Thursday, February 04, 2016

Disrupting Buildup Fantasies

I've been working for a few months on an article for a book on discourses on sustainability. I reached a number of deadends in my writing, but eventually, finally found a breakthrough last month in terms of how I wanted to craft my argument about how we an see discourses on sustainability in terms of discussions and critiques on the US military buildup plans for Guam.

I'll be presenting some components of my draft at the upcoming Academic Research Conference sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at UOG. I just submitted my abstract for it, which I've pasted below:

"Situating Sustainability: Disrupting Military Buildup Fantasies"

In 2009 the USDOD announced their intention to dramatically increase their military presence on the island of Guam. Although this “military buildup” was predicted to cause severe damage to the island in environmental, social and economic terms, discourse from island leaders and media reports focused primarily on this increase as being the key to future “sustainability” for the island. In this paper I will argue that the notion of the military buildup as being “sustainable” was tied to Guam’s history of militarization and the way that the United States has been elevated to the stature of being a liberator and social/economic savior. I will also discuss the ways in which demilitarization activists from groups such as “We Are Guahan” used the public comment period for the US military’s plans in order disrupt the fantasy of the buildup’s sustainability, and help the community develop a more critical position in relation to its potential impacts.

In addition to sharing this abstract, I also wanted to paste a short piece from my longer article. I'm hoping to find some time in the next few weeks to actually sit down and finish it. It will be tough as so many things are happening in February, many of them simply due to the planning for the ridiculous amount of activities that will be taking place in March for Mes Chamoru. Someone who has given me invaluable support in the writing of this article is i nobia-hu Dr. Isa Kelley Bowman. In addition to helping me gather articles and other forms of data relevant to the military buildup comment period from 2009 - 2010 on Guam, she also helped me brainstorm and even worked to create first drafts for some sections. Here is a section that she has been geftao enough to help me work on. It is meant to introduce not just the public comment period, but also aspects of Chamorro identity that will help those unfamiliar with why Chamorros are such a heavily militarized community, where they may see militarism in their lives as being far more normal than most. Reading it right now takes me back to that time, hanging out in public meeting after public meeting talking to people, and feeling amazed at how despite the media representations of public opinion on the military buildup, so many people there seemed to have strong critiques and stronger concerns. Here is the draft. Si Yu'us Ma'ase ta'lo Isa para todu i ayudu-mu gi este na cho'cho'!


On Saturday, the ninth of January, 2010, at the University of Guam Fieldhouse, a cavernous sports arena, military personnel began early, setting up large, colorful, professionally made posters in a series with maps, showing certain locations on the island of Guam (Guåhan) that the U.S. military planned to use to accommodate an influx of new Marines to the existing bases.  The maps, with accompanying informational videos and text, sought to assure community members who would be attending this hearing that the proposed firing ranges and other impacts on the environment would be negligible or offset by benefits.  This evening was just one in a series of public comment periods sponsored by the military and the local government.    

As the appointed time for the hearing drew nearer, the Fieldhouse filled with more than five hundred community members and residents of the island of Guam, the southernmost of the Marianas Islands, the millennia-old home of the indigenous Chamorro people.  Since World War Two, following the intensive bombing campaign (more destructive than that of any previous conflict) with which the U.S. military took back the island from the occupying Japanese, the unincorporated U.S. territory had sent its sons and daughters in droves, in percentages far higher than those of any state, to serve and die in the military of – as the United Nations described the U.S. – its Occupying Power.  Liberation Day every July commemorated the re-occupation of the island by the U.S., and the Chamorro people, as well as the large Filipino community, turned out by the thousand to celebrate their military rulers.  There were pockets of deep resistance over the years, particularly in the issue of the arbitrary theft of land by the U.S. following the war, which found wide popular expression through the decades with groups such as Nasion Chamoru, promoting independence and sovereignty for the Chamorro people.

Yet the notion of Guam as “superpatriotic” would be challenged at this public hearing because the military’s plans were viewed as repeating many of those same painful issues of military land-taking.  Before the hearing began, members of community organizations including the Taotaomo’na Native Rights Group and We Are Guåhan processed into the arena in force behind Nasion Chamoru leaders Danny “Pågat” Jackson and Josephine “Ofin” Jackson as their grandson Cason Jackson sang the famous hymn “Fanoghe Chamoru” (“Rise, Chamorros”).  One of the most impacted areas of the island under the proposal from the military would be the region Mr. Jackson was named for, Pågat by the cliffs, a site registered with the Department of Historic Preservation as an archaeological site with the ruins of an ancient Chamorro village and associated artifacts, along with a freshwater spring of historical importance inside a cave.  This would have required taking the idyllic jungle area and breathtaking adjacent cliffsides away from the Chamorro Land Trust in order to use it for a firing range.  Combining both young and older-generation activists, these groups represented a vast public groundswell of unexpected opposition to the U.S. military’s environmentally catastrophic plans for its “buildup,” moving up to seventy-five thousand more residents from the military and support industries to the small island.

The military originally had issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of over eleven thousand pages, giving the people of the land at first only ninety days to read it, discuss, and offer comments.  Because of Guam’s history of apparent patriotism and widespread complacency in the face of U.S. military discourse – despite U.S. veterans’ testimony that Agent Orange and other toxic defoliants were dumped on Guam during the Vietnam War period, despite the existence of almost twenty Superfund toxic sites on the small island, and despite a significant history of public outrage at often uncompensated and coercive military land-taking, which now amounted to nearly one-third of the entire land mass of the island – the military perhaps was not expecting the resultant ten thousand comments, representing the voices of almost 20% of the population.  Most of these comments were strongly critical of the military’s plans.

Speaker after speaker at the hearing, representing different walks of life – male, female, veterans, civilian, artist, business person, educator, nurse – all came forward to register their complaints about the plans that the US military had for their island.  Melvin Won Pat Borja, twenty-eight-year-old scion of a powerful Guam political family, reflected the concerns of many when he spoke that evening at the UOG Fieldhouse:  “You are not alone.  We must be united.  We must never be silent!  I think in the past the larger community has been misrepresented as being in full support of this buildup.  I think a lot of our people have been misled into believing the general population is in full support of this move.”

Similarly, at a later hearing, elder statesman Senator Vicente “Ben” Pangelinan said, “Ladies and gentlemen, they tell us that this process tonight is to listen to the people.  Well, let me just say, that before the people have even stopped talking, they have stopped listening.  . . . They’re going to move forward, in which, no matter what decision we have here . . . nothing we say matters.  They can move the Navy and will be given the authorization to not listen, to not honor the thoughts, the sentiments, and the feelings of the people which this process is designed to influence.”

