The American Future: A Reflection

I’ve been watching The American Future: A History, the latest documentary series by one of my favorite historians, Simon Schama. A book version, it seems, has also been released (see Niall Ferguson’s review). Schama, a long-time resident in an America that, in in its post 911 incarnation, became so frighteningly different from the America that was so attractive to liberal intellectuals like him, and which Republican Neo-Conservatives mightily strove to dominate for the foreseeable future, seems relieved to witness a revolt from the American people themselves: what many foresee as Obama’s impending victory seems to be a return to a more familiar, more attractive, United States.

Just yesterday, in The Guardian, Schama published Nowhere man: a farewell to Dubya, all-time loser in presidential history. Goodbye, good riddance, regardless of the outcome of the polls:

Whatever else his legacy, the man who called himself “the decider” has left some gripping history. The last eight years have been so rich in epic imperial hubris that it would take a reborn Gibbon to do justice to the fall. It should be said right away that amid the landscape of smoking craters there are one or two sprigs of decency that have been planted: record amounts of financial help given to Aids-blighted countries of Africa; immigration reform that would have offered an amnesty to illegals and given them a secure path to citizenship, had not those efforts hit the reef of intransigence in Bush’s own party. And no one can argue with the fact that since 9/11 the United States has not been attacked on its home territory by jihadi terrorists; though whether or not that security is more illusory than real is, to put it mildly, open to debate.

Bet against that there is the matter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties, more than 4,000 American troops dead, many times that gravely injured, not to mention the puncture wounds and mutilations inflicted on internationally agreed standards of humane conduct for prisoners – and on the protection of domestic liberties enshrined in the American constitution. If the Statue of Liberty were alive, she would be weeping tears of blood.

I must confess that is how I feel: and it betrays a familiarity with, and affection for, a particular conception of America that conservatives labored mightily to prove the false face of America. And to be sure, for a huge number of Americans, Obama is not the face -literally and figuratively- of their America; just as for a particular kind of Filipino-American, it is McCain, his party, and the values of that party that are their values, their preferred face: what other Filipinos and Filipino-Americans would react to with horror as too much paleface.

But I am not an American. But I am a particular kind of Filipino, not particularly representative of the Filipino (or Filipino-American) experience or possibly even conception, of the United States. We lived there for a time; I studied there, for a time; I saw many things I liked, experienced much I did not; but like so many Filipinos, found something exceedingly familiar and attractive in a culture and from a people one didn’t really have to exert much effort to get to know and appreciate.

Let me state first of all that my bias is a clear and in many ways, an unshakeable one, beginning with being bombarded by my father’s very strong opinion that the American Democratic Party was the only proper party to appreciate in the United States, because it was the party of Philippine independence, a cause that generally prospered during Democratic administrations and that fared less well under Republican ones. For this reason I continue to be astounded by Filipino-Americans who are Republicans but eventually, I suppose it makes sense for those who’ve made the decision to leave home and become citizens of the USA: emigration is at the very least an implicit repudiation of the homeland; more often than not, an explicit one, too; and if one party and its policies can be credited with the independence one feels ambivalent about, then one can understandably embrace the very party that, to too many Filipino minds, was poised to bring the permanent blessings of American civilization to their benighted little brown brothers.

That being said, I suppose I am like most Filipinos in viewing the relationship of the Philippines with the United States as more of a positive than negative one, or at the very least, who sees it from the perspective of a relationship that is very personal and not just abstract: the relatives and friends over there, the American friends over there and here, and so on. And for every George W. Bush who praised Marcos’ devotion to democracy, there’s a Ted Kennedy who was a friend to Filipinos fighting Marcos.

Which brings me to this touching scene:

Seeing Ted Kennedy addressing the Democratic Party Convention earlier this year, my thoughts came back to viewing a Democratic Party Convention back in 1984. I had no choice in the matter; every night, my father would sit me down in front of the TV and sternly exhort me to “watch real democracy at work,” trying to exorcise whatever authoritarian instincts, I suppose, might have been nurtured by a childhood spent under the New Society.

