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, September 27, 2007

Obama's NYC Chair is APIA

Lawyer Terrance Yang, but unfortunately this dude is SO not media-ready. He totally has the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look, and yet he could be like a cute nerdy Clark Kent - he's already got the glasses.

Dude also speaks like a robot. "I . . . am happy he's . . . running . . . for president, . . . and I know . .. that he's . . . the real deal." Plus he gives reasons like, "My friends support him and I went to school with him, so because my friends vouch for him, I know he's a good guy. . . I think he can be president because he has raised the most money. Plus he was on Harvard Law Review and i wasn't so he is obviously the right guy to lead the country."

This is the guy who heads up his NY committee, and is hosting a happening party at Jay Z's club tonight? Way to feature the least passionate guy you could find. Whoooo hooo!

Also, please don't confirm these terrible stereotypes of lawyers and of Asian American men by being so friggin awkward and nervous and geeky. You're a political activist, now show some excitement about your candidate - you sound like you're discussing taxes.

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Japanese Human Tetris

The funniest thing I have seen in a really long while, and it's all these Japanese dudes in silver full aqua bodysuits trying to jump through oddly placed holes in a wall that rushes near them, trying to sweep them into the nasty-looking yellow water behind them.

I could watch these all day long - it's like reliving gym class, only I get to be the one laughing.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Top Chef Hung all the way

I looooove watching Top Chef, even if it makes me hungry at night. This episode was the final four and we had been expecting an elimination down to two final competitors, but midway through, Tom Colicchio said that because of the talented chefs, it was going to be 3.

The guy i've been rooting for the most, despite his crazy snarky antics and cockiness is Hung Nguyen. Yeah, he's APIA but he's also technically the best chef - and I would kill to have knife skills like his - poetry in motion! The other reason why I like him is that he wants to bring it for the immigrants, and for his mom who taught him how to cook. And he grew up in Pittsfield, MA, which is pretty much the middle of nowhere. He has the fierce immigrant drive, and when he talks about his mom, all the light comes into his eyes. So yeah, sometimes he says catty things, and the producers edit it to make him look like a bad guy, cos let's face it, viewers looooove the drama - it's the spice of the show. Plus, check out this metromix interview with Dale about how people get portrayed.
Then let me ask you some questions about you competitors, if you could describe each one as one particular dish …

I don’t know if I can. All their personalities are so complex. Some people look a little different than they do in real life.

Like who?

Hung [Huynh], for instance. His onscreen personality … he was portrayed in a certain way. He was my roommate throughout the entire series—actually, him and Brian. We thought it was funny that the little boys room lasted until the end. Everyone on the series was nice. We all did get along. Whether we liked to cook together or not, that was something different. As far as roommates and friends, we all had a great, great time together. I think that was very surprising to the producers.

Because they like a little more tension?

Yeah, and the one thing we did was that we were our own tension relievers. Even if we didn’t get along in the kitchen that day, we still got along at home because we were in such a stressful situation.

Hung is made out to be the cocky one. Is that true?

I would say it is a reality show and whatever you see on the camera is real. He’s definitely extremely confident.
So yeah, do they get annoyed by Hung when he doesn't go help a competitor finish up their dish? Yes, but Hung is right in that this is a competition, and he's not actively backstabbing anyone. He even helped Sara Nguyen early on when she was given $200 to buy food, and she wanted to buy 20 $10 steaks. He told her to watch out cos that was the full amount, and then she wouldn't be able to buy anything else. So he's not the Marcel - if you notice that when they all give each other hugs after staying in the game, he's very much a part of it. (Although I did think that his complaining that his potato dauphine fell flat because no one else helped him plate it was lame, especially since he had 30 extra minutes than everyone else, and he also refused to help another contestant plate beforehand.)

This episode, they got to go home and pack up the items that they were going to bring with them to Aspen, only to be informed after the quickfire challenge that only the winner got to use their special ingredients.

