Saturday, November 26, 2016

Setbisio Para i Publiko #32: Isao-hu Magahet Hunggan

If you were to ask me what type of music is my favorite, I will always say Chamorro music. It isn't really that I like every single Chamorro song, but I will purchase every single Chamorro CD or record I can get my hands on, in order to support one of the main ways that the Chamorro language persisted even during the generations which were quietly trying to silence it by not teaching it to their children. Chamorro musicians deserve far more support and credit than most people give them. They are, within recent Chamorro history, the ones who played the most significant, but unheralded role in keeping the language spoken and alive. While most families did not speak it to their children, collections of singers decided to keep using the language to make music, despite immense pressure to simply sing in English and Americanize the way everything else seemed to be going. Within that collection of musicians a few names stand out more than others. There are those who had their names on the albums and lent their voices to the task of ensuring that new generations would have a passing familiarity with the language they weren't learning in their homes. And then there were those in the background who were producing and helping them write their songs. Flora Baza Quan is one of those pioneers. I wrote the following mini-bio for her when she participated in the Chamorro Experience gi Fino' Chamorro lecture series in 2013:
Flora Baza Quan is a renowned Chamorro singer and songwriter who has been performing and recording for more than thirty years. Known affectionately as the “Queen of Chamorro Music,” Baza Quan is a pioneer of contemporary Chamorro music, lending her signature sound and vocal talents to perpetuating Chamorro culture.  Some of her recognized favorites include “Hagu,” “Puti Tai Nobiu” and “Hinasso.”

Flora first achieved fame by being the first Chamorro to win an international beauty pageant, when she won the title of Miss Asia in 1971.  She then went on to team up with other noted musical pioneers such as Johnny Sablan, Tom Bejado, and the Charfauros Brothers to help build the Chamorro recording industry we have today.

One thing that Flora is less known for, but she should nonetheless receive recognition is the oral history project that she conducted for Department of Parks and Recreation. She focused on different themes such as Life in Sumay or Sports History, but provided in-depth interviews of many individuals from our recent history who have long since passed on. For those who want to read up on topics like this, you can find her transcripts and video at MARC or at Department of Parks and Recreation. 
Amongst her songs, I like the usual favorites, such as "Hågu" which has even been taken up by the newest generation and was sung by Pia Mia, Inetnon Gefpå'go and other newer artists. But i mas ya-hu, from the days when I was still sitting at the dinner table in my grandparents' house torturing my grandmother to listen to the lyrics to Chamorro songs and help me decipher them, is this one below, "Isao-hu Magåhet Hunggan." The tune is update, it could very well be the first Chamorro Calypso or Reggae song. But the lyrics are intriguing to me, both simple but also featuring some poetic twists that I found fascinating when I was first learning the language. 


Isao-hu Magåhet Hunggan
ginen as Flora Baza Quan

Isao-hu magåhet hunggan
Ha bensihu tentasion chalan
An siña dispensa yu’ fan
Isao-hu magåhet hunggan

Anakko maloffan na tiempo
Obligasion-hu hu abandona
Famagu’on konto asagua-hu
Put minagof yan kompañia

I pasiando yan i minagof-hu
Umungak yu’ sasalåguan
Fehman magåhet sinetsot-hu
Ti hu hasngon este chumålan

Isao-hu magåhet hunggan
Ha bensihu tentasion chalan
An siña dispensa yu’ fan
Isao-hu magåhet hunggan

Kompañia, gimen yan minagof
Sen mångge yan na’malago’
Ha sodda’ yu hoben yan bråbu
Iknorånte yan impitosa

Håyi bai hu achaka
Amånu bai pega este na responsibida
Isao-hu pues bai aksepta

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Elouise Cobell is My Hero

After spending a week listening to the stories of Native Americans in Albuquerque and at the Indigenous Comic Con, my mind kept straying back to the story of one Native American woman, Elouise Cobell. As you can see from the articles below, she was a champion in recent Native American struggles to get redress and develop themselves economically after centuries of both abuse and neglect by the United States. She was just awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom although she passed away in 2011. I would have liked to have met her once and sat down and talked to her. What she and others accomplished in terms of suing the US Federal Government was inspirational on so many levels and largely unknown by the wider United States.


Tester Announces Elouise Cobell Honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom
November 16, 2016
Press Release

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today announced that Elouise Cobell has been recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Tester recommended Cobell earlier this year to receive the nation's highest civilian honor for her leadership and fight for justice for Native American families.

"Elouise Cobell was a champion for change and a fierce advocate for Native American families," Tester said. "Elouise has now joined some of the most influential Americans in our nation's history by receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and her legacy is guaranteed to live on for generations to come."

Cobell's case against the federal government was settled in 2009, thirteen years after it was originally filed in U.S. District Court. Cobell passed away just two years later in 2011. Tester attended her funeral.

The first distribution of Cobell payments was made to Native American families in 2013. Additional payments through the Department of the Interior's Land Buy-Back Program are ongoing, and to date, over $900 million in payments through the Buy-Back Program have been made to tens of thousands of Native American landowners for selling their fractional interests in land to their respective tribe.
As Treasurer of the Blackfeet Nation, Cobell also founded the first tribally-owned national bank located on an Indian reservation. The Blackfeet National Bank is now the Native American Bank and provides access to capital and financial services to more than 20 tribes across the nation.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award that can be presented by the United States. According to the White House, the award may be presented "to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

In 2008, Tester recommended Crow tribal historian and veteran Joe Medicine Crow for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was honored by President Obama in August of 2009.


A Victory for Native Americans?
James Warren
The Atlantic
Jun 7 2010

Mistreatment of Indians is America's Original Sin, and the narrative is consistent. They lose their land, get portrayed as caricatures of social maladies, and are ripped off by the likes of Jack Abramoff. So it's no surprise that a tale with a very different ending, namely the righting of a horrible wrong affecting 500,000 Native Americans, proceeds with virtually no notice.

Indeed, you'd think that even Tea Party diehards should rally to this cause, given their anti-government and pro-property rights passion. They might even want to pay homage to the intrepid female accountant-turned-banker, who inspired one of the most fiercely litigated disputes against the federal government in history. But they likely won't. Who will? Not even many Indians believe that belated fairness is now on the way, given more than a century of government abuse and deceit whose undisputed facts strain credulity.

The facts are these: Following the House's approval, the Senate is considering whether to approve a $3.4 billion settlement of a 15-year-old lawsuit, alleging the government illegally withheld more than $150 billion from Indians whose lands were taken in the 1880s to lease to oil, timber, minerals and other companies for a fee. Back then, the government started breaking up reservations, accumulating over 100 million acres, giving individual Indians 80 to 160 acres each, and taking legal title to properties placed in one of two trusts. The Indians were given beneficial ownership but the government managed the land, believing Indians couldn't handle their affairs. With leases for oil wells in Oklahoma, resorts in Palm Springs, and rights-of-ways for roads in Scottsdale, Arizona, some descendants of original owners receive six- and even seven-figure sums annually. But the prototypical beneficiary, now poised to share in the settlement, is a poor Dakotan who struggles to afford propane to heat his quarters and has been receiving as little as $20 a year. More than $400 million a year is collected from Indian lands and paid into U.S. Treasury account 14X6039.

