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November 10th, 2008

I originally posted this at DailyKos about a month ago. I figure looking back on it now will make for an interesting exercise, considering what has transpired since ...

I've read the following sentiment here quite often: Winning is not enough.

No. It isn't. It's the beginning.You've got a long fight ahead of you, to make America the very best America it can be. A fight that will (and shouldn't) ever end.

But, regardless of whatever your particular ideological or political stance is, please understand that, first and foremost, winning MUST happen. Because if THAT ONE, at THIS TIME, is elected to what is arguably the highest position of power in the entire planet, EVERYTHING CHANGES.

I repeat: EVERYTHING changes. Not just Washington. Not just America. EVERYTHING.

This is my first diary, so please keep that in mind should I go off the deep end. I know I have a tendency to write far too much about far too little. I apologize for that. I also have a tendency to become overly passionate about certain things. For that, I issue no apology whatsoever.

The purpose of this diatribe isn't to do a premature victory lap. Far from it. Rather, my hope is to hopefully get a few people to take a step back and see just how important this moment is. I know for myself that when I'm deeply invested in something, I get so bogged down in the details, in the day-to-day struggle, on individual stories and ideas, that I forget there's far more at stake than I can perceive at any one time. And while it doesn't cause me to fight less passionately, this temporary shrinking of perspective does occasionally make me fight differently.

First, I should tell you a bit about myself. It matters to the rest of the post. Trust me.

I'm not an American. I'm a Canadian. Except when question of ethnicity arises, in which case I'm a Filipino. Boy do I hate that question. "What are you?" "Canadian." "Well yeah, but where is your family from?"

I'm in my mid-twenties, and spend about as much time on the internet as I do gallavanting about town. More so nowadays, thanks to a publishing job which is a dream come true but also a round-the-clock commitment.

Up until last year, I was not the least bit politically active. I have never voted. Never really saw the use - it was always one shill for another, and what's one vote anyways? Honestly, the only brush I had with politics of any sort came from watching Stewart and Colbert.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Democracy love 'em. In a fair and just world, those two men will be looked back upon as heroes of democracy. I'm not kidding or hyperbolizing. And fittingly, it was on an episode of The Daily Show, way back when, that I was first introduced to a young black senator with a funny name and a great sense of humour. I don't remember what that particular segment was about, but I do recall thinking to myself, at that moment: I like this dude. And every time he appeared on the show, that feeling was reinforced.

Then, after getting my BA, I took a bit of a hiatus from The Daily Show (and, by extension, my limited exposure to politics of any sort) for a while. It wasn't until last year that I flipped back on.

What I saw changed me. It wasn't a huge moment. It was so small it was practically trivial. But from my experience on this good Earth thus far, I've found that people are usually truly changed not by big isolated leaps, but through an accumulation of tiny steps. It's the little things that push us, slowly, towards wherever. But grand gestures are important too. They make us realize, for good or for ill, just how much we've changed.

Anyways, back to my anecdote. In this 2007 episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart mentioned in an offhand kind of way something about Senator Barack Obama's run in the Democratic primary. I vaguely knew that Senator Clinton was in the running, couldn't avoid it really, but this was the first I heard about Obama.

I'll be honest here. That news made me ecstatic. But not in a profound way. I am ashamed to say that I was taken with the Obama candidacy for extremely shallow reasons. I latched on to Obama not because I thought he would have a chance to win, but because 1) I already liked him and 2) he was a novelty. Novel because of the colour of his skin. And I empathized with that. My initial support of Obama had everything to do with his - and my - being an ethnic minority, and had nothing at all to do with policy or even ideology. I probably would have been similarly taken with Billy Dee Williams or Mr. T if he had decided to run.

Tiny steps.

From that admittedly inauspicious start, I began to follow the campaigns. I began to investigate policy and positions and the political dynamics not just of your country but of mine. I watched, from the sidelines, as the Obama campaign gained momentum and support in amounts few contemporary political figures have amassed and in ways none have ever utilized quite so masterfully. Here and in other places, I've seen and heard the sentiments and emotions Barack Obama elicits in Americans of every stripe. I've witnessed for myself how the idea of a President Obama would be received by the world outside of America.

And I've come to realize something.

Barack Obama has always insisted that this election, this moment, isn't about him. It's about you.

He's half right.

Everything he said about you, the American people, is absolutely true. What's coming won't be possible without you.