So exciting! I am thinking it's either Casey or Hung, but to date Tom Colicchio has only picked white men to be Top Chef, so hopefully we'll get a winner whose food is both yummy, and they as a person will add some diversity to the winners. Bring it!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Masi wuz robbed

How dare they give the best supporting actor award to the dude who plays Locke??! This past season of Lost featured of all things, a canivorous polar bear on a tropical island (because they love to float around on all that . .. ice) and a smoke monster.

Heroes had the best writing, the best acting, and an incredibly fresh and talented cast esp. Masi Oka. In my world, Masi gets the Emmy and Lost gets a spanking and goes home with its tail between its legs.

And what's with Sopranos getting best drama when it already ended?

Well, there's always next year...plus America Ferrarra did win for Ugly Betty, so that's something for those of us who want TV to look like us, our country and its multihued people.

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Ugh - more APIA donor scandals

This time involving Indian Americans. (Hat tip Politico.) Listen up media and pols: We are not the problem. Yellow and brown-skinned people are NOT the problem.

Now I will let loose a steady stream of shady adjectives and injectives: !@$% $&%^* %^*&%&* $%^$% #$%# #$%#$%!!!!!! @#%^!!!

Federal authorities August 27 arrested two members of a New York family of political donors, and are seeking a third in India.

A complaint filed in New Jersey Federal Court (.pdf) by an inspector of the U.S. Postal Inspection Services charges the three with mortgage fraud. They're alleged to have bought properties, resold them to fictional buyers at higher prices, and taken out inflated mortgages.

The father, Singh Sabharwal, is a prominent figure in New York's Sikh community, who has contributed to political causes ranging from Chuck Schumer to the National Republican Congressional Committee. A spokesman for New Jersey United States Attorney Chris Christie, John Reinert, said the elder Singh was in India when charges were brought, and has not returned, though he is not formally considered a fugitive.

Why us? Why are we always scrapegoated? It's like there's some conspiracy somewhere to paint all Asian American donors and operatives as shady. Coming right on the heels of the Hsu-Clinton scandal, I feel like I want to scream, thanks to articles like this in the Washington Post: Hsu cast wide net for Clinton Donors.
The Clinton campaign has not yet released any information about the 260 donors whose contributions it is now refunding because they were credited to the prodigious fundraising of the former fugitive, but a detailed analysis of donors Hsu brought to Clinton shows that he tapped many Asian American donors in California and New York, including complete strangers as well as his relatives. He also raised political funds from people who had already invested large sums in his private business ventures.
Well, great fucking balls of fire. (Yeah, I swore, deal with it.) I don't know who to be angry at first - Norman Hsu for pulling this crap, Clinton's campaign for not noticing sooner and dealing with it themselves, Clinton's camp for "returning" all the $850,000 and then asking for it back(!!!!), or the media.

One way to get your blood boiling early in the day/late in the night? Read the Wall St Journal's take on all this, reviving memories of 96:

Clinton defenders suggest that those who make comparisons between the sloppy vetting of Mrs. Clinton's 2008 campaign and her husband's 1996 scandal are bigots because of the presence of Asian names in both cases. Margaret Fung, director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says any comparison "insinuates" that Asian-Americans are more prone to making illegal donations and represents an "obsession" with Asian donors. Nonsense. It shows that Team Clinton seems to have a recurring problem vetting its donors. It seems to have learned nothing from its 1996 experience, and just may be repeating it.

AAAAAAAARGH. Ok, I am done, for now. People/reporters who are intent on painting this as troublesome APIAs will do their worst, like the ever-infuriating Michelle Malkin. (I am not linking for fear that your aorta will burst, dear reader.) But here is a snippet:

THe Democrats foreign Funny Money

Here's a peculiar thing about the holier-than-thou Campaign Finance Reform crowd. Whenever the stench of dirty money starts wafting from Democrat Party coffers, the clean election lobbyists are nowhere to be found. They'll raise hell and hackles over American corporate donors. But when it's shady foreign operators infusing cash into our electoral system, you'll only hear one sound: the deafening swell of crickets chirping. . .

