Pop and Politics with a tasty candy coasting.
R.I.P. LONI DING
Damn, first Gina Hotta, now Loni?
I can't even try to guess how many documentarians Loni trained at Berkeley during her many years there; it's safe to say however that she's been one of the giants in the field, a pioneer in every sense of the word.
I first met Loni in the '90s and what first struck me was how brusque her attitude was. She was a real "I don't give a shit/I suffer no fools" force of nature with her work and politics and could care less about being diplomatic or playing someone else's game. In that sense, Loni really carried over from the era of the Asian American Movement without ever feeling like she had to compromise in order to adjust with the changing political times. She was hardly lost in the past but rather, she had her lane and ran it like few other filmmakers I can think of. But her, Bob Nakamura, Renee Tajima, Christine Choy, and Curtis Choy (among others) literally helped forge a nascent Asian American identity and community through their work.
She will be sorely missed but I trust that her legacy is eternal.
More on her work here
Given the news today of a new Gallup poll that suggests Asian Americans are largely left-leaning (as well as secular), Junichi and I decided to "chat" about the findings together.OW: Were you as surprised as I was by these findings? Let me first say - I think we'd really need to see some disaggregation here by ethnic group, age, geography and immigrant status. But even without that, I would not have thought that Asian Americans would have a higher proportion of self-described liberals than conservatives. Where have they all been hiding?JS: Well, I am not surprised by the party affiliation data, which I think is the most meaningful survey result. The numbers there largely correlate to my general impression -- today, Asian Americans and Chicano/Latinos lean Democratic, but not remotely as strongly as African Americans.I think the "Ideological Identification" question, however, sheds more light on how various groups think of the words "liberal," "moderate," and "conservative" -- as opposed to where they actually stand on an ideological spectrum.Otherwise, how is it possible that the group that votes most consistently for Democrats (African Americans) is not also the group that most consistently identifies as liberal? I realize that Democrats today are hardly a "liberal" party, but they've been more liberal than the Republicans for several decades now.Here is my theory. (To be clear, I have no data to back this up.) For many in the black community, the word "liberal" has strong associations with white leftists who are pro-choice, pro-union, anti-death penalty, pro-gay rights, anti-war, and pro-drug legalization, to name a few ideological issues. Though they vote for Democrats more than any other group, African American voters aren't very likely to line up with Michael Moore's positions on all social issues and are therefore more likely to identify as "moderate." Plus, the appeal of being conservative, in certain respects, has strong roots in black Christian communities in the South; thus, those self-identified "conservatives" still voted for Obama over McCain.On the other hand, I suspect Asian Americans, in totality, are more likely to consider the word "conservative" to be one associated with Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and the religious right. With so few Asian Americans an active part of any fundamentalist, Christian-rooted political movement, the percentage of "conservatives" is low.In other words, I seriously doubt Asian Americans are more "liberal" than every other group if we look at specific issues. If you polled each group and asked the following specific questions ...* Do you support a more progressive tax scheme in which Americans who make more than $100,000 will be taxed at a higher rate?* Do you support lowering jail sentences for drug-related crimes?* Do you support affirmative action?* Do you support gay marriage?* Do you believe the government should more actively regulate industry to lower pollution and other negative environmental externalities?* Do you support a single-payer health care system?... I would be shocked if Asian Americans were the group most likely to say yes.As for disaggregation, I do think you'd see some interesting trends if you were to divide between Asian American ethnic groups, as well as immigrants vs. children of immigrants vs. those whose parents were born here in the United States.One more thought: this poll reminds me of how the Republican Party needs to fundamentally reinvent itself if it wants to regain the White House and Congress again. During the last decade, the GOP did so much to alienate non-whites and non-Christians from its tent that it needs to figure out how to regain the trust of at least one of the three other major racial groups to stay afloat. It will only get worse as we inch closer to being a country with no majority race.OW: I think you raise a good point about how the terms themselves should be questioned. This is a point Matt Yglesias raises too - that "liberal" isn't a terribly useful political [...]
AMBASSADOR SWINGING PIPE
Dick Armey does not approve
Pakistani diplomat Akbar Zeb has now been rejected
as Pakistan's ambassador to three countries: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
Why? Because his name means "largest penis" in Arabic.
