Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Burning down the house, blow-torch style

I haven't posted in awhile - work and personal and a confluence of things have been getting to me. But I will continue posting on things that outrage me, like the fact that a Democratic 527 (with Hillary affiliations) is making confusing phone calls to African American voters in North Carolina. They were charged with doing the same thing in Virginia.

Women's Voices, Women Vote is a DC based group that aims to boost voting amongst unmarried female voters. This is a fantastic cause, and one that I wholeheartedly support. However, the question is, what then are they doing using an African American man's voice to make robocalls to African Americans in North Carolina.

Dailykos is on top of it.
Women's Voices Executive Director Joe Goode worked for Bill Clinton's election campaign in 1992 as a pollster; the group's website says he was intimately involved in "development and implementation of all polling and focus groups done for the presidential primary and general election campaigns" for Clinton.
I am so angry that I want to cry and tear my hair out. Why would you deliberately do something that would damage our chances in the general election?!?!

If Hillary thinks that even if she survives the primary, that she can win without African American voters, then she is wrong. Because it's not only African American voters who are pissed about this behavior. Only someone like Hillary can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - the economy is for shit, gas is hitting $4/barrel, and reports say it may go as high as $6/barrel in the summer.

The politics of destruction have gone too far. I am a staunch Democrat, but that is because Democratic platform currently includes equal opportunity and fairness. I will still vote for Hillary if she is the nominee, but it is only because McCain is a far worse choice. If anything, I believe that Hillary will drive a lot of people back out of the party and to independent or third party groups. Currently her influence on the race and Democratic registration and enrollment is about 50 worse than Nader. And super delegates should be aware of this - if she is willing to not just ignore, but actively disenfranchise African American voters, she will be willing to knock down and run over any one of you to gain power.

I have been moderate about Hillary. Now I am done with her. After this election, I am sure that her advisors will remain in the party. That the Clinton money will still stay in the party. But she is not my candidate of choice or happenstance. And if there is a primary challenger in her upcoming Senate race, I will find a way to support him or her.

These are new low tactics, and they are beyond the pale. There's a reason why her trustworthy polling is in the 30s when Obama and McCain are in the 60s, and she's definitely damaging his ratings. It's over. Pull out. Drop out. Obama's won.

When even Rahm Emmanuel is saying that the way the loser loses decides how we win in November, then you know you're toast. Emmanuel is as big a Clintonista as there is, and the only reason he has remained neutral publicly is because while he may have supported Clinton and run his political operations, he is a Congressman in Chicago (where the Daley machine is strong) and his home state senators are the dream team duo of Dick Durbin and Obama.

Ugh. Good riddance.

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GOP candidate speaks at Hitler bday party

The photo is priceless.

Not sure why this asshat Republican congressional candidate thinks that this is good for his candidacy or career, but it sure is one way to get some notoriety.

From the Times Northwest of Indiana:
Tony Zirkle, who is seeking the Republican nomination in Indiana's 2nd District, stood in front of a painting of Hitler, next to people wearing swastika armbands and with a swastika flag in the background for the speech to the American National Socialist Workers Party in Chicago on Sunday.

"I'll speak before any group that invites me," Zirkle said Monday. "I've spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta."
Sure, because that's FAIR AND BALANCED, right?

Even his local GOP county chair is distancing himself:
Porter County Republican chairman Chuck Williams on Tuesday denounced Zirkle's appearance at the gathering.

"He certainly doesn't hold the view of the of the Republican Party," Williams said. "I don't know why you would stand up in front of a picture of Adolf Hitler when millions of Americans fought against that kind of oppression."

Zirkle compared his speech to other politicians appearing at Bob Jones University.
Ugh, talk about foot in mouth syndrome! What's hilarious is that he's compared Bob Jones University to a Nazi gathering. Everytime McCain appears at Bob Jones university, Democrats should repeat that comparison.
The event was not the first time Zirkle has raised controversy on race issues. In March, Zirkle raised the idea of segregating races in separate states. Zirkle said Tuesday he's not advocating segregation, but said desegregation has been a failure.

