Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kao Manli'e' hao Guali'ek?

For those looking to practice their Chamorro I have a Chamorro sentence email list. Every few days or so I send an email to a list of people that contains a sometimes simple and sometimes complicated Chamorro sentence. The sentence will sometimes deal with mundane issues of what is your favorite cereal, what type of car do you drive, what village to you live in? When you receive the email you can respond to the entire list or just me if you'd like any feedback. If you'd like to be placed on this email list you can send me a request at It is free and open to anyone.

For the 50th sentence that I sent out I decided to make it special. Instead of a single sentence it became a sprawling story about a guali'ek with a question tacked on at the end. If you want to take a crack at the sentence you can see it pasted below:


Kao guaha manli'e' hao gualiek gi tasi yan kumekematmos gui'. Ha a'agang hao gi i batko-mu lao taya' nina'sina-mu. Manli'e' hao gekpu na kabayo gi i mapagahes ya un agangi hao kao sina ha goggue i mamatmos na gualiek. Lao i kabayu achokka' malate' gui' ti sina ha komprende i fino'-mu sa' kabayu gui'. Lao ti un embestiga sa' hafa sina un komprende i gualiek lao i kabayu ti ha hulat kumomprende hao. Un hasso na gaige gi halom i betsa-mu un lepblo put taimanu na sina hao mama'tinas "tilifon para i kabayu." Anggen sina un fa'tinas este sina komprendeyon i kuentos-mu nu i gumugupu na kabayu. Un tutuhun fuma'titinas i tilifon yan ha ayuda hao i mas mafnot na ga'chong-mu Si Maga'lahi Hurao. An munhayan hao un ono chaddek i buttones gi i tilifon lao taya' hiniyong. Un atan i santatten i tilifon yan un komprende pa'go na taibatteria gui'. Ti sina humanao hao para i tenda sa' siempre esta para u matmos i gualiek. Lao maolek na suette ha fattoigue hao sa' maloloffan un toninos ya ha cheflayi hao. Ha sangani hao na Si Jon Guerrero tumago' gui' guatu sa' "psychic" na peskadot gui' ya ha tungo' kontiempo put i nisisdat-mu put batteria siha. Ha boyok gi i batko dos batteria ya pues humanao. Un sahguan chaddek i batteria ya un ono i buttones. Luma'la' i tilifon ensigidas ya un agang i gekpu kabayu, puede ha' gagaige ha' gi hilu'-mu. Ti manoppoe gui'. Mungaha hao ya un komprende sa' hafa ti mano'oppe. Maniniku i kabayu batkon aire. Sen ti hongge'on este ya kumelalango hao ya Si Maga'lahi Hurao ha chalao hao. Un hungok i bos-na i gualiek ya ilek-na "rosebud." Ma'pos gui'. Tumanges Si Nana-mu ni' mata'ta'chong gi fi'on-mu gi i batko. Un toktok gui' yan sangani gui' na siempre maolek ha' todu, gualiek ha', yan gi minagahet estrangheru na gualiek, ti manatungo' hamyo. Annai un sangan ennao, Si Nana-mu ha bira i mata-na ya kalang ti sina ha fana' hao. Un faisen gui' "Kao ti magahet i sinangan-hu?" Ti manoppe Si Nana-mu. Pues ilek-mu "Kao un kekesangan na ti magahet i sinangan-hu? Ti estrangheru gui'?" Chumathinasso hao. Un gu'ot i chininan Nana-mu yan un hala mo'na gui' yan faisen gui' "Hayi gui' Nana!? Hayi ayu na matmos na gualiek?" Kumakasao Si Nana-mu annai ilek-mu "hayi gui'." Un faisen gui' ta'lo, "Sangan ha' Nana, hayi gui'?!" Ha fana' hao yan ilek-na, mientras meggai na lago' manu'nuhu pappa' gi fasu-na, "Si tata-mu. Ayu na gualiek Si tata-mu."

Kao guaha manli'e' hao gualiek taiguihi?


The 2nd Guam International Film Festival is this weekend. Here's the films I'm looking forward to watching. You can find previews for each film on the website linked above. The information before each film is how much they cost and what time they are at:


Admission: $7.50 USD
Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 | Time: 1:40pm
Venue: STADIUM TBD, Micronesia Mall Stadium Theatres | GIFF Guide: contains adult material


Documentary Feature | Northern Mariana Islands | 75 min. | English, Chamorro w/English subtitles | PACIFIC ASIA PREMIERE
It’s the fall of 2007 and there’s a storm brewing on the tiny island of Tinian. BIBA! follows Trenton Conner and Henry San Nicolas in their battle for control over the island, documenting a unique mixture of traditional family clan culture and wester democracy that we know all too well here in the Mariana Islands. (GIFF Guide: contains adult material)
Executive Producer Alex Gibney is an Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winner and is well known for producing one of the top grossing documentaries of all time, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room“. Director Benjamin Bloodwell has worked on notable documentaries such as “Casino Jack and the United States of Money“, “Freakonomics” and “Gonzo: The Life and Work Dr. Hunter S. Thompson“.
Director: Benjamin Bloodwell
Producer: Alex Gibney


Admission: $7.50 USD
Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 | Time: 5:40pm
Venue: STADIUM TBD, Micronesia Mall Stadium Theatres


Narrative Feature | Marshall Islands | 80 min. | Drama | English, Marshallese w/English subtitles | GUAM PREMIERE
An elderly nuclear survivor from Bikini Atoll in the Pacific summons a mysterious ancient deity to help reunite his family.
WINNER – Moondance Atlantis Award for Foreign Films, 2012 Moondance Int’l.Film Festival, NY
Directors/Producers Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro were recipients of the Best of Festival Award for their film, Lañinbwil’s Gift, at the 2011 GIFF.
Directors/Producers: Jack Niedenthal, Suzanne Chutaro
Cast: Banjo Salome Fakatou, Alson Kelen, Jack Niedenthal, Karen Earnshaw
Official Website:


Admission: $7.50 USD
Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 | Time: 7:55pm
Venue: STADIUM TBD, Micronesia Mall Stadium Theatres | GIFF Guide: contains adult material


Documentary Feature | USA, Marianas Islands | 90 min.
This is the stuff that local legends are made of. From Emmy-winning Bunnim-Murray Productions (Project Runway, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Real World) and director Alexis Manya Spraic (Cat Dancers, Respect Yourself), comes SHADOW BILLIONAIRE – a gripping documentary that unravels the secretive life of enigmatic and reclusive tycoon, DHL Founder and billionaire, Larry Hillblom. After his disappearance from a plane crash over the Mariana Islands, the battle over his estate took on epic proportions, pitting impoverished, teenage prostitutes against Larry’s former business associates and several of the largest law firms in the world. In the end it is a David and Goliath story, as a surprising hero emerges to untangle the web and discover the startling truth. The film also features interviews and insight from Guam business and community leaders. (GIFF Guide: contains adult material)