What is this knee-jerk obsession with crying racism and wallowing in collective ethnic grievances? It's not just about "Asian-American" donors. It's about felon and fugitive donors of a rainbow of races and backgrounds. It's about the Clintons' — and the Dems' — systemic corner-cutting, campaign corruption and double standards. There is a Chinese saying: "When you drink water, always think about the source."

Peering into the poisoned well isn't "racism." It's the duty of a responsible republic.

Uhm, Michelle, what's the mainstream media's obsession with trying to tie him to foreign donors from Clinton 96? Dude acted independently, there's no trend of "shady Asian donors" and the guys don't know each other.

And APIA leaders will have differing opinions:

But the executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York, Margaret Fung, sharply criticized the RNC document, after being shown it by a reporter.

"It links Norman Hsu and the Paw family to other Asian-American donors in previous campaigns, solely because of their race. It insinuates that Asian-Americans are more prone to making improper donations and have been doing this for years. What is this obsession with Asian-American donors?" she asked, adding that she had no information on Hsu's specific guilt or innocence. "Does this fit into a broader political strategy of stirring up anti-immigrant sentiments?"

An official at the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, Terry Ao, declined to comment specifically on the RNC documents.

"Mr. Hsu should be held accountable to the extent that he has engaged in any illegal fundraising activities and to the extent that he has outstanding legal issues to address," he said.
I am glad that Ben Smith over at Politico has written up the community's response to this, but unfortunately has gotten Terry's gender wrong. A quick look at her bio on AAJC's website would tell you as much.

Ok, now done.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hillary's first mistake

Was to take money from people who she's not vetting. Her bigger mistake, by far, was to return all the money ($850,000 worth) to the individuals who had donated it to her. Because this paints ALL of those donors, many of whom are APIAs, are tainted and untrustworthy. Clinton's BIGGEST mistake?

Telling those donors that the campaign would like the money back. On an individual level.

Oh, my God - so TACKY.

If I had donated money to a candidate who did that to me, I would turn around and donate it to their closest competitor, along with notes to both campaigns saying so.

Dear Obama/Edwards,

I am giving you this money because Hillary pissed me off.

P.O.D. (Pissed Off Donor)
And that would be priceless.

All in all, she's run a near flawless campaign. This mars her performance greatly, which is why she had to get out from under the fugitive donor story by introducing Hillarycare vers 2.0.

But that's why she pays her spinmeisters the big bucks.

now i gotta run and finish a project. Work has kept me crazy busy in a good way.


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Monday, September 10, 2007

Clinton returns ALL Hsu-related money ($850,000)

Well, Hillary is going to return under a million of Hsu-related money from her "fugitive donor."
At the end of June, Mrs. Clinton had about $45 million on hand for her presidential campaign; the loss of $850,000 amounts to less than 2 percent of that sum, but, her advisers say, it is a relatively sizable amount that would have been welcomed for the expensive television advertising purchases ahead.
In reality, that's 2-3 extra fundraisers. Not a huge deal, but I bet that the staff is going to miss that extra money in their paychecks.

NYTimes' article, "Clinton to return all Hsu-tainted money" makes it seem like there is a vast network of Chinese money that is going to Clinton. Or so it would seem from the comments section:

What else is new? Remember Slick Willie’s Chinese money connections? The Lincoln bedroom will soon be prepared for guests again.

— Posted by drawlings

We are becoming more like Mexico every day and I don’t mean all the mexicans both living here legally and illegakky. Mexico is still a 3rd world country because of its corrupt political system. Is the USA far behind, not with politicians who are in the pocket of these guys. Does anyone really believe this guy Hsu didn’t want something in return for his money machine. While we are at lets see how much money he raised for Boxer and Feinstein. It’s a well known fact that Senator Feinsteins husband had lots of business dealings in China. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Lets have a congressional inquiry befor the elections to get to the bottom of this and expose these hypocrites on both sides of the aisle.

