Tag Archives: California politics

“Asian American Hustle”? With California State Senator Leland Yee’s arrest, Asian American political empowerment in the Bay Area takes a huge hit

Here’s when I last saw Sen. Leland Yee. He’s not a particularly warm guy. But maybe I should have sensed, he was just going through the motions, and that at age 65, he was looking for an exit plan.

I was the emcee of a community event in the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco last October, and he was the featured speaker. The event honored the day the  U.S. landed on Leyte during WWII,  whereby General Douglas MacArthur and Filipinos retook the Philippines and changed the course of the war. Yee was there to present a Senate  resolution honoring the day.

I remember Yee to be all business that day, and not any different from normal. He was there for the community, as always.

And yet, after losing the SF’s mayoral race and gaining a new $70,000 debt, and with the pressure of being term limited and being forced to seek a new job (was Secretary of State, the overseer of elections, really all that appealing?), I should have sensed the musical chairs game of politics was beginning to get old.

If I had, then maybe Wednesday’s sordid tale of a bizarre and surreal FBI sting that includes drugs, convicted gang members nicknamed “Shrimp Boy,” and talk of illegal firearms from Muslim groups in the Philippines would not have been such big a surprise.

But with the key figure in all of that being Yee, I have to admit to being flabbergasted.

This is a case that rocks the Bay Area’s Asian American political scene hard…

Continue reading this piece at  http://www.aaldef.org/blog



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U.S. Rep. Mike Honda reflects on civil liberties, Fred Korematsu Day, and on his own experience as a Japanese American infant in a World War II internment camp

In this informal and candid conversation, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, (D-CA 17) talked to me a few days before his special guest appearance at the Korematsu Institute’s celebration of Fred Korematsu.  Honda talked about the importance of Korematsu as an historical example for all people who believe in the U.S. and its Constitution. He talks about his own personal experience as an interned infant, what he remembers and how it shaped his life. The conversation took place on Jan. 24, 2014 in San Jose, CA.


Honda Internment2



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Emil Guillermo on the GOP’s sex change and California’s Twin Towers of Estrogen: Welcome to Cattyville

The vote in California was a seismic repudiation of conservative Steve Poizner and the male-dominated angry white voter mentality that has given us a stream of hate rhetoric for decades now.

Poizner won zero counties in California with his hard-ass, polarizing  anti-immigrant ads. In a state where the minorities are the majority that takes some real political smarts.

The winning approach is softer and female. But no less vicious and deluded.  It’s the GOP’s sex change, if you will. Why not? Steve Poizner in a dress couldn’t attract a winning margin with the LGBT vote.   

The new archetype is in Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina.  Meg and Carly: The angry white female. It’s the revenge of the dumped CEOs. The GOP’s new look.  An enraged white guy like TomMcClintock is so yesterday, to borrow the phrase “Carly” used to dump on Babs’ retro hair-do the other day. Meanwhile, pull up a chair and hear what “Carly” thinks of your look.

Get used to such exchanges. Welcome to Cattyville 2010.

By the time it’s over, Jerry Brown will seem like the only adult in the room.

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.