Friday, January 30, 2015

Recent Republican News

This week's messy, public breakup between conservatives and Sarah Palin was executed with brutal swiftness. After years of alternately worshiping and defending her from all comers while gleefully echoing her falsehoods about the Obama administration (death panels!), lots of conservatives -- and especially conservative pundits -- decided, "Enough!" and collectively tossed her overboard.

Palin's speech last weekend at a conservative confab in Iowa, odd and vacuous even by her standards, served as the trigger for the media mutiny. Morning Joe's Joe Scarborough tagged it "a tragedy," The Daily Beast's Matt Lewis apologized for his previous Palin support, and the Washington Examiner rounded up reactions from the GOP faithful: "Long and disjointed." "A weird speech." "Terrible. Didn't make any sense."

After six years conservatives have essentially conceded what Palin's critics on the left have said all along: that she's not a serious person and serves no serious political purpose. Palin, who symbolized an uber-aggressive anti-intellectual conservative push that coincided with Obama's election, seemed more interested in self-promotion -- via reality shows and habitual flirting with running for office that never materialized -- than in building a lasting political legacy.

Note that Palin's accelerated descent this week represents a larger trend within the conservative media. It represents the decline of the tea-party wing of the right-wing press and how a once-flourishing enterprise of outside upstarts, with their eyes on disrupting the GOP hierarchy, have in recent years faded in terms of importance and prestige within that sphere.

For instance, five years ago players like Palin, tea-party guru Glenn Beck, and tea-party "godfather" Rick Santelli from CNBC were on the cusp of powering a grassroots movement to retake the Republican Party and the country. Beck drew huge cable audiences on Fox News while weaving dark tales of Obama deception, Santelli helped inspire patriot rallies across the country, and Fox favorite Palin surfed political celebritydom and eyed a possible White House run. They represented a new and different brand of media agitators who didn't take the traditional paths to the masses.

But today they stand deflated. In fact, as the next campaign season looms, all three appear to be vanishing in the media's rear-view mirror.

Their decline in some way mirrors the popular decline of the tea party itself. While it has successfully altered the conversation within the Republican Party (see 2013's government shutdown), tea-party candidates now often struggle to break through, and a recent attempt to tap into mass angst via a Washington, D.C., rally ended in an embarrassing failure.

Fox News, of course, played a powerful role in creating the anti-Obama tea-party movement in 2009 with its endless hyping of rallies and causes. But Fox News long ago seemed to shed its insurgent, tea-tarty affiliation and return to its traditional role of serving as the media equivalent of the Republican National Committee.

Palin parted ways with Fox in January 2013. She returned as a contributor later that year, but her profile has remained dimmed at the channel.

Like Palin, Beck also flamed out at Fox. And his demise began on a specific date: July 28, 2009, when the host called Obama a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." The comment, as well as the host's complete lack of remorse, sparked one of the largest and most successful advertising boycott campaigns in television history. By 2011 Beck was off Fox News.

Between 2009 and 2011, though, Beck generated some huge ratings and became the tea-party point person in America. The peak came in August 2010, with Beck's Restoring Honor rally in Washington, D.C. From The New York Times:
An enormous and impassioned crowd rallied at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial this weekend, summoned by Glenn Beck, a conservative broadcaster who called for a religious rebirth in America at the site where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech exactly 47 years earlier.
Among the featured speakers that day was Sarah Palin.

Since leaving Fox, Beck has lined his pockets as few media personalities have. But in terms of being a driving force in American, or even Republican, politics, his right-wing power-broker status has clearly waned. (Last year Beck announced that Sen. Mitch McConnell's tea-party challenger was "called by God" to run. The challenger eventually lost by 25 points.)

As for CNBC's Rick Santelli? Back in February 2009, responding to Obama's plan to rescue bad mortgages, Santelli delivered a caustic, taunting harangue ("President Obama, are you listening?") about the unfairness of Americans having to bailout "loser" homeowners. Santelli suggested Obama's plan would lead the country toward communism.

