Sunday, March 30, 2008

From Venezuela With Love

I know I'm supposed to be posting the 2007 testimonies to the United Nations on the question of Guam this week, but when I saw this on commondreams.org, I couldn't resist.

This letter, which is from a minister in the Venezuelan government to the Washington Post is rich in terms of teasing out the ways in which the media, while supposedly being an antagonistic institution in relation to the government, in reality regularly serves as its voice box. For instance, as this letter shows, even the so-called "liberal" media of the Washington Post is perfectly willing to accept the US government's talking points when it comes to Hugo Chavez, Venezeula and their neighbor Columbia. Venezuela is run by a thug and a dictator who is recklessly trying to cling to permanent power, while in Columbia the president is making similar moves yet somehow these actions don't merit the same attacks.

Furthermore, the idea that the media is supposed to be creative of critical about the state of the nation is pretty ridiculous, in fact as we can see all over the place, in the coverage of US history, the framing of different issues and the treatment of the rest of the world and its "problems," we can see that the real function of the media seems to be protecting the nation and its government from any critiques.

For example, the speeches of Reverend Jeremiah Wright which have caused Barack Obama so much problems lately, may be difficult to listen to, but except for a few statements, everything he said is right on and accurate in terms of the violence the United States has committed within its borders and the violence it exports elsewhere. The media however, in their covering of this "explosion of racial hatred" has worked tirelessly to take away any productive or constructive aspect of this issue, except for perhaps making it an episode where Obama can further distance himself from the divisiveness of "black" politics, people, history and rage. Any inkling that what Wright said about America and its history and contemporary traditions of violence, might be true or be relevant to a nation which is currently fighting a least two open wars at present, and providing the weapons for several more, is sucked out of the issue.

Here, the media is basically protecting the United States from recognizing itself in the violence it has caused or the violence it has committed and which has helped create its prosperity. Here, when Jeremiah Wright correctly calls out the United States government and people for wanting blood and revenge after 9/11 (thus making it possible for two different nations to be enthusiastically bombed and occupied), the media assures everyone that only a racist fanatic would think such a thing.

It is possible, that this issue is being pushed forward because of the limitations of the media and its format. I'm pasting a youtube video of a longer segment of the infamous "chickens coming home to roost" lecture, where you can see more of Jeremiah Wright's argument, and how what he is saying is not just rooted in an acknowledging of the violent history of the United States, but also in what the Bible warns against those who seek out revenge.







You can also see this in the way "frames" which are used by the media to interpret or make comprehensible other countries, other regions, are not used to understand or interpret the United States and its actions. The easiest way to understand this is that there is a double standard for frame, or that the media, like the government uses two lexicons of words and images, through which it discusses the United States and its allies, and the rest of the world.

This is most obvious in terms of "terrorism." When violence is prepetuated by the United States and its allies such as Israel, the United Kingdom or Columbia, it is named or described in ways which give it authority, legitimacy, which make clear that this violence creates security or stability. We can find this very clearly in the case of Iraq, where regardless of what violence the United States military is committing, it is always discussed in such a way that the security, safety and stability of Iraq is dependent upon this violence.

Meanwhile, for the rest of the world, violence is discussed through a collection of words and images which make clear its lack of legitimacy, or associate it with disorder, chaos, and the source of madness, the anathema to stability and security. Recently when the President of Iran visited Iraq, the made light of this interesting disconnect. When asked about possible interference in Iraq by his government and military, he redirected the question back onto the United States and its presence in the country, noting that Iran is not the nation who has more than 140,000 troops here.

There are a multitude of ways in which these sorts of frames are also "unusable" when thinking about the United States and its problems, crimes or just current situation. The media in the United States tends to accept the premise that everything here is better, more secure, etc. And so other countries may be described as having histories of genocide, problems with the democracies, voting problems or fraud, being corrupt, being backwards or primitive, engaging in aggression, yet we need not look far to find all of these things in large and small ways in the United States.

For Guam, what is always the most frustrating for me is the "corruption" frame, since Guam is one of the those "banana republic" colonies, which is barely clinging to life because its is always choking to death on its own corrupt existence. Where in these natural, almost assumed as obvious condemnations of the island, which comes from both within its borders and without, are the links or the mentions of American corruption?

To bring out more of this point, I'll paste below a piece of my post titled "How the Activists Hurt Guam (...and America)," which deals with the corruption issue and how when the government and the media positions itself in relation to Guam, through the frame of the corrupt little island government, the United States can actually escape any colonial entanglements and turn itself in the victim of the situation!

Connecting this to Guam and its power against the United States, the point is that power is maintained here by appearing to be powerless, to be the victim. As the victim, there is no question of motives, only well-intended innocence. For the perpetrator, who may have nothing (in terms of money, in terms of resources, in terms of military) in comparison to this newly christened victim, all the advantages suddenly appear to be theirs, they have all the power in the world, and have used it in this moment to wound and hurt the poor United States.

For instance, I often receive annoying comments and emails from people in the United States who yell at me condescendingly about all the pathological waste and corruption of Guam, and how it is given SO MUCH money from the United States, but can’t do anything else but squander it all and give it all to their cousins and their relatives. In almost all of these emails, the United States is positioned as a helpless, innocence thing, perfekto Tihun Sam. The United States is a kindly old man, who cannot help but give away money, and always seems to be cheated by Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Third World countries that it gives SO MUCH MONEY to (para u fanmanmåhan paki siha). But because he is always so nice, innocent and bumpkinish, the money keeps flowing and the poor bihu is continually taken advantage of by scheming natives, greedy dictators yan i manngekematai yan i manmamataiñålang. To these people, the innocence and good-natured and well-intended thoughts of the United States are the central issue, and because of the way this is being taken advantage of by corrupt and pathological Chamorros, this abuse of Federal money is the height of injustice! The most insane and destructive thing in the world!

Most here would respond, well some money is lost, wasted, or bribed away, but there’s corruption everywhere. This weak response leaves us in the same place, with the United States somehow victimized by the greedy and all-powerful Government of Guam! Oh, ai adai, kao siña un imahina? First it kicks the military about of Tiyan and then it takes all of its lunch money!?!?! Whoa che’lu, kulang un fotte’ gå’ga ayu na Guahan, no?

The point here is to insist on some perspective, and to not let the strategic victimization of the United States take place, especially at our expense. Here is one such response that I wrote to a comment which was entangled in this dynamic:

In the past few years, the United States government through is Iraq policies alone has squandered and wasted billions of dollars, which intensified through so many ugly layers of American corruption have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans, and basically destroyed a country. I for one, feel very comfortable with Guam's level of corruption, because at least we don't invade countries, tell them we are liberating them and then take over their economy and basically turn them into client states for our own strategic and economic purposes.

The idea that both the United States and Guam have corruption cannot be the end, and if you stop the conversation there, then you basically allow that self-aggrandizing ploy to continue unscathed. The United States, its Government and its military are some of the most powerful, corrupt and violent entities in the world and to allow even for a moment, the Government of Guam to appear in this scene as their violator is ridiculous and masks and naturalizes their power. I am of course not endorsing per se Government Corruption, but only saying that you must be wary of those who are pathologizing you, those who are telling you what is wrong and what is right, and how you must exist and what you are doing. This is especially so, if they are your colonizer, and seek nothing more than making you responsible for everything they have done and they do.

I'm sure that the almost automatic response from many that read this post will be, "America is not so bad, and in fact its so not bad at all, its probably the best place in the world!" This is one of the reasons Obama's political reputation was so hurt by Jeremiah Wright. Because as Obama is one of the politicians who has been able to marry his "unlikely" and "impossible" story with that of the United States, he makes clear his belief that this country is the best place in the world. Wright's statements however flatly contradict this point, by removing the United States from its elevated castle in the sky, reminding it not only of its bloody history, but how its feelings of exceptionalism will lead it to confidently commit even more violence.

