Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

ROLL CALL: Akaka and the war

So I think I'm going to start doing semi-regular roll calls on votes of import, and why and how strategic Congresscritters voted. This isn't the first, but I'm starting an official series with this one. -P&P

Seems like there's trouble brewing in paradise - the Honolulu Advertiser has an article about how he was one of the 80 Senators (including most Dems) who recently voted on the Iraq War, sans pullout deadline:

Such passions against the war in Iraq were key to Akaka's victory. Many reform Democrats and independents who normally would have gravitated to Case backed Akaka because he voted against authorizing the war in the first place and unequivocally supported a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops, while Case insisted on talking about the complexities involved in winding down the war.

It's funny that we've barely heard a peep from these folks now that Akaka had his chance to vote to end the war — and flinched.

Akaka, along with Hawai'i's senior Sen. Daniel Inouye, voted with an 80-14 Senate majority to provide $95 billion to continue funding the war. The bill was stripped of any language to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces after an earlier veto by President Bush.

Well, Akaka did just get Filipino veterans grandfathered/included in the prospective immigration reform bill, but one wonders what votes he had to trade, and if the Iraq vote was one of them. Then again, it's not like he was a swing vote when it's 80-14. Definitely not a good thing to have headlines in one of your most populous cities blaring that you turned your back on a campaign promise this soon in a 6 year term.

Akaka and Inouye could take solace that the bill, laden with pork that Democrats forced on Bush if he wanted his war funding, contained nearly $40 million earmarked for Hawai'i projects, primarily disaster relief related to the October earthquakes.

But it seems unbecoming for them to even mention such crumbs to justify votes on a matter of war and peace, with thousands of American lives and countless billions of dollars in spending at stake.

This is not to suggest it was an easy vote; it's always politically untenable for lawmakers to vote to deny funding to support the forces we've deployed.

The point is that it was Case's argument — not Akaka's — that the war is complicated. For Akaka, it was a simple matter of setting timetables to begin withdrawing U.S. troops.

It shouldn't go without note that when push came to shove, Akaka cast the same vote to continue funding the war that Case probably would have.

And speaking of who voted against, here's the long, luscious list...including three very staunchly conservative repubs who voted no on principle - opposed to the social programs (minimum wage increase, etc) that helped Dems slide this thing down their gullets.

NAYs ---14
Boxer (D-CA) - remembers that she represents one of the most progressive states once in a while
Burr (R-NC) - crazy wingnut

*Clinton (D-NY) - had to for the Dem base voters. Probably would have voted yes otherwise. vacillated plenty beforehand. Voted to go to war originally. While this may appease her base some, it doesn't really help her credibility on a little thing called principles. If anything, this vote reinforces the meme that she is willing to vote whichever way the wind blows. In this instance, it was a lose-lose proposition. If she had voted yes, she would have pissed off the base mightily, and perhaps lost precious donors. As Ben Smith suggested, she isn't going to get huge points for this from the antiwar left, but she also isn't going to lose huge points, except for leadership points to Edwards and Dodd on this issue.

Coburn (R-OK)
- crazy wingnut

*Dodd (D-CT) - presidential candidate. pretty middle of the road from the Insurance and HMO State who is trying to run to the left of the frontrunners on this one. Smart play.

Enzi (R-WY) - wingnut
Feingold (D-WI) - true progressive leader, a champion on this issue. I wish he were still in the presidential race.
Kennedy (D-MA) - progressive champ on this issue. On immigration, we need to talk.
Kerry (D-MA) - thank god he found his spine again. I like him so much better when he's not running for President.
Leahy (D-VT) - true progressive

*Obama (D-IL)
- same as Hillary, had to do it for the base, otherwise he would be viewed as inconsistent, having voted against the war to start with. Could have used less hemming and hawwing beforehand though. Again, in my opinion he lost some points to Dodd and Edwards by waiting to declare his position on this issue, which polls as the single most important issue for voters

Sanders (I-VT) - a real fighter for the little guy
Whitehouse (D-RI) - better than chafee would have done
Wyden (D-OR) - consistent with earlier vote against military authorization

Not Voting - 6
Brownback (R-KS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Hatch (R-UT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Thomas (R-WY)

So basically this means that Senate leadership like Durbin (number 2) and Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, voted for the thing. If I'm disappointed in anyone, it's Durbin, because he is pretty progressive. Schumer not voting is a classic avoidance technique - this way he doesn't really have to be held accountable by rabid, angry NYers. same weasl technique that Coleman (R-MN) is using because the MN senate race is coming up and he needs some political cover in that purplish-blue state. I'm also a little surprised that California Sen. Feinstein didn't vote with her compatriot. Usually on major bills like this Senators from the same state, same party vote together to provide political cover for each other. (Witness Akaka and Inouye.)

Well, that's it for this edition. Happy June folks.

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Wolfie's heartbreak

Check out Project for the New American Bachelor. Very quirky and cute. Will resume regular posting after this week - some friends and family in town and work is a drag. Happy unofficial summer!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Edwards favors gay immigration rights

This is an incredibly ballsy and courageous move by a politician. I have just moved this much closer to throwing my support behind John Edwards. This move might hurt him a lot in Iowa, where he needs to win to maintain momentum in the primaries, but it's just such a principled thing that I can't help but admire the guy. Of course, the xenophobic, homophobic parts of the GOP will probably only exponentially increase their hatred and disgust of Edwards and people in this unfortunate situation.

Although it seems like a natural next step in the gay rights movement - expand marriage rights domestically, and then abroad, it is also a controversial thing within both the LGBT and immigrant communities - not all LGBT groups are fully inclusive, and there are definitely homophobic immigrants. I once met a woman who had been persecuted in her home country for being a lesbian. Here, she had multiple black marks against her for being a "multiple minority" but she still loved America because she was more able to be open.

And I know that my friend who has been living abroad for the past 2 years with his lover would welcome this type of immigration policy change.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jesus and George

This youtube video made me laugh at the end of a very long day. George W Bush prays before bedtime, and Jesus appears to him with long brown hair and brown eyes (as hesupposedly look in real life.) Dubya shoots him, calling him "Osama" and Jesus has to miracle away the wounds repeatedly until Jesus reapparitions as a blonde haired blue eyed Jesus.

So I am in a really good, if tired place. Work is crazy but I am happy.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Where our candidates stand on immigration, aka "do no harm"

Here's where the major Dem candidates stand so far:

On gutting family reunification
The Hill - This provision is among the most controversial for civil rights and religious groups, and it has also prompted criticism from Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Menendez said his office had “given some of our amendments” to other offices, including Clinton and a second presidential hopeful, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), whom Menendez said is working with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on another amendment.