The story turns on theft and incompetence by the Interior and Treasury Departments, with culprits including Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the same Minerals Management Service now at the center of the BP oil spill fiasco. Over the past 100 years, government record systems lost track of more than 40 million acres and who owns them. The records simply vanished. Meanwhile, documents were lost in fires and floods, buried in salt mines or found in an Albuquerque storage facility covered by rat feces and a deadly Hantavirus. Government officials exploited computer systems with no audit trails to turn Indian proceeds into slush funds but maintain plausible deniability.

The lack of accountability is confirmed in the government's own reports and testimony dating to the early 20th century. Conclusions of "fraud," "corruption," "institutional incompetence," "deficiencies in accounting," "the accounts lack credibility," "multifaceted monster," "organizational nightmare," "dismal history of inaction," "criminal negligence," and "sorry history of department mismanagement," are found regularly between 1915 and the present. Congress ordered an accounting in 1994 but interior secretaries in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations were held in civil contempt for not forking over records. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Texas Republican nominated by President Reagan who oversaw the case for a decade, called the whole matter "government irresponsibility in its purest form."

I sat in Lamberth's courtroom in 1999 when Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt both lost his cool and conceded that the government couldn't provide accurate cash balances of most accounts and that "the fiduciary obligation of the United States is not being fulfilled." But the dispute would not end, as the Clinton and Bush administrations fought unceasing adverse rulings in a case inspiring 3,600 separate court filings and 80 published decisions. No single case, including the antitrust action against Microsoft, has been as heavily litigated and defended by the government, say lawyers.

The government's chief nemesis has been Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, the accountant-turned-banker who in 1987 started Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank on a reservation. With a very small team of attorneys led by a Washington banking specialist, Dennis Gingold, her suit has inspired 3,600 court filings and 80 published decisions. Not even the antirust action against Microsoft was as heavily litigated by the government.

The historic resistance melded with an unsympathetic appeals court often overruling the dispute's two trial judges. It ordered removal of Lamberth, now the district court's chief judge, due to harsh language toward the government. Last year, it threw out a ruling by District Judge James Robertson, Lamberth's successor, that the Indians were owed $476 million, a pittance compared to the reduced, $48 billion they were seeking by then. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both urged settlement during the 2008 campaign.

A resolute Judge Robertson then hauled Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and plaintiffs into his chambers last year. He made clear to one and all that, in light of the latest appeals court ruling, both sides had the choice between spending maybe another 10 years in court or trying to finally settle. The initial atmosphere was not necessarily conducive to harmony. Career government employees in the Interior, Justice and Treasury departments felt burned after years of being belittled by both the plaintiffs and Judge Lamberth. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs had minimal trust in the government. But political appointees in the Obama administration, including Salazar and Attorney General Eric Holder, took their cue from President Obama's own support of a settlement. Dozens of meetings ensued, with the many prickly issues including how far back in time one would go to try to determine who should benefit.

Ultimately, Judge Robertson prodded what, given all the legal setbacks, is an impressive $3.4 billion deal announced in December. Ironically, before the recent congressional recess, the House approved the deal and Robertson announced his retirement, meaning District Judge Thomas Hogan becomes the third, and hopefully final, arbiter in the case. He would oversee a so-called "fairness hearing" in which objections can be raised.

There is inherent complexity in wrapping up. If the Senate approves, there will be a media campaign throughout Indian Country, including direct mail, newspaper and broadcast public service advertisements. Garden City Group of Melville, New York, which handled the major class action against Enron, will be claims administrator. It will get computer lists from the Interior Department, with the account information of perhaps 500,000 Indians and then doublecheck names and addresses. How good are the records? Nobody is really sure.

The $3.4 billion will be placed in a still-to-be-selected bank and $1.4 billion will go to individuals, mostly in the form of checks ranging from $500 to $1,500. A small group, such as members of the Osage tribe who benefit from huge Oklahoma oil revenues, will get far more, based on a formula incorporating their 10 highest years of income between 1985 and 2009. As important, $2 billion will be used to buy trust land from Indian owners at fair market prices, with the government finally returning the land to tribes. Nobody can be forced to sell. As for the winning lawyers, their take is capped at $100 million, actually low by class-action standards, though Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon, has groused about the fees.

The fairness hearing will be interesting since many Indians have a hard time believing they're not still being shafted. "This proposed settlement fixes nothing, the U.S. won by legal weaseling," writes a member of the Upper Midwest's Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe on a message board. He's not alone. Like a family victimized by homicide, Indians may never experience enough healing to truly recover. But, finally, as hard as it is for them to believe, there really may be some justice.


"Elouise Cobell is My Hero"
by Tanya H. Lee
Indian Country Today Media Network

On November 22, President Barack Obama awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor to Elouise Cobell, Blackfeet. Her son, Turk Cobell, accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his mother’s behalf. “It is a very exciting day for all of our family who are here in Washington,” said Cobell on the morning of the presentation ceremony.

In 1996, Elouise Cobell became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging the U.S. government had failed to pass on to half a million individual American Indian landowners the royalties and fees they had earned under oil, timber and mineral leases negotiated and administered by federal agencies.
Cobell eventually won a $3.4-billion negotiated settlement on behalf of the plaintiffs, but the case dragged on for years, with the U.S. marshaling all of the considerable resources at its disposal to delay the court proceedings and avoid accounting for the funds, which probably totaled in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ambassador Keith Harper, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, was a lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

“I cannot think of a person who deserves this more. She was a courageous soldier for justice. She spent an incredible amount of time and her entire spirit to ensure 500,000 individual Indians received a measure of justice. She knew it would not be perfect, but if she didn’t stand up they wouldn’t get anything. I am deeply honored to have worked with her,” said Harper, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
The Cobell Settlement, which included copy.4 billion in payments to the individual plaintiffs, a copy.9-billion land buy-back program to return individually-owned fractionated lands to the control of tribes and a scholarship program for undergraduate and graduate students, was signed by President Obama in December 2010.

Walter Lamar, Blackfeet/Wichita, is a former FBI special agent, deputy director of BIA law enforcement, and is currently president of Lamar Associates. He said: “Elouise Cobell saw a wrong and decided to step forward to do something about it. Always we have a choice to do something or do nothing, and doing nothing always offers no risk. Elouise knew early on that stepping forward to expose decades of the government’s gross mismanagement of our precious resources was going to take a personal toll, but she courageously pressed on.

“As the years went by, she was more vigorously attacked and still she continued the fight. The government fought to mitigate their devious behavior while the plaintiffs’ attorneys fought to demonstrate the true scope of the damage done. In the end some battles were won and lost by both sides, but at the end of the day it was demonstrated without question the government willfully pillaged the coffers on Indian country. In the end, thousands have received checks, thousands will be educated into the future, tribes’ land base will be strengthened and we have the satisfaction of exposing epic misdeeds—all because one determined woman made the choice to take courageous action. Elouise Cobell, may you rest in peace with the warriors of our nations.”

