Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama and Vietnam History

In President Barack Obama's inaugural address on Tuesday, in reaffirming the greatness of this country he noted that sacrifices are earned and not given:

"... Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh...."

Ralf Waldo Emerson described the first shot by the militia in the Battle of Concord as "The shot heard around the world". Battle of Gettysburg is considered to be the turning point of the Civil War. And of course the Battle of Normandy is forever symbolized the triumph of good over evil.

Then why Khe Sanh? A 40 years old battle in a remote outpost of the only war that the US has ever lost. President Obama naming these historical battles to clearly emphasize the long history of the men and women who have fought and died to defend democracy and freedom. And in Vietnam too, even though it was a lost war, the US did not send their troops and fought in vain. It was democracy and freedom against the tyranny of communism that Khe Sanh made it stand.

For a president who was only a baby when the Vietnam War started, he could still feel the burden of history of a long ago war still not forgotten. The Vietnamese who left their homeland as political refugees to settle in this great nation of immigrants have been remarkable in building their lives while enriching the surrouding communities. Their ultimate success is the many Little Saigon Business Districts in San Francisco, Santa Ana , Houston, Washington DC, Seattle, etc... (except in San Jose since it was never official recognized by a city council out of false pride). And of course, it is only fitting in a year that an African-American became the first black president that a Vietnamese-American elected to US Congress to represent a landmark district (New Orleans) where 65% are Blacks.

Happy Tet and blessed all those who exercised their democratic rights to bring justice and voices to all communities here and abroad.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Madison Nguyen Vows to Run for Re-election if Loses in Recall

The Mercury News, the only major newspaper in San Jose reported - in a recent article titled -"Race to oust San Jose Councilwoman Madison Nguyen heats up." - the followings in regards to the recall election in March 3:

"...Nguyen, in a report that covers only this year, has raised $34,925 since Jan. 1, adding to the more than $165,000 her campaign staff said she raised last year. She continues to count among her backers the cream of San Jose's political establishment, from Mayor Chuck Reed and the rest of the City Council to influential developers and powerful kingmakers in the city's labor movement.

Meanwhile, her opponents reported raising $100,144 from Oct. 1 through Jan. 17, mostly in smaller sums. But although their supporters may not be as prominent, they can boast tangible proof of something potentially even more valuable: a deep, grass-roots network of motivated supporters who will turn out at the polls...."

To put it into perspective according to form 460, the Recall Team raised $100,144 mostly through a network of hundreds of individuals who donated $50 to $100. One of those individual donors is Pete McHugh, the Santa Clara County Supervisor who was just termed out in Jan. 2009.

The thing to notice is the shift in momentum to the Recall Team. Their ability to raise money is finally on par with Nguyen and her deep pocket out of town wealthy developers, lobbyists and kingmakers of Labor Unions.

The same article also tried to explain why the recall:

"......they say, it's about Nguyen's record and their trust — shattered by the Little Saigon fracas, but already beginning to fray beforehand.
They argue that crime and gang violence have risen under her watch, that she has been a poor steward of the city's money amid a burgeoning budget deficit, that she has been too cozy with developers and deal makers — and that she has stopped listening to the community."

And the voter's sentiment will be according to the article:

"...So far, the conventional wisdom is Vietnamese residents will come out in droves, bucking both the usual calculus in special elections — low turnout — and the reality of the demographics in District 7, where they make up just 28 percent of the population. Latinos (45 percent) and whites (11 percent) make up more than half of the district's residents...."

This is where the Mercury News reporter did not do his homework. It is not a fault of his own but because the newspaper would not provide the money for proper research. But LSI is not about to change the perception of mainstream (What is mainstream anyway in San Jose, a city where it is 1/3 Asians, 1/3 Hispancis and 1/3 Whites?)

The article concluded with the fact of the matter is:" Even if Nguyen loses this fight, she vows to run again for her seat this summer. "Every single household knows who I am.''

