Emil Guillermo: How Trump's business partner in the Philippines, Jose E.B. Antonio, does business with Filipino Americans
November 30, 2016 2:59 PM

Filipino Americans in California are wondering about real estate transactions being initiated by Filipinos on tourist visas, who are selling retirement condos in Manila as unlicensed sales agents. 

It may even be a case of human trafficking. 

The story is important because of the man whose properties are being sold.

They belong to Jose E.B. Antonio, one of the richest men in the Philippines and prior to the election of Donald Trump, named the Philippines' special envoy to Washington for trade, investment and economic affairs.

Antonio also happens to be a ginormous Asian F.O.T.

That would be "Friend of Trump," but he's actually more than that. 

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The New York Times
' top story headlined "World of Potential Conflict For a Developer President: Many Trump Partners Have Ties to Foreign Governments as Work Spans Globe," actually put Antonio in the lede.

As chair of the Century Properties Group, he's building the $150 million, 57-story high-rise on the edge of Manila's Makati district, so tall it can be seen for miles around by the predominantly poor masses of the city.

And the symbol of capitalistic opulence is called.....Trump Tower Century City, of course, where you can "live above it all."

Yes, the Philippines has been branded by Trump.

Just like America.

The ongoing questions of conflict of interest may be resolved soon, as Trump has tweeted that he's leaving his business.


We'll see how he's going to do all that.

Now, what about Antonio? 

He's still the envoy on business and trade to the U.S. for the Philippines. 

And Juvenal Castro knows how Antonio conducts business. 

Castro, 77, is a retired Navy officer who lives in California. Last year, Castro helped out a distant relative and three others who were visiting on tourist visas from Manila. The visas were for cultural dance performances to take place in September and October throughout California's Filipino communities. 

The performances took place. But the dancers' main job wasn't to move to the music. 

It was to sell Antonio's real estate, a violation of their visa.

"Oh yeah, they try to sell me too," Castro told me, though he didn't buy. "[The dancing] looks like a smokescreen. They were selling properties in the Philippines."

The smallish condos were being sold for anywhere from 10-15 million pesos.

15 million pesos, at 46 pesos per $US dollar.

That's $326,000, an alluring price for a middle-class Filipino American looking for a cheap retirement.

"They used my dining room for paperwork," said Castro. "I don't think they understood the law."

They understood sales though. They went to places where Filipinos gathered in malls and restaurants, and Castro said he saw white boards of their activity, amassing a figure near $124 million pesos in sales---$2.7 million during their time.

The California Bureau of Real Estate confirmed it is against the law for foreigners to solicit for foreign properties on U.S. soil without a California license. 

But it may also be a case of human trafficking, says Maria Elizabeth Embry, a Northern California anti-trafficking advocate. She said the visitor visas arranged by Mr. JoJo Quiroz, the dance entrepreneur, and by Antonio's Century Properties brought 16 Filipino citizens to the U.S., and they were forced to work long hours by companies seeking to skirt labor laws.

Embry has written an open letter to President Duterte of the Philippines asking for an investigation of Antonio's business practices of deploying Filipinos to sell properties without a license in the U.S.

"The appointment of Mr. Antonio to a position giving him diplomatic immunity is nothing but a disgrace to the local and international diplomatic community," Embry wrote. 

President Duterte has not responded.

I attempted to reach both Antonio and Quiroz and have yet to hear back.

While Antonio is the head of Century Properties in the Philippines, Quiroz does appear to be a licensed real estate agent in California. 

Still, the initial solicitors brought in from the Philippines on visitor visas were neither authorized to work nor licensed to sell real estate in California. That would be a violation, and if fraud or widespread misrepresentation about the properties were involved, the California Bureau of Real Estate said it could refer the matter to law enforcement for possible criminal action.

For now, Juvenal Castro, who housed four of the sellers in his spare bedroom for a few months, said most of the dancers moved on. Some went to New York and New Jersey, and some have since returned to the Philippines. 

He doesn't know if anyone on the east coast, lured by the Trump brand, was sold any properties.

But this is a case of stinky fish--it goes to the head.