Since then, Santelli has blamed Obama for employment numbers and generally warned about the economic abyss the president was supposedly guiding the country towards. Obviously, the flood of positive economic indicators in recent weeks and months has undercut most of Santelli's attacks.
As for the Obama administration's plan to help rescue mortgages, the one that prompted Santelli's clarion call for a tea-party revolution? (A) The bailout program was always wildly popular with Americans, and (B) by 2014 the bailout program had earned a profit for the government.

Like Beck with his "racist" undoing, Santelli also suffered a flashpoint. His came last July, when Santelli's CNBC colleague Steve Liesman had had enough of the chronic misinformation:
It's impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the U.S. economy to rebound. Rick, it's impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick.... There is no piece of advice that you've given that's worked, Rick. Not a single one.... The higher interest rates never came. The inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened. The dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn't a single one that's worked for you.
The clip went viral and helped lay bare the nonsensical economic mutterings of the tea-party "godfather."

For Palin the slights from former supporters this week likely sting. If it's any consolation, she isn't the only tea-party media star whose marquee has dimmed.


Breadbaghazigate and the other GOP 'rising star' State of the Union flameouts
by Tbogg

Because the Founding Fathers weren’t sure if this whole Experiment in Liberty thing was going to pan out — I give us a C+ so far, next time show work, America — they required the President to “from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union,” thereby giving Congress the option of ‘going in another direction,’ like they always say when an NFL coach gets fired. Since we always more or less do what the framers of the Constitution say — with exception of ‘well-regulating’ fully automatic high-powered death-dealng muskets — the President each year gives a State of the Union speech which is an exercise in theater and gamesmanship and little else.
The president doesn’t have to go to Congress and actually speak; he could just as easily send them an email or post something on his Facebook page which they could either like, share, or even unfriend him after posting a picture of the White House lawn turned into a watermelon patch… if that person happens to be Steve Scalise.

The whole speaking before Congress ritual is awful and awkward and full of stops and starts marred by wild partisan applause and, like a kindergarten graduation ceremony, it is totally unnecessary. Seriously, it’s not a major accomplishment to graduate from frigging kindergarten…unless you’re a Palin. Let’s stop having those. Kindergarten graduation ceremonies and more Palins. All in favor…?
What is even worse than the president’s speech is the obligatory response from the opposing party generally delivered to dead air without even a laugh or applause track to liven it up and let Fox News viewers when something pithy has been uttered.

During the Obama administration– or as it is known on Fox: “The Illegal Occupation of America by the Socialist Black Panther Muslim Homosexual Married To A Wookie, also too #Ebola #Benghazi #AmericanSniper #TCOT “–  the SOTU responses have run the gamut from forgettable to “Let’s just pretend this never happened.”

Much is made of the lucky guy or gal who is tabbed to give the address, although I’m beginning to think it has devolved into something along the lines of a frat hazing or possibly thrust upon the person who loses a drinking game. You have a choice: either give the response or we get to draw dicks on your face and then you have to go to the mall and hang out in front of the Victoria’s Secret store on Friday night. Your choice.

Let’s run down the memorable and not so memorable GOP SOTU responses and the people — “rising stars,” all of them –who have made them during these dark years that have led us to this horrible state of lower unemployment numbers, a rebounding economy, expanded healthcare, and $2 gas.
2009 presented us with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a “rising star” in the GOP, who proceeded to give a widely mocked “aw shucks, won’t you be my neighbor” performance; speaking as if he was addressing a group of suspicious three-year-olds who couldn’t figure out if he was white or black or what the hell. Immediately compared to 30 Rock’s amiable goof Kenneth the page, Jindal saw his political stock plummet. Since that time Jindal, who is widely regarded as being smart, has retreated into bitterness and bile and stupidity and seems to be auditioning for a future gig as a Fox News idiot. If only he had blonde hair to toss…