I bet NASCAR legend Dick Trickle can feel his pain. One wonders how many endorsement deals he missed out on because no company wanted to pay him for saying something like, "If you like Dick Trickle, then you'll love Yoplait yogurt!"(Thanks: Double D)
AKEBONO vs. STEVE PERRY
When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time listening to Journey and playing their songs on the piano while others sang. (Side trivia: Steve Perry is from my hometown.)
During those days, my father spent a lot of time following Hawaiian sumo wrestler Akebono ascend to yokozuna status.
Our interests didn't overlap much.
This explains why the above Japanese television commercial for Glee
(or グリー) is such a trip for me.
If Asashoryu puts a clock around his neck and spits lyrics from "Night of the Living Baseheads
" one day, my head is going to explode.(Thanks to Angry)
HEATROCKS FOR HAITI
The original "heatrocks for charity" campaign came about after Katrina. The folks at Soulstrut.com, a record collecting/hip-hop/whateverelse message board I spend way too much time on got together and auctioned off all kinds of rare records, the proceeds of which went to charities doing work around the disaster.
With the Haitian earthquake, Strut has gotten together once again to help out, auctioning off what will likely be dozens of very cool, very rare pieces
, all in the name of benefiting those in Haiti.This list of LPs
will surely grow over the next few days so keep it bookmarked and please bid, bid, bid.
BEST QUOTES OF 2009
As I've done for the past few years (click to see 2005 2006 2007 or 2008), I wrote down all the unbelievable, outrageous, inspiring, insipid, bewildering, or hilarious statements made this calendar year. Enjoy. - JPS"Um, you guys said that we, um, did this for the show."- Six-year-old Falcon "Balloon Boy" Heene, on CNN"You don’t like black people, but you’re working your hardest to get as brown as I am!"- a black teenager at Charleston High School in Mississippi, on the popularity of tanning beds for attendees at "the white-folks prom" in Mount Vernon, Georgia, where high school proms remain racially segregated, as quoted by the New York Times"Thanks for bringing her violations to my attention. ... There's going to be swift action."- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, after his wife, Maria Shriver, was caught driving while talking on a cell phone, violating the hands-free law that he signed“We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage…I think I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there.” - Carrie Prejean, Miss California, during the 2009 Miss USA pageant"The Governor is hiking the Appalachian Trail." - Spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford"I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light - but hey, that would be going into sexual details..."- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, in a love email to Maria Shapur, his Argentinean mistress"Right now, I’d give anything to be hiking the Appalachian Trail."– David Letterman, after admitting to multiple intra-office affairs"It's clearly not what my mom wanted." - Michael Phelps, on the circulated photo of him smoking pot"I know it wasn't rape-rape. I think it was something else, but I don't believe it was rape-rape." - Whoopi Goldberg, on The View, on Roman Polanski's rape of a 13 year-old girl"If only I'd listened to CNBC, I'd have $1 million today--provided I had started with $100 million."- Jon Stewart, on The Daily Show, mocking CNBC'S reckless advice and predictions"I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way."- Sean Penn, in his Best Actor acceptance speech at the Oscar"We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles ... because his father was black"- Rush Limbaugh, on President Obama"You lie!" - Rep. Joe Wilson, during President Obama's address to Congress"I know the President is black, but this is not Showtime at the Apollo. ... Nancy Pelosi was so shocked, she took out her compact and drew in her eyebrows all furrowed."- Bill Maher, in his opening monologue on Real Time with Bill Maher, regarding Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst "How'd you like to try an Australian kiss? It's like a French kiss, but down under."- Kevin, an unemployed 23-year-old self-described "Southern gentleman" and reality show contestant on The Cougar"You go from having a mommy website to finding your picture 5,000 miles away."- Danielle Smith, whose family photo on her webpage was used, without permission, in an ad for a Czech Republic grocery store (see photo above)"Hey, it's Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. So if you can, please take your name off that. Just have it as a number on the voicemail, just have it as your telephone number. You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye." - Tiger Woods, in a voicemail message to cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs"She didn't feel a thing."- Kassim Bak[...]
