches New Seating Arrangement

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) are changing the seating arrangements for members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, according to Washington Wire.

"For future hearings, Democrats and Republicans won’t sit on opposite sides of the dais but rather, next to each other -- alternating Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican etc."

In a joint statement, Lieberman and Collins said "In the last election, the voters said they were sick of the partisanship that produces gridlock… So, as a start, instead of sitting on opposite sides of the room like a house divided, we want the American people to see us sitting side by side as our committee members work together make our nation more secure and our government more efficient."

Ah, yes. Bipartisan Joe strikes again! We're counting down the days until he:

1) Asks the Dems and Republicans to stop referring to each other as "having cooties."
2) Forces them to make nice nice.
3) Subjects them to a 5 minute timeout if found pulling each other's hair.

Then the Great Lieberator can call for a truce, ring both sides together, and stab the Democrats in the back.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chinese American adoptee celebrates Bat Mitzvah

NYTimes' top story is about a 13 year old girl, Cece Nealon-Shapiro, originaly named Fu Qian, who just celebrated her Bat Bitzvah with her two moms, who adopted her from an orphanage in China in the early 1990s. The concept of an Asian American Jew isn't new to me - I've known several Chinese American Jews and other Asian American Jews, but mostly they are the products of biracial marriages, or women who converted to marry their loves. (I don't know any Asian American men who converted to Judaism for marriage, although I am sure they are out there.)

The video accompanying the story is poignant and yet slightly weird, saying that "Cece is one of hundreds of Chinese girls who were adopted into Jewish families in the 1990s, and that trend continues to grow." In doing so, it kinda makes her sound like one of a rare breed, a specimen for observation. Her mother Vivian Shapiro says, "The first time I saw Cece, it was this magical moment. She was this actually chubby little baby with hair standing up, crying hysterically. The one thing she didn't want to leave was her foster mother. We knew that she had bonded with this person and now in some way we were taking her away from this bond. And it was a joke amongst the families after that she was screaming so loudly, they thought it was perfect that she was coming to New York."

Also interesting, the reporter is not shown asking Cece how she feels about growing up with two moms, but the female reporter in the video does asks the moms about how "Along with the many joys that came with adopting a child from another culture, there came many challenges." And then her mother, Mary Nealon, says "It's an extremely enriching experience, and magical in a lot of ways, and very complex. As a baby it seems like a very easy thing, but as your child grows, you realize how complex it is. In her Bat Mitzvah speech, she says 'I'll never know what it's like to grow up in China.'"

Cece seems like a very balanced girl. When the reporter asks her if it's weird being a Chinese American Jew, Cece replies, "I don't feel overwhelmed being Chinese American and Jewish because when I go out with my friends, a lot of them are Jewish, a lot of them are Chinese, and a lot of them are American, so it sorta doesn't really matter because we're all different."

Her parents also acknowledge that you want everything to blend seamlessly, but it doesn't happen. Very interesting story about the multitudes and facets of American life. I do think it's strange (and somewhat cool) that the focus is on the supposed tension between her faith and her ethnic background, and doesn't really question her about being the adopted daughter of lesbians. I guess where I grew up, that would have been a bigger deal.

The politics of hate; scorched earth seems to be the daily special

Ann Coulter is a press whore - she will shamelessly do or say anything to get media attention. This includes calling a presidential candidate (Edwards) a f-gg-t or throwing another verbal Molotov. Let's face it. The politics of hate are never pretty, whether it's coming out of the mouth of Coulter or Kenneth Eng.

Well, you knew these photos of Guiliani in drag were bound to hit the big papers sometime. It's part of why i kept telling people he wasn't really viable in the long run - or maybe the Southern evangelical base of the GOP will surprise me. Conservatives who were grumbling about how none of their front runners are really conservative enough now can see for themselves. NYTimes puts em out there, and how.

