Monday, June 25, 2007

Sumahi's Visit

No posting for a while probably, me and Rashne moved into a new apartment over the weekend, and now my daughter, Sumåhi and her mother Jessica are here visiting. Its a crazy, exciting time, and other than that there's no internet at my new place.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sicko

Published on Wednesday, June 20, 2007 by TruthDig.com
‘SiCKO’: Michael Moore’s Prescription for Change
by Amy Goodman

Michael Moore screened his new film, “SiCKO,” on Father’s Day at a special New York event honoring Sept. 11 first responders. Moore spoke of their heroism and recognized their role in the film. “SiCKO” is about the broken U.S. healthcare system. Case in point: the 9/11 rescue workers.

Their stories of selfless courage, followed by years of creeping, chronic illnesses, from pulmonary fibrosis to cancer to post-traumatic stress, often exacerbated by poor or no health insurance, drive home Moore’s point, that the medical/pharmaceutical industry is failing Americans—not only the 40-plus million Americans with no health insurance, but the 250 million Americans who do have health insurance.

Moore doesn’t like health insurance companies: “They’re the Halliburtons of the health industry. I mean, they really—they get away with murder. They charge whatever they want. There’s no government control. And frankly, we will not really fix our system until we remove these private insurance companies. I mean, they literally have to be eliminated. They cannot be allowed to exist in this country.”

Unable to get care in the U.S., Moore transports the ailing 9/11 heroes to boats just offshore from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Moore shows clips of congressmen and generals assuring the public that Guantanamo prisoners receive excellent healthcare. Bullhorn in hand, Moore appeals to the Navy for care for the 9/11 responders on board as well. Denied, they make their way to Havana Hospital, where a team of Cuba’s world-renowned doctors administers much-needed treatment. Reggie Cervantes, coughing throughout her interview, is outraged to learn that an inhaler cartridge that she pays $120 for stateside sets her back only five cents in Cuba, and vows to “take back a suitcase full of them.”

The U.S. Treasury Department is investigating Moore for possible violations of the trade embargo against Cuba (he has sent a copy of his film to Canada for safekeeping).

When Moore began his film, he put out a call for stories from his website and received more than 25,000 replies. In addition to neglected patients, Moore heard from hundreds of people within the industry blowing the whistle, like Dr. Linda Peeno. She testified before Congress: “I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this. Because, in fact, what I did was I saved a company a half a million dollars with this.”

Moore knows that people who organize can fight back and win. “SiCKO” is more than a movie; it’s a movement. The release of the film is being coordinated with an unprecedented, sophisticated, grass-roots action campaign. Oprah Winfrey will hold a town-hall meeting on healthcare. YouTube is calling for people to post videos of their healthcare horror stories, and the California Nurses Association is leading a campaign to get 1 million nurses in the U.S. to see the film. Healthcare-Now! is organizing leafleting and petitioning at all 3,000 theaters where “SiCKO” is debuting; Moveon.org and Physicians for a National Health Program are mobilizing. And Moore himself is heading to New Hampshire to challenge the Democratic presidential candidates.

“SiCKO” shows how Hillary Clinton tried to reform the healthcare system as first lady. “She was destroyed as a result of it. I mean, they put out I think well over $100 million to fight her. But to jump ahead here with Hillary, in last year’s Congress, she was the second-largest recipient of health industry money. She may be No. 1 at this point, for all I know. It’s very sad to see … they’re into her pocket, and she’s into their pocket.”

Moore continued: “By the time of the election, by the primaries, I’m sure all the Democrats are going to be using that word: ‘universal’ coverage. Their plans are going to take our tax dollars and put them into the pockets of these insurance companies. We need to cut out the middleman here. The government can run this program.” This is called a single-payer system.

Taking on the multibillion-dollar healthcare industry is all in a day’s work for Michael Moore. After several million people see “SiCKO,” the time just might be right for a prescription for change.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.

© 2007 Amy Goodman; distributed by King Features Syndicate

Thursday, June 21, 2007

United Nations, United Natives

FOR IMMEADIATE RELEASE
Contact: Keith Camacho
Email: decolonizeguam@gmail.com

Chamorro Delegation Urges United Nations Intervention on Human Rights Violations in Guam

New York City, June 20, 2007 — Chamorros from Guam today testified before the United Nations Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization to insist the international community pay closer attention to Guam's continued colonial status as the United States, its Administering Power, increases its already large military presence on the island.

The UN General Assembly created the Committee of 24 to consider appropriate forms of self-government for the world's 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT), including Guam.

Delagations from Guam have appealed to the Committee of 24 for more than 20 years regarding Guam's political status and the United States' refusal to respect the Chamorro people's right to self-determination. Today's delegation represents a second wave of Chamorros demanding their right to sovereignty.

Hope Antoinette Cristobal, a Chamorro and Doctor of Psychology called attention to the health effects colonization has had on the people of Guam.

