Archive for December, 2015

Christmas Card: 2015 Edition

Posted in Announcements, Music with tags , , , , on December 25, 2015 by Ian Pham

Christmas CandlesImage via Images Buddy

Seasons Greetings, dear readers!

I don’t have much time to blog today, but it still doesn’t feel right to leave you all without a Merry Christmas and a song. So, here I am, wishing you all a Happy Holidays, and a very Merry Christmas!

Whether you’re with family, friends, or spending some time alone this holiday season, I hope that your days and nights are filled with comfort, warmth, and happiness. Appreciate what you have, don’t stop dreaming, and don’t stop believing.

That’s all the time I have, folks. Best wishes this holiday season, and don’t forget to smile.

Once again,

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Ian

P.S. This year’s Christmas song is the famous “Do You Hear What I Hear?” written by Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker in 1962. Here beautifully performed by Carrie Underwood.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

I’m Done With Donald Trump

Posted in Opinions, Politics, Videos with tags , , , , , , , on December 22, 2015 by Ian Pham

Donald TrumpImage via CNN

Several months ago, when the GOP leadership race was just kicking into high gear, I wrote a column expressing my unexpected support for billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump. I praised his willingness to tackle the difficult issues, to speak his mind, and to get straight to the point without being bogged down by political correctness. During that time, in the late summer/early fall of this year, I said that my views of Trump were slowly switching from disdain for a “buffoon,” and “imbecile,” to admiration for a strong and assertive leader with effective, yet unconventional solutions. He was changing my mind, or so I thought.

Well, it is now December, and things have gone full circle. I went from initially thinking he’s an idiot, to slowly becoming intrigued by his audacity, to briefly actually believing that he’s just the guy that America needs, to occasionally asking myself, “wait, did he really just say that?” and now, definitively, to knowing that he’s an absolute idiot.

Yeah, I admit it. Throughout this autumn, while closely paying attention to the GOP leadership race, I legitimately entertained the idea of a Trump presidency. Although I didn’t agree with his choice of words on tackling immigration, I respected his courage in pressing the issue, and defending his position non-apologetically despite the enormous backlash throughout. Moreover, it was his outward criticism of China and their poor conduct in world politics and economics that really gained my attention, and thus winning me over to the Trump campaign. Throughout this time, I actually believed, if only for a short time, that the eccentric Republican front-runner would follow through with his pledge to “Make America Great Again.”

As time went on, however, and as The Donald spoke more and more, it became apparent to me that this guy legitimately has no idea what he is talking about most of the time. More alarmingly yet, is that despite knowing nothing about the issues at hand, Trump shows no reservations on pushing forward thoughtless and dangerous solutions to these problems that, again, he does not understand.

In response to the heinous terrorist attacks in Paris this November, Donald Trump suggested that the U.S. government start monitoring mosques in America. He then went even further to say that, as president, he would strongly consider shutting some mosques down. In addition, Trump advocated that all the Muslims in the U.S. be registered in a national database, so that they would be easier to track. These proposals, presented by Trump, unabashedly single out and discriminate against every single Muslim in the United States. Furthermore, it disregards the fact that these terrorist acts were committed by savages, a few violent extremist animals who do not represent Islam as a whole, or even represent Islam at all, for that matter.

I support hunting down ISIS, and killing ISIS. I support monitoring and screening potential refugees before deeming them safe to enter the country. I support America’s fight against international terrorism, and the world’s greater fight against international terrorism.

What I don’t support, however, is bigotry, xenophobia, and blind hatred against an entire population of people, all because of the truly horrible actions that were committed by a few. The enemy is not Islam as a whole, the enemy is a small, distorted, and extremist bastardization of the religion and is called Radical Islam, the enemy is international terrorism, the enemy is ISIS.

Instead of working with the Muslim population in America and abroad to combat ISIS and their radicalization tactics, Trump is doing the opposite, antagonizing all the Muslims in the U.S. and around the world, and hurting American efforts to combat ISIS and international terrorism.