But it isn't just about you, either. What Senator Obama failed to mention - either because he doesn't recognize it, or, more likely, out of humility - that this election, this moment, IS about him. Or rather, it's about what he represents. Arguably, anybody could be waving the flag that we have hitched to his wagon, although it is true that Obama - because he is as imperfect and flawed and powerful and unique and human as he is - makes it that much easier for us to make him our standard-bearer. But it's the idea surrounding the man, the hidden standard upon which we lay our hopes for a better world, that makes this election, this moment, matter so very much more than arguably any that have come to pass.

But what is this idea I'm referring to? Well, it's not actually a single concept. Neither is it a collection of completely disparate notions. Rather, it's a number of ideas that all lead back to a single theme.

The theme is a simple one. Simple but powerful, I think. Repeat after me:

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED.

Everything we thought that (America, Canada, the Planet Earth) was like - politically, economically, culturally, socially - is proving to be wrong. It's possible to be right about a couple of aspects of life in the 21st century but the scale of your/my/our ignorance of the others is being quickly revealed. What is true for the pundits is true for everyone. Even the best and brightest among us are just scratching the surface of what this world has become, and what this world has the potential to be.

I don't know about you, but the thought of being wrong about so very many things has become a source of incredible hope for me. But that's because I used to be a very cynical person.

What follows is a list of some of the things I gleefully admit to being wrong about. Conveniently enough, these are also things that an Obama presidency would represent. Please add to it as you see fit:


1) The Power of Technology

I always considered the web as a convenient method of transmitting data. Now I know better. The internet destroys barriers to perspective. It is a connection to people. Not just the notable people we see on TV or read about in the paper, but anyone and everyone who has access, all over the world. It is a resource of knowledge and ideas and hopes and dreams, not just from one small corner of America or one tiny Pacific island, but from every corner of this planet. It is a conduit that allows people to realize just how much the rest of the world affects them - and, perhaps, how they can affect the rest of the world.

2) The Power of Youth

I do not claim to speak for all young people, but I know that as a young person I've often felt intimidated and powerless in the face of serious political discussion. To me, politics was a sophisticated adult game, full of code words and obscure details and references that went straight over my head because I wasn't alive when JFK was assassinated. When I did try to insert myself into a political conversation, I can't tell you how many times I faced derision because I knew nothing of, say, Ronald Reagan's policy positions. Apparently I should've been watching CNN instead of Sesame Street. So I grew up with the belief that those interested in politics, and therefore politicians, had little regard for me - and I treated them with the same courtesy.

Enter Stewart and Colbert. Enter the internet.

The first two made learning about politics fun. The latter made it easy, and infinitely less intimidating. Most importantly, they make me - and people who were like me - feel proportionately more powerful. Like we matter. Like we make a difference. Like some of the things we are generally decried for - our hip Comedy Network-infused skepticism, incessant text messaging, and frivoloous online addiction - are making a contribution.

Like, say, unprecedented youth voter registration, in numbers so huge that pollsters won't even bother to take them into account because nobody wants to dare predict what kind of impact such a massive new demographic would entail.

3) The Power of the Other

Race, colour, culture. These are concepts that are taught, not inherent. I know this from personal experience, being one of only a handful of Asian children in a school full of Italian and Portuguese and Hispanic kids. I didn't have to start putting up with racial shit until around the third grade. People aren't born with ideas of cultural difference in their heads. Someone puts them there.

For the longest time, we have been led to believe that America is a fundamentally white country, interspersed with small ethnic communities. Guess what. Those small ethnic communities have gotten a lot bigger since we last looked. Just like the youth vote, the ethnic vote is probably underrepresentative of actual population, and for the same reason. They felt they didn't matter, that the political process was indifferent to them and their needs, that their voices didn't count for anything.

It's hard to continue to feel that way when the most powerful single voice in the world could potentially belong to someone treated as 'other', just like them. I'm not saying it's the only reason an AA man or a Latino woman or an Asian youth would vote in this election. But it sure fucking helps. Believe me.

To all children, of all races and genders and creeds and persuasions who have ever dreamed they could be an astronaut or a prima ballerina or yes, even the President of the United States of America: hold on to your dreams. Because the people who tell you differently are about to be proven liars.

4) The Power of America

Let's face it. We Canadians have a love/hate relationship with you folks down south. That whole George W. Bush thing didn't help matters much (seriously, what the hell was that all about?). But for all the sniping coming from both sides of the border, we - or at least, I - have come to recognize that America, or at least the ideal you attempt to uphold, is something that the world desperately needs.