"The colonization of Guam has had an impact on the psychological disposition of my people," said Cristobal, who has dedicated her academic training and career to the study of colonized and marginalized indigenous communities. "The Chamorro population in Guam experiences a wide array of health, mental health, and legal problems. My people are over-represented in correctional facilities, probation rolls, and within the mental health system. My people suffer high rates of family violence, substance abuse, teenage suicides, school drop-outs, and other social problems."

The United Nations is obligated to do more to address the continued colonial status of Guam, which remains on the UN list of Non-Self Governing Territories said Keith L. Camacho, an assistant professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"To date, neither the United States nor the United Nations has made any sustained attempt to prepare the Chamorro people of Guam toward 'self-determination,' as defined by United Nations Resolution 1541," said Camacho, a researcher in issues of colonization and decolonization in the Pacific Islands and elsewhere. "In fact, the United States history of political relations with Guam can be best described as one of apathy, ignorance, racism and unilateralism. On the other hand, Chamorro activists, attorneys, community organizers, educators, policy makers and religious leaders boast a history of critical anti-colonialism that has not been heeded by the United States and the United Nations. Thus, the question of political status in Guam remains unresolved, if not temporarily stalled."

Sabina Flores Perez, an indigenous Chamorro who testified before the UN Special Political and Decolonization Committee in October 2006 said after 20 years of appeals, it is time for the United Nations and the International community to respond to Guam.

"In this time of great need for Chamorros and Guam, with the overwhelming burden of inequality accumulating, the expediting of the current US militarization, the huge conflicts of interest of those entrusted with preserving our human rights and their subsequent disregard for it, it is essential to ensure that all the accomplishments of our forebears on behalf of decolonization and self-determination be maintained," said Perez, who has organized educational campaigns against privatization of natural resources, environmental contamination and militarization on Guam. "Moreover, it is essential that greater attention is paid to the situation of Guam and that the island receives an appropriate response from the international community."

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Monday, June 18, 2007

The Fear of Losing Anything

Several weeks ago on C-SPAN, I watched a sort of debate/forum for the Democratic Candidates on the issue of health care in the United States.

Other than making me frustrated at the fact that I was watching with rapt attention close to a year before the primary seasons will even begin, I do enjoy the fact that certain issues are being debated and talked about in semi-sane ways, one of them being health care.

The forum was fairly predictable and didn’t interest me that much. Most candidates seemed to take the position of evoking the language of health care equality and universal care and concern, or the debatable “American trait” of wanting to take care of all and make sure that they are okay, and taking cheap, weak, abstract and eventually meaningless shots at the health care industry, while pulling softly back from any real universal heath care system.

Dennis Kucinich, stood out amongst a few candidates who is actively and openly pushing for universal health care. Not posing to be realistic by saying that we need to be patient or that this process is a slow one, but rather realistic in the sense that its chances of happening are directly related to how we use the power of the government on behalf of those needing health care as opposed to lining the pockets of CEOs.



During his time in the forum he was asked an interesting question. One of the chief arguments against his notions of universal health care, according to the moderator, was the people might have to start rationing medication or services in order to meet the new needs if health care truly belonged to everyone.

Kucinich responded that a little rationing is vastly better than 40 million people not having health care, and more than twice that not having sufficient health care to cover their needs.

Naturally, a stupid question, given the context that Kucinich reminded the moderator of, but one which made perfect sense if we think about who the subject of campaigns and elections of the United States usually is. Its not the majority subject, or the universal subject, or the lowest among us, rather it is the middle class subject. It is this subject that politicians, in particular on the national level attempt to cater to, by recounting the ways that they are being threatened by economic, education and social problems and the machinations of the current or previous administration. The middle class is beginning to disintegrate, the country needs a new direction! The middle class is getting screwed by taxes! Can we ever have a country where that sort of energy or even rhetorical attention is directed to those who really need it? Such as the poor, or the working poor?

I was immediately reminded after hearing this exchange about a line from sociologist Avery Gordon’s powerful book, Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. In her discussion about middle class acquiescence during the period of military rule and the mass “disappearances” in Argentina, she illustrates very provocatively (and productively) and problems with the sort of middle class consciousness that we find in the United States, and pandered to in electoral politics:

This is a class consciousness that has an authorizing tendency to personal and privatize social problems, saving most of its public political energy for natural disasters and various campaigns for order, hygiene, and proper personal behavior. This is a class consciousness that always has something else on its mind: the bills, the errands, the car, the house, the petty tyrannies of administrators, colleagues, relatives – its seemingly absolute advantages and disadvantages. This is a class consciousness that escapes real public civic life because its tired or busy or what can you do about it anyway? Go fill the car with gas. You aunt called and did you send her a thank you note? Answer the phone and by the way I’m going to the wedding this week, what should I wear? I’ve got to go to work, I’ll talk later. It’s none of your business. Did you see that woman buying ice creams with her good stamps? The middle class always wants things taken care of, done right, and is always complaining about what it is about to lose, as if the whole world would end if the middle collapses. It fears falling down where the others live and it craves success stories of whatever kind. But it is cowed by the lure of achievement, internalizing an aggressive inferiority it projects remarkably consistently, as it often sites waiting, distracted, while others act in its name. It hates authority and loves authority at the same time, rattling its fists at the invisible fathers who parade in a martial manner and reproducing their sons and daughters again and again.



Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chamorro Public Service Post: Guinaifen Manglo

Gof ya-hu este na kanta, ya gof åmko’ gui’ lokkue. Mapega este gi i fine’ñina na album Si J.D. Crutch, ya ma takpångi i album put i na’-an-ña este na kanta. Para Siha ni’ siña kumomprende fino’ Chamoru, kanta taiguini gof fotte’. Este na klasin kanta siha, ma gof pacha’ hao, sa’ siña ta siente i pinitin i kakanta gi i fino’-ña.

Hunggan, ti bei kepuni na siña lachi i pinila’-hu gi fino’ Ingles, lao estague ha’ gui’.

Guinaifen Manglo
Kantan J.D. Crutch

Guinaifen manglo’ yu’ pumangon
I was awoken by a gust of wind
Gi painge nene gi asson-hu
Last night nene as I lay
Ya måtto fehman piniti-hu
And this profound pain has hit me
Sa’ taigue hao gi fi’on-hu
Because you’re not around me

Gi annai makmåta’ yu’
When I woke up
Fehman nene piniti-hu
This profound pain hit me
Sa’ taigue hao nene gi fi’on-hu
Because you’re not around me now
Eståba hao gi guinife-hu
You were only in my dreams


Thursday, June 14, 2007

ABD

I am now officially ABD, or all but dissertation in my graduate program in Ethnic Studies at UCSD.

The past three weeks have been a furious, intense and nerve-shattering exercise in writing, reading, and defending myself. A curious process called in a very ordinary way "qualifying."

Yesterday, after more than two and a half hours of my defending my proposed dissertation and my hasitly thrown together answers to my exam questions, my illustrious committee approved my project, Guam: Where The Production of America's Sovereignty Begins!

I look forward to starting work on it, but in the meantime, I'm going to catch up on some movies and sleep. Gof yayas yan yafai yu' pa'go, lao magof yan malulok yu'.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One Million Blogs for Peace

I just joined an online movement called One Millions Blogs for Peace. I'm pasting the concept description below, and you can click the link for more details and more importantly if you'd like to join up.
When I checked earlier today only 611 blogs had signed up since the project was started in March of this year. I saw at least one fellow Chamorro/Pacific blogger on there already, The Saipan Blog.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Are Liberals Taking Over Chamorro.com?

I posted several months ago, that I was one of the people being put in charge of running Chamorro.com, one of the most visible and visited Chamorro websites out there. In the future, the running of this site might entail overhauling it and remaking it, but for the past couple months and until I become gumof kapas mama'titinas websites, my helping run it has been relegated to updating existing pages. With the help of i sen mangge na palao'an Charissa Aguon we've been able to keep the Chamorro.com calendar, which I've come to realize is a crucial tool for Chamorros in the states to stay connected to each other through the fiesta, novena and social club networks.

Its been more difficult however keeping up with the updating for the Chamorro.com clubs page and the main page. On the clubs page, you'll find information from/on the different Chamorro social and cultural groups scattered throughout the United States. On the main page, you'll find daily updated information on KUAM for Guam, and the Saipan Tribune for the CNMI. You'll also found a list of featured links and items, which I've been notoriously bad at updating.

In April, in order to help get more publicity for the Famoksaiyan conference that I helped organize in the Bay Area titled "Famoksaiyan: Our Time to Paddle Forward: Summit on Native Self-Determination and Decolonization" I placed a link on the Chamorro.com main page. Here was the description for the link:

Last year's conference Famoksaiyan: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures was a great success down in San Diego. The conference this year will be held April 20-22, 2007 in Berkeley and Oakland, California. This year we are interested in strengthening existing networks, building new ones, and more importantly, giving those interested the skills to promote the work of decolonization and cultural and historical revitalization in their politics, their creative work and everyday interactions. The conference is open to the public, and there is no fee to attend.

In response to this description I received a number of emails through Chamorro.com and through my own email and blog questioning what this conference was, who the organizers were, and lastly, why was Chamorro.com becoming liberal? Here is an excerpt from one such email:
I was introduced to your website and having checked it out for over a month, I noticed that the sites that are being placed on your site are a bit too liberal.

After reading this and others emails, a number of thoughts began to rattle around my brain. For these Chamorros, who were almost all I guessed diasporic or living in the United States and not in Guam, issues of decolonization, self-determination and cultural revitalization were apparently "liberal." The most likely reason for this assumption would be that since Chamorros pushes for decolonization and demands for self-determination, implicitly or explicitly critique or contest the benevolence, authority, power or greatness of the United States, then Chamorros who want to change the fact that their island is a colony, belong in the free speech zone cages along with those "liberals" who according to places such as Fox News, "hate the United States."