This argument can be further exemplified by Trump’s suggestion after the tragedy in San Bernardino just earlier this month. According to CNN, Trump responded to the terrorist attacks in California by pushing forward the proposal to ban absolutely all Muslims from coming into the U.S., whether they be refugees, or simply tourists visiting the country.

Like his previous suggestions, the Muslim ban drew furious backlash for Trump, and in usual Trump fashion, he stood his ground, with no apologies whatsoever. Sure, it is respectable that he stands by what he says, but by now, it has become apparent to me that although Donald Trump is a steadfast person who approaches issues with vigor, he is also a moron who does not know what he is talking about, nor does he care to educate himself on the matters even after his mistakes are made.

In regards to national security, and specifically in regards to this Syrian refugee crisis, I believe that due diligence and proper screening processes are an absolute must before letting any refugee into the country. Safety of the American people, and the security of the country as a whole, is paramount. Trump’s swift and blanket ban on all Muslims however, is a poorly thought out, over-simplistic, and reckless solution to a complicated issue. As outlined by fellow GOP candidate Jeb Bush, America has allies in Muslim countries such as Jordan, Turkey, as well as ethnic groups such as the Kurds, who are among the most effective fighters against ISIS. A blanket ban on all Muslims would alienate all of these allies, making it much more difficult to effectively destroy ISIS. Donald Trump does not seem to understand that, nor does he seem interested in trying to understand.

Lastly, on this timeline describing my slow and gradual deterioration of support for Trump, we come to the latest instance that proves he’s an easily manipulated moron. This was made possible last week thanks to the miscalculations of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose kind words towards Donald Trump revealed just exactly how susceptible Trump is to flattery, and how easily he will bend when being told what he wants to hear.

After being praised as a “bright and talented man” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race” by Putin, Donald Trump responded in kind, complimenting the Russian President on his leadership, and even saying that it is better than the current leadership in America.

Look, I get it. I too am disappointed in Obama’s leadership. I too am fed up with his feckless conduct against China in the Pacific, Russia in Crimea, Bashir al-Assad in Syria, ISIS in Iraq and the Middle East, and so many other instances on the international stage. He’s a joke, a non-factor, an afterthought in the eyes of international leaders everywhere, and just in general, a weak leader, and a weak president. However, he is still not a ruthless dictator like Vladimir Putin.

For all of the shortcomings in his leadership, from which there are many, Barack Obama is still one who upholds democratic ideals and respects human rights. He does not murder journalists or political opponents, nor does he silence all opposition or try to establish absolute dictatorial rule over the country he presides. To compare him to a dictator/gangster such as Vladimir Putin, and furthermore, to suggest that Putin is the better leader, is absolutely ludicrous. But, that is exactly what Donald Trump has done, and again, this is exactly what Trump is steadfastly defending in the face of heavy criticism from his political opponents and his critics.

Why is Trump defending Putin again? Right, because Putin complimented him, and we must remember, that Trump loves compliments. He loves compliments so much that he is willing to defend the dictator of an antagonistic country to the U.S. in order to keep that compliment. Little did he know that by reacting so gleefully towards the pleasantries sent his way by Putin, he just played right into the hands of the Russian leader.

When pressed by Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe” about Putin’s tendency to kill Russian journalists and opponents to his political power, Trump defends Putin, and takes a shot at America by saying that, “… our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know…” It seems that Mr. Trump is unable to distinguish between the type of killing that the U.S. carries out, and the murders that Putin orchestrates. Mitt Romney, in a tweet, spells out the differences for Trump in less than 140 characters:

Yeah, it really speaks volumes that The Donald can’t tell the difference.

It is not yet clear why Putin would release such a statement at this point in time. Was it a calculated move to trap Donald Trump into saying something stupid? Or was it a miscalculation, an attempt to win over and exploit someone who Putin believes to be the future president of the United States, only to have the idiot accidentally screw himself over? According to Christian Whiton, it falls somewhere closer to the latter, where Putin, in sending out praises to the Republican front-runner, is looking to use the idiocy and arrogance of Donald Trump as a means to further Russia’s national interests. Whiton contends that the Russian leader is “happily” pocketing “Trump’s naivete,” and as a cunning former KGB officer, Putin has been trained to “look for character flaws that can be used to enlist a target as an agent or, short of that, an unwitting helper.” To put simply, Putin is playing on Trump’s self-absorbed personality to get what he wants, and Trump is falling for it without fail.

