Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Ya gi todu i internet yan i telebishon, todu ma sasangan put i nuebu na hinatmen Israel kontra i Taotao Palestine, ya Israel la'mon yan gaihustisia este na pinino' siha. Taimanu taiguini? Gi Ethnic Studies, siempe para bei in alok na este na isaon Amerikanu yan Israel, todu put "national security" yan "ina'paka."
Lao yanggen humalom hao gi Antiwar.com, sina un taitai mas magahet mas minagahet na tinige' put este na gera yan todus i geran pa'go na tiempo siha.
Fihu hu gof chatli'e i Nasion Israel put este na chine'gue. Tufong gi unu na kannai-mu kuantos na taotao Israel mampinino' ni' i taotao Palestine? Sina un na'omlat i numero gi unu na kannai-mu. Lao "no way palau" na un hulat tumufong todu i manmatai gi i bandan Palestine gi i kalulot-mu gi unu na kannai-mu. Esta mas ki 300. Yan i Gubetnamento Israel, ma huhula hit na mampos meggai mas u fatto.
Fihu i taotao Israel yan i mansapopotten-niha siha, ma sangan na "Ni' ngai'an ta'lo." or "Never Again," ya ma kekena'hasso hit put i Holocaust yan i pinadesin-niha i Jews gi ayu na tiempo. Lao pa'go kada na manggera i taotao Israel kontra i taotao Palestine, mismo ma sangangani hit na "Ni' ngai'an ta'lo, unless Hami i mampekno'!"
Taitai este na tinige' Si Justain Raimondo yanggen malago hao tumungo' i minagahet:
If you're looking for the cause of the most recent Israeli aggression against the Palestinians – over 300 killed so far, and many more wounded – forget Hamas. The real casus belli is politics, in Israel and America.
On the Israeli front, elections loom large. The current Israeli government is enormously unpopular, and – with polls showing a massive swing to the right – this latest "incursion" is its last attempt to shore up their sagging power base. The rightist surge in Israel has been building for a long time, with the settler movement gaining momentum and the Likud Party likely the chief beneficiary – in which case there will be no chance of a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question, no matter how evenhanded President Barack Obama turns out to be.
Speaking of Obama, the real focal point of the Israeli assault isn't Gaza – it's Washington, D.C. The whole point of this exercise in futility – which will not create a single iota of security for Israel, will not topple Hamas, and will not prove any more successful than the second Lebanese war – is to set the terms by which the Israelis will deal with the incoming U.S. president. Before he even gets a chance to appoint his Middle East team, his special envoys and advisers, the Israelis will have sabotaged the peace effort they can clearly see coming – and put the Americans on notice that whatever "change" is in the air will have to be to Israel's advantage. In short, the Gaza massacre is a preemptive strike against the prospect of American intervention on the Palestinians' behalf, or, at least, a more evenhanded policy framework.
I won't bother answering the "talking points" of Israel's powerful lobby in the U.S. – the Palestinians are terrorists, they deserved what they got, those missile barrages fired in recent weeks (in which not a single Israeli was killed) were ample provocation, etc. The whole world knows that none of these have anything to do with the latest Israeli military action.
The entire operation is, instead, part and parcel of a long-standing concerted campaign by the Israeli government to further marginalize and drive out the remnants of the Palestinian people who still cling tenaciously to what's left of their land. It is a policy of military and economic warfare, aimed at making life impossible for the Palestinian helots.
As the new Sparta of the Middle East runs roughshod over the laws of morality and basic human decency, Israel's amen corner in the U.S. is going into overdrive in an effort to prettify one of the ugliest incidents in a decade of unmitigated cruelty and brutality. All the familiar "progressive" voices – with certain sterling exceptions – are suddenly stilled: we hear nothing from our Democratic politicians, those fabled agents of "change," except expressions of support for Israel's war crimes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declares that Israel has "the right to defend itself," without deigning to inform us as to whether the Palestinians have the same right. Given her record as AIPAC's most reliable congressional ally, who can always be counted on to echo the Israel-first party line, one assumes not. Powerful foreign affairs committee chair Howard Berman concurs, as does our about-to-be-sworn-in chief executive.
Appearing on Face the Nation, Obama's chief adviser, David Axelrod, averred that "we have only one president at a time" – a consideration that hasn't stopped the world's most famous community organizer from publicly organizing the biggest raid on the U.S. Treasury in American history. In any case, as the Huffington Post put it, Axelrod "did reaffirm Obama's commitment to the 'special relationship between the United States and Israel' in a way that suggested general sympathy for the Jewish state's actions."
For all those hysterical ultra-Zionists in both Israel and the U.S. who thought Obama's election would be disastrous to the Zionist project, and their own efforts to expand it beyond its historic borders, let this be an object lesson in the danger of jumping to unwarranted conclusions. If they'd listened before they jumped – or paid attention to what they read on Antiwar.com – they would have realized how utterly misplaced their paranoia would turn out to be. Obama has been in the Israel Lobby's back pocket from the beginning, as his speech to AIPAC – a masterstroke of groveling – made all too clear.
Like all U.S. presidents since Bush the Elder, this one is committed to maintaining and elaborating on our Israel-centric Middle East policy, of which the Iraq war was only the most dramatic chapter. Obama may have opposed that particular war, but he will do nothing to reverse its consequences, the most dramatic of which appears to be the unleashing of the Israeli military machine on the region. First it was Lebanon, followed by the buzzing of Syrian airspace and the bombing of an alleged "nuclear facility" that turned out to be an ordinary weapons dump. Now we have the end of "disengagement" in Gaza and the opening up of a new front in Israel's relentless war of expansion.
It is a war that has been financed by U.S. tax dollars and fought with American weapons, with the active collaboration and support of our government. We have paid for the radical expansion of the Israeli "settlements" by armed bands of ultra-nationalist fanatics, Israel's version of the Taliban. Indeed, Israeli opinion is moving rapidly in the radicals' direction, and the victory of Benjamin Netanyahu and the far-right Likud Party in the upcoming election is virtually assured – with even more extreme elements waiting in the wings for their moment.
As the leaders of a settler colony implanted in the midst of Arab lands, the founders of the Israeli state were faced with a conundrum from the very start. No matter how enlightened and progressive the early settlers considered themselves, they could not escape their status as unwanted interlopers, the advance guard of what was essentially a foreign invasion. Living in their utopian kibbutzes and thinking they were constructing an egalitarian paradise, what they were really building was a rigidly hierarchical society, a caste system with the settlers and their descendants at the top, arranged in tiers according to their origins in the "diaspora," with the Palestinians at the very bottom – a displaced underclass forcibly segregated and routinely subjected to Israeli state violence.
Like a caged lion, grievously wounded, which nevertheless manages to roar and occasionally strike out – however ineffectually – at its tormentors, the Palestinian people are unbowed.
The Israelis – and the U.S. – rail against Hamas as a gang of terrorists, yet most of the governments of the region started out as "terrorist" gangs. Two were called the Irgun and the Haganah, the revolutionary movements that carried out attacks on civilians, including the British as well as the Arabs, in their battle to establish the state of Israel. Hamas will do no more, and no less, in their bid to establish a Palestinian state.
If nothing else, this fresh paroxysm of Israeli aggression ought to debunk, once and for all, the neocon talking point that democracies never go to war with each other. Yet here we have a country that styles itself an island of Western-style liberalism in a sea of Oriental despotism going to war with the only other democratically elected government in the immediate vicinity. Whatever the military outcome of the present conflict – in all likelihood a stalemate – this is a big political victory for Hamas, which ordinary Palestinians see actively defending them against the rampaging Israelis. The moderates on the West Bank are undercut, once again, and that has always been the Israeli strategy.
Their first target was the decidedly secular Palestine Liberation Organization, which they did everything to destroy and undercut – even to the point of providing legal status and covert funding to Hamas. These followers of radical Islamist preachers began as a religious association, formally registered with the Israeli authorities. Hamas was encouraged as a potentially more compliant competitor with the PLO. Another case of blowback, with a vengeance.
Having given birth to the monster of Hamas, the mutant offspring of occupation and dispossession, the Israelis will be forgiven if they refuse to acknowledge the family resemblance. Yet it is unmistakable. Both Israel and Hamas-stan are the spawn of religious and ethnic exclusivism and messianism, their leaders fanatics armed with state power. There are differences, of course, a major one being that one side is funded to the tune of $3 billion a year and supported unconditionally by Washington, while the Palestinians – shot at by their fellow Arabs as they try to cross the border into Egypt – stand pretty much alone.
This latest bloody chapter in the tragic history of the region is being written because all the main protagonists benefit: the Israelis, Hamas, and radicals of all stripes, especially those groups aligned with al-Qaeda. As in the case of the Iraq war, bin Laden's narrative of an Israeli-Crusader invasion intent on stamping out Islam is seemingly verified as blood flows freely in the streets of Gaza.