Hillary offered a bill to reduce the impact of the gutting of family reunification:

On the other side, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., plans to offer an amendment that would exempt the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents from the measure’s visa caps, guaranteeing that families receive a higher priority.

This is a SMART move by the Clinton camp to win support from ethnic communities. But you also have to take the long term view and remember that Hillary and Barack voted to build a wall between the US and Mexico last year.

On guest workers:

Democratic Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina objected to the guest- worker provisions, which are opposed by some unions as a pipeline for providing cheap immigrant labor to U.S. business.

Edwards, 53, called the guest-worker plan ``poorly conceived.'' Obama, 45, noted ``some good elements'' in the compromise and said he's reserving final judgment until the legislation emerges in its final form.

New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson, who is Hispanic, may be squeezed between Hispanic groups' objections and his need to attract Anglo votes. Richardson, 59, welcomed the agreement, while listing reservations.

The candidate called a requirement that a head of household leave the country and re-enter legally ``problematic.'' He also said a provision for a $5,000 fine for undocumented immigrants seeking permanent status was ``so unrealistic that immigrants simply stay in the shadows rather than earn legal status.''

(By the way, in the midst of the immigration debate Richardson decided to formally announce his presidential candidacy.)

The good news on this bill is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not fond of reducing the importance of family reunification:

Mr. Reid criticized the measure on several grounds.

“The bill impacts families in a number of ways that I believe are unwise,” he said. “The bill also allows 400,000 low-skilled workers to come to America for three two-year terms, but requires them to go home for a year in between.

This is impractical both for the workers and for the American employers who need a stable, reliable work force.”

Best reason to oppose the bill as-is:

In writing the measure, senators bypassed the Judiciary Committee, where immigration bills normally originate.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said, “The bill we have before us is a product of closed-door meetings between the administration and Republican senators, which was then put to Democratic senators as a framework for further negotiations.”

Overall, I don't think that there is enough support from the left or the hard right to get this bill passed the way immigrant rights advocates want, but I fear that somehow the bill will get through regardless and we'll have a huge mess on our hands.

The idea here is to at a minimum, do no harm.

If the bill is this punitive as is, I cannot support it in its present form. I would love to see some REAL progressive immigration reform but until then I would even be happy with our Congress passing something that does no harm. And this bill in its current state does not fulfill that minimum requirement. If improvements are made this week, I will have to re-assess.

If I have more time, I will do a comb-through of the details of the bill and add more analysis, but it's crunch time for my proyecto and I'm not quite sane, so it may only come next week. Until then, sweet dreams.

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TAKE ACTION: Senate debates immigration "compromise" this week

This week, the Senate is debating the so-called "compromise" immigration bill sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and John Kyl (R-AZ). They're set to take action on it after Memorial Day weekend. I know how desperately our country needs immigration reform, but this bill contains several poison pills that are extremely detrimental to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community (see AILA's summary.)

This bill reduces the importance of the family reunification process that was created by the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act. The landmark 1965 bill ended the race-based quota system, and has changed the face of our country so that it is not as common for people to gawk at an Asian person. It allowed us to flourish in numbers, and to reunite our families. The Kennedy-Kyl bill (yeah, kill this bill!) would substantially increase the current family backlog. Most importantly, it will be even harder for family members to reunite, and makes it incredibly hard to get a family member who is over 21 over here.

Another odious provision would create an employment-based system that awards points based on the immigrant's type of work, education, and English proficiency. The English proficiency portion will effectively benefit people coming from countries that already speak English, immigrants who have the means to learn.

The last poison pill is the creation of a guestworker program that would admit 400,000-600,000 foreign workers every year. No matter how hard they work, they would have almost no chance of becoming citizens, and could only stay for 2 years at a time, up to a total of 6 years. Thus they would become part of a permanent underclass of workers.

Although the bill provides a path to citizenship for almost 12 million undocumented immigrants, it would force them to pay fines of $5000 and to go back to their home countries. If you make less than minimum wage, $5000 is possibly half your annual income, and a steep price to pay.

With all these negatives, is it any wonder that George W Bush supports passage of this bill?!?!

As retiring Congressman Luis Gutierrez says, "The value of getting something done that is not worthy of our immigrants is not anything," he said in an alternatively smiling and table-pounding interview last week. "It's more important to get it done right."

So make your voice heard
Put in a quick call to your Senators (find their contacts here) or call 1-800-417-7666 and be automatically connected to the Senators representing the area code you're calling from. Be polite, give the legislative aide your name, zip code, and your message (points modified from AAJC):

Tell your Senator how important family-based immigration is to you. Let your senator know if you and your family benefited from family reunification.

  • “I urge you to support workable immigration reform legislation that values families, creates a path to citizenship and does not create an underclass of workers."

  • “I want a bill that:
    o Will bring in the entire family backlog;
    o Preserves the family categories; and
    o Maintains or expands the number of visas available for family reunification."

  • “I urge the Senator to oppose any legislation that would reduce the importance of family unification. Thank you.”

A quick call this week could mean the difference between devastating changes and real, progressive, and beneficial immigration reform.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Reporting gets outsourced and APA men in media

Asian American NYTimes guest columnist Atul Gawande offered up a thought-provoking op-ed on abortion today called Let's Talk About Sex. It's hidden behind a firewall, but here are the choicest bits:

One statistic seems to me to give the lie to all the rhetoric about abortion, and it’s this: one in three women under the age of 45 have an abortion during their lifetime. One in three. All politicians — Democrat and Republican — say they want to make abortion at least rare (as Giuliani did in Wednesday’s debate). On, this they could reach agreement. But it’s clear they haven’t been serious; the U.S. has 1.3 million abortions a year.

...More children are, in fact, getting this message. Pregnancies at age 15 to 17 are down 35 percent since 1995, according to federal data; one-fourth of the drop is from delaying sex, and three-fourths is from increased use of contraceptives. Today, just 7 percent of abortions occur in minors.

Fact two follows from this: Abortion is mainly an adult problem. Forty-five percent of abortions occur in adults ages 18 to 24; 48 percent occur after age 25. Most are in women who have already had a child. The kids are all right. We are the issue.

Why am I so psyched about the NYTimes having what is to my knowledge the first Asian American guest columnist if they aren't even a full-time contributor? Because Atul Gawande is a fantastic writer - he writes with nuanced precision. He writes cool, clean lines, fraught with the weight of wrestling moral ambiguities. His book Complications (along with The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down) is one of the must reads for young pre-meds and medical students. He is a Thinker and a Doer. He is the model minority personified, a Chair of surgery at Harvard Medical School, a practicing surgeon, a writer. But he also loves listening to rock n roll in his OR and his skills aren't just limited to the sci-tech realm.