Cobell passed on in 2011, less than a year after the president signed the settlement and before any restitution had been paid to Indian people. By the end of 2015, nearly copy.2 billion had been paid out to individual Indians. According to a status report issued in November 2016, nearly $900 million had been paid out to purchase the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of fractionated land interests. Roughly $40 million has been paid into the scholarship fund.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, recommended Cobell for the Medal of Freedom. “Elouise Cobell was a champion for change and a fierce advocate for Native American families,” Tester said in a statement. “Elouise has now joined some of the most influential Americans in our nation’s history by receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and her legacy is guaranteed to live on for generations to come.”

Tester’s compatriot, Denis Juneau, Blackfeet, ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as Montana’s at-large representative in 2016. Had she won, she would have been the first Native American woman to serve in the House. Juneau said: “Elouise Cobell is my hero. Her toughness, perseverance and ability to steadfastly stand on the side of justice definitely makes her a woman warrior. Knowing Elouise is receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom makes me proud to be an American Indian woman from the Blackfeet Nation.”

During Tuesday’s presentation of medals, President Obama said he chose as recipients those who have “lifted our spirits, strengthened our union and pushed us toward progress.” Cobell, he said, wanted for Indians the “equal treatment [that is] at the heart of the American promise.”



Elouise Cobell, American Indian who led suit against U.S. Government, dead at 65
by T. Rees Shapiro
October 17, 2011
Washington Post

Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet tribal member who led a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 500,000 Indians against the Interior Department that yielded one of history’s largest government settlements — a payout worth $3.4 billion — died late Sunday at a hospital in Great Falls, Mont. She was 65 and had cancer.
The death was confirmed by Bill McAllister, a family spokesman.
Mrs. Cobell spent nearly 15 years advancing the suit, which was settled in 2010. It claimed that the Interior Department had stolen or squandered billions of dollars in royalties owed to individual tribal members, mostly in the West, in exchange for oil, gas and other leases.

Mrs. Cobell, an accountant who grew up on a reservation in Montana without electricity, a telephone or running water, was all too familiar with stories of the government’s mistreatment of tribes. She said the federal mismanagement of the land trusts dated from the 19th century and had contributed to a pattern that had left her tribe with high poverty and unemployment rates.

“The issue we’re dealing with,” she told the New York Times in 2004, “is the fact that we don’t know how much land we own, we don’t know what the resources are on that land because the government has gotten away with not reporting to the trust beneficiaries.”

The landmark settlement was ratified by Congress and signed into law last year by President Obama, who called it an “important step towards a sincere reconciliation.”

Eric Eberhard, an Indian law expert at the Seattle University law school, said there was “no doubt that Elouise Cobell changed the legal landscape when it comes to Indian law and the federal government’s trust responsibilities.”

He said Mrs. Cobell was “able to demonstrate in court that the mismanagement was profound — that, in some instances, monies which should have been credited to accounts never showed up.”

Mrs. Cobell served as treasurer of her Montana tribe and helped found the first Indian-owned national bank, where she spoke with Blackfeet distressed by the paltry income their acreage seemed to bring in from Washington.

By the time she filed the far-reaching lawsuit in 1996, she had grown convinced that the federal government was not moving swiftly enough to address problems with the land trusts.

Almost nothing had happened, she said, even though Congress passed a trust reform act in 1994, after a scathing report two years earlier by the House Committee on Government Operations called “Misplaced Trust: The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Mismanagement of the Indian Trust Fund.”

She thought that no action by the government would likely occur without legal pressure from Indian country.

Mrs. Cobell was aided over the years by foundation money. That included a “genius grant” of $310,000 in 1997 from the John D. MacArthur Foundation, which called Mrs. Cobell “an advocate for Native American self-determination and financial independence whose work has inspired many Native American women to seek influence and leadership within their own communities.”

Mrs. Cobell traced the origins of her suit to 1887, when Congress passed the General Allotment Act. The legislation divided tribal-owned land into smaller parcels and gave the allotments to individual Indians.

The federal government placed the properties into a trust and leased the land to settlers. The royalties generated from logging, grazing, mining and oil drilling were distributed among the individual Indians and, after their death, to their descendants.

Investigations showed that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, which managed the allotments and the revenue accounts, paid the Indian landowners erratically, if at all. For decades, some Indians were sent checks for as little as 8 cents.

Furthermore, the Bureau of Indian Affairs no longer possessed many of the documents that showed how much Indian land the government controlled.

At trial, several officials said some documents were shredded at a Hyattsville facility as part of the Interior Department’s routine house-cleaning. Other crucial records in an Albuquerque warehouse had to be destroyed because they became contaminated with asbestos and the deadly hantavirus from rodent feces.

Federal Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who oversaw the lawsuit, described the Interior Department in a 2005 court decision as a “dinosaur — the morally and culturally oblivious hand-me-down of a disgracefully racist and imperialist government that should have been buried a century ago, the last pathetic outpost of the indifference and anglocentrism we thought we had left behind.”

Over the years, Lamberth held two secretaries of the interior, Gale Norton and Bruce Babbitt, as well as Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, in contempt for failing to address what the judge described as a dysfunctional system.

In 2006, a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District took the rare step of ordering Lamberth, a Ronald Reagan appointee, removed from the case, saying he displayed strong bias against the Interior Department because of his harsh tone.

“That was a low point,” Mrs. Cobell later told the Associated Press. “We knew it would be hard to get a new judge up to speed. The government has all the money in the world, but we don’t have deep pockets.”

After 220 days of trial, 80 court decisions and 10 interlocutory appeals, the case was settled when the Interior Department agreed to the $3.4 billion deal in 2009. The settlement included $1.5 billion for Indians involved in the lawsuit and $1.9 billion to purchase fractioned land parcels and turn them over in whole to tribes.

“This is an historic, positive development for Indian country,” Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time, “and a major step on the road to reconciliation following years of acrimonious litigation between trust beneficiaries and the United States.”

On Mrs. Cobell’s request, the government also gave $60 million to create the Indian Education Scholarship Fund for Indians to attend college and vocational schools.

Mrs. Cobell was awarded $2 million. Her lawyers received $99 million, a figure that struck many Indians as too high.

“The settlement isn’t perfect,” Mrs. Cobell said. “I do not think it compensates all for all the losses sustained, but I do think it is fair and it is reasonable. That is what matters: A fair resolution has been achieved.”

Elouise Catherine Pepion was born Nov. 5, 1945, on the Blackfeet Nation reservation in Montana, situated on the eastern edge of the Glacier National Park. Her Indian name was Yellow Bird Woman.
She spent two years at Montana State University before leaving to care for her mother, who was dying of cancer. In 1968, she left the reservation and worked as an accountant at a television station in Seattle before becoming the Blackfeet treasurer in 1976.

Twelve years later, she helped open the Blackfeet National Bank, which was the first national bank on a reservation and the first to be owned by an Indian tribe. Today, it is the Native American Bank and is owned by 26 tribal nations.

Survivors include her husband, Alvin Cobell of Blacktail, Mont.; a son, Turk Cobell of Las Vegas; a brother; three sisters; and two granddaughters.

In the years Mrs. Cobell’s lawsuit was in court, she spent much of her time meeting with Indians across the country to gather support. Many joined her cause.

“They stand up and cheer,” Mrs. Cobell told the New York Times in 2004, “because finally someone stood up for justice.”