Director Alexis Manya Spraic’s work includes Cat Dancers, (Winner of the Special Jury Prize at SXSW), and the Grammy-nominated Respect Yourself. Her work can be seen on Showtime, HBO, PBS, A&E, IFC as well as theatrically and internationally. Shadow Billionaire is her directorial debut and held its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. 
Producer Sasha Alpert is currently Vice President of BMP Films, producer of Autism: The Musical (Winner of two Emmys and premiered on HBO). Additionally, she produced Forever Hollywood, a film about the history of Hollywood – which has been playing continuously at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles for over seven years. She has also produced numerous documentaries for PBS, CBS, MTV, TBS and The Disney Channel. 
Director: Alexis Manya Spraic
Producer: Sasha Alpert
Official Website:


Admission: $7.50 USD
Date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 | Time: 10:00am
Venue: STADIUM TBD, Micronesia Mall Stadium Theatres


Narrative Short | USA | 7 min. | Comedy | PACIFIC ASIA PREMIERE
THE ADVENTURES OF ORANGES centers around a conversation between a Maui orange and a Florida orange in the produce section of a local grocery store. Through the telling of the Florida orange’s journey to Maui, the film reveals the comic absurdity of how far most of our food travels before we eat it.
Produced by students of the Maui Huliau Foundation and the Huliau Environmental Filmmaking Club in Haiku, Hawaii.
Directors/Cast: Celine Hopee, Keola Talaroc, Leimana Pu’u, Xander Robertson
Official Website:


Documentary Short | Guam | 8 min.
WE ARE PÅGAT is a short documentary about the history of the U.S. military on guam and the plans related to the proposed military buildup; specifically, the plans to build a firing range complex on and around the ancient indigenous village of Pågat.
Producer: Cara Flores Mays
Official Website:

BREADFRUIT AND OPEN SPACES | Grand Jury Award Nominee – Best Documentary Short

Documentary Short | Guam | 30 min. | PACIFIC ASIA PREMIERE
BREADFRUIT AND OPEN SPACES features Pacific Island families who attempt to grow roots on Guam and make it their home. As recent migrants from Chuuk to Guam, they are met with the challenges of becoming landowners and belonging, though they experience many comforts from building homes in wide open spaces.
Director/Producer: Dr. Lola Quan Bautista


Narrative Short | Australia | 17 min. | Drama/Comedy | GUAM PREMIERE
Klint is a jaded old counselor who is forced into retirement from a migrant resource centre after 30 years of hard work and service towards minority communities in Western Sydney. Branded a racist, he is forced to help in inter-racial couple caught in a disastrous relationship. (GIFF Guide: contains adult material)

WINNER: Best Short Film, 2012 Korean Film Festival (Australia)
Director/Writer: Mike Kang
Producer: Amin Palangi
Cast: Fellino Dolloso, Robin Queree


Headlining immediately after the ANIMATION SHOWCASE
Admission: $7.50 USD
Date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 | Time: 1:00pm
Venue: STADIUM TBD, Micronesia Mall Stadium Theatres

WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY | Grand Jury Award Nominee – Best Documentary Feature

Documentary Feature | USA | 80 min. | GUAM PREMIERE
At 88 years old, Stan lee’s name appears on more than one billion comics in 75 nations in 25 languages! Arguably, the most recognized name in comics, Stan has co-created over 500 legendary pop culture characters including: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and many more. WITH GREAT POWER explores the life of Stan from the early days of his Depression-era upbringing through the Marvel age of comics, featuring star-studded interviews, original illustrations and photographs.
WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY has been nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards
Directors: Terry Dougas, Nikki Frakes, William Lawrence Hess
Producers: 1821 Entertainment, Emerging Entertainment, POW! Entertainment
Cast: Stan Lee, Kirsten Dunst, Jon favreau, James Franco, Tobey Maguire, Todd McFarlane, Eva Mendes, Frank Miller, Jeremy Piven, Seth Rogen and more
Official Website:


Admission: $7.50 USD
Date: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Time: 3:55pm
Venue: STADIUM 5, Micronesia Mall Stadium Theatres | GIFF Guide: contains adult material

JESUS HOSPITAL | Grand Jury Award Nominee – Best Feature Narrative

Narrative Feature | Korea | 91 min. | Drama | Korean w/English subtitles | PACIFIC ASIA PREMIERE
Hyun-Soon has a secret which she finds difficult to tell others. Only her mother, who is comatose in the hospital, and Huyn-Soon’s pregnant daughter know about Hyun-Soon’s secret. As Hyun-Soon’s sister and brother talk about pulling the respirator from their mother, the situation becomes twisted. (GIFF Guide: contains adult material)
WINNER: Grand Prize, 37th Seoul Independent Film Festival
WINNER – Director’s Guild of Korea Award, Best Actress (Jung-Min Hwang & Song-He Han)
WINNER – Citizen Reviewer’s Award, 16th Busan International Film Festival 

Director: Sang-Cheol Lee, Ah-Ga Shin
Producer: Sang-Cheol Lee
Cast: Jeong-min Hwang, Mi-Hyang Kim, Song-He Han
Official Website:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

DNC Speeches #7: Former President Bill Clinton

We're here to nominate a President, and I've got one in mind.

I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. A man who ran for President to change the course of an already weak economy and then just six weeks before the election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression. A man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs were created and saved, there were still millions more waiting, trying to feed their children and keep their hopes alive.

I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside. A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.

I want Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States and I proudly nominate him as the standard bearer of the Democratic Party.

In Tampa, we heard a lot of talk about how the President and the Democrats don't believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how we want everyone to be dependent on the government, how bad we are for the economy.

The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made. One of our greatest Democratic Chairmen, Bob Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain't so.

We Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a relentless focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We think "we're all in this together" is a better philosophy than "you're on your own."

Who's right? Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!

It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.

Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats. After all, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High and built the interstate highway system. And as governor, I worked with President Reagan on welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I am grateful to President George W. Bush for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we've done together after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.

Through my foundation, in America and around the world, I work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents who are focused on solving problems and seizing opportunities, not fighting each other.
When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better. After all, nobody's right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. All of us are destined to live our lives between those two extremes. Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn't see it that way. They think government is the enemy, and compromise is weakness.

One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation. He appointed Republican Secretaries of Defense, the Army and Transportation. He appointed a Vice President who ran against him in 2008, and trusted him to oversee the successful end of the war in Iraq and the implementation of the recovery act. And Joe Biden did a great job with both. He appointed Cabinet members who supported Hillary in the primaries. Heck, he even appointed Hillary! I'm so proud of her and grateful to our entire national security team for all they've done to make us safer and stronger and to build a world with more partners and fewer enemies. I'm also grateful to the young men and women who serve our country in the military and to Michelle Obama and Jill Biden for supporting military families when their loved ones are overseas and for helping our veterans, when they come home bearing the wounds of war, or needing help with education, housing, and jobs.

