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.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tidbits: Racism / catism, and Super Mario in Heroes

Lately I am thinking that Lolsecretz is funnier and more interesting than postsecret, its godfather. reasons why? Well, they have this running (totally wrong and yet funny) gag about colorism against cats. Here's another. And another about not wanting the white man's pity.

It makes me laugh because there is so much out there that is wrong and messed up, and it helps to have a fresh perspective. And yes, sometimes postsecret gets too dark. That's why you need this about dating older cats, and this about identity.

(all links are safe for work . . . because they are cats.)

PS: On the media watchdog front, there's a new TV Guide interview with James Kyson Lee, who plays Ando, Hiro Nakamura's best friend and sidekick on my fave TV show Heroes. He's now a show regular as opposed to a guest star! Here's a snippet:
TVGuide.com: You just attended the Asian American Arts Alliance awards; do you think there are enough Asian faces on TV?
We are seeing more, especially on top shows. There's me and Masi and Sendhil [Ramamurthy, who plays Mohinder] on Heroes, the Korean couple [Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim] on Lost, Sandra Oh on Grey's Anatomy. But we still make up a very, very small piece of the pie on TV, less than two percent, which is not a correct representation of the population. It gets a little better each year. My job is to go out there and do the best work that I can do and hopefully open doors for other people as well.
More reason to watch Heroes tomorrow night - 2 talented Asian American male actors. Although if Masi Oka's character does not get to actually kiss a girl soon, regardless of her color, I will be pissed. Remind me why they have Sark from Alias playing Kenzei, and winning the princess? I think I might be the only one who was disappointed that Kenzei didn't die because it meant that Hiro couldn't get the princess. Now he is reduced to playing Luigi to Sark's Mario. Which makes Ando . . . . . Yoshi?!? I hope Hiro goes Wario on Sark's ass.

I wonder if anyone has mapped the powers and characters from Super Mario World onto Heroes and what the coincidence rate is? Yes I am geek, and so can you, in the immortal words of my presidential candidate, Stephen Colbert. (What, you expected a deep pondering of political strategies on a Sunday evening when I'm procrastinating? C'mon!)

Ok, here - NEWSFLASH: Asian Americans who want to teach English in China are discriminated against by Chinese who seek white, blonde, blue-eyed beings to guide them in their mystical quest to English Enlightenment. (Per the LATimes.)

Not really a newsflash to anyone who has ever been to Asia, had friends teaching there, or family taking English classes. I'm not sure why the LAT is on this whole bash the yellow people kick (including the Chinatown donor article.) It's a big misconception of the Chinese the way that white people over here insist on having an Asian person teach them karate, yoga, feng shui, massage, etc. cos it's more "authentic." White people started English, therefore English teacher = white, right?

What a logical fallacy. Perhaps I can create an lolcatz for this with a white cat holding an upside-down grammar book, teaching a class of ginger kittens:

O NOEZ. Mai Engrish teachr iz frum Franz.

I thawt awl whytez culd spellz and teechz good!

(I guess it only makes sense in context, and if you get used to reading the atrociously spelled lolz.)

PS: Why do my backlinks not show up? It's enabled in my template. Plus it's enabled in the radio slot. Better q: why doesn't blogger use trackbacks?!?

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

What a brown Governor means

Down on the brown side's series on Bobby Jindal's election has me thinking more about his victory, and the response of the grassroots versus institutionalized power broker type groups.

As an individual, I am continually impressed by Asian Americans and other minorities who are able to win in places where they have no natural base - think State Rep. Sue Chew in Idaho (D), or State Rep. Swati Dandekar (D-Iowa) who is running for a State Senate seat. Both of these are more amazing to me than Democratic Texas State Rep. Hubert Vo, though I love him, because Houston actually is a quarter APIA, unlike Iowa and Idaho.

Many of my friends who are progressive and South Asian American are disgusted by Jindal's victories the way that Elaine Chao disgusts me. In being a flack, and providing political cover for implementing terrible policies that hurt Asian Americans, all while sharing the same skin tone as me, and being in a position of power to actually be able to change things for the better, all while hewing to the "conservative" line of turning back the clock, and shutting the door in the faces of the children, the unemployed, and the middle class. I'm sure Bobby Jindal will prove to be a far better token than Elaine Chao since he appears to be much smarter. I'm sure I will be furious at him for turning his back on his immigrant roots, like Alberto Gonzles.

But the more optimistic part of me thinks that these victories, regardless of what party the candidate belongs to, highlights a change in racial attitudes and perceptions. It also means that a sea change is coming in how our APIA community, and our elders, perceive politics. That it's more acc eptable for second and first generation kids to be politically active. And to me, it holds out the promise of a whole wave of APIA candidates, at all levels, across the country. Overall, if we have more APIAs involved on both sides, I hope that it'll be considered less exotic by both our community elders, and the average citizen, if an Asian American is involved in fundraising for a candidate. Or directing the field campaign. Serving as a campaign manager. Or even running.

It's one of the reasons why I write about APIAs working presidential campaigns on both sides - even though I don't always agree with the politics of everyone involved, I think it's important for both parties to be actively outreaching to our community. One of the reasons why the campaign finance scandal in '96 was able to gain such traction is because there were barely any APIA staffers at the DNC, or on Capitol Hill. Many people were pissed off at the insinuations, and scared for their own positions. We lacked critical mass, and we lacked positions of significant power within the party apparatus to say, "Don't you even dare scrapegoat us - if you want our money and our votes now and in the future, you're going to figure out a way to fight this without painting us as the exotic, shapeshifting, inscrutable Oriental giving money for God knows what nefarious reason." Many of the big national APA civil rights organizations were in their infancy, and our community got HAMMERED.

And if you look at how the Clinton campaign is handling the so-called Chinatown donor scandal, they've picked very inclusive language:

"Asian-Americans in Chinatown and Flushing have the same right to contribute as every other American," Howard Wolfson, a campaign spokesman, told several newspapers. "We do not ethnically profile donors."

(As opposed to the Norman Hsu stuff.)

One example is Republican Matt Fong, former State Treasurer of California, and 1998 challenger to incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D). Here's a review of his candidacy in the conservative National Review:
The California GOP has the reputation of being terminally unpopular among racial minorities. Fong, as a fourth-generation Chinese-American, could change all that. It's tempting not to dwell on Fong's ancestry because he doesn't make much of it himself. Yet it's an important feature of his candidacy. Exit polls reveal Asian-Americans to be among the most reliably Republican voters in the country. In 1996, they were more likely than whites to support Bob Dole. With non-Hispanic whites soon to become less than 50 per cent of the California population, the state GOP believes it will need a different kind of candidate to succeed. ''The conservative message doesn't have to change,'' says the California GOP's political director, Mike Madrid, ''but we need to put a new face on it.'' A Fong victory in November will show that conservatives have less to fear about growing minority participation in politics than they might think.
This is demographics at its best. At its worst, it's tokenism. Either way, it's hard for people ilke Matt Fong and Bobby Jindal to erase the color of their skin, which will always result in episodes like this:

Matt Fong, a Californian Republican running for the Senate two years ago, continually found himself running into the brick wall of racial suspicion on the campaign trail.

Even though his family had been Americans for four generations, journalists frequently asked him where his loyalties would lie if China attacked the US.