Zirkle received 30 percent of the vote in the 2006 primary, losing to incumbent Chris Chocola, who was defeated in the general election. Zirkle said Tuesday that winning the election is not his primary goal.
I can't believe this guy got a third of the primary vote, but apparently that's Indiana for ya, and Obama is trying to win the state in the Democratic primary and the general election. That's the backdrop. I just can't believe that someone would go and speak to the modern day Nazis. But I suppose it is better that the do it in public than privately hold meetings and pass legislation that would harm communities of color. Death by a thousand cuts and all.

Trent Lott took flak for what he said at Strom Thurmond's birthday party: "When Strom Thurmond ran for president [of the dixiecrat party], we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."

Thurmond had run on a segregationist agenda, and Lott had voted against things like the Voting Rights Act, the continuation of the Civil Rights Act, and against making Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday.

We don't need more politicians like Lott, and I'm glad he left the Senate. I wish more elected officials and candidates would make their opinions known sooner so that they never make it into office or get kicked out, if they hold similarly offensive views.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mark Penn gets canned

First by his client, the government of Columbia (not the District of Columbia), in its effort to push a free trade deal with the US.

Then he gets moved around like just another chess piece by the Clinton campaign. No, he didn't fully get canned - he's continuing to do polling for the campaign. But he will no longer be the chief adviser and campaign strategist that he loves being called.

I mean, the Latina running the campaign got fully dismissed, but the white dude gets to keep getting paid?!?!

Not sure how this is fair, but I am sure that this is what happens when you try to play both sides of an issue and you forget your ethical duty to not be Jack Ambramoff-like. No taking money from the tribes and the casinos and the taxpayers.

I'm glad Change to Win came forward to put additional pressure on the Clinton campaign.

Also, I'm sure that there are a lot of Hillary campaign staff who are exceedingly happy today, not to mention a number of top tier strategists who are quite gleeful. But it is a problem when the focus is on the adviser and not on the candidate. Additionally when people within the staff seem to hate their campaign strategist more than they do either their Democratic contender candidate or even the GOP nominee. It's a weird weird world and Penn seems to inspire that level of dislike. Hey, look at me, I'm blogging about him getting bumped down a few notches and I don't even know the guy!

The general consensus is that this was bound to happen.
That Mark Penn would one day step aside from the Clinton campaign has been, as they say in sociology, overdetermined for a while. He had few allies inside the campaign, he was subject to withering criticism in the press, and he simply refused to give up his outside work, some of which conflicted with Sen. Clinton's policy positions.

After Thursday's disclosure in the Wall Street Journal that Penn had met with the Columbian government about its trade agreement, Clinton's aides were put in the position of not being able to come up with a defense for Penn; he had done the indefensible. For Clinton, who has tolerated Penn's public errors in judgment because she believed in his strategy, it was the last straw.

"The senator and president were very angry about the meeting. Mark knew that he had made a very big mistake and decided to step aside," a senior campaign official said tonight.

Penn will continue to serve as the campaign's chief pollster. But it unlikely he will serve the campaign in any public capacity, such as participating on press conference calls or appearing as a television surrogate. (Marc Ambinder)

Well, I gotta say that this move should have happened a HELL of a lot sooner. as a matter of fact, it doesn't really give the Clinton camp much credibility if this is how they would run their presidency. Penn has clearly been rather incompetent and out of touch with what voters want to hear for a while.

Plus he's really smarmy and he's a TERRIBLE spokesman. He looks like the quintessential DC fat cat and any average viewer could tell you that. Paul Begala remains my favorite Hillary surrogate because he's unassuming and unpretentious.