In this framework the stupidest "conservative" position that criticism of the United States in whatever form equals hatred of it, is derived from two "visions" or "fantasies" of what the United States is. The first fantasy we find best exemplified through a statement of the First President Bush. After a US fighter had shot down an Iranian airliner carrying almost 300 civilian passengers, Bush responded that "I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are." In this fantasy, the United States simply can't do anything wrong, and so those who can't recognize this simple obvious fact are blind, hate-filled terrorists! The second fantasy isn't too different, but makes the same argument by looking at the rest of the world first. It is a fantasy that the United States isn't the greatest and perfect place in the world in and of itself, but rather if you look at the incredible crappiness and suckiness of everyplace else in the world, the United States is clearly by default the greatest place on the planet. Therefore, whoever says anything bad about the United States should shut the hell up, or else go starve in Africa, or be blown up in the Middle East, or be poor in Mexico.
The annoying and frustrating thing is that, this vast difference of opinion and willingness to loathe, critize or oppose the United States is a figment and fantasy of conservatives. In reality both liberals and conservatives share the same love for the United States, the same acceptance of its sovereignty, its greatness and as we can see in the rhetoric from the majority of both Democrats and Republicans running for President (gi i otro na sakkan, ti hu hongge na esta mangcamcampaign siha!), its right to determine the nature of the world, and how other people's backyards should look.
Liberals may be more willing, thankfully, to say that the United States has messed up, or has wronged someone, but ultimately the difference between these two poles of political opinion are not defined by a "hatred" for the United States. This acceptance of the United States nation/nation-state as the basis for their political identities, and an exceptional point from which they form their political ideas and limits, means that as the communities of indigenous people attached to United States, are either colonies or nations within nations, the positions of liberal and conservative don't translate coherently into these regions, nor imply coherent positions in relations to these peoples. These communities aren't simply other ethnic groups or other people of color, but rather indigenous peoples whose existence is defined by some measure of, desire for, or depriving of sovereignty. It is for this reason that you can't simply turn decolonization into a liberal or conservative issue, both inside of Guam and in terms of how Americans react or interpret or relate to Guam.
For instance, many activists and Chamorros who consider themselves to be progressive were excited at the victory of the Democrats last November, when they triumphantly returned to Congress in 2007 as the majority party. For most of these activists, issues of sovereignty, autonomy, decolonization and the rights to self-determination and determine the political existences and futures of Chamorros are of primary importance. It is interesting however, that although they feel that the Democrats are on their side, or that they are joined in a fight with them against Republicans, one of the first acts of the new Democratic Congress was an attempt to take sovereignty away from the CNMI! Attempts to Federalize the CNMI are being made in the name of economic equality and righting oppressive conditions. The CNMI currently has the right to structure its own economy, whereas Guam must abide by Federal laws and rules. What Federalization will do is basically do is slowly over time dissolve the small pieces of sovereign authority that the CNMI does currently have, and bring it into agreement with Federal laws and standards.

For many in Guam and in the United States, the minimum wage and economic conditions of the CNMI are a problem, but we also need to recognize here the sovereignty and autonomy that the CNMI is supposed to have. For Democrats this sovereignty means nothing, it is simply a barrier that is preventing the spreading of American style equality and economy to the CNMI and also tainting the name of the United States, by legalizing sweatshop labor in the name of the United States, since the CNMI is technically part of the US.

Interestingly enough, the much maligned by Democrats and progressive Tom Delay and his super lobbyist friend Jack Ambramoff were in certain ways, huge allies of the CNMI and its sovereignty. So long as Delay was in power, and the money was flowing, the CNMI could count on Delay to block any attempt at Federalization. So in a sad, tragic way, the idea that the CNMI should have the right to determine its own economy and existence, is not a principle the "liberals" in the United States accept, but was one which "conservative" corrupt politicians were more than willing to accept.
In another way, some "conservative" politicans may complain that Guam is a drain on the economy, because of the special favors, funds or pork that it gets even though it doesn't pay taxes and its eternally in financial crisis and corruption meltdown, and call for the island to "sh*t or get off the pot," in terms of its political status. These calls to "get rid of Guam" are rebuffed most often by other conservative politicians, who serve on any of the numerous Congressional committees or subcommittees, and know that unlike their dimwitted strategically ignorant colleagues, that Guam is crucially important to the United States and its military, and must not be simply gotten rid of!

I always laugh at "conservative" morons who email me about my views and ideas and demand that I get the hell out of their country! Their demands are literally, "take your island out of our land and go back to your island!" Perhaps, in their anger over the fact that uppity brown people from their "spoil of war" are causing problems, demanding equality, freedom, independence and what not they might seek the approval or support of Republican politicians. Well, if these Republicans know anything about the military empire of the United States, then they won't be agreeing with the idea that "Guam should be gotten rid of" or "just let go." If they know anything about the realignment of US forces in Asia and the Pacific, and the way the United States is shifting its military to deal with threats in Asia, then they aren't going to be jumping onto any "get rid of Guam" bandwagon. Instead, you'll see these conservative politicians going along with small gestures such as war reparations, which are meant to keep us on Guam happy, keep us feeling American, and therefore keep us connected to the United States, as its unsinkable aircraft carrier.
I make this point, not just as an effort to describe the ways things are, but also as an insight which those of us from colonies or indigenous communities need to remember. The "liberal" and the "conservative" framework or way of conceiving of the world around us, is potentially just another way that we can be colonized. We imagined ourselves as participants in the political discourse in the United States by picking sides, by feeling that one side of the other is us or represents us. What can be very easily lost in these dangerous and precarious attempts at identification are issues of sovereignty and colonialism.

