Saturday, November 15, 2008

Down to The Wire

With about 800 ballots left (mostly provisional), Diep Truong is 23 votes from winning the Westminster city council seat.

Is this a must win for Diep Truong? Not really, he is in his mid 20s and will have a long political career in front of him. Little Saigon Inside is picking him to win the election anyway.

Is this a must win for State Assemblyman Van Tran? Well, it would have bolstered his existing political image as a "Godfather" who is in control of the Vietnamese-American voters and politics in OC and beyond. So far none of the "Trannies" won in this election. Matter of fact, if Diep lost, the "Trannies" would have lost all of their election campaigns in 2008, a 0-8 record.

Van Tran is looking into his political crystal ball and right now it is cloudy but full of opportunities

His term ends in 2010 and he is looking at different options :

- Hang up his political career temporarily and get a judgeship appointment
- Run against Lou Correa for the state senate seat in 2010.
- Run against Loretta Sanchez. He already floated email to some of his strongest supporters soliciting money for this campaign. The idea to become the first Vietnamese-American serving in US Congress is very appealing.

His chance is strongest against Lou Correa. Lou has a favorable view by the Vietnamese-American community in OC but it is a matter of how much they dislike Van Tran. Tammy Tran, his district director, is a plus for Lou. However, can she bring him at least 40% of Vietnamese-American votes to offset the Republican substantial base in his district is a big question mark. She is politically untested and not savvy enough in the community. Her association with the controversial political organization Viet Tan (With the aim of overthrowing the Vietnamese government in Vietnam) is a turn-off for the community.

Van will not run against Loretta directly for he is very calculated and not a gambling politician. He will run for her seat if she decided to move on. Her option is limited also. Obama will appoint her sister before her for any lower level cabinet position. A US senate run in 2010 is not impossible but difficut. Governor Sanchez, may be but again, it would be difficult in 2010. On the other hand, any thing is possible in politics

County Supervisor Janet Nguyen of course is beaming with pride and satisfaction on her chief of staff's GG city council victory. It was a proxy battle between her and Van Tran. So far this year, Janet Nguyen 2, Van Tran 0.

When will they end this personal war between each others, nobody knows. But knowing Van and his ambition, Janet is the obstacle for his dream of stretching his political influence to all Vietnamese-Americans. So far, it has backfire as it showed in 2008 elections.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shorenstein APARC Events


12:00 to 1:30 pmMonday, 17 November 2008

Philippines Conference

RoomEncina Hall, 616 Serra St.S

Stanford University

A buffet lunch will be provided.

TALK DESCRIPTION: What does variable capital mean in and for Vietnam? Who are the different investors? How do they respond to state efforts to attract investments from overseas Vietnamese? How do global supply chains (corporate buyers, contract factories, and subcontractors) shape the changing nature and impacts of capital in Vietnam? How does a self-described socialist state use policies on investment, labor, and the privatization of state-owned factories to control the relations between workers and owners? What roles in this mix are played by journalists who can ignore neither the party line nor the workers who protest in spite of it? In addition to addressing these questions, Prof. Tran will argue that workers in Vietnam are not resigned to being squeezed between morphing capital and state control. They defend their interests flexibly in diverse forms of protest, overt and covert, including appeals to the state's own socialist vision. Fresh from extensive fieldwork in labor-intensive industries such as textiles, garments, and footwear, Prof. Tran will show how Vietnamese workers use native place, class, gender, and ethnicity to mobilize collective action against morphing capital in a one-party state.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Angie Ngoc Tran is a professor of political economy at California State University, Monterey Bay. Her latest publications include articles in the Labor Studies Journal (2007) on labor media and labor-management-state relations in Vietnam. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Southern California (1996).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And 389 ballots later

Diep Truong, the young assistant to State Assemblyman Van Tran, is 59 votes short of winning a seat in Westminster City. He garnered 9,875 votes and is currently in third place behind a relatively unknown candidate. Next step is the provisional ballots and of course recount. If he is still behind by 58 votes, his chance of overturning the result in the recount is quite slim.

He was the only Vietnamese-American in the race and was well funded by Van Tran and his groups. Westminster is a city where 1/3 of the population is Vietnamese descendants. Diep Truong is currently a member of the Westminster Ciy Traffic Commission.