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Statement from the Chamorro Tribe

There has been a small but determined movement to push Chamorros towards tribal/Native American status for a few years now. There are those who believe it to be the best or only path forward for the Chamorro people given the colonial frameworks they are ensnared by. The statement below is from The Chamorro Tribe itself, which has been advocating this in various forms for about a decade (as far as I can tell). This idea resurfaces every couple of years, usually when a politician decides to take up the cause as a way of providing a seemingly simple solution to a very complicated problem, namely decolonization. A few years ago Senator Judith Gutherz was advocating for it. This past year Felix Camacho in his race for non-voting delegate advocated the same thing. I am getting ready to catch a flight and so I can't talk much about this now. But in time I plan to write more. For now here is the statement of the Chairman of the Chamorro Tribe, Frank Schacher. It can be found on their website.


A Statement from the Chairman of the Chamorro Tribe 

One of the most important things that we can garner as a Native American Tribe is true U.S. Citizenship.  Right now, we are "Statutory Citizens", that means we received our citizenship through the passage of the Organic Act. The Organic Act is United States Code 48 Section 8A.

Unfortunately, Article 14 of the United States Constitution has never been amended to include citizenship of unincorporated territories.  The United States Constitution states there are only two ways to become a United States Citizen, you are either born a citizen or you are naturalized. You cannot be naturalized as a Statutory Citizen. Only certain Amendments of the Constitution and those Amendments that the Supreme Court recognize as being Basic Human Rights apply to us.

The only true way for Guam and the Chamorro people to get United States true citizenship, which means full protection and full Constitutional rights, is either Guam becomes a State, which is not going to happen because we do not have the population base and we are too far from the contiguous 48 States.

 The only other way for us to get Constitutional citizenship is to become registered as a native American tribe so that we as a people become incorporated to the United States and the Indian Naturalization Act would automatically Naturalize us, thereby, making us legal Constitutional Citizens of the United States and affording us all protections and rights under the Constitution of the United States and making us eligible for all types of benefits as well as giving us additional Constitutional rights, because Native Americans enjoy more Constitutional rights than regular Americans.  Native Americans have the Constitutional right to discriminate based on race to protect their culture, heritage and race. 

Throughout the history of our relationship with the United States we have been the victims of deceit, theft, subjugation, discrimination, abandonment, and slow, subversive, genocide. All under the United States policy of Benevolent Assimilation towards the Chamorro people of Guam.  

 While the majority of the Chamorro people of Guam enjoy thinking of ourselves as Americans, the truth is, we are not recognized by the Constitution as American citizens, nor do we enjoy the full scope of rights and protection under the Constitution.

 On August 1, 1950, Congress approved the Guam Organic Act and declared Guam to be an unincorporated territory of the United States (48 U.S.C.). This Act changed our political status as U.S. Nationals and granted the Native Inhabitants of Guam (Chamorros) statutory, unconstitutional citizenship.  This Act, is also a direct violation of Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States of America.  

As a colony of the United States, prior to the Japanese invasion, all military and civilian dependents, and all civilian contractors were evacuated from Guam in anticipation of the Japanese invasion. The Chamorro people were left to the mercy of the Japanese with just a token force of U.S. Navy personnel to surrender the island;

On December 8, 1941 Guam was captured by the Japanese. No words could ever fully describe the inhuman atrocities committed by the Japanese upon the Chamorros who had been abandoned;

The naval and aerial bombardment carpeting Guam for 21 days and nights by the United States preceding the reoccupation of Guam more than two-and-a-half years later killed more Chamorros than the Japanese did and caused irreversible ecological destruction;

The United States forgave the nation of Japan for the atrocities committed against the Chamorro people, without consideration of the Chamorro people or their land;

The Non-Self Governing Territory of Guam became a Trust Territory of the United States of America under Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations;

Chapters XII and XIII of the Charter of the United Nations provides for the establishment of an International Trusteeship System, the basic objectives of which, among others, are to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants of Trust Territories and to promote their progressive development towards self government or independence;

Principle VI of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 of 1960, states that a Non-Self Governing Territory can reach a full measure of self government by: (a) emergence as a sovereign independent state; (b) free association with an independent state; or (c) integration with an independent state;

The United States of America is a signatory of the Charter of the United Nations;

On August 1st, 1950 the Guam Organic Act was approved by Congress, this Act was written by the Dept. of the Navy without any input, or approval from the Chamorro people of Guam;

The Chamorro people do not enjoy full, equal rights, and protection as Constitutional Citizens of the United States, under the Organic Act of Guam;

The Chamorro people of Guam have had over one third of their island unconstitutionally condemned by the United States; (click to view 1979 Land Docs. navy airforce land use plan.pdf and navy guam land use plan.pdf )

Chapter VIII "Equal Rights and Self Determination of Peoples" of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe's "Helsinki Accord," delineates that participating states will respect the equal rights of peoples and their right to self determination, acting at all times in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations;

The United States of America is a signatory of the "Helsinki Accord;"

The Chamorro people of Guam have been exposed to radiation fall-out from atomic bomb tests conducted by the United States;

The Chamorro people of Guam where exposed to dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) for over two decades by the United States;

The United States military's use, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials, toxins, and contaminants within Guam without the free, prior and informed consent of the Chamorro people since World War II, including Agent Orange, Agent Purple, dioxins, heavy metals, and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), continues to negatively affect Guam's people and land, and the effects of these hazardous materials, toxics, and contaminants within Guam remain undocumented, untreated, and unmitigated;

The incidences of cancer in the Chamorro people of Guam are far out of proportion to the incidences in non-contaminated areas, and nasopharyngeal cancer incidences far outweigh all other cancer incidences in Guam;

The combination of radiation exposure, chemical contamination, ecological destruction, and the uncontrolled introduction of invasive species of plants, insects, and animals has destroyed the Chamorro People of Guam's ability to sustain themselves through traditional means;

The formation of United States military installations and Federal preserves has restricted the rights of the Chamorro people from the harvesting of their natural resources;
Restrictions were placed on studying and perpetuating the history, culture, and language of the Chamorro people by the United States until Congress' enactment of the Organic Act in 1950;

Although the United States surrendered ownership of Guam upon ratification of the Charter of the United Nations, President George W. Bush recently ordered the establishment of the Marianas Trench National Monument. Thereby incorporating into the United States waters belonging to the Chamorro people.

These are but a few of the wrongs which have been and continue to be unjustly perpetrated upon Chamorros.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Indigenous Comic Con!

Gaige yu' giya Albuquerque, New Mexico para este na gefpå'go na dinanña', i fine'nina taiguini un "Indigenous Comic Con." Gof excited yu' put este na oppotunidåt, sa' gi este na såkkan, hami yan i dos che'lu-hu in na'magåhet un hagas na guinifen-måmi anai in na'huyong i fine'nina na kamek yan lepblon-måmi. I na'an i iyon-måmi na kompañia, "The Guam Bus."

Siempre ti meggai na taotaogues Pasifiku gi este na dinanña', lao malago' yu' maneyak meggai put taimanu i otro na klasen natibu ma cho'cho'gue este na bonito lao makkat na cho'cho'.