That would be Jose E.B. Antonio, who remains a special envoy to the U.S., and a big F.O.T.

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Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.



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Emil Guillermo: Obama pardons turkeys; should we pardon Trump?
November 23, 2016 6:20 PM

President Obama may not be able to place Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court. But he's doing what he can in his final days. Like giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to luminaries like Maya Lin, the creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
 
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And of course, he pardoned his last turkey the day before Thanksgiving. Actually two, Tater and Tot from Iowa. The president said one will have to be vice-turkey. 

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Pardon me. But if Obama really wanted to save some turkeys' lives, he'd talk about vegetarian options like seitan "birds," or Tofurkys. An estimated 45 million turkeys will be gobbled up this year.

Not at my house. I'm having round mounds of something that approximates a carcass. Browned vegetable carcass, yum! At least, no animals were harmed.

That's something to be thankful about. And a bit more humane than the 2016 presidential campaign, which only threatens half the United States of America.

Still, if Obama can pardon two turkeys, can we muster up the holiday spirit to pardon the president-elect? Just at dinnertime?

Trump seems to be trying hard to confound everyone with his actions that seem to confirm that most of his campaign pledges were lies.

The man who inspired cheers of "Lock her up," now says he's not going to pursue a special prosecution of Hillary Clinton for whatever cooked-up charges he put in people's minds during the campaign.

I like the result, but what a great liar!

Trump's choices for his top advisor jobs also seem a bit puzzling.

But what would you expect from the least experienced and least qualified person ever to be elected president.

Trump's a beneficiary of the White Republicans' double standard on affirmative action.

So I wasn't surprised to hear Trump pick one of his former critics, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador.

They won't dare fly the confederate flag at the U.N. now!


NIKKI HALEY TO THE U.N.? NOW THAT'S UNCONVENTIONAL
Haley's qualifications? Experience? She's been on a few trade missions, but compare Haley with the current ambassador Samantha Power, and it's embarrassing. Power, a former journalist and Harvard academic, won a Pulitzer for her book on genocide. With Power, the U.S. had a tough and deep thinker who understands global affairs and the philosophy of moral intervention.

Haley is like Trump, learning on the job. An apprentice. So far that's the Trump Doctrine.

Haley's parents are immigrants from India.  Nice, but... her stand on the issues? She's a political conservative on climate change, which means she won't come out and say humans are responsible for global warming. Don't expect her to fight for the Paris agreements.

But think of the common good. Someday, you won't have to cook your turkey or Tofurky with a stove.

You'll be able to cook it quite well in the naturally unnatural open air.

Haley is the first woman and a person of color officially named to the Trump cabinet. There might have been two Asian American women, with Michelle Rhee, the former head of the DC public schools, on the shortlist for education secretary. But Trump has picked billionaire Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor from Michigan, who no doubt helped that state turn red.

DeVos is an advocate for school vouchers, where you get money and spend it where you want. Even private schools and charters. That should make conservatives happy. But she's also a big advocate of "Common Core," which many conservatives hate. Like most of Trump's picks, DeVos is rich and white. And again, with no real experience as an educator, only as an activist. Now she has the keys to the education kingdom. Her husband, Dick, is an heir to the Amway fortune. What's next? Funding schools with multi-level marketing sales on all consumables? 

Of course, DeVos is not the name people are waiting to see pop up in the headlines. That would be Mitt Romney, a Trump lambaster, now being considered for secretary of state.

I don't know what qualifies Romney in the international stage. Organizing the Utah Winter Olympics? The man who lost to Obama is white and wealthy with no diplomatic experience. Indeed, Trump would be showing more diplomacy than Romney by nominating him.

If it happens, it would be yet another Trump apprentice, learning on the job.

But maybe he's waiting for Black Friday to make that announcement. Or that day could be Ben Carson's day to be named HUD secretary. What does the brain surgeon know about housing? Yup, he too will be learning on the job.

Last week, I mentioned the appointments of Sen. Jeff Sessions. as attorney general, and Steve Bannon, as chief strategist.

These men unfortunately are not like the other picks so far. They are extremely well qualified to lead the dismantling of civil rights in America. That's a problem. Big League.