According to the Red County Blog as written by Jubal:

Westminster Watch: Truong Diep Running Strong Campaign

.........He's hired a talented campaign consultant in Joe Giardiello of TCB Consulting, who ran unknown Trung Nguyen's near-victorious supervisor campaign in 2007. He has racked up an impressive list of endorsements: Republican Party of Orange County, the Lincoln Club of Orange County, the California Republican Assembly, Congressman Ed Royce, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Senator Tom Harman, Assemblyman Van Tran, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, Westminster City Council Members Andy Quach and Tri Ta, Westminster School District Trustees Mary Mangold, Dave Bridgewater, and Andrew Nguyen.

Truong's campaign has put out five mail pieces thus far, -- here's the first one -- with more to come in the remaining two-and-a-half weeks of the campaign, including one touting his endorsement by OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. His campaign has launched two rounds of robocalls -- one from the OC firefighters, and another from Sen. Tom Harman -- and another is in the works.

Fundraising is the life's blood of an effective campaign. Some candidates are good at it, others are not -- and there are the rarer candidates who are political astute, possess a coherent political philosophy and are good fundraisers.Truong falls in the latter category. As of Sept. 30, he had raised $49,560 in 2008, plus $3,300 raised at the tail-end of 2007, and showed $47,990 cash-on-hand. During the last two weeks Truong has added another $14,000 to his total.............

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eight Days and Nights

Eight days past the election, it is finally safe to predict the outcome of these three races:

1. Andrew Do, chief of staff of County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, will win his Garden Grove city council seat. It was a tough race with three Vietnamese-American candidates in the mix. But he is pulling ahead with over 1,000 votes to spare.

2. Steve Ngo, a first time candidate in San Francisco, will win his seat in the Community College Board. At a young age of 32, he is clearly an up and coming Vietnamese-American politician. He ran a masterfully executed campaign to win over 85,000 votes.

3. Diep Truong, an assistant to State Assemblyman Van Tran, is in a tight contest. With only a few hundred ballots left, he is behind by 180 votes. The conventional wisdom is he would win by a few hundred votes. If he loses, it would be no more than a handful and there would be a recount.

Congrats to all three candidates for an exciting campaign full of drama.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


(This piece is written by a San Jose litigator - Dan Do)

You all know the story. When asked to describe an elephant, the blind man who feels the animal’s leg says the elephant is like a pillar. For the one who feels the ear, it is a fan. And so on. What these blind men describe is not totally untrue. They base their descriptions on partial truths.

The blind men have a good excuse for not discerning the truth: they are blind and cannot see the true picture. In our society, however, persons with perfect vision often choose not to say the truth. Instead, they only say half-truths when asked to describe a thing or an event. Because what they say is based on the truth, their statements become highly convincing. These half-truths thus are much more dangerous than outright lies. They expose their recipients to real danger.

During the months leading to the recent presidential election, supporters of the McCain/Palin ticket actively engaged in the dissemination of half-truths. Because he grew up in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country, Barack Obama was called a Muslim. Because he worked in education reform with Bill Ayers, a former member of a militant group, Barack Obama was accused of “palling with terrorists.” Ayers’s former group, the Weathermen, committed violent acts that could be described as terrorist activities. However, such acts were committed at the time Obama was just eight years old.

Those half-truths about Obama’s faith and association were aimed to deceive the voters and to generate their fear of the candidate. Terrorist acts such as the 9/11 attack were committed by Muslim terrorists. It was easy to arouse the anger of the crowd by the mere mentioning of the words “Muslim terrorists.” The “Muslim” and the “terrorist” half-truths about Barack Obama combined into a powerful guilty verdict (Muslim terrorist) rendered by people who already had a strong prejudice against a liberal candidate as well as against the color of his skin.