By accepting the liberal and the conservative divide that is trasmitted into our brains from cable news, from the newspapers in Guam, from the internet, etc, we can imagine ourselves as being more intimately linked to the political processes of the United States then we really are. We can feel as if we are a part of it, and forget that although the President may be liberal or conservative, and we may feel he embodies our ideas well or is a disgrace to them, we still didn't get to vote for him or her. As closely as we may cheer the ushering in of a new Congress, Democratic or Republican, and hope for a new course for the country because of it, we still don't have a vote in that Congress (or at least not one that counts).

As the colonization of Guam continues in this fashion (through its disappearance as a tangible and actionable issue), sovereignty, tied to the notion that Guam has distinct interests, potentially distinct from the United States, can disappear as well. The sovereignty of the Chamorro people depends not just on the recognition of the United States or the rest of the world that we exist, but our own building of a national culture around our particular needs or interests, whether they be anti-colonial, geographic, cultural, economic, etc.

Given the situation of Guam today, to call ourselves liberals or conservatives in our struggles to exist, survive and take hold of our future, is to suffer from a lack of imagination. And what we need now, as we push for decolonization and to make a better future possible, is precisely imagination.

Regardless of what you name the changes in Chamorro.com, they are taking place, and they are for the best. They are part of a necessary shift in rethinking some of the basic assumptions about what a Chamorro is, in the states, in Guam and in the world. First, challenging that the Chamorro is a social animal, but also requiring and demanding that it be a political one as well. Second, the challenging the idea that the Chamorro is created, made, or is solely defined through its relationship to the United States, and reminding Chamorros that there exist islands around Guam, which Guam shares more in common with, has closer interests with and should pay more attention to, instead of persistently looking to the United States for its existence.

In my efforts to start these shifts, ya na'tutuhun este na kinalameten decolonization, let me post below the items I recently put on the main page of Chamorro.com, which I have no doubt will start pissing off a number of Chamorros, but will hopefully educate some and help change their thinking.

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1. Justice for Nuclear Survivors Petition: To sign the petition to help the people of the Marshall Islands get justice for their treatment by the United States government and military Click Here. To read more about the petition Click Here.
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2. Stay Informed About the Planned Military Build-Up on Guam: Click the following link to download documents regarding the military build-up on Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the relocation of thousands of US Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and the general realignment of United States military forces in the Pacific. Click Here to Download the Documents
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3. Decolonize Guam Blog: Guam, as the “tip of America’s spear” and its “unsinkable aircraft carrier” is making more and more national and international headlines, because of the increased recognition of its strategic importance in maintaining American military power in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the next ten years, we will see a drastic and dramatic increase in the amount of military personnel and infrastructure in Guam, as United States military forces in South Korea and Okinawa are transferred there. While some say that these buildups will make Guam’s economic dreams come true, others say that these perceived benefits will either be for a slim privileged group only, or will cause widespread cultural, economic, environmental, social and political damage to the island. For a collection of news articles on this buildup and other issues affecting Guam, please check out: the Decolonize Guam Blog.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fox Attacks African Americans

Although I finally finished with my qualfying exam questions, I still have some preparing to do before my actual exam next Tuesday. They'll be asking me different aspects of my project, but also about the broader intellectual terrain of Ethnic Studies, and how well I know it and can teach it. Since my intellectual journey is different than most in the department (coming from Guam and Chamorro Studies and Micronesian Studies), I'm not really familiar with much of the books and conversations that comprise the foundation of Ethnic Studies. Pues bula na debi di bei taitai antes di i mamaila na Mates.

For those of you interested, my exam questions were:

1. How have questions of race and ethnicity challenged such disciplines as history, sociology, anthropology, literature, and political science and how has work in Ethnic Studies influenced those readings and generated new perspectives and practices? Choose one discipline and characterize the predominant ways in which questions of race and ethnicity have been treated over time. Then point to how scholars in Ethnic Studies have critiqued and transformed these approaches.

2. Critically outline and evaluate the ways that recent studies of indigenous identity, politics, theory, methods, and aesthetics have (re)shaped thinking in Ethnic Studies. Given this review, identify areas of difficulty and promise for future research.

3. Your dissertation project engages the fields of “Pacific studies” and “cultural studies.” What methodological antecedents can be utilized to construct a grounded, rooted form of cultural studies? How or what might a grounded, rooted cultural studies contribute to Pacific Islander projects of decolonization and sovereignty struggles? And what might Pacific Islander projects of decolonization offer cultural studies?

I had to pick two of these three, and I decided to pick the second two, since they are much more in line with my interests and the sort of work and conversations I want to take part in.