The Israeli rampage is not in our interests, and the longer it continues the more it threatens the already tenuous position of U.S. troops in Iraq, endangering them by inflaming the local populace, which is vehemently pro-Palestinian. The Israeli blitz is sending shockwaves through the region that could upset several apple-carts of U.S. construction, including the regime in Egypt, the pro-U.S. Jordanian monarchy, and especially our rambunctious Iraqi protectorate, where anti-U.S. sentiment is not so quietly building.
Quite naturally, the Israelis care not a fig for any of this. That's what's so "special" about the much-vaunted "special relationship" between Israel and the U.S., in which Uncle Sam plays the part of the henpecked husband who always gives in to the demands of his battle-ax of a wife, no matter how extravagant or unreasonable.
If American interests in the region are to be served, then this unhealthy relationship has to change. Yet it won't change until and unless the political power of the Israel Lobby is broken on the home front. If it takes the prospect of World War III to bring us to that point, it will be far too high a price to pay – yet one that seems increasingly unavoidable.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
There are plenty of labor activists out there who are praising Obama's selection of California Congresswoman Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor. In 2000 she received a Profiles in Courage Award, click here to read a statement from Senator Ted Kennedy on her work.
There is also hope that the Democrats and Obama will be good on their promise to pass a "Union Bill" next year, which will be aimed at revitalizing unions in the United States and making it easier for employees to become unionized. This will be an incredibly important bill, especially in the context of the recent debate over whether or not to bail out the big American auto-makers. Whereas the government was more than eager to bail out massive corporations without unions, for some reason when it come to bailing out those with strong unions, we meet an incredible amount of resistance, and now its suddenly the employees fault that their industry has tanked.
As Democrats are using the economic mess in America to push for progressive programs, Republicans are hoping to use it to union bust.
On Guam, Matt Rector who has long been known as the outspoken union President of the Guam Federation of Teachers was elected to the Guam Legislature earlier this year. Already he's bringing with him alot of friendly and fiery rhetoric in support of Guam's working masses. His rhetoric might be considered fairly generic Democratic labor union speak on other locales, but on Guam, its pretty radical. I have some misgivings about Matt Rector, mainly because of his personality. For instance I think it would be more appropriate if he resigned as the President of GFT while he's working as Senator, and I understand that when we have issues or causes that we care about very deeply, we can be very passionate and bold, but sometimes Rector has come off as being incredibly disrespectful and angry. I have my causes as well, which make my blood boil and make me want to take to the streets or yell at people, but I also understand that we have to be strategic, and often times I've seen Rector as somebody who has alot of people behind him (in his union) and so speaks as if he's power-tripping.
Speaking of all this kosas i manmacho'cho'cho, I came across a Woody Guthrie song recently on the blog, La Alma de Fuego, that fits this mood. Its titled "1913 Massacre."
by Woody Guthrie
Take a trip with me in nineteen thirteen
To Calumet, Michigan in the copper country
I’ll take you to a place called Italian Hall
And the miners are having their big Christmas ball
I’ll take you in a door and up a high stairs
Singing and dancing is heard ev’rywhere
I’ll let you shake hands with the people you see
And watch the kids dance ’round the big Christmas tree.
There’s talking and laughing and songs in the air
And the spirit of Christmas is there ev’rywhere
Before you know it you’re friends with us all
And you’re dancing around and around in the hall
You ask about work and you ask about pay
They’ll tell you they make less than a dollar a day
Working their copper claims, risking their lives
So it’s fun to spend Christmas with children and wives.
A little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights
To play the piano so you gotta keep quiet
To hear all this fun; you would not realize
That the copper boss thug men are milling outside
The copper boss thugs stuck their heads in the door
One of them yelled and he screamed, “There’s a fire”
A lady she hollered, “There’s no such a thing;
Keep on with your party, there’s no such a thing.”
A few people rushed and there’s only a few
“It’s just the thugs and the scabs fooling you.”
A man grabbed his daughter and he carried her down
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.
And then others followed, about a hundred or more
But most everybody remained on the floor
The gun thugs, they laughed at their murderous joke
And the children were smothered on the stairs by the door.
Such a terrible sight I never did see
We carried our children back up to their tree
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree
And the children that died there was seventy-three
The piano played a slow funeral tune,
And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon
The parents, they cried and the men, they moaned,
“See what your greed for money has done?”
©1961 (Renewed) by Fall River Music Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Magof-hu na gaige gui' guini, sa' esta kana' maleleffa i "fino' academic" put i gaige-ku giya Guahan.
My department at UCSD, Ethnic Studies is in the midst of rebuilding itself after losing several faculty over the past few years. So last week and this week the department is being visited by several candidates, each of whom is meeting with faculty, students and giving jobs talks. I went to the one this morning, and also got to have lunch with the job candidate with other students. It was a good chance to catch up with other students, find out what is going on with their work, whether it be a thesis, a qualifying exam or a dissertation.
At the lunch, I heard updates from one student whose thesis and soon her dissertation will be on Agent Orange use in the Vietnam War. I'm not sure yet what approach she's going to take, she's interested in legal texts, in scientific texts and is very interested in discussing the racialization of the Vietnamese during the war and in specifically in relation to how the raining of these hazardous disgusting chemicals on them and their lands was justified or became acceptable.
Hearing this student talk about the poison of Agent Orange reminded me about the tinatse that Guam received from its own Geran Vietnam experiences.
One of the main road that I live close to in Guam is Route 10, which was a few years ago renamed as Vietnam Veteran's Highway and even has a mural now to commemorate this renaming. On the mural, you see silhouettes of a group of soldiers, carrying their weapons, and beside them is the phrase "I Lalahita, Ma Sakrifisia i Lina'la'-Niha" This image and the phrase takes up very little of the entire mural, but what does run across its entire length, is small little clusters of text, which are barely readable as you drive be. Each of these blocks of text is the name and date of death of a different Chamorro soldier from Guam during Vietnam. All in all they number more than 75.
Although Guam wasn't a site of mass popular protests against the Vietnam War or against the draft, the war did affect the island and the Chamorro people very profoundly, and helped create the possibility for Chamorros to relate to war, to the US military, to peace in a way which at least publicly was unspeakable before. It is more than likely that the very voice through which I write regularly on this blog, speaking critically about the United States military, American foreign policy, and American history would not have been so easily mine, would not be something that I could invoke or use. At least not without levels of violent reaction higher than just the sesso na hate mail that I get.
For those of you who don't know much about Guam, some background. After World War II, after the "liberation" of Guam by the United States, saving Chamorros from the brutality of Japanese occupation, suddenly Guam had become the most patriotic place in the United States (empire). Chamorros had not been considered Americans just a few years earlier, before World War II, by any measure other than what colonizer claims your land and your destiny. Some Chamorros joined the US Navy (but like other "ti apa'ka na grupu siha," could only serve in menial capacities), Chamorros mouthed the colonialist platitudes that they were forced to learn in schools about America's greatness, but deep down in their hearts Chamorros knew they weren't really Americans, and as a whole, as a people didn't really want to be.
All of that changed after suffering under Japanese oppression during World War II. American colonialism as I've written many times before emerges out of the war smelling fresh, gracious and not really that colonial at all, especially when compared to the Japanese brand.
Chamorros are now ready to be American, want to be American, especially the younger generations. Of course, Guam was still a colony of the United States, even after the war, and even up until today. The transforming of the island into a mentally consistent "Guam USA" requires alot of work, alot of overlooking, an incredible amount of optimism and almost bachet na hinengge in the benevolence and awesomeness of the United States. The most fundamental way in which this image of an equal Guam and the United States, or Chamorros as fully enfranchised American people comes into being is through military service.
This idea was not lost in the immediate post war years on Guam and the idea of the military as i chalan asta i langhet combined with its "liberator" status meant that the US military as an institution was taikachang, it was untouchable, without blemish, clean, pure, and without sin. No words would be allowed against the military, no resistance to its missions or its presence in Guam would be tolerated. This obviously was not the case with all families, all the time, since in fact many families did hold very strong negative feelings towards the US military, in particular for land that was taken during World War II. But in public, Guam it seemed was determined to be the most pro-American place in the universe, a place where the mythological statement by Francisco Baza Leon Guerrero that, "the only ism on Guam is Americanism" wasn't just kissing the daggan of the colonizer, but was like some all-encompassing divine truth.
People talk about the first two decades following World War II, as if the relationship between Chamorros and the US military is either one of incredible excitement of intense sense of adventure and achievement. This was how Chamorros got their pictures in the newspaper, which was at that time focused mainly on the stateside audience on island. This was how Chamorros of all income levels or social statuses could leave the island, become respected. The military was the liberator after all, and publicly it could lay claim and was attributed all things positive, security, stability, improvement, order, discipline.