During those convention nights, I watched, and learned to enjoy, speeches; Ted Kennedy gave a masterful performance during one of those nights, but there were two speeches, in particular, that thrilled me because they evoked an understanding, or so I thought, of the reason my elders seemed so ill-tempered all the time whenever the government at home was discussed; instead of fear and suspicion it was refreshing and inspiring to hear people talk, not only of what was, but of what could, and should, be.

There was the Rev. Jesse Jackson:

What thrilled me about Jackson wasn’t just his rhetoric, but what he represented: equality of the races, for all races. Something I was quite conscious about because that was the year I’d experienced feeling the urge to speak up for my country when I discovered the Filipino-American War was referred to as the “Philippine Insurrection” in our American history textbook, which made me bristle; fortunately, the teacher was an entirely liberal man he himself made this Mark Twain short story required reading for the class:

And so, for me, 1984 was, indeed, a very interesting year: it was, to begin with, the year in the title of George Orwell’s novel, the sort of book that would make a precise connection with someone in America to experience a culture different from the police state that was the Philippines; it was the year I was introduced to Mark Twain, and his writing against the annexation of the Philippines; and it was an election year, for someone whose only living memory of elections had been the charade that was Marcos’ validation as President of the New Republic he inaugurated with such pomp in 1981. It was, also, the year after Ninoy Aquino had been shot, when the world had focused on the Philippines and Filipinos had begun to consider that their choice wasn’t limited to the bloody revolution of the Communists or the bloody repression of Marcos’ Constitutional Authoritarianism.

There had to be a middle path and what more centrist model could there be, than comfortable America’s? And the other speech that made me sit up and listen was Mario Cuomo’s:

These golden-tongued orators, for someone discovering the joy of words, and who had begun to feel the stirring of political thoughts -of the interplay between leaders and followers, nations and people, ideas and idealists, and how it had all be chronicled and how those chronicles, in turn, explained what was happening, now- well, to a young impressionable mind such as mine, they were the stuff of which indelible memories are made.

In those still-Imeldific days, with its talk of Metro Manila as “The City of Man,” and where the fences had been raised to shield the eyes of visiting Republicans from our shantytowns, to hear someone say, “this nation is more a tale of two cities than it is the tale of a city on a hill” referring to his country, of course, but said in a way that might very well have been addressed to Marcos, why that was enough to instill in someone as firm an understanding of Social Justice as any exploration of the Great Thinkers in College (indeed, when that time came, I mostly fell asleep in SocSci I and II).

Of course, listening to Cuomo lash out at Reagan for subsidizing foreign steel, and hearing the concerns of some contemporary Filipinos over Obama’s vow to start bringing home US jobs, serves as a reminder that the Democratic Party as the party of Philippine independence was in large part, whether at the time of William Jennings Bryan, or in the 1930s, when independence was finally settled as a matter of when and not if, with the entirely selfish assistance of US sugar interests:

us tariff wall

And so it remained, with the Rescission Act after the war, stripping Filipino veterans of their benefits; or even in the 1980s, where American enthusiasm for democracy and human rights regularly got trumped by the need to retain their bases; or, in the era that’s evolved after the last umbilical cord, the US bases, has long been cut, in Democrats not being very different from Republicans in attending to their own national interest regardless of appeals for solicitude for Filipino ones. This is simply a reminder of a basic lesson no amount of American tutelage or Filipino navel-gazing can ever really teach: the meaning of sinking or swimming entirely on one’s own efforts. Contrary to what many might say, we have not been a total failure in this regard, as a people; we are, by every measure, middling at the job of independence; yet we have set such a high benchmark for ourselves -and rightly so- that our frustration, individually and collectively, is high, and despair a real problem -the world, as it’s evolved, making it so much easier and lucrative to simply pack up and leave, to work or live, or both, abroad.

To see the maps -and how I wish we could come up with similar things, for our own politics, to graphically explore our political realities- is to see how divided, literally, America is:

votefromabroad.jpg

realclear.jpg

politico.jpg

But it is also to see a shift; and for those, like me, with a particular kind of affection for a particular kind of America, to derive a certain satisfaction and comfort -the comfort of a return to something familiar, and which seemingly seemed poised to be gone for good- from what is going on.