Even the United States’s own Enviromental Protection Agency strongly criticized the proposal by the U.S. military: “environmentally unsatisfactory”; it “should not proceed as proposed.”  Nancy Woo of the EPA said, “The government of Guam and the Guam Waterworks cannot by themselves accommodate the military expansion . . . It is not possible and it is not fair that the island bear the cost.”  At the time, Guam government officials put the total costs of the proposed buildup at about three billion dollars, including $1.7 billion for infrastructure and $100 million for the already severely overburdened public hospital.  On Guam – where a third of the population at the time received food stamps, massive influx of impoverished immigrants from the surrounding islands was promoted by the U.S., and about 25 percent of the population lived below the U.S. poverty level – that price tag could never have been paid with local tax revenue. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

More Pay Raise News and Abuse

I haven't been following this issue closely enough, and so I thought I would post some articles about it as a means of forcing myself to get up to date. Tailugat yu' pa'go na puenge, pues bai hu go'go'te ha' i fino'-hu yan hinasso-ku siha put este para un otro na diha.


Enact the Payraise Rollback
The Guam Daily Post

We encourage Gov. Eddie Calvo to sign Bill 204 and roll back the hefty, retroactive pay raises elected officials gave themselves in November 2014. We are aware that the governor supports the raises – as he has consistently stated – and that his signature on the bill is unlikely, but we are hopeful that position will be reconsidered, particularly in light of the government’s “cash crunch.”

We have opposed the raises and supported the rollback efforts since the raises were enacted. They were enacted less than three weeks after the 2014 election in order to avoid any reaction from voters – which would certainly have been negative – at the polls. And, in what can only be considered the negation of transparency, they were made retroactive.

We have also contended that the government of Guam simply could not afford to allow the elected officials to be so generous with themselves. This has become most obvious in recent months as the public hospital’s overdue payables have come to total more than $20 million – including about $3 million due to the Government of Guam Retirement Fund. The hospital’s power and water were within a couple of days of being disconnected for nonpayment. These are debts owed by the hospital that can only be resolved with payment; if the government had sufficient cash, it would surely pay these debts.

Similarly, the Guam Department of Education – which has been chronically underfunded resulting in a shortage of teachers, support staff and instructional supplies – actually had the power to its offices disconnected in September 2015 because it owed more than $2.6 million. The Department of Corrections owes its staff more than $600,000 in overdue overtime pay.

We are among those who are disappointed that it took so long for a rollback bill to pass. Clearly some legislators, such as Sens. Michael San Nicolas, Nerissa Underwood, Tom Ada, Frank Aguon and Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz joined the rollback effort early on. But the outcome of Friday’s vote was correct. The taxpayers’ money that was used for the raises is needed for the community services for which it is intended as much now as ever. We are hopeful that the raises will be rescinded and the money directed where it is most needed.


The Law of the Land
"Building a Responsible Guam"
Senator Michael San Nicolas
The Guam Daily Post

Last week I talked about trust in the rule of law and now we turn to a natural extension of that discussion, the basis of the law itself. On Guam, this "law of the land" is the Organic Act, passed by Congress in 1950 and which ostensibly has functioned as our jurisdiction's "constitution" for the last 66 years. This foundation for our laws and government is important because no laws can supersede the fundamental principles and processes laid out in the Organic Act and it elevates certain rights and structures beyond the realm of the political.

We saw recently that pay raises for appointed and elected officials have caused widespread mistrust in government and an ongoing political struggle for over a year now. The federal government passed an amendment to prevent elected officials from giving themselves a raise by passing the 27th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, requiring that any pay raise go into effect in the next term and not the current one. This meant it was the people who decided if their elected official should get this raise. This elevated the issue beyond the political fray and prevented such parliamentary mechanics like the "notwithstanding" provision which can override any regular law.

While most of the amendments to the Constitution have been incorporated into the Organic Act, this particular amendment was not in the Organic Act because it was not in the Constitution in 1950. A bill has already been introduced in the House of Representatives by Guam Delegate Bordallo to resolve this omission, and I pushed for and support her action.

A local constitution can serve as our foundational "law of the land," one that is drafted, debated and decided by the people of Guam. The U.S. Constitution provided a framework for the prosperity and civil liberties Americans enjoy today. A local constitution is beneficial to our people because it sets the limits of government, prevents government overreach into our lives, prevents excess borrowing, and protects our individual rights.

The Organic Act currently sets a limit on our government's borrowing capacity, but certain forms of indebtedness do not count toward the debt ceiling because it is not specified to be included in the debt count by the Organic Act. This is one reason the unfunded liability in our retirement fund was allowed to balloon to the current $1.3 billion. A Guam Constitution can close these gaps in the law.
Fortunately, the right to write our own Guam Constitution is recognized by the U.S. federal government, yet we have been unable to see it all the way through. We've had two efforts to draft a Guam Constitution, one in beginning 1969 and another in 1977, and both were unsuccessful. I think it is long overdue for a new generation to look at the issue once again.

While we need to work on the trust that people have in their leaders in order to accomplish a Guam Constitution that people will support, I think it is an important step that needs to be taken. As we work to restore the public's trust in leadership, we must begin the dialogue of a constitutional framework. We need to research where it has been and what needs to be done, in order to assess if this issue's time has come. A law of the land that is truly representative of the people of Guam is fundamental to our progress.


Gov. Eddie Calvo can no longer ignore the government’s fiscal problems and must begin to take steps to focus the government of Guam’s limited resources on the island’s top needs.

The governor can start by signing Bill 204 into law. It would repeal the retroactive pay raises that Guam’s appointed and elected leaders received in November 2014.

The bill was passed after a resolution to reconsider another vote on Bill 204, which failed last November in an 8-7 decision. Bill 204 passed in a 9-5 vote on Friday.

“The financial realities have reached a point where I don’t think anybody can turn a blind eye to reality,” said Sen. Michael San Nicolas, who wrote the bill. “I’m confident the governor will also come to terms with how the issue has been shifting and will come around to signing the bill. If he doesn’t, I’m confident that at least one of our colleagues, one more colleague, will give us the override necessary, if it comes to that.”

Calvo also needs to ensure that the controversial and illegal retroactive pay raises for 107 Adelup office staffers are paid back to taxpayers. The raises, which were given in December 2014 but made retroactive to a year earlier for most of the staffers, cost Guam taxpayers more than $800,000.
These retroactive pay raises weren’t part of the governor’s office budget. That means the money to pay them has to be taken from elsewhere, something this government simply can’t afford — just as it couldn’t afford the retroactive pay raises for elected officials and Cabinet members.
Calvo must stop behaving as if GovGuam is flush with money. It isn’t, as evidenced by a plethora of fiscal problems.
The governor has a duty to all of us to do the right thing and must reverse these retroactive pay raises.


Legislative director accuses governor of 'retaliation'

Following weeks of Freedom of Information Act requests and financial mismanagement allegations against the legislative branch, the Legislature’s executive director, Vince Arriola, last week accused the governor’s office of “retaliation” for the exposure of illegal retroactive pay raises at Adelup.
Gov. Eddie Calvo’s office recently called on Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks to conduct a forensic audit of the Legislature’s Capital District Fund — the account used to pay off the $4 million bank loan that paid for the reconstruction of the Guam Congress Building.