So naturally when America went to war after World War II, Chamorros were there, and glad to serve, glad to leave island, glad to pay back some of their eternal debt to the United States. In my research, in interviews, people seem to characterize the relationship between Chamorros and military service, Chamorros and the military during this period as almost impossibly loving, devoted and harmonious. There was none of the disrespect or lack of patriotism that we sometimes find today. There was none lack of commitment and understanding amongst Chamorros about the crucial role the military plays in Guam and in the world in keeping us alive and able to move into the middle class. Young Chamorros celebrated with glee the possibility of fighting for the United States and in the small chance that they didn't, their parents were more than willing to toss them into a uniform and force them to fight. Sometimes, local politicians during this period would criticize the military, such as over land, economic, utility or environmental issues, but when word of their resistance would reach "regular people" on island, their would be hell to pay for their blasphemy.
Of course, this portrait of Guam is completely false, it contains some elements of truth, some of the ways in which Chamorros after the war have attempt to make themselves appear as patriotic and American as possible, but it is far from the "reality" of Guam. Chamorros even after the war, thought of Americans, the military as different and felt regular distrust of them, as being outsiders, being people who feel like they own the island, who are often completely ignorant of Guam and who its people are. This continues to this day, but the difference is that the public sphere of life in Guam has shifted, depending on your view of things, drastically or slightly, to include public critiques or negative impressions of the military.
At the "Critique of the Military Buildup" Forum that I spoke at last week, I saw some shades of this. All in all, the speakers from the Civilian Military Task Force who were present, tried to position themselves a neutral, that they are doing their best, that the military buildup will benefit us and we are working on making that possible. One speaker however, who is on the subcommittee for public safety, out of nowhere, flushed with anger, and obviously emotional warned all that the military better be on their best behavior when they come here, that we will not take any disrespect from them especially in terms of sexual misconduct against local women. He built up to this emotional high after prefacing his remarks with the fact that Guam already has quite a bit of sexual misconduct within its existing population and that shouldn't be tolerated or forgotten about just because we're now focusing on the Marines and what they might do.
This was an important "slip" because these are the people who are tasked with making the military buildup "gaisabot" making it palatable, making it possible, making what is fundamentally a truly unfair and unequal action, seem far fairer and far nicer than it really is. These are the people who aren't supposed to make these sorts of statements, they aren't supposed to put out into the public mind that there might be anything wrong with the buildup. They above all people aren't supposed to associate any negativity with the buildup, that they can't prepare for or find Federal funds to mitigate. But no amount of Federal funds can take away that feeling or otherness or outsiderness that the military has on Guam, that feeling that people have that the military is somehow taking advantage of them, laying claim to their lies, laying claim to their island.
The first real crack in this positive public perception of the military on Guam, the first way in which negativity could start to be spoken of actually came from a war, the Vietnam war. The Vietnam War was an experience that could not be contained in all the generic rhetoric of Chamorro patriotism, devotion and debt for liberation. It cost the island more than six dozen lives, and thousands more came back to their families and their villages, with a wide array of visible and invisible wounds.
There were no visible protests on Guam during the war, at least not in the way that period has been remembered in the United States proper. In fact, most of the events organized for the Vietnam War that I found mention of in newspaper research were all pro-war gatherings. But this patriotic veneer could not contain what was happening in the souls of Chamorros, and in the fabric of their lives and their families. Chamorros came back traumatized, in more ways than could be articulated by flag waving or America loving. They came back with ravenous drug addictions. They returned with an excess of emotions, ones which the public sphere in Guam didn't seem to be able to make sense of. There was a new distaste for war and for war making. A distaste for America after fighting and killing for them in a war that made no sense. A re-thinking of the military in general, and a new desire, beyond simple Catholic empty rhetoric for the love and the necessity for peace.
In the Guam history classes that I taught last month at UOG, I gave one lecture which was all on postwar Guam history through songs. The one that I chose to represent this shift in Chamorro consciousness and public life in Guam was "Island Snowman" by Marianas Homegrown. I've pasted the lyrics below. Even though its in English and not necessarily written from a "Chamorro perspective" like some other Vietnam era songs which provide a critique of Chamorro participation in the war effort, it nonetheless speaks to the depth of emotion and trauma that was taking place during that era.
If anything, the whitewashing of the pre-Vietnam era on Guam has much to do with trying to return to an "easier" or "simpler" view of life and the relationship between the United States, its military and Chamorros. This simpler view is of course one which the Chamorro experience in Vietnam and their experience of Vietnam in what was brought to Guam during and after the war makes so much more difficult to believe or perceive. Everyone on Guam has some relative who came out of the war "messed up," whether PTSD, Agent Orange, feelings or racism and anger or drugs addictions. The Chamorros love for the United States and faith in its military, at the structural level (prior to anything we say or think about it) all comes down to the idea that America only fights "good wars." That all American wars are just duplicates of World War II, and all about liberation and the unfolding of American greatness and goodness. Vietnam is a bone in the throat of such fantasizing, and as such it is an event which has helped produce the social space for me today where I can write this blog post and have people openly agree or disagree with me.
I'm pasting the lyrics for "Island Snowman" below. Later this week I'll hopefully post the lyrics for the J.D. Crutch version "Binenu," which while not as explicit as this version, is nonetheless able to strike a very profound chord in me because of it being in Chamorro.
Can you recall the day when you came back home to Guam?
You rode the snowman’s horse that you brought from Vietnam
You said the whitey snowman will never strap his saddle upon your back
You said you couldn’t get hooked if you’d only snort its back
He’s gonna bleed you dry he’s your sister’s pimp, he’s the pusher-man
You’ve got to rid the island snowman from you life little brother
What have you gone and done this time?
How did the island snowman make you crawl upon your knees?
How could you let him drain your life that used to burn within your eyes?
Remember all the times when we laughed and we worked at home after sunrise?
But now you always need to lie and you bow your soul in shame
Why can’t you rid the island snowman from your life little brother?
Mom and dad didn’t get much sleep last night little brother
What have you gone and done this time?
Everyone stay tuned for the Cable Six news since the DEA came down hard on your and you were busted
Now you pray so hard for the time machine but the black robed judge holds the only key to your future
He’s gonna put you away in a penitentiary
He’s gonna put you away in a penitentiary
You have a chance to rid the snowman from your life little brother
At the zenith of the third cold turkey night
You’ll finally break the hold the snowman’s had on you all this time
Your mother cried herself to sleep last night again
Monday, December 22, 2008
by The Capital Times (Wisconsin)
Workers Laid Off, Execs Paid Off
by Amy Goodman
The global financial crisis deepens, with more than 10 million in the U.S. out of work, according to the Department of Labor.
Unemployment hit 6.7 percent in November. Add the 7.3 million "involuntary part-time workers," who want to work full time but can't find a position. Jobless claims have reached a 26-year high, while 30 states reportedly face potential shortfalls in their unemployment insurance pools.
The stunning failure of regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission was again highlighted, as former NASDAQ head Bernard Madoff (you got it, pronounced "made off") was arrested for allegedly running the world's largest criminal pyramid scheme, with losses expected at $50 billion, dwarfing those from the Enron scandal. The picture is grim - unless, that is, you are a corporate executive.
The $700 billion financial bailout package, TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), was supposed to mandate the elimination of exorbitant executive compensation and "golden parachutes." As U.S. taxpayers pony up their hard-earned dollars, highflying executives and corporate boards are now considering whether to give themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses.
According to The Washington Post, the specific language in the TARP law that forbade such payouts was changed at the last minute, with a small but significant one-sentence edit made by the Bush administration. The Post reported, "The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction."
Read the fine print. Of the TARP bailout funds to be disbursed, only those that were technically spent "in an auction" would have limits imposed on executive pay. But Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his former Goldman Sachs colleague Neel Kashkari (yes, pronounced "cash carry"), who is running the program, aren't inclined to spend the funds in auctions. They prefer their Capital Purchase Program, handing over cash directly. Recall Paulson's curriculum vitae: He began as a special assistant to John Ehrlichman in the Nixon White House and then went on to work for a quarter-century at Goldman Sachs, one of the largest recipients of bailout funds and chief competitor to Lehman Brothers, the firm that Paulson let fail.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report on TARP Dec. 10, expressing concerns about the lack of oversight of the companies receiving bailout funds. The report states that "without a strong oversight and monitoring function, Treasury's ability to ensure an appropriate level of accountability and transparency will be limited." The nonprofit news organization ProPublica has been tracking the bailout program, reporting details that remain shrouded by the Treasury. As of Tuesday, 202 institutions had obtained bailout funds totaling close to $250 billion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said recently, "The Treasury Department's implementation of the TARP is insufficiently transparent and is not accountable to American taxpayers." Barney Frank, D-Mass., chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said earlier, "Use of these funds ... for bonuses, for severance pay, for dividends, for acquisitions of other institutions, etc. - is a violation of the terms of the act."