This is the issue. Whether or not America is a great place, is irrelevant. It has committed terrible crimes, and it continues to commit them today against people within its borders, crossing its borders and well removed from its borders, who are caught in crossfires of America's strategic military and economic interests. The issue is how the idea that America is the greatest place in the world, absolves it of its responsibility of what it has done, what its citizens and corporations have done, and how its prosperity is often predicated upon these forms of violence, displacement and oppression. You won't find any argument from me that America is a "free" nation or a "good nation," but my response when I hear this is always, "so what? Just because people here live great lives means that you have the right to destroy the lands, the futures of others? Just because America is prosperous and people here do enjoy fantastic levels of comfort compared to some other places in the world, means that its legacies of war, slavery and genocide should just be forgotten or that its contemporary problems shouldn't be addressed?

I should hope not. But I know from having read his editorial last week, that Pat Buchanan, says, absolutely.

*****************

Jackson Diehl
Deputy Editor, Editorial Page
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071
March 25, 2008


Dear Mr. Diehl,

Over the past several years, we have informed you of our concerns regarding the hostile, distorted and inaccurate coverage of Venezuela in your newspaper, and particularly on the Editorial Page. Previously, we communicated our alarm at the unbalanced reporting and writing on Venezuela during the period 2000-2006, which evidenced one-sided analyses and false claims regarding President Chávez’s tendencies and events within the country. Since then, however, the Post coverage has gotten worse. More editorials and OpEds have been written this past year about Venezuela than ever before, 98% of which are negative, critical, and aggressive and contain false or manipulated information. We are therefore led to believe that the Washington Post is promoting an anti-Venezuela, anti-Chávez agenda.

President Chávez has been referred to in Washington Post editorials and OpEds during the past year as a “strongman”, “crude populist”, “autocrat”, “clownish”, “increasingly erratic”, “despot” and “dictator” on 8 separate occasions and his government has been referred to 7 times as a “dictatorship”, a “repressive regime” or a form of “authoritarianism”. Such claims are not only false, but they are also extremely dangerous. The U.S. government has used such classifications to justify wars, military interventions, coup d’etats and other regime change techniques over the past several decades.

Far from a dictatorship, President Chávez’s government has the highest popularity rating in the Venezuela’s contemporary history and Chávez has won three presidential elections with landslide victories and several other important elections, including a recall referendum against his mandate in August 2004, which he won with a clear 60-40 majority. Hugo Chávez is the first president in Venezuela’s history to include the country’s majority poor population in key decision and policy-making. The creation of community councils that govern locally and the increase in voter participation are clear signs of a vibrant, open democracy, demonstrating that Venezuela is far from a dictatorship.

The Editorial Page inaccuracies and distortions extend beyond the mere labeling of President Chávez. On more than 11 occasions, editorials and OpEds have falsely claimed that President Chávez “controls the courts and the television media”. Venezuela has five branches of government - all of which are autonomous from one other by Constitutional mandate: the Executive, the Legislative, the Judiciary, the Electoral and the People’s Power. Unlike the United States, which allows for the Executive to appoint supreme court justices, in Venezuela, the high court magistrates are determined through a selection process and a vote in the National Assembly. The Executive branch in Venezuela plays no role in the assignment of judges to the courts. Communications media in Venezuela continues to be majority controlled by the private sector, despite what the Post Editorial Page claims.

Post editorials and OpEds also erroneously referred to the constitutional reform package last December on more than 8 occasions as enabling President Chávez to “rule indefinitely” or become a “de facto president-for-life”. The Constitutional reform did seek to abolish term limits, but not elections. Venezuelans would still have the right and duty to nominate candidates and vote for them in transparent electoral processes. Interestingly, the Post made no similar accusations against President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia when he twice made moves to change constitutional law to permit reelection to a second term. Uribe succeded in 2004 and is now again seeking to amend that law so he can run for a third term. Where are the Post’s cries about dictatorship and de facto president-for-life in Colombia?

The Post has also severely manipulated and outrighted censored information about economic growth in Venezuela. Twice, recent publications on the editorial page described the Venezuelan government economic measures as “disastrous, crackpot economic policies”. Under Chávez’s economic policies, extreme poverty has diminished to an all-time low of 9.4% (2007) from a high of 42.5% in 1996. Unemployment has been reduced to 6.9% (2007) from 16.6% in 1998. Minimum wage has been raised substantially during the Chávez government to become one of the highest in the developing world, and there has been a significant reduction in Venezuela’s public debt. Chávez also paid off Venezuela’s loans to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and has increased investment in the nation’s agricultural production industry.

Nevertheless, the Post fails to reflect any of these positive, progressive advances in its coverage and statements on Venezuela. Instead, Post editorials are dedicated to accusing President Chávez of engaging in an “arms race” (4 occasions), “violating human rights” (3 times), “facilitating/endorsing drug-trafficking” (6 times) and “promoting an anti-American agenda” (6 times). Worst of all, despite Chávez’s own statements to the contrary, the Post continues to perpetuate the dangerous myth that Chávez is an “anti-semite” “aligned with terrorist nations or groups” (9 times).

Mr. Diehl, you should certainly know that the United States is currently waging an international war against terrorism. Within that framework, the Bush administration has clearly stated that those nations associated with or friendly to terrorist states or groups can be subject to preemptive invasion or intervention. Are you seeking such an end in Venezuela?

Your editorial on February 15, 2008, “Mr. Chávez’s Bluff”, goes one step too far. The piece is an outright call for a boycott of Venezuelan oil, an act that would irreparably harm both the peoples of Venezuela and the United States. As the Post applauds the mafia tactics of one of the world’s wealthiest corporations, ExxonMobil, it’s evident that its allegiance lies with corporate profits over people’s rights.

And your latest editorial on March 5, 2008, “Allies of Terrorism” is well beyond a mere criticism of President Chávez’s policies; it’s a direct threat to the people of Venezuela. By accepting at face value - with absolutely no investigation or verification - the documents alleged to have been found on a computer belonging to Rául Reyes from the FARC, the Post recklessly condemns both Venezuela and Ecuador as nations that promote and harbor terrorism and justifies the most violating, reviled and dangerous Bush doctrine of modern times: Preventive War. By comparing Colombia’s violation of Ecuador’s sovereignty to a US attack against al-Qaeda, the Post shamelessly validates the most irrational war in history and calls for its expansion into Latin America. We find the Post’s defense of the violation of Ecuador’s sovereignty and its satisfaction with such aggressive - and illegal - tactics, together with the warning that Venezuela is in “danger”, extremely disturbing.

We are outraged with the Washington Post’s editorial coverage of Venezuela. The Post was once the bastion of genuine investigative reporting and truth-seeking. Those days are well gone and the Washington Post has now become nothing more than a tabloid serving special interests. The noble principles Eugene Meyer envisioned for the Washington Post in 1935, including “telling the truth as nearly as the truth can be ascertained”, “telling ALL the truth so far as it can be learned, concerning the important affairs of America and the world and “the newspaper shall not be the ally of any special interest, but shall be fair and free and wholesome in its outlook on public affairs and public persons,” have been violated by editors like you, Mr. Diehl, who have chosen to promote a harmful personal agenda instead of ensure the ongoing greatness of your newspaper.

Sincerely,

Andrés Izarra
Journalist
Minister of Communication and Information
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Guinifen i Mañainå-ta

Guam is no different than most places in the United States empire, in that it doesn't think kind about, or simply doesn't think about the United Nations.

Although, people on Guam may think of themselves as the most American things in the world, and not see any real fundamental problems with how their island exists in relation to the United States, legally we are still a problem and we are still the United Nation's problem. People argue all the time about whether Guam's status as a colony is good or bad. And for those who find this unbelievable, I'm sad to say its not, I get emails or comments on my blog all the time, from people, Chamorro and non-Chamorro who argue that colonialism in the case of the Guam is actually a good thing! In everyday life, we hear this argument through "corruption talk." For my research on my dissertation I regularly search the internet for blogs that are from Guam or discuss or mention Guam. For non-local blogs from Guam, meaning blogs by military and evangelicals who are stationed on Guam, it seems like its a requirement that you have at least one post where you discuss just incredibly how decrepit and corrupt the island is. How everything is falling apart, how people are ruining things. For these people, it is precisely colonialism, a heavy presence and level of control which keeps all this corruption and destruction at bay. If not for colonialism, then it would wash over the island and wiping away all that is good that America has brought here. Sadly, people on Guam, who live on Guam and are from Guam tend to hold these same limiting ideas, in the way they link "decolonization" and "suicide," together to resist any fundamental change, because such actions might cause the island to explode and slide into the Marianas Trench. Para este siha, taya' mas na'ma'a'nao nu este na fina'pos. Destrosa todu, chule' todu i kuttura-hu, lenguahi-hu yan taotao-hu, lao mungga mapacha i inamerikanu giya Guahan! Manmatai hit todu sin enao!!!!