— Posted by John Martein

In reality, it is good that all the campaigns are going to be vetting top donors -- it's just good compliance and good practice. As I said before, campaigns should have more staff researching their donors backgrounds so that they don't get whallopped by opp research. I.e. - think like your worst enemy and you'll know what's coming. However, I hope that this vetting is not only of a particular group, i.e., APIAs, and doesn't lead to a fervor like last time. For their part, the Clinton campaign has been trying to keep this story ot of the press and as low profile as possible (vested interest) but it dovetails with a desire in the APIA politico community to not be scrapegoated (again.)

In semi-related news, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is going to retire, and fmr. Sen. Bob Kerrey who runs the New School in NYC looks to be the favored candidate who will win, if he decides to run again. It would have been better if Kerrey hadn't commented on the Hsu case, since the GOP will try to tie him closer to Hsu, but in a presidential year, even a red state like Nebraska could be a pickup at the Senate level, given Kerrey's popularity back home. Plus, then we would kinda have to count it as a purple state if Kerrey gets elected since both senators would be Dems. (Ben Nelson is the other Senator, and as kos points out, has a worse voting record on key liberal issues.)

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Prayers and Hope

Ugh, so I have some bad news. My friend was traveling alone when she got sick and she has to go into surgery tomorrow. She's kinda scared and they're not really giving her the attention that she needs, but I don't know if it is because she is a woman of color or if she doesn't have insurance, or what. It could be both, since it's the South, but this isn't the time for dialectics and pedagogy. Like I have a whole rant about the need for universal health insurance, but right now I hope that she finds the strength to hold up until I can see her. I hope she can get herself together to demand what she needs from the doctors, because it is hard to be forceful when your insides are a puddle and your core vibrates pain.

I'm not a religious person because the first time I tried praying for someone who was sick, it didn't work. She died. Then I thought perhaps religion was not meant for me. since then, when people get really sick, I hope and hope and intone well-being thoughts and wishes their way, but it doesn't have the same urgency or need as a prayer. To pray is to be in a position of need and want and to burn feverishly. To seek cleansing and absolution in the form of supplication.

When I was sick, I was alone amongst healers. I hid all my problems, and I tried to soldier on. but there were things that I faltered at. But it was so lonely being on the road and trying so hard to do good when all I wanted to do was to stay in bed and sleep and cry. If I didn't have great friends and family that I could call, I don't know what I would have done. Probably gone more berserk and gotten even sicker. In the end it made me stronger, but I think I could have done without that kind of object lesson.

Anyhow, if you have a spare moment, please pray for my friend. I still believe more in action than prayer, so I will go rope the doctors and be the asshole who gets results. But I still believe that she could use some good thoughts, so if you are inclined to believe in prayer, send some love her direction.

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McCain calls highschooler "you little jerk"

New Hampshire high schooler: "''If elected, you'd be older than Ronald Reagan, making you the oldest president. Do you ever worry you might die in office [audience laughter] or get Alzheimer's or some other disease that might affect your judgment?''

MCCAIN: Well, you know, my kids, my children, for many many years, have questioned my . . . uh, my "awareness." I don't pay attention to some of the music that they like, in fact, when I do pay attention to it, I must say it's not my favorites. I think it was one of my sons that alleged I'm getting to the point I hide my own Easter eggs. [laughter] Look, when you saw my 95-year-old mother [on a video introduction], you saw the kind of genes I have. I work 24-7, I'm very active, I enjoy life, I'm involved and engaged. And people will judge by the vigor and enthusiasm associated with our campaign. Every campaign I've ever been in my life, I've out-campaigned all of my opponents, and I'm confident that I will. Thanks for the question, you little jerk.


You're drafted. [laughter]

Apparently, the high schooler was very impressed with McCain's response. And why not? It's vintage McCain, the McCain frmo the straight Talk Express of 2000, not the overly bundled and prepped McCain that chose to walk in Dubya's shoes on the war this time around. This is the McCain that is hard to dislike. well, except for when all the media just reports that he called a high schooler a "little jerk."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Norman Hsu Skips Court

Well, I am just grateful that the NYTimes headline isn't: "Asian Donor Fails to Appear in Court."