In 2010 we were treated to blow-dried meat puppet Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virgina, another GOP “rising star” with presidential or vice-presidential aspirations.  So, how’d that go? Nobody remembers and it really doesn’t matter now because he’s going to prison and so is his wife.
2011 was the year of GOP “golden boy,” blue-eyed granny-snuffing Rep. Paul Ryan. He ran as Romney’s running mate in 2012, and couldn’t even deliver his own hometown to the ticket, losing it by 25 points. Wah wah waaaaah -  sad trombone. Ryan is now the only Republican, living or dead,  not running for President in 2016.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels landed the 2012 gig. Who? Mitch Daniels… D..a..n..i..e..l..s. Mitch. C’mon, man! Mitch Daniels…. him. That guy.  Okay, anyway, his response didn’t launch Mitchmentum and the only thing he is president of these days is Purdue University. He is also the whitest white man in America and makes Mitt Romney look like Lil Wayne. Also, too:  Mitch was a former “rising star.

2013 really saw the GOP hit their stride when “
risingrock star” Florida Senator Marco Rubio was picked because he’s young, he’s brown, and he’s hungry. Well, actually he was thirsty. Very very thirsty, and the only thing people think about when they hear Rubio’s name is a flop-sweaty over-his-head youngster nervously grabbing and gulping a bottle water during a bout of either stage fright or teleprompter panic or both.  The next day, that was all anyone talked about. What did Rubio say? Dunno, but dude was super thirsty.

2014 was the Republican Year of the Woman, and “rising starRep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was selected from the GOP’s slim binder of women. Not wishing to make it look like McMorris was  an awful mother who had abandoned her children to a Mexican maid while she went to work in an office, the GOP staged her in a living room that that can best be described as “grandma chic.” She was pleasant enough in a “your mom is kind of cool, I guess” kind of way. But as she complimented America for trying so hard, you got the feeling viewers were waiting for her to break out the bowl of sliced oranges for everyone to nibble on while receiving their ‘Democracy Participantion’ ribbons. Okay, everyone in the van now and let’s go to Hardees for ice cream shakes!
Speaking of which…

Pig-castrating, Hardee’s biscuit-maker Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa — your new Michelle Bachmann with the crazy laugh in place of the crazy eyes — gave it her best shot last night.  Ernst — who is yet another  ‘rising star‘ –was an inspired choice because, as Charlie Pierce notes, she stays on script and doesn’t go rogue and let her Agenda 21 “the UN is gonna grab our guns and golfcourses” off the leash in public. Get the loony laugh under control, and maybe we can call good enough, ‘great enough.’ But then whoever wrote her speech had to stray into “I was a poor white girl who had to ride the school bus wearing bread bags on my feet” territory and everyone was hunh, what? Redolent of tying onions on our belts which was the style at the time,” bread bags has become Ernst’s version of Rubio’s watergate.

It’s really a no-win and bridge to nowhere situation for anyone who gets picked to deliver the SOTU response because everyone is now hate-watching it like they do those terrible NBC live musicals, looking for something to mock and then the slightest derp moment gets magnified all  out of proportion and can become a defining moment in a politician’s career.


You Betcha I Was Wrong About Sarah Palin
Matt Lewis
The Daily Beast

Has conservative genuflection at the altar of Sarah Palin finally come to a halt?
In case you missed it, her speech in Iowa this week was not well received on the right. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York called it a “long, rambling, and at times barely coherent speech” and National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke said she slipped into self-parody. And there’s more. The Examiner’s Eddie Scarry, for example, contacted several conservative bloggers who were once Palin fans, but have since moved on.

But here’s my question… what changed?

Yes, in 2008, Sarah Palin delivered one of the finest convention speeches I’ve ever heard (trust me, I was there), but she hasn’t exactly been channeling Winston Churchill ever since. Remember her big speech at CPAC a couple of years ago? You know, the one where she took a swig out of a Big Gulp and said of her husband Todd: “He’s got the rifle, I got the rack.” Not exactly a great moment in political rhetoric.

So why is anyone surprised when, this weekend, she said: “‘The Man,’ can only ride ya when your back is bent?”