The root of the trouble may be that Asian-Americans are perpetually associated with the "Chinese threat" - the only remnant of the Cold War that Americans still take seriously.

Keep in mind - this isn't the VOTERS, but rather the journalists. It's just one example of how a media filter can substantially change an election. Btw, I wasn't fond of many of Fong's policies (flat tax?!?) but I despised the casual xenophobia.

On APIA VOTE, they are technically a nonpartisan organization even though most of the board is very Democratic, and if you read between the lines, the release doesn't celebrate Jindal's accomplishments as much as it celebrates a generic biography, a template son-of-immigrants -makes-good candidate.
Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote states, "Jindal's win demonstrates the positive electoral engagement of the community including the growing political clout of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and especially the Indian-American community who have been proactive in promoting activism in political campaigns at all levels."
I think it reflects an overall excitement that APIAs can win in states that aren't heavily APIA-dense, and that it's an overall benefit that results from when APIAs get active. I don;t doubt that IndoPAC and other groups are just happy to have another high-profile APIA, and to use it as an example of why their cause is correct. I might not be making a substantially different point than DotBS, but that's my take.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Romney's not primetime: Osam-Obama, and Son of Macaca?

You, yes, YOU Mitt Romney are the son of Macaca. Although Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has the all American clean-cut good looks, and the wealth of Croesus (founding partner of Bain Capital), he still lacks a good brain. Or at least, he lacks a tired one, per NYTimes: --

But he paused to talk about the threat of radical Islam, taking John Edwards, one of his Democratic opponents, to task for comments he made several months ago that criticized the “global war on terror” as a bumper sticker for President Bush.

“I think that is a position which is not consistent with the fact,” Mr. Romney said. “Actually, just look at what Osam — uh — Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner.”

The comment set off some confusion among the press corps. Glen Johnson of the Associated Press was momentarily frantically searching for comments made by Mr. Obama, another Democratic presidential contender, about jihadism and Iraq.

It turns out, of course, Mr. Romney was talking about the new audiotape from bin Laden calling on insurgents in Iraq to unite.


Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said afterward: “Governor Romney simply misspoke. He was referring to the recently released audiotape of Osama bin Laden and misspoke when referencing his name. It was just a brief mix-up.”

Regardless of how his spokesman would like to spin it, it's not a brief mix up when you do it twice and substantially confuse the context. It's a racist moment, a potential macaca moment, if you will. I wouldn't be surprised to hear youtube mashups of it real soon, along the lines of Senator Ted Stevens' (R-Alaskan Oil Lobbyists) infamous techno hit "The internets is a series of tubes."

Unfortunately, this moment isn't particularly good for Obama since it reinforces the rightwing meme of his so-called Muslim leanings and his middle name which crackpots never fail to bring up: Hussein.

It also didn't fit with Obama's complicated dance to portray himself both as a candidate for all America, and as the first post-race candidate, while being the "great black hope." One of the reasons why Webb was able to use former Senator Allen's words against him so effectively is because Allen was being a bully to a college kid, and everyone who saw that videotape could see it. It allowed Virginians who never wanted to be associated with the worst stereotypes of the South to cast a vote for Senator Webb, who was a figure of change (as far as transferring a Senate seat from one white man to another can be) but still familiar, as a gun-loving military man who totes his guns into the Senate.

The racial equation is different when it's a black man calling out a white man, and I'd bet that the Obama campaign wants people to forget about this incident ASAP. If his campaign were really savvy and able to walk that tightrope, they would use this as a galvanizing moment, and use it to promote Obama as the great American hope - the antithesis of racial politics that divide, the opposite of a white man who confuses two similar-sounding foreign names. This feeds great into your base of young people who understand that this is not accidental, and even if, it;s a huge slur that shows what and how Romney thinks of black people. (aka, black man = terrorist, and this is NOT ACCEPTABLE.) Use this to say that you are not the kind of person who stands for this, a man who brings America together, and be the bold leader who we desperately seek. The amazing, transcendental, incandescent speaker on that stage in 2004. Not the tired man who went on the Daily Show a month ago and couldn't uhm his way out of a paper bag. Don't be the falling star.

And if I were working on any campaign, Dem or GOP, opposing Romney, I'd respin this as the son of Macaca, and put it up real quick on that series of tubes. But I'll bet that Obama's campaign wants this to settle down real quick because it's easier.

This just shows that Romney's not that smart, and just not ready for primetime. Hammer home his weakness, his inability to distinguish a leading presidential candidate in the United States from the terrible Other, the enemy who we hunt abroad.

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Food police run amok and the tourist trap

Lest my humble abode become a Colbert shrine, I should get back to the basics of talking about politics - realpolitik and all the stuff that I think about on a daily basis. (What? You were lured in by my prominent Colbert 2008 poster that stretches 4 stories tall? Ok, here's a bone: the latest Vanity Fair interview of our very own Captain America, Stephen Colbert. Lots of good tidbits like how he used to want to be a cult leader. Very apropos.)

Anyway, back to a topic near and dear to my own gut: Trader Joes. (I saw this on Consumerist awhile back but I had so many things to rant and rave about.) Apparently, the good folks in corporate at TJ's have decided to stop stocking single-ingredient foods from China, starting January 1, 2008. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

"We feel confident that all of our products from China meet the same high quality standards that we set for all of our products," the statement read. "However, our customers have voiced their concerns about products from this region and we have listened.

"We will continue to source products from other regions until our customers feel as confident as we do about the quality and safety of Chinese products."

Look, I care about what I eat, and that I'm not munching on some tasty mesquite-and-lead potato chips, but I think this is really the height of ridiculousness.

In terms of branding, it appeals to the xenophobe in all of the heavily urban, liberal areas that TJ's has stores in, not to mention their base in California, which has the most Asian American population density of any American state (Hawaii excepted.) Just look at the store location map. And try not to be tempted by that delicious photo of the apricot flan torte on your way in.

They've got stores in Asian American bases like Seattle, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, etc. Yeah, we tend to congregate in yuppie neighborhoods too. Every time I've been to a TJ's, I see a fair number of Asian Pacific Americans represented in the clientele and in the overly eager and happy workers. It's kinda hard to be angry at a company that has such happy employees and such tasty "good-for-you" junk food like chocolate-covered soy nuts. (Don't eat them. I warned you.) Jeez, the purpose of this isn't to lure more customers to TJ's and their exquisite stock of dark chocolate bars, or organic dried fruits. Or is it? Mind vs. gut. Ethics or gastronomy? Hmmm...

But I do want to to call them out for pushing this idea that China is a big scary, lead-in-food-mongering place, which just reinforces the meme of China as foreign, poisonous devil (and by extension, Chinese Americans and Asian Americans, since some people still can't tell us apart. Because, we're inscrutable, ya know?)

There's plenty of xenophobia going on right now due to economic worries amongst ordinary Americans scared that they'll lose their jobs, and folks like Lou Dobbs focus this angst in a laser-precise fashion on yellow and brown people, and both. His most recent fixation is the US using Chinese steel and Mexican undocumented workers to build a wall between the US and Mexico. There's a reason why Karen Hughes is partnering with Disney to produce ads to entice international tourists and their gob-loads of cash back to the good ole, friendly Uncle Sam, to shift perceptions away from the "thumbs-up, tacky smile in front of pile of naked prisoners" America.