Sadly for Putin, however, it doesn’t look like Trump will be his man. The Donald is still leading in the polls right now, which is unsettling, but I highly doubt that it will remain that way for much longer. The increasingly ignorant comments against Muslims in the U.S. and abroad, followed by the equally idiotic solutions to these problems that he clearly does not understand, it has become clear to me that Donald Trump is not fit to be America’s commander in chief. The latest “bromance” with Vladimir Putin only reaffirms this notion, because it demonstrates how easily it is to manipulate Donald Trump. Apparently all it takes is some patience and a few flattering words, and Trump is putty in your hands.

This is where it has come with my support for Donald Trump. After watching him legitimately present a plan to implement a police state against all Muslims in the U.S., effectively spitting on the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of The Constitution; after watching him make audacious statements that will alienate all of America’s allies in the Middle East; and, after seeing how easy it is for him to be manipulated by Vladimir Putin, I’ve decided that Donald Trump is not the candidate for me.

It’s been a good run, I approached it with an open mind, but now it is clear: Trump is an idiot, and possibly a fascist, but I’ll digress on that one, because I’m tired of talking, and I’m sure you’re all tired of my ranting.

Before I conclude, however, I would like to leave you all with a few more examples of Trump’s general lack of knowledge, and reiterate my position that Trump really doesn’t know what he is talking about most of the time.

Here is Trump trying to bluff his way through a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the fourth GOP debate on November 10, 2015. Rand Paul puts Trump in check at 1:09:

And this is from the latest GOP debate on December 15, 2015, when Trump stumbles on a question about the nuclear triad, with Senator Marco Rubio graciously picking up the pieces:

That’s it, people. I’m done here. It’s over. Shut it down. Shut it all down.

I’m done with Donald Trump.

Here’s a Nice Song That Viet Khang Wrote, Performed by Dan Truong

Posted in Music with tags , , on December 22, 2015 by Ian Pham

Viet Khang - Ban ThanImage via Dan Luan

The following is a song that Viet Khang wrote. It started making its rounds on the internet in early 2012, a short while after the musician’s arrest for writing his two groundbreaking and politically-driven songs, “Anh La Ai (Who Are You)?” and “Viet Nam Toi Dau (Where Is My Vietnam)?” After some brief snooping however, it turns out that this song has been out since 2010, and is performed by a singer named Dan Truong. According to Youtube, in the video’s description, the song is performed by Dan Truong, and written by Viet Khang.

Along with the two famous tracks mentioned above, this single has also become quite popular among Viet Khang’s fans.

The song which I currently speak of is titled “Ban Than,” which means “Good Friend” in Vietnamese. It’s literally all about looking forward to hanging out with your friend, having coffee, and talking about life and other things. I personally enjoyed the song quite a bit, and feel that many of you will like it too. It’s nonpolitical, it’s slow, and it’s just really nice.

Hope you all liked it. I know I sure did.

Once again, welcome back, Brother Viet Khang.

Communists Are Afraid of Books, Arrest Phuong Uyen Again for Holding One

Posted in Books, Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2015 by Ian Pham

Phuong Uyen Holding BookPhoto via Tin Mung Cho Nguoi Ngheo

As comical as that headline may be, one might find it even more comical, and sad, that it’s actually true.

If you recall, Nguyen Phuong Uyen is the feisty and highly intelligent young democracy activist who, in 2013, was arrested by the Communist Party for speaking out against the VCP’s despotic, corrupt, and cowardly governance. One of my favorite messages from her was, “Đi chết đi, DCS VN bán nước,” which roughly translates to, “Kill yourselves, treasonous Vietnamese Communist Party.” She was released in August of 2013 due to international pressure, but was still terrorized by the Party thereafter. Well, she is still here, she is still fighting the commies, and she is bolder than ever.