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said of the loophole, "The flimsy executive compensation restrictions in the original bill are now all but gone."
Put aside for the moment that these three all voted for the legislation - the law clearly needs to be corrected before additional funds are granted.
The sums these titans of Wall Street are walking away with are staggering. In their annual "Executive Excess" report, the groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies reported 2007 compensation for Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs (Paulson's replacement), of $54 million, and that of John Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch, a whopping $83 million. Merrill has since been sold to Bank of America, after losing more than $11 billion this year - yet Thain still wants a $10 million bonus.
Paulson, Kashkari and their boss, President George W. Bush, might not be the best people to spend the next $350 billion tranche of U.S. taxpayer money, with just weeks to go before the new Congress convenes Jan. 6, and Barack Obama assumes the presidency Jan. 20. As Watergate leaker Deep Throat was said to have told Bob Woodward, back when Paulson was just starting out, "Follow the money." The U.S. populace, its representatives in Congress and the new Obama administration need to follow the money, close the executive pay loophole and demand accountability from the banks that the public has bailed out.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
© 2008 The Capital Times
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!,"
a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I was starved for international cricket for most of this year. Despite a handful of exciting tours or conflicts, such as India winning a 4 match Test series against Australia 2-0 and Zimbabwe almost beating Sri Lanki in an ODI match, there were huge gaps with not much going on, and several tours cancelled. "Turmoil" in India, Zimbabwe and Pakistan have caused several tours and one tournament to be cancelled.
Kada na ogga'an, anai humalom yu' gi i internet, i fine'nina na website na hu bisita "Cricinfo." Mo'na kinu "KUAM" pat "Guampdn" pat "Hotmail." Desde i ma'pos na sakkan gof impottante kosas Cricket gi lina'la'-hu, sa' fihu hu egga' yan taitai put Guiya para i minagof-hu pat iyo-ku "tiempon taiche'cho'."
Bai hu admite na ti geftungo' yu' put kosas Cricket. Achokka' ya-hu gui' pa'go, taya' tiningo'-hu estaba anai dumodongkalo' yu'. Gi ayu na tiempo, ya-hu basketball yan baseball. Lao desde gumaiidat yu', tumaiinteres nu Siha.
Lao dumidide' dumidide' gumeftungo', achokka' ti sina manegga' yu' "matches" gi i internet pat gi i telebishon, sa' ti ma gof tungo' put Cricket gi lagu, sisina yu' manaitai put i matches gi i internet.
Lao gi este na sakkan, kalang siniente-ku na ti meggai na tours, pat fihu manmamahnao, put "security concerns."
Ya put este na tinaigue, sigi' manaitai gi as Yu'us, ya put fin ha oppe yu', ya ha na'magahet i minalago'-hu.
So after starving for Test cricket for months, tonight there are three exciting Test cricket matches going on achagigu!!! At the same time!!!
1. Australia vs. South Africa in Australia
The two best ranked Test squads in the world are currently facing off. The star of South Africa has been rising this year, after drawing a series in India and winning a series in England. While Australia has been the team to beat for quite a while, their luster of invincibility has begun to fade over the past year. India was able to draw one Test, one win (although they lost two) in Australia at the start of the year, and just a few months ago, India beat Australia twice at home.
As I'm typing its the 3rd day of the Test and while Australia are in the lead, if South Africa is able to bowl the opposition out before the end of play toady, they would have plenty of time to chase down a win (that is if they can keep it together on the fourth and fifth days of play).
2. West Indies vs. New Zealand in New Zealand
Whichever team wins this series will move up in the ICC rankings. They are both close to the bottom however, tied for seventh place above Bangladesh, and whoever wins will move into sixth place in the world. They are playing their second test right now, the first one featured some very strong performances on both sides, but was drawn due to rain.
I'm not a big fan of New Zealand, they are my 3rd least favorite international team. But I am a very big fan of the West Indies. I've been reading up in small bits about their rise to dominance in the 1970's, and its an exceptional story of the way they helped transform the "color" of Cricket.
Of course, the West Indies are nowhere near as strong a Cricket team as they were even a few years ago when they had Brian Lara in their squad, but they are slowly rebuilding. The backbone or the foundation of their rebuilding this past year is one of my favorite players today, Shivnarine Chanderpaul. In the Australia tour of the West Indies earlier this year, Chanderpaul was literally the "rock" in their batting lineup, as despite the fact that the West Indies were almost completely overwhelmed by Australia and lost the tour 2-0, Chanderpaul was the Man of the Series, leading in runs scored, and posting 2 centuries, 3 half centuries and was thrice not out.
Its surprisingly exciting to watch Chanderpaul play of late. His strike rate is regularly so, so low. His innings are not fire-crackers, but slow and steady. But that doesn't mean that watching him bat isn't still a treat. He has been one of the most difficult wickets to take this year, as usually the rest of the team collapses around him.
In the current Test that NZ and WI are playing tonight, Chanderpaul saved his team from what appeared to be another collapse, by stitching together, slowly over almost five hours a 224 ball century. In the midst of this slow, methodical century, Chanderpaul found time to pick up two sixes, both of which, even the commentator admited, seemed to come out of nowhere. A couple months ago, against Sri Lanki in an ODI, Chanderpaul was able to win the match by hitting a six on the final ball of the match.
3. England against India in India
Last week's Test match between England and India was exciting and epic. It was a real battle the entire match, and just when it seemed that England was going to win and had given India a target of almost 400 runs to chase, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar dashed their hopes with a bombastic 68 ball -83 to open the innings and then a gritty yet beautiful 196 ball 103 to complete India's victory. It was Sachin Tendulkar's 41st Test century, and his first in the fourth innings that was part of a successful run chase.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
RICE: Not of American money. Not American money. I don’t think that you will find that anybody is arguing that there was corruption in the American programs.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Este na Minagahet gof likidu, sa' para u mahokka' gi este, i pinagat i Mañamoru ni' humalom gi i United Nations gi este na sakkån.
On October 7, 2008, a delegation of Chamorros testified in front of the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) on the question of Guam’s continued colonization. For the first time in years, the Committee received testimony from a Guam elected official. Senator Vicente Pangelinan prepared a testimony, read by Chamorro attorney Aileen Quan. The rest of the delegation included Victoria- Lola Leon Guerrero of I Nasion Chamoru, Craig Santos Perez of Guåhan Indigenous Collective, and Michael A. Tuncap of Famoksaiyan. The delegates discussed the cumulative adverse impacts of U.S. colonization and the current military build-up, highlighting such issues as environmental contamination, Chamorro displacement, alarming cancer rates, and the infrastructural strains expected from the island’s unprecedented population boom—which will make the Chamorro people a minority group in our homeland. The Chamorro delegation also met personally with UN Fourth Committee Chairman Jorge Arguello of Argentina, and world leaders from the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Virgin Islands to discuss ways to successfully expedite Guåhan’s Chamorro self-determination process.
In addition to these testimonies, this issue of Minagahet also includes testimonies made earlier in the year by Sabina Flores Perez before the United Nations Committee of 24, and Julian Aguon before the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The spirit that drives these testimonies is hardly new, and although most of those featured in this issue are young, it is not a young one either. Chamorros have made journeys to the United Nations for more than twenty years now seeking aid in their quest for decolonization, but their dreams of decolonization stretch back centuries. Despite the veneer of colonial acceptance that we see in Guam today, Chamorros have long resisted and criticized the colonization of their island in its Spanish, Japanese and American forms, the types of resistance and levels of intensity of course are always changing. Traveling to the United Nations is one important strategy of today, since it hopefully allows for Chamorros to reach the international community in terms of their plight.
This is the third issue of Minagahet like this, and I am hoping that there are many many more. Yanggen malago hao tumaitai i mina'dos na issue (2007) yemme' este na link: "Guinifen i Mañainå-ta" Ya para i fine'nina (2006), yemme' este na link: "Self-Determination På'go!"
For more information on the issues that these testimonies are discussing, you can check out the following blogs: JGPO Blog,, Decolonize Guam Blog, and my personal blog, No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro.
As for all my other blogs and websites. Chamorro.com is still a great resource and source of info on Chamorro events in Guam and in the diaspora. Famoksaiyan is still around, and just finished up assisting with this most recent trip to the United Nations and also a very successful report back in San Francisco last month. For more info on all these things, you can check out its blog, or look for it on Myspace or Facebook. There's also a Famoksaiyan Youtube channel, with some videos of recent Famoksaiyan related events. I don't post much anymore on Voicing Indigeneity or Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World, but there's still plenty of information there to read or download and so check them out.
The Storm of US Militarization
Pinagat as Julian Aguon, Author and Activist
Ginnen I Nasion Chamoru
"In 2008, the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam brace ourselves for a storm of U.S. militarization so enormous in scope, so volatile in nature, so irreversible in consequence."