President Obama's record on national security is a tribute to his strength, and judgment, and to his preference for inclusion and partnership over partisanship.

He also tried to work with Congressional Republicans on Health Care, debt reduction, and jobs, but that didn't work out so well. Probably because, as the Senate Republican leader, in a remarkable moment of candor, said two years before the election, their number one priority was not to put America back to work, but to put President Obama out of work.

Senator, I hate to break it to you, but we're going to keep President Obama on the job!

In Tampa, the Republican argument against the President's re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.

In order to look like an acceptable alternative to President Obama, they couldn't say much about the ideas they have offered over the last two years. You see they want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place: to cut taxes for high income Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts; to increase defense spending two trillion dollars more than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they'll spend the money on; to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor kids. As another President once said – there they go again.

I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.

Are we where we want to be? No. Is the President satisfied? No. Are we better off than we were when he took office, with an economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month. The answer is YES.
I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don't feel it.

I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn't feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history.

President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you'll renew the President's contract you will feel it.
I believe that with all my heart.

President Obama's approach embodies the values, the ideas, and the direction America must take to build a 21st century version of the American Dream in a nation of shared opportunities, shared prosperity and shared responsibilities.

So back to the story. In 2010, as the President's recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around.

The Recovery Act saved and created millions of jobs and cut taxes for 95% of the American people. In the last 29 months the economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. But last year, the Republicans blocked the President's jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here's another jobs score: President Obama plus 4.5 million, Congressional Republicans zero.
Over that same period, more than more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama – the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s.

The auto industry restructuring worked. It saved more than a million jobs, not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country. That's why even auto-makers that weren't part of the deal supported it. They needed to save the suppliers too. Like I said, we're all in this together.

Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than the day the companies were restructured. Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here's another jobs score: Obama two hundred and fifty thousand, Romney, zero.

The agreement the administration made with management, labor and environmental groups to double car mileage over the next few years is another good deal: it will cut your gas bill in half, make us more energy independent, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and add another 500,000 good jobs.

President Obama's "all of the above" energy plan is helping too – the boom in oil and gas production combined with greater energy efficiency has driven oil imports to a near 20 year low and natural gas production to an all time high. Renewable energy production has also doubled.

We do need more new jobs, lots of them, but there are already more than three million jobs open and unfilled in America today, mostly because the applicants don't have the required skills. We have to prepare more Americans for the new jobs that are being created in a world fueled by new technology. That's why investments in our people are more important than ever. The President has supported community colleges and employers in working together to train people for open jobs in their communities. And, after a decade in which exploding college costs have increased the drop-out rate so much that we've fallen to 16th in the world in the percentage of our young adults with college degrees, his student loan reform lowers the cost of federal student loans and even more important, gives students the right to repay the loans as a fixed percentage of their incomes for up to 20 years. That means no one will have to drop-out of college for fear they can't repay their debt, and no one will have to turn down a job, as a teacher, a police officer or a small town doctor because it doesn't pay enough to make the debt payments. This will change the future for young Americans.
I know we're better off because President Obama made these decisions.

That brings me to health care.

The Republicans call it Obamacare and say it's a government takeover of health care that they'll repeal. Are they right? Let's look at what's happened so far. Individuals and businesses have secured more than a billion dollars in refunds from their insurance premiums because the new law requires 80% to 85% of your premiums to be spent on health care, not profits or promotion. Other insurance companies have lowered their rates to meet the requirement. More than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents can now carry them on family policies. Millions of seniors are receiving preventive care including breast cancer screenings and tests for heart problems. Soon the insurance companies, not the government, will have millions of new customers many of them middle class people with pre-existing conditions. And for the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4%, for the first time in 50 years.

So are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are.
There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here's what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren't making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. It's now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn't weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.

When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama's "biggest coldest power play" in raiding Medicare, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. You see, that 716 billion dollars is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget.

At least on this one, Governor Romney's been consistent. He wants to repeal the savings and give the money back to the insurance companies, re-open the donut hole and force seniors to pay more for drugs, and reduce the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years. So now if he's elected and does what he promised Medicare will go broke by 2016. If that happens, you won't have to wait until their voucher program to begins in 2023 to see the end Medicare as we know it.

But it gets worse. They also want to block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming decade. Of course, that will hurt poor kids, but that's not all. Almost two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for seniors and on people with disabilities, including kids from middle class families, with special needs like, Downs syndrome or Autism. I don't know how those families are going to deal with it. We can't let it happen.

Now let's look at the Republican charge that President Obama wants to weaken the work requirements in the welfare reform bill I signed that moved millions of people from welfare to work.
Here's what happened. When some Republican governors asked to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama Administration said they would only do it if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20%. You hear that? More work. So the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform's work requirement is just not true. But they keep running ads on it. As their campaign pollster said "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." Now that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself – I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.
Let's talk about the debt. We have to deal with it or it will deal with us. President Obama has offered a plan with 4 trillion dollars in debt reduction over a decade, with two and a half dollars of spending reductions for every one dollar of revenue increases, and tight controls on future spending. It's the kind of balanced approach proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.

I think the President's plan is better than the Romney plan, because the Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal responsibility: The numbers don't add up.

It's supposed to be a debt reduction plan but it begins with five trillion dollars in tax cuts over a ten-year period. That makes the debt hole bigger before they even start to dig out. They say they'll make it up by eliminating loopholes in the tax code. When you ask "which loopholes and how much?," they say "See me after the election on that."

People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic. If they stay with a 5 trillion dollar tax cut in a debt reduction plan – the – arithmetic tells us that one of three things will happen: 1) they'll have to eliminate so many deductions like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving that middle class families will see their tax bill go up two thousand dollars year while people making over 3 million dollars a year get will still get a 250,000 dollar tax cut; or 2) they'll have to cut so much spending that they'll obliterate the budget for our national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel; or they'll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education and other programs that help middle class families and poor children, not to mention cutting investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research; or 3) they'll do what they've been doing for thirty plus years now – cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the economy. Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down.

President Obama's plan cuts the debt, honors our values, and brightens the future for our children, our families and our nation.

My fellow Americans, you have to decide what kind of country you want to live in. If you want a you're on your own, winner take all society you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities – a "we're all in it together" society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. If you want every American to vote and you think its wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama. If you think the President was right to open the doors of American opportunity to young immigrants brought here as children who want to go to college or serve in the military, you should vote for Barack Obama. If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American Dream is alive and well, and where the United States remains the leading force for peace and prosperity in a highly competitive world, you should vote for Barack Obama.

