CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: What’s Going On in ‘Our’ Political World

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WIMPY1By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

Many of you have difficulty managing spare time these days, so I will volunteer to be your news reviewer today. I don’t know squat about multi-tasking, but it seems there is little time for busy people to keep up with the news. I can’t breathe through twenty-four hours without knowing what’s going on in this mad world of ours. Though CR2S stubbornly refuses to text, Instagram and tweet, I’m hoping the God of Communication will be patient and understanding. Meanwhile, I have plenty of time to be at your service.

So big deal, I take refuge in reading newspapers, magazines and books; watching and listening to four, six and eleven o’clock newscasts and an occasional Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert show. Currently, thanks to T/W (and apologies to those without), I get to watch L.A. Dodger baseball. And we know for sure CR2S never misses a Jappo news angle.

On the national scene, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki is finding out how much more difficult the Washington, D.C. battlefield is than Vietnam. The highest-ranking Japanese American ever (four stars, ret.) is being chastised for the wretched condition of the VA; especially how it mishandles veterans in need of medical care. A political appointee always inherits the shortcomings of predecessors and has little time to impact an established, inept bureaucracy. But c’est la vie, rikugunshiokan (“tough duty, General”). Unfortunately, there are no civilian ARs (Articles of War) to guide a Foggy Bottom neophyte. And the Pentagon, unfortunately, is an enemy rather than an ally!

The American Legion leads the cry for his head. [Need I remind you, it was the last vet org to accept JAs as members.] Prez Obama has declared (tepid) support of his embattled appointee and the media have been fair, so far. The good general has very little time to turn the tide in an election year run-up.

On the California front, the politician with a Japanese name that white folk can’t screw up is facing a career-threatening challenge in our state’s northern 17th District. Seven-term Congressman Mike Honda is facing an extremely well-funded moderate newcomer, Ro Khanna. This shapes up as a strange turnabout since most of the Indian American’s funding is coming from Silicon Valley powerhouses; past supporters of Honda. They had been backers because of his role in an early 2000 bill that had paved the way for the establishment of the high-tech phenomenon. “They” are now backing Khanna as their Democratic choice, ignoring the last of the evacuee politicians; so much for loyalty and all that political jazz. Norman Mineta was the first Nisei representative from San Jose.

Down here in Southern California, we are following the puzzling plight of Gardena Mayor Paul Tanaka, vying for the title of Los Angeles County sheriff while under a cloud of doubt and controversy. How many of you remember cartoonist Al Capp’s infamous “Joe Bftstk” (for want of an official spelling)? He’s the cartoon character who walked under a constant raincloud, no matter where or when. Tanaka is a modern-day JB, a candidate with problems constantly raining on his campaign.

Under normal circumstances he would have the adjective “leading” in front of his candidacy, having been erstwhile Sheriff Lee Baca’s #2 man. But in this case, being the undersheriff in a much-maligned administration is a ballast instead of a boost. The wide-ranging inquiry into the county jail system that is being conducted during the campaign is nimbus #2. The final and most threatening storm cloud is how to downplay the ominous FBI probe. As added fodder, questions persist regarding an unexplained shipment of police equipment to Asia via Gardena and departmental elitism.

CR2S believes as damaging as anything is The Los Angeles Times’ obvious anti-Tanaka bias. The newspaper is no longer a kingmaker, but its political clout is still considerable. Without favoring any of the six other hopefuls, The Times has made it clear they look upon Tanaka with great disfavor.

In the grand tradition of honesty and full disclosure, CR2S must confess to suffering a personal defeat at the polls: WTH was trounced 79 to 5 in a race for 2014-15 Keiro Retirement Home president. Hold the boos, there were salient reasons and excuses. First of all, I was not a candidate; five thoughtful residents made me a write-in selection. Had there been a hint of such shenanigans pending, I could have nudged others to cast additional face-saving votes.

Not being a sore loser, but I should point out a committee (of which I was a member) nominated a slate of candidates and presented it to the voters. The nominees, headed by a three-term incumbent president, were all runaway winners.With over 70% of KRH Japanese-speaking, it would be like Eric Snowden replacing Vladimir Putin if I ran . . . and won.

But there is a glimmer of future hope. Aside from heading up the important Food Committee (alas, non-elective), I have been elected a floor monitor. Actually a co-, since there are two required for the all-important post. What are the duties of a FM? Wait until the next fire drill and I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, I think a revival of my lonely campaign to muzzle the infernal intercom system is the next target.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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