Pinagat as Sabina Flores Perez, Economic and Environmental Activist
"The current plan of intensified militarization, slated to cost US$15 billion, was developed without the informed consent and against the will of the Chamorro people. It will further transform our island home into a forward base with the following developments, among many: the establishment of a Global Strike Force, the refurbishing of Naval Base Guam to enhance its capacity to port nuclear air craft carriers, the construction of an Army Base to serve as Patriot Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) task force, and the planned construction of a highway to be used solely for military purposes."
Ginnen i Ante yan i Espiritu i Mañainå-ta
Pinagat as Senadot Ben Cabrera Pangelinan
Ginnen i Leyeslaturan Guahan
"Ginen y anti y espiritu yan y man fotna na taotao Guahan na hu presenta este na testimonu, yan u fan libre y taotao pagu. It is from the soul and the spirit of our ancestors that I present this testimony today for the liberation of the people today."
Pinagat as Victoria Leon Guerrero, Author and Activist
Ginnen i Nasion Chamoru
"According to United States law, Guåhan is a possession of the United States but not part of the United States. This is evidenced in the planning process for the US military build-up on Guåhan. There is no consultation with the people of Guåhan and no regard paid to the needs of our people. The governor, lieutenant governor and their staff have provided input in the planning process, but have no real decision-making power in one of the largest decisions ever made for the island that will have rippling effects on future generations of Chamorus."
The Contamination of the Pacific
Pinagat as Craig Santos Perez, Poet
Ginnen i Guahan Indigenous Collective
"In terms of population, Chamorus constituted 45 percent of Guam’s population in 1980; in 1990, 43 percent; in 2000, 37 percent. In devastating contrast, the planned influx of non-Chamorus will increase Guam’s overall population by about 30 percent, causing a 20-year population growth over the next five years. History repeats itself: more foreign snakes, fewer native birds."
Pinagat as Michael Gumataotao Tuncap, Scholar and Activist
"The legacies of a racialized military occupation in Guam continue to inform a widely accepted belief in difference between the citizen and non-citizen. The colorblind framework of the United States as a ‘nation of immigrants’ ignores the complex differences in the histories and cultures of indigenous Micronesian people, especially in Guam. Military discourses conceal the xenophobic immigration policies and manifestations of U.S racial ideologies. As Chamorro scholars and policy makers pursue new ways of addressing racial problems of exclusion and citizenship, the question of self determination in Guam remains unanswered."
Hita Guåhan is a compilation of testimonies presented by Chamorus from Guåhan to the United Nations in New York in 2008. These testimonies carry on the legacy of more than 20 years of Chamorus who’ve appealed to the United Nations on behalf of Guam and Chamoru human rights. It can be downloaded free of charge by clicking the above link.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The awards were started last year in honor of disgraced and mapresu San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, and are meant to honor each year's spectacular achievements in corruption, betrayals of the public trust and shameful behavior in general. Last year, former Guam resident Ginger Cruz was nominated in the category "Corruption Chutzpah," for her blending of corruption and "witchcraft." Lao dimalas, sa' ti manggana' gui'.
The nominations are open to the public, and so anyone out there can write something up and submit it to TPM. The bloggers at TMP will gather up all the submissions and then send a list of five or six nominees to their judges who will then choose the winners. The judges this year are: Rick Hertzberg, Susie Bright, John Dean, Dahlia Lithwick and TPM alums Paul Kiel and Spencer Ackerman.
There were plenty of shameful acts last year in the running, but the funniest nominees, were all Republican officials who were nominated because of their "poorly executed bathroom sex."
Here's the video of last year's winners:
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Unfortunately the votes of my grandfather, my grandmother and even my brother weren't enough to put Jesse Anderson Lujan or "JAL" as I fondly refer to him as over the top in this past election, and so next year the Leyesleturan Guahan will be without a person who has Lujan as their last name. Oh, they'll be plenty of people with Lujan parientes or relatives, but no one left whose main family identifiers are Lujan, through either their mother or father (at least on the surface, so I could be wrong).
Otro fino'-ta, achokka' ha na'triste yu' este na estao TaiLujan gi i Leyesletura, sina masangan na este megg'ggai na taotao Lujan esta manhalom guihi, ya bula'la' na Mampolitikat na Lujan. Maolekna na ta na'fanchagi i otro na familia.)
I've been a fan of Senator JAL for a long time and made no secret about it on this blog or in my zine Minagahet as well.
In all things we have no idea how much a person's rhetoric relates to what they truly believe or feel. People put so much energy into this, especially in relation to politicians, but, in their case and in the case of everyone around you, that knowledge is often sealed off, unknown, even to the speakers themselves. So for instance, in the case of Barack Obama, so many progressives supported him, because although many of his positions aren't progressive and frankly not change worth believing in, you could attribute a consciousness to him, a thinking relation to his rhetoric in which you can rationalize that he was just saying this to get elected, and once in power he'll be the real progressive I know he is deep down.
Tom Tomorrow of This Modern World had a funny take on this, when in one of his strips, he had horrified "progressives" or "liberals" shocked and stupefied at the centrism of Obama, and screeched in disbelief that he never sounded like this or did anything like this in any of the imaginary conversations that they'd had together!
I mention this because, amongst "regular" people and activists alike, too much time can be spent discussing and guessing what level of consciousness or authenticity politicians have or don't have. And thus an assumption of a particular consciousness will lead you to overlook the flaws or limits of some politicians in the sense that you will believe in them far too much, and think they are capable of doing or currently doing way more than they actually might or can do. On the other side, the assumption of a lack of consciousness, doesn't necessarily mean that you will work against them or seem them as evil, bad or somebody to be stopped. More generally, you will see them as the majority of any society see the majority of their political leaders (ko'lo'lo'na gi halom Democracies), that they are "manaisetbe" "mandakkon" "mandugeru" or worthless, liars and cheats. You may see them in a negative light, as people who are responsible for a community's political rot, but the main way in which you will see them is as being useless, pointless, not capable of anything.
The time wasting here comes because, your focus, the locus of what drives your speech, your thinking, your framework of possibility here is all linked to the internal processes of this or these politicians, what they really believe or not. I feel that it is more important to work with what politicians do and say, their psychological relationship to their rhetoric isn't as important as what their rhetoric does once its invoked, once it leaves their lips and ends up in your mind, in newspapers, in video, on blogs. After all, this is why the messages of politicians are so managed and massaged nowadays, because their words bind them, their words can all be twisted, their words can have different effects and impacts, most of which they probably don't intend or have no way of controlling.
I think instead of spending time delving into what candidates really think and whether or not their words are minagahet pat i minagahet-na, you already have plenty to deal with, just with what they do so, what is public, what emerges from their mouths.
Since coming into office, Senator JAL, in particular when the massive movement of Marines from Okinawa was announced, has been a darling of decolonization activists on Guam, and those who feel that Guam is a colony and oppressed by the Federal Government. This darling status has always been tinged with an apprehension over whether or not JAL is really "one of us" or "really believes these things" or whether he is just using the rhetoric to get grassroots support or look like he's doing something.
Regardless of what he really thinks about these issues, his public records, most notably his column that he used to write in the Marianas Variety titled "Jesse's Corner" make clear that he's invested in that rhetoric and not afraid of brandishing it in confrontational or critical ways. And that has made him a perfect voice for me to cite, to invoke, to use in my own activism.
One of the strategies that local politicians on Guam can use is to play the local against the Federal or the local against the National. The best way of doing this is to argue that the Federal Government is taking advantage of us, don't really care about us, that Guam is not being respected and that we deserve better! Its a weapon that all local politicians, in particular Senators have at their disposal in making their cases in terms of policy or even just defending themselves. Senator JAL absolutely engaged in this strategy, but hardly as just a simple tactical tool, to be used here or there, but for years, with regards to several different issues, he attacked the Feds, the stateside dominated media on Guam and had no qualms about criticizing the Governor of Guam, Felix Camacho for acting more like the Federal Government pool boy than Guam's executive leader.
Some may say that the antagonism between Camacho and JAL is personal and that its a waste of time to even discuss it. I disagree, especially in late 2005 and 2006, when Senator JAL was one of the first political/public voices to speak out about the possibility of Guam being screwed over in the transfer of thousands of Marines from Okinawa, his criticisms of Camacho have turned out to be almost prophetic. He decried Camacho for "meek stewardship" and not "leadership," by instead of playing a more confrontational strategy with the Feds and the military on the military buildup, seemed to just go along with everything and hope and pray for the best. Most may have already forgotten, but there was a point at which Camacho and his administration snubbed visiting officials from Okinawa, since they were worried that meeting with them might irritate or piss off the US military and Feds. Camacho was worried about even the slightest hint of appearing to be against this or have issues with the buildup appearing and so even snubbed those visitors from Okinawa to prove his loyalty to the United States.