I'm talking about Freedom, baby. About a place where people can come together and learn to co-exist in relative harmony. Where said co-existence is encouraged. Where, through common assent, the people who thrive on hate and fear and selfishness are decried and marginalized for the worthless human beings that they are.

Sure, America didn't invent Freedom. And some places have arguably handled it a bit better. But you folks were the ones who, with your often overbearing but occasionally inspiring swagger, took it upon yourselves to place the mantle of Freedom squarely upon your own shoulders.

People around here, and I suspect elsewhere, say all the time: who do Americans think they are, to tell the world what it should do? Hell, I've said it myself. But some things - like Freedom - are too important to go unspoken. And someone needs to speak for it, loudly and with gusto.

Nobody, and I mean nobody - not Americans, not Canadians, not Morroccans, not nobody - could ever possibly hope to fulfill that promise or live up to that responsibility. But God Damn America, at least you fucking try. You're not our ideal candidate, but of those who are in the running you're the best we've got. We're under no illusions. You're going to dissapoint us. Often. But that might be okay, as long as you achieve at least some of what you promise.

5) The Power of the People

This election isn't about Barack Hussein Obama. It's about you, the American people.

And it's also about me, and them, and they, and everyone. We've all got a stake in this, every one of us who felt that we were powerless to change anything. Because we were young. Because we were different. Because we thought we were alone.

A President Obama would mean that Americans of all different stripes came together, by dint of their own blood, sweat, and tears, and decided to let a black man lead them (if he were a woman and gay and an atheist, even better - but you have to work with what you have). My friends, this wouldn't mean the shattering of a glass ceiling. It would mean moving to a completely new building, one you've never had a chance to explore before.

Argubly, America, you've already made that move. Though a part of you has been pretending that your building is still the same one from twenty years ago, that the world outside is still the same as it was back then, the rest of you has been inching closer and closer to the truth. After all, it's the little things that push us, slowly, towards wherever.

But grand gestures are important too. They make us realize, for good or for ill, just how much we've changed.

That is why Barack Hussein Obama must win. Because it will prove just how powerful each and every single one of you truly are. And - through the technology we have at our disposal - how little it truly takes to give anyone, of any nation, the same amount of power. How powerful we can all be TOGETHER, at this moment, at this point in history, if we want something badly enough.

Whether you believe in fate or coincidence, you the American people have been presented with an opportunity of monumental proportions. Don't you dare let it slip. We're counting on you.

September 3rd, 2008

Why is it that trolls on political news sites (I'm not talking about partisan havens like DailyKos or FreeRepublic; I mean newspaper sites and so forth) are almost exclusive Repbulican?

I'm not calling them trolls because I disagree with them. I'm calling them trolls because they can't form cogent arguments and instead resort to taunts, blatant mistruths and ad hominems at every single turn.

Seriously, I'd like to know. Because it's been my experience (up here, at any rate) that idiocy is independent of ideology. And yet your breed of unfortunates all seem to ride red elephants. Why is that? I'm asking in all honesty, and I'm curious to hear theories. Somebody should do a study.

Thoughts?

***

Oh, and my two cents on Sarah Palin: Her selection is absolutely disgusting. Cynical. A blatant disrespect not just to voters but to America and its ideals. I'm aware - if not agreeable - to the fact that campaigning is a winner-take-all process. But foisting campaign stunts to win an election, AT THE INARGUABLE DETRIMENT OF YOUR FUTURE ADMINISTRATION, is exactly the kind of shitbaggery that destroys countries. If McCain is going to lob a Hail Mary, he may as well have selected Paris Fucking Hilton as his running mate. After all, she has bigger name recognition than Sarah Palin does. And a better energy policy too.

***

One last thing before I go to sleep. I'm tired of journalists. Really. Especially when they speak about journalistic integrity.

There was never any such thing. Don't quote me Cronkite, or old school AP. Journalists have always been political, even when they've pretended not to be. Nothing has changed, except perhaps their hypocrisy has become more apparent.

What sets the old school, respect-worthy journalists apart from the hacks you see now is that the former were, despite their political ideology, humanists at heart. They didn't hesitate to call bullshit for what it was, even if that bullshit was being shovelled by one of their bosses. They had spines.