“While your demand for a forensic audit is clearly political and retaliation for the public exposure of the illegal Adelup payments, we stand ready to provide any and all information with the public auditor as well as your office,” Arriola wrote to Calvo on Wednesday.

The executive branch is accusing the Legislature of misusing the account to pay for legislative operations such as payroll expenses.

Adelup officials cited the Fiscal 2015 budget act, which appropriated $330,965 to the account and included language prohibiting those funds from being used for operational costs.
Documents the Legislature provided to Adelup under the FOIA request, showed a withdrawal of $330,965 out of the account in January 2015. The documents indicated that the funds were used to pay for staffers’ unused annual leave cash outs.

All legislative staff are considered terminated at the end of each term, allowing them to cash out their unused annual leave. January 2015 marked the end of the 32nd Legislature.

Arriola and other legislative officials confirmed the money was spent on the lump sum payments as it was a timely obligation. However, they contended any notion that they violated the law, pointing to a previous statute – Public Law 31-285 – that gives them transfer authority of all legislative accounts to pay for prior year obligations.

“There has been absolutely no determination by the attorney general that any activity regarding the Capital District Fund is suspicious,” Arriola wrote.

Acknowledging the Fiscal 2015 budget restriction, the legislative officials noted they couldn’t have specifically expended the $330,965 appropriation because the Department of Administration was doling those monies into the Capital District Fund in four quarterly installments throughout the fiscal year.

By January 2015, only a quarter of the $330,965 appropriation had been received.

According to the latest bank statement of the Capital Fund, which the Legislature released to the public auditor, the governor’s office and posted online, there was $1.36 million in the account at the end of December.

After the Legislature withdrew the $330,965 in January, the account had just over $964,000, meaning the account had been replenished and accumulated an additional $64,000.

Since Adelup officials have called foul on the Legislature’s use of the Capital Fund, the Calvo administration’s finance officials confirmed with lawmakers that recent lump sum obligations have caused the government to deposit less-than-mandatory amounts of funds into Income Tax Refund Efficient Payment Trust Fund – a violation of Guam law.

Funds in the account are to be used to only pay tax refunds.

Acting DOA Director Katherine Kakagi said the government recently paid $13 million in cost-of-living-allowances for retirees, creating a “cash crunch.”

“Because we still need to make these payments and make theses single onetime payments, we’re in a cash crunch,” Kakigi said, when referring to the tax refund account.

Department of Revenue and Taxation Director John Camacho added that the “cash crunch” is causing the government to use the income tax revenues to pay other obligations.

For fiscal year 2016, the administration is required by law to deposit 25.6 percent of income tax revenues into the Efficient Payment account.

Between October and December 2015, the government collected nearly $110 million in income taxes, requiring roughly $28 million to be transferred into the Efficient account. The administration only deposited $14.25 million.

Based on Rev and Tax’s Tax Refund Status Reports, the administration paid $7.01 million in tax refunds between October and December 2015.


 Adelup pay raises were illegal
Letter to the Editor
from Joaquin P. Perez
The Pacific Daily News

When improprieties in government, at the highest levels, are exposed, the attendant issues develop lives of their own which don’t easily go away. What may initially be considered oversights live on, are given the status of major transgressions through feeble attempts to justify the action or deflect attention elsewhere.

No matter how elaborate the attempts to camouflage the questionable actions, no matter how many sound bites or TV interviews are granted to deflect or deodorize the atmosphere, the stink lingers.
Someone once said: “If you can’t dazzle the people with brilliance; baffle them with BS.” Appropriate in this instance?

That the bonuses — or retroactive pay increases, however labeled — were deemed illegal by Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson cannot be changed. No matter how many Freedom of Information Act requests are thrown at the Legislature by the governor’s staff, that AG’s opinion will not go away.

Likewise, whether the FOIA requests provide any evidence that the Legislature is guilty of improprieties, it doesn’t change the fact that Adelup messed up royally.

If those FOIA requests do turn up improprieties by the boys and girls on Hesler Street, they too should be subject to the same scrutiny — not by the boys and girls at Adelup, but by the attorney general.

As chair of the Appropriations Committee, Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz reads everything, word for word, that comes across his desk. In reviewing budget expenditures, he found glaring and questionable discrepancies.

Experienced with the legal system, the vice speaker appropriately referred the matter to the AG for her review and legal opinion.

What she found and officially memorialized is on record and won’t go away. No matter the rationale, justification or rationalizations, the record will show that the raises were clandestine, surreptitious, sneaky and just plain illegal.

In this case, Adelup was a bit more than just a little bit pregnant.

The call for accountability — and where appropriate, prosecution — shouldn’t even be needed. Once the AG found that the bonuses violated local laws, there should be no need for a public outcry for prosecution; that is a primary duty of the attorney general and one of the reasons the office was made elective. To suggest a political solution begs the question and will not change the fact that what was done was illegal.

But then other questions quickly rise to the surface. The governor’s most senior and most trusted advisers are all very smart and intellectual legal eagles and bean counters. In this case, what was their advice to the governor?

When someone hatched this brilliant idea of rewarding the Adelup staff from the beginning of a campaign year, did these advisers advise the governor to seek the AG’s legal opinion? Or did they simply play their usual sycophantic melody?

An old Chamorro adage states: “Lastima todo y minalåte yangin ti ma’ templa yan ma’ na’ chilong ni tinemtom.” Very appropriate in this case.
Joaquin P. Perez is a resident of Santa Rita.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rolling Stone on the Oregon Militia

Rolling Stone has done a couple of stories on the white militia occupation in Oregon. Here are two of them.


WTF Just Happened to the Oregon Militia, Explained
by Tim Dickinson
Rolling Stone

The FBI has cut off the head of the snake of the militia occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon.

The FBI announced Tuesday night that it had arrested eight militia members and that the leader of the standoff, Ammon Bundy, is in custody. One militant is dead, another wounded. Here's what you need to know.

Did federal officials finally raid the wildlife refuge?

No. The militants got cocky and went on a road trip. The FBI intercepted a group of six occupiers traveling on the state highway to John Day, an east Oregon city 70 miles north of Burns, where militants had been scheduled to appear at an anti-government rally Tuesday evening.

Who did the FBI capture?

The FBI arrested Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan; the Bundy brothers' bodyguard, Brian "Booda" Cavalier; the occupation's security chief Ryan Payne; and Shawna Cox, a south Utah woman who had occasionally served as a spokesperson.

Did the militants put up a fight?

The FBI only reports that "shots were fired" and that one militant died. The FBI did not identify the deceased. However, The Oregonian confirms that LaVoy Finicum — the Arizona rancher better known to cable TV viewers as "Tarp Man" — was the one killed. Finicum had previously touted his willingness to die for this cause, insisting he would not be going to prison: "I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box."