He's learned the hard way that this was the wrong approach, and now looks very silly and taisensia with the changes in rhetoric where he is suddenly being "hard" or "tough" on the Department of Defense. He would have looked much more malate' frankly if he'd listened to those of us who had been arguing that the military wasn't being forthcoming and that the build-up wasn't the proposed dreamy paradise that was heading to Guam and would arrive in 2014. If he had designed his rhetoric accordingly, with more principle and pragmatism in mind, instead of having an American flag and mindless patriotism become his approach to navigating what will probably end up being the re-colonization of Guam would be far more effective and useful.
I think that, especially amongst the Legislature, there was plenty of Senators who from the start had the same concerns as JAL, and perhaps were even more worried or apprehensive, but it was the usage of his column in the Marianas Variety and his targeting of Governor Camacho that made him a sort of forerunner in the creation of a counter-argument and counter consciousness with regards to the military buildup. He stopped writing his column last year, and two other Senators (Guthertz and Pangelinan) have notably taken up to criticizing the the Feds and the DOD for their conduct in militarizing the island, and as I just noted, Felix Camacho has recently gotten into the game as well.
Aside from this, JAL also had no qualms about attacking the Pacific Daily News (which in turn seemed to relish in attacking him, mostly about the fact that he lied about graduating from college (note: The PDN revealed the same sin with Congresswoman Bordallo, but they don't seem to take as much joy in revealing that every chance they can)), or certain radio stations as "stateside dominated" media for their bias in reporting stories and supporting candidates, programs or ideas based on their non-local and sometimes racially driven interests. He also had no qualms about calling Continental Airlines place in Guam a monopoly and push for legislation to try and get shipping and travel prices to Guam reduced.
In conclusion, as I am an "information" activist always seeking bits of public rhetoric out there to use to help my own interests or help teach the structures of colonialism out there in our lives, JAL was a godsend. Whether he intended to or not, he was a much needed counter to the rhetoric of Congresswoman Bordallo and Governor Camacho, in late 2005 and throughout 2006 on the military buildup. In the media they appeared to be love-sick teenagers, craving the military, needing it, wanting as much as they could get, alwaysby begging and asking for me. Whether Senator JAL meant what he said or didn't is irrelevant, he played an important role providing an oppositional/critical voice, and in doing so helped give voice to so many others out there with concerns, with apprehensions, or who just didn't want the military buildup to happen, but couldn't find the space or the community from which those thoughts or fears could be spoken.
In honor of Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan, I've pasted below some of his writing gems from his "Jesse's Corner" over the years. Read them, enjoy them, and please join me in saying Adios JAL!
"Fight For Tiyan is Also a Fight For Equality and Justice"
Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan
February 16, 2006
THERE has been much said and written about the recent federal attempt to confiscate our Tiyan land once more.
This saga of injustice extends back to December 8th of 1945. On that date, our peaceful island was invaded and our land in Tiyan was taken at the point of a bayonet. Our people were used as slave laborers on that very property. When the U.S. Marines stormed our shores to retake our island, we thought justice would replace the bayonet. Instead, the injustice born on the tip of a bayonet is continued by the tip of a federal pen.
After waiting many decades, the Tiyan families finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel, only to be told this is a mirage. Once again, the federal bureaucracy is exercising its heavy hand to kill our dreams and aspirations.
In reaction, some have expressed anti-American feelings and opinions. I say this is not the way to go. We are Americans— all of us. We must demand that we be treated with the dignity and respect that any human being should be entitled and that an American should take for granted.
I say we must demand our equal share of the American pie instead of opt out of the American family. We must demand equal treatment as that given to statesiders. We must demand an equal seat at the American table and an equal share of the meal of representative democracy. Something all Americans should take for granted but sadly we cannot.
This must start with more home rule. These federal officials, crushing the living daylight out of our every aspiration or dreams, have been put there and kept there by people we did not elect. We, in short, are ruled by laws and a bureaucracy without our consent. If we had the democratic right to elect leaders with influence over those with such heavy handedness towards us, we would have a greater and more effective right to redress our grievances by petitioning our elected leadership for intervention. This basic human right is denied us.
As a result of this unbearable situation, we are subjected to a tyranny whose practical effect is no less obscene than that found in such countries as Cuba and the former Soviet Union. Because of this undemocratic atmosphere in which we live, it is incumbent upon federal officials to exercise their power over us in consultation with us, even to a larger extent than if they were exercising the same power in any of the 50 states where democracy reigns. Instead, we are treated worst then they treat their own dogs.
It is my guess that if Guam were populated mostly by European Americans, we would not be treated so shabbily. Well, we must demand our equal rights and peacefully revolt. We must shout and agitate until the blood of our patriotic sons and daughters who have given their lives for the democracy so easily and gleefully denied us, is honored, when democracy becomes ours, too. We must not waiver in this determination to be treated equally and with dignity.
Many will try to deter us, and many statesiders especially, will gang up on you, like a tribe protecting its special interests, when you demand equal treatment to that given to them. They will call you racist. But do not be deterred. It cannot be racist to demand equal treatment. It cannot be racist to demand democracy. It cannot be racist to demand just treatment. It cannot be racist to point out racist treatment.
In this effort, history is on our side. We will fight for Tiyan and for equality and dignity.
Tinige' Senadot Jesse Anderson Lujan
The Marianas Variety
WE recently heard from the Secretary of the Navy about our efforts to obtain some federal government help to upgrade our infrastructure. We have been pursuing these efforts to better prepare ourselves for the incoming Marines from Okinawa and to better position ourselves for future military placements here.We want these investments to make sure we do not descend into an unending morass of water outages, power outages, overflowing sewer lines, clogged roads and serial killer power poles, mercilessly murdering more and more of our citizens. We want to avoid a total deterioration of our quality of life. Also, we want to succeed at helping in the defense of the country.
We cannot do that with substandard infrastructure which has a capacity that continues to be stretched beyond its breaking point.
Much to our amazement, the message from Mr. Secretary was nada, zip, nothing for Guam’s civilian community. Apparently, Mr. Secretary’s message was that as far as civilian infrastructure is concerned, we civilians are on our own.
Where does that leave us? Well, we, 160,000 people, must now find a way to beg or borrow up to $2 billion to upgrade our current infrastructure. We need to do this, mind you, so that we can accommodate about 50,000 new residents, who are coming here for the sole purpose of bolstering our national defense.
Perhaps, Mr. Secretary was misquoted or I misunderstood him. But if correctly stated, this position is incredibly short sighted and bordering on incredible. To give you an idea of how incredible Mr. Secretary’s position is, mull this example over for a minute. What if a private developer came to Guam, said that he was going to invest $15 billion here?
Let’s say that developer said he was going to bring in 50,000 people for his project. Moreover, all his investments would go straight into his project. Let’s say the developer told us that all impacts of his investment on our island and on our community would be ours to bear alone. With a straight face, he would tell us that all our power, water, roads, landfill and port problems were all ours to bear—solely. If this happened, it wouldn’t be long before we sent that investor on his way. The point is that some projects are simply too big for our small community to absorb by itself. The Secretary of the Navy and the Nation are asking us, a community of 160,000 Americans, to subsidize the defense of a nation of 300 million people. Put simply, giving us a helping hand is critical to the military mission in the Western Pacific. As Guam takes on an increasingly important role in the defense of the nation, the nation must recognize that a completely upgraded civilian infrastructure is an essential component of that mission. It is unquestionable that the military community will, to a large extent, live, work and shop in the civilian community. To think that this will all be meekly accepted and subsidized by us is simply foolish and reckless.
But, however stunned we were about Mr. Secretary’s position, we were even more stunned by Governor Camacho’s response to such an absurd position.
True to form, Governor Camacho stepped up to bat for the federal government.
His apology for such stupidity and arrogant abuse of our hospitality left many of us thinking whose governor is he? Does he represent us or the federal government? Is any one in his administration explaining to Mr. Secretary that leaving us civilians high and dry, and to foot the bill to boot, for the military move to Guam jeopardizes the stability of the whole effort? Does the governor even know how to defend our interest when it is necessary?
The governor should stop kowtowing and start thinking of the long-term consequences of his actions. Governor, stand up and defend our interests.
You must fight for us to deserve the title "governor." If you do not do so, you will not be remembered as Governor Felix Camacho but rather as "Kowtow Felix."
By Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan
WE ARE NOBODY'S PET!
From the Marianas Variety
I have over the years pushed for a more dignified political status for Guam. At the moment we are some of the few US Citizens who are not ruled by laws enacted by leaders we elect.
We are subjected to Federal rule and laws that impose millions of dollars annually in additional costs for our consumers in multiple areas and all by leaders and bureaucrats we had nothing at all to elect or put in power.
