Asian Americans who lived in San Francisco will remember Herb Caen, the columnist who made his use of the ellipsis legendary in his creation of three-dot journalism…So I’m in that state of mind… Right now… Three dots it is, demarcations of thoughts and items in a vertical space, a column (oh, let’s call it a column, not a blog for old times’ sake).
As an aging Asian American, I feel it is time to adopt the Caen-style for these musings. Caen did have a thing for Asian Americans. Like Edsel Ford Fong a/k/a Fung, whom Caen made famous as a cantankerous waiter at Sam Wo’s in Chinatown. Edsel is probably the only Chinatown waiter with his own Wikipedia page.
Caen did once give me six inches of vertical space (it felt like the whole column, a mega item, which thrust me into his Caendom). It was the day I was the high school mayor of the day in San Francisco (I was a senior at that Asian bastion of academic excellence, Lowell High School). As kid mayor, I bashed his political foil, the labor attorney cum SF mayor, Joseph Alioto. And Caen used me! So I am returning the favor…I’m stealing his format for my Amok column. At least for Thanksgiving week…and just to whet the appetite, here is the homemade Seitan roast we are preparing…
(Seitan roast, no turkeys harmed in the preparation of this meal.)
Let’s face it. If Trump pardons a turkey this week, it ought to be himself.
MADAME SPEAKER? And what better way to start our three-dotness than with Nancy Pelosi, a San Franciscan via Baltimore, and now the House, whose dilemma emerges as the Democrats’ greatest post-election challenge so far.. How do you bring about the country when you can’t bring about the party? There is so much resentment toward the 79-year-old Pelosi, I want to counter the young progressives who want to oust her and charge them with AGE-ism! I’m not being some San Francisco loyalist here. In my columns past, I’ve blasted Pelosi for dragging her feet on the Filipino vets equity pay issue throughout the years. But realistically, the vets’ fight for equity was probably only realized in 2009 because of the combination of Obama’s presidency and her speakership. Maybe making up for the Rescission Act of 1946 was a tune up for the eventual passage of the Affordable Care Act. All were under her watch… Legislative acumen counts for something.
Fast forward to today. The Dems regain the House, though no one was expecting it a year ago. And not because of the hyped progressives. It’s because of the strong anti-Trump sentiment from the suburbs, and the relatively educated. And a keen sense of fundraising prowess. Don’t overlook that you non-Citizens United…. So a certain number of Democrats want to throw out Pelosi because conservatives have demonized her as the next Hillary Clinton? I don’t get it. Should be a badge of honor. Pelosi has seen the light at the end of the tunnel and has talked about a succession plan. Progressives like Oakland’s Barbara Lee stand with her. The young bucks are deluded if they think they can transform the country without Pelosi. For Asian Americans, she’s been an outstanding leader, has had top Asian American aides…And she also doesn’t play local bias games. She gets the bigger picture…Here’s what people don’t get. Seniority matters in the House.
WHILE WE’RE IN CALIFORNIA: The air is bad enough to smoke a turkey and to stop Donald Trump…Just ask Judge John S. Tigar, who on Monday ordered the Trump administration to start up the asylum claim process regardless of where or how people entered….It comes with a temporary restraining order that blocks the U.S. from following one of Trump’s capricious immigration rule changes. “Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Judge Tigar wrote in his order. It stops Trump’s proclamation from Nov. 9, and it will no doubt work its way up the ladder to the Supreme Court, like most everything Trump wants by executive fiat. He still can’t rule as king without a fight. The democratic process is still strong enough to push back…And we will see that in all the other important matters, like the suit filed by Sen. Mazie Hirono and her colleagues to stop the appointment of Matthew Whitaker to acting attorney general while others with Senate approval like Rod Rosenstein were in line to take over for the ousted Jeff Sessions…Trump has made everything about democracy and government subject to court review. And everyday it is a new thing.
FREE SPEECH VICTORY: While Trump can give himself an A+ for breathing, I’ll give him a passing grade for giving up on the CNN/Jim Acosta suspension. As a former hard pass holder during the Bush years, I know how important that was for my livelihood. And I know how important it is to aggressively pursue the president. But the White House press corps has traditionally been soft. Handout city. Perfunctory questions from bended knee. And as an ethnic media representative, I worked during a time when our questions and concerns were not seen as important. But times have changed, and so has the presidency. We have a presidency that demands hard questions, and a president who lies and misleads. It’s the reason we need more tough minded reporters like Acosta, and others, who know the importance of pressing Trump when the opportunity comes up…The White House trying to present a doctored tape of Acosta as some woman basher is bad enough. But it was already bad when Acosta was suspended and his hard pass was taken away. Decorum? Oh, my lord. Decorum…It took a Trump-appointed judge to assert both Acosta’s free speech rights and his due process rights last week… Think about that when you see your rights disappear. Will you have access to CNN’s legal team? We were all smiles through the weekend, but then on Monday the White House again suspended Acosta’s pass. Only when threatened by a renewed legal effort did the Trump administration get out of kindergarten and adopt a more adult view. In the little things, the bigger picture is revealed. The back and forth on Acosta shows a presidency that wants to rule with an iron hand. Trump is jealous of Duterte’s Philippines (killing bad guys, silencing the free press) and Xi’s China (president for life). It’s the courts again that have brought Trump back to his senses.
EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES…IN STUPIDITY: Trump missed a big chance over the weekend to show that he is more than the shlub president who would rather be the shlub king. He had another opportunity to be our consoler-in-chief. Believe me, we root for these moments to salve the stupidity of the Trump administration…Butte County, the scene of the worst wildfire in California history, is the perfect set up. It is the anti-California stereotype. Not the suburbs. The foothills, what I call the ruburbs. Butte County is the Red Part of the Blue state. It voted against Democratic Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, giving the anonymous Republican opponent, John Cox, a landslide victory. It voted against the victorious Democratic icon, Senator Dianne Feinstein. Unlike Orange Country, which was the bastion of Reagan-era Republican conservatism, it didn’t flip blue. Butte County stayed red… Most importantly, Butte County is right in Trump’s demographic wheelhouse: 92 percent white. About 1 percent Asian American. It is as far away from California while still being in California…. It’s totally Red. But the most prominent red since election day were the flames that destroyed nearly the entire city of Paradise, leaving a rising death toll near 80 and more than 1,000 missing. This is Trumpville. He is their hero. With a bipartisan group of political leaders respecting decorum and accompanying the president, the lasting memory is of Trump calling the city of Paradise, “Pleasure.” A “P” word mix-up? Like the “Access Hollywood” tape? … And then there was the Finland raking remark, as if California could learn from the forest management skills of a small country normally covered with snow? The president said he had a conversation with the president of Finland. The Finnish leader denies any such conversation…This was supposed to be a feel-good event, but the president even whiffs on the softballs now…Mark the things that don’t belong. Trump in the White House? His kids? (Will we hear the refrain “Lock her up” when notorious emailer Ivanka appears with her dad? If it’s still not clear, it should be now. You can’t blame it on the bad air.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING: Become a seitanist, save a turkey…share a meal. Mock meats are better than a mock democracy…And avoid any Trump indigestion by reading the Constitution. You’ll see, we all have plenty to fight and protect, and a lot to be thankful for. Still.