How have anti-government groups reacted to Finicum's death?

On the Bundy Ranch Facebook page, Finicum is already being held up as a martyr: "LaVoy has been murdered by goverment [sic] officials.... One of liberty's finest patriots is fallen. He will not go silent into eternity. Our appeal is to heaven."

Was anyone else hurt in the shootout?

Another militant sustained what the FBI called non-life-threatening injuries. Ryan Bundy reportedly received a superficial gunshot wound and was taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Audio posted on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page says, "Ryan has been shot in the arm."

Were there other arrests Tuesday night?

Near Burns, Peter Santilli, a patriot talk radio host from Ohio who had joined the occupiers, was arrested by the FBI. A militant named Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy was arrested by Oregon state police.

In Arizona, where he had traveled home to visit his family, the anti-Muslim militant Jon Ritzheimer also surrendered to the FBI. On Facebook hours earlier, Ritzheimer wrote, "the Feds know I am here and are asking me to turn myself in." Ritzheimer posted a video in which he can be seen hugging his daughters, saying, "Daddy's gotta go — he's gotta go away for a little while."

What were the militants charged with?

According to the FBI, surviving militants are being charged with "a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats."

What's the status of the remaining occupiers?

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the occupation was ongoing. But a showdown there may be imminent.
How the Oregon Militants' plans went sidewats
by Tim Dickinson
Rolling Stone
The armed standoff in remote southeast Oregon, where white militants led by the Bundy clan have taken over federal buildings at a wildlife refuge, isn't going according to plan. 
The would-be insurrectionists are undermanned, undersupplied and exhausted. They've been unable to provoke the confrontation with federal agents that they chest-thumpingly declared themselves willing to die in. And they've found themselves roundly mocked on social media as "Yee-hawdists" in the service of "Y'all Qaeda," "Yokel Haram" or "Vanilla ISIS."

Taking up arms against the federal government is no laughing matter, of course. And if the militants were black, brown or Muslim, they'd likely be dead by now. But for a group of heavily armed Christian white dudes play-acting at revolution, things could hardly be going worse.

On Monday night, in fact, one Bundy brother told Oregon Public Broadcasting the militiamen might be willing to move along now — if the community requests it: "This is their county – we can't be here and force this on them," Ryan Bundy said. "If they don't want to retrieve their rights, and if the county people tell us to leave, we'll leave."

How did the Bundy plan for revolution go sideways? The troubled evolution of the plot can be traced via Ammon Bundy's social media presence.

December 29

The grand scheme to take a "hard stand" against federal "tyranny" took shape in the days after Christmas. In a video posted December 29, Ammon Bundy, son of the infamous deadbeat rancher Cliven, decried the "tremendous abuses" faced by a pair of Oregon cattlemen convicted of arson by the federal government. "We have to say that either we're OK with these gross, blatant violations of the constitution… or we make a stand," Bundy declared.

That's when Bundy, fighting tears, issued a call to action to his family's militant, anti-government supporters: "I'm asking you — and you know who you are: You that came, and you that felt to come, to the Bundy Ranch — I'm asking you to come to Burns [Oregon] on January 2, to make a stand."

December 31

Almost from the beginning, there were warning signs that this plot wasn't gelling, because of internal strife in the "patriot" community. In his next video, posted on New Year's Eve, a nervous looking Ammon Bundy calls out to militia members across the country. He pleads with them to flout the orders of militia leaders who, he reveals, had been calling for a "stand down" — instead of a standoff — in Oregon.

Looking into the camera lens, Bundy says: "I am wanting to talk to the individual, to the patriot. This is not the time to stand down," he says, "It's time to stand up. And come to Harney County. We need your help. And we're asking for it. No matter what your leader says… you need to get to Burns on the 2nd."

January 2

Bundy did find followers, including men like John Ritzheimer, the Arizona man who organized the gun-toting protest of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix last October. Ritzheimer ventured to Oregon and declared himself, in a goodbye video to his family, "100 percent willing to lay my life down to fight against tyranny in this country."

Seizing an unoccupied federal complex wasn't the tricky part. Following a demonstration on the streets of Burns on Saturday, January 2, the Bundy militiamen drove 30 miles south to execute their takeover of the compound at the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge — which was closed for the weekend, and to which somehow they had obtained a full set of keys.

The Malheur complex has more than half a dozen buildings, and one, major strategic asset for men with guns: a massive fire-watch tower, easily converted for use by snipers.

In the immediate aftermath of the Saturday takeover, Bundy talked a big game: "We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely," he said. "This is not a decision we've made at the last minute."

The militants also told reporters that their numbers were legion — as many as 150. Oddly, however, Bundy also issued a call for backup: "Those who... feel the need to stand, we're asking them to come. We have a facility that we can house them in. We need you to come and be unified with us so we can be protected," he said.

January 3

By light of day it becomes clear the militants' manpower was greatly exaggerated: Credible estimates from visitors to the complex put their number at fewer than two dozen, and perhaps as low as 15 men. And this skeleton crew is clearly struggling to secure the sprawling complex in the bitter cold of the Oregon high desert, where temperatures drop into the single digits at night.

By Sunday night a visibly exhausted Ammon Bundy made a new call for reinforcement, invoking his divine inspiration: "I know that what we did is right. I know the Lord is involved, and I know that we're going to see great things come from this," Bundy said. "But we need you. We need you," he pleaded. "We have a group of wonderful people here that are strong. We've got good numbers. But there is a lot to do, and we will eventually get tired if we do not have help. We also need more of a defense. Need to make sure that there is enough people here that nobody comes down upon us — and that is a very real reality right now. So we need you to come and we need you be part of this."

January 4

The militant's preparedness for an as-long-as-it-takes standoff was similarly laughable. By Monday, it was clear the militants were under-resourced, and hungry. Supporters put out a call online to send "supplies and snacks."

Another self-described "patriot," Maureen Peltier, took to Facebook with a laundry list of desired supplies, including foil, hygiene needs and locks, and provided an address where supporters can send them.

Ironically, the same folks who are seeking a local overthrow of the federal government still seem to have confidence the government will deliver their mail.

As the standoff has dragged on, the federal government seems content to let the militants freeze in isolation — and tire of their make-believe revolution.

Even once-reliably anti-government Republicans are turning their backs: Ted Cruz, who once sympathized with Cliven Bundy's stand against the Obama administration's "jackboot authoritarianism," has called on Bundy's sons to "stand down."

The Harney County Sheriff released a statement saying flatly: "It's time for you to leave our community."