By any definition, this is rule by dictatorship, though perhaps a benign one, it is no less offensive for that. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.
We have seen this dictatorial Federal power strutted over us by Continental who runs roughshod over us in their attempt to keep in place a system that in effect taxes us for their profit to the tune of over fifty million dollars annually. And, this is only one example of this kind of oppression we are forced to endure despite a long track record of loyalty to America and the principles for which the nation stands.
Adding insult to injury is that fact that as long ago as 1974 President Ford recognized the injustice of this situation and directed that a Commonwealth Agreement, as an interim status, be negotiated with Guam.
Apparently with Department of Interior connivance, this directive was ignored and kept secret, hidden from Guam’s leaders. The purpose of this subterfuge was to continue to keep us under the yoke of the Department of Interior as an owner would keep a pet dog. We are tired of being treated as the Federal Government’s pet poodle and want the situation rectified and done now.
In pursuit of this effort I recently sent a letter Dated October 19th to President Bush. Here is the letter I sent:
“As an elected official and Chairman of the Committee on Decolonization. I am writing on behalf of the United States citizens in Guam to direct your attention to an extremely important matter that has recently come to my attention. It relates to the status of Guam as a United States territory and our inability over the last 30 years to accomplish any significant response from the federal government to our frequently expressed complaints regarding our status.
A recent published book entitled, “The Secret Guam Study” provides a wholly new perspective on this matter. A copy of the book is enclosed. Based on previously classified documents, the book’s two authors, both highly regarded historians, set forth the following conclusions:
1) In 1973-74 an interagency committee, chaired by the Department of State, produced a detailed study of Guam’s political status, the territory’s critical importance to the Nation’s national defense and security, and the need of the federal government to respond affirmatively to Guam’s many legitimate complaints about its status. The memorandum submitted to the President on August 9, 1974, summarized the basic conclusion of the study: “Guam’s strategic importance to the United States is such that its continued association in federal relationship is essential. To satisfy Guamanians while maintaining this relationship, the study concludes that Federal Government attention in the near future is required to provide an improved political status for Guam’s U.S. Citizens and to address their economic and social aspirations–including further diversification of the economy.”
2) President Ford approved the recommendations of the study. By memorandum dated February 1, 1975, signed by Henry A. Kissinger, the President directed the Department of State, Interior, and Defense to negotiate a new political relationship with Guam. In particular, President Ford instructed the agencies as follows: “The U.S. negotiator should seek agreement with Guamanian representatives on a commonwealth arrangement no less favorable that that which we are negotiating with the Northern Marianas” unless the Guamanians prefer some comparable, but different,
3) This directive was never implemented by the federal agencies. In fact, no elected leader from Guam was ever informed of this study or President Ford’s instruction to provide Guam with commonwealth status at least comparable to that which was provided the Northern Mariana Islands. The people of Guam were not aware of this study and President Ford’s directive until “The Secret Guam Study” was published last month.
4) The book’s authors attribute this lack of candor and failure by Department of Interior officials to implement President Ford’s directive to their basic disagreement with the directive. We do not know whether this is fair or accurate, although the documents included in the book do tend to support its conclusions. We do know, however, that disclosure of this information 30 years ago, and an honest effort by the federal government to implement the study and President Ford’s directive, would have profoundly improved Guam’s status and encouraged a much more positive attitude within the community towards the federal government.
Mr. President: we ask that you refer this matter to a member of your domestic policy staff and ask for a report dealing with the following questions:
1) Does the Department of the Interior have an explanation, supported by contemporary documents, that differs from the analysis provided in this book regarding Interior’s alleged lack of candor and failure to implement the study?
2) Does the Department of Defense agree with the conclusions expressed so strongly by that Department some 30 years ago, namely, that Guam and the federal government has an affirmative obligation to address Guam’s legitimate complaints about its status such as those identified in the 1973-74 study and presented to President Ford?
3) Should your Administration appoint a Special Assistant, of appropriate stature and qualifications but not from Interior, to address Guam’s political status in light of today’s circumstances in order to achieve the national security and fairness objectives that motivated the 1973-74 study and President Ford’s directive to implement it?
Thank you for your attention to our request.
JON ANDERSON SHOULD APOLOGIZE
published in the Marianas Variety
By Sen. Jesse Lujan
JON Anderson, on his talk show on the K57 radio station, a statesider-owned radio station on Guam, responded to my article in this paper that the stateside-owned media on Guam is biased against Filipino and Chamorro citizens of our community. It is my opinion that the stateside owned media on Guam are more lenient towards the malfeasance and misfeasance of stateside public servants, politicians and businesses and fail or refuse to criticize them for similar actions for which they energetically and consistently criticize non-statesiders.
In part of his response to this criticism of statesider media bias, Anderson lobbed a personal insult my way saying I must be dreaming when I write this column. Given the context of the comment, Anderson clearly intended it as a personal insult. He did not intend it in the good sense of the word dreaming, as I along with many of our other residents of all colors dream of creating a better community.
First, there should be no room in our community for public figures to lob personal insults at each other. Secondly, doing so is the first sign of a weak argument. As strongly as Anderson disagrees with me, and me with him, we should not allow this discourse to degenerate into a name calling session. Thirdly, this kind of response should be beneath a journalist like Anderson who holds himself in such high regard and wants the rest of us in the community to do so as well. Anderson owes me a public apology.
Anderson also took issue with my labeling his radio station a statesider-owned media outlet. His defense is that he and his radio station should be considered “local” given that he owns a house here and has lived here for decades. Defined as a “locally- owned” radio station Anderson reasons, should make him and his radio station immune from my criticism of statesider bias.
He misses the point. It does not matter to me, nor should it to anyone else in our community, who owns any media source on Guam. What does matter is if they are biased in their reporting or criticism based on color, national origin or religion. It is clear to me, and many others in our community, that K57 has a strong statesider bias even if its owners want to consider themselves “local”.
Anderson also argues he has many non-statesider employees and does not restrict their reporting implying they cannot be biased as I have stated. What he does not address is the culture of statesider bias on K57’s talk shows that seems to permeate his organization. This business culture as in sports is what gives cues to employees as to what is considered acceptable conduct from them by top management. For instance, in a sports stadium no one instructs the fans to cheer at the same time. Yet they do.
Even as an occasional listener of Anderson’s talk show, it is obvious to me that he gives stateside callers, of whom I am aware, a delightful and much cheerier reception than some Chamorro and Filipino callers who are struggling with strongly accented English as a second language to make a point. Anderson sometimes loses patience and cuts these callers off while he is infinitely patient with his statesider friends. This attitude and culture, probably prevalent in other aspect of his organization, is what instructs his reporters on what is an acceptable reporting posture.
Additionally, Anderson coddles stateside-owned businesses like Continental Micronesia Airlines on his talk show and radio station. Time after time Continental is given free reign on his station as he pitches them what appears to be well rehearsed soft balls that they hit with what appears to be well rehearsed answers.
Anderson’s aim, it seems, is to convince us that this Federally protected monopoly that overcharges us to the tune of $50 million dollars per year is really acting in our best interest. If any Chamorro or Filipino or non-white business were doing the same thing as Continental, Anderson and his cohorts would waste no time mercilessly crucifying them and the government entity giving them the monopoly right to do it.
Thank God we have KUAM and Marianas Variety to get a true picture out to our people.
JESSE’S CORNER - "OGLE'S TRASH"
from the Marianas Variety
I have been a vocal critic of statesider media bias here on Guam. Statesider media bias of media outlets and reporters based in the States is even more obviously racist and biased than those based here. We have seen constant unfair biased uninformed news stories and jokes about Guam from the statesider media. Even though Guam is more beautiful and has more activities and a larger international presence then 90% of stateside communities – some of whom have the false confidence to denigrate us.
This attitude recently manifested itself in a racist and condescending misinformed article written by Mike Ogle a freelance ESPN reporter. Here is an especially relevant excerpt of the article written as a criticism of cockfighting: “Evidently, this is what the locals do to pass the time on
this 341-square-mile island (about three times the size of Washington, D.C.) stuck all by itself in the middle of the Pacific. Truly, the middle of nowhere. Entertainment options are limited. People here fit into one of two categories. Either they've lived here their entire lives, or they're
stationed here by the U.S. military. I'm here to visit Matt and Kristy, who's one year into his three years at the U.S. Naval Base. And for the record, cockfighting is legal in Guam. Parking overflowed the lot into the street. We walked onto the grounds of the mayor's office – yes, the mayor's office – and paid our entrance. I wasn't sure how I should feel. Should I be excited for the upcoming fights? Fascinated to experience a foreign slice of life? Horrified? Disgusted? Outraged? ...Patrons make their verbal bets to the pit – $20, $25, $50, $100 – just like traders on the stock-exchange floor. Or, in this case, the cock exchange. Guam, though, is not exactly
Manhattan (23 percent live below the poverty line), and the crowd was not exactly the upper crust of the population. They say if an American man walks through a particular poor village in Guam, families will offer their daughters."