TRANSGENDER WOMAN APPOINTED TO COMMERCE
Bringing T to the Party
Let me begin this post by (re)stating that I am an advocate for transgender rights. I believe in full equality for all LGBT people and support the inclusion of trans rights in any future gay rights legislation.
As such, I am happy to hear that President Obama made the first presidential appointment of a transgender person by selecting Amanda Simpson (formerly Mitchell Simpson) to join the Commerce Department as a Senior Technical Adviser.
I don't know much about her politics, but I do know she ran, unsuccessfully, as a Democrat for Congress and she sits on the Board of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
More importantly, she'll eventually make it into the history books as a trailblazer in politics, breaking barriers like Keith Ellison, Tammy Baldwin, Shirley Chisholm, and Sandra Day O'Connor did before her.
Now, at the risk of making what appears to be a bad joke, I can't help but confess my difficulty with the fact that Ms. Simpson (or any other M-to-F transgender woman) changed her first name to Amanda.
When I lived in San Francisco, I vaguely recall going to Asia SF
and being served by someone who claimed her name was Amanda Reckinwith. A great drag queen name, to be sure. But Amanda cannot be the best name for a former defense industry veteran seeking a long future in politics.
I genuinely wonder if she's inviting jokes so she can build a case for a future lawsuit.
The best explanation I can imagine is that she wants to put people at ease and make people laugh by saying, "I used to be a man, but now I'm Amanda."
All I'm saying is, if I were to become a female-to-male transgender man, I wouldn't change my name to Tam Pon.
All I'm saying is, if I chose to pursue a career in valet parking, I wouldn't change my name to Carlotta Tendant.
All I'm saying is, if I chose to get plastic surgery, I wouldn't change my name to Angie O'Plasty.
All I'm saying is, if I were this woman who went into the hospital for a leg operation and instead received a new anus
, I wouldn't change my name to Tara Nusphincter.
NEW DECADE, NEW PHOTO
Blogging in the new decade will commence shortly.
In the meantime, please enjoy this photo, which was provided to me by Mr. Wang (and presumably paid for by his extended relatives).
THE FUNNIEST EPISODE OF GROWING PAINS EVER
Holy cow, that Mike Seaver is funny!
I bet Mike lost a bet with Boner and so now he has to star in this video making ridiculous statements like "our kids can no longer pray in public" with a straight face. Hilarious!
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Apparently, one year is enough
I have spent the last year convincing myself that Glenn Beck, teabaggers, Sarah Palin, birthers, people who think President Obama is a Muslim socialist who wants to kill your grandmother, Rep. Joe Wilson, Rush Limbaugh, and William Kostric represent only the extremist fringe right and speak for a very small percentage of Americans.
In essence, I chose to believe that their popularity was due to the fact that a lunatic minority of Fox News worshippers were outraged, among other things, that the president is a black man from Chicago who appointed a Puerto Rican from New York to the Supreme Court and, also, that the South lost the Civil War.
They needed an outlet for their frustrations and Glenn Beck et al. were more than happy to capitalize on their frothing animus.
As such, I've tried to ignore these voices in an effort to marginalize their lunacy and minimize the possibility that my head will blow up.
My instinct was largely fueled by polls showing that the Republican party hasn't been this unpopular since the Clinton impeachment
I suppose last week's election might have served as a wake-up call, but the few races didn't really suggest any alarming nationwide trend. (Even in places where Republicans made gains, many exit polls indicated significant support for President Obama.)
However, today's Gallup survey
makes me realize that the loudest voices on the right are making headway -- both in terms of control of the Republican party, as well as the national dialogue.
In some ways, this is good. I'd rather have Sarah Palin be the GOP nominee than, say, an intelligent thoughtful conservative like Senator Susan Collins.
But this is bad news when it comes to trying to pass any progressive legislation after 2010.
Alas, many independents (who initiate most of the swings in these polls) have either forgotten the lessons of Bush/Cheney or they've concluded that one year of Democratic control over the White House and Congress is so bad that they're ready to turn the tide back again.
THE LONG ROAD STAYS LONG
Some quick thoughts this morning.