Even the wife of one of the two local ranchers — for whose honor and justice the militants claim to be ready to lay down their lives — has been throwing shade: "I don't really know the purpose of the guys who are out there," she told Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Where We Are Now

Instead of building the fearsome anti-government insurgency of their fever dreams, the hungry, dirty, exhausted Bundy militants are looking more and more like the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Here's hoping they have the sense to lay down their weapons before their true marksmanship is tested.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why She Supports Bernie Sanders

 Democracy for America, who was disseminating it on behalf of the Bernice Sanders campaign. I'm posting it here because I feel like I've been neglecting the Presidential campaign in the US lately because of research commitments, writing commitments, activist commitments and then my loves and my family. To be very honest, I've only been following the campaign(s) to the extent to which Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah or Seth Meyers are covering it. This makes it easier not to be horrified at the deadly organism that is the Republican campaign and Republican candidates, as it is presented to me as ridiculous, as just the fluff perfect for jokes, even if they are tragic ones. As a result, even if they are foretelling doom and destruction for America if someone like Donald Trump or Ben Carson is elected President, the humor is a cushion, making it easier to deal with, since while it may not provide much pleasure for the intellectual portions of my mind, it sure as hell feeds the parts of my mind that want to laugh and giggle uncontrollably.
Received this today from

I still get plenty of emails, from both Democratic campaigns and Republican ones. This email struck me in a certain way, hence I am sharing it here:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Lucy Flores
Subject: Why I Support Bernie Sanders
I was a junior in college when the reality of today's economic and social injustice hit me squarely in the gut with soul crushing force. After managing through my own set of difficult circumstances -- escaping the cycle of poverty and dysfunction that included abandonment by my mother, gang-involvement, a stint on juvenile parole, a teenage abortion and becoming a high school drop-out -- I was working several jobs to get myself through school at the University of Southern California.

One of those jobs was assessing kids involved in a long-term study on the impact of early learning on brain development. As a research assistant I would go to the kids' homes and periodically assess their progress. Many of our participants lived in neighboring South Central Los Angeles where poverty, violence and drugs were rampant, but given my own experience growing up in similar conditions, that type of environment didn't shock my senses very much.

I arrived at my assigned child's house one day and began my normal routine of introducing myself to the parent and figuring out where in the home was best to do the assessment. I was used to working just about anywhere given that most homes I went to were tiny and cramped and generally didn't have a lot of room to work with, but on this occasion I noticed right off the bat that this was going to be different.

As soon as I walked into the tiny one-bedroom, single-story apartment, I looked around and saw things everywhere -- dirty clothes, dishes, shoes, plastic and paper bags, and what seemed like countless other things -- on just about every surface imaginable. There literally was not a single space to clear off or rearrange and the house smelled like it hadn't been exposed to fresh air in weeks, so I decided to work with the child on the apartment stoop.

The child was about 5 years old -- a young black boy who even despite his living conditions had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. I made my way through my standard questions -- "How often do you read?" "Sometimes, when I'm in school." "How often does your mom read with you?" "Never." "Do you enjoy reading?" "Yes." "How much? On a scale of sad face to happy face, point to the face that shows how much you enjoy reading." He pointed to happy face. So on and so forth. When we got to the end, I told him he did great and began to put away my things.

As I was packing, he abruptly pointed to something and said, "Can I have that?" I didn't have anything special so I looked at him confused and asked, "Have what?" "That." He said, still pointing. I looked down again and saw that my happy face assessment sheet was at the top of my stack of papers. I immediately realized he wanted to keep my sheet - my black and white, photo-copied a thousand times over, sheet that had sad to happy faces on it. Then I realized how anxious he seemed that I might say no, so I asked, "Do you have any books at all in there?" "No." "Do you have anything to read at all? A magazine or something?" "No." "Do you have toys? Or anything to play with?" "No." "Do you have anything at all? Like crayons or pens or something?" "No."

And then it struck me: this bright kid, this happy, starry-eyed kid, this kid with all the potential in the world, had nothing. He had a filthy, dirty apartment with no active parenting, no role models around, and I was about to make his week just by giving him my happy face sheet. So I said, "Well of course you can have my sheet!" Then I started to furiously dig around my bag to see what else I could find. I found some neon highlighters he could color with, a few extra happy face sheets, and some red and blue pens.

I gave it all to him. Then I said, "Ok, I have to go now. Have fun coloring your sheets. And remember to read at school every chance you get!" He happily nodded as he walked back into his filthy apartment. I walked to the sidewalk, sat on the curb, and sobbed uncontrollably. I sobbed with despair I hadn't felt, well, ever. I knew as soon as I walked away what was likely in store for that kid -- I knew the odds were against him, just like they were against me. I knew that statistically-speaking, he was likelier to end up in prison or dead than end up attending college. I knew that I had just witnessed the human tragedy that is wasted potential.

And I knew I was powerless to do anything about it. Until I realized that I wasn't.

Until I realized that change is achieved one person at a time, one day at a time, and one vote at a time.

I think about this boy all the time. I wonder if he beat the odds. I wonder where he is. I wonder if he's still alive. He still makes my heart hurt. I thought about him when I first heard Bernie Sanders speak.

Choosing which candidate to support for president was one of the most difficult tasks I have done in the recent past. I've always been strong in my resolve, firmly planted in my roots and guided by my sense of justice. I have never made a political decision based on what was the "smart" or "safe" thing to do (just ask any of my often times dismayed political advisors) and I have always done what I believed aligned with my values and my ideals. But this decision was difficult because both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both accomplished and worthy candidates, and both are light years ahead of any of the Republican choices. And as the first Latina elected to the Nevada legislature in the history of the state, and as a young woman who has struggled mightily in this male-dominated world of politics, Hillary inspires a lot of pride.

But only one of these candidates makes me think of that young boy in South Central Los Angeles -- and that's Bernie Sanders. We used to live in a country where the "American Dream" was attainable for most. We used to live in a country where you could make it if you tried, where upward mobility was a tangible thing, and where education was the key to success.

But that's not the America we live in anymore. Fewer and fewer Americans are able to break the cycle of poverty, wages are stagnant or declining for most except for the top 1%, and our political system is dominated by millionaires and billionaires. Secure retirements and pensions are becoming a thing of the past, and that key to success via education is instead becoming a weight of massive debt hanging around the necks of young people everywhere, myself included. How did we end up in a country where you can break the cycle of poverty only to end up in a cycle of debt?

I believe that Bernie Sanders wakes up every day with these things on his mind. That the unfairness of it all weighs on his heart, just like it does mine, and that when he is elected, he will do whatever it takes to make America the land of opportunity again. I believe that Bernie Sanders will lead the charge, with many millions of Americans behind him, against the unfettered Wall Street greed that has threatened the very existence of the middle class and shackled so many more to permanent poverty. I believe that now, more than ever, America needs a political revolution.

I hope you will join me.