Friday, November 11, 2016

War Reparations Interview

War reparations is something that hardly receives much attention anymore. It used to be the issue that could make or break a candidate for delegate in Guam. It was something that people pushed for, and always seemed likely to get in some form, but never materialized. War reparations in the Chamorro context, is about compensation for the atrocities, suffering and destruction that Chamorros experienced during World War II at the hands of occupying Japanese forces. Chamorros did receive some compensation for what had happened in the immediate postwar era, but a commission later determined that they were not given enough information or access to those channels of redress and that further compensation should be awarded.

This issue is waning in political importance due to the fact that the war generation is dying out. The number of people who would be eligible for compensation decreases with each year. The impetus is slowly being quashed as time ravages our elders and making the issue appear to be tragically moot. As I have written about on this blog many times, my feelings on this topic are mixed, and have not become any easier to process since my two war survivors, my grandparents have passed away. The image above is from a press conference held earlier this year to announce the creation of a non-profit advocacy group for Chamorro war survivors, which may at some point sue the US federal government over the lack of war reparations.

Here is an interview I did with the Marianas Variety a few years ago about this topic.


A postwar friendship between Guam and Japan did not develop quickly. When the friendship was forged, it came at the behest of a variety of forces, most notably a desire amongst Japanese to erase their atrocities of the past, and Guam’s need to expand its economy past colonial constraints.

Although the war in Guam officially ends on August 10, 1944, the war doesn’t really end in either Guam or Japan. Japan itself would continue to be occupied by the US military until 1952 and until 1948, Japanese stragglers were still being hunted throughout Guam. From 1944 – 1948, the Guam Combat Patrol, which was comprised of Chamorro police officers, killed 117 Japanese stragglers and captured five.  Two members of the combat patrol were killed and two others were wounded in their rounding up of Japanese holdouts. The Treaty of San Francisco returned sovereignty to Japan in 1952, and as part of that treaty, the US accepted responsibility for all futures claims against Japan for their conduct during the war. This is a point, that is often forgotten both by people locally and especially in the United States.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s communication between Japan and Guam was limited for a variety of factors. Japan was undergoing a process of “forgetting” their previous imperial efforts, that had led to them conquering huge swaths of Asia and the Pacific. As a result, the history of occupying Guam and Japan’s former colonies in Micronesia were obscured in the national memory. On Guam’s end, until 1962 the island was under a security clearance requirement, which meant that those entering and leaving the island had to have the permission of the US Navy to travel. This meant that the island, despite being on the edge of Asia, was largely cut off from its neighbors.

Once the security clearance was lifted in 1962, the Government of Guam attempted to start a tourism industry and despite war wounds and animosity that persisted amongst your average Chamorro, at the elite level, Japan was the perfect market. The liberalization of the Japanese travel industry in 1964 led to a drop in the price of flights out of Japan, making the dream of men such as former Governor Manuel Guerrero possible. The US had developed a very close economic and strategic relationship with their old enemy, and this made it easier for Japanese to potentially visit Guam. Also, Japan was a close nearby tourist market, which was growing rapidly in economic terms, and had a culture that was increasingly driven to sample Americana. At the village level however, things remained much more ambivalent. Many survivors of the war, were uncertain how to greet the Japanese when they began to trickle in as tourists. Early Japanese tourists traveling in the Southern villages in the 1960s and 1970s were often targets for vandalism, most commonly rocks thrown at their buses or cars.

In symbolic terms, a 1965 visit by Japanese searching for the bones of their soldiers who had died in Guam in World War II, helped to make peace between Chamorros and Japanese. The late Father Oscar Calvo met with them and eventually worked towards the erecting of the South Pacific Memorial Park in Yigo, at the site of the last command post by the Japanese during the occupation. By the 1970s, attitudes had changed significantly. For instance, throughout the 1950s and even the early 1960s, there was always whispers and suspicions of Japanese stragglers still hiding out on Guam. In 1960 Bunzo Minagawa and Masahi Ito were discovered within a few days of each other. Their presence received some local and international attention. But this paled in comparison to the reception that Shoichi Yokoi received when he was discovered in 1972. He became an instant local celebrity and icon and was also treated so when he returned to Japan. The treatment of Yokoi shows the changing attitudes in Guam and in Japan. For Guam, there was already a great desire amongst the elite to develop Japan as Guam’s primary tourist market, and Yokoi being discovered, his garnering temporary international fame for the island was like a boon from heaven.

Yokoi’s place in Guam History is primarily related to this oddity status and the way that Guam was briefly put on the map when Yokoi when he was found by two Chamorro farmers. What is often forgotten however is the role that Yokoi played in helping to develop Guam’s postwar tourism industry. Yokoi’s role was not intentional and not necessarily even direct. But his being discovered in Guam and his affinity to the island that persisted long after he returned to Japan, helped to change the image that the Japanese had of Guam.

When Yokoi was captured he expected to be killed or imprisoned. Instead he was treated as a celebrity, both locally and in Japan. Dozens of journalists made a pilgrimage to Guam to learn more about this living, surviving Japanese relic of World War II. Guam was a casualty of squabbling empires during the war and in the immediate postwar years it became a victim of Japanese amnesia. The ghosts of Japanese empire remained in Guam. Close to 20,000 soldiers died in Guam, heaping humiliation on the shame of their defeat by the Americans. Guam had once signified victory, but during the war and after it started to signify the soul-draining horror of defeat. Guam become invisible due to this willful amnesia.

In his later years Yokoi most likely felt more at home in Guam than in Japan. He loved the island in the same way one cannot let go of the sites of their trauma because of the way they have become too dear and too intimate in terms of how have formed their identity. Yokoi returned to Guam on several occasions, including his honeymoon. When he traveled to Guam reporters followed him and toured the island with him. He allowed the Japanese to see Guam in a new way. When he was first found in January 1972, it was winter in Japan and so reporters arriving in Guam wore winter clothes. While waiting for news, they toured around the island, marveling at its natural beauty, creating a new way for the Japanese to see Guam. Now as a tropical paradise with where an exciting bit of human trivia had been hiding for 28 years, not a site of their old atrocities.

The relationship has continued to evolve from there. Guam marketed itself, rather successful as a cheap American style, Polynesian tourist destination and within a few decades had more than a million Japanese visiting yearly. The forgiveness between Japanese and Chamorros was facilitated by the economic aspects. I wonder, if Japan had not been the most practical postwar tourist market to develop, if Chamorros would have gotten over their anger and fear towards its people so quickly. I have heard some posit, that the Chamorro culture, whether in ancient indigenous forms, or in its current Catholic forms led to Chamorros forgiving the Japanese so quickly for their atrocities. For most people on island today, Japanese tourists are as common as coconuts or military planes flying overhead. They have become part of our normal landscape and so we don’t really question why they are here and what happened to normalize things between our elders and them. But despite the veneer of friendship, there is still a quiet, but persist desire amongst some segments of the Chamorro community to have their suffering at the hands of the Japanese be recognized and that they receive an apology. In the early 1990s, the activist group Nasion Chamoru held protests in Tumon against Japanese tourists, where they held up signs writing in Japanese, reminding them about their atrocities their ancestors committed and how Chamorros have never been compensated for that or received an apology. Japan has offered formal apologies for a number of its atrocities during the war, such as a general offering of “remorse” in 1995 to the people hurt during the war, admitting that their treatment of South Koreans was “truly regrettable” and that the Japanese government is deeply remorseful about it in 1965, and a 2009 apology through an ambassador for those who suffered during the Bataan Death March. In 2010, Guam received an informal apology from Japanese consul Yoshiyuki Kimura at an event titled “Real People, Real Stories” organized by Senator Frank Blas Jr.