It’s a return to a more inclusive, a more idealistic, less fear-driven and optimistic, view of the world, for Americans the world they affect so much; and for those who find affinity in those ideals, and in the expression of those ideals, a return to the motive power of words, and of their promise of a society where Social Justice is a living ideal, a commonly-held aspiration, and where might is not what defines right.

Some interesting readings: Campaigns in a Web 2.0 World in the NYT; a Vatican official ventures an opinion on the Democratic party; in Slate, If Obama Loses, Who Gets Blamed? and in Politico, Dems Sketch Obama Staff, Cabinet.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

209 thoughts on “The American Future: A Reflection

  1. Martin Luther King’s vision, has finally come true.

    its a big Wow… hehe. 😀

    When is there going to be a 1st ever Filipino-American President of the US?

    XD

  2. cvj; I suppose your assumption is that anyone who “deals with his/her own failure and does not blame anyone for that failure” is also one who does not figure out how others can be helpful much less actually ask for help; or that this “anyone” does not think of how to be helpful to (much less actually give a helping hand to) others.

  3. Taking a positive approach to life doesn’t mean ignoring others or the community. Positive thinking actually boost community spirit. – supremo

    From what i observe, positive thinkers, especially those who have achieved a measure of financial success on their own accord have a limited conception of community spirit which they define as not [being] a burden to the community. They also tend to define ‘community’ narrowly.

  4. there’s always a community spirit whether narrowly, locally and globally understood. it’s up to an individual person which community she/he is comfortable.

    one cannot just complicate his/her simple life. self sufficiency must be achieved first whether by contentment or thru outreach . this has nothing to do with money. the balance will be rough and tough at midlife . its not that easy.

    In the economic standpoint of our country- our community. “From what i observe, positive thinkers, especially those who have achieved a measure of financial success on their own accord have a limited conception of community spirit which they define as not [being] a burden to the community. They also tend to define ‘community’ narrowly.” cvj

    that is very familiar among our political leaders. Enriching Community value and quality public service are paid jobs that needs to be done.

  5. mlq3: I don’t know how : … demanding of those left at home that they nurture a society that gives people true freedom of choice through true freedom of opportunity this works in practice.

    Demand from who? Demand what? To send a portion of the OFW remittance to the local school (or Caritas) to fund scholarships? To write to the Inquirer editor about JocJoc? Does freedom of opportunity mean to ask ones relatives to give time-off and money for the katulong to take sewing lessons? For them to go against their parish priest regarding RH and to follow their parish priest (be good citizens) otherwise?

  6. If you think about it they frame it as Change for America but its really Redemption for U.S. Mistakes: Iraq, Financial Meltdown, etc.

    The Americans can do no less but to elect someone who look, talk, and walk Change and Redemption to Reconcile with the Rest of the World.

  7. mlq3,

    Do not lump Fil-Ams together. The priority of first generation Fil-Ams right off the boat is financial stability because sometimes they need to remit back to the Philippines. Sometimes they can do it in a very short time. Sometimes they can’t especially if they have kids. So not being a burden to the community is all that can be achieve by most first generation Fil-Ams. It’s a different story for second generation Fil-Ams. They grew up here. Adjustment is not a problem. Fianacial stability is not problem because they don’y need to remit. They usually get involve in the community as soon as they start school.
    As to remittances, I personal do not demand anything in return for my money.

  8. For many rational reasoning human beings (highly evovled simians) yesterday was an amazing moment.

    The history of momentous change resonates.

    For many their evolution more as simians have a long way to go still.

  9. I have a short (perhaps also a tad simplistic) theory about why so many Fil-Ams are Republican.

    1) A lot of Filipinos are deeply religious. Because the GOP panders to the religious right, many Filipinos find the party appealing.

    2) Being status-conscious is deeply ingrained the Filipino psyche. Because the GOP is stereotypically labeled as the party of the rich, many Filipinos identify with it because of the perceived cachet of being a Republican. Nevermind that the vast majority of us here in the US, while leading comfortable lives, are nowhere near and never will be what is considered rich in this country.

    3) The neocons’ thinly disguised imperial ambitions and manifest destiny mindset tickles quite a few Pinoys due to decades of “colonial mentality” programming.