But whether you think colonialism is good or bad, it doesn't touch, doesn't tamper with, doesn't not affect, no matter how many fantastic things you say about American colonialism, the fact that Guam exists, in a very ordinary and regular way, a colony of the United States! "State-like" treatment is what Virgin Islands Congresswoman Donna Christensen called the way that Guam and the other territories of the United States are treated by the United States Congress. During the meetings she had with people on Guam last year, she invoked this phrase in order to put to rest fears that Guam was being mistreated or being abused by the Feds, the military or Congress. The image it creates is that everything is basically fine, your status isn't colonial, isn't disenfranchised, after all you are treated "just like states." This nice label, can be added to all the other nice labels that Guam is shouldered with, Guam, USA, Where America's Day Begins, America in Asia, Tip of the Spear, which all create feeling of Guam being part of the United States, but not really a part.

In this gap between Guam being "a part" and "apart" of the United States, we find the obligation of the United Nations to helping assist Guam in getting out of the this ambiguous and semi-voiceless position. Yet on Guam, the United Nations is treated as if its just a little bit better than Al Qaeda or Gloria Estefan in terms of local hatred. But people on Guam actually know very little about the United Nations, as do people in the United States. Their reactions tend to be of the most primal nationalist/imperialist or in the case of Guam colonist character. It doesn't matter what the United Nations can do, might represent or what spirit or hopes for a better world it was born from, all that matter is that the United Nations in some exists as a challenge to the sovereignty of the United States, and dares to limit it power. The next step of this hatred for the UN could be termed "ego-imperial" because, not only is this disgust derived from the challenges to the "nation" of the United States and its sovereignty, but the UN is also a challenged to the imperial idea that so many American are invested in, that the only thing which can actually lead this world or make it better, is the United States.

Despite this stubborn resistance to see that America exists as a member of the world of nations, and not the king of such world, there are those who are still working with the promise of global justice, democracy and decolonization that the United Nations is supposed to represent. Gi este na espiritu, In 2007, Chamorros and their allies traveled twice to the United Nations to speak on behalf of Guam, and inform the world as to its political status and the resistance of the United States to the decolonization of their own colonies. Over the next few days I will be posting on my blog the testimonies of these invidiuals, the first three which were given in June before the United Nations Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization, and the last three which were made in October to the Fourth Committee.

I guinifen i mañainå-ta para ta fanmanlibre ta’lo, achokka’ mafñas, ti ma’pos. Gi i kinalamten este na manhoben siña ta li’e, siña ta pacha, ta siña ta na’la’la’ gui’ ta’lo.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Makpo' i Konfrensia

A few weeks ago, the conference "Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World: Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies," which grad students in my department had been planning for months, took place, and it was a big success!
First, we were able to bring together scholars and students from the disciplines of ethnic, indigenous and postcolonial studies, and get them into conversation with each other, and also educate each other about what the traditions, histories and ideas of both their respective communities and academic disciplines could offer to the other. I can definitely say, that people who came to the conference with very narrow ideas about what an "indigenous" person is (for instance a Native American, or a Chamorro), left the panels and the discussions, with a much more nuanced and much broader understanding. Participants and presenters addressed these issues from Latin American, African, African American, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander perspectives.

Second, we scheduled the conference to coincide with the graduate student recruitment efforts for next year in our department, and so we held the conference to showcase both the vision of our department, and the creativity and activity of our grad students. In addition to this sort of marketing, the conference also helped enhance the reputation that our department has with other scholars, departments and intellectual communities. This conference, shifted slightly or drastically the notions that they had about what our department of Ethnic Studies at UCSD is like, what types of academics its training and where is its vision/version of Ethnic Studies taking it?
Below, I'm pasting the acknowledgements and thanks you's from the conference committee, the list of conference committee members and some photos from the conference.
-------------------------------------

Acknowledgments

Thank you to William Runk, Yolanda Escamilla, Theresa Aitchison and Jackie Griffin, for sharing their knowledge, expertise and time, and for keeping the Ethnic Studies department running!

To K. Wayne Yang, Pat Washington, Yen Le Espiritu, Susan Gordon and Lisa Sun-Hee Park, thank you for encouraging your classes to participate!

Thank you to the following individuals for their generous support:
Kim Barrett, Dean of Graduate Studies
Beckie Callahan, VP of Finance, Graduate Student Association
Wayne Cornelius, Director for the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
Paul W. Drake, Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs
Jeff Elman, Dean of the Division of Social Science
Heath Fox, Assistant Dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities
Ruth Padron, Program Coordinator for Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies
David Pellow, Director for the California Cultures in Comparative Perspective
Thea Tagle, OGS Community Intern
Gershon Shafir, Director, Institute for International, Comparative and Area Studies
Eric Van Young, Dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities

Many thanks also, for their strong interest and support, to:
Rosemary Marangoly George and Lisa Lampert, Department of Literature
Gary Fields, Department of Communication
David Gutierrez, Department of History
Roberto Tejada, Department of Visual Arts

Thank you to the following student organizations for their support:
Shae Lynn Zastrow from the Native American Student Alliance
The Ethnic Studies Collective

To Drew Hendricks and Scott Mosher of Hi-Rez Digital, and Jack Lujan Bevacqua of Pump Fake Nation – thanks for your awesome artwork!

Thank you to Angela Morrill, Madel Ngiraingas and Michael Lujan Bevacqua for sowing the seeds of this conference through their Voicing Indigeneity podcast.

To all our invited guests, presenters, and participants – thank you for making this possible!

Last but definitely not the least, thank you to the graduate students in Ethnic Studies and our fantastic faculty: Pal Ahluwalia, Roberto Alvarez, Yen Le Espiritu, K. Wayne Yang, Ana Celia Zentella. Thank you especially to Lisa Sun-Hee Park, Ross Frank, Denise Ferreira da Silva and David Pellow for their tireless support and guidance.
----------------------------------------

"Futures" Confrence Committee:
Maile Arvin - 1st Year
Michael Lujan Bevacqua - 4th Year
Long Bui - 3rd Year
Rashne Limki - 2nd Year
Stevie Ruiz - 1st Year
Ayako Sahara - 2nd Year
Trangdai Tanguyen - 1st Year
Tomoko Tsuchiya - 3rd Year
Ma Vang - 3rd Year
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Matatnga

I have to admit, so far in this Presidential campaign, there have been moments where I have really admired both John McCain and Barack Obama.

Most of my admiration for McCain has tapered off, although there were some moments early on in the campaign, where he did make me sit up and take notice. For instance during the Republican presidential debates, issues of national security and torture were very difficult to stomach. Ron Paul generally stood out amongst the others, as someone with a few principles, as opposed to tossing red meat on a crowd of voters who will yell and shriek mindlessly at any mention of killing terrorists or torturing the supposed enemies of the United States.

Mitt Romney, who had to be the least principled person running this year on both sides, really exemplified this angry partisan talking point style of campaigning. I'll never forget his remark that Guantanamo should be doubled. An almost meaningless statement, except in the universe where someone believes that everyone is out to get them, and everyone is jealous because they are the biggest and bestest country in the world. If one inhabits that universe, then don't stop at doubling Guantanamo, you'll need to multiply its size at least a thousand-fold. The implicit promise in Romney's statement is that, we all know that we have plenty of people out there who are looking to "get us." And my promise is that I will kill and torture twice as many as Bush has or anyone else on this stage will.