WHITE NATIONALISTS COME ALIVE
Last weekend, when neo-Nazis were gathering in Washington, you could hear these exuberant phrases: "Hail Trump, Hail our Victory!"

Some even reported the verbs translated to the German "heil," as in you know who.

Not exactly, "Happy Thanksgiving."

These were the words of Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, and if you haven't seen the video of his weekend gathering of neo-Nazis, emboldened by Trump, don't do it on a full stomach.

You'll be sickened by his throwback racism, reminiscent of the '30 and '40s. And not just in Europe. In California, white nationalists successfully led a movement to exclude Filipinos from the U.S. It was sheer white purity. And it's all being revived by Spencer, inspired by Trump.

"For us as Europeans, it is only normal again when we are great again," Spencer said on the video.

 And it's clear he's not an advocate for diversity.

"America was until this generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity," Spencer said. "It is our creation, it is our inheritance and it belongs to us."

Well, unless he thinks of us as being on the same team, I'd say we all better unite and denounce this guy. Fortunately, when asked in his New York Times editorial board meeting, Trump was pretty direct about Spencer and his group of white nationalists.

TRUMP: First of all, I don't want to energize the group. I'm not looking to energize them. I don't want to energize the group, and I disavow the group...What we do want to do is we want to bring the country together, because the country is very, very divided, and that's one thing I did see, big league. It's very, very divided, and I'm going to work very hard to bring the country together.

I mean, I'm somebody that really has gotten along with people over the years. It was interesting, my wife, I went to a big event about two years ago. Just after I started thinking about politics.

And we're walking in and some people were cheering and some people were booing, and she said, you know, 'People have never booed for you.'

I've never had a person boo me, and all of a sudden people are booing me. She said, that's never happened before. And, it's politics. You know, all of a sudden they think I'm going to be running for office, and I'm a Republican, let's say. So it's something that I had never experienced before and I said, 'Those people are booing,' and she said, 'Yup.' They'd never booed before. But now they boo. You know, it was a group and another group was going the opposite.

No, I want to bring the country together. It's very important to me. We're in a very divided country. In many ways divided.

So you see The Donald has feelings. He knows half of the country despises him. But he's new at this. He's his own apprentice.

Trump can learn a lot from the man he tried to derail on some birther nonsense.


GIVING THANKS TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
President Obama, after pardoning Tater and Tot today, had his own sentimental feelings about being the outgoing president. He listed off some impressive accomplishments: six years of job creation, the longest streak ever. Low unemployment. Wages rising. Inequality narrowing. Housing market healing. The stock market tripling.

Think of the dark economic days of 2008. The president has given us a lot to be thankful for.

Do you have health care when no one would give it to you or your family? Do you have a house that's right side up after the mortgage crisis. For many Asian Americans in California's hardest-hit housing markets, Obama's refinancing programs have helped home owners.

"That's worth gobbling about," the president said.

Then he tipped his hat to our country's great diversity, calling it "the source of our national strength," and that "out of many we are one."

"We are bound not by any one race or religion," said Obama,"but by the adherence to a common creed that all of us are created equal. And while accepting our differences and building a diverse society has never been easy, it has never been more important."

The president said, "We have to see ourselves in each other because we all have families we love."

After the campaign he ran, it's hard to see Trump, the former birther, saying those words.

But let's hope he learns from Obama.

The president has been the best handcuffed, gridlocked president we've ever had.

As we move toward our uncertain future, he's given us reason to curb momentarily our political anxieties, and be thankful. 

We've had the last eight years. We're going to have to fight to make sure we keep moving forward.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at 
www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Duterte can't bury past with Marcos, as the politically "inconceivable" continues in the Philippines and the U.S. of Trump
November 18, 2016 12:10 PM

If you haven't noticed, we live in a time where the political trend is quite simple. 

Things that would never happen before, that were once thought to be downright "inconceivable," are happening right now, and with stunning regularity. 

And it's not fake news, it's real.

We're seeing it in the U.S. and, of course, in the democracy built in its own image, the Philippines.

Despite protests heard round the world and in the U.S., it finally happened.