Second, guest columnist positions can turn into full-time gigs - Barbara Enrenreich did a guest gig last summer which turned into a fulltime position (it ended abruptly but that's another story.) And the Times remains the "paper of record" - the one paper that brides seek to get their wedding announcements in, the one that politicians seek to be quoted in, the one that the President's war apparatus seeks to put out propaganda in. In a field of influencers, it reigns supreme. (Despite the Jayson Blair and Judith Miller scandals, and their blatantly wrong and racist handling of Wen Ho Lee's persecution.)

Which led me to consider how many other Asian American men are in prominent positions at the NYTimes and other outlets. Sewall Chan, nicknamed "one of the hardest working reporters" there, recently switched over from the Metro beat to blogging.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has crossover visibility in Newsweek and CNN. Fareed Zakaria is one of the go-to international relations analysts for Newsweek. Peter Bhatijia is the Executive Editor of the Oregonian. We are still underrepresented in the mainstream media, but these are some pretty impressive figures.
In other news, a Pasadena paper has decided to outsource reporting on City Council news to India. The time difference between CA and India is about 12 hours, but the publisher believes it's doable because proceedings are all streamed online. A lot of people in service industries think that their jobs are safe but technology keeps evolving and you might not care when the steelworker's job goes, but then wham! Radiologists face an uncertain future since the scans can be read by people in other countries for cheaper. And this is how the middle and upper classes begin to care about globalization.

Is the outsourcing of reportage the natural extension of blogging? Currently, bloggers like Abu Aardvark have become the first stop resource for academics, reporters, and for goings on in the Middle East. Theoretcally, I can read up on local elections in Japan, become well-versed in the local dynamic, and give my own thoughts on these issues. If I get enough exposure, I become a source for others. The authors of one of the most popular and well-read state political blogs - Archpundit (Illinois) has done picked up and moved to another state.

I'm not defending or justifying anything here, just wondering if it wasn't inevitable.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Politics, the Politico, and news coverage

Via politicalwire, the WashPost reports that McCain has missed his 5th straight week of votes. 42 votes in a row if anyone's counting. . . and Arizona voters ought to be - cos really, what else are they paying him for?!? Since April 1st, he's only made it to THREE floor votes. This is a preposterously low number. I understand that his campaign is in a tailspin ever since his embarrassingly low fundraising figures came in and that he's fired/moved around senior staff, but here's some free advice:

The reason why no one wants to donate to you is the same reason why Bush has an approval rating below 30% - Americans hate the Iraq War. So your "principled" and unwavering stance in favor of it, and for continuing it, and even kickin' it up a notch - it doesn't move even GOP voters. You abandoned one of your namesake bills on immigration, the McCain-Kennedy bill, so that you could spend all your time politicking, and pirouetting and spinning for GOP base. And they still don't trust you. They don't trust you because you're trying to run Bush's campaign without being Bush. So find your own voice.

Your current trajectory is losing you supporters and voters quicker than any amount of begging and pleading you can do, or any money-tree shaking you can do.

I don't want to admit this because I'm addicted to my fix of political news, but I gotta say that the Politico is a pretty partisan hack journal. It's been said before. Look at the headlines on their front page:
-Obama gets Playboy's vote
-Murtha accused of ethics violation (thte top story - somehow this beats out immigration, gay marriage, etc.) of of respect for our staff people.
-Liberals feel stiffed by new Dem majority
-Dems float weaker-than-expected lobbying bill

I wish it wasn't because they update so frequently, but it's gotta be put out there. I'm going to continue linking to them because they remain a valuable font of info. But as always, be aware of slanted opinions.

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Never forget

While we're talking about immigration reform here, let's not forget that Chinese Americans and Asian Americans have long been considered less than scum by institutions of power in America, and that we were the ONLY group to be excluded from this country for immigration purposes based solely on race.

In the landmark US Supreme Court decision Plessy v Ferguson, which upheld that segregation of blacks and whites was legal on railroads, it was a 7-1 vote against the mixed race plaintiff, Homer Plessy. The only justice who dissented, John Marshall Harlan, wrote that it was a decision that would come to be viewed in the most negative light:

But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.

It should be noted, however, that Justice Harlan also stated that:

There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race.

So a man who used to be a slave trader who came to see the light still could not accept Chinese Americans as authentic, as Americans, as fellow travelers. That is the harsh and ugly truth of American immigration history in the courts. Immigration has always, always been racially tinged, and the fact that President Bush is willing to sign this bill makes me suspicious. Somehow I don't think he's doing us any favors here. The bill would ultimately change the racial make up of this country so drastically that I think the average Asian American doesn't realize what's at stake.

Filipino veterans' equity - on the back burner. Same with Hmong and Laos veterans' equity. No need to honor these men who fought bravely for the United States based on a promise that was broken. A promise that will remain broken for far longer since family reunification will no longer be a priority.

Yes, never forget. This is not an immigration bill like the one that welcomed my parents and my friends' parents, my aunts and uncles to this country. This is not an immigrant-friendly bill - it's a bill that is discussed as a "border security" bill. Does that scream "Make yourself at home and contribute your culture and ideas as well as your labor"?

No, it makes immigrants sound like the teeming hordes. If I had to wager a guess, this bill ain't passing. (At least I certainly hope so.)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

CNN's Asian American experience

CNN has a pretty cool section on the Asian American experience which doesn't just retread the same old same old but which looks at Korean American rappers in LA, Masi Oka, and has a list of some Asian American notables, some that I've never heard of like Be Inthavong, a luxury handbag designer.

Not sure what I think of the "hopes of Asian mail order brides" video though - it's a very real issue but it starts off sorta sensationalist. What is cool is that they confront the owner of one of the mail order bride websites, and that Yul Kwon is breaking down the stereotypes. Plus they discuss the physical abuse that some of these brides undergo.

Yul Kwon covers the divisive affirmative action debate and interviews Jian Li. Oh, and props to the UCLA student who is wearing the Blacklava "I WILL NOT LOVE YOU LONG TIME" shirt.

Masi Oka talks about Asian American stereotypes

With Tavis Smiley (transcript included.) Thank goodness for a more probing, in-depth and thoughtful interview than the View one. He also talks about growing up with a single mother, and how his mom's his hero!

Tavis asks about the difficulty of finding a job as an Asian American actor, and the model minority stereotype:
Oka: You see, I'd rather kind of lower everyone's expectations. I'd rather be kind of dumb and exceed peoples' expectations rather than like raise the bar and not be able to meet it, which is like constantly my life.

Tavis: The flip side of that, though, I would think, Masi, is being burdened by the intellect. You ever feel burdened? That is to say, the expectation on you from your parents and others is so great because they know your IQ is high?