McCain was able to distance himself from at least the torture aspect of this Republican rabid, foaming at the mouth partisan pandering. Unfortunately, these sorts of "maverick" stances are becoming less and less frequent, and those that exist are quickly eroding or fading away. One such stance is precisely this anti-torture stance. Whereas earlier McCain had positioned himself slightly at odds with the President on the torture issue, this maverick position has all but evaporated.

To speak for a moment about Hilary Clinton before moving on to Obama, her omission from the opening sentence of this post is intentional. Frankly, Hilary Clinton's campaign has been far from impressive or inspiring, and will have much responsibility for any Democratic loss in November, because of the way they have decided to tear apart Barack Obama, in order to save a campaign which has virtually no legitimate chance of winning.

The idea that Hilary Clinton is more "electable" than Obama may have some merit to it. She does have the mystique of her husband on her side, and that more than anything else, in my opinion is what has propelled her forward this far.

But if Democrats are serious about making some changes to the United States over the next few years, then they have to rid themselves of the myth of the Clinton dynasty, in particular the myth of Clinton's popularity. Yes, Bill Clinton was the first Democratic President in two generations to be elected twice, but if we look at the overall power of the Democratic party under his reign, we see a party in shambles, which was losing seats in the House and the Senate left and right. Here we see the dangers of the Clinton Dynasty, namely their overpowering tendencies towards self-interest, self-protection and self-promotion. These tendencies may have been great for the Clintons, but didn't do much for the rest of the party, which were at the mercy of the Republicans for eight years.

(Before continuing, it should be noted that the grassroots network that Obama's campaign has developed, which has made them widely successful in the caucus system, indicates that in terms of pushing the entire party forward, Obama has much more to offer than Clinton.)

This Republican dominance, or elections and political discourse, provides a perfect segue into Obama and reasons to admire him. Early on this year, while campaigning in Nevada, Obama made some remarks about Democrats and Republicans, and which party has been "the party of ideas" and which figures have really shaped politics as we know it today. Now, for a variety of reasons, Obama when discussing this issue singled out Ronald Reagan, as key political figure in the past three decades that has really shifted or changed the trajecty of American politics. Now, alot of people responded by incredulity, at this gaffe, where a leading Democratic Presidential candidate was speaking admirably of a former Republican President, Reagan, who has the joyous distinction of being one of the nicest and banal looking, evil people the United States had ever seen.

So why would Obama make a remark such as this? First, the safe choice for a Democratic candidate, is one Obama, frankly couldn't name, and that's former President Bill Clinton. In his statement Obama makes a distinction from Clinton, saying explicitly that Reagan changed American politics in a way Clinton and even Nixon did not. So, as he is running against the wife of Bill Clinton, is would hardly work in his favor to butter up the record of Bill Clinton, especially since Hilary is running on the idea that his exploits are her own.

Second, Obama is advertising himself as someone who can appeal to independents and even Republicans, and so its possible that this sort of Reagan mention is meant to represent an olive branch to recovering Reagan Democrats, or conservative Republicans who have been left behind as their party has careened rightward.

Third, for all of Obama's progressive principles, he does work to sound "conservative" when he speaks. For instance, although Obama is very committed to helping out college students with sen makkat na student loans, he is very careful to couple these types of assistance with some sort of national service. This idea that the government can never appear to be giving anything away for "free" is one which is very much derived from the Reagan era and its subsequent impacts over the past twenty years. Public programs cannot simply be provided to citizens, but there has to be an element where people, especially poor people, can provide evidence that they deserve them or are responsible enough to receive them.

Also, his idea of family, even in his book The Audacity of Hope, is very heteronormative, and very traditional in the sense of a strong father figure being its foundation. I should note however, that this doesn't mean that Obama is against "strong women," in fact part of Obama's appeal is that his wife is a "strong woman," even going so far as to say that she did not support his run for President, because of the damage it will do to their family. But in his prescriptions for how to "fix" social problems, the formula is an old one, namely fill the roles of family heads with responsible men.
Here are some pragmatic reasons why Obama might have invoked Reagan's name, but one final reason might be simply the fact that its accurate, Ronald Reagan, for better or worse, (and in my opinion worse), drastically altered the landscape of American thought and ideas. Before continuing let me make clear my thoughts on Ronald Reagan, I do not admire him at all as a person or a president. So many of the problems we find in America today, Reagan and his "revolution" had a huge role in bringing about, and making seem natural or justified. I mean this in terms of American foreign policy, the economy, the prison population, issues of race, the weakening of American labor, and just the ways Americans see themselves.

After close to a decade of America being forced to look at itself in the mirror through Vietnam war protesters, peace activists, different political, environmental and social movements for Latinos, African Americans, women, Native Americans and even Watergate, Reagan arrived like an aged amnesia potion. He spoke of a time "before the troubles" and promised a return to that time. The gap between what he was promising/supposed to represent and what he actually created is what makes him and his revolution so "despicable."

But, este chinatli'e-hu nu Reagan, doesn't in anyway make Barack Obama's assertion wrong, in fact, it only bolsters it. Reagan was a figure which Bush the Second, has aspired to be. Someone who could somehow make people think that a drastic increase in military spending would best be accompanied by the lowering of taxes and deregulation of industry. When Bush asserts himself as a "war President" he is trying to make use of that same magical power that Reagan had, the ability to not be held accountable for the massive gap between his image/rhetoric and his actual policies.

Reagan tapped into the longing of a country, for that old school patriarch whom you could believe had everything under control. A grandfatherly figure, the presence and essence of whom you could attach ideas of security and stability. Like so many "father figures" it didn't really matter whether or not this figure could actually accomplish anything, or do anything, but their power was in the associations that their presence brought. Through his conservative rhetoric and imagery, Reagan could successfully associate himself with the golden age of the United States.
Bush has attempted something similar, by trying to shroud himself in the cloak of herohood through his association with 9/11 and his war mongering, but as Rudy Guilianni recently learned, this sort of alchemy is easier said than done.
The danger with figures such as these, is that they stifle democracy, because they tend to stimulate this sort of short-circuited assumption that everything is okay so long as they are in charge. That one merely need vote for them every few years, and the nation will be fine. The power of the nation becomes disassociated with the people, with their ideas, their needs, or even democracy, but instead becomes closely linked to the personality of the President or whoever this figure is.

For Obama to name Reagan as more influential than Clinton, and the most influential political figure in recent American politics, is thus an accurate one, but a suicidal one. Such a strategy might be valuable in the general election, when the field of voters is wider and the need to reach out to undecideds, independents and Republicans is greater. But in a Democratic primary season, to praise Ronald Reagan, as Obama learned for a few days after his remarks, is insane, and leaves one open from all sorts of attacks from your party and your suppporters.
In Obama's continous references to his life as a "community organizer," it is easy to forget that he is also an academic. He has published articles in law journals and he lectured for years at the University of Chicago.
As an academic, and someone who more than most people (pi'ot i mampulitikat) is supposed to be committed to ideas of truth and critique, politics can be a frightening and daunting task. Too often, the game of politics has very little to do with reality or how things actually work, but simply speaking to the way people perceive things, or people's expectations of how a politician should talk. If academics worked the way politicians did, then no learning would ever take place in the classroom, since teaching and instilling critical thinking require that you transgress and challenge the assumptions and expectations of those who sit in your classes. (mampos magahet este gi i klas ethnic studies siha.)
For academics who enter the world of politics, you receive the advantage or the disadvantage of people thinking you are smart or sound smart, but you also come with this problem of what your role is and how you are to approach issues or even speak to people. Politics in its most general sense is very far from a classroom, and so when engaging with the public, you must constantly negotiate how closely or remotely you should/can stick to your principles. In this instance with the Ronald Reagan mention, we can see a shade of minatatnga in Obama, in the way he made this small point, which did cost him politically, but ultimately was in line with his principles and his informed version of recent American history.
The initial intent of this post, was to address Barack Obama's speech a few days ago on race, as another one of these moments, where he was confronted with a choice between making a political compromise and remaining true to his principles. I will admit to a number of ways that Obama does compromise in his speech (as he always has in his campaign), but yet at its core, in its refusal to dismiss race, and his refusal to disown his pastor, Obama is being matatnga, he is basically taking a risk that this presidential campaign can be treated like a classroom. Or that politics here can go beyond simply telling people crap that they want to hear or already know, but challenge them as well. And not challenge them in simple or empty ways like, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." But rather his speech was a dangerous challenge that this country deal with racism and deal with racial fears and tensions, and not merely situate them in figures like Jeremiah Wright, or treat those who mention the importance of race as the sources of racism.
I'll have more on this tomorrow, sa' pa'go esta mampos chatangmak, ya mampos matuhok yu'.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rock-Star-Band

In terms of finishing up graduate school, finishing my dissertation in a timely manner and moving on and out of this phase of my life, I have one mortal enemy.