Lucy Flores
Democratic candidate for Nevada's 4th Congressional District

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Ti siguru yu' hafa maolek na pinila' gi Fino' Chamoru para i palabara "avalanche." Sina un deskribi gui' gi Fino' Chamoru komo un nåpu pat un pakyo'. Sina un usa palabra siha ni' para u ma deskribi i kinalamten-ña pat i fuetså-ña, pat i piligro kada mana'fanhuyong. Ti siguru yu' hafa i mas propiu na pinila'. Manhahasso yu' put este sa' unu na kanta ni' gof ya-hu (ya hu e'ekungok gui' pa'go ha' na momento) i na'an-ña "Avalancha" ginen un inetnon danderu ginen España "Heroes del Silencio." Anai i fine'nina hu hungok i palabra, ti hu komprende hafa ilelek-ña i taotao, lao gof ya-hu i bos-na yan i tunada. Ya kada mafåtto i koru ya ma essalao "Avalancha!" malago' yu' tumachu yan umessalao lokkue'. Kada hu hungok ya na påtte, hu imahihina na ma'u'u'dai yu' un kabayu gi hilo' un nåpu niebes ni' pumopoddong ginen un takhilo' na okso.

Meggai na che'cho'-hu pa'go na puenge ya gof maolek na hu sodda' este na kanta ta'lo, sa' siña ha nå'i yu' animu para bei na'funhyana todu antes di bei maigo'.

Guini papa' hu popost i palabras para i kanta. Gaige lahihot i palabras siha gi Fino' Espanot. Gaige lapapa' i pinila' gi Fino' Ingles.

Gof malago' yu' na bei pula' este gi Fino' Chamoru, lao ayu para un otro na puenge!


Heroes del Silencio

La locura nunca tuvo maestro
Para los que vamos a bogar sin
Rumbo perpetuo
En cualquier otra direccion con

Tal de no domar los caballos de la exaltacion
La rutina hace sombra a las
Pupilas, que se cierran a los
Disfrutes que nos quedan


Necesitamos el valioso tiempo
Que abandonas sin saber que
Cojones hacer con el
Nosotros somos la comida y

Alguien esta efectivamente hambriento
No hay retorno a la conciencia
Tras el desvario del amor


Aun nos quedan cosas por hacer
Si no das un paso te estancas
Aun nos quedan cosas por decir
Y no hablas

La locura nunca tuvo maestro
Para los que vamos a bogar sin
Rumbo perpetuo
La muerte sera un adorno que

Pondr al regalo de mi vida
La luna ejerce extraos influjos
Que se contradicen y no hay
Quien descifre


 Pinila' ginen as:
Lyrics Translate

Madness never had a teacher
For those that we are aimlessly rowing for ever.
In any other direction
In order not to tame the horses of exaltation.
The routine obscures the pupils,
That close themselves to the pleasures that remain.


We need the valuable time that you abandon
Without knowing what the hell to do with it.
We are the food
And someone is really hungry
There is no return to consciousness
After the madness of stormy love.


We still have things to do,
If you don't step, you become stagnant.
We still have things to say
And you do not talk.

Madness never had a teacher
For those that we are aimlessly rowing for ever.
Death will be an ornament
That I will place as the gift of my life.
The moon exercises strange influences
That contradict themselves and no one can decipher.


Sexual Harassment at UOG

Articles on the current clash between UOG and Adelup, Calvo and Underwood.


Calvo, Underwood clash over UOG case
by John O'Connor
Guam Daily Post

In light of Gov. Eddie Calvo’s claims that University of Guam leadership stood up for indicted professor Michael Ehlert, UOG President Robert Underwood held a press conference yesterday describing these statements as “incomplete and misinformed.”

In the press conference, Underwood addressed several concerns outlined in a statement released by the governor. Namely, that two women involved in a case against Ehlert were mistreated and that the university acted in his favor.

“In the news and in email I’ve seen, UOG leadership has stood up for the alleged predator … and hasn’t said a thing about the victims,” Calvo said. “Silence is wrong. Institutionalized silence should be criminal.”

Underwood said actions against Ehlert were made based on information available at the time. In November 2014, a sexual harassment complaint was made against Ehlert at UOG and he was placed on administrative leave shortly after. An internal investigation was launched and Ehlert was suspended without pay for three months in March.

Underwood said he contacted the chief of police in December 2015 to inquire if an active investigation was moving forward against Ehlert. When this was confirmed, Ehlert was again put on administrative leave. He was indicted on Jan. 11.

Underwood said the indictment revealed information not revealed during UOG’s internal investigation. He said Ehlert has not been in the classroom since being placed on leave. 


Underwood added that Ehlert’s future at the university hinged on the results of his court case. But if the case dragged on UOG would have to come up with a decision “based on the information that is in the indictment.”

He said there was no institutionalized silence at UOG as the governor stated. In the upcoming semester, UOG plans to conduct a sexual harassment climate survey to gauge perceptions around the issue.

“We intend to complete the revision of the sexual harassment/consensual sex policy and conduct more professionally based training. In addition, we will be re-organizing our (equal employment opportunity) office to include an additional staffer to deal with EEO issues specifically with students and Title IX.”

The governor also criticized actions allegedly taken against UOG associate professor Ron McNinch. He said McNinch was being “persecuted” for standing up for the women involved in Ehlert’s case. McNinch had spoken extensively about student safety and has made calls for stricter rules regarding teacher and student fraternization since the incident with Ehlert was first made public in August 2015.

McNinch has now filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that the university was retaliating by launching an investigation against him.

Underwood rejected the idea that there was any “persecution” against McNinch. Underwood said the professor was under investigation for statements he made in August 2015, when he claimed to have been reporting criminal behavior at UOG for the past 18 years.

“I have begun an investigation into the veracity of the commentary that he made as a violation of UOG policy,” Underwood said.


UOG President: Governor Calvo's statements "misinformed"
Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno,  
The Pacific Daily News
10:36 a.m. ChST January 23, 2016

Gov. Eddie Calvo’s characterization of how University of Guam leadership handled sexual misconduct allegations against an associate professor is misinformed, UOG President Robert Underwood said Friday.

Underwood called a press conference Friday within a few hours of the governor releasing an address discussing the case involving Michael B. Ehlert, an associate professor of psychology that a Superior Court grand jury recently indicted on criminal sexual misconduct and official misconduct charges.
Ehlert is accused of using his authority as a teacher to force sexual acts on two female students, who were 19 and 23 at the time of the alleged October 2014 incident, according to court documents.
He is scheduled to appear at a Jan. 27 court hearing for an arraignment, which gives him a chance to enter a plea.

In his address, the governor said, in part: “UOG leadership has stood up for the alleged predator … and hasn’t said a thing about the victims.”

Underwood, at the press conference, responded to the governor’s words.

“Gov. Calvo’s statement making a judgment about the case involving Dr. Ehlert and his characterization of the university’s treatment of the two women involved are incomplete and misinformed,” Underwood said.

“It is not often that the standing of the university and its leadership becomes a direct concern to the governor,” he added.