I love our country – and I know we're coming back. For more than 200 years, through every crisis, we've always come out stronger than we went in. And we will again as long as we do it together. We champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor – to form a more perfect union.

If that's what you believe, if that's what you want, we have to re-elect President Barack Obama.
God Bless You – God Bless America.

Monday, September 24, 2012

DNC Speeches #6: Candidate for U.S. Senate, Elizabeth Warren

2012 Democratic National Convention: Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Elizabeth Warren, Candidate for U.S. Senate, Massachusetts
The following is a copy of a speech, as prepared for delivery, by Elizabeth Warren, Candidate for U.S. Senate, Massachusetts, at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.

Thank you! I'm Elizabeth Warren, and this is my first Democratic Convention. Never thought I'd run for senate. And I sure never dreamed that I'd get to be the warm-up act for President Bill Clinton—an amazing man, who had the good sense to marry one of the coolest women on the planet. I want to give a special shout out to the Massachusetts delegation. I'm counting on you to help me win and to help President Obama win.

I'm here tonight to talk about hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out but are up against a hard truth—the game is rigged against them.

It wasn't always this way. Like a lot of you, I grew up in a family on the ragged edge of the middle class. My daddy sold carpeting and ended up as a maintenance man. After he had a heart attack, my mom worked the phones at Sears so we could hang on to our house. My three brothers all served in the military. One was career. The second worked a good union job in construction. The third started a small business.

Me, I was waiting tables at 13 and married at 19. I graduated from public schools and taught elementary school. I have a wonderful husband, two great children, and three beautiful grandchildren. And I'm grateful, down to my toes, for every opportunity that America gave me. This is a great country. I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class; that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives. An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live with dignity; an America in which each generation built something solid so that the next generation could build something better.

But for many years now, our middle class has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered. Talk to the construction worker I met from Malden, Massachusetts, who went nine months without finding work. Talk to the head of a manufacturing company in Franklin trying to protect jobs but worried about rising costs. Talk to the student in Worcester who worked hard to finish his college degree, and now he's drowning in debt. Their fight is my fight, and it's Barack Obama's fight too.

People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here's the painful part: they're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.

Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do. I talk to small business owners all across Massachusetts.

Not one of them—not one—made big bucks from the risky Wall Street bets that brought down our economy. I talk to nurses and programmers, salespeople and firefighters—people who bust their tails every day. Not one of them—not one—stashes their money in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

These folks don't resent that someone else makes more money. We're Americans. We celebrate success. We just don't want the game to be rigged. We've fought to level the playing field before. About a century ago, when corrosive greed threatened our economy and our way of life, the American people came together under the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt and other progressives, to bring our nation back from the brink.

We started to take children out of factories and put them in schools. We began to give meaning to the words "consumer protection" by making our food and medicine safe. And we gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets. We turned adversity into progress because that's what we do.

Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative. If we have the chance to fight on a level playing field—where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot—then no one can stop us. President Obama gets it because he's spent his life fighting for the middle class. And now he's fighting to level that playing field—because we know that the economy doesn't grow from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up. That's how we create jobs and reduce the debt.

And Mitt Romney? He wants to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. But for middle-class families who are hanging on by their fingernails? His plans will hammer them with a new tax hike of up to 2,000 dollars. Mitt Romney wants to give billions in breaks to big corporations—but he and Paul Ryan would pulverize financial reform, voucher-ize Medicare, and vaporize Obamacare.

The Republican vision is clear: "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own." Republicans say they don't believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney's the guy who said corporations are people.

No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that's why we need Barack Obama.

After the financial crisis, President Obama knew that we had to clean up Wall Street. For years, families had been tricked by credit cards, fooled by student loans and cheated on mortgages. I had an idea for a consumer financial protection agency to stop the rip-offs. The big banks sure didn't like it, and they marshaled one of the biggest lobbying forces on earth to destroy the agency before it ever saw the light of day. American families didn't have an army of lobbyists on our side, but what we had was a president—President Obama leading the way. And when the lobbyists were closing in for the kill, Barack Obama squared his shoulders, planted his feet, and stood firm. And that's how we won.
By the way, just a few weeks ago, that little agency caught one of the biggest credit card companies cheating its customers and made it give people back every penny it took, plus millions of dollars in fines. That's what happens when you have a president on the side of the middle class.

President Obama believes in a level playing field. He believes in a country where nobody gets a free ride or a golden parachute. A country where anyone who has a great idea and rolls up their sleeves has a chance to build a business, and anyone who works hard can build some security and raise a family. President Obama believes in a country where billionaires pay their taxes just like their secretaries do, and—I can't believe I have to say this in 2012—a country where women get equal pay for equal work.

He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable. Where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street. President Obama believes in a country where we invest in education, in roads and bridges, in science, and in the future, so we can create new opportunities, so the next kid can make it big, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. That's what president Obama believes. And that's how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt. We root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together.

I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school. One of my favorite passages of scripture is: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40. The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and called to act. Not to sit, not to wait, but to act—all of us together.

Senator Kennedy understood that call. Four years ago, he addressed our convention for the last time. He said, "We have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world." Generation after generation, Americans have answered that call. And now we are called again. We are called to restore opportunity for every American. We are called to give America's working families a fighting chance. We are called to build something solid so the next generation can build something better.

So let me ask you—let me ask you, America: are you ready to answer this call? Are you ready to fight for good jobs and a strong middle class? Are you ready to work for a level playing field? Are you ready to prove to another generation of Americans that we can build a better country and a newer world?

Joe Biden is ready. Barack Obama is ready. I'm ready. You're ready. America's ready. Thank you! And God bless America!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Translating songs from English to Chamorro has been a favorite hobby of mine for a while. When I was first learning to speak Chamorro this was a fun necessity. It helped me, albeit in small fragments, practice the structure of making short sentences in Chamorro. One of the first songs that I translated was a favorite of mine at the time, "Yellow" by the band Coldplay. The lyrics, like many of that sort of generic, but somehow epic pop songs are incomprehensible. They are meant to be so fehman, but don't really make sense. They feel as if they make some sort of higher sense, but when taking in a literal and direct way, you might wonder how bulachu or bileng the songwriter was when he was penning these lines.

Needless to say, after so many years "Yellow" remains one of my favorite songs to sing in both English and in Chamorro. I often sing along in Chamorro as its droning tune and repetitive lyrics wind their way to their conclusion.

Note that the translation is not meant to be exact by any means. As with any translation such as this, the meaning will sometimes wander in order to fit into the line length or the imagery will change in order to conjure up something which is more friendly and familiar to the new language.