Oka: Yeah, my mom definitely had a very high expectation of me, and myself as well. I've learned through the years that it's much easier to live if you lower your expectations.

Tavis: Let me go back earlier to something you said, which was funny. You made a joke about it, but we moved right past it. Let me come back seriously and try to wrestle with this. This notion of Asians being smart. I mean, that is a stereotype and every race gets stereotyped in certain ways. I guess if you're going to be stereotyped, being smart ain't the worst way to be stereotyped, but how do you navigate being an Asian and being stereotyped as expected to be smart because you are Asian?

Tavis also asks if his mom pushed him into technology:

Tavis: Speaking of stereotypes, though, you fit in in every way. You're smart, your IQ is high -

Oka: - and I'm a bad driver too.

Tavis: (Laughter) You said it, not me. You're a bad driver. And you're in the technology field. How did you find your way into that? Did like your Asian family push you into technology?

Oka: It's interesting because I do fit the stereotypes. My mom - you know, I was raised by a single mother. That's not too common in Asian families where parents are divorced. We came to America, you know, to throw away everything that's conservative in Japan. She took a lot of risks. It is kind of different, but I totally forgot the question now.

Tavis: Never mind. It doesn't matter.

Oka: (Laughter) Sorry.

And Masi talks about his mom:

Tavis: Tell me about your single mother now. I'm fascinated by that now because, again speaking of stereotypes, in my community certainly, we rail all the time against the fact that, while a single mother obviously can be a good parent, a single mother can certainly raise an over-achieving kid whether he's Asian or Black. I don't want to slam single mothers.

But there's always this conversation about why there are so many single parent families inside of Black America and increasingly in America, period. But you're right. You don't often hear about Asian single mothers. Tell me about your mother.

Oka: My mother is a very strong and unique person. I love her to death. She pretty much gave up everything to come to America and provide a better life for myself and I owe her everything. She's my superhero. My parents got divorced when I was one month old, so I've actually never met my biological father.

Such a rich, and full interview. Watch it to see how much depth can be drawn out by a good interviewer, versus the View. I've become convinced that the women on the View are just very condescending to everyone. Masi's costar Hayden Panettiere, who plays Claire Bennett the cheerleader, goes on the View and Rosie totally babies her in a terrible fashion:

Rosie: You look so adorable in that little miniskirt. How old are you now?

Hayden: I'm eighteen.

Rosie: I will always think of you as a little kid.

The red headed comedian also says: "Well, you're very young to be considered so sexy. How does your family feel about it, cos you're a kid really. I hate to say it like that, but you're seventeen."

Hayden: "I, uh, I dunno. . . I, uh, I don't think my dad knows about it yet."

Rosie: "Now listen, you're 17, you're 18, I don't want you hanging out with those scary girls who drink too much and how their hoohoos. I really don't Hayden. . . take as a role model Natalie Portman, she went to an Ivy League college. she's very smart, very beautiful, a great actress, and she avoided all that Hollywood crap. Can you promise me that?"

Rosie, you're not her mother. Get over yourself.

PS: Had to edit title so it was spelled correctly. Perils of blogging when tired and all that.


Immigration compromise reached - Family reunification falls through the cracks

Crap. We have a new compromise but family reunification is going to get gutted:

The point system is one element of a comprehensive bill that calls for the biggest changes in immigration law and policy in more than 20 years. The full Senate plans to take up the legislation next week.

Although Democrats now control the Senate, the bill incorporates many ideas advanced in some form by President Bush. A draft of the legislation says that Congress intends to “increase American competitiveness through a merit-based evaluation system for immigrants.”

Moreover, it says, Congress will “reduce chain migration” by limiting the number of visas issued exclusively on account of kinship.

Democrats insisted, and Republicans agreed, that some points be awarded to people who had close relatives in the United States or could perform low-skill jobs for which there was a high demand.

...Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell University, said: “The legislation taking shape in the Senate represents a major philosophical shift. It tells the world that we are emphasizing characteristics that will enhance our global competitiveness, like education and job skills. We would not rely as much on family background as we have in the past.”

Under the proposal, Mr. Yale-Loehr said, “foreign-born spouses and minor children of United States citizens could still get green cards, but foreign-born siblings and adult children of citizens would be hurt.”

This drastically changes things for Asian Americans who want to be reunited with their parents and siblings. This doesn't even begin to address the current family backlog. Sigh...here's what IS in the new bill, which is a mixed bag, but one that Bush is willing to sign:

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a ''Z visa'' and -- after paying fees and a $5,000 fine -- ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first.

They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.

A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called ''triggers'' had been activated.

Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time.

Democrats had pressed instead for guest workers to be permitted to stay and work indefinitely in the U.S.

Very mixed, with touchdown provisions. Actually, I don't see any huge benefits or improvements for immigration advocates - there's a guest worker program, which is what Republicans wanted, a touchdown provision, which the GOP wanted, and they're gutting family reunification. Plus there's a significant fine of $5,000. AAAArgh!!!! I just hope this doesn't wind up being the immigration version of No Chil Left Behind.

The only thing we get is a path to citizenship. Plus this is a compromise which is only going to get worse as the House and Senate committees try to find a compromise (the House bill is worse.)

The new proposal would augment that system with a merit-based program that would award points based on education levels, work experience and English proficiency, as well as family ties. Automatic family unifications would remain but would be limited to spouses and children under 21. The adult children and siblings of U.S. residents would probably need other credentials, such as skills and education, to qualify for an immigrant visa. A number of unskilled parents would be allowed in, but that flow would be capped.

English proficiency is only going to benefit those from English speaking countries - think increased European immigration. I need more details, but based upon this, I don't think this is a bill I can get behind. And I'm going to be watching our presidential candidates very closely on this issue.

Update: I just threw up a little, and I cannot support this version of immigration reform. The Senate version would make English the official language.

I would rather wait until we have a Democrat in the White House in 2008 to pass legislation that is more welcoming to immigrants than to settle for what is a reversal of the gains made in 1965.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

APAs on TV; Philly results

I found this article which does a good job of detailing the increase in Asian American female performers on TV shows. So next season there are scheduled to be 7 (yup, count em) APA women on the lil screen. We've made some progress since the days of Margaret Cho's All American Girl getting canceled.

But a few years ago, something happened — more specifically, Lost and Grey's Anatomy

happened, or maybe common sense just finally kicked in — and we began to get three or four Asian American women in regular roles on network TV shows. Then last season, it was five.

And the networks discovered something odd: people of color tuned in, and the white people didn't stop watching. In fact, ratings even went up on some of the shows. (Gee, maybe this whole diversity thing isn't such a bad idea, after all!)

