Category Archives: Political

COVID-19 strikes the Family

Over the last few months, we’ve celebrated birthdays, I’ve changed roles at work, we’ve gone to restaurants, we’ve found reliable babysitters, we purchased a new car, and next week Megan returns to work after a 6 year break. As the United States still suffers from the worst pandemic outcomes in the world, there is still a degree of normalcy that is returning. Our country is having a very bipolar recovery – the stock market is returning to pre-pandemic levels while unemployment hangs around 12%; we can’t leave our homes without a mask. I’m still working at home and this may not change until next February. I’m just happy to have a job.

Until last week, we felt safe and relatively unscathed. In India, my relatives have not been as lucky. My grandmother passed away last week; we’re not sure whether it was COVID related. However, my aunt passed away soon after with COVID and my uncles and close relatives have tested positive. They are all well-educated – doctors and engineers. We suspect that they trusted each other enough to let down their guard and it spread among them. We hope that they recover in the hospital soon. It’s scary to think that we may soon lose all our ties to India.

The Democratic National Convention was this week. It was a virtual four-day event capped off with a speech by Joe Biden. It was very good. Everyone has had to make big adjustments to maintain social distancing; I think they made great compromises and in some ways, improved upon the physical format for the convention. Surprisingly, there were moments that were more intimate. There were speakers who shared deeply personal stories. The Republican Convention is next week. I don’t know what to expect, or whether I have enough of an open mind to watch any part of it.

Election Day 2020 (November 3rd) is coming. Mail-in voting will be popular to but it has become a political issue in this stupid culture war. 5,000,000 are infected and 170,000 are dead. Instead of controlling a public health crisis, we’re fighting over whether wearing a mask is an invasion of constitutional rights. The country has had major protests around racial inequality. The last three years have wrecked our reputation around the world and our state department has lost most of its talent. We need to get people to vote!

Three Months In

Ten days ago, protests began in the United States over the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. It was captured on video. For nine brutal minutes, George Floyd kept telling the officer he could not breathe with the officer’s knee on his neck. The officer never budged. It was chilling. While I am not African American, I do worry about any encounter with the police and I also worry about what could happen to my children in those scenarios. If the video represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racism, those fears are not unfounded. Not all police officers are racist, and not all protestors are peaceful. There has been looting in several major cities.

It’s also incredible that these protests are happening during the COVID-19 crisis. Over 100,000 people have died so far. The protests put people in close quarters with each other and the police have responded with force. Recently, the military was deployed to tear gas peaceful protestors so that the White House could have a photo op in front of a church. I’m shocked that so many people think that police brutality and racism are a bigger problem than a pandemic. It’s possible that they are right.

Things are peaceful where we are. Police departments are working hand in hand with citizens to coordinate on safe marches in the city. A lot of people are furloughed or unemployed right now while we wait for the pandemic to die down. This might actually give people time to work together on societal change and public policies. For people who are working, many are learning how to be effective at their jobs while working remotely. I am certainly surprised at how efficient I can be without a commute while working in my basement. It’s nice to have more family time and watch my kids grow up. However, I think we are all eager to return to life as normal without social distancing and isolation.

Story so Far…



There are advantages and disadvantages to long intervals between blog posts.  You have a lot more to write about but there is a lot more to remember.  Regular posting is a good habit… one that you feel guilty about when you skip sessions.   I intend to play catch up with this post.  Details will be missed and stories will be forgotten but I’ll be back on track.
Here’s a brief timeline on what I’ve been up to:

  • Auctions – It felt like I was at an auction every weekend in October.  The Seattle Works Auction (SWANK) was fantastic this year.  We also attended a great auction for the Queen Anne Help Line which is an organization that I’ve been actively helping out this year.  Great people, great food, and great items + credit card = plenty of charitable contributions.  Coupled with the Gates Foundation’s generous 3:1 match on donations up to $10,000, I felt like a true investor in the community and its incredible non-profit programs.
  • Birthday #29 – One year closer to the big 3-0. I wasn’t filled with panic like I was last year, but I definitely feel more like an adult now.  For better or worse. This was a memorable birthday!  I had some great carrot cake (sometimes a cake must not be judged by how it tastes but by the story of how it was created and why 🙂 ).  Thanks Megs!
  • A Texas Halloween – We had auctions at work to dress each other.  I purchased a few people to wear Texas T-Shirts to work.  That weekend, Texas suffered its only loss of the season against Texas Tech.  I was purchased as well and dressed up as Pedro from Napolean Dynamite.  
  • Trip to Vancouver – Vancouver is a beautiful city.  I went there for a conference but spent some extra time checking out the area.  We went to a Canucks game, explored the downtown areas, and hung out at the parks.  It is definitely worth a second visit!
  • The Election of Barack Obama – It was hard for me not to vote for the only Republican presidential candidate that I’ve ever admired but the election turned McCain into a caricature of himself.  He called himself a maverick but adopted the principles of the far right.  I hope that someday he can return to the glory of his first few decades in the senate where he was a champion for the people regardless of the party.  I’m excited that Barack Obama is our next president!  While I don’t know how he will manage the “inbox from hell”, symbolically he represents tremendous hope and change for this country.  I’m excited that we finally have a great orator in the White House!  As for Palin, I sincerely hope she is not the future of the Republican Party.  She was great for Tina Fey’s career, but was a serious detriment to McCain’s ticket.  The voters she attracted to the ticket were offset by voters like me… people who realized how much McCain was selling out on his principles to win.  That’s all I will say about that.
  • Seaplanes and the Glass Museum – Megs and I took an entire day to enjoy some of the bounty from the auctions.  We took a seaplane over Seattle and then went to Tacoma to visit the Glass Museum.  It was a lot of fun and the weather was great!
  • Vacation in Cancun – Megs and I found a ridiculous last minute deal to Cancun and we spent a few days there before Thanksgiving.  We enjoyed some time at an All-Expenses Paid Resort, exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, and kayaking in the sunshine.  Life is good!  We almost didn’t make our flight back home but that is a story for another day.
  • Thanksgiving in Austin – I went to Austin to celebrate Thanksgiving with my little sister.  She surprised me with an awesome meal and a chance to see the Longhorns beat the tar out of the Aggies.  It was incredible!  We spent time  working out and discussing movies, TV shows, and Twilight.  I can’t wait to spend more time with her and my parents in Korea this Christmas!
  • Losing the ‘Fro – I finally got a haircut after five months of growth and deferred my attempt to re-dread my hair. It was getting a little too unprofessional and hard to manage.  I’m glad I can still grow hair though 🙂
  • Texas gets BCSed – The Longhorns have had only one loss this season.  Texas Tech beat them on a last second touchdown in Lubbock.  For all intents and purposes, this was the most miraculous play of the entire college football season.  However, due to a ridiculous set of formulas known as the BCS, they will not go to the championship game.  That honor will go instead to Oklahoma… a team Texas beat 45-35 on a neutral field.  I hope Oklahoma gets blown out by Florida and Texas destroys the Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl.  Poor Colt McCoy will probably also lose the Heisman now despite being the heart and soul of an amazing team.  Maybe he’ll be back next year to avenge this tragedy.
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  • Apartment Move – I moved down the hall to another apartment with a view of the water.  It’s much smaller than my old apartment, but nothing beats looking out the window for views of Lake Union.  I won’t be seeing July 4th from a house boat ever again but I will enjoy a distant view of the fireworks.
More details on each may be coming over the next few weeks.  However, feel free to check out the photos and their descriptions!
This is also the one year anniversary of several events that led to where I am now.  At the time, they were excruciatingly painful; now, they feel like they were blessings in disguise.  Every harrowing event in my life has led to bigger and better things.  I must have a guardian angel!
Time to focus on my MBA applications.  I love my job and the economy is in turmoil but I must keep my options open.

Two More Weeks

It’s been a busy two weeks since my last post!

  • A friend and I met with Mayor Nickels for lunch in his office.  He was incredibly charismatic and charming.  Highlights included his thoughts about his time at the Democratic National Convention and his ideas on the light rail.
  • Texas has won its first four games by ridiculous margins.  Is this the year?  It’s burnt orange Friday for me every week till the end of the season.
  • My work is going well, but I definitely feel more like a consultant than a full time Gates employee.  However, there are occasions when I realize how amazing it is to be part of such an incredible organization.  Two weeks ago we had a going away party for Patti (our current CEO) and I loved the energy.  We’re changing the world here!
  • The financial crisis is insane.  Washington Mutual closing down?  While I’m not a McCain hater or supporter at this point (I admired him so much during his first 25 years as a maverick… not as much now), he mentioned a spending freeze during the debates.  That’s a huge deal… . I’m not sure if I would agree with what he’d freeze though.
  • Watched the entire fourth season of House.  It is a great show.  It seems to follow the same story line formula for each episode, but I really enjoy how they mix it up occasionally.
It’s still sunny in Seattle.  I’m under the weather today so I can’t enjoy it as much, but life is good.