The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, heavily preserved, unburied since 1989, finally got covered up with some hallowed dirt.  

Once they got a green light from the Supreme Court in the Philippines last week, Imelda Marcos and her family couldn't wait to put the country's democratic embarrassment into the ground as a hero.

The "hero's burial" for Marcos was another win for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the Filipino Trump, who manages to do as he pleases, justice be damned.

"I'm just being legalistic about it," said Duterte to the media. "He was president, he was a soldier. That's about it."

Duterte was spectacularly modest about his political achievement. This time, his wish was to honor his personal hero, a man who Amnesty International says imprisoned 70,000 people during martial law, tortured 34,000, and killed 3,240 Filipinos. 

Small numbers compared to Duterte's current effort to fight "shabu," the Asian form of crystal meth. The anti-drug effort by police has officially racked up 2,500 deaths. But Philippines media says the death toll is closer to a number that outdoes Marcos--4,000. And the number includes innocent civilians. 

These are the so-called extra-judicial killings that have concerned President Obama and members of the U.S. Senate. Duterte responded by calling Obama a "son of a whore."

Duterte talks tough and has years to to catch up with Marcos, who not only imprisoned, tortured, and killed his political opponents, but also plundered the country's treasury and enriched his family by more than $10 billion. 

That's more than double what Trump's worth. 

marcosburialcasket.jpg
Marcos, propped up by the Reagan and Bush Administrations as he ruled the Philippines with an iron hand for nearly three decades, was laid to rest Thursday in the country's national cemetery for heroes, the Libingan ng mga Bayani, in Manila.

After being on display in his home province in northern Luzon, Marcos was quickly flown to Manila buried in an almost secret way.

No press was allowed (does that sound Trumpian?). It meant that protesters had no advance warning of the ceremony. Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo called it a "hidden burial." Others called it just plain "sneaky."

Sort of like the man being dubbed a hero.

Even though political opponents were planning to file an appeal, the Marcos family and the Philippine Army were able to rush the body to burial. 

And then the Marcos posted scenes from the burial on social media.
  
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It was an insult to the thousands of protesters worldwide, including many of the four million Filipinos in America, nearly 20 percent of the Asian American population. 

Most of them came to the U.S. for just one reason---to escape the Marcos years.

They didn't want to be among the thousands who died or the millions repressed because of Marcos' autocratic rule.

Allowing the burial legitimizes the Marcos repressive dictatorship and sends a sad, dark message about Duterte to the Filipino people and the world. 

MarcosHeadstone.jpg
Democratic rule? Rule of law? Does it exist in Duterte's world? Or did they bury all that too with Marcos?

TRUMP'S INCONCEIVABLES  
In this era of outsiders, anti-elites, nationalistic strongmen, and disruptive forces in world politics, the burial of the denounced dictator Marcos was just the latest inconceivable to occur. 

In May, the victory of Duterte, a local mayor with a strong law and order bent but little international experience, became a leading indicator for what was to follow. In June came the Brexit vote. And then here in the U.S. on Nov. 8, we had the election of the least qualified man ever to become president.

Takes a bit of the edge off Duterte rehabbing the plunderer Marcos as a hero. But it's still a bona fide inconceivable. 

It's not that much different from Trump rehabbing and pumping oxygen into GOP retreads like Rudy Giuliani, who defended "stop and frisk," or Newt Gingrich, the man behind a plan derided as the  "Contract ON America."

And then there's Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News boss who became chair of the Trump campaign last summer. In a July 2016 column, Bannon called the mainstream news focus on African Americans being shot and killed by police as the Left's "plot to take down America."  

As the editorial head of Breitbart, he's taken shots at Muslims, women, trans people, as well as people of color and immigrants. And all with that glow of a happy flame-throwing white nationalist. If Ailes and Fox had moderated and become the mainstream, Breitbart under Bannon was the white ethnic media.

Last year, when Bannon, the editor, interviewed Trump, the conversation turned to foreign students on H1-B visas returning home instead of taking jobs or starting companies in the U.S. Trump was cautious and wanted to keep talented people in the country.

But not Bannon. "When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think..."  Bannon didn't finish his sentence, but implied his disapproval, typical of his Eurocentric, pro-white beliefs.