I don't have much time to post today, so I just thought I'd share this, which had the excellent effect of both pissing me off and motivated me to keep writing and keep working. Lana, gof ti ya-hu Fox News, puru ha' dinagi, chinatli'e yan racism.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hands Held High

I've been wanting to post the lyrics for this song for the past two weeks, but I've been consumed lately with my prospectus first and then over the past week my qualifying exam questions (bei sangani hamgo mas put este siempre). Like most people I've had a love and hate relationship with the band and music of Linkin Park. But all of that it in the past now, faded and unimportant, since I love the song "Hands Held High" from their latest album Minutes to Midnight.

I wanted to share the lyrics with everyone, but also throw in some Youtube vidoes that match in someway the lyrics. I found some disturbing stuff when I was searching for Youtube videos about the Iraq war, but I'll post on it tomorrow.

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"Hands Held High"
Linkin Park

Turn my mic up louder,
I got to say somethin.
Lightweights steppin' aside,
when we comin.

Feel it in your chest,
the syllables get pumpin.
People on the street,
they panic and start running.

Words on loose leaf,
sheet complete coming.
I jump on my mind,
I summon the rhyme of dumping.

Feeling the blind,
I promise to let the sun in.
Sick of the dark ways,
we march to the drumming.

Jump when they tell us
they want to see jumping.
Fuck that, I want to
see some fist pumping.

Risk something.
Take back what's yours
Say something that you know
they might attack you for.

Cause I'm sick of being treated
like I have before.
Like it's stupid standing for
what I'm standing for.

Like this war is really just
a different brand of war.
Like it doesn't cater to the rich
and an abandoned the poor.




Like they understand you
in the back of the jet,
When you can't put gas in your tank.
These fuckers are laughing their way
to the bank and cashing their cheque
asking you to have compassion and to have some respect.




For a leader so nervous
in an obvious way
Stuttering and mumbling
for nightly news to replay
and the rest of the world
watching at the end of the day
in the living room laughing
like what did he say?




Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen

In my living room watching,
But I am not laughing.
'Cause when it gets tense,
I know what might happen.

The world is cold,
The bold men take action.
Have to react,
To getting blown into fractions.

10 years old is something to see,
Another kid my age dragged under a jeep,
Taken and bound and found later under a tree,
I wonder if he even thought the next one could be me.

Do you see?
The soldiers that are out today.
That brush the dust with bulletproof vests away.



It's ironic.
At times like this you pray,
But a bomb blew the mosque up yesterday.

There's bombs in the buses, bikes, roads,
inside your markets, your shops, your clothes,
My dad, he's got a lot of fear I know
but enough pride inside not to let that show.




My brother had a book he would hold with pride
A little red cover with a broken spine.
In the back he hand wrote a quote inside,
when the rich wage war, it's the poor who die.







Meanwhile, the leader just talks away
Stuttering and mumbling
for nightly news to replay
and the rest of the world
watching at the end of the day
both scared and angry
like what did he say?




Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.

With Hands Held High
into a sky so blue
as the ocean opens up
to swallow you.

With Hands Held High
into a sky so blue
as the ocean opens up
to swallow you.

With Hands Held High
into a sky so blue
as the ocean opens up
to swallow you.

With Hands Held High
into a sky so blue
as the ocean opens up
to swallow you.

With Hands Held High
into a sky so blue
as the ocean opens up
to swallow you.

With Hands Held High
into a sky so blue
as the ocean opens up
to swallow you.



Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why I Can't Take My Eyes Off of Al Gore

Mumamatmos yu' gi i tumutuge'-na i qualifying exam-hu, pues asi'i yu' bai hu taigue gi este na simana. Lao i fino' Al Gore pau tahgue yu'.


Book Excerpt: The Assault on Reason

by Al Gore

Not long before our nation launched the invasion of Iraq, our longest-serving Senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, stood on the Senate floor and said: “This chamber is, for the most part, silent—ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing. We stand passively mute in the United States Senate.”

Why was the Senate silent?

In describing the empty chamber the way he did, Byrd invited a specific version of the same general question millions of us have been asking: “Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?” The persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of massive and well-understood evidence to the contrary, seems to many Americans to have reached levels that were previously unimaginable.

A large and growing number of Americans are asking out loud: “What has happened to our country?” People are trying to figure out what has gone wrong in our democracy, and how we can fix it.

To take another example, for the first time in American history, the Executive Branch of our government has not only condoned but actively promoted the treatment of captives in wartime that clearly involves torture, thus overturning a prohibition established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

It is too easy—and too partisan—to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America’s public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned? Faith in the power of reason—the belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw power—remains the central premise of American democracy. This premise is now under assault.

American democracy is now in danger—not from any one set of ideas, but from unprecedented changes in the environment within which ideas either live and spread, or wither and die. I do not mean the physical environment; I mean what is called the public sphere, or the marketplace of ideas.

It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I am not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hoped it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on Sept. 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half of the American public still believes Saddam was connected to the attack.

At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just an unfortunate excess—an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time: the Michael Jackson trial and the Robert Blake trial, the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy, Britney and KFed, Lindsay and Paris and Nicole.

