Friday, April 14, 2006


The Washington Post tells us that:

A new, limited-edition shoe from Adidas-Salomon AG, part of the "Yellow Series" and decorated with the face of a character who has buck teeth, a bowl haircut and slanted eyes, has provoked a heated debate about the lines dividing racism, art and commerce.

The character on the shoe is the creation of a San Francisco graffiti artist, Barry McGee, who is half Chinese. McGee, who calls the character Ray Fong after an uncle who died, said the image is based on how the artist looked as an 8-year-old.
Others point out that McGee's mother is Chinese and that he often uses art to explode stereotypes of Asians. On the blog AdJab, Adam Finley wrote, "My theory . . . is that Adidas is trying to target a younger, hipper demographic that is already familiar with the underground art world and the images can seem controversial when not seen in the proper context."

The proper context. Hmm.

I don't care if McGee's mom is Chinese. The proper context is that in a society that until recently reveled in exactly this kind of racist imagery of Asians, this design is at best ignorant. This is a guy who never directly encountered or understood the vicious racism that swirled around him as a kid.

I mean, they made it part of "Yellow Series" of shoes. Could they be a little more fucking blatant?


This young Iraqi learned two ugly lessons about the great American State Department in one shot.

Najah Ali, an Iraqi flyweight boxer, has every right to feel aggrieved. When he was in the spotlight during the 2004 Olympics, the State Department was only too happy to exploit him for propaganda purposes. But when he applied four times for a student visa to study in this country, that same State Department found reasons to turn him down. It's enough to make any fair-minded observer cry foul.

What made Mr. Ali useful to American diplomacy at the Olympics in Athens was his ability to speak English and his willingness to praise the United States. He didn't do all that well in the ring, where he lost in the second round. But he stood tall as a symbol of his struggling country's efforts to right itself. As chronicled by Geoffrey Gray in yesterday's Times, he offered to give interviews, routinely praised the United States' invasion of Iraq and declared Americans the best people he met in Athens.

None of that cut much ice when he applied for a student visa, at considerable expense and danger. American officials who interviewed him questioned whether Mr. Ali was really a serious student and expressed concern that he might not leave the United States once his studies were completed. Never mind that the University of Houston had already interviewed him and was eager to get him. Never mind that I.B.M. expressed interest in employing him in Egypt should he choose not to return to Iraq. There was just too much risk that Mr. Ali might actually like the country he had been praising and might choose to stay here.

Lesson one: the Bush adminstration will use you and throw you out like toilet paper any chance they get
Lesson two: who gets to come to the US and who doesn't is often based on arbitrary and nonsensible evaluations

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Not Scared

From the New York Times:

Western nuclear analysts said yesterday that Tehran lacked the skills, materials and equipment to make good on its immediate nuclear ambitions, even as a senior Iranian official said Iran would defy international pressure and rapidly expand its ability to enrich uranium for fuel.

Doesn't matter. If Bush feels he needs to bomb Iran to boost the GOP or his dead presidency, he'll do it, nuclear threat or not. Even short of that, the potential to make Iran the new boogeyman that Americans need the heroic GOP to protect us from will ensure that we will not stop hearing about the alleged threat from Iran anytime soon.

New Documentary Shreds Giuliani

I will be there, ordering the jumbo popcorn combo.

Rudy Giuliani reinvented himself after the September 11th attacks.

But now, as the former mayor toys with the notion of running for president in two years, comes a new and blistering documentary that will serve to remind people about Rudy Guiliani's unpopular appeal, pre-9/11.


"There is something very deeply pathological about Rudy's humanity. That he was barren, completely emotionally barren on the issue of race," the film remarks.

The movie opens May 12th at a theater on East Houston Street. It'll probably have only a limited run, but it will be released on DVD this fall -- right at the presidential campaign season heats up.

Most Americans have no idea what a vicious, mean-spirited, racist Guiliani is. They know him only as "America's mayor," the one who held it together and struck the right tone on 9/11.

But black New Yorkers experienced 8 years of a very different Guiliani. And the thought of that SOB even contemplating the presidency makes many of us absolutely nauseous. I hope this documentary captures that accurately. It may be crucial for the future of American society.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Immigration: the Bottom Line

So much for the GOP eating into the Democrats' advantage with Hispanics.

I've written a piece on the immigration issue as a guest blogger at Check it out.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Afraid to be Right

From the latest Washington Post poll:

...47 percent in the latest poll say they "strongly" disapprove of Bush's handling of the presidency -- more than double the 20 percent who strongly approve. It marked the second straight month that the proportion of Americans intensely critical of the president was larger than his overall job approval rating. In comparison, the percentage who strongly disapproved of President Bill Clinton on that measure never exceeded 33 percent in Post-ABC News polls.

...more than four in 10 Americans -- 45 percent -- favor censuring or formally reprimanding Bush for authorizing wiretaps of telephone calls and e-mails of terrorism suspects without court permission.

A majority of registered voters, 55 percent, say they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate in their House district, while 40 percent support the Republican candidate. That is the largest share of the electorate favoring Democrats in Post-ABC polls since the mid-1980s.

So, the Republicans have no issue going for them and are at historically low levels of popularity, and half the country strongly disapproves of Bush's performance and wants him to be censured for ordering warrantless wiretapping of US citizens... but the Democrats are running from Senator Feingold's censure resolution faster than if he had proposed reparations for African-Americans. Who are they afraid of upsetting? The little 20% who strongly back the president?

If it's not proper to censure -- not even impeach, just censure -- the president at this point in history, when is it ever proper to censure the president? Do the democrats stand for anything other than fear-induced paralysis?