Cos apparently, international tourism to the US (excluding Mexico and Canada) is down 17% since 2000. Via Reuters:

"Since one of the main causes of the 17 percent decline in overseas travel to the U.S. is the fear of the U.S. entry process, delivering a welcoming message upon travelers' arrival is long overdue," said Jonathan Tisch, chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable and chairman of Loews Hotels.

"It will help change negative perceptions and lead to increased visitation to the U.S., which translates into millions of American jobs and billions of dollars for our nation's economy," he said. [And jobs for undocumented immigrants, not that we want them here - Editor's note.]

Surveys have shown that the United States gets low marks for travel friendliness. One poll from last year showed that many foreigners were anxious about the visa entry process, making the United States less attractive than other countries.

Analysts and industry experts say that many would-be visitors are put off by the visa process, long waits and perceptions of poor treatment by gruff immigration officials.

Portraits of America is part of a plan by the Departments of Homeland Security and State to try to make the United States more welcoming. Disney, which has a vested interest in a strong tourist market, donated the film and pictures to the government.

What is with this Mickey Mouse propaganda? It's nothing new - both Disney and Warner Bros used their star attractions as patriotic gun-toting warriors in the fight against those scary buck-toothed Japanese. (See below video.)

If you think that this is inconsistent with America's focus on scaring away immigrants, you're not the only one. But really, it's all quite logical - we only want people to come and visit and drop moola, we don't really want them to stay and raise families and I dunno, run for office as a brown man in Louisiana, become chair of the RNC, or Secretary of Labor.* And if they do, we want to employ them for pitiful wages. Hence guestworker bills.

Move along, folks, there's nothing to see here. But we will gladly take your money before you leave.

Actually, I have an idea for Karen Hughes - how about you get Stephen Colbert, aka Captain America, to appear in your brainwashing, I mean "promotional" videos? He's as popular as apple pie, and can easily convey the full irony of the situation with the slightest twitching of his come hither brow or a faint moue of displeasure. Then people would know when you want them to come or go. [Traffic-light Colbert action figure under trademark consideration. All potential infringements will be litigated. Heavily.]

*Bobby Jindal, Mel Martinez, and Elaine Chao, respectively.(#)

(#) Correction: We do want them to run and be in power, but only if they uphold traditional Republican ideals like not letting in any more of their kind. Tokenism implies a few.

Bugs Bunny - Tokio Jokio - 1943 - B&W

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Power & Politics Endorses Stephen Colbert, Man of the People

Monday, Oct 22, 2007

Power Politics, (321) 987-6540

Today, Power & Politics, a prominent Asian Pacific American blogger, endorsed talk show host Dr. Stephen Colbert, D.F.A. and his campaign for our nation's highest office. Power & Politics is a leading voice within the APA blogger community and will be an important surrogate for Stephen Colbert's Nixonoid pro-truthiness and pro-fane agenda.

"Unlike other candidates who only speak to the importance of confronting the major social issues of the day, Honorary Doctor Colbert has a record of action in defending truthiness. Every decision he made as a talk show host was on the side of truthiness. I know he will be the strong pro-truthiness President we need in the White House," said P&P. "Honorary Doctor Colbert is the only candidate who can lead our pro-truthiness and pro-fane movement to victory in 2008."
Welcoming P&P's announcement, Dr. Stephen Colbert, D.F.A., said, "I am proud to have the support of a blogger who has meant so much to the pro-truthiness movement in our country. Power knows how important it is to have someone in Washington who will actively promote pro-truthiness policies. Policies that include more than appointing judges who will change the law but also opposing taxpayer funded education and partial childhood education. For we all know that the best way to teach truthiness is to not teach at all. I look forward to working with Power and welcome it to Colbert for President."

(With apologies to the Romney campaign.)

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Richard Scaife's downfall

Like many Republicans whose foibles lay in the bedroom, Richard Mellon Scaife fell prey to some trailer park trash in a scuzzy hotel.

Who is Scaife, you might ask? He is the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton alluded to during her and Bill's dark days. Unlike some prominent pundits who can't get their names in the press for batshit ideas like a "handful of people who hate America . . . are losing their homes today," this mega-wealthy billionaire bankroller of the "Republican Revolution" and the Heritage Foundation is happiest behind the scenes and with his name out of the papers.
Though he jousts, indirectly, with public figures, Scaife seems to detest attention. He almost never speaks to the media, and on one of the few occasions he did, it was to tell a reporter, who'd sandbagged him on the street, that she was ugly and that her mother was ugly, too. (WaPo)
Too bad for him, the WashPost wrote about it, dailykos is spreading his name around in the mud, and well, I'm all too happy to inform even more people.

Richard Mellon Scaife is one of the most influential men in America who you've never heard of - heir to the vast Mellon fortune (banking, oil, and aluminum,) he helped fund Nixon's infamous Watergate project, the the smearing of President Bill Clinton.

Well, this upright citizen has gone and decided to sleep around on his wife, and with a former prostitute named Tammy Sue Vasco. What can we say? The man has the same kind of tastes has Bill? Scaife's biggest mistake? Not getting a pre-nup, and his wife, the understandably pissed Margaret "Ritchie" Scaife is raking it in to the tune of $725,000 per month in alimony.

Check out why she's pissed:
At some point in late 2005, Ritchie started having suspicions about her husband and hired a private investigator named Keith Scannell, a specialist in high-end surveillance for insurance companies. In December of that year, Scannell followed Richard Scaife to nearby North Huntingdon, home of Doug's Motel, a place where the TVs are bolted to the furniture and rooms can be rented in three-hour increments, for $28.
. . . Why a billionaire would shack up at Doug's Motel, of all places, is a mystery. Ditto his choice of companions. Vasco is a tall, blond 43-year-old mother who in 1993 was busted in a sting operation after showing up at a Sheraton hotel and offering to have sex with an undercover cop for $225, the Post-Gazette reported.
Tawdry, dude, tawdry. How can a man like this blame Bill Clinton for slumming, when he's bagging tricks in fleabag motels?!? Plus, he then abducted his former wife's dog, in a move worthy of the cheesiest soup operas:
The real fight, though, was not over the Shreve & Co. finger bowls. It was over the dog. Specifically, a yellow Labrador retriever named Beauregard, who Ritchie has told friends is a direct descendant of a pooch belonging to a king of England. Until March 2006, the animal was in Ritchie's hands, living with her and the Pietragallos. Then one day, Beauregard was scooped out of the Pietragallos' back yard and whisked around the corner, to Richard's house on Westminster.

This brazen canine abduction was not covered up. Quite the opposite. It was celebrated with a banner on wooden stakes posted on Richard's front lawn: "Welcome home, Beauregard," it read.

It's safe to assume that despite his lineage, Beauregard is unable to read. The point, it seems, was to needle Ritchie.

And it did.

On the afternoon of April 6, 2006, Ritchie stopped her car when she spotted a housekeeper of Richard's walking Beauregard in the neighborhood. Game on. The cops later said that Ritchie punched 51-year-old Sue Patterson, then tried to grab the dog. A secretary of Richard's, 77-year-old Genevieve Still, saw Ritchie and Patterson on the ground, with Ritchie on top, pulling Patterson's hair. When she tried to intervene, Still wound up with "a swift kick to the lower back," she told police. Then a security guard named Dennis Bradshaw got in on the action and took a slap to the head, which reportedly broke his glasses.

