Of Hot Turkey Sex, Bush and Obama

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Is change coming to your Thanksgiving table and to the White House?

All this talk about change these days. This year, is there going to be a change at your Thanksgiving meal?

I’m having Tofurky again this year. They’re not a sponsor like the good hair doc extraordinaire, Dr. Peter Panagotacos. Tofurky is just a good substitute. All the trimmings without the feathers. And it’s fun to say. Tofurky, toFURKY, TOFURKY!!!

It used to be a bit weird to say no to turkey at Thanksgiving. But my family has been doing it for nearly 20 years. As full disclosure, my wife is a PETA executive. When we want to see a horror film, we simply turn to the video shot by PETA’s undercover crew at turkey processing plants around the country.

This year’s investigation (getactive.peta.org/campaign/turkey_investigation) exposes the practices at Aviagen in Lewisburg, W.Va., a German-based company that calls itself “the world’s leading poultry-breeding company.” That’s a nice way of saying it promotes turkey sex.

Hot turkey sex, it turns out, is neither good nor bad sex, But it’s definitely not safe sex -not when you mix in the outrageous human behavior by workers at Aviagen’s plant. The video documents workers stomping birds heads, wringing their necks and thrashing them willy nilly with 2-by-4s. PETA estimates that hundreds of birds have been abused. There’s even a segment that shows a worker simulating turkey sex. Tofurky, anyone?

Pardoning Bush
It also made me think of all those politicians who love to pardon turkeys to show their compassion. George W. Bush, in one of his last great acts, officially pardoned a 45-pound Tom turkey last week. It was probably one of the only times Bush himself may have felt the turkey was actually luckier than he was. It gets saved and not digested, and then is whisked off to Disneyland where it will be grand marshal of the Disney Thanksgiving Day parade.

The bird gets to have fun. In the meantime, Bush gets devoured for a few more weeks as the lame duck president who steered us into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Despite all that, I must admit a few pangs of compassion for Bush, even though he was a dismal failure as leader of the free world. It’s all because of Josh Brolin and his tour-de-force portrayal of Dubya in the movie W.

Currently limping its way out of the scene, much like Bush himself, and into that purgatory where so-so films go until they are reborn on DVD, Stone’s movie sure has a lot of Asian American producers on it. And there’s Hong Kong starlet Teresa Cheung, who as executive producer inserted herself in the role of the Asian American journalist at the White House. Now that’s a good merge of power and self-interest. Kudos to her.
The movie, however, rates but two of four stars from me. It neither gets deep enough psychologically to be a biopic of weight, nor does it delve deep enough into the recent history to be a decent show and tell. Maybe we need more information, like when Bush writes his autobiography. Or will it be his comic book?

The movie has pangs of truth that hit you as the history plays out. What could Colin Powell have done, you wonder? What would the world be like without a Karl Rove?

But the most endearing moments in the movie deal with the personal relationships between W., his dad, Laura, his dogs, his beer. After eight years of bad policy that makes you want to wring his neck (but not like a turkey’s neck), I actually felt far more sympathetic than I ever have toward W.

The movie is neither broad satire nor send-up. At this point, one more Bush joke would be piling it on. The election is over, the administration is packing up. Time to start piling off, and be thankful it’s all over.

Obama’s White House

To Bush’s credit, after his victory in 2000, he was damned sure he would make his administration “look like America.” It wasn’t lip service. Even in the movie “W.,” two African American actors got to play the two prominent African Americans who played a role in the last administration.

So why are Asian Americans barely bit players in this new upcoming one?

The AAA Fund (www.aaa-fund.org/), a political organization dedicated to the empowerment of Asian Americans seems to have picked up on my notion that the change in the Obama White House may be one of “limited diversity.” In other words, where are the Asians?

In a recent e-mail, Board member Gautam Dutta writes: “Almost two-thirds of all Asian Americans voted for Obama. Unfortunately, only one Asian American leader is seriously being considered for his entire cabinet: Illinois Veteran Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

The disabled vet is a rising star, but I thought she might run for Obama’s vacant Senate seat. For cabinet posts, DNC Vice Chairman Mike Honda’s name deserves to be at least thrown into the ring.

Could it be the Bush Administration’s cabinet, with Latinos, blacks and two, count’em, two Asian Americans, will be far more diverse than an Obama cabinet?

Mull over that one as you digest your tofurky.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

See that Sarah Palin pardon a turkey, get updates, find out what really makes Emil go amok at amok.asianweek.com.
E-mail: emil@amok.com

About the Author

For almost 15 years, Emil Guillermo wrote his "Amok" column for AsianWeek, which was the largest English language Asian American newsweekly in the nation. "Amok" was considered the most widely-read column on Asian American issues in the U.S. His thoughtful and provocative social commentaries have appeared in print in the San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate.com, San Francisco Examiner, USA Today, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Honolulu Advertiser, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and in syndication throughout the country. His early columns are compiled in a book "Amok: Essays from an Asian American Perspective," which won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2000. Guillermo's journalistic career began in television and radio broadcasting. At National Public Radio, he was the first Asian American male to anchor a regularly scheduled national news broadcast when he hosted "All Things Considered" from 1989-1991. During his watch, major news broke, including the violence in Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of dictatorships in Romania and Panama. From Washington, Guillermo hosted the shows that broke the news. As a television journalist, his award-winning reports and commentaries have appeared on NBC, CNN, and PBS. He was a reporter in San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. After NPR, Guillermo became a press secretary and speechwriter for then Congressman Norman Mineta, the former cabinet member in the Bush and Clinton Administrations. After his Hill experience, Guillermo returned to the media, hosting his own talk show in Washington, D.C. on WRC Radio. He returned to California where he hosted talk shows in San Francisco at KSFO/KGO, and in Sacramento at KSTE/KFBK. Guillermo's columns in the ethnic press inspired a roundtable discussion program that he created, hosted, executive produced, resulting in more than 100 original half-hour programs. "NCM-TV: New California Media" was seen on PBS stations in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles, and throughout the state on cable. Guillermo also spent time as a newspaper reporter covering the poor and the minority communities of California's Central Valley. His writing and reporting on California's sterilization program on the poor and minorities won him statewide and national journalism awards. Guillermo, a native San Franciscan, went to Lowell High School, and graduated from Harvard College, where he was an Ivy Orator and class humorist, a distinction shared by fellow Lampoon members like James Downey (Saturday Night Live) and Conan O'Brien. Find out what he's up to at www.amok.com.