Oh, let me also point out that I thoroughly wish that no self-respecting presidential or other campaign ever hire Mark Penn's services. Besides, check out his losing streak, according to DHinMI of dailykos!
Why the Clinton campaign would even keep him around is baffling; he has always sucked. It's hard to find information about his past clients via Google searches, but he's on a tremendous losing streak, one that's rumored to be at least 13 straight. I haven't been able to find anything he's won since Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection (in which Clinton didn't top 50%). He polled for Al Checchi when Checchi lost the three-way CA gubernatorial primary to Jane Harman and eventual winner Gray Davis in 1998. He got fired from the Gore campaign in 1999. In 2002 his clients included Dem gubernatorial primary losers Jim Blanchard in Michigan and Andrew Cuomo in New York, and his candidate Jeanne Shaheen lost the 2002 NH Senate race (she's got a different pollster this time around). In 2004 he polled for Joementum's presidential run and Peter Deutch's losing FL Senate primary against Betty Castor. In 2006 he even polled for asshole Silvio Berlusconi, who in addition to being a far-right scumbag—did I mention he's a far-right scumbag?—was the sitting prime minister of Italy, and owned most of the Italian media! (Check out this great "historical reenactment" of a Penn memo to Berlusconi.
Please let Penn go the way of James Carville.... or Dick Morris. No Democrats should hire him.

The Hillary brand has been damaged through a combination of Bill's eruptions, desperate name-calling, erosion of her standing as first lady, poor financial management, craptastic map strategy (who thought it was a good idea to skip the caucuses and to say that the vast majority of the states don't count!?!? . . . Oh wait. . . Penn was saying that Richardson is insignificant as of a few weeks ago.) they totally eroded her status as First Lady and reinforced all the things that people were prone to dislike about her - her kneecapping, the honesty issue, the sense of entitlement, the willingness to use any means to win, the Tracy Flick in her, the hardball chick, the Wonder woman/ iron will of her, and even things that should be admired.

At the end of the day, a lot of the things that people hate about Hillary are aspects of her strength and of her personality. And I still believe that there is much to admire about her. But jesus christ, the way she gets (or doesn't get) stuff done. Her demeanor is lacking. Her campaign staff are packing.

General election - it's time to get cracking.

(Yeah, I don't know why I broke out with the bad rhymes. Call it primary inertia and going stir crazy in the glass house we've built. It's this mind-numbing pain and dumbing frustration.)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

American Apparel's Next Top Model

Wow. I watched this thing more than halfway through and didn't know that it was a farce. Yeah, I am kinda clueless in that I don't know exactly what Tyra Banks looks like.

Forgive me, I was distracted by Dov Charney's craziness.

for those of you who don't know American Apparel as something other than super soft cotton T's made by US based employees and striptease ads with hipster model employees, you should also know that Dov Charney is currently facing several sexual harassment lawsuits.

Do I also own a few American Apparel items? Yes, and they are really soft. Anyway, this spoof was so zany that I really believed it.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The End of the White Man?

This bumbling, ridiculous New York Times op-ed made little sense. It's all about a white man looking at himself in a narcissistic fashion, at his world, and then back at his own belly button. It's about his pissing fears that it's the end of the era of the white man, just because America is currently going through an economic downturn that most people feel like is a recession, and because China and India are growing and hold the teeming masses.

The whole op-ed meanders on like it's very own third paragraph:

"The jumble makes no sense. It just goes on, like the mindless clacking of an ice-dispenser."

Of course, this would be cute and not merely trite if well, "the white man" was the only person who lives in America. Oh, I'm sorry, he addresses that: "It’s the end of the era of the white man; and, before it even began in earnest, of the white woman, too."

Gee golly whiskers, it's nice that white women had a brief moment in the sun, but now I guess they are going to be taken over by Asian women. Who will probably either just bow and scrape demurely, or deceitfully ravish and plunge their jeweled hairpin into your back, depending on whether they are playing the role of geisha or dragon lady in the theatre of the Western mind today. (See, I can match Cohen overused Asian stereotype for stereotype, and all wrapped in a pretty bow too.)

And what of Europe, where the Euro and pound are faring quite well against the dollar? What about Canada, that great white expanse to our north where their loonie holding its own against our Illuminati eye dollar bill?

This kind of solipsistic tripe angers me, because caught in between the flowery words and extended metaphors that claw their way to nowhere is the very real and unimaginative spectre of the yellow peril. It's the same thing that happens everytime that the US economy is down - we find someone to blame, someone to point fingers at. Someone to scapegoat for our current situation. We point at someone else who seems to be doing better or unreasonably well, maybe by magical powers of persuasion, maybe even effortlessly as if the whole race were somehow magically smarter and more gifted.