Norman Hsu, who left California charges of business fraud behind 15 years ago, was supposed to appear in court today to ask for a reduced bail and to turn in his passport. The guy also apparently was funneling his money through a front family for the purposes of increasing donations to candidates. However, he skipped town with passport in hand, probably for some far off locale.

His disappearance added to an already embarrassing episode for Democrats, and especially the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, which had enlisted Mr. Hsu as a “Hillraiser” — a major bundler of donations from others. But last week came the revelation that Mr. Hsu was a fugitive, having skipped out on a California sentencing hearing related to a business fraud case and moved back to Hong Kong.

Yesterday, the Clinton campaign called for Mr. Hsu to turn himself in.

“We believe that Mr. Hsu, like any individual who has obligations before the court, should be meeting them, and he should do so now,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement.

Even those who had initially defended Mr. Hsu when his legal problems became public were baffled. Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator who is president of the New School in New York City, where Mr. Hsu was a trustee, could not explain Mr. Hsu’s behavior.

“I don’t know what is going on in his mind,” Mr. Kerrey said. “I thought that I knew him, but obviously I didn’t.”

This is the first big blunder by the Hillary campaign, given their very very accurate and measured steps down the dotted line in the middle of the road.

Clinton calling for him to turn himself in isn't really sufficient, she needs to not just blindly take money from all her donors, but hire some more compliance people. This is part of the problem when you are engaged in a nuclear fundraising race - you just keep shoveling in the dough without proper examination. This leaves you open to all sorts of opp research through public records. If campaigns were capped at smaller amounts of cash and we publicly financed them, it might lead to less reliance on major bundlers.

Also, Bob Kerrey has kind of hurt his status as a candidate in Nebraska, since he actually stood by Hsu even when Clinton was backing away from him like she had seen a mammoth tarantula.

I'd say that he reflects poorly on the community, except that there are bad apples everywhere. Hopefully Hsu comes to his senses and gets his life straightened out - I can only imagine the type of shame that his family is feeling at such a huge loss of face. Ironically, it seems that Hsu became a major donor to become a power player and gain face.

HuffPost has two op-eds on the issue, both discussing the Wall St Journal's race baiting on this. I can't say that either is spectacularly well written, but they do provide some perspective on what the "liberal blogosphere" thinks about the issue. Of course, I'd prefer if the HuffPost had some prominent Asian American blogger talking about this from the community perspective.

In the meantime, here's my thoughts:

If it were a white donor who was convicted of a similar ponzi scheme, who had donated to Clinton, would their ethnicity matter? Would newspapers write "Polish American donor ____ ____ " or "Swedish American donor ----- ------"? - I hardly think so.

Who had the most to benefit by sifting through and publishing this opp research? The GOP and other Democratic presidential candidates who didn't take money from him. Unfortunately for the GOP, this issue is not getting much traction, even if the dude comes back in a walrus suit and parades around outside the White House because well, Mr. Larry Craig wants to stick it to the Man, so he's gonna stick around and make it painful for his one-time rival for the Senate Minority Leader seat, Mitch McConnell, who couldn't wait to throw Larry from the train. And a bathroom sex bust is going to get the ink over a shady donor story every time. That's just the way the news cycle and American public opinion works.

On a related note, I guess this explains the sudden rollout of Hillary's most powerful weapon - her husband. Bill Clinton's charm offensive all over Letterman, Oprah, and the like while Hillary goes on Ellen, is a smart tactic, even if the journalist covering this is a weakly disguised Republican. But it's still pretty early in the primaries, not to mention the general election, and Bill isn't something you want to use up all at once. voter love Bill, and so do audiences - he's smart, funny, and reminds us of a time when we had pensions and health care plans, not to mention a booming economy. If Hillary wastes him on this, she's not going to have a lot left for when the GOP really starts training their guns on her. But it's sort of a catch-22 - she can't make it to the general without winning the primaries. But here's a tip for the clever folks at Hillaryland - ration Bill out sparsely. Too much airtime is overkill and saturation, and you really will need him later in the campaign.