  10. hi leytenian,

    amen! thats the spirit! God bless you too.

    looking at 2012, if i were Republican, I’d choose Giuliani or Paulson (Treasury Secretary).

    of course a lot can still happen in 4 years. another Obama can rise from the GOP. without Dubya in the picture, worthy Republicans could be put in the spotlight

    Palin? she is still light years away from being a Hillary. pero she can maximize the next 4 years to be the challenger to the re-election bid 🙂 of Obama

    si Condi kaya?

    masaya siguro ang Harvard Law School, kasi aside from Obama, the SC Chief Justice is also an HLS grad

    tanong – is Obama the first Harvard Law grad to be elected US president?

  11. Q: What is a Fil-Am Democrat’s usual question in his first job?
    A: What would you like to have with your french fries, sir?

  12. “Many Fil-Ams are Republicans because they believe it will make their skin whiter.”

    LOL 🙂

    anthony,
    is Obama the first Harvard Law grad to be elected US president?
    No. John Adams then his son John Quincy Adams. Theodore Roosevelt went to Harvard, Franklin Roosevelt then John Kennedy. Not sure if FDR and JFK were lawyers.

    Obama however is the first African-American President for Harvard Law REVIEW.

  13. I had to see a long lost friend from India this afternoon. We talked about work (sucks) and politics ( boring). He was a Republican too. As losers, our conversations went to India and Philippines. He made me think when he said, Filipinos are too nice and easily get taken advantage.
    Then he further said that Philippines is too beautiful to be poor. I thought he was jealous. LOL

    I was whiter than him, that’s for sure 🙂

    my point?

  14. Oh, bakit nag-iba na ang tunog ni miss “family values are for the home only”, why is she suddenly talking of ‘community spirit’?? no. no, no, no….we must always maximise profits to the detriment of the community in which the family exists…

  15. @scalia

    guiliani? baka matalo. payag siya mag-asawa mga badichi eh. maiiwanan na naman ang religious fundamentalist right.

    the republican party should get one from california para 55 votes agad.

  16. supremo,

    “Many Filipinos like the Democrats because they’re jackasses”

    Keep ’em coming my friend. The fact still remains – our guy Obama is headed to the White House!

    “Q: What is a Fil-Am Democrat’s usual question in his first job?
    A: What would you like to have with your french fries, sir?”

    A Fil-Am Republican’s question is more effective – ‘would you like fries wtih that, sir?’ Yan ang suggestive selling! The Fil-Am Democrat’s question isn’t suggestive selling

  17. nash,

    “guiliani? baka matalo. payag siya mag-asawa mga badichi eh. maiiwanan na naman ang religious fundamentalist right”

    yes, pero the religious fundamentalist right might find themselves in the minority, na mas marami pa ang mga badichi at tibo

    kaso nga lang, this minority religious fundamentalist right is the majority in the republican party.

    borrow na lang ni Giuliani yung slogan ni Obama na ‘Change’ as in “Change in the Republican Party’

  18. Energy Independence is the new course for America’s energy future in the first hundred days of the new presidency — breaking the hammerlock of foreign oil and building a new domestic energy future for America with a focus on sustainability.

    The Pickens Plan

  19. “For many rational reasoning human beings (highly evovled simians) yesterday was an amazing moment.
    The history of momentous change resonates.
    For many their evolution more as simians have a long way to go still.”-hvrds

    America had elected a mulatto president! Amazing moment, and momentous change!

    If the Philippines elect a white Redford White as president I will consider it amazing and momentous too.

    That’s because I am a retarded simian.

  20. “Let’s give this new guy a chance. Maybe 2 years.” supremo

    typo error? maybe you mean “two terms”.

  21. “If the Philippines elect a white Redford White as president I will consider it amazing and momentous too.”

    maybe you mean if the phils elects an aeta.

  22. cvj,

    At least I can make a joke about the new administration and not go to jail for it. You can’t even chew gum.

  23. Why did the Democrat beggar and the Republican beggar voted in the presidential election?

    They both need change.

  24. to supremo: two years is too long. Obama does not deserve a longer honeymoon and a bigger “…okay, we’ll trust you ‘cuz you probably know what you are doing” because of color, religion and whether or not his father was there to raise him.