The mail-in ballot will be sent out the first week of February. There will be a flood of mailers and articles in the local newspapers in the next 2 weeks.

Just for fun, the Thunder Valley oddmakers are betting Nguyen to win. LSI also bets the same. And what if she lost, the bets are city council will appoint a Hispanic to replace her, especially now with the embarrassment leak of a Filipino American turning down the position.

This election is actually a pre-referendum to the mayoral's race as well as a state assembly race in 2010. Nguyen has to win and must win not only for her political fortune but may be others. And unless things are out of control, this is a race for Nguyen to lose and she will have no one to blame but herself if she lost.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Release Date: January 20, 2009
Position Closed After: February 5, 2009
Please send all inquires and resumes to:

The Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization (VA-NGO) Network is seeking a qualified executive director to help build the organization. The ideal candidate will have a successful track record of organizational development, a passion to assist the people of Vietnam, a history of achievement in fundraising and a collaborative approach suitable for a membership-based organization.

This is a newly-created position, and is suited for someone with an entrepreneurial drive, an ability to work independently in a small office, the ability to recruit volunteer help and the capacity to create the necessary programs, fundraising and administrative systems to enable the VA-NGO network to thrive.

The VA NGO Network’s purpose is to strengthen it’s the capacity of the member organizations to deliver effective assistance to the poor and disadvantaged in Vietnam. The VA NGO accomplishes this by:

• Building a united voice on issues of common interest, and • Delivering practical benefits to the members through technical assistance and effective advocacy. The basic principles that guide the VA NGO are transparency, accountability, effectiveness and sustainability. Our program activities and specific elements in programs will be designed to promote a combination of these principles. The selection of these principles is itself derived from our deep belief that these pillar principles provide the common higher ground for engaging our communities here in the US, elsewhere in the Vietnamese Diaspora, as well as in Vietnam towards the development of a just and thriving society in Vietnam.

Qualifications & Requirements

• The highest ethical standards. • College graduate in relevant field. • Experience in NGO work, humanitarian or development programs highly desirable. • Successful experience as a senior staff member in a non-profit or membership-based organization is highly desirable, including staff management experience. • Strong organizational and planning skills, combined with a proven ability to develop and implement new programs. • Excellent communication and writing skills in English, and the ability to convince, motivate and inspire groups including board members, staff, members and donors • Successful fundraising experience. • Ability to build trust and positive working relationships among diverse groups of people.

Job Responsibilities

Professional leadership
Provide leadership in suggesting and implementing strategies of VA NGO; ensure clarity as to the organization’s mandate, mission and vision. Direct the organization’s humanitarian and development programs; instill values appropriate to this role; promote understanding and collaboration. Provide the Board with quarterly reports describing results and costs of activities.

Strategic Planning

Develop clear statement of strategy, objectives and organizational goals. Describe agreed activities, identify new areas of work, manpower, and financial resources.
Management of organization and staff
Develop within 6 months of assuming position policies and procedures of governance and management for the Board to approve; hire and manage a multi-disciplinary staff and/or interns. Maximize staff’s ability to accomplish the organization's goals and objectives effectively and efficiently. Establish personnel policies and procedures to ensure quality, legality, and efficiency.

Consultation with and Updating the Board and Advisory Committee

Use the quarterly reports and routine communication to ensure the Board and Advisory Committee receive clear, concise and timely information all relevant matters. Provide carefully structured agendas, briefing papers, and policy proposals as required.

Fiscal responsibility

Implement the Board’s financial direction through developing policies and program consistent with the organization’s plans and resources. Manage the operations and formulate an annual budget consisting with the Board’s guidance and resources.


Assume overall responsibility for fundraising plans, including developing fundraising strategies and activities. Secure adequate funding for planned programs, prepare/supervise preparation and submission of proposals, ensure timely submission of reporting on grants, develop and sustain relations with donors; keeping abreast of fundraising developments in the non-profit sector.