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Power Play: APIAs on the GOP campaigns

I did something like this for the Democratic candidates, and now I want to take a look at the APIAs on campaign staffs and how (if?) GOP candidates are doing APIA outreach. The state of APIa outreach in the GOP is not non-existent, but it is at higher levels than 2004. Most notably, none of the major candidates has an APIA outreach group listed on their website with the exception of Sam Brownback. He also has an Iowa Vietnamese for Brownback coalition, which is pretty sweet, micro-targeted and sophisticated. One might wonder if there is a point to having an Iowa APIA outreach group, even for the GOP, but it just so happens that there are over 40,000 APIAs in Iowa according to the Iowa Asian Alliance. Also, I am proud of my peeps, be they GOP or Dem, for pulling together politically to increase our power - it shows increased sophistication in political organizing.

Brownback is in the lead with APIA outreach, given the following supporters:

Sam Kim, General Counsel, Jericho Institute, listed as a member of his exploratory committee, and these additional supporters:
J. Joseph Kim, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, President and CEO of VGX Pharmaceuticals, Blue Bell, PA. Veteran of the biopharmaceutical industry. Originally from Salina, Kansas.

Young K. Park, Vice President and General Counsel of VGX Pharmaceuticals. Over 14 years of experience as a business lawyer in Philadelphia.

Star1.gif DAVID KIM
Sweet Factory, CEO
David Kim is a leading California businessman who finances and operates hundreds of restaurants throughout Southern California. His latest acquisition, the Baja Fresh chain of Fresh-Mex restaurants, puts him on the map as a leader in providing healthy food to American consumers much more quickly than possible in the past.

Mitt Romney seems to be second in APIA outreach, with press releases announcing 2 Asian Americans for Mitt co-chairs: Amb. Sichan Siv and Amb. Julia Chang Bloch.

Also notable, Ron Paul has an APIA e-Campaign manager in the person of Justine Lam. She is a former director at the Charles Koch fellowship program, and most notably, she is one of the few female, much less APIA, e-campaign managers in 2008 on either side. Of course, this is a pretty progressive thing, except that Ron Paul happens to be one of the more innovative candidates with web organizing in the GOP.

McCain has a Dr. Jong Chen listed as a member of the California Finance committee, can't find much on this one.

As an overview, they are still lagging Dems with staffers and supporters. Well, I was going to post that practically all the Dems have APIA outreach groups listed on their website, but then I did a looksee, and well, only Hillary, Obama, and Edwards make mention of us. So that means that everyone else including Richardson (hmm, wonder why. . . I guess his persecution of Wen Ho Lee didn't go over so hot back home or elsewhere) lacks targeted APIA outreach online, although our community is the most tech savvy.

*sigh* I guess the silver lining is that Dem campaigns also have more APIA staffers, and that these staffers, regardless of who they work for, are gaining valuable experience that will help them run other campaigns and shape policy down the line.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Larry Craig is delusional

First you claim you're guilty, and then you try to retract it, saying that you didn't have "benefit of counsel." Once your dirty little secret arrest is out, you announce under duress that you intend on resigning at the end of the month.

Now, you're taking back your resignation?!? What excuse are you going to use this time - did you have your fingers crossed behind your back?

Let's just say that you don't live in reality. I mean, obviously this is a last ditch attempt to screw over the Republicans, since you are only extending the media cycle on this story. It's like the story had legs but you gave it platform heels and now it's going to do the catwalk all over America.

Cos you understand that this story is Victoria's Secret for journalists, right?

Well, what can you expect of a man who pulled out his US Senate card in an attempt to intimidate/coerce the cop who just busted you for lewd behavior in a bathroom?