America’s Sense of Security Post September 11th

I’m not sure exactly when it happened… whether it was the smell of ashes and burning flesh, seeing fear in my father’s eyes for the first time, or watching the first ten years of my life go up in flames… somewhere during the turmoil of the Persian Gulf war, I lost the ability to feel safe. After the terrorist attacks two weeks ago, I could sense that millions of my fellow Americans were going through the same painful process. The events of September 11th have wrecked our sense of security, and its as important to heal those emotional wounds as it is to rebuild from the physical devastation of the attack. I’m speaking to you today as a fellow victim, and the purpose of my speech is to tell you my story and help you cope with this unpleasant feeling.

When I was three, my family moved from California to Kuwait when my dad started working for a big oil company. For eight long years, Kuwait was our home. It was gorgeous the population was incredibly diverse, and apartment complexes stood like a an oasis in the desert sands. But that all changed very fast. On August 1st, I went to sleep thinking about school starting in a few days. I woke up on August 2nd 1990 to the sound of gunfire and Iraqi military aircraft. We spent the next six weeks glued to CNN seeing everything around us turn into a living hell. It felt so unreal like it was all part of some bad movie. I remember watching people get slaughtered outside my window and all of us kids cleaning out the basement in case there were any more bombing raids. I had to watch my parents starve to make sure that my little sister and I had enough food. We finally got airlifted out of Kuwait with only one suitcase for the four of us about six weeks after it had all begun. Despite the fact that we were starving, and we had no money or friends, we were finally out of the war zone. But I never felt safe. Every time I told this story to friends, they couldnt relate to this feeling and I envied them. But things have changed now.

On September 11th, our biggest concern was getting through our first presentation in this class. But fate had other plans and we sat and we watched the destruction of the World Trade Center one airplane after another. It felt so unreal like it was part of a bad movie. This new war is changing everything. For the first time in centuries, the casualties of war arent soldiers fighting in a distant land, theyre innocent civilians in our big cities. And we could be next. I remember the hysteria when someone mentioned that UT could be a target because of Bushs daughter people started breaking down. Theres another war going on right now, and its in here. Its us versus our own paranoia and fear.

So, this brings me to the entire point of my speech. What advice can I give you with my 11 years of dealing with this issue on a daily basis? How can you get back your sense of security? You cant. Its impossible. The paranoia is going to be there every time you get on a plane, every time someone you love visits a major American city, every time you read about terrorism elsewhere in the world. Regardless of the extent, everyone was affected by this tragedy. So how do you deal with this? You have two choices you can either let the fear and paranoia conquer you or you can accept it because you certainly cant ignore it its human nature. It took me a long time to accept it because I was young and it was tough to let go. But when I did, every moment of my life became more precious. Its a lot harder to take life for granted when you know things could change at any moment.

The last thing I want to do today is dispel some of the myths some people are throwing around. They tell us that getting rid of a single man or organization is going to fix everything. And Im going to tell you right now, even if I had brought Osama Bin Ladens bloody head on a stick as a prop for my presentation and then waved it screaming God bless America it wouldnt change a damn thing. What weve lost, we can never find again because it was like our tooth fairy our sense of security was just an illusion. salesforce marketing cloud Dan Rather said that on September 11th 2001, America lost its innocence and I disagree. We lost our ignorance. But we will not lose the war.

Insurgency in Kashmir

  The Reasons for the Insurgency in Kashmir

There are several views on the principle factors that contributed to the insurgency in Kashmir in 1990. The Pro-Indian view is that Pakistan supported Islamic fundamentalism that ignited trouble in the valley. The Pro-Pakistan view is that India refused to provide the people of Kashmir with the right of self-determination. Some believe the insurgency was the result of the destruction of the Kashmiri ethnic identity due to different nationalistic ideals. Historical transcripts and accounts also provide some useful information, but all of these arguments seem to ignore one or more aspects of this crisis. The most complete reason for the insurgency is Sumit Gangulys theory of political mobilization against institutional decay.