    No if’s, no but’s…. Obama better deliver!!

  25. As the world quickly pointed out that the election of President Obama is unprecedented and historic, there is less comfort on the fact that the win was done through the 7 swing states and have not changed the vote of the republican states for presidency. The 52-48 popular vote is enough of division. As the new president already recognized, he has difficult tasks in all areas ahead (especially economic) and control of both houses to bring the government to the middle rather than far left that could repeat a Gingrich response later.

    Obama’s win is highly expected along with equally high expectation to perform. There was an immediate shift of burden. Gone is the chip of the shoulders for Black Americans. The greatest legacy is the civil rights leaders fulfillment of their dreams.

    I welcome the change. The election is sweet success locally. More important to us, the Black Americans helped us pass proposition 8 to ban gay marriage which we thought impossible in a very liberal and democratic state of California.

    God bless you too, Leytenian.

  26. Okay, here’s my take.

    1. There’s a joke about Pinoy immigrants in the US. When they first arrive, they vote Democrat. After they’ve made their first million dollars, they trend Republican. When they’ve stashed ten million dollars and upward, they suddenly discover the virtues of going Independent. There’s a lot of truth in this joke and it tends to suggest that Pinoys are no different from other immigrants (or other Americans) who vote based on bank account and tax bracket.

    2. It is simply silly, in this day and age, to suppose that the majority of acculturated Pinoy-Americans won’t vote according to their perceived personal interests as supposed to doing what’s best for the Philippines or even for the United States. But that’s like everybody else. Tthere are shades of nuance. Many a Filam Republican supports affirmative action (because many probably benefited from it). At the same time, many staunch Filam Democrats are equally staunch Pro-Lifers (probably due to Catholicism). Meanwhile, I suppose Pinoy Independents who would like to keep the Cayman Islands and other offshore paradises free for capitalism give very generously to charity.

    3. Do not underestimate the power of religion in the Filam community. You would be surprised by the number of Pinoys who belong to the fundamentalist Christian churches (including Southern Baptist). We may have very little affinity ideologically or otherwise with these folks, but they are as Pinoy as you or I and they are as deeply sincere in their beliefs as you or I. They are, of course, prime constituencies for the American Right, with the small caveat that they may not be quite so attached to their firearms.

    4. Poverty is always relative. I suggest you do not repeat observations that you’ve never seen a Pinoy on food stamps in some parts of the West Coast. The West Coast seems to be the only place in the States where there is appreciable poverty in the Filam community, on levels approaching what exists in some segments of the Black and Hispanic communities. This is a cardinal political point of many West Coast Pinoy Democrats, and they never let you forget it.

    5. The reason most politicized Filams are Democrats is because Pinoys first came into mainstream US politics in a big way through the labor movement. That’s remained the case for decades. Even when labor became relatively less important and when more Pinoys became professional and “moved up” in society. Plus the Republicans have been less deft in attracting Pinoys than other minorities (it is possible that this has something to do with the number of small businesses that an immigrant community runs).

    6. Finally, the Filam community is not too supple in hedging bets and playing both sides, unlike the South Asian (Indian)-Americans who seem to be very visible and increasingly influential in the two mainstream parties. Maybe it’s because the South Asians have produced nationally recognized talking heads, like Fareed Zakaria and Deepak Chopra (who are, nonetheless, ideologically distinct from one another). Such public commentators seem to have an impact on the American Intelligentsia, which Filams do not yet have.

  27. The current US Defense Secretary has a high likelihood of remaining in that position under the Obama administration. And his views make sense :

    “We will be making a terrible mistake if this ends up being called America’s war,” Gates said Oct. 31. :What I would like to see, and, I think, what everybody would like to see, is the most rapid possible further expansion of the Afghan military forces because this needs to be an Afghan war, not an American war and not a NATO war,” Gates told reporters.