Now, going into the 2007-08 season, we're looking at a record seven shows with prominent leading or supporting roles on primetime network TV (eight if The CW renews Smallville).

That's almost double the number of even a few years ago. Yes, it's still a pathetically small number, and there's still no Asian American equivalent to shows like Everybody Hates Chris or the upcoming Latino family drama Cane. But at least it's trending in the right direction — and it's six more than the number of lesbians we're going to get next season!

Although the women are hotter than Margaret and about half of the actresses listed are hapa - Lindsay Price (Coupling), Moon Bloodgood (Daybreak), .and michaela Conlin. Interesting, no? Other APAs who will appear on tv in major or minor roles include Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Yunjin Kim, and Elizabeth Ho, who I'm unfamiliar with.

Andy Toy came really close to capturing enough votes for an at-Large seat in Philly's city council election. What's funny is if you notice how the Repubs were disciplined enough to only nominate 5 people, and the Dems have nearly 20. Hopefully next time is the charm!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Philly City Council vote tomorrow

Andy Toy is poised to become the first city councilman in Philadelphia - the vote is tomorrow! He is a third generation Chinese American who has been a community leader and public servant.

I am seriously proud of all of the Asian American men and women who are stepping up and changing the face of politics. We are coming into our own as a political community, and making our voices heard. Even more, I am proud that we have candidates who don't run from being Asian American, but who are not simply limited to being a candidate of color, who run to represent Asian Americans and all Americans. Sam Yoon is a good example of an elected official who care about race and class, but is able to speak authentically to multiple communities.

Indeed, the similarities and parallels between the two are very interesting:

Sam used to work on economic development issues at ACDC; Andy worked on economic development for Philly. They also both have a Masters in Public Policy and went to Ivy League schools (Andy to UPenn for both and Sam to Princeton undergrad and Harvard grad.) Both are Asian American men. (C'mon sisters, we need more Madison Nguyens and Jennifer Kims!) Both built progressive, multi-ethnic coalitions that helped elect them to at-large city council positions - well, Toy will win ;)

Stewart Ikeda writes:

The diversity of his supporters will be key to Toy’s victory. Sure, he hopes to, and would be proud to, become the first Asian American councilman in his city. Unsurprisingly, his face is all over Chinatown, and he has attracted attention of national groups such as APAs for Progress, even as Boston’s Sam Yoon did in 2005. But although he served on Governor Rendell’s Commission of Asian Americans and as Board Chair for the city’s Chinatown Development Corporation, Toy knows he can’t win the at-large seat as the “Asian American candidate,” and he really doesn’t want to.

But he does believe that building multicultural connections among the city’s often-segregated communities is imperative to the survival and success of them all. Diversity is a key theme of his campaign, but for Toy, fostering educational, employment and financial equity is not just campaign rhetoric. He believes strongly that creating such opportunities is a necessity – that attracting, training, and retaining people of color and, significantly, immigrants is crucial to reversing the city’s slide.

Toy is the descendant of immigrants who struggled against hard odds, through the usual ups and downs of building lives and small businesses in America. In a campaign video by the Chinese-American filmmaker Eric Byler, Toy compares Philadelphia to other turned-around cities. “We have to realize…” he says, “What stemmed the population loss and helped New York, Boston and Chicago is that they had a lot of immigrants come in and create vibrant communities and a great mix. It’s an economic development issue, really.”

Well, perhaps this is a trend emerging in Asian American candidates, and we can see a path to success from the similarities between the two men.

Also, in light of the immigration bill currently wending its way through Congress, which might gut family reunification provisions that have allowed Asian Americans to reunite with loved ones here in America, I point to both Sam, a member of the 1.5 generation, as one of the finest examples of what Asian American immigrants have accomplished for this country. Toy recognizes that the immigrant spirit is what keeps America's entrepreneuism alive and thriving. Let's hope our elected officials in Congress do the same.

PS: I'll post the final results of the race tomorrow or the day after. Yeah, I'm a political junkie, and the internet feeds my habit so badly. I spend all day attached to my keyboard like I'm freebasing (not that I actually have first hand experience.) I go to sleep next to my laptop and the first thing I do in the mornings is check the blogs. Someone send me to a clinic, stat!

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

This Mother's Day I would like to thank my mother for having the strength to come to America. She didn't face the obscene obstacles that some of my friends and their families did, but I know that in the beginning, she didn't see her friends or relatives for over 8 years. And when she left, she didn't know if she would ever see them again.

She isn't a CEO or a big shot writer, a politician or a nonprofit leader. In fact, she doesn't do anything that generates lots of money or fame. But her coworkers appreciate her, and so do some members of our small community. My mom doesn't do anything revolutionary - she is not a revolutionary woman, and I hardly think she would consider herself a feminist. But she is one of the hardest workers that I know, and she has a deep deep ocean of patience.

Thanks for teaching me how to read. It's still one of my favorite past times, and even though I've moved on from reading Narnia books to avidly scanning political newspapers, I still read like a demon. I still devour books and magazine with a stupendous ferocity, and I owe that to you.

I'm even going to thank you for pushing me as a kid. Some time ago, I was complaining to a friend about you sending me to all those extracurricular activities on the weekends, and my friend said, "Well, at least you got all those great opportunities." I guess I never looked at them like that, just as burdens, just as another notch on the resume. And I resented spending my free time learning, and pulling all-nighters to finish projects. But I guess it built character. And it got me the grades I needed to write my own ticket, even if it's not where you wanted me to go originally. You gave me the best foundation, and I know how hard you worked.

I know how you would come home tired and then cook for us. And I know how closely you cherish your family, even if you don't get to see them more than once a year at best. And I thank you for teaching me the value of friendship - the way you've kept in touch with childhood classmates and friends is a real testament to your perseverance and warmth.

I think of what I was doing at the same age that my mother came over, and I wonder if I would have had the same strength, the same determination, the same adventurous spirit. I think that in some ways, I do. I'm not sure where I got the rebellious streak from, though!

Kai gives some of the history of racism against Asian American immigrants. I am happy to say that my mom didn't encounter all of this, but she is a strong woman nonetheless. Here's to you, mom.

And here's to all the immigrant women who came over to start afresh, or to create better opportunities, and who had children along the way. Happy immigrant mother's day!

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Endless laughter: Stephen Colbert parodies Rain

I don't really get the rain phenomenon. But this Stephen Colbert parody was too hilarious to pass up. Endless laughter! "Rain, I'm going to be all over you like egg on a bowl of bibimbop!"

Even funnier: I finally figured out who Colbert kinda looks like in the video: Jeffrey Sebalia, Project Runway Season 3 winner! (minus tattoos of course.)