On the matter of reparations, even if they are provided, they will always be tainted by the amount of time that it took to secure them. Whether the blame lies with leaders in Guam or in Washington D.C., it does not change the fact that the majority of those who suffered in the war, they and their families will receive nothing. If it is every secured, it would be the hollowest of victories, something for honoring graves, rather than lives. In the war, we were victims caught between the clashes or empires, fighting over our lands, but never truly caring about our people. Should war reparations ever arrive, it would only reinforce that idea, albeit in a contemporary context. One final though: many Chamorro survivors of World War II downplayed the need for monetary compensation (as it felt wrong to try to put a price tag on their suffering), most hoped instead for a real and sincere apology, something that could help them make sense of the crazy path their lives had taken, where friends become enemies only to become friends again. It is unfortunate, that so many of them were deprived even simple kindness.

America and the Abyss

Na'fanlilisto hamyo! Esta mamagi i finakpo'. Esta siña ta lili'e'. Tåya' otro siña masukne para este. 


"American and the Abyss"
by Andrew Sullivan
New York Magazine

The most frustrating aspect of the last 12 months has been the notion that we have been in a normal, if truly ugly, election cycle, with one extremely colorful and unpredictable figure leading the Republican Party in an otherwise conventional political struggle over policy. It has been clear for months now, it seems to me, that this is a delusion. A far more accurate account of the past year is that an openly proto-fascist cult leader has emerged to forge a popular movement that has taken over one of the major political parties, eroded central norms of democratic life, undermined American democratic institutions, and now stands on the brink of seizing power in Washington. I made this argument at length in April, when Donald Trump was on the brink of securing the nomination. Everything that has happened since has only made my fears more pressing.

I find myself wondering if I have lost my marbles. It seems far too melodramatic. I am an emotional character — I feared that Obama might have thrown the election away in the first debate in 2012 — and there are times in discussions with friends when the catastrophic scenarios we’ve been airing seem like something out of a dystopian mini-series designed for paranoids. Please, therefore, discount the following as the product of an excitable outlier if you see fit. I sure hope you’re right. But as it seems more evident by the day that Donald Trump could very well become the next president of the United States, it is worth simply reiterating the evidence in front of our nose that this republic is in serious danger.

This is what we now know. Donald Trump is the first candidate for president who seems to have little understanding of or reverence for constitutional democracy and presents himself as a future strongman. This begins with his character — if that word could possibly be ascribed to his disturbed, unstable, and uncontrollable psyche. He has revealed himself incapable of treating other people as anything but instruments to his will. He seems to have no close friends, because he can tolerate no equals. He never appears to laugh, because that would cede a recognition to another’s fleeting power over him. He treats his wives and his children as mere extensions of his power, and those who have resisted the patriarch have been exiled, humiliated, or bought off.

His relationship to men — from his school days to the primary campaign — is rooted entirely in dominance and mastery, through bullying, intimidation, and, if necessary, humiliation. His relationship to women is entirely a function of his relationship to men: Women are solely a means to demonstrate his superiority in the alpha-male struggle. Women are to be pursued, captured, used, assaulted, or merely displayed to other men as an indication of his superiority. His response to any difficult relationship is to end it, usually by firing or humiliating or ruining someone. His core, motivating idea is the punishment or mockery of the weak and reverence for the strong. He cannot apologize or accept responsibility for failure. He has long treated the truth as entirely instrumental to his momentary personal interests. Setbacks of any kind can only be assuaged by vindictive, manic revenge.

He has no concept of a non-zero-sum engagement, in which a deal can be beneficial for both sides. A win-win scenario is intolerable to him, because mastery of others is the only moment when he is psychically at peace. (This is one reason why he cannot understand the entire idea of free trade or, indeed, NATO, or the separation of powers.) In any conflict, he cannot ever back down; he must continue to up the ante until the danger to everyone around him is so great as to demand their surrender. From his feckless business deals and billion-dollar debts to his utter indifference to the damage he has done to those institutions unfortunate enough to engage him, he has shown no concern for the interests of other human beings. Just ask the countless people he has casually fired, or the political party he has effectively destroyed. He has violated and eroded the core norms that make liberal democracy possible — because such norms were designed precisely to guard against the kind of tyrannical impulses and pathological narcissism he personifies.

Anyone paying attention knew this before he conquered the Republican Party. Look at what has happened since then. He sees the judicial system as entirely subordinate to his political and personal interests, and impugned a federal judge for his ethnicity. He has accused the Justice Department and FBI of a criminal conspiracy to protect Hillary Clinton. He has refused to accept in advance the results of any election in which he loses. He has openly argued for government persecution of newspapers that oppose him — pledging to open up antitrust prosecution against the Washington Post, for example. He is the first candidate in American history to subject the press pool to mob hatred — “disgusting, disgusting people” — and anti-Semitic poison from his foulest supporters. He is the first candidate in American history to pledge to imprison his election opponent if he wins power. He has mused about using nuclear weapons in regional wars. He has celebrated police powers that openly deploy racial profiling. His favorite foreign leader is a man who murders journalists, commits war crimes, uses xenophobia and warfare to cement his political standing, and believes in the dismemberment of both NATO and the European Union. Nor has he rejected any of his most odious promises during the primary — from torturing prisoners “even if it doesn’t work” to murdering the innocent family members of terror suspects to rounding up several million noncitizens to declaring war on an entire religion, proposing to create a database to monitor its adherents and bar most from entering the country.

We are told we cannot use the term fascist to describe this. I’m at a loss to find a more accurate alternative.

The Establishments of both right and left have had many opportunities to stop him and have failed by spectacular displays of cowardice, narrow self-interest, and bewilderment. The right has been spectacularly craven. Trump has no loyalty to the party apparatus that has elevated him to a possible victory next Tuesday — declaring war on the Speaker of the House, attacking the RNC whenever it fails to toady to him, denigrating every single rival Republican candidate, even treating his own vice-presidential nominee as someone he can openly and contemptuously contradict with impunity. And yet that party, like the conservative parties in Weimar Germany, has never seen fit to anathematize him, only seeking to exploit his followers in the vain and foolish delusion that they can control him in the future in ways they have not been able to in the past.

The Republican media complex have enabled and promoted his lies and conspiracy theories and, above all, his hysteria. From the poisonous propaganda of most of Fox News to the internet madness of the alt-right, they have all made a fortune this past decade by describing the world as a hellhole of chaos and disorder and crime for which the only possible solution is a third-world strongman. The Republicans in Washington complemented this picture of crisis by a policy of calculated obstruction to every single measure a Democratic president has attempted, rendering the Congress so gridlocked that it has been incapable of even passing a budget without constitutional crisis, filling a vacant Supreme Court seat, or reforming a health-care policy in pragmatic fashion. They have risked the nation’s very credit rating to vent their rage. They have helped reduce the public support of the central democratic institution in American government, the Congress, to a consistently basement level never seen before — another disturbing analogy to the discredited democratic parliaments of the 1930s. The Republicans have thereby become a force bent less on governing than on destroying the very institutions that make democracy and the rule of law possible. They have not been conservative in any sane meaning of that term for many, many years. They are nihilist revolutionaries of the far right in search of a galvanizing revolutionary leader. And they have now found their man.