While American television watchers were collectively devoting 100 million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness. For example, hardly anyone now disagrees that the choice to invade Iraq was a grievous mistake. Yet, incredibly, all of the evidence and arguments necessary to have made the right decision were available at the time and in hindsight are glaringly obvious.

Those of us who have served in the U.S. Senate and watched it change over time could volunteer a response to Senator Byrd’s incisive description of the Senate prior to the invasion: The chamber was empty because the Senators were somewhere else. Many of them were at fund-raising events they now feel compelled to attend almost constantly in order to collect money—much of it from special interests—to buy 30-second TV commercials for their next re-election campaign. The Senate was silent because Senators don’t feel that what they say on the floor of the Senate really matters that much anymore—not to the other Senators, who are almost never present when their colleagues speak, and certainly not to the voters, because the news media seldom report on Senate speeches anymore.

Our Founders’ faith in the viability of representative democracy rested on their trust in the wisdom of a well-informed citizenry, their ingenious design for checks and balances, and their belief that the rule of reason is the natural sovereign of a free people. The Founders took great care to protect the openness of the marketplace of ideas so that knowledge could flow freely. Thus they not only protected freedom of assembly, they made a special point—in the First Amendment—of protecting the freedom of the printing press. And yet today, almost 45 years have passed since the majority of Americans received their news and information from the printed word. Newspapers are hemorrhaging readers. Reading itself is in decline. The Republic of Letters has been invaded and occupied by the empire of television.

Radio, the Internet, movies, cell phones, iPods, computers, instant messaging, video games and personal digital assistants all now vie for our attention—but it is television that still dominates the flow of information. According to an authoritative global study, Americans now watch television an average of 4 hours and 35 minutes every day—90 minutes more than the world average. When you assume eight hours of work a day, six to eight hours of sleep and a couple of hours to bathe, dress, eat and commute, that is almost three-quarters of all the discretionary time the average American has.

In the world of television, the massive flows of information are largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation. Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but they do not speak. The “well-informed citizenry” is in danger of becoming the “well-amused audience.” Moreover, the high capital investment required for the ownership and operation of a television station and the centralized nature of broadcast, cable and satellite networks have led to the increasing concentration of ownership by an ever smaller number of larger corporations that now effectively control the majority of television programming in America.

In practice, what television’s dominance has come to mean is that the inherent value of political propositions put forward by candidates is now largely irrelevant compared with the image-based ad campaigns they use to shape the perceptions of voters. The high cost of these commercials has radically increased the role of money in politics—and the influence of those who contribute it. That is why campaign finance reform, however well drafted, often misses the main point: so long as the dominant means of engaging in political dialogue is through purchasing expensive television advertising, money will continue in one way or another to dominate American politics. And as a result, ideas will continue to play a diminished role. That is also why the House and Senate campaign committees in both parties now search for candidates who are multimillionaires and can buy the ads with their own personal resources.

When I first ran for Congress in 1976, I never took a poll during the entire campaign. Eight years later, however, when I ran statewide for the U.S. Senate, I did take polls and like most statewide candidates relied more heavily on electronic advertising to deliver my message. I vividly remember a turning point in that Senate campaign when my opponent, a fine public servant named Victor Ashe who has since become a close friend, was narrowing the lead I had in the polls. After a detailed review of all the polling information and careful testing of potential TV commercials, the anticipated response from my opponent’s campaign and the planned response to the response, my advisers made a recommendation and prediction that surprised me with its specificity: “If you run this ad at this many ‘points’ [a measure of the size of the advertising buy], and if Ashe responds as we anticipate, and then we purchase this many points to air our response to his response, the net result after three weeks will be an increase of 8.5% in your lead in the polls.”

I authorized the plan and was astonished when three weeks later my lead had increased by exactly 8.5%. Though pleased, of course, for my own campaign, I had a sense of foreboding for what this revealed about our democracy. Clearly, at least to some degree, the “consent of the governed” was becoming a commodity to be purchased by the highest bidder. To the extent that money and the clever use of electronic mass media could be used to manipulate the outcome of elections, the role of reason began to diminish.

As a college student, I wrote my senior thesis on the impact of television on the balance of power among the three branches of government. In the study, I pointed out the growing importance of visual rhetoric and body language over logic and reason. There are countless examples of this, but perhaps understandably, the first one that comes to mind is from the 2000 campaign, long before the Supreme Court decision and the hanging chads, when the controversy over my sighs in the first debate with George W. Bush created an impression on television that for many viewers outweighed whatever positive benefits I might have otherwise gained in the verbal combat of ideas and substance. A lot of good that senior thesis did me.

The potential for manipulating mass opinions and feelings initially discovered by commercial advertisers is now being even more aggressively exploited by a new generation of media Machiavellis. The combination of ever more sophisticated public opinion sampling techniques and the increasing use of powerful computers to parse and subdivide the American people according to “psychographic” categories that identify their susceptibility to individually tailored appeals has further magnified the power of propagandistic electronic messaging that has created a harsh new reality for the functioning of our democracy.