Now he has the president's ear, not as a "journalist," but as a senior advisor.

Inconceivable? At one time. Not anymore.

And the hits keep on coming. Just this morning, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) accepted his nomination as the 84th attorney general of the nation.

Sessions is a man who was once turned down for federal judgeship because of his pro-white outbursts. He referred to a black attorney as a "boy," called a white attorney a race traitor, and criticized the NAACP and ACLU as "un-American" groups that "force civil rights down the throats of people." 

Besides that, Trump thinks he's a swell guy.

This is the man who will head the Department of Justice. My Lord, we will miss Loretta Lynch.

Inconceivable just a few months ago. 

But it's all part of something we've fought before.

Now we are challenged to fight again the old ghosts revived in these new Trump times, just to keep from being buried alive.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at 
www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Asian American vote? Trump #NotMyPresident yet, but America still my country and Obama still our leader
November 10, 2016 2:32 PM

The attempt to bridge our country's great divide has begun with the first meeting in the White House between President Obama and his one-time birther tormentor, President-elect Trump. 

It's like we're in some disconnected time and place after that hate-filled scorched earth campaign of the last 19 months. 

And now, we must replace all those memories with this image: Obama and Trump actually shaking hands in the Oval Office. 

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"My No. 1 priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful," the president said after a 90-minute meeting with Trump about foreign and domestic issues and all things about on-the-job-training for president. "I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to come together, work together to deal with the many challenges we face."

Obama then turned to the man who has flummoxed the world and said, "Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we are now going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed--because if you succeed, then the country succeeds."

You might call that leading by example, at least for one-half of the nation.

And then it was Trump's turn to address the other half. 

But Trump wasn't arrogant and full of himself. 

Surprisingly, Trump was quiet, respectful, seemingly humbled by his circumstances sitting with a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. over his shoulder, while sitting next to President Obama. 

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"We had never met each other," Trump told the media. "I have great respect, the meeting lasted almost an hour and a half and could have gone on much longer. We discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties. I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future including counsel. He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets, and some of the really great things that have been achieved. So Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you and I look forward to being with you many, many more times." 

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We'll see how his red state voters take all that.  

Until then, I say, "Welcome to 1963." The year before the Civil Rights Act. Two years before its corollary, the Voting Rights Act, as well as the law that brought most Asian Americans here, the breakthrough Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that eliminated racist quotas. 

1963 is before all that, when the fight was raw.
 
Remember that era to stay energized in these Trump times.
 
Aside from the feel-good photo ops, politics will feel a little bumpy in this post-post-racial America. 

The loud, but mostly peaceful, protests around the country in Oakland, New York, Philadelphia, and other cities Wednesday night were just an extension of one half of the electorate's pain.

But it all began Tuesday with the gut punch from the nation's other half.

Election Night Blues
On that night, I was waiting for Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan to all turn blue.

They never did. And by Wednesday, we were bathed in red, and not from the shards of any break in a glass ceiling.

When the least qualified, least experienced candidate for the job can become president of the United States, well, that's how effective affirmative action for whites can be.

That's the election of political neophyte Donald J. Trump, the tycoon turned showman, turned leader of his own brand of democracy.

Build a wall? Ban Muslims? Deport millions? That and save jobs, fix our roads and infrastructure, all while cutting taxes.  

It's the Trumpian fantasy fueled by an unconventionally candid hate rhetoric, complete with endorsements from the KKK and David Duke.

The difference in this election appears to be the angry white voters from rural areas in the Rust Belt. They were the ones running up the red in the blue states. They're the ones yearning for the rollback to the past. They were the real November Surprise. Pollsters, the political class, and the media had simply stopped talking to them, not paying attention to them as if they were invisible. 

These were the whites who felt left behind by the growing tech economy, overshadowed by the demographic steamroller that is diversity. 

They felt angry and taken for granted. 

Asian Americans know how that feels.  

Mainstream pollsters, politicos, and media folks still ignore us. 

Despite our numbers growing to more than 20 million, we're still rarely taken seriously. How many times did you watch the election night tallies and wonder how we were reflected in the vote count? 