As the blind man who believes the elephant to be a pillar, a voter who looks at a single act or event concerning a candidate, will reach a voting decision based on half-truth. The McCain campaign employed this half-truth tactic by either disseminating or tolerating the dissemination of information surrounding one single act or event relating to Obama or his running mate. Blogs and emails containing the picture of Obama not putting his hand on his chest during a flag ceremony were widely disseminated to raise questions about the candidate’s patriotism. A statement made by the vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden during the days of the fall of South Vietnam showing his lack of support for the Vietnamese refugees was quoted to the Vietnamese as the reason for this group not to vote for the Democrats. Pictures of African relatives of Obama were shown in the most unflattering manner to expose the “unworthy” roots of the candidate. The voters were asked to contemplate this type of information in deciding their votes. The truly important issues got lost in the process.

A presidential election demands the careful examination of multiple issues. This is particularly true during a time that the people of this country are facing a serious economic crisis, two costly wars, a bitterly divisive society, repeated revelations of political abuses and corruptions, among a myriad of issues of concern.

Many among the Vietnamese intelligentsia supported the McCain/Palin ticket and contributed to this half-truth dissemination effort. These are mainly members of the first generation of Vietnamese refugees resettling in the US. These members are strongly anti-communist as they were witnesses of the atrocities of the Vietnamese communist regime. They somehow identify the Republican party as the party that fights the communists, and on that assumption give the party their full (and almost blind) support. This probably originated from the strong antiwar stance of the Democrat George McGovern who, during his 1972 presidential campaign, made statements that were offensive to the South Vietnamese regime, and in the process offended the South Vietnamese people. History taught us that the Republican president Richard Nixon and his close adviser Henry Kissinger were the authors of the selling out of out South Vietnam. Yet Nixon continues to be admired by many Vietnamese. Lyndon Johnson who had to abandon a bid for a second presidency term because of his commitment to the war, was never much of a friend or comrade-in-arms to them. Gerald Ford who opened the US border to Vietnamese refugees was highly praised, but Jimmy Carter who established a panoply of refugee assistance programs was hardly recognized for his work. The Democrats who were champions of refugee causes such as Ted Kennedy, Frank Church, and Joe Biden did not receive much affection from the Vietnamese refugees.

The danger of the half-truths disseminated by the overly eager McCain supporters is that, while not succeeding in helping McCain win the presidency, they managed to divide the country into two camps, more distinct than ever before. Barack Obama now appeals to both camps to work together. For the winners, it is easy to reconcile. For the losers, resentment will linger. Those people who were responsible for half-truths will seek to justify their conduct, and again will use more half-truths to veil the truth.

For the Vietnamese-Americans, it is time for them to no longer associate with one party or another simply because of the Vietnamese experience. Such association is a half-truth association, which will only alienate them from the mainstream. They exclude people who may sympathize with their plight, lose them as allies, and thus weaken themselves. They will also face with a skeptic younger generation who is more liberal and has no direct experience with communism. As half-truths have divided this country, a half-truth alignment with a party will divide the community.

As a last note, the rhetoric used in disseminating half-truths during this campaign may germinate into trees that bear poisonous fruits. There will be individuals who remain fully convinced that Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist and that his supporters are unpatriotic and anti-American. Some of them my be susceptible to violent and irrational acts, and may assume for themselves patriotic duties to rectify the situation, which will lead to tragic consequences. This writer wishes that no person shall take upon himself or herself to harm our newly elected president. We need to believe that this is the beginning of a new dawn, full of hope and good intent. Can we turn our hope into reality? This writer certainly hopes that “Yes we can!”

Little Saigon Inside Epilogue: For those who believes in the empirical science of fortune telling, Obama's fate foretells an unfinished term in office. "Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.", said F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It Is Rumor As Usual

Little Saigon Inside is not saying anything but the rumor mill on the 18th floor of San Jose City Hall is shouting out to whoever wants to hear -

1. The council will opt for appointment instead of a general election if the recall is successful in March. Buu Thai is being considered the person to replace Madison Nguyen. Buu Thai, originally an appointed school board member in District 7 in a deal cut by Nguyen and Labor during her run for office in 2005. Of course, Buu Thai is a supporter of Madison Nguyen and did not support calling the area Little Saigon.

2. Madison Nguyen is very upset at the way most councilmembers are turning their back on her. The relationship between her and Reed is cool off substantially with Vic Aljouny doing more damage to her campaign than helping her.