Dude still is keeping the dog, which is just low. Don't you know the pooch's royalty?!? Well, let's just say it threw more fuel on Ritchie's desire to go after Scaife (the dog-napping jerk.) So that's a lil bit less money going to Scaife's favorite causes, as listed by wikipedia:

Through contacts made at Hoover and elsewhere, Scaife became a major, early supporter of the Heritage Foundation, which has since become one of Washington's most influential public policy research institutes. Later, he supported such varied conservative and libertarian organizations as:

By 1998 his foundations were listed among donors to over 100 such groups, to which he had disbursed some $340 million by 2002.

Boo hoo. I'm deeply sorry to say, it couldn't have happened to a nicer, more moral man. If your definition of moral is Bill Bennett.


Bobby Jindal ascends the Louisiana Governor's seat

On the face of things, so much has changed in the South, and in Louisiana in particular. An Indian American Republican, Roman Catholic convert named Bobby Jindal has won the Governorship of a state that has also elected the infamous David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan to a public office in the late 1980s.

This is a very different world, and nation, than the one that the KKK was founded in - where a brown man who is the son of immigrants, can go to corners of Louisiana seeking votes from David Duke's followers, and win by appealing to very fundamentalist, supremicist values. I guess this is the beauty or bewilderment of America, god bless us.

For another, he did not have the support of a majority of the state’s blacks, about a third of the population, who vote Democratic.

Yet Mr. Jindal, with his decisive victory on Saturday, appears to have overcome a significant racial hurdle that blocked him in 2003, according to analysts: race-based opposition in the deeply conservative northern and eastern parishes of Louisiana that once supported the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

A born-again Roman Catholic, Mr. Jindal made a particular campaign target of these areas, visiting them frequently and bringing his brand of devout Christianity to their rural churches. His social-conservative message — teaching “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution in public schools, a total ban on abortion, repealing hate-crimes laws — would have been welcome in these areas.

Bobby Jindal is the intersection of the possibilities that America affords - a study of contrasts and unlikely alliances. And he is by all accounts, a very smart man, unlike Elaine Chao. I.e., I do not think he will be a quiet figurehead like her. This will both be good and bad for APIAs - for one thing, I believe he is eminently qualified for the job, given his resume. But a frequent talking point of Obama's is that two people will excellent resumes, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, got us into our nation's worst foreign policy mistake in this century.

I am glad that we've progressed. But the question is: will Bobby Jindal represent Indian Americans and Asian Americans well? Will he pursue a policy agenda that will truly benefit the working class, immigrants, and folks like his parents when they first moved here? Folks over at Sepia Mutiny have their own questions and concerns. If I had to place my bets, I'd have to say no. But I'd love to be proven wrong.

Amardeep has this quietly moving paragraph:
If Jindal wins, his victory will suggest to me he’s somehow overcome both sides of the immigrant’s anxiety syndrome: the part that comes from others’ mistrust, and also the part that comes from himself — his own sense of being something different, something other than a “normal” American, or in this case, a representative Louisianan. If he wins, I won’t cheer, but I will, I expect, quietly feel a certain sense of pride at his accomplishment despite my strong disagreement with his kind of politics. Not just because he’s a fellow desi — it’s actually more complex than that. Rather, the pride will be because he’s a fellow desi who’s evidently achieved, after a struggle, something I’ve long aspired to do: shake that dude’s hand.
For me, this represents a victory of the Ken Mehlman school of the GOP, the one that reaches out to the National Urban League and recruits Mel Martinez to head up the Republican National Committee. It's the smarter, more future-forward part of the GOP that recognizes how much demographic changes are going to affect national politics for the years to come. It's also this part of the GOP that says with one hand, "come, come, we welcome you" and the other hand is stabbing minorities and immigrants in the back with crappy bills like the immigration legislation that thankfully didn't pass. It's wicked smart - position yourself like you're pro-immigrant, but actually tout policies that would prevent more brown people from entering the country.

For better or worse, this part of the GOP is the one on the wane at the national level. But if the GOP leverages Bobby Jindal correctly and fully utilizes him, they can make a dent in the South Asian American vote and money race. Especially since Bush and company did heavy damage through special registration and by spreading suspicions of brown people all over - at the airport, at school, and at the workplace. I'm not sure that better packaging and marketing of racist, sexist, classist policies by the GOP is something to cheer - because Lord knows I hate Michelle Malkin for providing racial cover for endorsing special registration and internment. Shitty products that burn your fingers off when you touch them are still piss-poor investments, no matter how shiny, or what color the box it comes in is.

I guess the only net benefit I can see to this is that if this inspires more Asian American kids to think that they too can run for office, and if it makes our parents and grandparents think that politics is not the totally evil machine that it sometimes can be, that it can be a worthwhile and achievable goal, then I'd be happy. Meantime, color me 95% unimpressed. I have no high hopes for him pushing forward a progressive social agenda, but I do fervently hope that he doesn't have any hidden foibles like his homestate senator, David "Diaperman" Vitter. Cos you know that would just make brown folks the diaper fetish terrorists who like to wear towels on their heads and red dots between their eyes. On the face of things anyways, that's what people would think on the airplane, before they call security and get your ass hauled off.

Oh, and lastly, I can scarcely bear to watch Lou Dobbs. His two flogging horses of trade and immigration always, always wind up piling on immigrants in a no-win situation - Latino and Asian American. It's a psuedo-populist appeal that has been converted into xenophobic riots and exclusion acts in the past.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007


I logged into sitemeter and saw I had a sudden precipitous spike in readership, and I found out it was mostly due to me making Craig Newmark of craigslist's favorite comment about him being on the Colbert Report:

Well, my favorite quote regarding the Colbert thing is from Power and Politics:

[Colbert] had Craig Newmark (craigslist) on, and the nerd on nerd interaction was hot and hilarious.
Thanks Craig, I call it like I see it. One of these days I'm going to get my ass into a live Colbert Report taping.

Now my readership has spiked up, but if history is any judge, readership waxes and wanes, so I'm not going to take all the credit. My sudden burst of creative humor is attributable to major procrastination since I have a big work project that I don't want to touch. And what better way to unwind than with a lil Colbert?

It sounds like a fancy French cheese, and I am sure that one day the man will have not just an American eagle (Stephen Jr), dangerously addictive Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and a Virgin Air plane named after him, but that he will have some ridiculously tasty, super-premium triple-cream cheese named after him. Perhaps it will join the President line of cheese?

I expect it will taste something like port salut but with a red, white, and blue rind. Damn, now I'm hungry. Off to the grocery store.

PS: Obviously, if Colbert were an American cheese (and he's totally all-American), he would be a sharp cheddar with significant bite.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Colbert '08

If only I lived in South Carolina, I would vote for Stephen Colbert for president. As it is, I am pleased to announce my full-hearted support for Colbert for president. He has the gravitas, the single-minded determination to make it happen and to turn this country around.

Yesterday's Colbert Report was CRAZY HILARIOUS - as host/candidate, he totally ripped up Doritos' endorsement of his candidacy - and boy did he cross the line!