So was his post-breakup move into the apartment of a gay couple on the Upper East Side. That inspired an article by The Times of London which recounted how the mayor left for City Hall every morning after giving his two hosts a goodbye peck on the cheek — “a little kiss, it’s cute,” Howard Koeppel, one of his hosts, told the newspaper — and how Mr. Giuliani affectionately called Mr. Koeppel “mother.”

(How much more New York can you get?)

As the beloved Wonkette writes:

This is kind of a tricky one. You see, “New Yorker” usually means “Jew.” But this time, it means “gay.”

Coulter says it outright, but Adam Nagourney just goes round and round saying but not saying the same thing. Ultimately, Nagourney's more subtle (not by much) brush will be an even bigger death knell than anything Coulter says, and it's because of the imprimatur of the Times. The guilt-by-association in the eyes of the GOP base vote will completely torpedo any chance of his claim to fame as "America's Mayor." Oh, and you can be sure that if the Firefighters union has anything to say about it, Guiliani will definitely never make it past the primaries.

Additionally, someone in the Democratic presidential candidate (or veepstakes) pool decided to remind everyone of how unpresidential NM Gov. Bill Richardson can be:
The lieutenant governor of New Mexico, Diane Denish, was quoted in the Albuquerque Journal saying she avoids standing or sitting near Richardson because of his physical manner, which she said was not improper but was "annoying." The governor, she said, "pinches my neck. He touches my hip, my thigh, sort of the side of my leg." . . . Denish said that she sometimes finds Richardson's physical style "irritating and annoying" but that he had never touched her in an improper way. Still, she said, his behavior was inappropriate in public because it could be misconstrued.
He claims that he was vetted by the Kerry campaign last time around and that they didn't find anything glaring, but that he pulled out of the veepstakes process last time: "These Democrats, who declined to be quoted by name discussing a sensitive personal matter, said that Richardson withdrew from consideration by Kerry before undergoing a final round of vetting. The final round would have required delivering financial documents and other information to Johnson and his team for an intensive examination of a candidate's fitness for high office." Interesting phrasing that casts a shadow on Richardson's finances. A deft way of ascribing suspicious behavior, as if Richardson maybe had something to hide.

I don't like Richardson very much due to his refusal to apologize to Wen Ho Lee after scrapegoating the man and ruining his life and career, but I do feel like he doesn't deserve these underhanded remarks. And I believe that any Democratic candidate would be better qualified and more able to put our country back on the correct course than any of the Republicans running. (Of course, more of this type of reporting doesn't help a claim that The Politico is overly partisan towards the right.)

Update: Smith says the Kerry camp advisors reject Richardson's claim.

All this spin and mudslinging and the scorched earth style politics of personal destruction is why no one trusts politicians. This is why Obama's refusal to segregate American from American, red state from blue state, and his "audacity of hope" are real and inspiring, even for a cynical observer like me. I like my righteous anger a la Dean, but sometimes I despair that we will ever get along. I might take a short break from blogging about electoral politics and write more on the movement and the personal journey unless something urgent catches my eye.

Kenneth Eng on Fox *wince*

This is not pretty, but it's necessary. Kenneth Eng appears on Big Story Exclusive on Fox. He tries to plug his book, and much as I feared, is either quite high or really not living in the same world as you and I. This is not in the William Hung "I believe I can sing and that I elevate Asian American music" way but in the scary warped raised-in-a-closet way.

I winced. A lot. The FOX guy sounded really sane in comparison. Painfully so. Grey haired FOX guy says that Eng "wrote in the column why you hate Black people, and in an earlier column you wrote "Why you Hate White people", and in an earlier column, apparently, you hate Asians. Now, why is it you wrote all that? Do you really hate all those different people?"

Eng clarifies that he hate black people and white people, but the Asian article was sarcastic. Tries to relate it back to his novel. [Ed: I suppose Eng was going to get to the "Why I hate Hispanics" and "Why I Hate Native Americans" but he got fired before he could continue his misanthropic musings.]