For their part, the feckless Democrats decided to nominate one of the most mediocre, compromised, and Establishment figures one can imagine in a deeply restless moment of anxiety and discontent. They knew full well that Hillary Clinton is incapable of inspiring, of providing reassurance, or of persuading anyone who isn’t already in her corner, and that her self-regard and privilege and money-grubbing have led her into the petty scandals that have been exploited by the tyrant’s massive lies. The staggering decision by FBI director James Comey to violate established protocol and throw the election into chaos to preserve his credibility with the far right has ripped open her greatest vulnerability — her caginess and deviousness — while also epitomizing the endgame of the chaos that the GOP has sought to exploit. Comey made the final days of the election about her. And if this election is a referendum on Clinton, she loses.

Yes, she has shrewdly deployed fear against fear — but she is running against the master of fear. The Democrats, with the exception of Obama, have long been unable to marshal emotion as a political weapon, advancing a bloodless rationalism that has never been a match for the tribal national passions of the right. Clinton’s rallies have been pale copies of the bloodthirsty mobs Trump has marshaled and whipped into ever-higher states of frenzy. In every debate, she won on points, but I fear she failed to offer a compelling, simple, and positive reason for her candidacy. Only a party utterly divorced from half the country it seeks to represent could have made such a drastic error of hubris and complacency.

Some — including many who will be voting for Trump — will argue that even if the unstable, sleepless, vindictive tyrant wins on Tuesday, he will be restrained by the system when he seizes power. Let’s game this out for a moment. Over the last year, which forces in the GOP have been able to stand up to him? Even his closest aides have been unable to get him to concentrate before a debate. He set up a policy advisory apparatus and then completely ignored it until it was disbanded. His foreign-policy advisers can scarcely be found. He says he knows more than any general, any diplomat, and anyone with actual experience in government. He has declared his chief adviser to be himself. Even the criminal Richard Nixon was eventually restrained and dispatched by a Republican Establishment that still knew how to run the country and had a loyalty to broader American institutions. Such an Establishment no longer exists.

More to the point, if Trump wins, he will almost certainly bring with him the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. A President Clinton will be checked and balanced. A President Trump will be pushing through wide-open doors. Who can temper or stop him then? A Speaker who reveals the slightest inclination to resist him will be swiftly dispatched — or subjected to a very credible threat of being primaried. If the military top brass resist his belief in unpredictable or unethical or unlawful warfare, they will surely be fired. As for the administration of justice, he has openly declared his intent to use the power of the government to put his political opponent in jail. As for a free society, he has threatened to do what he can to put his media opponents into receivership.

What is so striking is that this requires no interpretation, no reading of the tea leaves. Trump has told Americans all of this — again and again — in plain English. His own temperamental instability has been displayed daily and in gory detail. From time to time, you can see his poll ratings plummet as revelations that would permanently sink any other candidate have dented his appeal. And then he resiliently and unstoppably moves back up. His bond with his supporters is absolute, total, and personal. It was months ago that he boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still be with him. And he was right. This is not a mark of a democratic leader; it is a mark of an authoritarian cult.

It is also, critically, a function of his platform. Fascism has never been on the ballot in America before. No candidate this close to power has signaled more clearly than Trump that he is a white-nationalist candidate determined to fight back against the browning of America. As mass immigration has changed the demographic identity of the soon-to-be majority-minority country with remarkable speed, and as those made uncomfortable by such drastic change have been dismissed as mere bigots and racists, Trump offers an electrifying hope of revenge and revanchism. The fire he has lit will not be easily doused. If his policies lead to an economic downswing, he will find others to blame and conspiracies to flush out. If there is Republican resistance to his pledges to roll back free trade, he will call on his base to pressure the leadership to surrender. And if one of his first moves is to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, we will be hurtling rather quickly to a military confrontation, as Iran rushes to build a nuke before Trump can launch military attacks to thwart them. That rush to war would empower him still further.

Yes, he is an incompetent, a dilettante, a man who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Many of his moves will probably lead to a nose-dive in support. But Trump cannot admit error and will need to deny it or scapegoat others or divert public attention. Those diversions could well be deeply destabilizing — and galvanized by events. There will doubtless be another incident between police and an unarmed black man under a Trump presidency. Rather than calm the nation, Trump will inflame it. There will be an Islamist terror attack of some kind — and possibly a wave of such attacks in response to his very election. Trump will exploit it with the subtlety of a Giuliani and the brutality of a Putin.

I have long had faith that some version of fascism cannot come to power in America. The events of the past year suggest deep reflection on that conviction. A political hurricane has arrived, as globalization has eroded the economic power of the white working classes, as the cultural left has overplayed its hand on social and racial issues, and as a catastrophic war and a financial crisis has robbed the elites of their credibility. As always in history, you still needed the spark, the unique actor who could deploy demagogic talent to drag an advanced country into violence and barbarism. In Trump, America found one for the ages.

Maybe the worst won’t happen on Tuesday. Maybe this catastrophist possible reading of our times is massively overblown. Maybe this short essay will be ridiculed in the future, as either Clinton wins and prevails in power, or if Trump turns out to be a far different president than he has been as a candidate. I sure hope so. But the fact that we may barely avoid a very deep crisis does not mitigate my anxiety. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we live in a republic, if we can keep it. And yet, more than two centuries later, we are openly contemplating throwing it up in the air and seeing where it might land.

Do what you can.


"An American Tragedy"
by David Remnick
The New Yorker

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.

Early on Election Day, the polls held out cause for concern, but they provided sufficiently promising news for Democrats in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and even Florida that there was every reason to think about celebrating the fulfillment of Seneca Falls, the election of the first woman to the White House. Potential victories in states like Georgia disappeared, little more than a week ago, with the F.B.I. director’s heedless and damaging letter to Congress about reopening his investigation and the reappearance of damaging buzzwords like “e-mails,” “Anthony Weiner,” and “fifteen-year-old girl.” But the odds were still with Hillary Clinton.

All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine. That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering.