Atan hulo' i estreyas
Ya taimanu ma inayi hao
Ya todu i bida-mu
Ya puru ha' manamariyu

Maloffan yu'
Ya hu tugiyi hao' ni kanta
Put todu i bida-mu
Ya puru ha' amariyu

Ya i tiempo-ku pa'go
Hafakao bida-hu?
Ya puru ha' amayiru

I lassas-mu yan i te'lang-mu
Mambunita todudu
Ya un tungo', un tungo' hu guaiya hao atdet
Un tungo' hu guaiya hao atdet

Munangu yu'
Hagu hu li'ofggue
Hafakao bida-hu
Sa' puru ha' hao amariyu

Manyungga yu'
Un raya para Hagu
Hafakao bida-hu
Ya puru ha' amariyu

I lassas-mu yan i te'lang-mu
Mambunita todudu
Un tungo'
Put Hagu bai hu sangran maisa yu'
Put Hagu bai hu sangran maisa yu'

Magahet hu'u
Atan taimanu ma inayi hao
Atan taimanu ma inayi hao
Atan taimanu ma ina
Atan taimanu ma inayi hao
Atan taimanu ma inayi hao
Atan taimanu ma inayi hao

Atan hulo ' i estreyas
Ya taimanu ma inayi hao
Yan todu i bida-mu

Friday, September 21, 2012

DNC Speeches #5: Congressman Xavier Becerra

The Honorable Xavier Becerra
Democratic Caucus Vice Chair and Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, California
2012 Democratic National Convention
Thursday, September 6, 2012

The American dream—it’s built not with words or speeches but from sweat and tears. Its heart and soul reside not in the boardrooms on Wall Street, but in the shops and factories on Main Street. Its promise is simple: work hard, play by the rules and you can make it in America. That’s Barack and Michelle Obama’s story.

Like so many of you, that’s my parents’ story, too. My father was a construction worker who dug the ditches and laid the pipe and concrete to build our highways. My mother arrived in this country as a newlywed with no money, no English and no family of her own. Together, they realized their dream of sending their four children where no man or woman in our family in America had ever gone before: college. El sueño Americano! The American dream! In any language, that’s what this election is about!

We need President Obama for four more years to keep that dream alive! When President Obama was elected, the American dream was on life support. The middle class was being hollowed out. We cannot afford to go back to the failed policies of the past.

Maybe Governor Romney has forgotten how we got into the mess that President Obama faced, but we haven’t—two wars, tax breaks for the wealthiest, the Wall Street bailout, Katrina! Nearly 9 million Americans lost their jobs because of the Great Recession. Our neighbors lost their homes. Our teachers, firefighters and police officers were laid off. And small businesses couldn’t get the bailed-out banks to offer them any credit. How many construction workers like my father do you think could dream of reaching the middle class under those conditions?

We’ve all heard the saying “put your money where your mouth is.” Well, Governor Romney, ante up! Show us how your economic policies differ from President Bush’s. If you believe in America, you invest in America. That’s why it’s not courageous to cut funding for college loans or vow to veto the dream for immigrant children. It’s not responsible to reward companies that ship American jobs overseas with more tax loopholes. It’s not bold to say our country is broke and then hand out yet another deficit-busting tax break to millionaires and billionaires. And Governor Romney, you should know, it’s not right to pull the rug out from under older Americans after a lifetime of hard work and turn Medicare into a voucher system—”Vouchercare!”

That’s not the America my parents built. If you want to save the middle class, you don’t outsource it—you strengthen it. If you want to get America back to work, you don’t fire cops, teachers, nurses, and firefighters—you invest in them.

President Obama is fighting for the middle class, to put Americans back to work and our country back on track. President Obama believes in the promise of America. President Obama believes in you. That’s the American dream. El sueño Americano. Dr. King marched for it. Cesar Chavez organized for it. And this fall, we have to vote for it. Together, we’re going to re-elect Barack Obama president of the United States!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Death From Taxes

Sesso ti sina hu komprende Si Mitt Romney.

Anai hu atan gui', ti taisensia gui', ti taitiningo' gui'. Bunito gui' yan buente malate' gui' lokkue'.

Lao, sa' hafa fihu manlachi gui' taiguihi udu gui'?

Manaitai yu' meggai pa'go yan nigap put i sinangan-na siha gi me'nan i manriku ni' sumoppoppote gui'. Gof baba i sinangan-na, gi fino' Ingles ma sangan na este na klasin kuentos "divisive." Gi i sinangan-na ha fa'sahnge lamita na taotao gi i nasion, ya ilek-na na ayu siha taibali nu Guahu. Ti para siha na bei gubetno.

Ayu muna'klaru i hinasson i Manrepublicans gi este na botasion yan gi este na sakkan. Fihu ma fa'attende i manakpappa' yan i manggaige gi tinalo' na klas. Lao gi este na botasion kalang ma yuyute' ayu siha.

Anai estaba Si Romney i gubetno giya Massachusetts mas maolek na gayu gui'. Achokka' Republican gui', ti mampos "conservative" gui'. Gumubetno gui' para todu i taotao siha gi i state-na. Ti para unu na banda ha'. Put ayu na guaha nai biahi mangcompromise gui'.

Lao tagiue ayu na Romney gi este na botasion. Este na Romney ni' malalagu pa'go, kalang ti magahet gui'. Matulailaika todu tiempo i hinasso-na siha. Taya' fitme gi hinengge-na siha. Para Guahu esta ha puno' maisa gui', yan gi i matulaika-na ha kekehafot hayi estaba gui'. Ga'o'-na na manmaleffa todu ni ayu.

Guaha na biahi annai hu taitai i news gi gaseta pat internet, ti hu hohongge i bidada-na Si Romney. Put hemplo, sa' hafa ha kekena'atok ha' i kontrabusion-na? Maolekna un sotta ha'! Na'annok ha'! Un na'a'atdet este mas gi i nina'atok-mu!

Este na video ginnen i patidan Obama put i asunton kontrabusion.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hitting the Chamorro Wall

I remember many years ago hitting a wall in my learning of Chamorro.

I had gotten the basics and could carry on conversations with people. I could express myself in a casual and sort of everyday way. The basic topics of how is this person doing, how is this going, weren't any problem at all. But when the conversation would become a little bit more complex, when the subject matter got more detailed or more sophisticated the Chamorro language would politely be set side and English would prevail. Chamorro would make cameo appearances afterwards, but never ever truly gain control over what was being said, until the "adios, esta agupa."

For me this would happen because I was still learning the language and there were still plenty of thing I wasn't sure how you were supposed to talk about in the Chamorro language. But what depressed me was that sometimes it would be the other person, the one who was far more fluent than myself in the language, who would switch to English first. It was unclear what was happening exactly, but either people were holding back Chamorro from me because they felt I wouldn't be able to understand it, or they themselves couldn't talk about more complicated things in Chamorro and had to resort to English to express themselves.