Eng is referred to as a "self-identified Asian supremicist" and blathers on about dragons and how they logically follow evolution, and how in this more logical universe, dragons are superior to humans. [At this point, the screenclip below says: "Columnist: White people deserve to be decapitated."] Talks about hating blacks and whites and being oppressed. "You probably want to know why I call myself 'God of the Universe' as well."

FOX: "No, I want to know why you hate whites."

Eng: "...Either worship me or worship God."

When asked why he's so angry, Eng responds by saying if you read his columns, it's his experiences at NYU where blacks and whites oppressed him.

Kristina Wong's response is frickin' hilarious/meta/surreal (I have never seen her stuff before, just heard about it.) "I believe, just as you that things like racism are justified by the power of the dragon. . . that you and I, XL 4000 will take over the universe, Gods of the universe, in which dragons justify racism. Please join me on a journey of justified racism. Let's jump on the back of a dragon. The spaceship awaits. The spaceship awaits. Come with me, Kenneth Eng, the spaceship awaits."

Indeed, I am embarrassed for Asian America, myself, Eng, his family (the loss of face!), FOX, the interviewer. The whole thing is cringe-inducing and uncomfortable and well, watch for yourself. FOX's shock text serves to further sensationalize the whole crazy piece.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Biden picks up the Krispy Kreme vote in S. Carolina

Sen, Joe Biden (MBNA-Delaware) picks up support in South Carolina per Hotline:
"Also, state Sen. Glenn Reese (D-Spartanburg) was a major supporter of Sen. John Edwards in '04. Luckily for Sen. Biden's staff, Reese owns Krispy Kreme franchises here."

The major question of the day is: does this mean that Biden will lose the support of Indian-owned Dunkin Donuts shops? Because that's his base, you know. That and the oh so articulate black community that he'll be trying to court. I wonder if he won any preachers over by exclaiming how fresh and clean they were.

In the Power & Politics primary of likeability, Biden is below Richardson (scrapegoated Wen Ho Lee and failed to apologize), who is somewhere below Kucinich (annoying but progressive). There's a whole other ladder for electability.

Privilege Walk for Bloggers

I write, chastened. I saw one of the consciences of our generations rail and rant against injustice and I was silent. I was silently complicit, giving deference to the thought that we should not speak when questioned.

Giving deference to the idea that idea that elders are to be respected, that silence is golden, that mob mentality and conformism and everything I have stood against, fought against, railed against, is alright.

As one of the few people in the room who had some knowledge or experience of the other side in a way more meaningful, less than transient, I know that we are and yet are not the Other. In so many ways our identities and histories fall on different sides of many divides, so a litany of privilege, of blessing. Normally we do the following exercise with teammates or coworkers in a big room, and have everyone start on a line in the center, and take a step forwards or back depending on how the statement applies, we see who moves where based upon each statement, and then when we finish, we see where everyone stands within the room relative to each other based upon the cumulative questions.

Hence, a modified Privilege Walk for bloggers (additional ideas from here, and some questions I made up.) Feel free to replicate and answer as you wish, although we don't have walls and physical lines, I thought it'd be interesting to see where people wind up. And remember, these questions are supposed to be answered at a gut level. Elaboration or free flow thoughts are welcome but not necessary:

1) Do you get your mostly get your news online?
Yes. I am a blogger and primarily receive my news from the blogosphere. [Check one for lives in high tech bubble. Does this make me a bubble person?]

2) Were you aware of your family income growing up?
Yes, I grew up middle class, at times lower and other times solidly so. Sometimes I felt it more than others. Know the standard definition of middle class.

3) Did your family have more than 10 books in the house while growing up?
Yes. I loved to read.

4) Did your parents have to work nights and weekends to earn enough money to support

5) Did your family expect you to go to college?
Yes. At the time, the stress of getting into the right school seemed like a burden, but now I recognize my college education for the privilege that it is, through the combined influence of someone more financially privileged than me and people less educationally privileged than me.

6) Did they have the knowledge to help you secure the financial resources to go to college?
Yes. But I remember the pains of filling out the FAFSA.

7) Have you always had health insurance?
No. And it's a scary scary thing to be without.