In the coming days, commentators will attempt to normalize this event. They will try to soothe their readers and viewers with thoughts about the “innate wisdom” and “essential decency” of the American people. They will downplay the virulence of the nationalism displayed, the cruel decision to elevate a man who rides in a gold-plated airliner but who has staked his claim with the populist rhetoric of blood and soil.
George Orwell, the most fearless of commentators, was right to point out that public opinion is no more innately wise than humans are innately kind. People can behave foolishly, recklessly, self-destructively in the aggregate just as they can individually. Sometimes all they require is a leader of cunning, a demagogue who reads the waves of resentment and rides them to a popular victory. “The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion,” Orwell wrote in his essay “Freedom of the Park.” “The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”

Trump ran his campaign sensing the feeling of dispossession and anxiety among millions of voters—white voters, in the main. And many of those voters—not all, but many—followed Trump because they saw that this slick performer, once a relative cipher when it came to politics, a marginal self-promoting buffoon in the jokescape of eighties and nineties New York, was more than willing to assume their resentments, their fury, their sense of a new world that conspired against their interests. That he was a billionaire of low repute did not dissuade them any more than pro-Brexit voters in Britain were dissuaded by the cynicism of Boris Johnson and so many others. The Democratic electorate might have taken comfort in the fact that the nation had recovered substantially, if unevenly, from the Great Recession in many ways—unemployment is down to 4.9 per cent—but it led them, it led us, to grossly underestimate reality. The Democratic electorate also believed that, with the election of an African-American President and the rise of marriage equality and other such markers, the culture wars were coming to a close. Trump began his campaign declaring Mexican immigrants to be “rapists”; he closed it with an anti-Semitic ad evoking “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”; his own behavior made a mockery of the dignity of women and women’s bodies. And, when criticized for any of it, he batted it all away as “political correctness.” Surely such a cruel and retrograde figure could succeed among some voters, but how could he win? Surely, Breitbart News, a site of vile conspiracies, could not become for millions a source of news and mainstream opinion. And yet Trump, who may have set out on his campaign merely as a branding exercise, sooner or later recognized that he could embody and manipulate these dark forces. The fact that “traditional” Republicans, from George H. W. Bush to Mitt Romney, announced their distaste for Trump only seemed to deepen his emotional support.

The commentators, in their attempt to normalize this tragedy, will also find ways to discount the bumbling and destructive behavior of the F.B.I., the malign interference of Russian intelligence, the free pass—the hours of uninterrupted, unmediated coverage of his rallies—provided to Trump by cable television, particularly in the early months of his campaign. We will be asked to count on the stability of American institutions, the tendency of even the most radical politicians to rein themselves in when admitted to office. Liberals will be admonished as smug, disconnected from suffering, as if so many Democratic voters were unacquainted with poverty, struggle, and misfortune. There is no reason to believe this palaver. There is no reason to believe that Trump and his band of associates—Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan—are in any mood to govern as Republicans within the traditional boundaries of decency. Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment. Fascism is not our future—it cannot be; we cannot allow it to be so—but this is surely the way fascism can begin.

Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate but a resilient, intelligent, and competent leader, who never overcame her image among millions of voters as untrustworthy and entitled. Some of this was the result of her ingrown instinct for suspicion, developed over the years after one bogus “scandal” after another. And yet, somehow, no matter how long and committed her earnest public service, she was less trusted than Trump, a flim-flam man who cheated his customers, investors, and contractors; a hollow man whose countless statements and behavior reflect a human being of dismal qualities—greedy, mendacious, and bigoted. His level of egotism is rarely exhibited outside of a clinical environment.

For eight years, the country has lived with Barack Obama as its President. Too often, we tried to diminish the racism and resentment that bubbled under the cyber-surface. But the information loop had been shattered. On Facebook, articles in the traditional, fact-based press look the same as articles from the conspiratorial alt-right media. Spokesmen for the unspeakable now have access to huge audiences. This was the cauldron, with so much misogynistic language, that helped to demean and destroy Clinton. The alt-right press was the purveyor of constant lies, propaganda, and conspiracy theories that Trump used as the oxygen of his campaign. Steve Bannon, a pivotal figure at Breitbart, was his propagandist and campaign manager.

It is all a dismal picture. Late last night, as the results were coming in from the last states, a friend called me full of sadness, full of anxiety about conflict, about war. Why not leave the country? But despair is no answer. To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.

David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998 and a staff writer since 1992. 


"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
by Moby
November 9, 2016

 why are you so afraid of evidence?

you smoke cigarettes,naively believing they won't kill you. you eat garbage, believing it won't make you sick and obese.
 and now you've elected donald trump. 

'christians' and family-values voters have en masse helped elect a twice divorced man who openly brags about infidelity and committing sexual assault. 
30% of latinos have helped elect a man who has routinely maligned latinos and called mexicans 'rapists'.
 45% of women have helped elect a man who brags about 'grabbing women by the pussy' and has called women 'pigs' & 'slobs'.
 business-minded middle america has en masse helped elect a man who has led roughly half of his businesses to bankruptcy and lost
close to a billion dollars in 1995 alone.
 and blue collar middle america has en masse helped elect a trust-fund baby who has, over-time, inherited over $600,000,000.00 from his father.

and in the process you've denied the presidency to an experienced and erudite woman whose only shortcoming is being on the receiving end
of a 30 year right-wing smear campaign. 
as a life long progressive i'm supposed to be diplomatic and understanding, but america, what the fuck is wrong with you?
 but then i ask myself, very sadly, why am i surprised?
 this is the same america that eats at burger king and is baffled as to why it ends up obese and cancerous and dying
this is the same america who thinks that granting health care to 20,000,000 people is somehow treasonous.

and this is the america who has now elected a dim-witted, racist, misogynist.
 a dim-witted, racist, misogynist who has ruined businesses and has no policy proposals other than 'build a wall'. 
i guess there will be some cold, bitter schadenfreude in spending the next 4 years watching middle america wake up to the fact
that donald trump is an incompetent con-man.

the rust belt jobs won't come back. the wall won't get built. and hillary won't get locked up.

donald trump will be impeached, or end his presidency with single digit approval ratings.
and hopefully, somehow, america will finally wake up the fact that republicans are, simply, terrible. 
reagan and bush sr. and the republicans ruined the economy, bill clinton and the democrats fixed it. 
george w. bush and the republicans ruined the economy all over again, obama and the democrats fixed it. 
in some baffling, habitual masochism americans keep going back to what's bad for them, whether it's food or political parties.

and the climate will suffer.  the inner cities will suffer.  children will suffer.  animals will suffer.  gun deaths will continue to skyrocket.
 we will suffer. all because americans live in this delusional, upside down world wherein they're unwilling to look at evidence. 

but here are the facts: 
junk food makes you fat and kills you.
 cigarettes give you cancer.
and donald trump is a racist and a misogynist who has ruined countless businesses and will be the worst president our country has ever, ever seen.



"Our Unknown Country"
by Paul Krugman
The New York Times

We still don’t know who will win the electoral college, although as I write this it looks — incredibly, horribly — as if the odds now favor Donald J. Trump. What we do know is that people like me, and probably like most readers of The New York Times, truly didn’t understand the country we live in. We thought that our fellow citizens would not, in the end, vote for a candidate so manifestly unqualified for high office, so temperamentally unsound, so scary yet ludicrous. 

We thought that the nation, while far from having transcended racial prejudice and misogyny, had become vastly more open and tolerant over time. 

We thought that the great majority of Americans valued democratic norms and the rule of law.

It turns out that we were wrong. There turn out to be a huge number of people — white people, living mainly in rural areas — who don’t share at all our idea of what America is about. For them, it is about blood and soil, about traditional patriarchy and racial hierarchy. And there were many other people who might not share those anti-democratic values, but who nonetheless were willing to vote for anyone bearing the Republican label.

I don’t know how we go forward from here. Is America a failed state and society? It looks truly possible. I guess we have to pick ourselves up and try to find a way forward, but this has been a night of terrible revelations, and I don’t think it’s self-indulgent to feel quite a lot of despair.


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