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day music

Brilliant. M.I.A. is subtle, haunting, and wicked smart with or without Diplo. This song is like Bjork meets the rhythms of the so-called third world, served with a healthy dose of spice in your eye. Blocked from getting a visa to the United States, M.IA. traveled the world instead, jamming with fellow travelers and music lovers: "I put people on the map who've never seen a map."

The song: $20 (buy the album for half that.)

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

What Craig's resignation means for the GOP

Well, the GOP has already said they are going to be losing 4 seats, and with Senator Warner (R-VA)'s announcement that he won't be seeking re-election, it looks like former Gov Mark Warner (D-VA) will be filling that seat, unless he gets tapped to be the veep nominee (he brings the ability to win in a purple state and that vaunted Southern charm to the ticket.)

The five states that Republicans could lose senatorial seats in are (in order of likelihood):

1) Virginia. VA is a once-red state that turns more and more purple by the week. Former Gov. Mark Warner is a tremendous candidate and has already demonstrated the ability to win statewide. The elections of Democrats Gov. Tim Kaine and Senator Jim Webb show that Virginia is no longer the firewall that the GOP expected it to be - in other words, the electoral Mason-Dixon divide is inching further and further South. A population influx in the more liberal Northern Virginia is shoring up Democratic votes. Esp if there is a divisive GOP primary between a true conservative and Rep. Tom Davis, a so-called moderate, we win.

2) Colorado. Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) is retiring and the last time a Republican Senator from Colorado stepped down, Ken Salazar stepped in, and began to roll out the Salazar machine. (Brother John is in the House.) The purple state still went red in 2004, but by a smaller margin than in 2000.

3) Nebraska. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is one of the last true Republican moderates out there. He is decent on immigration, and is generally well-respected as a lawmaker. He might step down, and Bob Kerrey (former Dem Senator) who currently heads the New School in NYC, might run. Nebraska is still a red state, but Kerrey is well-liked by his constituents. (On another note, notice how the numbers of GOP moderates are shrinking? First Chafee, now Hagel?)

4) Minnesota. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) is as scummy as you can get. For being someone who was an avowed hippie potsmoking antiwar activist in his youth, he sure does clean up nicely, including some money dental work. Now Norm shills for whomever pays his bills, including Big Pharma, and pretends to be a moderate in this purple state which is turning decidedly blue. Plus the guy is reportedly a tool, and his staff actively edits his wikipedia entries to make him look better. Memo to the senator: cosmetic surgery, online or off, leaves scars.

But what else would you expect from a party traitor? Coleman originally ran and won a local seat as a Democrat. He even chaired Paul Wellstone's first campaign, and then he turned around and ran against Wellstone in 2002 as a Republican. When Wellstone died in a plane crash, it was Coleman's campaign that took advantage of the tragedy to start slinging mud. So I have a burning desire to see Coleman shamed at the polls, also because he actively support's Bush's failed war.

Democratic opponents include Al Franken, comedian and radio show host, as well as attorney Mike Ciresi, who represented the workers at Union Carbide. So these are two good old school lefties, and we can't go wrong here, as long as we push out the sell out.

5) Maine. Susan Collins, a popular long termer, is getting massive flack in this independent state for her support of Bush's war.

6) Wyoming. Mike Barrasso was a no name state senator who got elevated to US Senator when Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) died unexpectedly and the Democratic Governor had to pick 1 of 3 Republican names that were suggested by the state legislature.

7) Idaho. Larry Craig and his weird fetishes aside, Idaho is a red state. As solidly red as you can get, and since he is resigning effective Sept 30, whomever replaces him (per the Repub Governor's pick) will be the front runner. Only if we get a super-bruising GOP primary will we see Idaho become a contested state. And if we do, we'll know exactly how weak the Repubs are.