First, it is really hard to believe it's been an entire year since Obama's election. I'll say this much - in politics (as it is in sports), it's more fun playing offense than defense. The 2010 midterm elections are likely to be a clusterf--- of remarkable proportions but at least we have a
few months before we'll be subjected to how those races will shape up.
Second, the passage of Maine's Prop 1
is dispiriting (not to mention surprising) and suggests that the road ahead is still long. The one bright spot is to note that a 4 point differential is slim enough that you can imagine that as American voters undergo a generational shift, it will shrink year by year.
I thought TNC had some good points
to make here. He's interested (in this post) in debating the idea that those voting against gay marriage are not, in fact, bigoted. And Coates turns to the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the tenacity of White voters to hold onto Jim Crow voting practices and suggests that the same "logic" that defended those White voters from accusations of racism is similarly in place regarding anti-gay marriage voters. To wit:
"Hence the notion that those voting against gay marriage, are not actually, in the main, motivated by bigotry, but a belief in tradition and family. But very few people would actually ever describe themselves as bigots. We think we know so much about ourselves. This is a country--like many countries--which is deeply riven by ethnic bias, gender discrimination. And yet we don't seem to know any of the agents of that discrimination."
I would add one thing, because I've been reading Andrew Cherlin's The Marriage Go-Round
and that is, when it comes to issues around marriage, Americans are caught up in a way that few other Western nations are. And what it is notably about this debate is that while there's likely a larger number of people opposed to any kind of state-sanctioned homosexual union, it's really the term "marriage" that makes the biggest difference here (and as Cherlin suggests, only
here relative to other, similar nations). Therefore (and this is my conclusion, not Cherlin's per se), what would have to change socially is that both/either 1) the definition of marriage expands to include gay couples and/or 2) our premium on marriage subsides. I would suggest both are happening but I'm curious to ponder which (if any) is moving "faster". My guess is the former; I think marriage is still a widely held value and ideal amongst Americans but I think, over time, there has been less and less priority put on the idea that marriage is exclusively a heterosexual institution.
LOUISIANA JUDGE DENIES MARRIAGE LICENSE TO INTERRACIAL COUPLE
Not Good for Children?
Breaking news from AP
that is unrelated to kids in flying balloons:
A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist.
"I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house," Bardwell said. "My main concern is for the children."
Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.
Well, that was fun seeing what Louisiana was like in the 1950's. I'd like to go back to the 21st century now.
Anybody seen my time machine?
(Thanks to Mama Shih)
THE ULTIMATE EMAIL JUXTAPOSITION
This is what the top of my inbox currently looks like.
The first email is a link to an article about how our government is failing to protect us from bad food.
The second email is from Quiznos promoting its new Double Cheese Cheesesteak.
THE DEATH OF THE FEMALE HIP HOP ARTIST
Missy does not approve
I realize the American Music Awards are only slightly more relevant than the Golden Space Needle Awards and the Little People's Choice Awards.
But today's list of AMA nominations
reveals a startling fact.
In the categories of POP/ROCK, there are nominees for both Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Female Artist.
Same goes for the categories of COUNTRY MUSIC and SOUL/RHYTHM & BLUES.
But for RAP/HIP-HOP MUSIC, there is no Best Female Artist category this year. They only have three nominees for Best Male Artist. (They have had a Best Female Artist category in this genre before.)
Are you getting that? There were so few female hip hop artists worth recognizing this year that the American Music Awards -- whose standards are so low that Michael Jackson is a leading nominee this year
-- didn't even bother to list three nominees.
Perhaps the problem is not an actual dearth of female hip hop artists, but the failure to recognize them. Or the failure of radio, magazines, tv, and other outlets to play and promote female hip hop artists.
No matter what, this is a pathetic development.
THE PASSING OF GINA HOTTA
Very sad news...Word comes down from the Bay Area
that Gina Hotta died last night, apparently from a heart attack.
If you were involved in Asian American community issues in the Bay Area, it would be virtually impossible that you wouldn't have run into Gina at some point. I first met her as the host of the old radio show, "Inside/Eastside," one of the few Asian American-themed shows on public radio back in the day. (That show eventually evolved into APEX Express
which is on KPFA in Berkeley; no doubt, they'll do something very special for her this week.)