Video games.

As an undergrad I lost many many days to playing games such as Super Smash Brothers Melee, Phantasy Star Online and Perfect Dark with my friends and family. As a grad student however, so much of my time has to be spent on writing, reading, and other academic and community projects that spending a day or a few days trying to beat the latest RPG is an unfortunate impossibility.

I remember when Final Fantasy X came out several years ago. At that time I was already cutting back on my video game time because of the master's program I was in at the University of Guam, and had basically given up RPGs all together. In this game, there was something called a "sphere grid" which you would use to develop your character. My friends the Labrador Brothers, Francis, Joe and Ron were determined to completely conquer the sphere grids of every single character. In the process of doing this they pumped more than 300 hours into the PS2 just for FFX.

At that time the idea of pumping 300 hours into a game was a bit much. Right now its almost beyond my ability to comprehend.

As my schedule has slowly opened up this year, since I'm ABD now and just working in the department and working on my dissertation, my old delight in video games has slowly begun to return.

My current obsession, which I am saved from losing too much time on since I don't actually own it, is Rockstar or as I like to call it Rockstarband.

The family I come from is relatively musical. I have three brothers that are in different bands, Freedom Fries, Pump Fake Nation and Eloise. My family in the past has been very musical, in the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Catholic Church. One of my grandmother's favorite activities today is the translation of SDA hmyns into Chamorro, and then playing them to herself on the piano. Interestingly enough, this hobby for translating songs is one I've picked up, and you can find alot of these translation from songs by Green Day, Coldplay and Michael Franti and Spearhead, on this blog.

This doesn't really make me a very musical person at all. The only instrument that I can play is the paino, and I haven't really played it much in the past six years. In elementary school I was in the band at Guam Adventist Academy for about a week, and then switched to choir because playing the trumpet was too hard and gave me headaches.

With the game Rockband however, I can bring together my love of video games and my desire to be musical like others in my family, and I can join three other players while doing it!

My family that lives in LA has Rockband and everytime I pass through there I stop by to play some songs. I'm pasting below a video of myself, my brothers Jack and Cyrus and our sister Cate playing "In Bloom" by Nirvana.



Since I don't play the game very often, I haven't actually gotten that good at it. Right now the only instrument that I can play on expert is bass, and there are only a handful of songs that I can survive playing and be above 90%.

I'll be heading up through LA again this weekend and so I'm looking forward to another try.

Here's a playlist I've made for the drive up north, made of songs that you can play on Rockband.

Weezer - "El Scorcho"
Jet - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"
Iron Maiden - "Run to the Hills"
Nirvana - "In Bloom"
Weezer - "Say it Ain't So"
Radioheed - "Creep"
The Pixies - "Wave of Mutilation"
The Who - "We Won't Get Fooled Again"
The Police - "Roxanne"
The Sweets - "Ballroom Blitz"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Dani California"
Garbage - "I Think I'm Paranoid"
All American Rejects - "Dirty Little Secret"
Blink 182 - "All the Small Things"
Foo Fighters - "Learn to Fly"
Stone Temple Pilots - "Interstate Love Song"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Smearing Obama

March 17, 2008
Smearing Obama
Every antiwar candidate has to endure the same hate campaign
By Justin Raimondo
from Antiwar.com

The smear machine is taking out after Barack Obama, and with a vengeance. Not that this is surprising, or even anything new: they've been conducting a low-level hate campaign ever since he attained front-runner status, and now they're going into overdrive with a commentary by Ron Kessler in the Wall Street Journal that uses the same guilt-by-association technique that they used against Ron Paul.

With Paul, it was tarring him with the brush of "white nationalism," even though any sort of nationalism – white, black, pink, or purple – is anathema to libertarians of Paul's ilk. That didn't stop the character assassins, however – including those Beltway "libertarians" who have imbibed the political correctness that is de rigueur on the Washington cocktail-party circuit. Newsletters written during the 1980s, excoriating race rioters and opining that they reflected the welfare-state mentality that pervaded our politics at the time, were condemned by these worthies because to even address the culture of entitlement in the black community is supposedly prima facie evidence of "racism." A campaign contribution from an obscure racist was blown up as proof positive that Paul is hoping for the revival of the Third Reich, although no one can be held responsible for who contributes to their campaign, and certainly the money – $500 – was to be used to achieve political objectives that aren't even remotely connected to racism or bigotry of any sort.

In the case of Obama, the assault is taking the form of an attack on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the now-retired pastor of Obama's church whom Obama describes as a religious "mentor" in his autobiography The Audacity of Hope. Again, the basic strategy is to make Obama answer for each and every one of Wright's pronouncements, no matter how wacky or lame-brained, such as the contention that AIDS was created by the U.S. government. Aside from the logical fallacy inherent in the guilt-by-association tact – after all, Obama didn't say AIDS was a U.S. government plot, Wright did – implicit in all this is the assumption that all blacks believe the same thing, that they are a collective entity linked by some sort of ethnic consciousness, and, therefore, Obama can and must be held responsible for Wright's opinions on every subject under the sun, including those he had no knowledge of.

So, what, aside from the AIDS comment, did Wright say that was so terrible? The War Street Journal piece simply quotes these, without offering much of an argument for their iniquitous nature. Here's Wright on racism and foreign policy:

"We've got more black men in prison than there are in college. Racism is alive and well. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president, no matter how hard you run, Jesse [Jackson], and no black woman can ever be considered for anything outside what she can give with her body."

Of course, Wright's contention that "no black man will ever be considered for president" is refuted by the very fact of Obama's front-runner status. Perhaps only Hillary Clinton – who recently offered Obama the vice presidency, in spite of the fact that he's ahead of her by every measure – and a few yahoos out in the sticks are stuck in this old mindset. As for the rest, it's undeniably true. We do have more black men in prison than in college – way more. Racism is alive and well; driving while black is still a dangerous pastime. This country was founded with a near-fatal flaw in the constitutional order, one that permitted slavery to continue for another hundred years. While I don't agree with everything Wright says in this statement, I don't see anything that isn't part of the broad spectrum of popular opinion in this country, though a lot of what he says may be considered out of bounds for the elites.

Kessler, however, is convinced that it is only necessary to repeat what Wright has said: no explanation is really required. In the same vein, he continues citing Wright:

"Mr. Wright thundered on: 'America is still the No. 1 killer in the world…. We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers…. We bombed Cambodia, Iraq, and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi…. We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.'

But of course the American government is the number-one killer in the world: we pride ourselves on it. Why else would our "defense" budget exceed the military expenditures of all other nations combined? We glory in our ability to kill, and we don't hesitate to exercise our talents. In Iraq alone, the U.S. invasion has led to as many as a million deaths.

The racial aspect of all this is dramatized, in rather vivid terms, by the Pentagon's refusal to count Iraqi deaths. Only American casualties are reported, because only Americans matter, as John McCain avers in his rationalization of the war and continued occupation:

"We've been in Japan for 60 years, we've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That'd be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That's fine with me."