  28. Gates also is in philosophical agreement with Obama with regards Iraq — the goal is a draw-down of US troops from that country. A nominal target is that one-third of US troops are out of Iraq in 2 years. Then both Obama and the Iraqi administration will say that the purpose of the remaining US troops is similar to troops in South Korea — a tripwire against Iran invasion. [So expect about 20,000 US troops to rapidly leave Iraq (re-assigned to Afghanistan). By summer-2012 (before elections), then the number of remaining US troops in Iraq will be as in Germany (about 57,000) strategically sited in 6 Clark-size and 30 smaller military bases with 30,000 fast-deploy troops located elsewhere.]

  29. Marcelo – on #2 FilAms are against affirmative action due to reverse discrimination. Also, it doesn’t feel right getting a tough spot and everybody looking at you as if you don’t deserve it. I am proud to see young Filipinos graduated as valedictorians or salutatorians besting all other races in both public and private schools through hardwork and of course parents constant push reminding of the flip switch (years from now either you flip burgers or flip accounts).

    #5. It depends on the location even in a liberal state of California. At north, Democrats are courting FilAm democrats at San Bruno, San Francisco, etc. But in the south, FilAm republicans are strong in Orange County, San Fernando Valley and re-elected the same republican official to the state assembly or other public office.

  30. Dodong:

    I am not taking a position on affirmative action. I was just trying to illustrate how difficult it is to make political generalizations about Filams (i.e., being Republican does not automatically mean that a Filam would oppose affirmative action).

    Furthermore, if you are interested in the subject, and although I don’t have the references handy, you might want to do some research on what happened to Filipino enrollment in elite California law schools after that State voted to end affirmative action. As I understand it, Filipino enrollment plumetted compared to other Asian groups. If that is, indeed true, it raises a lot of worrying implications.

    Why do I care at all about elite American law schools? Because for so many minorities, they have been the portals to greater political visibility and power. Witness Barack Obama. Filams will not carry the weight of their numbers into the decision making processes of the major parties without highly influential individuals who made their mark within their respcetive parties. I’m afraid that the spectacular victory of Obama will not change that particular aspect of American political reality.

    BTW, a lot of the young Filams I met (as opposed to the First Generation Immigrant Pinoys) headed for the Ivy League law schools have politics in mind. There is hope in the future!

  31. Marcelo,

    are you saying that 2nd generation Fil-Ams are applying through the “affirmative action” route in the Ivy League law schools?

  32. Maybe some of them, I would not know the numbers. But what is sure is that many of the Second Generationers want the Ivy League credentials for politics.

    Further to my earlier post, here’s an interesting article:

    http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/uspolls2008/Election_Story.aspx?ID=NEWEN20080071657&
    Obama picks Indian American Sonal Shah as adviser
    NDTV Correspondent
    Friday, November 07, 2008 12:49 AM (Washington)

    After a historic victory in the American elections President-elect Barack Obama is now busy picking names that will run the US administration with him.

    He has already announced the name of his adviser and it’s an Indian American Sonal Shah. She works for Google on its Global Development team.

    Shah, 40, is part of an advisory board comprising individuals with significant private and public sector experience who will offer their expertise in their respective fields to Obama’s transition team, according to US media reports.

    She has also worked at the Department of Treasury on various economic issues and regions of the world.

    Another India-born Preeta Bansal is being seen as a potential candidate for the office of the Solicitor General. She is a Harvard-educated lawyer who was part of Barack Obama’s team of advisers during his election campaign.

    Sonal Shah along with other members of the advisory board will help the transition team headed by former White House chief of staff John Podesta, longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse, the President-elect’s Senate chief of staff.

    Others on the list include former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner, Obama friend and former Commerce Secretary William Daley, University of California-Berkeley law school dean Christopher Edley and Obama law school friends and advisers Michael Froman and Julius Genachowski.

    Shah, who was named the ‘Person of the Year 2003’ by India Abroad publication, currently works for Google.org on their Global Development team, where she is engaged in defining their global development strategy and promoting the firm’s philanthropy work.

    Before joining Google, she was vice president at Goldman, Sachs and Co. and developed and implemented its environmental strategy. She has also served as the Associate Director for Economic and National Security Policy at the Centre for American Progress, where she worked on trade, outsourcing and post-conflict reconstruction issues.