Plus he had Craig Newmark (craigslist) on, and the nerd on nerd interaction was hot and hilarious.

I am sooooo jealous of donorschoose.org - they got mad hyped by Colbert. I can bet that their straw poll is not the only poll that Colbert wins though.

And grumpy old DC insiders say that Colbert risks breaking election law - Kenneth Vogel
of the Politico grouses that colbert is crossing major lines as TV host and candidate, and that they may face large FEC fines.

God, colbert is brilliant skewering Thompson, Arnold, etc and the whole pagentry of political weaseling and campaigning in this fashion. I am so jealous of his writers - they are really transforming American politics by revealing it to be the dog and pony show, smoke and mirrors high school beauty pageant, replete with bitter sniping and partisan figurative tripping other candidates as they stalk their way down the catwalk.

Soon I will follow up with my press release in support of a fictitious character's fictitious campaign for a position that is currently occupied by a war criminal. But like any good flack, I'm going to announce this on Monday, instead of throwing it out with the trash. This is just my unprecedented announcement that I will announce my declaration of support. Boo-ya!

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Throwing the baby out with the dishwasher - more APIA donor bashing

So much to blog about, and so little time. This LATimes front-page article on Clinton's fundraising in NYC Chinatown is currently hot, because it strikes some really low blows, alleging that Hillary is somehow twisting arms or taking advantage of immigrants who lack substantial financial security to give. The city's many Asian Americans woke up to this:
The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.

And several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs -- including dishwasher, server or chef -- that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.

Of 74 residents of New York's Chinatown, Flushing, the Bronx or Brooklyn that The Times called or visited, only 24 could be reached for comment.

Many said they gave to Clinton because they were instructed to do so by local association leaders. Some said they wanted help on immigration concerns. And several spoke of the pride they felt by being associated with a powerful figure such as Clinton.
I think that the article's slant is kinda muckracking, mud-slinging tabloid style journalism.

Just look at this description of the former Executive Director of the NYS Democratic Party, and former spokeswoman for the Department of Labor under Clinton. Ben Smith at the Politico justly points out that Chung Seto is more than the LATimes pieces makes her:
A key figure helping to secure Asian support for Clinton is a woman named Chung Seto, who came to this country as a child from Canton province and has supported Bill and Hillary Clinton since the 1990s. She called Fujian natives' support for Hillary Clinton the beginning of civic engagement for an immigrant group that had long been on the periphery.

She said she stationed translators at the entrance of one event to try to screen out improper contributions.
It makes her sound like some shadowy figure out of an overly exoticized movie, as opposed to a power player, getting featured in the NYTimes, someone who understands and has navigated the halls of power, and who would naturally be inclined to support Clinton. Smith also points out that 44 Henry, one of the addresses listed in the article, is no "grimy Chinatown tenement with peeling walls." Greg Sargent over at TPMemo has his take on things, featuring ringmaster Drudge leading a willing circus of editors and reporters.

The NYTimes piece has this to say:
BESIDES the prayer marathon, she thought long and hard about it, too. She and her friends are the type who dedicate their dinner party conversations to "figuring out" how to change the world: "We do it by making sure we have good people in government that look out for the more rather than just a privileged few." But she's also a pragmatist. Politics is all-consuming and is mostly why she is unmarried, independent, and lives on Mott Street, two blocks from her parents (her father is retired from his job as a chef in a Chinese restaurant; her mother is a retired union seamstress) and the apartment where she grew up. Her maternal instincts are parceled out among seven nephews and a niece.

Ms. Seto worked "exhaustive hours" for the past four years as executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, where she was the first Asian to fill that post, just as she was the first Asian spokeswoman for the United States Labor Department, where she was press secretary for Alexis M. Herman, Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor.

. . . "The choice issue got me galvanized and threw me into the political battle. I wanted to work for the Department of Labor to combat sweatshops. And, mind you, there was another reason to keep working in politics: when I looked around, there sure weren't a lot of faces like mine. I want to stay long enough to help that change."
I mean seriously, it makes her sound like some refugee as opposed to a very powerful, confident and self-possessed woman.

I mean, yes, it could be weird that he could only find 24 of 70 plus people at home, but let's get real here: most immigrant communities tend to be suspicious of outsiders knocking on doors, especially outsiders who don't look like them. I've had walk lists where I only reached maybe 10% of the people on that list, by which I mean when I talked to neighbors, they would say that Mr. So and so doesn't live next door anymore, and don't bother even trying 6B, the Clemonses done gone moved.

I mean, I could be wrong, but based on the only photo I could find via a quick google search, Peter Nichols looks white, and so does Tom Hamburger will go away and leave me alone. (props for having a cool last name!) Most of the time when someone knocks on my door and I'm not expecting anyone in particular, I stay mad quiet and plays cat and mouse, waiting and hoping that whatever Jehovah's Witness/magazine subscriptionist/random weirdo. It's a normal reaction to not want to talk to random people who show up at your front door, distracting you from your Lifetime movie, crossword puzzle or whatever.

And as someone who has done voter registration and doorknocking in many immigrant communities, it's hard enough to find people at home, if they are even at home, because they are a hella private bunch. Moreover, immigrants often hold more than one job, so it also depends on what time of day these reporters are knocking on doors. If you come calling during the day, no one is home, and if you come at night, they might be working a second shift or a second job. So yeah, it may seem weird that you can only reach a third of the people, but that's actually a decent number. And one has to wonder how many times they tried and retried the same doors - did they try at different hours of the day, or did they just try once and give up? And if so, what kind of investigative journalism is that?!?

Additionally, I think it's possible that some of those dishwashers and low wage workers might be friends or neighbors of Chung Seto's and her parents who would be proud to support someone who has given one of the community's own a chance to rise.

Are there elements of the article that I think ring true? Absolutely - I've seen immigrants who haven't voted before give money to political campaigns and be incredibly proud to take photos with politicians who may or may not fulfill their campaign promises. And is it possible that there is some kinda of funky donating going on? Yeah, it's entirely possible, but one thing I know for sure is that immigrants only get involved when they feel like something's at stake, and the Fujianese community has a higher proportion of undocumented APIAs, and works in some of the worst-paying, menial jobs in NYC.

Personally, I believe that they are deluded if they think that Clinton's going to pass progressive immigration reform anytime soon, even if she gets elected, but I'm not sure that it's the Clinton campaign taking advantage of those misconceptions. However, if I found out that someone was WILLFULLY pushing that misinformation, I would get hella pissed.

I mean, how many millions of Americans voted for George W Bush under the delusion that he would make a good commander in chief in 2000 and 2004 who now regret their votes? That's just called not being a good educated voter.

As for being coerced to donate, that should NEVER happen, especially in lower income immigrant communities. But if people are motivated because they have found someone who they are proud to donate to, who they feel like speaks to their issues, well, that's fantastic. It's hat our democracy is all about, and we shouldn't be stepping on their ability to participate in civic life.

The article also gets into snakeheads and human smuggling (which is another reason why I hate its exotification of Chinatown) but even the FBI investigator who handled the Golden Venture believes that people should be allowed to engage in democracy:
A crackdown by the FBI's organized-crime task force led to the indictment of more than 20 Fujian native traffickers. Today, the problem has substantially dissipated, says Konrad Motyka of the FBI's New York field office, who participated in the investigation of the Golden Venture.