As long as it's mainly Iraqis being killed, then that's just fine with McCain. Another war he supported, and continues to valorize, killed, maimed, and traumatized millions of Vietnamese, but the "gooks" – as McCain unapologetically put it – don't count, either. It was American, not Vietnamese, casualties that triggered our retreat from Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, too, where water-boarding was a routine method of interrogation, we slaughtered thousands, justifying our savagery with the "progressive" (at the time) rhetoric of moral and cultural uplift, the 19th-century equivalent of "it takes a village." Teddy Roosevelt, McCain's idol, preached this doctrine and was lionized by the liberals of his era as a great innovator and a heroic figure.

Racism is closely linked to imperialism, and it doesn't take a genius to understand why. Since, by definition, a policy of conquest means conquering foreigners, and these peoples are often, albeit not always, of another race, it behooves the conqueror to rationalize his aggression in racial terms. "Take up the white man's burden" – up until very recently, Kipling's poetic phrase has been the leitmotif and battle cry of the global Anglo hegemon. It was, and is, a world order founded on racism, mercantilism, and militarism, the three pillars of hegemonist thought. Yet the Wall Street Journal has its own version of history and is certainly no critic of mercantilism, either historic or contemporary. In any case, the Journal's real beef with Wright isn't mentioned until midway through Kessler's piece:

"His voice rising, Mr. Wright said, 'We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic…. We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means….'"

One wonders on what grounds Kessler or the Journal would dispute Wright's contention; alas, we can only speculate, since no argument is even attempted. The evil of Wright's remarks is apparently self-evident – except it isn't.

We have supported Israel unconditionally, in spite of Israel's defiance on the settlements issue and its continued occupation of conquered territory that imposes what former President Jimmy Carter rightly likens to a system of apartheid. Worse, we have encouraged Israeli aggression, cheering on and actively aiding the invasion of Lebanon and conflating Israel's right of "self-defense" with a policy of expansionism.

As for branding critics of Israel as anti-Semites, is Kessler really maintaining that this never happens? It's the smear-of-first-resort of the Israel-first lobby, as professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have recently discovered. Everyone knows that to traduce this terrain is to walk through a political minefield, which is why most American politicians scrupulously avoid it – a testament, by the way, to the trenchancy of the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis that the Israel lobby wields an inordinate and ultimately unhealthy influence over the conduct of American foreign policy.

There was a similar brouhaha from those quarters when Obama opined that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people." The Lobby's antennae quivered – doesn't he know who holds the official monopoly on suffering? – and they've been on him ever since.

The rest of Kessler's piece is an extension of the guilt-by-association technique, in which a new factor is added to the Obama = Wright equation: Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. Wright's church magazine apparently gave Farrakhan some sort of award, so now the equation is Obama = Wright = Farrakhan. This feeds directly into the widely circulated rumor that Obama, having imbibed Islam in Indonesia, is a secret Muslim – a jihadist at heart.

The smear campaign against Obama has just begun. As he wins primary after primary, racking up delegates and leaving Hillary in the electoral dust, these gusts of slanderous invective will take on full gale force. What we are witnessing is the first stage of a calculated attempt to characterize the putative Democratic nominee as a secret Muslim, a black nationalist, and a 3 a.m. threat to hearth and home.

The author of this piece, Kessler, is the head honcho over at Newsmax.com, a site that is the prototypical example of right-wing "movement" hackery. During the Clinton years, it used to run stuff about Vince Foster and the alleged Clinton connection to his death. Today they are shilling for the Clintons, carrying out the widely noted Clintonian scorched-earth strategy of making Obama unelectable, then biding their time until 2012. Talk about strange bedfellows – or, on second thought, not so strange.

Clearly, Obama is the candidate the neoconservatives fear and loathe: the loathing is on account of his antiwar views, at least when it comes to Iraq, and the fear stems from the fact that campaigning against him will be difficult. Hillary they can handle: she'll mobilize the troops and weld together the fractured Republican coalition in opposition.

The War Party is in full battle mode, and it is determined to destroy Obama. Will it succeed? Stay tuned…

~ Justin Raimondo

Monday, March 17, 2008

Baby Driver's License

Sumahi is eleven months old now and recently got her baby driver's license! In honor of her eleventh month of life, her mother was kind enough to get her a baby used car! Here are some videos below of her taking it out for a test drive. Actually, its not much of a test drive, but more of a cruising session.

Warning: For those who are faint of heart, this videos are insanely cute, and may cause prolonged smiling, crying, giggling, or fainting.








Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Six Crashes

One of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog was in September of 2004 titled "Sometimes I Dream of Okinawa."

I wrote this post more than a year before the initial announcement that the Department of Defense was making plans to "transfer" 7,000 of its Marines based in Okinawa to Guam. This number of Marines was later increased to 8,000, and expanded to include approximately 9,000 dependents and an unknown number of troops from South Korea.

My post wasn't very long, but just touched lightly on the ways Okinawa and Guam are linked together through the sorts of catastrophic, invasive and everyday damages that a large military presence can bring. Mamahlao yu' didide' put este na klasin post pa'go, sa' kulang ti to'a an un kompara i tinige'-hu gi ayu na tiempo yan i tinige'-hu pa'go. But nonetheless this post is important to me because it represented one of my first public blog posts which would criticize the way the military is imagined and thought of on Guam, as something which brings only good and no bad. Something which brings all the means of life, and without it the island and its people are all condemned to numerous forms of death and disaster.

What spurned me to write this post was a letter to the editor that I was forwarded by a Japanese student at the University of Hawai'i. The title given to the letter was "U.S. Forces on Okinawa Endangering the People." I'm posting the entire text of it, since it is something all people on Guam should read.

*****************

U.S. forces on Okinawa endangering the people
By Kozue Uehara

On Aug. 13, a transportation helicopter, a CH-53-D Sea Stallion belonging to U.S. Marines based on O'ahu, crashed on Okinawan International University in Ginowan city. The helicopter exploded and filled the scene with smoke. The staff of the university ran away from shattered-glass windows. Students taking summer session fled the danger.

Before it crashed, the defective helicopter wandered around, scattering many parts and oil over the densely populated area, including a 26-foot fin of the propeller, which penetrated a door and a cement wall and destroyed the TV in the room where a little child was taking a nap. Students and people next to the scene were trembling and crying. U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Waskow, however, emphasized the distinguished service of the crews in avoiding death and injury of residents.

More than 50,000 servicemen and civilian employees of the Army and 75 percent of all U.S. bases in Japan have been in Okinawa since World War II. The U.S. troops have held up the ideal of their being here for "security" and "democratization" of the world.

In Okinawa, however, human rights of the residents have not been enhanced because of the existence of the U.S. forces. There are also many people who are suffering from hearing loss caused by the roaring sound of training flights.

In 1959, a U.S. Army jet plane crashed on Miyamori elementary school in Ishikawa city, Okinawa. The training accident killed 17 people (11 children) and injured 121.

Can the huge U.S. forces imagine the sadness and fear of the people?

The U.S. and the Japanese governments reached an agreement of restoration for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in Ginowan city, after the people's protests against the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl in 1995 by U.S. servicemen.

Both governments, however, started to pressure Okinawa prefecture in favor of constructing a substantial military base in Henoko Bay, Okinawa, with its beautiful coral reefs.

I hope that U.S. military bases are not transferred but are restored to the people of Okinawa.

There are huge military bases also in Hawai'i. So, many residents in Hawai'i, I hope, would sympathize with us and our fear of the existence of military bases on our small island.

Such sympathy and alignment of the people all over the world will surely empower our movement to try to solve the problem. Through this case, I would like the people in Hawai'i to reconsider the existence of the U.S. forces in a foreign country and to know how much they endanger people living there.

***************************

Here we find numerous mentions of possible harm that the proposed increases of military presence to Guam will bring or make more likely. Crashes, accidents. social crimes, environmental problems. The international media has developed a frame of local resistance and protest to the American military presence in Okinawa, but has yet to for Guam.