The Asian American Vote
Most exit polls don't get enough of an Asian American sample to even acknowledge our existence.  

Only in unique exit polls that target Asian Americans specifically, in language, and in large enough samples, do we see reliable data.

You need an effort like AALDEF's election day exit poll, which included 950 attorneys, law students and volunteers in 64 cities and 14 states conducting nonpartisan polls of 14,400 Asian American voters in English and 12 languages. 

It produced a more reliable picture of the Asian American vote that day:

Clinton, 79 percent.

Trump, 17 percent.

Others, 3 percent.

In two of the "Blue Wall" states, Pennsylvania's Asian American vote was Clinton over Trump, 87-12 percent; Michigan's Asian Americans voted for Clinton over Trump 91-7 percent.

The overwhelming sentiment: Hillary Clinton was Asian America's choice for president.

But look what happened.

Asian Americans are still such a small part of the electorate, only in coalition with others do we make a difference. In 2008 and 2012, it was known as the "Obama Coalition," primarily voters of color: African Americans, Latinos, and Asians. 

But the numbers for this group were much lower for Clinton in 2016 than for Obama in 2012, according to the more general mainstream national exit polls.

Blacks were 93 percent for Obama in 2012. Just 88 percent for Clinton in 2016.

Latinos were 71 percent for Obama in 2012. Just 65 percent for Clinton in 2016.

Asian Americans, according to CNN exit polls, gave much lower support for Clinton compared to Obama, an 8-point drop off from 2012, 73 percent to 65 percent.

I'd still quibble with the accuracy of mainstream pollsters, given the sampling methods of Asian Americans, but generally, CNN's numbers suggest that people of color just didn't turn out for Clinton as they did for Obama.

The coalition didn't vote. Too many voters stayed home.
 
And while Trump didn't win the diversity vote, he did slightly better than Romney in 2012. 

Enough to turn those blue states red. 

I found it all disheartening. 

Even though the vast majority of what I call the "diversity vote" still backed Clinton, it doesn't have the impact of the "Obama Coalition" of 2012 unless it's near unanimous. 

To be effective, anything short of a monolithic vote doesn't seem impactful enough. 

It's a strange kind of "divide and conquer."

As many more of us peel off toward independence, our political power is diminished. We're assimilated and vote outside of our group.

That wasn't a problem for the white voters that roared loudly on Tuesday.

Trump's hate rhetoric did better than he could have imagined. It attracted all the angry whites he wanted without excessively alienating minorities.

The Trump Supporters Amongst Us
It also showed that coalition of angry "change" voters for Trump wasn't exclusively white. It also had a few Asian Americans, especially among Filipinos, who had a preference for Trump.

"I am extremely happy," Dr. Roy Flores, a Republican in Ohio, told me the day after T-Day.

I've been tracking Flores throughout the campaign, and he's literally the flip side of the 2016 Rust Belt voter--not a down and out left-behind white male, He's a well-to do immigrant, a medical doctor, Christian, gun-owning, small government, anti-tax fiscal conservative. He's part of that half of the country.

But he's still one of us--an Asian American. 

And that's how we should approach these Trump years.

We're divided. But we should still be talking to each other. 

We're all Americans.

We should also take our cue both from Secretary Clinton and from President Obama.

Clinton seemed like she was at her own funeral at her post-election event at the New Yorker hotel.

"This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this. Our campaign was never about one person or even one election," Clinton said. "It was about the country we love and building an America that was hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted."

Then she was direct: "Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transition of power. We don't disrespect that; we cherish it." 

President Obama gave us all a way to look at the situation, reminding us "We're all on the same team," and that he always looked at his presidency as a relay race like he was "passing the baton."

But now everyone still expects Trump to take the baton and start running backwards.

That made the meeting on Thursday between the two of them slightly awkward. 

Would Trump show up with an eraser or rolls of Wite-Out?

Would Obama have his birth certificate handy?

Both Obama and Trump seemed more genuinely civil, as if to set an example for the nation.

This doesn't have to be four years of a domestic cold war.