*8) Arizona. My choice for a curveball takeover: John McCain is not only sinking in the national polls, but he's not doing so hot locally either. Approval ratings at home have sunk with his leaden straight talk express part deux, and Club for Growth kids are doing as much as possible to sink his battleship. It's kinda like John kerry's leaden numbers when he was doing poorly on the campaign trail and when he announced he might go back on the presidential trail. When you're unpopular, it spreads like a virus.

Dems are only defending 2 seats: Sen. Landrieu (Louisiana) and Sen. Tim Johnson (South Dakota.) Landrieu faces an uphill battle since many voters last cycle, esp. the African American base, have left New Orleans, and the depopulation of the urban area means that there are fewer Dems in the state. Johnson had a bad aneurysm, and is slowly recovering.

Things working in our favor:

1) DSCC under Schumer (fundraiser extraordinaire) has 4 times as much moola as NRSC.
2) GOP base is discontent, wary, and weary of so-called "values politicians" who turn out to be sleazeballs. (Jeez, who woulda thunk it?)
3) General distrust of GOP by public on economy, war, health care, etc
4) Upticket (presidential races) Democrats are far more exciting than GOP candidates. Coattails, baby, coattails.
5) Dems are defending 12 seats and Republicans are defending 22.

Plus here's the money quote in WashPost:

Republican campaign operatives are privately fretting about a political environment that could remain deadly for their party.

"About the only safe Republican Senate seats in '08 are the ones that aren't on the ballot," a GOP operative with extensive experience in Senate races said. "I don't see even the rosiest scenario where we don't end up losing more seats."

I wish to God that this is true, but we actually have to work our asses off to make this come true - don't forget that the GOP looks weak, and has looked weak before, only to come out from behind (amazing what a rent-a-Rove and some "voter fraud" can get ya at the polls.)

My prediction as of today: Dems win two seats overall for a 53-47 lead in the Senate. (Yeah, I'm counting Lieberman in there with us...)

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All the love

Been travelling, so I haven't been on top of blogging as much as I would like to be. Went to a family event, and it was great to have a roomfull of people who were happy, and the air was buzzing with warmth and appreciation. A room full of history and words, memories and stories.

It was so good to be wrapped up in that, and to sing along with everyone else.

The other night I had a dream about one of my childhood friends who I fell out of contact with. I dreamt I saw her on the street or at a gallery showing, and she looked just the same, but older, wiser, sharper, and so much more sophisticated. In my dream she had fulfilled her desire to be a model and her cheekbones could cut glass. She was wearing some devastating black dress but she still had the blonde and brown streaks in her bob. I was chasing after her, hoping that she would forgive me for letting our friendship wane. Abby, I cried, Abby! I tried to hold her aquamarine eyes, cold as glaciers. And she did a precise pirouette away, sauntering with the catlike grace that she lacked when we were eight.

So Norman Hsu has decided to plead guilty and to go serve his time. It is one act by one individual, please don't tar and feather the rest of the community. It's like the case of Cha Vang, aka the "Hmong hunter." The worry in northwestern Wisconsin/Minnesota was that all Hmongs were hunters and would seek retribution against the white man. I remember my friend told me he saw a "Save a deer, shoot a Hmong" bumper sticker and that tensions ran really high in both communities. A lot of that could have been avoided if people did not over-generalize.

It seems like a pretty simple, even elementary lesson, but here is it for the media, loud and clear: Asian American donations are not suspect. Please don't heap all this on our community now - there is a hell of a lot of China-bashing going on nowadays, because of trade, because of monetary exchange rates, because China holds a lot of the US's debt, and because of some faulty products. The economy is on the downturn, and I know that historically, the decision-makers of the US like to find a scrapegoat, a convenient narrative to pin the blame on.

Don't play into the xenophobia - it's too easy. Find a real story, talk to Asian Americans who are affected. Talk to the Chinese over there who are just as afraid of losing their jobs as the steelworker here. Make the human connection. Don't just turn us into the Other, or into some scary statistic.

Or conversely, look at how far we've come since 96 - celebrate our achievements. There's more than one way to tell a story, so don't choose the cheap shot.

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