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hmong leaders - changing of the guard

Well, I was saddened to learn that Joe Bee Xiong has passed away. Xiong was the first Asian American city councilman in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and he made a respectable run for the State Legislature a few years back in a highly Republican district that was majority white. He was a leader and a community figure, and he played a large role in the Chai Vang case (the Wisconsin hunter.)

On the bright side, Pakou Hang, a sharp young activist who worked for former Sen. Paul Wellstone and current State Senator (and Majority Whip) Mee Moua, is running for St. Paul city council. She's young, talented, and female, and ready to implement new ideas and willing to listen to the voices of the entire community. She's got some of the best, most politically active, most progressive organizations backing her - SEIU, ACORN, Progressive Majority - in addition to Congressman Keith Ellison. She managed to hold off having the DFL (Democrat Farmer Labor) party make any endorsement in the race, but carries the endorsement of the DFL's Feminist and Stonewall caucuses, which is an achievement considering that she's up against an incumbent with over a decade of experience. Here's two articles about her historic campaign. Btw, the other guy is the business candidate - was endorsed by the chamber of commerce. . .

Vote Pakou for change, and while you're at it, throw her some change ;) Cos lord knows $13,000 is not a lot for a political campaign, even if you are a scrappy Wellstone organizer who knows how to hold down costs. But Bryan Thao Worra probably has a more thorough and nuanced on the ground analysis of all of this.

PS: I HATE the new blogger. Google and blogger just went down for 5 minutes, causing me to lose my entire post. At first I thought it was my connection. Damn new blogger.

PPS: Check out the case of this 13 year old Indian American boy from Utah who is headed for the National Spelling Bee. He's an "angry speller" who wants to win so that Bush will pay attention to his parents plight (he's been crying since they were deported over a year ago.) Go Kunal, go!

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Bigoted Bush nominee and possible Borg Queen to replace sex addict

Item one: Bush nominates Henrietta Holsman Fore, a crazy bigot, who used to head the US Mint, to be in charge of dispensing the United States' foreign aid. . .except she hates those furriners. Plus the guy who she is replacing is Randall Tobias, most notable for having been outed as a client of the DC madam, Deborah Jane Palfrey. The esteemable wonkette:

Holsman-Fore used to own a factory in Los Angeles, where she complained about her low-paid Negro Workers who kept going “back to the street to earn more money” selling crack.

Meet our Bush nominee of the day, after the jump.

At least they were industrious! The Latinos were just lazy, she said, while Asians were crafty and would somehow become managers.

Okay, that’s about right for a Bush appointee in charge of American financial aid to the people of Africa, Latin America and Asia. But what about white people, and their relations with robots?

According to the New York Times, she found “white workers resentful of having to work with machines.” We have to give her points for this one, because it’s a racial stereotype we have never heard before. Maybe that explains why we hate these fucking computers so much?

Well, at least she has crazy notions about everyone. Equal opportunity batty. And hey, she looks like the standard issue Stepford wife, so maybe she's really just resentful that her employees were biased against her mad borg skillz and didn't want to work with her. SHE WILL ASSIMILATE YOU!

But let's deconstruct these frequent stereotypes for what they are worth, cos she sure scores a triple home run, a veritable trifecta of hate. Here's what she goes through:

1) Black people are criminals. Would rather go to jail for selling drugs than make an honest day's living. (Or maybe they just couldn't stand working for her.) Cannot assimilate because they operate in their own type of economy.

2) Latinos are lazy. They would rather eat/drink/sleep/mambo than work. Not worth assimilating.

3) Asians are little syncophantic worker borgs, well primed to heed her every command, especially compared to those lazy Mexicans and drugged up blacks. (This probably explains how she picked Edward Moy to replace her. He's the perfect model minority.)

4) White people fear machines. Are luddites, so technologically unsophisticated that they run from the mere sight or touch of a computer. Afraid of assimilation.

So there's Henrietta's view of the racial universe. Of course, her theory of everything doesn't account for the Bill Gates/Steve Jobs phenom, why I shy away from anything more complex than a TI-82, or how my friend Ramon became a CEO but I guess we're not assimilated yet.
guess she can pay her local African American drug dealer to get us all hooked on whatever she's smoking.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Desi freshman rocks the NY social elite; preppy self-selection

So apparently there was some kind of socialite war in New York City which blew up over some website called Socialite Rank, which posted a possibly fake letter from a young upstart socialite who was trying to take the place of the queen socialite. Normally, I wouldn't care one way or another but there's an Asian American at the center.

Enter Park Avenue Peerage, the brainchild of James Kurisunkal, an 18 year old college freshman at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. PAP quickly took SR's place, but as less catty commentary and more chronicles of the rich, beautiful, and fabulously dressed.

But, as is always the case, the one revealing secrets is not an insider at all: He’s an 18-year-old college student who runs the site from his dorm room. “I live in Urbana, near a farm,” he whispers when I call. “Oh, my God! I’m not supposed to reveal anything. I’m like—I’m not even white! Do you know how fucking riotous this would be? I am not the poster child. You would not even believe what I look like.”

Everyone was convinced that it was authored by someone who was very much an industry insider, and it turns out to be this young guy who has never even been to NYC. The richness! James, it's okay to be brown and down. It's even okay for someone who is obsessed with couture to be photographed in the somewhat ironic combo of a hoodie over a button down shirt, with thick geek chic square glasses to boot.

He spent his adolescence reading The Book of Royal Lists. "I'm schooled in the Fields, the Swifts, the Pullmans, the Masons, the Armours, the Ogdens," he says. "And then we have the Pritzkers and Crowns--oh, and I love the Boston Brahmins. I'm obsessed with them." Suddenly, he interrupts himself. "Do I sound psycho? Do I sound like a loser? Like someone who didn't make it? At the core, I'm a researcher. I'm an investigator."

Bored Asian American experts on little-known fields salute you, James, for being our hero and for your rise to fame.

This quirky little story just goes to show that you, too, can make it big through the internets, this series of tubes.

P.S. Although, I also gotta say, perhaps he had some dire self-hatred that he grew up idolizing lots of rich white people who made their money off of poor people and people of color? I guess I'm both proud and disturbed.

P.P.S. At least James seems down to earth and normal, compared to some other highly privileged New York preppies.

At a bar owned by and run for preppies in NYC, you get idiots like this:

Mr. Cleary, handsome if one considers Gary Sinese handsome, prefers meeting women in the street-level restaurant rather than in the noisier basement-level club, which usually starts hopping around 11:30 p.m., although both offer an excellent caliber of women, he said. “You don’t meet girls here you want to hook up with once,” he said. “You meet girls here you want to hook up with multiple times.”

