All posts by Amok

Two Radicals: Times Square suspect Faisal Shahzad and Tea Party victor Rand Paul from Kentucky

While Rand Paul was marching to victory in Kentucky on Tuesday, Faisal Shahzad was arraigned in New York.

Much has been made about the story of Shahzad, mostly about his ineptitude as a terrorist.

His other story line is more common.

In these diverse times, Shahzad, a naturalized citizen from Pakistan, was no different from many Americans and considered a normal suburbanite . But when the American dream slipped away due to foreclosure and money pressures, the radicalization of the “boy next door” began.

Darn it. If he were white, he could have joined the Tea Party.

But that group is so radical in a different way that a Shahzad wouldn’t have been welcome to pass out tea bags.

If there was a doubt about that, Rand Paul dispelled it this week.

Paul –a Tea Party devotee and as of this week, the newly minted Republican nominee from Kentucky to the Senate–showed his true colors when he made his victory speech for public office in a private country club.  

Being elitist is one thing, but when you add his public denouncement of the Civil Rights Act, you have a true radical in public life in America.

It’s as radical a perspective from a different direction as the radical fundamentalism of Shahzad.

I won’t condemn Paul for having his views.  That would be undemocratic. And our democracy allows for the freedom to have stupid opinions.

But I will condemn his vile beliefs as having no place in modern society.

To be a poltically-fundamentalist American is no less radical a belief to fear in a new diverse America.

Emil Guillermo’s quick take: The Aquino victory in the Philippines and what it says about the Filipino people

I’m hearing it said, and it’s true: Noynoy Aquino would not have won this time around had his mother not died last year.

It’s that guilt vote. Catholicism,guilt,  family ties mean something in the RP.  If voting machine and counting snafus could be averted, then it was in the bag. But who had the crystal balls to predict that?

One thing is sure, an Aquino candidacy was unlikely had Cory lived on. Noynoy was too happy as the idealistic gadfly oligarch.

The political wags in Manila are already saying that in a “Non-Noy, No Aquino race,”  the convicted and pardoned former ex-President Joseph Estrada would have won easily over the scandal-tainted Manny Villar, the Meg Whitman-Ross Perot like politician who had lots of money to burn.

Add to that the tremendous victories from the surviving Marcos family, all of them, allowed to run and win in their Ilocos region. What do you get?  A recycling of corruption seems imminent.

Says a lot for the Filipino voters and the future of democracy there, where crooked politicians are cherished and revered.

But why shouldn’t some scalawags and scalawagas be given a fifth or sixth chance? 

It’s the Filipino way.

In America, you get dumped for lying about your Vietnam status. Or you get dinged for having an affair (which is strange. Don’t politicos get into the business to get chicks?)

But that’s politics in America.  All that is just a starting point for political success in the Philippines.

Move over Rima Fakih: Miss USA doesn’t hold a candle to Mona Pasquil, American Filipino, and former acting Lieutenant Governor of California

Why is no one clamoring about Mona Pasquil, the highest ranking American Filipino ever in the most Filipino state in the U.S.?

Mona is making news as she steps down from her interim appointment as California’s Lieutenant Governor and helps with the transition.

Meanwhile the world is going gaga over Rima Fakih, the Arab American from Dearborn, Mich.,and newly crowned Miss USA, though who knows for how long.

Fakih’s propensity to strip in public may be too much for Donald Trump’s beauty contest.  Once again photos have come up in post-mortem of a Trump contestants’ extra-curriculars.  It’s a pattern to be expected among these types of gals, and now the Donald may strip Miss Fakih of her new tiara.

Instead, maybe he can put her on the next “Apprentice.” She’d be good for an episode on organizing a wet-T shirt contest.

I admit to being surprised at the reaction to Fakih’s victory. The Arab American community was filled with pride, as if to say  “She’s a bimbo, but she’s our bimbo!”

My immediate reaction was, “Where are the  Arab American feminists out there when we really need them?”

Fakih may seem like a liberated sort, shirking the burqa and showing off the goods. But is it progress shifting from one oppressor (the traditional Arab chauvinist) to the Western exploitation of Donald Trump?

False progress like fake boobs only go so far.


As you know, Filipinos are beauty pageant aficionados, and even taking Miss USA on its own terms, I was surprised by Fakih even being in the top 5.

Take the “Question” session. All the questions seemed to have a  current events bent. Fakih was no great intellect here. No quoting from the Koran or anything like that. Her question was on whether birth control should be covered by health insurance.

Being the practical, western Arab American, what else could she say about birth control, the great enabler.  She said, yes.  It’s costly.

Winner, winner?

But there was Fakih (has a nice ring to it,no? ) standing  next to the other finalists—4 blonde, toothy, leggy  Amazons. It almost seemed like a set up for Trump.

Not to besmirch the integrity of the beauty contest, but my guess is that Trump saw the possibility of a media circus in having an Arab girl win.  That’s like having a guy with a Turban win a NASCAR race. Woo-hoo, Allah!  It’s just too surreal for a publicity-monger to pass up. At least for a while.  As I said she may be stripped of her title by the time you read this for being too western for clothes.


As much as I was startled by Fakih, I was dazzled recently by Mona who was the key honoree at a special Asian American Heritage Month celebration in San Jose last week hosted by community leader Ben Menor.

I’ve known Mona and her parents for several years. As a political player, Mona’s no slouch, having served as political director for twice-elected Gov. Gray Davis, then as western political director for Bill Clinton. As chief of staff to former Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, the seas parted for Pasquil when Garamendi won a seat for Congress.

But would she run to keep her appointment? Mona told me she was asked, but she declined.  “I would have had to raise the money in a short time,” she said, and with no campaign chest in the waiting, Mona did the prudent thing.  She wouldn’t wage a one legged battle. She stepped aside, and let others, notably San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom step into the electoral picture.

But watch out for her. Mona assured me she will run when it’s right, and that time is coming soon.

Mona Pasquil. American Filipino.  A political player.  Now there’s a woman to celebrate during Asian American Heritage Month, or any other month.