8) Can you be rude, make a mistake, or drive carelessly without someone attributing it to
your gender or race?
Yes/no. I don't think in most places that being Asian American and being rude are stereotypically linked together, except for in Chinatowns. The "Asians are bad drivers" thing, however, haunts me whenever I drive.

9) When you get a job, are you reasonably sure they hired you because of your ability and
Yes, I have never questioned this until now. I don't have mega loads of connections. And I'm not good-looking enough to ever think my boss hired me to be eye candy. Except for maybe once, and that was because a client told my coworker that I was cute. So that moment of uncertainty was less about being eye candy for the employer but rather for our clients.

10) Are you reasonably sure that when you wear a symbol of your religion, people will not
fear you?
Hmm, I don't know. Does the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster count?

11) If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

12) I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
Sadly no. Questions of representation always leave me feeling drained. Even when the question isn't explicitly preceded by "As an Asian . . ." or "As an Asian American . . ." But I have been told that I am well-spoken and taken it as a compliment before.

13) I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
No. I am pretty sure that the path I took, I was not offered certain positions based upon my race.

14) I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.
Yes. The disguise works!

15) I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race or gender.
Hmm. hmmm. Hmmm. In different settings, mostly yes. I wonder about the instances in which this was a no, though. As in, I wonder if my previous employers or coworkers saw it this way.

Give yourself a point if you answered yes to: Questions 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 13, 14, 15.
Give yourself a point if you answered no to: Questions 2, 4.

Count up the number of points you have. This tells you how close to the front of back of the room you are; how much relative privilege you have. Btw, this isn't a scientific survey or anything, just something I'm personally curious about.

8 points. Guess that puts me somewhere in the middle of the room? I tag Zuky, Thao Worra, wsoft.heart and hui jeong (if she's still around) but everyone's welcome to take it. I'm curious to see where others in the blogosphere stand.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Panderific and then some

This is probably the most grating thing I have heard in 3 years: Kentucky Fried Hillary. And one of the more eye-catching commercials by an Obama supporter: Vote Different. If anyone said that 2006 was the year of the youtube election, well, it shows no sign of stopping. Indeed, 2008 will be the youtuve/revver/ifilm/myspace/facebook election if anything, and ads will get seriously inventive like the best SuperBowl ads back in the day.

Indeed, H Clinton puts on a Southern accent as awkwardly as I don a football helmet. Why, Lord, why are my eardrums bleeding? They should really put warning labels on these things.

Although to be fair, here is Guiliani in drag seeking the bicoastal Republican vote.

And Bill Richardson glad-handing the stone bulldog vote.

In Asian American news:
Racial Pro-file
has a funny take on how the whitewashed version of Internal Affairs won the Oscars.

The Kenneth Eng controversy has mad its way into mainstream press like Newsweek.

Vietnamese Americans are rising quickly in electoral politics, most noticeably in San Jose. There are two Vietnamese Americans running in an open city council seat to join Madison Nguyen who was the trailblazer.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick recognizes the importance of the Asian American vote and helps to cement the status of a statewide Asian American commission:

State Treasurer Timothy Cahill and Deputy Treasurer/General Counsel Grace Lee spearheaded the legislation that created in the commission. According to a press release from Cahill’s office, the commission is a permanent body that will advocate on behalf of Asian-Americans throughout the commonwealth. Lee will serve as the commission’s interim executive director. She is the highest-ranking appointed Asian-American in Massachusetts government.

Props to Patrick, but again, where is Spitzer on any of this?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Wired pwns Eng, Asianweek apologizes and fires him

I don't know about him being a popular writer but damn, does he get pwned by Wired:

Eng's goal in life is to work on comic books, particularly at Marvel. But that hasn't stopped him from querying other comic book publishers about working for them. Read below the fold for a tale from a comic book editor who exchanged emails with Eng . . .

Hilary of IGN Comics wrote on her blog last year that she received the following email from Eng:

Are you looking for any new writers? I am the youngest published science fiction novelist in America and I am very into comic books. My first novel, Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate, will soon be a comic book itself. Furthermore, I am highly interested in the philosophy of comics, having published a few articles myself.