Although Motyka is wary of the havoc wreaked in the past by Fujianese organized crime, he said: "I welcome signs that the community is participating in politics."
I wish journalists were more careful with what they write, and how they write. They are smearing a broad segment of the population by implying that this is dirty money.

PS: I want to clarify - I have yet to endorse any serious candidates for president. I am not for Hillary, but rather against unqualified orientalizing of our community, and against efforts to silence our voices.

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Slam poetry early morning

Mayda del Valle: My descendency


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A horrifying tale

About a Pennsylvania rapist who is suspected of raping over 50 women. However, he had yet to be convicted of any charges because he manipulated their thoughts feelings and emotions, and some even dated him after being raped.

He said, They said.
(warning: very disturbing article.)

I hope this guy goes to jail for a long, long time. Here's the intense jezebel debate where I first found out about this sicko.

I felt so nauseous reading the article and it's chilling but I believe it's an important read because this rapist purposefully played against stereotype. It's how he was able to get away with it for so long.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Overly privileged Yale APA student sounds like a preppy Kenneth Eng

Less mentally deranged, but his ideas have about as much merit. Yalie Xiaochen Su '10 is angling for a job as the next male Michelle Malkin with his recent op-ed in the Yale Daily News, which stirred mega-controversy: U.S. cannibalizes itself by enabling immigrants, poor

Here are some choice fragments:

Second, the population growth is concentrated in the poorer segment of the society. Statistics show that majority of U.S. population growth comes from immigration and high birth rate among the minorities, while the native Caucasian population is stabilizing. Notwithstanding exceptions, larger numbers of minorities are ill-educated, have less desirable jobs, and thus are less capable to financially sustain their livelihoods.

In fact, many more minorities depend on government welfare and low-income assistance than whites. Over time, jobs that require less skill will continue to decrease, being outsourced to developing countries with lower labor costs, and the percentage of minorities in the U.S. population will increase, forcing the government to spend much more to evade riots by poor, hungry, unemployed minorities.

Well, Jonathan Swift he ain't. Oh, holdup --

To counter the problem of high population growth that has led to the unsustainable population size, financial measures can be undertaken against high birth rates and immigration. The government should not only eliminate the concept of “child tax credit” on tax returns but also create a child tax.

With addition of each new child, a family should be levied a limited amount of money in annual tax. A well-publicized child tax can restrict population growth of the lower-class who cannot afford to pay the new tax, while only lightly affecting the middle- and upper-class, who can easily pay the tax if they want children. If the child tax is not enough to lower the growth of the lower-class significantly, the welfare programs should be cut back and the cost of children’s necessities, such as infants’ formula and college education, should be raised in price. Such actions by the government can also increase income and decrease the spending, partially alleviating the problems of deficit spending.

OK, lemme get this straight - we shouldn't feed the poor and hungry or help them get jobs because, let's face, it that only creates more poor and hungry people, and more poor and hungry people who are dark skinned, who want to come here. and according to the US census, it's primarily white women who are on welfare, and white kids.

But let's just throw some more fuel on that fire, and add in a proposal to indirectly starve poor families and kids (especially the dark ones) by decreasing government assistance and increasing the cost of baby food. But we'll call it a child tax, as opposed to "killing the kids."

I just don't know how much more self-hating you can get. And at such a young age.
Jeez, it doesn't help that people already think that China is a barbaric country because of the one-child policy, you just have to help the United States have similarly crazy and ineffectual laws.

Xiaochen, you make yellow look bad like Britney on film. This article isn't going to get you your dream internship at the Heritage Institute (ok, maybe it will) but semi-artful language doesn't disguise your bigotry.

Oh yeah, in case anyone questions the kid's intent - ivygate has this photo from his facebook. In case you can't see the tiny text, it says "Can't hate everything." It's an ad for chopstix.

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Happy/ sad commentary on mortgage failures

Monday, October 15, 2007

Watch your lips

Ladies, careful what you wear on your lips - your red as cherries lipstick might be full of lead!

The tests for lead in lipstick were conducted by an independent laboratory over the month of September on red lipsticks bought in Boston, Hartford, Connecticut, San Francisco and Minneapolis.

Twenty of 33 brand-name lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million, ppm. None of these lipsticks listed lead as an ingredient, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of women's, public health, labor, environmental health and consumer rights groups.

. . .Eleven of the tested lipsticks exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy - a standard established to protect children from directly ingesting lead.

The Food and Drug Administration has not set a limit for lead in lipstick.

Among the top brands testing positive for lead were:

  • L'Oreal Colour Riche "True Red" - 0.65 ppm
  • L'Oreal Colour Riche "Classic Wine" - 0.58 ppm
  • Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor "Maximum Red" - 0.56 ppm
  • Dior Addict "Positive Red" - 0.21 ppm
Disturbing - who knew that reapplication and ingestion of lipstick could result in accidental absorption of lead?!? What's interesting is that it's not something that necessarily happens with cheaper lipstick versus more expensive - in fact the more expensive lipsticks were found to contain higher amounts of lead.

So think before you pink, or dread before you wear red?

And thus concludes my post for Blog Action Day.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Watching Edwards

I feel a glimmer of what I felt for Howard Dean. I hear common sense values and progressive values, I hear this at 15:12:

"I have a really simple view about this. We are a country of immigrants. I do not want to live in a United States of America made of up first class citizens and second class workers. That is not America. That is not who we are.

So when I am president, we're gonna have comprehensive immigration reform. And we're gonna ensure that every single person living in the United States of America has a completely achievable path to American citizenship, so they don't live in the shadows, so they can become American citizens, so they can be part of America, instead of being treated as second class workers, as second class human beings. There are no second class human beings in the United States of America when I am president."

Damn. Color me impressed. Yes, this is Edwards at his finest, playing to a crowd that is eating out of his hands, but it's the stuff that I've been waiting to hear come out of Obama's mouth given his family's immigration story. It's what I heard from Obama in 2004 and haven't heard as much since.

It's what would make me fall out of my seat if Hillary delivered it like this, without the loopholes and the qualms and the carefully constructed language like a house of cards. I've seen her speak effectively on immigration issues, and with passion and strength, but not always to the benefit of pro-immigrant rights advocates.

And later this: "If you can join the Republican party by signing your name to a card, any worker in America should be able to join a union by doing exactly the same thing. That's democracy in the workplace, that's what we believe in."

His hiring of top labor hands and his work in befriending labor presidents and in working for the average Joe shines through in this speech. So it's not quite Dean's "What I want to know" speech in San Diego with its rousing conclusion of "You have the power!" but it's good enough, for now.

The other thing is that although I am very impressed by this speech, it's not the same as what Dean was trying to do in building an open source movement - the language is not the same - it's still about empowering people, but more nakedly in the service of a political campaign. Perhaps this is because Edwards was trained as a lawyer and mostly lawyers feel empowered to speak on behalf of others whereas organizers work to train people to speak for themselves. Obama was a lawyer, but he was an organizer first. And Hillary studied Alinsky methods, which are present to the watchful observer in her top down style.