Clementine Crawford, 25, a Princeton graduate, rephrased that sentiment from a female perspective. “Women come here looking for their future husbands.

I guess this is the equivalent of DC's Madison Club and the Glover Park Men's Club. Ways for rich, mostly white people to mingle with only the proper kinds of potential DNA-swappers.

Blech. Yuck. Rinse. Repeat.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Guiliani hit and run

Yeah, so Rudy Giuliani donated $900 to Planned Parenthood. Big deal, right? He was in New York City.

Federal tax returns made public by the former New York mayor show that he and his then-wife, Donna Hanover, made personal donations to national, state and city chapters of Planned Parenthood totaling $900 in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999.

Uhm, yeah. It's a HUGE FREAKIN' DEAL to the Republican base. remember when I said that he wasn't going to get very far as GOP voters found out more about him? Well, if not for the drag, this might be the 2nd or 3rd nail in the coffin. I mean, he just got nailed... wait, the puns runneth over. Basically, a contribution isn't generally something that a politician does lightly:

Told of Giuliani's contributions to Planned Parenthood, Clemson University political science professor Dave Woodard said, "If he actually gave money to Planned Parenthood, boy, that puts him in a very precarious position, at least in the South Carolina Republican Party."

A Republican, Woodard noted that a personal contribution is something that is difficult to explain away to abortion opponents. "This isn't something like where your position is misunderstood," he said. "An overt act of giving money shows support for a position. That can't be a mistake or misinterpretation."

And, yes, I'm aware that I said I would be staying away from posting hit and runs, but well . . . news like this IS a hit and run - and trust me, I'm sure the opp researcher who dug this gem up got a pretty raise.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Newsweek interviews a killer, gets thoughts on gun control. And my thoughts on college mental health priorities

I'm struck by the Newsweek interview with Wayne Lo that Asian-Nation posted. Lo, who went to Simon's Rock College of Bard, fired 9 shots in 1992, killing 2 people. He seems so normal in his reaction to it all, and he even talks about how there should be gun control - how as an 18 year old, he could purchase a gun but he couldn't even rent a car. It is weird to read such lucid, rational responses from a killer, and part of me wonders if he isn't just happy to get some attention:

Do you believe that stricter gun control would help prevent such tragedies?
The people who do these things are people who don’t want contact. They wouldn’t be capable of going out there and stabbing people to death. But there’s such a disconnect when you’re using a gun. You don’t even feel like you’re killing anybody. The fact that I was able to buy a rifle in 15 minutes, that’s absurd. I was 18. I couldn’t have rented a car to drive home from school, yet I could purchase a rifle.

The other interesting he says is about waiting periods:

You were from Montana, and a member of the NRA. Had guns and hunting been a part of your life?
That night was the first time I fired a gun. Why should a person who has never touched a gun be able to buy one and the first time he fires it, be able to kill people? You wouldn’t be able to drive a car without a license.

What sort of gun control do you propose, then?
Ideally, guns should be eliminated, but I know that won’t happen. There should be stricter checks. Obviously a waiting period would be great. Personally, I only had five days left of school before winter break: school got out on Friday, and I did that on a Monday. If I had a two-week waiting period for the gun, I wouldn’t have done it.

I wonder if Seung Cho hadn't killed himself, would he live to regret his actions? On the other hand, Lo seems much more well-adjusted than Cho, and according to him, he had friends in college. According to his profile in wikipedia, he even called 911 and informed them that he was the shooter after his rifle jammed.

It is interesting to note that the father of one of the victims, Gregory Gibson, went on a quest to find answers after he lost his son Galen Gibson. He sought answers from the man who sold Lo the ammo, and even meets with Wayne Lo's family.

Nowhere is this more evident than toward the end of the book when he and his wife, Annie, meet C.W. and Lin Lin Lo. Both families are in horribly awkward situations. The Los want to convey their sorrow to the Gibsons but haven't contacted them because, understandably, they aren't sure their overtures would be welcome. The Gibsons want to meet the Los, but don't want them to think they hold them responsible for their son's actions. The encounter is not without its difficulties or moments of anger. But more characteristic is the scene where Mrs. Lo asks if she and her husband can visit Galen's grave to pay their respects, and you have the sense of people big enough to reach beyond their private grief.

Also similar to the VT shootings, Gibson places much of the blame on the school:
Gibson paints a damning picture of the college's failure to intervene before Lo went on his murderous rampage. Lo, in his time at Simon's Rock, had given off a number of warning signs that he might be prone to violent behavior; a few weeks before the shootings he had threatened one school official by claiming that he had ''the power to bring the college to its knees.''

But on the morning of the shootings, college administrators, after some initial hesitation, allowed Lo to pick up a suspicious package from an outfit called Classic Arms that had arrived for him in the college mail room. The parcel contained ammunition for a rifle Lo had bought at a nearby gun shop. That evening a friend of Lo's, after calling campus security and getting no answer, anonymously called the residence director of Lo's dorm, with whom Lo had had several run-ins, and warned her that Lo ''has a gun and will hurt someone or himself . . . tomorrow.'' But instead of calling the police, or even calling the campus security director at home, college administrators decided to take matters into their own hands. They evacuated the residence director and her family from the dorm. A couple of administrators planned to question Lo, but before they could, the shooting started.
Today, a friend proposed that schools take control to a much greater degree when they see that a student is mentally disturbed, or even just depressed, to the point of screening and kicking out students. My friends and I mostly disagreed with him, saying that so many young adults
are depressed and moody, and well, where do you draw the line? Part of this wasn't just about VT but also about how college deal with and help or fail to treat students. His point was that colleges, like high schools, are huge pressure cookers, and if we know that, then the schools need to be more responsible.

My friend who had her own nervous breakdown disagreed strongly, saying that the school did so much for her.

I don't think schools should over-react when a student has written something dark and morose. But I do know that at too many institutions, mental health needs are overlooked and underfunded. My alma mater had one therapist for every few thousand kids, and consequently, not enough time slots for therapy sessions. So they wound up prescribing meds to students, instead of investing quality time in working out their issues. I heard one stat that half the campus was on some kind of anti-depressant, which I think might have been somewhat inflated, but the point is that schools need to be more proactive.

In both these instances, administrators overlooked warning signs which they were told about by people close tot he perpetrator. And the hard part is, how do you know if the kid is just being moody, or if they are likely to harm themselves or others? We really don't want high schools and colleges flagging every single Asian American who writes a story containing violence. Because that's racial profiling. Nor would we want them to flag every single kid who expresses anger toward someone in their lives, because teens are all angsty and angry at their parents or the man, or whatever.