This, combined with the notion that too many Chamorros hold, that the language is primarily a "social language" or something you use for the spices and flavors or life, but something that doesn't really nourish. To continue with this food metaphor, Chamorro isn't the parts of the meal that keep you alive, it is just the flavors that make life more interesting and make you lick your lips. It doesn't keep you alive, but it doesn't give some nice color and extra taste to the world. People felt that it wasn't really a big deal if you couldn't use Chamorro to talk about "big" or "important" things. The language was just something meant for parties and gossip and songs and jokes.

I think of myself as an intellectual person in English and so the thought that somehow I would be structurally prevented from being "philosophical" or "intellectual" in Chamorro wounded me deeply. It was like all of the binary hierarchies that I learned about in graduate school. The Chamorro was external not internal. The Chamorro was superficial not deep. English and other "developed" languages were capable of carrying and conveying so much more meaning. Chamorro was stuck with being limited, marginal and couldn't carry or convey great thoughts, just the shallow simple ideas of a shallow and simple people.

This fall at the University of Guam we inaugurated a undergraduate degree program in Chamorro Studies. This is something I have long dreamed of and I am taichi mamagof na it has finally been established. The program will emphasize students becoming fluent in reading, writing and speaking the Chamorro language, but also give them a comprehensive knowledge base regarding the history and culture of the Chamorros. Part of why this program is important is because it can help push the boundaries of what people conceive to be the limits of the Chamorro language. Eventually, classes will not just be taught for those wanting to learn Chamorro, but classes will exist that will be conducted in the Chamorro language, about other topics. You can take a class to discuss Guam history, gi fino' Chamoru. You can take a class to discuss the Chamorro language, gi fino' Chamoru. You could even take a class on local literature, gi fino' Chamoru.

This program will be important because it will be a formal assertion that Chamorro is far from simple and that when you use it in these spaces in this program it will not be simple as well. People can go there and be challenged in their fluency in their ability in Chamorro. The perceptions of others can be challenged by what is produced there. It will go very far in deepening not just our understanding but our imagining of what is Chamorro.

Returning to years ago when I was hitting my wall. I was lost because of that switch to English. I would try my hardest to keep using Chamorro, but would become less and less inspired to do so when so many people would switch to English once the conversation got more detailed or complex. For most Chamorros they brush about against some of the most detailed and complex Chamorro out there through their relationship to the church. The rhetorical artifacts that the church produces at masses, rosaries and funerals is very abstract, poetic, beautiful. More and more Chamorro experience it today, but most don't even understand what is being said, even if they are speaking along with it. They may be able to tell you the gist, but probably couldn't translate it.

For me growing up on Guam as a non-Catholic, I rarely brushed up against that world. As I got older and more people died I would hear it more and more, but as I didn't speak Chamorro until I was 20, they could have been speaking Esperanto for all I knew.

When I had the wall I keep referring to, there were many things that helped me get past it. One of them that has been weighing heavily on my mind lately are the sermons of my Uncle Tommy Leon Guerrero who passed away recently. He was a pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist Church and while I was growing up the church was very Americanized, it has in recent years moved towards multiculturalism and embracing diversity. At that time you could have sabbath school in different languages from Micronesia and Asia, and even in Chamorro. I would take my grandmother to church every Saturday and sometimes sit with her in sabbath school and listen to Uncle Tommy's sermons and listen to the conversations that would take place. In some of these meetings I would struggle to keep up as they would use words and say things that muna'laolao i tintanos-hu. In those meetings early Saturday morning, my grandmother would gather with her friends and i manachaamko'-na siha, and they would talk about salvation, sin, what God wants for us, love, forgiveness and so many other things. It was both heartfelt  and so abstract. It pushed my mind and pushed my own boundaries of Chamorro and helped me to finally break past that wall.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

DNC Speeches #4: Mayor Julian Castro

September 4, 2012
Transcript of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, as prepared for delivery:

My fellow Democrats, my fellow Texans, my fellow Americans: I stand before you tonight as a young American, a proud American, of a generation born as the Cold War receded, shaped by the tragedy of 9/11, connected by the digital revolution and determined to re-elect the man who will make the 21st century another American century — President Barack Obama.

The unlikely journey that brought me here tonight began many miles from this podium. My brother Joaquin and I grew up with my mother Rosie and my grandmother Victoria. My grandmother was an orphan. As a young girl, she had to leave her home in Mexico and move to San Antonio, where some relatives had agreed to take her in. She never made it past the fourth grade. She had to drop out and start working to help her family. My grandmother spent her whole life working as a maid, a cook and a babysitter, barely scraping by, but still working hard to give my mother, her only child, a chance in life, so that my mother could give my brother and me an even better one.

As my grandmother got older, she begged my mother to give her grandchildren. She prayed to God for just one grandbaby before she died. You can imagine her excitement when she found out her prayers would be answered—twice over. She was so excited that the day before Joaquin and I were born she entered a menudo cook-off, and she won $300! That's how she paid our hospital bill.
By the time my brother and I came along, this incredible woman had taught herself to read and write in both Spanish and English. I can still see her in the room that Joaquin and I shared with her, reading her Agatha Christie novels late into the night. And I can still remember her, every morning as Joaquin and I walked out the door to school, making the sign of the cross behind us, saying, "Que dios los bendiga." "May God bless you."

My grandmother didn't live to see us begin our lives in public service. But she probably would have thought it extraordinary that just two generations after she arrived in San Antonio, one grandson would be the mayor and the other would be on his way—the good people of San Antonio willing—to the United States Congress.

My family's story isn't special. What's special is the America that makes our story possible. Ours is a nation like no other, a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation. No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward.

America didn't become the land of opportunity by accident. My grandmother's generation and generations before always saw beyond the horizons of their own lives and their own circumstances. They believed that opportunity created today would lead to prosperity tomorrow. That's the country they envisioned, and that's the country they helped build. The roads and bridges they built, the schools and universities they created, the rights they fought for and won—these opened the doors to a decent job, a secure retirement, the chance for your children to do better than you did.

And that's the middle class—the engine of our economic growth. With hard work, everybody ought to be able to get there. And with hard work, everybody ought to be able to stay there—and go beyond. The dream of raising a family in a place where hard work is rewarded is not unique to Americans. It's a human dream, one that calls across oceans and borders. The dream is universal, but America makes it possible. And our investment in opportunity makes it a reality.

Now, in Texas, we believe in the rugged individual. Texas may be the one place where people actually still have bootstraps, and we expect folks to pull themselves up by them. But we also recognize there are some things we can't do alone. We have to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow.

And it starts with education. Twenty years ago, Joaquin and I left home for college and then for law school. In those classrooms, we met some of the brightest folks in the world. But at the end of our days there, I couldn't help but to think back to my classmates at Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio. They had the same talent, the same brains, the same dreams as the folks we sat with at Stanford and Harvard. I realized the difference wasn't one of intelligence or drive. The difference was opportunity.