More thoughts on this, and other differences between Obama/Edwards/Clinton campaigns and ways of thinking and organizing later.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pipeline of APA sports stars

Sports is not my forte - if it were, this blog would be called Strength & Sports instead. But I do think that having players like Yao Ming in basketball has created a pipeline for Asian athletes in America like Yi Jianlian, who was just welcomed to the not very Asian American town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the newest member of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team.

Justin Lee, 11, who lives in Hartland, came with his mother, Lucia, and his sister Annabelle, 10, to see what the fuss was all about. He said he wanted to see just how big Yi was. Very tall, he concluded. Justin said he hoped to go to several Bucks games this season.

During the ceremony, Yi was joined onstage by Kohl, Mayor Tom Barrett, Chinese Consul General Ping Huang, Bucks General Manager Larry Harris, Coach Larry Krystkowiak, and teammates Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd.

At the ceremony, speeches were given, best wishes were forwarded to Yi, and gifts were exchanged. But the fans, who came from as far as Chicago, Appleton, Stevens Point and Madison, wanted to hear from Yi. And so, with the help of his translator, Roy Lu, Yi obliged.

What excites Yi about playing in the NBA? Yi said it was a dream come true to come to the United States to play professional basketball. And he promised to do his best to contribute to the city and the Bucks and to play well.

Similarly, Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners baseball team with his numerous successes and first-ever awards, set the stage for other Japanese baseball players to become hit in the US:

Kazuo Matsui, NY Mets:
Kazuo Matsui is like a lot of young men in Tokyo these days. At the mention of Ichiro his face lights up with wonder. "When I think about him being in the major leagues, it amazes me," he says though an interpreter. "Then I see Ichiro getting two, three hits a game? I get so much out of it."

Hideki Matsui, NY Yankees:
For the next five months, though, all manner of speculation, panic and pride will rain down on Giants centerfielder Hideki Matsui, 28, the free-agent slugger, two-time MVP and former batting champion who is called Godzilla "because I look so scary," he says. The 1.9 m, 95.3 kg Hideki bears the fortunate burden of playing for Japan's oldest, most successful team, an institution combining the prestige of the Yankees and the fan reverence accorded Notre Dame. The Giants always lead the league in attendance and give their stars a profile Ichiro could only have dreamed of when he played in Japan.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox, who signed a crazy contract for over $50 Million according to wiki:

On November 14, the Boston Red Sox won the bidding rights to Matsuzaka with a bid of $51,111,111.11, outbidding the Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and New York Yankees. [4] [5] [6] The Red Sox had 30 days to sign Matsuzaka to a contract. If a deal could not be reached, Matsuzaka would have returned to the Lions, nullifying the bid. Scott Boras refused to consider the posting fee as part of the contract negotiations, while Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein recalled, "We tried to come up with a total number, for the post and contract, that made sense."[7] On December 11, Epstein, Red Sox owner John W. Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino boarded a plane to "[take] the fight directly to [Boras]". [8] Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asserted that Boras, by refusing to negotiate, was using Matsuzaka as a protest or "test case of the posting system."[8]

On December 13, Matsuzaka and Boras joined Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, CEO Larry Lucchino, and Chairman Tom Werner on a private plane owned by Red Sox owner John Henry headed for Boston. During the flight—which was followed by both the Boston and the Japanese media [9]—the group agreed to terms on a contract. Journalist Nobuhiro Chiba characterized Japanese reaction to the signing: "I think the people are relieved to send Daisuke to the Boston Red Sox."[9] In Boston, Matsuzaka passed his physical and signed the six-year, $52 million contract, which could be worth as much as $60 million if he fulfills incentives. The details of the contract include a $2 million signing bonus with a $6 million salary in 2007, $8 million in each of the following three seasons (2008–2010), and $10 million in each of the final two years (2011–2012). [10] He also has a no-trade clause, specially constructed by the Red Sox to fit Matsuzaka's contract. [11]

Just some examples of how a pipeline of Asian sportstars can change American perceptions of APIA men and also inspire new APIA greats. It's fantastic that people from all over Wisconsin and Illinois trekked out to see Yi Jianlian, and I hope he is happy to see his fans as well.

Here's a good site that tracks the Japanese players in the US: http://www.japaneseballplayers.com/en/.

And we shouldn't forget the role that baseball has played in Japanese American history - how some nisei believed it helped save them while they were in the internment camps.

About a game in Tucson between legendary Gila River Butte High Eagles and state-champion Tucson High Badgers baseball teams will reunite 61 years after their historic meeting in Rivers, Arizona – the Japanese-American internment camp on the Gila River Indian Community.

The legendary Eagles vs. Badgers game occurred on April 18, 1945, and was later described by head coach Kenichi Zenimura as “one of the most thrilling chapters in the history of Butte (Gila River) baseball.”

As for the game itself, the Eagles defeated the three-time state champions Badgers 11-10 in ten innings. Afterwards, both teams displayed an impressive level of respect and sportsmanship by sharing a post-game meal and sumo-wrestling lessons. Weeks later, head coaches Zenimura and Hank Slagle attempted to schedule a rematch in Tucson. Unfortunately, their request was denied by local authorities.

Zenimura’s disappointment with the cancellation was echoed by Slagle, who later wrote, “I sincerely hope it won’t be too long till we are all thinking straight again and can live together in a true Democracy that we Americans of all races have created.”

This single ballgame – played during a time when the nation was deeply divided by war – has become an important symbol of American brotherhood and goodwill. It also demonstrates how athletics help transcend barriers created by language, race, religion, and politics.

Also Hines Ward's prominence and Toby Dawson's struggle to find his family in Korea have increased the presence of APA sports stars,and publicized the plight of adoptees who navigate two cultures, never feeling at home in either one.

Dawson said he plans to use a new foundation he is starting in his name to help work to avoid cases like his in the future.

"Being caught in limbo between two different countries and not looking like your family is going to be tough," he said. "We need to try to keep our children and work a little bit harder to keep these circumstances from happening."

Dawson noted how he shared his healthy sideburns with his father, who during the news conference reached over several times to touch Dawson's face while they also held hands.

"My life until now has been confused," Dawson said. "I looked at my parents and I didn't look like them. Then I also felt if I went to Korea I didn't belong there.

"I felt like I was still lost, stuck between two different worlds," he said.

I never wanted to be a sports star growing up, but I can appreciate that it must have been hard for APA kids who did because if you had a role model, they didn't look like you - you could try to "see" yourself as Michael Jordan or Larry Bird, but there's only so much zone training can do for re-imagining the color of your skin.

Indeed, baseball was one of the first sports to help transcend barriers between race and politics, with Jackie Robinson's success cheered on by white and black fans alike. Our new sports heroes are doing similar work for APIA relations now.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Asian American heroes save the day in NYC

This crazy dude decided to grab some knives out of a restaurant kitchen and start stabbing people, and a Chinese American NYC police officer who was off duty saved the day:

The cook ran out of the restaurant, his blood leaving a trail to the corner of 34th Street. Mr. Coleman walked to the corner of Second Avenue and 35th Street, where he knocked Ms. Barron to the ground — “without words and without threats,” one investigator said — as she walked her Scottish terrier, Velvet. In the crosswalk, he crouched over Ms. Barron, fumbling with his knives and stabbing her again and again, the police said.