A sexual harassment complaint against Ehlert was filed at UOG on Nov. 3, 2014, and the associate professor was removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave a week later, according to a time line Underwood released.

On Nov. 7, 2014, UOG launched its investigation, and during this time, the victims were contacted multiple times to ensure they had access to adequate resources, according to Underwood.
In his address, Calvo said sexual predators have gotten away with molesting women and children because no one would say anything.

He added: “Unfortunately, that still happens in some cases. But, we’ve gotten better over the past few years. We’ve helped each other to understand that we have a moral and a legal duty to speak up for people being abused. Silence is wrong. Institutionalized silence should be criminal.”

The Guam Attorney General’s Office recently released information on how any additional victim or witness can contact the AG’s office, which has an ongoing investigation into the Ehlert case.

“If there are any more victims and witnesses — whether student or faculty — I urge you to come forward,” the governor said in a prepared statement. “Report this to the police or the prosecutors. Call Chief Prosecutor Phil Tydingco at 475-3406, at extension 2410.”

“The law is on your side,” the governor stated, addressing the two alleged victims. “It is just too bad how the executives of the school you pay for a higher education treated you this way.”

UOG confirmed to the Pacific Daily News in August last year that Ehlert was suspended in connection with “unwanted sexual advances” on two of his students, at an off-campus activity for one of his psychology classes.

In a memo to the UOG community on Jan. 13 this year, Underwood stated: “The indictment makes allegations and outlines behavior which are far more egregious and even more serious than any revealed in our internal, administrative investigation.”

Ehlert had been scheduled to return to UOG for the 2016 spring semester classes until Underwood decided in late December — before the indictment — to place Ehlert on administrative leave and barred the associate professor of psychology from contact with students on campus.

The governor also said the professor “who tried to stand up for the young ladies was persecuted, with a formal complaint against him for speaking up.”

A UOG associate professor, Ron McNinch, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Education, stating he’s being retaliated against after having publicly voiced concerns about the Ehlert case.

McNinch wrote, in a Jan. 19 email to EEOC and U.S. DOE, that the university faculty union's president, Donald Platt, has sought disciplinary action against McNinch.

Platt has denied having sought disciplinary action against McNinch, but McNinch said Platt has written to the UOG president about a work-related allegation that is a cause for disciplinary and adverse action.

Platt wrote, in part, in emails to faculty and Underwood, that McNinch “concocted a fake sexual harassment crisis at UOG — fake because the facts don’t back up his claim — that he lied about filing reports on male faculty members to the criminal justice system at various times over the past 18 years, and that he exploited the Ehlert case as the ostensible reason for going public at the start of this semester.”

Underwood has said the allegations Platt has raised against McNinch has nothing to do with the whistle-blowing.

“I understand the whistleblower law and I respect it,” Underwood said. “I understand everyone should … if they see a crime, or they suspect a crime, then they are free to go to the authorities and report those, but of course we expect as well that they report it to the university as well.”

Underwood said McNinch isn’t being persecuted, as the governor has alleged.

“Truth is a requirement in order for balance to occur,” Underwood said. “In the statement of Gov. Calvo, I fear that the absence of much of the information that I have presented has created an imbalance in his public statement."


Governor critical of leadership at UOG
by Isa Baza

Governor Eddie Calvo is calling out the leadership at the University of Guam for how it handled a complaint against a professor that has now been indicted by a superior court grand jury for criminal sexual conduct.

The island's chief executive doesn't believe leadership at UOG properly handled a well-publicized sexual assault case involving indicted psychology professor Dr. Michael Ehlert and two female victims. Concerns over the way the issue was handled prompted harsh words from Governor Calvo, who said in an address, "I cannot believe how the University leadership has treated the case of two young ladies, ages 20 and 23, who courageously came forward to report a sexual assault by one of their professors."

The two students reported the incident in to UOG in 2014, and adverse action was handed down. Yet it wasn't until this past January 11 that Professor Elhert was indicted. Although Ehlert was scheduled to teach this spring, news of his indictment led UOG president Dr. Robert Underwood to put Ehlert on administrative leave indefinitely until the case unfolds.

However, these actions did not stave off Governor Calvo's concerns. He called it deplorable that the one professor who tried to stand up for the victims was allegedly persecuted, and now has a formal investigation against him. That professor, Ron McNinch said, "I complained to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after I felt I was being harassed for things I had said about sexual harassment and student safety here, among other things."

Late Friday Dr. Underwood held a press conference to address the governor's concerns. During the evnt he affirmed the university's commitment to student safety, saying, "Governor Calvo's statement making a judgment about the case involving Dr. Ehlert and his characterization of the university's treatment of the two women involved are incomplete and misinformed."  Underwood also said UOG follows policies that are based on local and federal law, and are commonly accepted in universities throughout the nation.

He said university leadership followed protocol, offered counseling to the victims, and is working to strengthen sexual harassment policies.

As for the retaliation charges by Dr. McNinch, Dr. Underwood claimed UOG denied retaliation had occurred in its response to the EEOC.

In the meantime, Adelup urges anyone who may be victims of sexual assault to report it police or the Attorney General's Office at 475-3406.

As for Dr. Ehlhert, he is scheduled to answer to the charges against him  on Wednesday, January 27.


 Gov. Calvo questions UOG leadership, Underwood responds
Timothy Mchenry
Pacific News Center

In response, the president of UOG Dr. Robert Underwood held a press conference to respond to the Gov.’s statement. 
Guam - Governor Calvo is now speaking out against UOG leadership by saying that UOG leadership stood up for alleged sexual predator Prof. Michael Elhert. In response, the president of UOG Dr. Robert Underwood held a press conference to respond to the Gov.’s statement.

Gov. Calvo's statement comes a couple of days after UOG Prof. Dr. Ron Mcninch revealed that he had filed a complaint against the university for what he says is retaliation against him for speaking out against crimes at UOG. Additionally Calvo's statement calls on victims, student or faculty, to come forward and call cheif prosecutor Phillip Tydincgo at the AG's office to report. Calvo is referring to the university's handling of the case of prof. Michael Elhert who was indicted last week on charges of criminal sexual conduct. Court documents state that Ehlert digitally penetrated two of his students at an off campus Halloween party in 2014. For his part, Underwood said in a press conference that Calvo's statements about UOG's handling of the Ehlert case are "incomplete and misinformed." Additionally, Underwood takes full responsibility for UOG's handling of the Ehlert case. In Mcninch's case, Underwood says there is an investigation looking into the claims made by Mcninch that the public administration Prof. has reported 'criminal behavior' to the university over the course of 18 years. Underwood says the investigation is looking into whether or not Mcninch actually reported these alleged crimes. On Mcninch, Underwood said, "the matter concerning Dr. Mcninch is of interest only because he has made it so, but it is not an integral part of our activities.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fina'kuentos Chamorro #5: An Meggai Sinangan-mu...