Just over a week ago, the young activist and former prisoner of conscience Phuong Uyen met up with a few friends at a café somewhere in Saigon. In her possession was a newly published book titled Ước Mơ Của Thủy, which translates to The Dreams of Thủy, or Thủy’s Dreams in English. The book is written by a young author, Ms. Le Viet Ky Nhi, with the preface written by Ms. Phuong Uyen herself. For her involvement with the book, as well as for simply having the book on her person, Phuong Uyen was arrested again by VCP police and held captive for several days.

Ước Mơ Của Thủy is a very important piece of literature that is causing quite a stir within the communist dictatorship system. In only 100 pages, the author Le Viet Ky Nhi is able to present some very powerful ideas that are more than scaring the shit out of the communists. Both historical and political, the author starts out by examining the long and deep history of the Viet people, before moving on to contemporary times, and how the country needs to change to rebuild itself.

Naturally, the communists view this as a threat, and have banned the book from circulation in Vietnam.

And so, on December 13, 2015, while meeting a few friends at Chieu coffee shop, and carrying the book in her bag, Nguyen Phuong Uyen was apprehended by a gang of communist policemen and hauled off to the police station. According to Dan Lam Bao, she was detained for two days and one night by the communist police. She is still being monitored and harassed by authorities after her release.

Keep fighting the good fight, Uyen.

You’re not alone.

DMCS.

Sources:

Dan Lam Bao (Collaborator), Dan Lam Bao (CTV), Dan Lam Bao (VRNs and translated by Ngu Ngoc), Tin Mung Cho Nguoi Ngheo, United Press International, Youtube (VanHoaNBLV1)

Viet Khang is Officially Home

Posted in Democracy Activists, Music, Society with tags , , , , on December 15, 2015 by Ian Pham

Viet Khang ReturnsPhoto via Radio Free Asia

It’s official, folks. Viet Khang, the renowned musician and democracy activist, has returned home safely to his family.

In his interview with Radio Free Asia, the musician explains his long trip back home after being released from communist imprisonment. Being provided a group to drive him, Viet Khang did not arrive home until 3-4pm, having left at 7am earlier that morning. He cites the fact that his drivers, taking their sweet time, had to stop for food and refreshments and whatnot, while he was anxious to get home and did not eat at all.

From the same interview, the musician explains that he will be under house arrest for the next 2-3 years, that he is very grateful for all the love and support that he has received throughout this time, and, that he has no regrets for the things that he has done. He is a musician who speaks from his heart, and he is a man who loves his country.

Welcome home, Brother Viet Khang.

Listen to the whole interview at Radio Free Asia.

Musician and Human Rights Activist Viet Khang Released From Prison Yesterday

Posted in Democracy Activists, Music, Politics, Society with tags , , , , on December 15, 2015 by Ian Pham

Viet KhangPhoto via We Heart Music

Yesterday in Vietnam, Viet Khang, the musician and human rights activist who has been imprisoned by the Vietnamese communist government since late 2011 because of his music, was finally released after four years in jail.

Brother Viet Khang, as many of us like to call him, wrote two songs in 2011: “Viet Nam Toi Dau (Where Is My Vietnam)?” and “Anh La Ai (Who Are You)?” Both of these tracks ask some serious questions about the Vietnamese Communist Party and their governance, namely, “why are you selling our nation to the Chinese?” and, “why are you suppressing and terrorizing our people for defending the country?”

As you may know, it is illegal to ask questions in Vietnam, especially if they bring up how stupid or cowardly the communist leadership is. And so, for his courage and the willingness to ask questions, Brother Viet Khang was arrested and sentenced to four years in jail.

Vietnam. Where asking a simple question such as, “why don’t we just defend our country?” can get you sentenced to four years in prison. But, I digress.

As of yesterday, December 14, 2015, it is reported that Viet Khang has finally been released from captivity. According to SBS, Viet Khang’s mother is awaiting his return home. There is not yet news of his safe arrival at this time of writing.

Let us all pray for Viet Khang and his family, and hope that the brave musician returns home to his family soon, if he is not home already.