But perhaps if schools receive info from a teacher, they can ask the kid to see the school counselor, and the counselor, who should be an expert in these things, can over repeated evaluations gain a clearer picture. And if the school receives multiple corroborating pieces of info from multiple sources, then they can seek professional counseling outside the school.

It is to some degree understandable that school administrators don't want to be sued for forcing kids to go to counseling, and that school budgets keep shrinking, and when you're cutting classes, gym, arts, music, and other courses of instruction due to education cuts, it's hard to think of adding yet another expenditure to the budget. But I would say that school mental health has been overlooked and underfunded for too long - not just for the minority of a minority of kids who inflict massage damage, but also to the quiet kids who only kill themselves.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

LA cops beat down immigrant rights marchers

The Los Angeles immigrants and immigrant rights supporters who marched on May 1st in a peaceful multiethnic rally were hit with a rude surprise when cops who were chasing after people a few blocks away broke into MacArthur Park and started firing rubber bullets (these sound harmless but leave large wounds and bruises as you will see in the video) and clubbing innocent participants, reporters, women, children, the elderly, etc.

The FOX News reporter who covers this story is soooooo outraged, you can hear her voice crackling with emotion and indignation. Plus the police beat her cameraperson, which you can see from the video. Ten people were hospitalized, including the FOX reporter Christina Gonzales and her cameraperson Patti Valles (sp?). As a fellow FOX reporter says, "this time it was impossible for the reproter to be objective."

This story is all over google news, and I doubt that it would be the case if reporters didn't get beat up as well. But let's not forget that these over-the-top police tactics have happened before - in Miami during the FTAA protests, in New York City during the RNC, in Seattle during the WTO protests. And the only reporters that covered the injuries of the senior citizens during the FTAA was Democracy Now that I can recall.

Now it turns out the FBI is going to investigate the LAPD's over-enthusiasm. Like that will go anywhere:

The FBI probe is the fourth official investigation of the violence. The U.S. Department of Justice will review the bureau's results and decide whether to initiate a full-fledge investigation.

Police investigators plan to review extensive video of Tuesday's rally, where police clashed with a crowd in MacArthur Park, wielding batons and firing 240 rubber bullets.

Bratton said in an appearance on CBS's "Early Show" that he was "not happy" when he watched videotape of the event.

Oh, I'm so terribly sorry that you were "not happy" while watching the video. I mean, people were only running in terror FROM the swarm of cops dressed in battle black who are supposed to be protecting them, and getting injured and beat down (and what do you want to beat that the actual number of bullets is higher than 240?), well, I bet they feel more than "not happy." Typically, I think of "not happy" as a reaction to finding out that your home team lost a game, not that public employees ran amok and terrorized the public.

The saddest part is the reporter's indignation that normally, the police are supposed to notify them if they are going to do something like this, so that they aren't injured like the hoi polloi. but this time, it didn't happen. This time, everyone gets to see what it feels like to be a peaceful protester or even just a nonparticipant, someone who is walking down the street, who gets caught in the line of fire. Telemundo's take here. (Todos en espanol.) Channel 9 reporters on getting hit by police. A Telemundo reporter says, "I felt like I wasn't in the United States. I felt like I was in a place of real conflict, and we wonder why these people are out protesting, when in reality they get treated like this everyday.

Here are some citizen journalist perspectives:
Gamejew - 10 minutes of running, screaming, hiding from police, shows the thickness and width of the hard rubber bullets. More editorializing.

Ask A Chola TV
- a kid down

ElDaviosol - a man running away, trying to hold and protect his toddler from police, a kid trying to unchain his bike, who sees the oncoming cops. don't know if he succeeds. Really close to all the shooting, you can see the smoke. No editorial comments, just arrests on the street of 30 cops on one 14 year old, an arresting shot of a bicyclist who sees the American flag trampled on the street, turns around to pick it up.

- band playing @ the rally, interrupted by police shooting people enjoying the music

LAcityhall - LAPD Police chief claims that it was an appropriate level of response to the threat. Los Angeles City Councilors react.

Freedom/Libertad - Close up of police beating and kicking a cameraman

LJDasalla - reflections from a Filipino American who lives in the enighborhood afterwards on how it was race-related.

Totally racist response
to the police aggression.

Last thoughts: This is what people see happening and endure this everyday. For the media it might have been a wakeup but for undocumented immigrants they live in this kind of fear on a daily basis.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Masi Oka on the View, suffers the idiots

The View is a pretty stupid show. Well, as you might know, I am slightly obsessed with Heroes because it's got some of the best writing on TV and 3 Asian American male actors. So Masi Oka, who plays Hiro Nakamura, goes on the View to promote Monday's episode, and of course Rosie can't hold her tongue, and Elizabeth (the Republican blonde) can't get over how smart Masi is.

I think he reacts really gracefully to their repeated, shrill inquiries. They are repeatedly trying to put him in one box or another - actor or "scientist". Then Rosie keeps insisting on how smart Masi is and why he has to continue working for Lucasfilms: "But tell them why you have to consult - because no one else is smart enough to figure out his programs, so he has to keep going back to train the people because he's so smart!"

Elizabeth (vapid Repub blonde): "You were actually on the cover of Time magazine one time -- those whiz ki- [pause. . .pause, can't remember]. Those Asian American whiz kids was the title, right?"

Whole time, Masi is trying to deflect questions about smartness: "I was on the cover, but I wasn't in the article itself. The people actually in the article, they're the smart ones. I only look smart."

Then the red-headed comedian jumps in: "You know, it IS a positive stereotype that Asian kids are very smart. Well, how do you respond to that?

Masi [looks surprised, remains composed]: "Uhhhh..."

Female voice: "It's a good thing really. You're brill-yee-ant!"

Masi looks surprised, remains composed: "It's a great thing. I mean, not just Asians, but hopefully it'll inspire everyone else, that you can be an artist and still be smart as well."

Elizabeth [cooing]: You're soooo talented.

Later, Rosie sings the only Japanese she knows, from SESAME STREET: "One two three is ichi ni san."

Gag me. I feel bad for Masi that he has to go on the View and Today and be subjected to vacuous idiots who don't remember the term whiz kids and Al Roker who tries to talking to Masi by saying "wasabi." Plus Rosie keeps calling him "MASS-ey" Oka like "Mazzy Star" and butchering his name, which should be said "Mah-see."

Well, the cool thing is that Masi gets to do the talk show circuit all by himself, which increases his visibility and stardom! Plus he remains very humble and grounded. Apparently his character wasn't going to last the whole season, but the fans really took to him. And thank goodness, cos he's so kawai! plus he says to Conan, "I just, ugh, I just can't be a gigolo! The problem is, I'm very short, so I need a tall wingman like yourself." Soooooo adorable!