3. And guess who is planning to run in 2010, win or lose the recall? Madison Nguyen, according to her handlers, is determined to run for the same office if she loses the recall election.

4. The vice mayor to be Judy Chirco is also given up on Nguyen. To her, Nguyen is arrogant and out of touch with reality.

The Report of My Demise May Be Premature

On the aftermath of the 2008 Election, the OC press and the many OC blogs reported the demise of the so called " Vietnamese-American voting power in Orange County". They pointed to how all non-incumbent candidates running for office lost their election.

Little Saigon Inside begged the differ since not all the votes had been counted and also, many candidates were running for the same seats - for example, three Vietnamese-American candidates ran for Garden Grove city council seat.

True enough, 7 days after the election, with still thousands of ballots uncounted, the well respected lawyer Andrew Do now has pulled ahead and will win the GG city council seat.

Diep Truong with only 400 votes behind will have a very good chance to squeak by with 100 votes to spare.

Good for the community! Now if only we can all be a big happy family.....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Political Statement in Orange County

For the last two years, the on-going battle between Republican State Assemblyman Van Tran and Republican Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen has been viscious. With Van Tran throwing everything but the kitchen sink to derail Janet Nguyen's election bid for county supervisor not once but twice in 1 year, the Vietnamese-American community begins to realize that not every Vietnamese-American can be qualified for office.

With Van Tran building his political influence by throwing financial as well as his office supports for unqualified candidates to every imaginable seats and hoping that one of them would win, the 2008 election shows that the community at large in general is taking notice. The OC Register calls Van Tran's underlings as "The Trannie" and Van Tran as the "Godfather"

For those who are not familiar with Orange County, this is the home of the largest Vietnamese-American community in the US. With about 450,000 Vietnamese-Americans, OC has the highest number of Vietnamese-American elected officials - 1 state assemblyman, 1 county supervisor, 4 city councilmembers (including a mayor) and half dozen others in smaller elected offices.

Of course, Van Tran is a strong supporter of Madison Nguyen while Janet Nguyen has no lost love for Madison Nguyen for she supported the two Trannies - Mr. Photoshop Trung Nguyen and Dina Nguyen - who ran against Janet in 2007 and 2008.

Why would somebody from San Jose venture into politics of Orange County (even though at the behest of Van Tran)? Well, it is because Janet Nguyen publicly supported the Little Saigon.

Following is the latest assessment of the 2008 election for "The Trannies":

Van Tran - In 2006 and 2000 general election, he won by at least 20% - 30% against his Democratic opponents. However, in this election he is barely at 6%. In all three elections, none of his opponents put any efforts or had the resources to campaign against Tran. Basically, they just put their names out for show. However, this election is different because the VN voters made it clear to vote against Tran to send a message of "No Confidence".

Joseph Dovinh (the divisive Viet Star editor who constantly uses his newspaper to attack Janet Nguyen as a "commie") - Lost both the Midway Sanitary District and Coastline Community College elections where he was the only Vientamese-American candidate.

Alex Lam - Lost in the City of Stanton council election. He came in a distant 3rd. Van Tran's district director, Dave Everette, was the campaign manager for Alex Lam and the appointed councilmember, Dave Cardenas. Ironically, both lost.

Trung Nguyen (This is his 2nd election in less than 1.5 years) - Lost in the supervisorial election and a sitting school board member ended up in 5th place on the Garden Grove council election. Van's district director, Dave Everette, also was the campaign manager for Trung.

Linh Ho - According to swirling rumors in OC, she was the Democrat token of Van to make sure Andrew Do would lose in the Garden Grove city council race. That is the theory at least. There is no direct proof to it. She is similar to Hoa Van Tran, a token Democrat acting as a spolier?

Frank Tran and Linh Nguyen in the Westminster School district - Both lost in the Westminster school board race.

Diep Mien Truong (Van's district assistant) - No final result yet since there are still at least 7,000 ballots not fully counted in Wesminster. But he is about 1250 votes behind in the Westminster city council race.

Footnote: The only candidate running in this election affiliated with Janet Nguyen is Andrew Do, her chief of staff and a seasoned lawyer. He is 361 votes behind with thousands of ballots still not counted for the Garden Grove city council seat.