He even interviews a mysterious, "effortless" "Oriental".
I went to see Frederick Ma, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce. He’s suave in that effortless Hong Kong way, the shrewdness wrapped in a soothing patter of bonhomie. How is it that this is the only place on earth where people think of what you want before you’ve thought of it yourself?
. . .

“I am very worried about the U.S. economy right now,” he said. “When I was visiting last November, I asked a banker friend what’s going on, and she told me that a Wall Street problem was soon going to be a Main Street problem.”

Wow! A Magical mystical mandarin who knows what you are thinking before you do! It almost sounds like a butler or a servant! Wait, since Hong Kong is a whole city and province, it's legions of servants! And does he also have an expressionless face like a mask, hiding his deep and darkest desires to betray you?!? Whose dagger-like shrewdness is all wrapped up in a silk blanket of "bonhomie." Perhaps he's a Manchurian candidate!

(And yes, he's concerned about our economy - we're the world's leading superpower. I'm concerned about our economy, and so is everyone else in America! not to mention other countries who will see their economies go down because of globalization. It seems the only people who haven't seemed to recognize that the economy sucks is President Bush's administration!)

Really? Effortless? I mean that's not similar at all to the model minority stereotype is it? Because all Asians are good at math and science, it must come effortlessly to us, right? Like it's hardwired into our genes?!?

Because it's effortless until it's not.
Come to Asia and fear drains away. It’s replaced by confidence and a burning desire to succeed. Asian business leaders are rock stars. The culture of education and achievement is fierce. China is bent on beating the U.S.A.
No doubt this is because of the effortless Asians. Oh wait, somehow you can't reconcile effortless with "burning desire to succeed or the culture of education and achievement" So now we have the really hardworking stereotype of the model minority at play here - the Asians who are determined to overcome. Maybe the culture of education and achievement just somehow rubs off on Asians like a good luck genie (to use another tired Orientalist image.)
What you feel in Asia, said Claude Smadja, a prominent global strategist, is “a burst of energy, of new dreams, and the end of the era of Western domination and the white man.”
(This man who is quoted is on the board of IIT. Which is really a prominent university in . . . their imagination.)

Yes, please cast Asia in the role of paper tiger. Because really, all of Asia is doing so well. Last I checked a major source of the Philippines' revenue was remittances (money sent home by immigrants abroad.) That's how robust their economy is - they export their best people, and then their entire economic system slows when remittances drop. But of course China, which is holding the Olympics, is representative of all of Asia, which actually contains more than 60 countries.

(Yeah, some of these are not typically considered "Asian" countries but they are all georgaphically in Asia the continent. And the point stands - the diversity of Asia is far greater than China. Or China + India. It'd be like saying Latin America is Brazil.)

So here we have a reporter who conflates the white man with America, and China with all of Asia. And he is the former foreign affairs editor for the New York Times and an NYT columnist!

And when fear of the enigmatic Asian doesn't work, club them over the head with how many of these effortlessly hard-working Asians there might be.
Asian statistics can be numbing. With one third of humanity, the numbers get big. There are now 450 million cell phones in China.
Damn, maybe that one third of humanity will figure out how to turn on their cell phones and use them all at the same time, thus sending a powerful wave of electromagnetism surging across the globe and somehow revitalizing the Asian economy while electrocuting all the white men at the same time. Or, they could just simultaneously just chuck them all at the white men, thus bruising their heads.

I just think that really, the NYT should be more responsible and screen better for higher quality reporting and opinion. He's like a male version of Maureen Dowd. He's a ditz. OR at least he writes like one, and NYT readers deserve better. If this is the perspective on global affairs that the NYT can afford to hire to educate their readers on our world, then well, maybe it's better not to put it out there. No wonder Americans are so little informed about other nations if our perspective on them is via these kinds of biased perceptions. And shoe shines.

Update: today he has a similarly nuanced article on whether shoe shine countries or non-shoe shine countries are better. I am not sure how or why the paper of record prints such dribble. What happened to standards and sophistication versus subpar stupidity?