Kenneth Eng, novelist

I love how he uses the word "novelist" after his name, as if it's some kind of title. So Hilary replied:

Ummm... seriously dude, all of us write novels so we can get the hell out of here. We don't have any more freelance money, unfortunately.

And Eng barked back:

Yeah, but my novels are cooler than yours bitch. Don't contact me again.

Worried that she'd spurned a truly great talent, Hilary looked into Eng's novel, Dragon: Lexicon Triumvirate, and discovered that she had truly missed out. Check out these choice bits she gathered from the book:

"Time is not a concept. It is a word."

This is how the novel begins. Wow. Mindblowing stuff -- and this book stars dragons!

Btw, Asianweek has apologized and fired Eng.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


I just watched the last episode of Daybreak, a series from ABC that isn't being shown on tv but is available in its entirety online (not sure for how much longer.) A few eps were shown during Lost's hiatus, and then it was pulled. It was well written and suspenseful, with the idea that Det. Brett Hopper (Taye Diggs) wakes up every morning in an attempt to get to the bottom of why he's being framed for the murder of a prosecutor, Richard Garza.

The catch? It's the same day, every day, that he wakes up to, so he continually relives it until he gets to the bottom of the complex mystery.

I started watching it because I saw that it had an Asian American female lead who is his girlfried (Moon Bloodgood) and I kept watching because it was tightly woven modern day noir, set in Los Angeles (I'm a big Raymond Carver fan.) The interesting part is that all the white men in power are csat as major villains and there's an Asian American cop, Det. Christopher Choi, who Hopper originally tihnks is against him, but turns out to be very honest and trustworthy. He's played by Ian Anthony Dale, who I hope will get more roles.

Basically, a lot of the honest people in this show are African American, Asian American, and Latino, and women are portrayed really well too. Shame the show is ending, but it had to be a finite plot, since even as I started watching online, I wondered how long viewers would be willing to see the same alarm clock, the same segments repeating. In the first few eps, they could have cut more, but I thought the trope held up well, and they ended it at a good spot. I will say that I looked forward to a new ep every week online, and I was hooked!

Anyways, I just wanted to put in my two cents since most people haven't heard about it or will ever see it, so give it a shot before ABC pulls it from the web. I hope the writers land in good places and that actors involved do as well. (Sorry if this is sorta rambling, I don't write a lot of tv reviews, but I do think about stuff apart from politics, once in a while.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Fair is fair

In reorganizing, I went back and looked at previous blog posts trying to see if I had written about Naisy Dolar before because I was pretty sure I had (I need a blog librarian.) This new blogger is of no help in searching my archives. Anyway, I decided to update on an older post.

Just wanted to be fair - recently found out that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (who might forever have a "first ever" attached permanently to his name, appointed Juliette Kayyemm an Arab American woman, as his Homeland Security adviser. I had previously complained that for a Democratic Gov in one of the most Democratic states, he and Spitzer (NY Gov.) had plenty of leeway to do so. The Boston Globe reported:

Juliette Kayyem, 37, will be the only Arab-American to hold a state-level homeland security position, according to a spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security. She will also be one of a handful of women to hold such a job.
"It's a tremendous opportunity," said Kayyem, who will serve as undersecretary of homeland security, a position that previous administrations did not have. She will be paid $125,000 a year.

Pretty awesome. An Arab American woman as terrorism czar. Even if she is an undersecretary, that is thinking outside the box. All props where due to Patrick, who announced the position shortly after I complained. Obviously this means that I was the impetus, in an Post hoc, Ergo Procter Hoc fashion. Now Spitzer on the other hand has some work to do. According to a Jan. 31st article, he hadn't named any high level Asian American appointees, probably because there were no Asian Americans in the core transition group. Perhaps if I keep complaining, he'll hear me . . . or steamroll me. *Runs for cover*

New face of Chicago politics

Holy shit - the face of new Democratic politics is on the rise. Exhibit 2007: Naisy Dolar, who just beat out a highly competitive field of candidates to face off against the incumbent Democrat Bernard Stone, who wants to hand the seat to his daughter in a nepotistic fit. Read Tim's rundown of the anti-incumbent mood here.