Notice the clues of how this pseudo sophisticated American with the fresh smell of moonshine still oozing from his pores thinks he is better than us Americans living on Guam. He says we live out in the “middle of nowhere” to give the impression of a backwater. Even though Guam is within several hours flying time of three billion people and some of the most exciting destinations and dynamic economies on the planet. With this yardstick Washington D.C. is a heck of a lot more isolated than Hagatna. There are many other obvious clues of his bigotry and false sense of superiority peppered throughout the above excerpt and in the article itself, but I’ll let you decipher them. There is however a wider story resulting from Ogle’s racist ramblings and I would like to comment on them.
Ogle was here visiting with his sister and his brother in-law who is in the Navy. They appear to have collaborated with Ogle in his preparations for the article using Navy housing and facilities to do so. The Navy requires and depends on our hospitality to feel welcome, which we freely and generously extend. We do not think that Navy personnel should participate or collaborate in efforts that denigrate the other Americans who live here. For these reasons Ogle’s family on Guam owes the community an apology for their role in the preparation of this article and the Navy owes us an apology for allowing their facilities to be used for such racist purposes. The Navy must implement rules and sensitivity training so their personnel are informed they cannot use vicarious means to spew out racist ideas that they personally are not allowed to express as it appears has happened here.
Finally, and on a more positive note, many of my statesider friends living here, and who have lived here, were as equally outrage by this racist trash as I am. They, in many cases, took the lead in writing some pretty strong responses to Ogle. This shows that despite the divisive efforts of creatures like Ogle and his employer ESPN, we Americans are making progress towards achieving a truly equal multiracial, multicultural and tolerant society.
Ignore Scare Tactics
Tinige' Sendaot Jesse Lujan
Ginnen I Marianas Variety
The recent Northwest Airlines bankruptcy caused a ripple of nervousness on Guam about our airline services. The question is, how should we react? Should we push harder for aviation competition or should we pull back those efforts or risk losing all our airlines?
Some media commentators have concluded that competition drove Northwest into bankruptcy, and therefore, we should stop pushing for a more competitive aviation environment here on Guam. One champion of this scare tactic has been Travis Coffman on K57 radio. He recently dedicated a whole radio show to make that point. His argument is that we should be careful about pushing for more competition since this very competition from low cost carriers drove Northwest to Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Travis and his supporters argued that if we force Continental Micronesia to compete more fairly with all comers we could, as a result of this enhanced competitive environment, force that airline into bankruptcy as well.
There are several things wrong with this argument, the least of which is that our government should not be in the business of ensuring that any business be guaranteed survival.
Our system has proved itself superior to manage economies. Our system has proved that it can create and sustain wealth and prosperity better than a system where competition is managed and limited. One of the fundamental concepts of our system, as opposed to those advocating a managed economy, like Communists, is that competition is a consumer and worker’s best friend. This applies to airlines too.
There is nothing about the aviation business that makes it immune from the basic principle that more competition creates better products at lower prices and results in more jobs and prosperity for everyone. Though airlines, and their socialist-inspired managed economy apologists and advocates like Coffman, have spared no effort in attempting to convince us that airlines and especially Continental is different. They argue that airlines deserve government protection from competition to stay in business.
Even if that means higher airfares and fewer jobs for us.
Another hole in Coffman’s Swiss cheese argument in support of limiting aviation competition is even more obvious than the favorable economics of competition. If an airline is driven to bankruptcy by competition, by definition, there must be a more efficient low-cost operator that caused the bankruptcy. If there is a more efficient operator, the new, more competitive airline will replace the old, less competitive one and acquire all their old customers. In fact Continental and Northwest replaced the former stalwart airlines like PanAm and TWA precisely because they are more efficient and could offer us lower airfares and better service and more jobs.
Moreover, insofar as airlines are concerned we have seen how Continental itself has several times used bankruptcy to restructure and lower its costs making it a more competitive airline today. There is a strong likelihood that Northwest will do the same.
But there is a broader issue to consider here. There is much change in the air in relation to the aviation industry. The low-cost carriers are a juggernaut that is altering any industry or business dependent or connected to aviation. We, more than most other communities, are singularly dependent on competitive air services. Our tourism competitiveness and viability as a destination depends on competitive airfares. For example if airfares are higher to Guam than Hawaii from Japan we will get less visitors and Hawaii will get more. Our retail outlets, hotels and restaurants will suffer as they will have to charge less to make up for higher airfares paid by our visitors to come here.
We simply cannot sit by while our competitors and their customers have the benefit of lowering airfares while our visitors and citizens must continue to pay some of the highest airfares in the world. One of the main inputs into selling Guam to a tourist is the cost of airfare. We must therefore remain competitive on airfares to remain competitive as a visitor destination. This is analogous to a car company having to pay twice as much for its components than its competitors. It won’t be long before that car company goes out of business.
Ignore Coffman’s ill-informed scare tactics. We must press on with efforts for more aviation competition.
By Sen. Jesse Lujan R-Tamuning.
from the Marianas Variety
Hagåtña — Bill McMillan is gone finally. He did not go quietly or with dignity. He lied to the governor, stating he resigned, cleared his desk and office and went home. Thereafter, he backtracked saying he had really not resigned. Finally, the GMH board of trustees mustered the courage to put him out of his misery and asked him to go. It is exactly this kind of double-dealing and backsliding that made McMillan such a management disaster at Guam Memorial Hospital in the first place.
Nevertheless, with a straight journalistic face, the Pacific Daily News, despite this McMillan double-shuffle about his resignation, called him a gentleman. K57, the other statesider-owned media outlet on Guam, spent no small amount of airtime on their radio station praising McMillan for a job well done. There was no mention from either one of these statesider-owned media outlets of the lack of paper cups in the emergency room and other basic supplies in the operating room even after two years of McMillan at GMH.
Meanwhile, before Peter John Camacho a well-educated, competent and qualified Chamorro, could even take his seat at GMH, the statesider-owned media on Guam, had already begun to attack and criticize him. It is as if they wanted Camacho to fail and were setting him up for failure. Yet this same statesider-owned media had asked for cooperation from the Legislature with double-dealing, backsliding McMillan so he could fix the problems at the hospital. Based on what I know of PeterJohn I believe him to be honest and sincere and look forward to working closely with him to improve GMH.
In this whole process, what has become exceedingly clear to most fair minded people in the community is that the statesider-owned media on Guam have two standards of performance and two standards of integrity. They apply a higher standard of performance and integrity to non-statesiders, especially to Chamorros and Filipinos, and a much lower standard of performance and integrity to statesiders.
Moreover, their handling of the hospital fiasco under McMillan is not the only instance where this racial bias is obvious. Take for instance the circumstances surrounding the hiring of Dr. Jerry Albom by Dr. Nathaniel Berg to work for Berg. In a Dateline undercover investigation, Albom supposedly admitted to molesting underage girls. This alleged child-molesting doctor was immediately granted a temporary 90-day permit to work for Berg on Guam. Berg managed to work that out with the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, which, incidentally, is chaired by his good friend Dr. Jerone Landstrom. This board is responsible for licensing doctors to practice here. Contrast this with the treatment received from the same board by Dr. Apolonio Pasion, a Filipino cancer specialist badly needed on Guam.
Dr. Pasion was previously licensed in the U.S. and was railroaded out of Guam in an effort spearheaded by Berg and Landstrom. Dr. Pasion’s offense was to have the audacity to come here to compete with services provided by Berg. Dr. Pasion could not even get a temporary license to practice, even though a statesider alleged child molester had previously quickly obtained one from the Guam Board of Medical Examiners under the leadership of fellow statesider Landstrom. Landstrom says Dr. Pasion or his sponsors did not submit the necessary paperwork on time, but all facts appear to me to indicate that Landstrom put every conceivable bureaucratic roadblock in Dr. Pasion’s way so he would be delayed in submitting the needed documents, a delay Landstrom now uses as the excuse for keeping Pasion from practicing here and competing with his friend Berg.
Where was the statesider-owned media on Guam in covering this discrepancy in treatment between the accused child molesting Albom and the good doctor Pasion? Where were they in questioning McMillan about back dated contracts with exclusivity provisions for Berg to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars while our people died at the hospital due to lack of supplies in the operating room?
I know by exposing the racist bias of the statesider-owned media on Guam I am also exposing myself to a systematic prolonged attack by them. I am fully aware that they will dredge up any embarrassing facts they can sling at me whether they are by ex-cons, ex-wives or ex-girlfriends and call me every name in the book. But I did not seek a senatorial office to be a pretty flowerpot in the Legislature content to do nothing but accumulate accolades, while injustice and racism swirl about me in my native land. I sought office to do the right thing no matter the consequences and will do so.