    Earlier, she worked for eight years at the Department of Treasury on various economic issues and regions of the world. She was the director of the office covering sub-Saharan Africa, worked in Bosnia and Kosovo after the war, and served as the senior adviser to the Under Secretary at the Department of Treasury during the Asian financial crisis.

    Shah is the co-founder of the US-based non-profit organisation Indicorps, which offers one-year fellowships for Indian-origin Americans to work on specific development projects in India.

    Her father moved from Gujarat to New York in 1970 and she along with her sister and mother joined him in 1972. She also has a brother.

    Among names being suggested for the post of Solicitor General, the ‘The Am Law Daily’, citing some unnamed advisers of the Obama campaign, reported that India-born Bansal, 42, who has advised Obama on foreign policy and judiciary matters, is among possible appointees.

    “The Solicitor General is the only position where the statute requires that the officer be learned in the law,” it quoted O’Melveny and Myers’s Walter Dellinger as saying.

    Bansal, a product of Harvard Law School and a partner at the international law firm of Skadden Arps, has earlier served as the New York state Solicitor General.

    Dellinger said that for the post, experience as a state Solicitor General would be valuable, as would be a record of advocacy before the court, the report said.

    Bansal, a member of what an Obama lawyer playfully calls the ‘Harvard Law School mafia’, was part of Bill Clinton’s White House and Justice Department in 1993-96. She was also the first Indian-American to head the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.(With IANS input)

  33. 😀 see, nash, the US-of-A, even as far back as Clinton years, is inclusive of native Americans (giving them admittance into the upper echelons of power and money). :mrgreen:

    [Their children will be allowed in, too. Once the children gets credentialed.]

  34. to scalia: methinks a kid who wants to hide his heritage 😳 :while applying into Harvard has a serious handicap and probably needs affirmative action…. or counseling. 🙄

  35. So on election night, as the networks declared Obama the winner, my aunt called me.

    “Can you believe McCain lost,” she asked.

    “I know, it’s great,” I said.

    At that point she started on this tirade (straight from McCain-GOP talking points) about how Obama is a socialist and that he is against the middle class and the wealthy.

    Ako naman, nainis sa kanya…

    Sabi ko, “Get over yourself, tita. You live in the Bay Area and you have to support two kids on $50K a year. You’re not rich or middle class, you’re poor. So even if you believe all the drivel about Obama coming from the GOP, you should be an Obama supporter anyway.” She hung up on me. Hahahaha.

  36. to UP n,

    “to scalia: methinks a kid who wants to hide his heritage 😳 :while applying into Harvard has a serious handicap and probably needs affirmative action…. or counseling. :roll:”

    that’s a fact that’s lost on Pinoy migrants – US citizenship does not (maybe ‘cannot’ is more apt) erase their heritage.

    kaya try as they might, your favorite ex-Pinoys sa ‘tate can’t hide the fact that they are indios 🙂

    to fried-neurons:

    yikes! 50K a year in the Bay area (for 3 people) is already poor? I wonder how ex-Pinoys are doing there now? Baka yang 50k eh courtesy of 3 jobs pa?

    living in small-town America may be cheap, but is there an opportunity to earn 50K a year there?

  37. @ anthony scalia…

    Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to get at. I know that the typical image of a Filipino living in California is either a healthcare professional (well-paid) or a Federal government employee (low salary but excellent benefits). But there are tens or hundreds of thousands who are working in low-end (and dead-end) service jobs at airports, airlines, and assembly lines. And yet they still overwhelmingly vote Republican. Go figure.

    Anyway, per April 2008 government numbers, for a family of 3 in Silicon Valley:

    $95,000/year is the median income
    $76,400/year is “lower income”
    $47,750/year is “very low income”

    The actual official Federal poverty line (nationwide, doesn’t take into account regional differences) is $17,600/year for a family of 3.

    Thankfully for my tita she only works one job. But, yeah, I just had to knock some sense into her.

  38. fried neuron:

    “You’re not rich or middle class, you’re poor. So even if you believe all the drivel about Obama coming from the GOP, you should be an Obama supporter anyway.” She hung up on me. Hahahaha.”

    your neurons are fried indeed. you need to understand that if your tita lose her job, whether McCain or Obama, she will get 6 months of unemployment benefits, housing subsidies and food stamps. That policy will never change. Obama’s promise is an old system already in place. It is a duplicate of what is already provided. It’s only good for people who do not understand the current system in the US. No wonder many voted for him.