Political mobilization occurs when people have political knowledge and desire political participation. Institutional decay occurs when political systems crumble. Although the older generations accepted corruption as commonplace, the younger Kashmiris were outraged with the state of Kashmir prior to the insurgency. They were generally very literate as their education up till the university level was free. They were also well informed as Srinager was the third media center in India, and newspapers, television, and information flow freely among Kashmiris. Despite being literate and well informed, Kashmiris did not have a true political voice due to the fact that democratic ideals in Kashmir were crushed time after time. This is especially evident when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ignored Kashmiri views and dismissed Farooq Abdullah after she believed that he had consorted with her competition. The TADA acts were also abused in Kashmir to oppress people with the excuse of stamping out terrorism. The National Conference, which was established by Sheikh Abdullah, was so closed to newcomers that the new generation was not able to use it as a means for change.

The lack of economic opportunities despite the superior education level also frustrated the Kashmiris and many joined Islamic fundamentalist groups. Madrassas that taught Islamic ideals became commonplace and they were taught by Maulvis from Assam who came to Kashmir to escape Indian oppression. The Maulvis had suffered through many killings in Assam, and thus had a strong anti-Indian sentiment. The Kashmiris also learned about the success of intifida from Palestinian Liberation Organization students who studied in Kashmir during the late 70s and early 80s.

Politically, things went from bad to worse after the Rajiv-Farooq accord where Rajiv Gandhi promised to make Farooq Abdulla chief minister again if he worked with the congress party in exchange for aid for Kashmir. sub domains . Farooq agreed to this arrangement but the Kasmiris no longer saw him as a man of the people but instead as a tool of an oppressive government.
A new party called the Muslim United Front (MUF) emerged that wanted to challenge secular ideals and help Kashmiris attain rights. In the controversial election of 1987, Farooq was dubiously elected in a hostile environment where many were discouraged to vote. This increased hostility in the area tremendously and it reached a crescendo with the kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed, who was the Union Home ministers daughter, by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front in December 1989. The insurgency had begun.

The literacy and political awareness of the Kasmiris helped them recognize the institutional decay all around them and when they found no way to make changes through a government that failed them, they chose to react violently. peta dunia Without the element of institutional decay or political mobilization, the crisis in 1990 could have been averted. This argument explains both the motives and the timing of the crisis.

Governmental Impact on Wartime Discrimination

 Messages of Tolerance or Fanning the Flames of Racism?

“Our war on terrorism has nothing to do with differences in faith. It has everything to do with people of all faiths coming together to condemn hate and evil and murder and prejudice.” 
– President Bush on October 11th 2001 at his first Primetime News Conference

Although I am not a Muslim American or an Arab American, President Bushs message of tolerance had a powerful and calming effect on me. The weeks since September 11th had been very difficult for my family as we realized how vulnerable we were to discrimination due to the fact that we shared several common physical characteristics with the nineteen hijackers who struck the World Trade Centers. Two days after the attacks, I was subjected to several misdirected insults as I walked down the streets of Dean Keaton (as I had with no incidents for the five long years that I have been a student at this University) and I felt very afraid. I was born in California, and despite spending eight years in Kuwait and returning to the US as a Gulf War refugee, I had always considered myself an American. At the time of the incident I had just been selected to represent the United States overseas in the Peace Corps, but for the first time in my life I questioned whether I was really part of this country. Although President Bushs message and efforts have alleviated many of my fears, I wonder how effective these actions are in times of crisis. Historically, what impact did governmental policies have on racial intolerance during international conflicts? Over the course of this research paper, I intend to examine the policies of the three branches of government during the two World Wars in order to find a correlation.

The first case of wartime discrimination that merits analysis is World War I, which most historians consider rife with violations of civil liberties especially for the German American community. America jumped into World War I after Germanys policy of unrestricted submarine warfare had destroyed several of their neutral ships. President Woodrow Wilson was aware of the racial tension that would rise as a consequence of his declaration of war and made note of that in his famous speech on April 2nd 1917:

We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions towards the millions of men and women of German birth They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with a firm hand of stern repression

While this executive declaration was assuring to German Americans at the time, the question of loyalty foreshadowed the dramatic legislative actions that would follow. On April 6th 1917, Wilson issued twelve regulations for alien enemies – immigrants who had not completed the naturalization process and came from opposition countries. This was followed by eight more regulations on November 16th 1917 to further curtail their actions and provide for internment at detention centers. While this affected recent German immigrants, the majority of German-Americans would not suffer until May 16th 1918, when the notorious Sedition Act of 1918 was passed as an amendment to a previous espionage act. While not being specific to any ethnic group, this act officially made any expression of discontent illegal and was often used against German-Americans. The Creel commission, created during World War I to promote American interests, also created tremendous anti-German hysteria through its pro-war propaganda. In all, six thousand people of Germanic origin would be interned in the US over the course of the war.