Overseeing the production and ensuring excellent quality of excellence of the organization's published and electronic products and visual and verbal presentations.

Salary and other benefits will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

PO Box9479
FountainValley, CA927289479

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Fund Raising Events

On Sunday January 11, there were two political fund raising events, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They were about 4 miles apart.

The Recall Team due to their limited budget has been trying to raise money by word of mouth in the last 1 month. This would be the last fund raising for the campaign since they are at the exhaust point. It has been a very long campaign for them. Almost 9 months ago, they started the recall ballot with the gathering signature effort. After gathering a little bit over 7,000 signatures in three months, they managed to verify 5,187 signatures for submission.

Their last 3 fund raising events since December had a total of about 1,600 people attended. Since this is a grassroot movement, the contribution has been very limited with people giving $20 to $50 and no more.

In contrast, Nguyen's Anti Recall fund raising events (2 public and one private since December), where there were usually about 50 to 100 people attending, received mostly big money from wealthy real estate developers, lobbyists and labor unions that are mostly out of state. This time, she had the event at the San Jose Police Association's headquarters.

The last 460 form reported back in October showed that Nguyen raised twice as much as the Recall Team. It should not be any different this time around since rumors are there were a lot of wealthy donors that Reed had managed to persuade.
With the backing of the mayor, the city council, the Democratic Party, South Bay Labor, mainstream media, Nguyen is hoping to ride the mainstream voters to victory. The issue here is who are the mainstream voters? In a city where the population is 1/3 Asians, 1/3 Hispanics and 1/3 Whites, it would be interesting to see if Nguyen can win the White and Hispanic votes.
Even after 4 years in office, she has never built a Hispanic base in her district. Matter of fact, the Hispanic residents that care to vote will not vote for her since they still could not forget how she forced a venerable GI Forum (a nonprofit organization established to help Hispanic war veterans) almost into bankruptcy by refusing rezoning law.
The White voters are genuinely don't care for her also since she has not done anything for them in her time in office. But they will vote for her because of the mainstream media egging on calling the people who signed the recall petition demanding democracy bullies and extremists.
There are still 6 weeks left for campaigning so there are a lot of sparks still flying.

Owl and The sparrow

By L.A. Weekly Film Critics
OWL AND THE SPARROW (Vietnam/USA) Writer-director Stephane Gauger's lovely debut tracks a week in the lives of three young Vietnamese: a flight attendant on holiday, a zoo employee and a 10-year-old runaway. After suffering through multiple-storyline ensemble dramas like Crash and Babel, which resort to convoluted narrative coincidences to drive home humanistic messages, Owl and the Sparrow feels shockingly, refreshingly simple. Unfolding organically and honestly without a thought to making any larger points, the film's look at loneliness and tentative connection is small-scaled but tremendously resonant. Special accolades to child actress Pham Thi Han, who doesn't have a hammy or maudlin bone in her body.

For more dates, go to the website at To view trailer, click on
Owl and the Sparrow awards and nominations
2008 Nominee, Independent Spirit Awards - John Cassavetes Award
2007 Nominee, Gotham Awards - Breakthrough DirectorWinner,
Audience Award - Los Angeles Film FestivalWinner,
Best Narrative Feature San Francisco Asian American Film Festival
Dallas Asian Film Festival
San Diego Asian American Film Festival
Winner, NETPAC Award - Hawaii International Film Festival
Winner, Emerging Filmmaker - Starz Denver Film Festival

Owl and the Sparrow opens January 16h in Los Angeles and Orange County and expands the following week to major cities.

Laemmle Sunset 5 - West Hollywood, CA. showtimes: 1:40 4:20 7:15 9:45Q and A with director Stephane Gauger on Friday after the last 2 shows.

Regal Garden Grove 16 - Garden Grove, CaRegal Westpark - Irvine, CAQ and A with director Stephane Gauger on Saturday after the 4:30 and 7:30 pm shows