Sun-Times coverage the day after: " With all precincts reporting, Stone had 48 percent, with top challenger Naisy Dolar logging 28 percent.

Early in the evening, Stone was so far ahead, he declared victory and went home to bed. Dolar never conceded but sent her own supporters home, saying it was too close to call.

"And look what happened," she said. "We put the champagne in the car, and then we had to pull the champagne back out."

By holding him to under 50%, she was able to enter a runoff election. This was a true grassroots campaign, as she received little help from traditional footsoldier organizations. See her endorsements versus the guy who had the front-runner challenger wind before the vote happened. Citizen Action and the Women's Bar Association hedged their bets and made multiple endorsements. So this was mostly borne of volunteer passion, and a healthy sprinkling of leftover APIA energy from Duckworth's campaign. (No, that is not an oxymoron.) But let's be clear about what endorsements turned the tide: Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune.

Even if she does not win, this is a victory for change in Chicago politics. Moreover, she has a pretty good chance of winning since this district encompasses an immigrant-dense neighborhood including Devon St, aka Little India. Thank you, Lord and thank you Naisy Dolar, and Tammy Duckworth, and all the APIA brothers and sisters who came before to make it possible. Let us not just remember the ones who won judgeships or made it into campaign or elected officials' offices, let's remember the ones who tried mightily and lost. Because every footprint that came before makes a mark.
Administrator's sidenote: Reorganized blogroll. Reinstated archives and comments (decided to take them down because I noticed some non-political spam. Really, on the order of spam, I would prefer politics-related spam to random spam. If you have an APIA related topic you'd like to suggest, email me. Don't spam. I will not be nice to spammers. Hence comment moderation.) *looks at watch* Damn, where did the time go?

Mixed blessings

On the train, I realized today that what happened last winter with my coworkers and me getting sick isn't the worst thing in the world, even though it felt like it at the time. I remember being in front of a potential client who was particularly talkative and wanting to throw up multiple times, and then having to swallow it down. And trying to do it without being noticed. Then rushing to the bathroom afterwards and dry heaving because I hadn't really been eating.

So that was the bad part. The good part is that physically, I don't feel as ill. I've pretty much recovered, although I could/should exercise some more. Mentally, the mixed blessing is that it showed me my priorities in life and made me lots more patient, and dare I say wiser? One aspect is that I definitely have a lot more perspective - school, prestige, power - none of these things teaches or makes a person good. Cheesy and trite thoughts, I know. But true none the less. And in terms of my priorities, well - health and love and friends and family are closer to the top now. I don't think I'd be as willing to put any of them on hold for any job as I did before. I know I don't care about prestige as much as I used to (hard when Ivies are drilled into you.) Let's put it this way: if I get really sick and I have to stay in bed, is my job going to be there for me? Hells no.

The people who matter most to me are the dearest treasures in the world. I could be really well-known, but I probably wouldn't be happy. One of my friends who was unhappy in her previous job started up her own business doing what she loves and is good at, and now she's making twice the amount she used to since her business has really taken off. It's been over a year, and she gets new clients all the time - she has more offers than she has the capacity for. I just met a craftsman who does what he loves, is very successful and highly regarded, even though he never went to school and was self-taught. So I fully believe that if I follow my heart, things will work out.

I suppose that's part of why I love public transportation - it affords me the opportunity to think undisturbed. I've written some of my best poetry on trains. I suppose that this makes my nom de guerre / blog focus sort of ironic.

Ultimately, the whole painful episode gave me clarity like the heightened awareness you gain at the end of a gun. Everybody has these pieces of glass that we store away in our hearts. I have more than one. It's my lifeline, my grounding stake. I need to remember to hang onto it.

Power & Politics

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