The folks you see on CNN, MSNBC, etc? Not in the same league. I won't call them idiots because that would excuse them from what they do. And I refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt. Not when they sit there, nodding along to every single blatant lie and smear and talking point and bit of spin without once, just once, saying "SHUT UP YOU LYING LIAR. SHUT THE FUCK UP. YOU ARE DESTROYING MY COUNTRY AND I WILL NO LONGER SIT IDLY BY AND ALLOW YOU TO."

But they won't. Or "can't". Journalistic integrity won't let them.

Fuck you, Anderson Cooper. Jack Cafferty is more reporter than you'll ever be. Even if he is a Republican.

August 29th, 2008

Yes You Fucking Can.

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"America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise -- that American promise -- and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess."
- Barack Obama, August 28, 2008


I can say, with the greatest sincerity, that if I had a leader like the one you COULD HAVE IF YOU JUST FUCKING CHOSE HIM, I would follow without hesitation - not because I believe he will never falter, but because he is counting us to show him the way when he does.

Do not let this moment pass you by, America. This isn't just about you. The whole world needs you to get this right.

August 5th, 2008

I'm Not Panicking But ...

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I just came up with an amazing ad to convince Americans to move to Canada in 2009:

Come To Canada!
... where it's impossible to vote for Republicans.


Here's hoping it doesn't come to this.

July 27th, 2008

Extremely Premature Preview

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... I'm kind of a tease, I know. But I do want to prove that my new project is - if not anywhere close to becoming concrete - then at least in the conceptualization stage.

Courtesy of my artist:

July 25th, 2008

Feist, Watchmen

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Finally got around to listening Leslie Feist's album 'The Reminder'. Good stuff. I got caught up in the iPod commercial, same as anyone, but what really sold me on her was her appearance on Colbert. Something about an attractive, intelligent women with a great voice wearing a button-down and a tie makes me happy.

I've also got 'The End is the Beginning is the End' trapped in my echo chamber head, thanks to the Watchmen trailer preceding The Dark Knight. I have my reservations about how that film is going to turn out, if only because Zack Snyder directed 300 - and, fun as it was, it was also a big stupid movie. Watchmen is fucking literature. Most of its appeal stems from the fact that it's so challenging. Remove that challenge and what do you get? A movie about ripoffs of Charleston Comics characters no one gives a shit about.

Back to writing.

July 24th, 2008

Still Breathing

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Just dropping in to say hello to everyone. Sorry I haven't been around. Lots of things to adjust to.

Life isn't perfect, but it is interesting:

1) I'm working full-time now with not one but two publishers. Who share the same office space, but still. Am I ecstatic about my job(s)? You bet your sweet internet ass I am. It's a lot of work, but considering the kind of stuff I have to do, the people I work with, the people I get to meet, it's all worth it. So worth it.

2) Remember that Gravity spin-off I brought up a few months back? I really think it's going to happen. An awesome, awesome artist is actually willing to put up with my crap and work with me on this thing. No timeline on when it gets done, but when it does you'll all be the first to know. If there's anything of hers you like, by all means buy. And if you'd like her to do a commissioned work for you, go! I'll tell you now she's a dream to work with.

3) An article at HuffPo said something I know a lot of people are thinking but are secretly ashamed/afraid to say: With Barack Obama receiving as much fanfare as he is on his whirlwind international tour, it really does seem almost *almost* like this man is auditioning not just for President of the USA, but also President of Earth.

He's really kind of amazing.


So yeah, I'll try to be around more. Read Canadian!

April 15th, 2008

(no subject)

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so i've got this thing up. drop on by, comment. link if you want.

i'll try to find stuff on the election controversy in zimbabwe soon. also darfur. and some happy stuff in between.

April 14th, 2008

(no subject)

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Just some notes after watching the Compassion Forum on CNN and reading some more crap on the Democratic campaigns online:

1) Why are so many Clinton supporters convinced there's an anti-Clinton media conspiracy? Do any of these dumb fucks watch CNN?

2) I'm detecting, from some quarters, resentment towards young voters and their potential influence on the upcoming vote. Apparently the feeling is that young peope shouldn't have a say in the direction their country takes far into the future, when many of the current voters are dead.

I'm currently cooking up a new blog to stash all my social/political/crrent events commentary, so stay tuned for that. I'd love it if you guys check it out when it's done, start up some discussion, maybe even contribute things you find interesting. Talking with you guys about the real world has just been a blast, and I want to keep it up.

I need a snappy name for the blog. Ugh. Help! Any ideas?

Edit: One last note. Which way are Asian-Americans leaning, voting-wise? Oh well. According to CNN, there aren't any Asians in America.
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