Around the same time, Gregory Chin, a transit police officer, was paying his bill at the Gemini restaurant, the police said. When he walked outside and saw Ms. Barron being attacked, he approached the attacker, who picked up his knives and began to walk away, the police said. When Mr. Coleman turned around — the knives still in his hands, according to the police and witnesses — Officer Chin fired a shot that struck Mr. Coleman in the abdomen.

Thank goodness the off duty cop was around to help, because although the assailant didn't hit her in any vital organs, if he hadn't been stopped, he might have gotten there.

Apparently, Mr. Coleman's first victim, Amarjit Singh, the cook at the restaurant, also rushed to help the elderly woman, despite dripping blood all the way.

His sliced ear was hanging off his face and his blood was pooling at his feet as 56-year-old Amarjit Singh stood on the corner looking desperately for help.

Then Singh gazed back up Second Ave. toward the Texas Smokehouse restaurant, where he had been preparing for another long day as a chef when the bare-chested madman came in and grabbed at least four knives from the kitchen.

The madman who had slashed Singh and sent him fleeing down to E. 34th St. was now up at the next corner, repeatedly stabbing a 67-year-old woman outside the Gemini Diner.

Singh instantly made a decision that proved him one of our city's very best and bravest. This chef from Queens by way of India became New York royalty as he forgot his own wounds and dashed straight back into the mortal danger he had just been so lucky to escape.

The madman looked up from the bloodied woman and rose on seeing the courageous Singh approach. A 25-year-old onlooker named Antionette Brown watched amazed as the madman slowly backed up. He was clutching at least four knives but seemed unnerved by Singh's uncommon courage and selflessness, as if Evil were being vanquished purely by the power of Good.

"He probably saved her life," Brown later said.

It's an unfortunate event that has transpired, but luckily the victims are going to survive, and also I'm glad that these NYC heroes were around to prevent Mr. Coleman from hurting anyone else. (Sorry for the Daily News' breathless take on the story but they have two good photos of our heroes.) This is one example of the tragedies of mental illness, and Mr. Coleman needs to get some good psychiatric help, as well as take his medication. I am just glad that none of my NYC friends were around that area that day and that they weren't hurt.

Such random and senseless violence that could have been worse, and could have been prevented. I'm just glad these guys' quick thinking prevented anything worse from happening.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Yay! Top chef finale spoiler!!!!!

YES!!!!! Top Chef Hung is a Top Chef!!!!

Representing for all the immigrants out there - you could tell that Tom Colicchio was really pulling for him, and also that he was extremely disappointed in Casey's performance.

So now Hung has broken the chain of white male Top Chefs. Whoo hoo! I am strangely elated. I think it's funny because they kept telling Hung that he was cooking without soul, and then that burned him so much that he wanted to really work hard and prove everyone wrong - which is the quintessential immigrant attitude and boy, did he pull it off. Hung can cook with precision but also with fire.

Here's snippets of his interview with the village Voice a few days before tonight's live airing of the decision:
When I asked him what he thought about the fact that the other chefs expected him to help them when he finished cooking early, he broke out the Hung-ness: "I didn't know this was chef camp, where we all hold hands and walk into the rainbow together. I didn't know that's what competition was. If I had known, I would have done much better."

. . . About that soul-cooking stuff: "When was the last time you walked out of a restaurant and said, 'that steak was so soulful, I'm definitely going back?' No. You say it was cooked perfectly, it was seasoned perfectly. The colors, the flavors, etc. Why am I getting dissed for having some technical skills? The word technique is related to the word craft, and guess who owns the restaurants called Craft?"

. . .
I told Hung that Rocco DiSpirito had said he reminded him of himself, and Hung said the same about Rocco. "He's confident, he's cocky, he's good looking... his technique is on, his flavor profile is my kind of food. I respect him a lot."

I asked Hung if we were going to see his "soul" in the finale and he promised we would. "Oh yeah. Everything is going to make sense in the end, if they edit it right." About the judge's complaints that his cooking isn't expressive enough, he said "What does that mean, when [Colicchio] says 'We don't see Hung.'? What should I do, make sweet and sour chicken and wontons? I'm trained in French food. I love French food. That is me."

People forget that what Americans consider Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by French flavors and techniques - thanks to colonization. But I gotta admit, the fruits of colonization have never tasted finer. . . For me, Vietnamese food is epitomized by a good banh mi, which does this sweet, salty, tangy, meaty, creamy, crunchy, spicy circus in my mouth, and the kicker is you have to have the crunchiest, most flaky and tear-off-able French bread. All for under $5 and so good I can eat two at a time, sometimes for $5 total. Love it!

Also, must love Hung for defying stereotypes - I am really enjoying the APIAs that they put on Top Chef, from Lee Anne to Josie on up to Hung. Our reality tv show contestant keep getting better and better, and I'm looking forward to Project Runway.

I feel bad because Casey didn't even rank in the judges' final considerations - it was 2-2 Hung and Dale in terms of the 4 courses. The dish that I think raelly won it for Hung was his main course, a duck sous vide that one of the celebrity chefs there said it was 3 star Michelin quality.

Oh, I am so happy! I wasn't even this happy when Chloe Dao won Project Runway although I like that show better than Top Chef, if only because of the Tim Gunn/Heidi combo. But damn, the Vietnamese be representin'!!!

Some people (wonkette) have this theory that if Casey wins, then Hillary will win, but I figured out that Hung is Obama, with his immigrant striver story, and Dale (aka the Hair) is Edwards. How funny would it be if it played out like that in the political world?


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

AMA = emperor with no clothes

Or at least that's what the American Medical Association's rhetoric resembles. As hsuperpolitical points out, and as I say to my friends who are somehow unbelievably still members, the AMA is nothing but a hack organization that primarily contributes to Republicans (80% of all PAC donations last time I checked.) And now they want to jump on the health care reform bandwagon now that polling finds that voters are in favor of universal healthcare or anything that will put an end to the hair-splitting mess that passes for health care in this country.

They're also the group that helped derail universal health care from ever emerging back when we didn't have a health care system that we could even call broken. They're the root of the crazy, fucked up piecemeal "insurance" plan that most Americans are "lucky" to have, with a per procedure Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement fee going to different specialties.

Basically, the only reason why the AMA is even at the same table with Families USA is much the reason that Pfizer is -- they see the train coming, and they wanted to get on board, and off of the tracks. They want to muddy up the waters as much as they can so that there's no clear vision toward reforming our system. smart but evil. Like any good impediment to change.

C'mon, we just gotta keep on lloppping off the heads.



My new gig keeps me up at night and too busy to blog or think about blogging half the time...I'm running on about 5-6 hours of sleep a day, if even that. I am traveling again, all over, but I'm happy.

I hardly even have the time to keep up on politics all day long that I used to. So posts here will be slightly less frequent, but I want to maintain the same level of quality writing and agitating. analyzing and digressing as I have before, so it's the trade off I will make.

If I see something that really eats me up inside, I will be sure to post, and if I hear about something splendid and sunshiny, I will also post.

In the meantime, it's off to bed for me, and lots of work before that. I mean after I wake up.
But I digress. . .

The secret to staying up late is youtube, and lots of gum. Youtube is like my replacement for winamp, and the beauty of gum/altoids is that if you get the super strong type, the pain will keep you awake long after you need to go to sleep.

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