She was easily the most
consummate AA journalist I knew, constantly producing radio segments and writing for print. She was seemingly everywhere; I can't remember a community event I didn't see her at. I just got off the phone with Jeff Chang who was - shocked like I was - remarked about talking to Gina at the UC Berkeley walkout last week.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that GIna either formally or informally mentored an entire generation of AA journalists, myself included, who came of age in the Bay Area in the 1990s. The difference was that she probably outstripped us all in her passion and dedication; I can't really think of another figure that comes close. I was also always impressed how Gina came from an older generation of post-70s activists but had the open mind to stay current with new trends in culture and politics.
My heart hangs so heavy; this year alone has seen the untimely passings of Al Robles, Ron Takaki, and now Gina. I don't live up north any more but I can't imagine that the Bay isn't far emptier for their absences.
THE PASSION OF YOUTH IN AMERICA
How can one video clip simultaneously be the funniest video ever and
the saddest video ever?
(Thanks: Mahmoud M.)
WHAT HAPPENED TO HONEST OPINIONS?
I watched the above video of a recent teabagger protest thinking some wingnuts might give me a hearty chuckle.But midway through the video, I remembered that a majority of Americans now disapprove of President Obama's performance. Which is to say, these teabaggers are making a difference.By the end of the video, I was so frightened by it that it made torture porn movies look like My Little Pony.What scares me, however, is not the anti-Obama sentiment, but the nature of the actual words expressed.I know that there will always be fierce opposition to any American president, regardless of his or her ideology. Dissent is an American tradition. Undoubtedly, the anti-Bush rallies were an even larger assembly of angry people with the same passion as the people interviewed above.But what shocks me about these oft-repeated wingnut talking points is how much they depend on lies.In expressing their views, these teabaggers rely on "facts" with no credible support. Obama is not an American citizen. Obama is a Communist. Obama is the first president to have "czars." Obama wants to kill my grandma. Obama is Muslim. Obama is raising my taxes (said a person who is probably not making more than $250,000). Obama is taking my doctor away.In contrast, most anti-Bush protesters never needed to lie. They either chanted pure opinions (e.g., "The war on Iraq is wrong," "Bush is the worst president in US history," etc.) or expressed beliefs stemming from undisputed facts (e.g., "No Tax Dollars to Halliburton", "How can the White House defend torture?," etc.).Granted, there were many leftists who passionately believed unproven assertions. For example, thousands (including me) believed that the White House was raising the terror alert levels during the 2004 presidential campaign just to skew support towards President Bush. Sure enough, it turned out to be true. But even if it wasn't true, most Bush critics could articulate their opposition to President Bush's policies without lying (or repeating lies that they believed to be true).Consider the "You Lie" controversy. Personally, I am not outraged with Rep. Joe Wilson for merely interrupting Pres. Obama's speech and violating so-called rules of etiquette. If he blurted out "Shame!" during one of Pres. Bush's speeches defending the Iraqi invasion, I would have praised him. Instead, what outrages me about Rep. Wilson's statement is that it's a patently false assertion. He's not expressing an opinion. He's stating that Obama's proposed bill would apply to illegal immigrants, when it clearly does not.Also, the imbalance in what constitutes acceptable dissent blows my mind. Among other things, I don't remember any anti-Bush protester holding up a sign like, "Unarmed, this time," which one teabagger is carrying in the above video. Moreover, any anti-Bush supporter who showed up to a Bush rally in 2002 with a gun would have been immediately arrested.Another reason I am especially flabbergasted by the right-wing talking points is because I have no difficulty articulating legitimate ideological grounds for a conservative to criticize the Obama White House. Opposed to a strong, active federal government? Obama is probably not your man. Do you think stem cell research constitutes murder? Obama is not your man. Should insurance companies suffer financially by being forced to insure people with preexisting conditions? If not, Obama is definitely not your man.Although I completely disagree with the fundamentalist in the video who compared abortion to a hol[...]
FUN WITH A GREEN MARKER
As your legal counsel, however, I strongly advise that you only engage in this type of vandalism in the realm of your imagination.