The person who is key in managing this move and potentially mitigating any damage that it will cause is Guam's Non-voting Delegate, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo. Sadly for Guam and its interests, her management style is very much in the same vein of the optimistic painfully clueless Bush vision which led to the terrible occupation and reconstruction of Iraq. Bordallo is acting very much like Kristol, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Bush who in the prelude to the 2003 invasion, helped facilitate a national collective dream session, where the worst thing which could happen from the Iraq War would be troops drowning to pools of flowers that had been hurled at their feet.

Bordallo admits to only two potential problems with the proposed military increases to Guam, and one of them is Guam's fault. The first is that Guam will not be prepared to take advantage of all the fantastic stuff that is coming economically, and so when all the cash is dropped out of the sky above every bar and strip club in Tumon, we will screw everything up by not having enough construction workers to grab it all. The second issue is one discussed in the recently relased mini-documentary Maga'haga, which can be found in two parts on Youtube.

The documentary covers a sort of confrontation that took place last when when Madeleine Bordallo and another non-voting delegate, Donna Christensen from the Virgin Islands were in Guam and met with members of the women's group Fuetsan Famalao'an. How will the military increase affect the women of Guam, who will in multiple ways be forced to shoulder an increased social burden and danger, such as the threat of sexual violence, which the Marine Corps presence in Okinawa has become synonymous with.

In meetings with community groups and leaders, this is the only issue that Bordallo will admit to which she is worried about, but which she quickly promises to do everything to solve or deal with. If the way the military has dealt with this issue in the past is any indication of how they will deal with it in the future, then Bordallo has some more explaining to do. Curfews, base lock downs and restricting the movements of soldiers to keep them on the base has generally been the military's methods in the past of keeping these things from happening. If this is what the military will also do in Guam to keep instances of sexual violence down, then how is Guam's economy gonna get all that precious salape' when all the soldiers are stuck on base?

The visibility of this issue, sexual violence and rape which will most likely increase because of the increased military presence and also simply the increased population of Guam is very misleading. This sort of damage which the military can cause is always perceived as something which is incoming, on its way, which we will need to protect ourselves (and our women) from. First of all, there is a gender and power issue here which I won't get in to, but needless to say there is something very problematic when people on Guam articulate their resistance to the military and its presence through the "defense of women" or through an assumed or implicit weakness of Guam's women. Some day I'm sure I'll discuss this in more depth, i nobia-hu and I have discussed possibly writing something about it.

Second, the looming threat of the rapes which will come, the damages which will be brought to Guam by the military, keep us from recognizing or perceiving the damages that have long taken place and continue to threaten our lives right now. Researchers are making the links between the military presence on Guam, and the damage its caused to the island's environment and the poor health of Chamorros. In anticipation of the coming military, property prices are rising and the cost of living is following, and those who are barely hanging on economically will soon find themselves in even worse shape. Social infrastructure and utilities such as sewage, power, water and roads are all in danger of overuse or being overwhelmed by the population increases that will come with the military buildup, and it is very likely that the Government of Guam will be the one who ends up paying for these impacts.

The letter to the editor that I pasted here spends a lot of time talking about two crashes which took place in Okinawa, one in 1959 which killed 17 people and injured more than 100 more. In the past year, Guam has had its own share of crashes, and this makes me wonder if we should start preparing for this worst as well?

I've pasted below, articles on the crashes or accidents involving military aircraft that have taken place over the past year.

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B-1 Bomber
March 2008


B-1 bomber collides with two vehicles
By Duane M. George
Pacific Daily News
dmgeorge@guampdn.com
Mar 8, 2008

Around noon yesterday, a B-1 bomber declared an in-flight emergency shortly after taking off from Andersen Air Force Base, according to Capt. Joel Stark, acting chief of public affairs.

The plane returned to Andersen and landed safely. The crew members exited the plane, which then rolled into two emergency vehicles that were on the runway, Stark said.

No one was hurt in the accident.

"A panel of officers will investigate the incident," Stark said. Stark said in-flight emergencies can be declared for a number of reasons,but it was unclear what the nature of the emergency was as of yesterday. "Many times it's just a prudent safety precaution," Stark said.

The B-1 bomber was in transit from an air show in Singapore, Stark said.It is based out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

***********************
EA6B-Prowler
Feb. 2008

Prowler crew out of hospital
By Stephanie Godlewski
Pacific Daily News
smgodlewski@guampdn.com
2/14/08

All four crew members who ejected from an EA-6B Prowler Tuesday afternoon are now out of the hospital.

The crew ejected and the plane crashed about 20 miles northeast of Ritidian Point around 4 p.m. Tuesday. The men were rescued by HSC-25 helicopters about a half an hour after they ejected. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Guam Fire Department also responded to the incident and participated in the rescue operation.

All four crew members were transported to the Naval Hospital. Three crew members were treated and released as of yesterday morning. The last member was checked out during the day yesterday, according to Navy spokesman Lt. Donnell Evans.

The crew ranged in age from 27 to 41, but it is unlikely that their names will be released, Evans said.
According to the Web site aerospaceweb.org, the EA-6B costs around $52 million dollars. According to the manufacturer, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, the Navy has been purchasing the planes since 1972, when they were deployed to Southeast Asia. Since that time, the military has continued to buy the planes and upgrades. The Prowler has been used in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Evans said the next step will be an investigation into the cause of the crash. There has been no word yet as to whether the investigation will involve attempting to retrieve the wreckage.

The last military aviation crash on Guam -- when a HSC-25 helicopter crashed in the Fena Reservoir -- was classified as a Navy safety mishap investigation. There has still not been any information released on the results of that investigation.

The crash classification for the Prowler incident has not yet been released by Navy officials.

***********************
B-2 Bomber
Feb. 2008


B-2 stealth bomber crashes on Guam
Two pilots eject safely in first crash for bomber, Air Force says
Associated Press
Feb. 23, 2008

HAGATNA, Guam - A B-2 stealth bomber plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on Saturday, the first time one has crashed, but both pilots ejected safely, Air Force officials said.

The aircraft was taking off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous U.S. bomber presence in the western Pacific. After the crash, the other three bombers were being kept on Guam, said Maj. Eric Hilliard at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii.

At least one B-2 bomber had taken off safely from Andersen Air Force Base but was brought back when another aircraft plunged to the ground.

There were no injuries on the ground or damage to buildings, and no munitions were on board. Each B-2 bomber costs about $1.2 billion to build.

Crowds gathered
Thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from the wreckage at Andersen, said Jeanne Ward, a resident in the northern village of Yigo who was on the base visiting her husband.

Ward said she didn't witness the crash but noticed a rising plume of smoke behind the base's air control tower.

She said crowds began to gather as emergency vehicles arrived. "Everybody was on their cell phones, and the first thing everyone wanted to know was did the pilots make it out in time," she said.

The Air Force, without identifying the pilots, said one was medically evaluated and released, and the other was in stable condition at Guam Naval Hospital.

A board of officers will investigate what caused the bat-like aircraft to crash at 10:30 a.m., shortly after taking off from a runway. It was the first crash of a B-2 bomber, said Capt. Sheila Johnston, a spokeswoman for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

All 21 stealth bombers are based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, but the Air Force has been rotating several of them through Guam since 2004, along with B-1 and B-52 bombers.

The rotations are designed to boost the U.S. security presence in the Asia-Pacific region while other U.S. forces diverted to fight in the Middle East.

'Multi-role bomber'
The B-2 was first publicly displayed in 1988 and took its first flight a year later. The first bomber was delivered to Whiteman in 1993.

The bombers on Guam were scheduled to return to Missouri now that six B-52s from the 96th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., have arrived to replace them.

The distinctive B-2 is described as a "multi-role bomber" that blends stealth technology with a highly efficient aerodynamic design. It is able to deliver large payloads at great range and has been used in combat over Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The accident occurred 11 days after a Navy plane crashed into the ocean about 20 miles northeast of Guam's Ritidian Point. Four aircrew members ejected from the EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft and were rescued by helicopter.

Guam is a U.S. territory 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Helicopter Sea Combat - 25
September 2007

Navy helicopter crashes in Fena
One dead, three injured in crash
By Dionesis Tamondong
Pacific Daily News
dtamondong@ guampdn.com
Sept. 25, 2007

A Navy helicopter crashed into Fena Reservoir last night, killing one of four crew members on board.