But we should be prepared to engage vigorously, and even protest peacefully. The fights and disagreements are sure to come. There will be plenty of them, over DACA/DAPA, mass deportations, Muslim bans, attempts to repeal Obamacare, pack the Supreme Court, and the continuing attempts to disenfranchise voters.

The rollback to 1963 is coming. The loyal opposition must be on alert.

Don't let one loss on Tuesday get you down. If we remember the spirit of the era that paved the way to landmark civil rights victories of the sixties, America will find a way to roll forward through the Trump years.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at 
www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Green light for doubting voters--FBI clears Clinton, Trump goes back to rigged talk; Remember Mallika Das on Election Day
November 7, 2016 12:36 PM

As an early bird, my vote is in the mail.

If you haven't voted yet, vote now.

Now is always the best candidate.

Better than later.

And maybe that's what finally got to FBI Director James Comey when he gave everyone his November surprise.

He's not the patron saint of voter suppression or election tampering that everyone might think he is. .

If you were turned off to this whole electoral democracy thing because of the FBI director's initial letter to Congress Oct. 28 announcing a renewed investigation into the Clinton email saga, you can come out of your weekend football stupor with renewed faith.

On Sunday, Comey decided he'd better tell us all now, that, uh, he's making a U-turn.

"Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusion that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton," Comey said in his latest letter to Congress, essentially affirming the clearance he gave Clinton over the matter in the summer.

He's still not getting an invite to the Clintons for Thanksgiving.

But maybe now Trump will change his walk-up rally song from the Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," to that Boy George song with the refrain, "Comey, Comey, Comey Comey, Comey chameleon." That Comey does come and go, doesn't he?

Trump's already taken a U-turn himself from "maybe the system's not rigged after all" to "You can't review 650,000 emails in 8 days." 

Not by hand. 

But this is the digital age, with software rapidly scanning a single Weiner laptop for duplicate emails. 

So where were we--heading to the polls?

Mallika Das, protector of limited English proficient voters and voting rights hero
As Asian Americans, I hope as you mark your ballots you keep Mallika Das in mind. 

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Das, an Asian American of Indian descent, lived outside Austin, Texas in Williamson County's Round Rock. 

In 2014, she went to vote in the Texas midterm elections, the one that featured a contentious open gubernatorial race between Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.

But the ballot also featured a state proposition and other items requiring a little more time and understanding.

Das showed up to the polls with her son, Saurabh.

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"She understands English and could read, but doesn't understand to a very high level," her son Saurabh, a 41-year old computer specialist, told me over the phone. "Which is why she would normally ask me to translate."

But on that day, the election officials at the polling place refused to let Saurabh help his mother, citing a Texas law that said to interpret, Saurabh had to reside in the county. 

Saurabh lived in neighboring Travis County.

"This is the rule, you can't help, [they said], which seemed immediately suspect to me," said Saurabh Das. "I was angry that this had happened."

Mallika Das did vote, but without the help she needed. She mentioned to Saurabh she may have voted for the wrong things. 

She eventually became a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by AALDEF on behalf of the Organization of Chinese Americans of Greater Houston.

The suit argued that the Texas election law was an arbitrary restriction on the right to vote.

Here's how absurd the law was. Had Saurabh Das said he wanted to "assist" his mom, he could have done that within the law (as long as he wasn't an employer or a union rep).  

But simply by saying the word "interpreter" triggered the residency requirement.

Mallika Das and her son didn't know the magic words to make democracy work in Texas for those with limited English.

Last August, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman sided with Das and said the law was a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Limited English proficient voters throughout Texas can now be assured they get the help they need to vote.

The decision came just days after what would have been Mallika Das' milestone 60th birthday.

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She died on June 2nd of cancer. 
 
Saurabh Das said had his mother lived, he's not sure she would have understood the full impact of her courage. He said his mother at first acted as many immigrants, reluctant to speak out. But then he translated the legalese for his mom.

"I had to explain [to her] what happened was not right," Saurabh told me. "And that my mom would be potentially helping a lot of people."

That's all it took for Mallika Das to go forward.

If you need help, the law says it will be there. 

Now go vote.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at 
www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


Posted by:Emil Guillermo | 0 comments