Socially, these policies created an aura of distrust towards German Americans and especially towards institutions that catered to Germans. In 1917, the Federal Government censored German American newspapers, outlawed German language schools, banned German American theatre, burned their literature, and items of German origin were renamed. The two million member National German American Alliance (which represented their interests) was also outlawed by Congress in 1918. The judicial branch of the government had also taken an anti-German American stance with an increasing number of convictions using the Sedition Act. Things were looking very grim for German Americans.

The case of Robert Prager in 1918 is an example of all of these excesses. Prager, a coal miner of German origin who was undergoing the naturalization process, was accused of uttering disloyal remarks and was lynched by a patriotic mob despite the intervention of the police and the mayor. When the leaders of the mob were taken to court, the jury acquitted them and the town celebrated their patriotism after the trial. This disturbing incident shows its political undertones by its portrayal by the media. An April 5th 1918 article in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat was titled German Enemy of the US Hanged by Mob with the subheading St. Louis Collinsville Man Killed for Abusing Wilson. It was no coincidence that Wilson signed the Sedition Acts a month later, indirectly putting his stamp of approval on the mobs actions. Many of these moves would set a precedent for the next major conflict: World War II.

Historians refer to the Second World War as the Good War. However, for people with genealogy going back to enemy countries, it was more hardship and suffering. Much of what occurred with the Japanese American population is well documented and recognized by scholars. After the Japanese attack on Peal Harbor on December 7th 1941, President Roosevelt issued a blanket authorizing the attorney general to detain dangerous enemy aliens. Many Japanese Americans were arrested even before they were declared dangerous enemy aliens by an executive order on December 11th 1941. With the Public Proclamations, Civilian Exclusion Orders, and the creation of the War Relocation Authority in 1942, the legislative branch forced Japanese Americans on the West Coast into internment camps for the duration of the war. The judicial branch echoed these anti-Japanese sentiments by supporting the decisions of Roosevelt and the War Relocation Authority in the Supreme Court cases of Hirabayashi v. United States (1943) and Korematsu v. United States (1944). All of this proceeded on the basis that all Americans of Japanese origin were traitors and that was how the public perceived it as well. But there were other, less publicized victims of wartime discrimination during the Good War.

While the hardships of Japanese Americans during World War II are well known, many other ethnic minorities faced similar circumstances and have somehow been ignored. Proclamation 2526 called for control of German alien enemies and Proclamation 2527 was to regulate Italian alien enemies. Over 31,280 people of European decent were forced into internment camps from both the United States and Latin America with a large majority of them being Italians and Germans. In some cases, the interned were Jews who has escaped the conflict in Europe only to be placed in a detention camp in the United States. While these detainees were not subject to other legislative or judicial constraints due to their status as alien enemies, it was still a significant population that was pushed into hardship. But there were other minorities who did succumb to harsh legislative policies. Other victims of wartime oppression were political opposition leaders (who were typically of German origin) through the Smith Act that was similar to the Sedition Act of 1918. Black Muslims also faced a great deal of trouble for identifying with the Japanese as victims of white oppression. Court cases to determine the constitutionality of these issues often ruled in favor of the government thereby shedding its required neutrality. However, the government has attempted to atone for its domestic actions in recent years.

In order to compensate for the wrongs of internment, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that offered redress of $20,000 to more than 81,000 Japanese Americans for their forced relocation. Last year, Italian Americans were recognized for their treatment during the war as well. On August 3rd 2001, Senator Feingold of Wisconsin introduced the Wartime Treatment of European Americans and Refugees Study Act to Congress in order to explore the trauma that German Americans faced in US internment during World War II. This is a vast improvement over the lack of restitution for the victims of wartime discrimination during the First World War.

In conclusion, our government has played a huge role in the treatment of minorities during the worlds greatest conflicts. However, it has traditionally been the tool of exclusion rather than a promoter of tolerance. In times of war, the government must achieve a difficult balance between civil rights and national security while answering to the concerns of the majority. Considering that an October 21st 2001 CNN-USA Today Gallup poll showed that there is a 49%-49% split from Americans in regards to a special Arab ID card, there are reasons to be worried. While the United States usually makes amends for its mistakes once they are recognized, I would rather be safe than become a cruel footnote in American history.