    I’m glad your tita hang up on you. I won’t blame her 🙂

  39. To those families currently at poverty income level are already enjoying food stamps, medicaid, housing subsidies( section 6) , and free milk for new born babies plus monetary allowance. This is not Obamas Change. What Change he talking about?

    Obama’s Promise of Change is about keeping the jobs in the US instead of sending it overseas. Distribution of wealth is not free. It’s about distribution of employment. To those who are already employed in the current US system will have to face labor competition, salary deductions and an increase of income taxation. The democratic party will seriously implement its agenda. Do not believe Obama that he will not raise taxes , he will. That’s always been the democrats strategy.

    With current tax policy of refund every year until 2010 and the current tax incentives of $7500 for every individual who buy their first home between April 2008 to 2009 is a true distribution of wealth. Who is the implementator of these policies? Is it not the Republican party of 8 years?

    With home foreclosures now cheap, is it not a true distribution of wealth, where low income families are now able to afford the homes they could not afford before.

    If we have to think the positive side of all this financial crisis. Who actually will benefit? Lots of cheap stuff nowadays. I don’t think Obama really understand what true distribution of wealth is all about. Promises are made to be broken. I’m not naive. Many friends now are buying homes at discounted price since March. There’s plenty who are benefiting. Is not that bad at all. Think about it.

    With Obama’s increase taxation will not stimulate the US economy. The incentives for entrepreneurs are no longer there in the future. Why grow if tax higher? What is it for me? and to those who believe they can grow? what is it for them?

  40. Newsflash for leytenia: unemployment insurance is funded by the state, via payroll taxes. Neither Obama nor McCain has nothing to do with it.

    Anyway, What GOP’ers consistently overlook (or deliberately decline to mention) is that the GOP always look at social safety net spending [b]first[/b] when they move to cut government spending. It’s always the same old chorus of cutting taxes (heavily skewed towards the rich and the truly poor, usually neglecting the middle class) AND cutting social spending. As I said before, I am pretty conservative when it comes to fiscal matters. I would love to see a wholesale reduction in tax burden, but not at the expense of social safety.

    Cut military spending when appropriate (not now, obviously), cut all these aid contributions to other countries (except for humanitarian aid), cut subsidies to farmers who get paid for throwing away their food, cut subsidies to big oil. Start there, instead of always starting at the bottom like Republicans do.

    And if you think for one second that the poor will actually benefit from this foreclosure crisis in the short and medium term, then you are either a Pollyanna or a realtor. Credit is so tight that even people with solid incomes and excellent credit histories have a hard time getting loans. What are the chances that a poor individual will get a loan? If my friend, who has a credit score of 815, and an annual income in excess of $130K, cannot get a loan, how much more difficult do you think it is for a poor person? If the poor can’t get a loan, it doesn’t matter how cheap the foreclosed houses are. They might as well be priced at $10 billion each.

    Taxes are a necessary evil. Of course it would be great if they were super low or nonexistent. But the reality is that they are needed for certain things. And SOMETIMES, taxes have to go up. Having said that, I still vehemently disagree with your implied characterization of Obama’s tax plan. It is targeted towards the middle class, for individuals making up to $200,000/year (or families making up to $250,000/year).

    Quick, pop quiz… how many individuals do you know who actually make $200,000 a year or more? Very few, I bet. We all have to make painful choices whenever the country as a whole faces a crisis. Everyone has to step up, even if it means not seeing your taxes go down or (if you’re above the cutoff) seeing your taxes go up.

    What we all have to remain vigilant about is ensuring that our taxes are put to the best use possible.

    By the way, you contradict yourself in your second paragraph above. If, as you say, Obama wants to keep jobs here instead of shipping them overseas, how exactly will that result in, as you say, increased labor competition and salary reduction? Has the law of supply and demand suddenly been turned on its head?

    And low-income housing subsidies are section 8, waiting lists for which are an arm’s length and a half long in each community.

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