Last year I gave a presentation to a high school class here on Guam about the way we can understand Guam history, its trends, its tendencies, its cycles through various Chamorro sayings. For some reason, today I have that presentation on my mind.

I undertake a similar activity in my World History and Guam History courses. In order to understand what history as a concept is, I don't give students definitions per se, instead I give them 28 - 30 quotes that people have said about history and its characteristics, its importance or its irrelevance. No single quote is meant to encapsulate everything or explain and cover everything, but rather they each provide some texture to aspects, some structural understanding or descriptions to tendencies. History in the mind of one scholar is an essential part of human activity, for another it is an illusion, a means of trying to imagine control over things you have no control over. I find the complicated mess that the quotes create an important philosophical metaphor for students, especially those who are looking for a single sentence to write down in their notes, so they don't have to think about anything beyond that.

For that presentation, I tried to do something similar about Guam/Chamorro history, but using quotes in the Chamorro language. Not quotes from famous people per se, but rather axioms, proverbs, small fragments of wisdom, from a variety of epistemological sources. I wanted to show something similar in terms of the complexity of Guam's history and also infuse a Chamorro flavor to it, to try to not interpret it from some impossible universal position, but rather to give it the metaphor, the cultural weight, the epistemological relevance to Chamorro pasts. When I presented this to a high school class however my intent was lost of my students, who didn't appear to get what I was trying to do. Even the teacher who had invited me, found a polite way of expressing that she wished I had presented something a little bit more straight-forward, like maybe just giving basic facts and information about historical events or figures. Not something so complicated, like thinking of history as a complex thing.

Esta payon yu' nu este na klasen kuentos. I'm already used to this gap between what I intend to communicate to people in things I write or present and what is received. Sometimes people tell me they really liked my column in the Guam Daily Post. When I talk more with them about what they liked, it is revealed that they liked one sentence or even just the title. The overall argument was lost, but that one aspect, they ended up hanging on to. Sometimes it is fun, bei admite, because people end up attributing to me arguments I was nowhere near in what I wrote or presented, but it reveals much about the imagined castle they formed in their mind, building off of a single word or sentence that they processed. For example, I once gave a presentation in which I argued that the danger that the military buildup represented to Guam in cultural terms, was primarily about "Americanization" and how it can represent another way that we degrade ourselves locally and imagine the US, our master and savior to be liberating us from always evolving problems. The danger is not so much from the direct ways culture might change, like there will be less weavers or blacksmiths or cultural dancers. It doesn't even directly affect the speaking of the Chamorro language. What it does affect though is the culture of the island in terms of its sense of self and community. Hafa na klasen taotao hit? It affects culture in terms of how you see the choices of the world and the natural relationships, the tendencies for resources, for power, for possibility. The buildup as proposed, as discussed and as lauded as holding messianic properties, affecting the culture of the island negatively because it reinforced so many colonial ideas that are still vibrant and alive, even if no one is forcing them down anyone's throats directly anymore.

After my presentation, a few people approached me to talk about what I had said. The person who ended up speaking with me for more than 10 minutes, had understood almost nothing of what I had said, but repeatedly thanked me for how much clearer things seemed for him. He boiled my talk down to "culture is what we make of it and if it is lost, it is because we lost it." On one level, he was right. There was an element of truth to his interpretation, but it focused on  single thing I had said, and ignored everything else. I tried to talk to him about it being more than that, but wasn't successful. He was looking for a way to ignore something he was concerned about with regards to the buildup (namely cultural harm) and what I had said could be fashioned into his missing ideological piece.

After I gave my presentation to that high school class, I had hoped that at least one of the students, hopefully had misinterpreted me in the way that man had years before. At least some misinterpretation like that would mean, something had passed through and it was processed, even if in a gof ma'i'ot na fashion. As I packed up my laptop and papers, one student did linger and followed me out asking me some hesitant questions as I went. She was surprised to see someone as young as me (ai na minaolak na patgon) speaking Chamorro and talking about Chamorro things. She shared some ideas with me for history projects she wanted to work on. She also said something to me, that made me feel like someone had appreciated my intent.

In my presentation I had shared a number of Chamorro sayings, all are in the Chamorro language, and while most are known to i manamko', they are not widely used or known to younger generations. They expressed the ways in which someone who grew up closer to the land, living in a tightly regulated Catholic existence, with an incredible native heritage that still persisted and insisted its presence in some ways, might see the world. It is a worldview that most would say is complicated, because the social and cultural contradictions for colonized people or native peoples seem more obvious that for others. Some like to say hybrid, and sometimes I might even approach such characterization, if only to save time in writing or explaining. But all communities bear similar forms of contradictions, there is just particularities to some based on their histories and a variety of other forces. In my presentation I tried to imagine what my grandparents or my great-grandparents, or even my great-great-grandparents might say if asked to analyze or discuss the vagaries of Chamorro history. They couldn't see everything or know everything, but they would speak from their positionality nonetheless. I tried my best with the proverbs to catch those certain possible Chamorro judgements or explanations of history. 

This student appreciated my effort, and in a way connected to my intent. She was far younger than me, but had her own elder experiences. She said, that although she hadn't heard most of the Chamorro sayings I presented, they reminded her of her great-grandmother, and the way she would talk about politics or history.

The saying that I used with the image of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump says "an meggai sinangan-mu, meggai dinagi-mu lokkue'" or "if you have lots to say, you have lots of lies as well." This reflects one view of Chamorro leadership or virtue. Those who speak alot, lie more, justify, excuse and distract more. Those who speak less, may be more virtuous, they have less to hide and can therefore be trusted more.

Over the years I've collected more than 400 Chamorro sayings. Here, below is a short list of some of the more common ones, some of which I used in that presentation.


Yanggen guaha minalago’, guaha siempre nina’siña

Tangga yan båchet i saina

Todu un dåggao mo’na, siempre un sodda’

Puti ñålang, lao putiña mahålang

Fa’cho’cho’ ya un chocho

I linachi-mu siha mås hao muna’kåpas

Ekungok i sinangan manåmko’, sa’ siha mas tumungo’

I salappe’ un sosodda’ un yuyute’, lao unu ha’ nanå-mu

Saosao nå’ya i matå-mu antes di un sångan i aplacha’ i otro

Un nota na tentasion, nahong na rason

Nina’i hao gi as Yu’os i chetnot-mu para un espiha i amot-mu

Tåya’ pinekkat sin fegi

Tåya’ aksion sin råson

An meggai sinangån-mu meggai dinagi-mu

Mungga manasse’ anggen ti ya-mu makasse’

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ayu na Lahi

Para si Isa

Despensa yu’ Guaiyayon na Nanå-hu
Ti hu na’funhåyan i che’cho’-hu gi gima’
Siña un sukne Si Yu’us
Kabåles Gui’ hunggan
Lao kana’ ha puno’ yu’ ni’ guinaiya
Anai ha få’tinas ayu na låhi


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