In my city of San Antonio, we get that. So we're working to ensure that more four-year-olds have access to pre-K. We opened Cafe College, where students get help with everything from test prep to financial aid paperwork. We know that you can't be pro-business unless you're pro-education. We know that pre-K and student loans aren't charity. They're a smart investment in a workforce that can fill and create the jobs of tomorrow. We're investing in our young minds today to be competitive in the global economy tomorrow.

And it's paying off. Last year the Milken Institute ranked San Antonio as the nation's top performing local economy. And we're only getting started. Opportunity today, prosperity tomorrow.

Now, like many of you, I watched last week's Republican convention. They told a few stories of individual success. We all celebrate individual success. But the question is, how do we multiply that success? The answer is President Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn't get it. A few months ago he visited a university in Ohio and gave the students there a little entrepreneurial advice. "Start a business," he said. But how? "Borrow money if you have to from your parents," he told them. Gee, why didn't I think of that? Some people are lucky enough to borrow money from their parents, but that shouldn't determine whether you can pursue your dreams. I don't think Governor Romney meant any harm. I think he's a good guy. He just has no idea how good he's had it.

We know that in our free market economy some will prosper more than others. What we don't accept is the idea that some folks won't even get a chance. And the thing is, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are perfectly comfortable with that America. In fact, that's exactly what they're promising us.

The Romney-Ryan budget doesn't just cut public education, cut Medicare, cut transportation and cut job training.

It doesn't just pummel the middle class—it dismantles it. It dismantles what generations before have built to ensure that everybody can enter and stay in the middle class. When it comes to getting the middle class back to work, Mitt Romney says, "No." When it comes to respecting women's rights, Mitt Romney says, "No." When it comes to letting people marry whomever they love, Mitt Romney says, "No." When it comes to expanding access to good health care, Mitt Romney says, "No."
Actually, Mitt Romney said, "Yes," and now he says, "No." Governor Romney has undergone an extreme makeover, and it ain't pretty. So here's what we're going to say to Mitt Romney. We're going to say, "No."

Of all the fictions we heard last week in Tampa, the one I find most troubling is this: If we all just go our own way, our nation will be stronger for it. Because if we sever the threads that connect us, the only people who will go far are those who are already ahead. We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will too. Folks, we've heard that before. First they called it "trickle-down." Then "supply-side." Now it's "Romney-Ryan." Or is it "Ryan-Romney"? Either way, their theory has been tested. It failed. Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price.

Mitt Romney just doesn't get it. But Barack Obama gets it. He understands that when we invest in people we're investing in our shared prosperity. And when we neglect that responsibility, we risk our promise as a nation. Just a few years ago, families that had never asked for anything found themselves at risk of losing everything. And the dream my grandmother held, that work would be rewarded, that the middle class would be there, if not for her, then for her children—that dream was being crushed.

But then President Obama took office—and he took action. When Detroit was in trouble, President Obama saved the auto industry and saved a million jobs. Seven presidents before him—Democrats and Republicans—tried to expand health care to all Americans. President Obama got it done. He made a historic investment to lift our nation's public schools and expanded Pell grants so that more young people can afford college. And because he knows that we don't have an ounce of talent to waste, the president took action to lift the shadow of deportation from a generation of young, law-abiding immigrants called dreamers.

I believe in you. Barack Obama believes in you. Now it's time for Congress to enshrine in law their right to pursue their dreams in the only place they've ever called home: America.

Four years ago, America stood on the brink of a depression. Despite incredible odds and united Republican opposition, our president took action, and now we've seen 4.5 million new jobs. He knows better than anyone that there's more hard work to do, but we're making progress. And now we need to make a choice.

It's a choice between a country where the middle class pays more so that millionaires can pay less—or a country where everybody pays their fair share, so we can reduce the deficit and create the jobs of the future. It's a choice between a nation that slashes funding for our schools and guts Pell grants—or a nation that invests more in education. It's a choice between a politician who rewards companies that ship American jobs overseas—or a leader who brings jobs back home.

This is the choice before us. And to me, to my generation and for all the generations to come, our choice is clear. Our choice is a man who's always chosen us. A man who already is our president: Barack Obama.

In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don't always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor. My grandmother never owned a house. She cleaned other people's houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.

And while she may be proud of me tonight, I've got to tell you, Mom, I'm even more proud of you. Thank you, Mom. Today, my beautiful wife Erica and I are the proud parents of a three-year-old little girl, Carina Victoria, named after my grandmother.

A couple of Mondays ago was her first day of pre-K. As we dropped her off, we walked out of the classroom, and I found myself whispering to her, as was once whispered to me, "Que dios te bendiga." "May God bless you." She's still young, and her dreams are far off yet, but I hope she'll reach them. As a dad, I'm going to do my part, and I know she'll do hers. But our responsibility as a nation is to come together and do our part, as one community, one United States of America, to ensure opportunity for all of our children.

The days we live in are not easy ones, but we have seen days like this before, and America prevailed. With the wisdom of our founders and the values of our families, America prevailed. With each generation going further than the last, America prevailed. And with the opportunity we build today for a shared prosperity tomorrow, America will prevail.

It begins with re-electing Barack Obama. It begins with you. It begins now. Que dios los bendiga. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DNC Speeches #3: First Lady Michelle Obama

Full text of First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks to the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 4 in Charlotte, as prepared for delivery. 

Thank you so much, Elaine…we are so grateful for your family’s service and sacrifice…and we will always have your back.

Over the past few years as First Lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country.

And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.

I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.

I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.
I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire…driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.
And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”

Every day, the people I meet inspire me…every day, they make me proud…every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.

Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege…but back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we’d begun.

While I believed deeply in my husband’s vision for this country…and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President…like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance.

How would we keep them grounded under the glare of the national spotlight? How would they feel being uprooted from their school, their friends, and the only home they’d ever known?

Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys…Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house…and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.

And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls…I deeply loved the man I had built that life with…and I didn’t want that to change if he became President.

I loved Barack just the way he was.

You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate…to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door…he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.

But when Barack started telling me about his family – that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.

You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.
My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young.

And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain…I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed.

But every morning, I watched my father wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform.

And when he returned home after a long day’s work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs to our little apartment, patiently waiting to greet him…watching as he reached down to lift one leg, and then the other, to slowly climb his way into our arms.

But despite these challenges, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work…he and my mom were determined to give me and my brother the kind of education they could only dream of.

And when my brother and I finally made it to college, nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants.

But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition himself.

And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill right on time, even taking out loans when he fell short.

He was so proud to be sending his kids to college…and he made sure we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late.

You see, for my dad, that’s what it meant to be a man.

Like so many of us, that was the measure of his success in life – being able to earn a decent living that allowed him to support his family.

And as I got to know Barack, I realized that even though he’d grown up all the way across the country, he’d been brought up just like me.

Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help.