Rescue units from the Navy and Guam Fire Department responded to the 911 call, which was made by officials at the Guam airport's flight control tower at 10:17 p.m., said GFD spokesman Firefighter Angel Llagas.

A Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 aircraft that was conducting a training mission crashed in the lake at the Naval Magazine Area in Santa Rita, said Navy spokesman Lt. Donnell Evans. Information on how or why the helicopter crashed was unavailable last night.

Three crew members were rescued and transported to Naval Hospital around 10:40 p.m. while rescue units continued to search for the fourth person late last night. Evans said one crew member sustained a broken arm while two others were treated for minor injuries.

The body of the fourth crew member was recovered just after midnight, Llagas said. Their identities are not being released at this time.

The Fena Reservoir is located within Naval property and is used as a water source for the Navy's water distribution system, according to Pacific Daily News files.

HSC-25 is the Navy’s only forward deployed vertical replenishment squadron and provides a variety of services, including re-supplying deployed ships, 24-hour search and rescue and medical evacuation services for Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands.

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2 F/A - 18 Hornets
August 2007

Fighter jets collide during training mission
by Sabrina Salas Matanane ,
KUAM News
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
------------------------------

Two fighter jets collided while in mid-air Saturday evening over the Western Pacific Ocean. The jets were the F/A-18 Hornets assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron 146 and the Carrier Air Wing 9 aboard the USS John C. Stennis. The collision happened at approximately 8pm while the Hornets were conducting and air defense training mission.

The jets were able to continue flying after the collision and in fact landed safely at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo. The pilots are both reported to be in good condition. The Stennis group is transiting the Western Pacific to participate in the Valiant Shield exercises that begin today off of Guam's shores. The cause of the collision is currently under investigation.

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F/A 18C Hornet
August 2007

Navy jet crashes into sea
Pilot ejects, is rescued 400 miles southeast of Guam
By Eric Palacios
Pacific Daily News
ejpalacios@guampdn.com
Article published Aug 1, 2007

------------------------
The pilot of an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 195 is safe today after his jet crashed at sea Monday night during a training mission from USS Kitty Hawk, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet.

The pilot ejected and was safely recovered by a U.S. Navy helicopter shortly after the incident, which occurred about 400 miles southeast of Guam.

"He was treated by medical professionals for injuries that were non-life threatening," the U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs Office said via telephone from Hawaii.

The aircraft was conducting routine training at the time of the crash, around 9 p.m., the 7th Fleet public affairs officer said.

The pilot's name is not being released and the Navy is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. The F/A-18C is a single-seat fighter-and-attack aircraft. The squadron operates from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, and is embarked on Kitty Hawk.

The Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group is on its summer deployment in the western Pacific Ocean and is expected to take part in the upcoming Valiant Shield exercises with other U.S. forces and partners throughout Australia and Asia later this month.

The carrier made a port visit to Guam in June and is the U.S. Navy's lone overseas-based aircraft carrier. The carrier is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

The Kitty Hawk strike group is the U.S. Navy's largest and includes the carrier, seven ships of Destroyer Squadron 15, two Aegis weapons-system-equipped guided-missile cruisers and CVW 5, according to the Navy. $35M price tag

The jet that crashed at sea Monday night had an estimated $35 million price tag in 2003. The primary users of the jet are the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Spanish Air Force.

The jets are manufactured by McDonnell Douglas/Boeing Northrop and designed by McDonnell Douglas. They were first introduced Jan. 7, 1983, and 1,458 of the Hornets were built. Valiant Shield '06

In June 2006, the island and its waters played a major role in an impressive display of American power that was observed by a Chinese delegation.

Valiant Shield was the largest gathering of aircraft carriers in the Pacific since the Vietnam War.

The exercise brought together more than 20,000 personnel, three carriers, more than 20 ships and more than 200 aircraft.

The exercise also served as a diplomatic bridge between U.S. officials and the 10-member Chinese delegation of politicians and military commanders.

Guam has been key to the U.S. approach to dealing with China. The U.S. approach is centered on turning a potential foe into a friend.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kutturan Chamoru in Arizona!!!

Kutturan Chamoru Performers in Phoenix, AZ... March 15th!!

Calling all Chamorus in ARIZONA!! Come out and represent with KCP as we perform our 1st show in the State of Arizona. This is one of the largest Pacific Islander Festivals in the state.

For more info: Azalohafest.org

Date: Saturday, March 15th
Show time: 12 noon
Venue: Marketplace Stage

Located in downtown Phoenix, the Festival covers Heritage and Science Park, the ASU Downtown Center, and a closed city street. Ample parking is in the adjoining parking garages and on the streets surrounding the event - over 5,000 parking spaces are within the city block.

So come on out to the Aloha Fest...family fun & it's FREEEEEE!!

For more info check out the Kutturan Chamoru myspace page.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

From the Desk of Bernie Sanders


Changing Our National Priorities
by Bernie Sanders

There are three major trends in American society that must be addressed when the Senate next week debates the federal budget. First, the United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major nation in the industrialized world, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider. Second, it is a national disgrace that we have, by far, the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. More than 18 percent of our kids live in poverty. Third, year after year, we have had record-breaking deficits and our national debt will soon be $10 trillion. That is a grossly unfair burden to leave to our kids and grandchildren. It also is economically unsustainable.

I plan to offer an amendment that addresses these issues, to change our national priorities, and to move this country in a very different direction than where we have been going in the last seven years.

According to the latest available statistics from the Internal Revenue Service, the top 1 percent of Americans earned significantly more income in 2005 than the bottom 50 percent. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently reported that the wealthiest 1 percent saw total income rise by $180,000 in 2005. That is more than the average middle-class family makes in three years. The CBO also found that the total share of after-tax income going to the top 1 percent hit the highest level on record, while the middle class and working families received the smallest share of after-tax income on record.

Meanwhile, while the rich have become much richer, nearly 5 million Americans have slipped out of the middle class and into poverty over the past seven years, including over 1 million of our children.

We have a moral responsibility to put children ahead of millionaires and billionaires. That is why, during the Senate’s consideration of the budget resolution, I will offer an amendment to restore the top income tax bracket to 39.6 percent for households earning more than $1 million a year.

Restoring the top income tax bracket for people making more than $1 million to what it was in 2000 would increase revenue by $32.5 billion over the next three years, according to the Joint Tax Committee, including $10.8 billion next year alone.

I would devote that revenue the needs of our children; job creation; and deficit reduction.

Instead of giving $32.5 billion in tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, my amendment would, over the next three years, provide:

  • $10 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to help about 7 million children with disabilities and, in the process, relieve pressure on local property taxpayers.
  • $5 billion for Head Start — a program which has been cut by more than 11 percent since 2002. Today, less than half of all eligible children are enrolled in Head Start. Only about 3 percent of all eligible children are enrolled in Early Head Start. My amendment would begin to correct this situation.
  • $4 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant. Today, due to inadequate funding, only about one in seven eligible children are able to receive federal child care assistance. Already, 250,000 fewer children receive child care assistance today than in 2000.
  • $3 billion for school construction. According to the most recent estimates, schools across the country have a $100 billion backlog in badly-needed school repairs. Investing $3 billion is a small, but important step to help repair crumbling schools across the country and, in the process, create tens of thousands of jobs for painters, carpenters, electricians, and construction workers.
  • $4 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program so that low-income families with children, seniors on fixed incomes, and persons with disabilities will be able to stay warm in the winter. After adjusting for energy prices and inflation, the heating assistance program has been cut by 34.5 percent or $1.3 billion compared to 2002. My amendment would begin to reverse this trend.
  • $3 billion for food stamps, so that we can begin to reduce the growing number of children and adults living with food insecurity. x
  • $3 billion to reduce the deficit.

This amendment is a fiscally responsible way to reduce childhood poverty, address an income gap greater than at any time since the Roaring Twenties, and lower our deficit.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, is a member of the Senate Budget Committee.

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