As a result, our democracy is in danger of being hollowed out. In order to reclaim our birthright, we Americans must resolve to repair the systemic decay of the public forum. We must create new ways to engage in a genuine and not manipulative conversation about our future. We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public’s ability to discern the truth. Americans in both parties should insist on the re-establishment of respect for the rule of reason.

And what if an individual citizen or group of citizens wants to enter the public debate by expressing their views on television? Since they cannot simply join the conversation, some of them have resorted to raising money in order to buy 30 seconds in which to express their opinion. But too often they are not allowed to do even that. MoveOn.org tried to buy an ad for the 2004 Super Bowl broadcast to express opposition to Bush’s economic policy, which was then being debated by Congress. CBS told MoveOn that “issue advocacy” was not permissible. Then, CBS, having refused the MoveOn ad, began running advertisements by the White House in favor of the president’s controversial proposal. So MoveOn complained, and the White House ad was temporarily removed. By temporarily, I mean it was removed until the White House complained, and CBS immediately put the ad back on, yet still refused to present the MoveOn ad.

To understand the final reason why the news marketplace of ideas dominated by television is so different from the one that emerged in the world dominated by the printing press, it is important to distinguish the quality of vividness experienced by television viewers from the “vividness” experienced by readers. Marshall McLuhan’s description of television as a “cool” medium—as opposed to the “hot” medium of print—was hard for me to understand when I read it 40 years ago, because the source of “heat” in his metaphor is the mental work required in the alchemy of reading. But McLuhan was almost alone in recognizing that the passivity associated with watching television is at the expense of activity in parts of the brain associated with abstract thought, logic, and the reasoning process. Any new dominant communications medium leads to a new information ecology in society that inevitably changes the way ideas, feelings, wealth, power and influence are distributed and the way collective decisions are made.

As a young lawyer giving his first significant public speech at the age of 28, Abraham Lincoln warned that a persistent period of dysfunction and unresponsiveness by government could alienate the American people and that “the strongest bulwark of any government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectively be broken down and destroyed—I mean the attachment of the people.” Many Americans now feel that our government is unresponsive and that no one in power listens to or cares what they think. They feel disconnected from democracy. They feel that one vote makes no difference, and that they, as individuals, have no practical means of participating in America’s self-government. Unfortunately, they are not entirely wrong. Voters are often viewed mainly as targets for easy manipulation by those seeking their “consent” to exercise power. By using focus groups and elaborate polling techniques, those who design these messages are able to derive the only information they’re interested in receiving from citizens—feedback useful in fine-tuning their efforts at manipulation. Over time, the lack of authenticity becomes obvious and takes its toll in the form of cynicism and alienation. And the more Americans disconnect from the democratic process, the less legitimate it becomes.

Many young Americans now seem to feel that the jury is out on whether American democracy actually works or not. We have created a wealthy society with tens of millions of talented, resourceful individuals who play virtually no role whatsoever as citizens. Bringing these people in—with their networks of influence, their knowledge, and their resources—is the key to creating the capacity for shared intelligence that we need to solve our problems.

Unfortunately, the legacy of the 20th century’s ideologically driven bloodbaths has included a new cynicism about reason itself—because reason was so easily used by propagandists to disguise their impulse to power by cloaking it in clever and seductive intellectual formulations. When people don’t have an opportunity to interact on equal terms and test the validity of what they’re being “taught” in the light of their own experience and robust, shared dialogue, they naturally begin to resist the assumption that the experts know best.

So the remedy for what ails our democracy is not simply better education (as important as that is) or civic education (as important as that can be), but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way—a conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.

Fortunately, the Internet has the potential to revitalize the role played by the people in our constitutional framework. It has extremely low entry barriers for individuals. It is the most interactive medium in history and the one with the greatest potential for connecting individuals to one another and to a universe of knowledge. It’s a platform for pursuing the truth, and the decentralized creation and distribution of ideas, in the same way that markets are a decentralized mechanism for the creation and distribution of goods and services. It’s a platform, in other words, for reason. But the Internet must be developed and protected, in the same way we develop and protect markets—through the establishment of fair rules of engagement and the exercise of the rule of law. The same ferocity that our Founders devoted to protect the freedom and independence of the press is now appropriate for our defense of the freedom of the Internet. The stakes are the same: the survival of our Republic. We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it, because of the threat of corporate consolidation and control over the Internet marketplace of ideas.

The danger arises because there is, in most markets, a very small number of broadband network operators. These operators have the structural capacity to determine the way in which information is transmitted over the Internet and the speed with which it is delivered. And the present Internet network operators—principally large telephone and cable companies—have an economic incentive to extend their control over the physical infrastructure of the network to leverage control of Internet content. If they went about it in the wrong way, these companies could institute changes that have the effect of limiting the free flow of information over the Internet in a number of troubling ways.

The democratization of knowledge by the print medium brought the Enlightenment. Now, broadband interconnection is supporting decentralized processes that reinvigorate democracy. We can see it happening before our eyes: As a society, we are getting smarter. Networked democracy is taking hold. You can feel it. We the people—as Lincoln put it, “even we here”—are collectively still the key to the survival of America’s democracy.

© 2007 Time, Inc.

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