Barack’s grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank…and she moved quickly up the ranks…but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling.

And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by.

But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at work before anyone else…giving her best without complaint or regret.

And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all that really matters.”
Like so many American families, our families weren’t asking for much.

They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success or care that others had much more than they did…in fact, they admired it.

They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.

That’s how they raised us…that’s what we learned from their example.

We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.

We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.

We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.

Those are the values Barack and I – and so many of you – are trying to pass on to our own children.
That’s who we are. And standing before you four years ago, I knew that I didn’t want any of that to change if Barack became President.

Well, today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are.

You see, I’ve gotten to see up close and personal what being president really looks like.
And I’ve seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk are always the hard ones – the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer…the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.

And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people.

But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.
So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother.

He’s thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day’s work.

That’s why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work.
That’s why he cut taxes for working families and small businesses and fought to get the auto industry back on its feet.

That’s how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again – jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.

When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president.

He didn’t care whether it was the easy thing to do politically – that’s not how he was raised – he cared that it was the right thing to do.

He did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine…our kids should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick…and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.

And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care…that’s what my husband stands for.

When it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never could’ve attended college without financial aid.

And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage.

We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.

That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.

So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t political – they’re personal. Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles.

He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids.

Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it…and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.

And he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity…you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.

He’s the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work…because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.

He’s the same man who, when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.
That’s the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night, patiently answering their questions about issues in the news, and strategizing about middle school friendships.
That’s the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him.

The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills…from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care…from the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities.

I see the concern in his eyes…and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, “You won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle…it’s not right.

We’ve got to keep working to fix this. We’ve got so much more to do.”

I see how those stories – our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams – I see how that’s what drives Barack Obama every single day.

And I didn’t think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago…even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met.

I love that he’s never forgotten how he started. I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he’s going to do, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard.

I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them” – he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above…he knows that we all love our country…and he’s always ready to listen to good ideas…he’s always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.
And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we’re all sweating it – when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass, and it seems like all is lost – Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise.

Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward…with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace.

And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here…and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.

But eventually we get there, we always do.

We get there because of folks like my Dad…folks like Barack’s grandmother…men and women who said to themselves, “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will…maybe my grandchildren will.”

So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love…because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.

So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming – or even impossible – let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation…it’s who we are as Americans…it’s how this country was built.

And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us…if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button…then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.

And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights…then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights…surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.

Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country – the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.

That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, and so many other American stories possible.
And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady…and not just as a wife.

You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still “mom-in-chief.”

My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.

But today, I have none of those worries from four years ago about whether Barack and I were doing what’s best for our girls.

Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters…if we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise…if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility – that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it…then we must work like never before…and we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward…my husband, our President, President Barack Obama.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Democrats and Republicans

I can’t get my students at UOG excited about the 2012 Presidential race. This is to be expected considering that Guam, as a territory has no Electoral College votes and so it doesn’t get to help choose the next most powerful man in the world. In most similar classrooms across the United States, a group of apathetic students is an affront to democracy and self-government! But what is the point of calling on people in Guam to care about a race that they are prohibited from participating in?

This November when you head to the polls you will get a ballot that asks you if you want to vote for either Willard Mitt Romney or Barack Hussein Obama. But since the vote doesn’t count, it makes you wonder why we even do it at all? It is yet another way that people on Guam seek to create the illusion of Guam being a secure and full part of the United States rather than face the truth of the situation. It is akin to seeing someone who is hallucinating that they are eating a gourmet meal and while they have their hands before them cutting imaginary rib eye steak with an imaginary knife, you politely offer them some teriyaki sauce to go with their meal.

The realities of American contemporary colonialism make the apathy towards Presidential politics understandable, but it is still inexcusable. It is a foolish sort of fantasy, and one that is dangerous because it makes people on Guam feel like the belong in a way they don’t, and so therefore they don’t perceive the way in which a Presidential election actually does matter to the island.

If you don’t follow the Presidential politics of Chile or Albania, the lack of knowledge doesn’t affect you as neither of those places have much influence over Guam. If President Fulanu as opposed to President Fulana is elected, it doesn’t matter here on Guam.

But the election of the US President isn’t like the election of a foreign leader at all, but at the same time it isn’t really the election of “our” President either. Did the place that you come from offer Electoral College votes that helped candidates get elected? If not, then the President isn’t really your President.

The most basic way in which you can perceive Guam’s colonial status is through that simple lack of representation/participation. You did not get to participate in the election of the President, not even to vote against him, and so all your feelings of patriotism don’t make that person “your” President. But, the glitch here, the reason Guam is a colony, is that you not being represented does not exempt you from the decisions of whoever is elected and whatever laws he signs and whatever people he appoints to his cabinet. Even though you are not included in American democracy you are still included in the everyday exercise of American power.

The reason why should pay attention to Presidential politics is because not all candidates are the same and most importantly not all parties are the same. Even if you don’t have the right to vote for or against them, they still have incredible influence over Guam and what sort of relationship it will have to the Federal Government.

In this upcoming election the stakes are very high for Guam. The Republican party has become far less cooperative, far more conservative and much more ideologically intolerant in the months leading up to this election Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, a conservative darling who doesn’t easily appeal to centrist or independent voters is a clear sign as to how rightist their party is today.

You could argue politicians are politicians and the parties are pretty much the same, but in terms of relating to the territories, the Democrats are much nicer than Republicans. It is Republican politicians who repeatedly question whether people who live in territories are actually Americans or not (if you ask Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) for example, he would tell you they aren’t. The reason? The fact that people in the territories get all the privileges of being attached to the US, but don’t support it through paying taxes. If you search around the internet for those who don’t like the idea of Chamorros getting war reparations they are predominantly Republicans. The social programs on Guam that people often times feel their dependency towards the United States through, are all things that Republicans love to claim a need to slash.

There is a myth that Republicans are better in terms of supporting the military or the troops. This is far from true. Both parties favor giving a ridiculous amount of money to the US military and both parties advocate much oversight over it. Democrats are more willing to challenge ideas such as war and militarism, but only to a certain extent.

Republicans have a history of favoring defense contractors and private contracts who often times get paid more than the troops themselves. When President Obama became President Republicans balked at his “defense cuts.” In reality the defense budget increased under Obama, but it was recommended that more money be given to conventional parts of the military (soldiers and their infrastructure) and less be given to fancy high tech projects that often times go billions over budget or are never finished at all.

This difference derives from the ideological narrative that drives their parties. Republicans claim to defend the real Americans and attempt to return America to its roots (both of which the territories lie outside the bounds of). Democrats instead are driven to expand the union and are therefore more accepting of those of us in the territories.

Finally however, Democrats and Republicans differ on global warming; one side taking it more seriously than the other. As an island, Guam should definitely hope that the side that takes it more seriously prevails.


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