Demosthenes, she is not, but there’s nothing new about Palin’s penchant for populism or lowbrow rhetoric. What does feel new is that she has finally gotten around to roundly losing conservative opinion leaders. (OK, this has been a long time coming. In 2011, Conor Friedersdorf noted that the hard right was skewering Palin, and that Kathleen Parker had been vindicated. And as recently as this past April, I wondered whether it was finally safe for conservatives to criticize her publicly. But it does feel like we have finally reached a tipping point where criticizing Palin isn’t only acceptable for conservative opinion leaders, it’s now almost expected.)

Before we go any further, I should confess that I might be one of the most unusual Palin critics you’ll ever encounter. Before most Americans had ever heard of her, I was among the few suggesting she’d make a fine veep pick. My intern at the time even started the Draft Sarah Palin movement. A few years later, I edited a book of Palin quotes, titled The Quotable Rogue.
I defended her when some on the left said she was to blame for Gabby Giffords’ shooting, and recently defended her daughter Bristol when the press laughed at her for being a victim of what certainly sounded like a physical assault. (For what it’s worth, I’ve also criticized Palin when I thought she was wrong.) This is all to say that I’m not reflexively anti-Palin; I don’t suffer from Palin Derangement Syndrome.

In fairness, Palin was once a reform-minded governor who enjoyed an 88 percent approval rating. But something happened on the way to Des Moines. I suspect the most vicious attacks (especially the “Trig Truther” stuff) radicalized her and embittered her, but I also suspect she also took the easy way out. Instead of going back to Alaska after the 2008 defeat, boning up on the issues, continuing her work as governor, and forging a national political comeback, she cashed in with reality-TV shows and paid speaking gigs.

This isn’t an original or new observation, In fact, back in July 2009, I wrote: “The tragedy of Sarah Palin’s recent press conference announcing her resignation as governor of Alaska flows from the sense that so much potential has been wasted.”

The trouble with taking the easy way out is that it doesn’t last forever. The people who truly last in this business don’t rely on shortcuts or good looks or gimmicks; they survive on work ethic, wit, and intellect. (That’s why, no matter how grandiose he gets, Newt Gingrich will always have a gig. Newt will always be interesting, because he will always have something to say—something to contribute.)

Ironically, Palin has also been harmed by virtue of having created a generation of competitors and replacements. Some of the candidates she endorsed—take Sen. Ted Cruz, for example—are smarter, more relevant versions of her. Why book Palin when you can get Cruz or Paul or Michele Bachmann or… Ben Carson? What is her competitive advantage or unique selling proposition?

My own career as an author may serve as a microcosm. As I noted earlier, my last book was a collection of Palin quotes. My new book (out early in 2016) is called Too Dumb to Fail, and will focus on how conservatism was once a proud intellectual philosophy, but has been dumbed down over the years.

Palin has contributed to this phenomenon by playing the victim card, engaging in identity politics, co-opting some of the cruder pop-culture references, and conflating redneck lowbrow culture with philosophical conservatism.

And this makes me wonder if I might have contributed to this by boosting her—and by publicly chastising her conservative critics.

My harshest criticism was directed at conservative writers whom (I felt) prematurely attacked her during the months of September and October in the 2008 presidential campaign—and possibly even contributed to her radicalization. (In my mind, Palin changed after the 2008 loss, a shift that correlates closely with the election of Obama and the rise of the Tea Party.)

But you could argue that the conservatives who went after Palin back in ’08 have now been vindicated—regardless of their motivation. And my counterfactual argument (that Palin might have turned out better had everyone had cut her some slack in 2008) feels increasingly tenuous.
Is it possible that Kathleen Parker saw something I didn’t when she attacked Palin? I saw it as strangling the conservative baby in the crib; Parker probably saw it as snuffing out a monster.
Such is the plight of a writer; I got some stuff right, and my position was justifiable at the time, but in hindsight I regret contributing to the premature deification of Sarah Palin.

I still say she was an incredibly talented political force, but she squandered her opportunity for greatness, and instead became a fad. And it’s worth considering that maybe her early critics saw some fundamental character flaw—some harbinger of things to come—that escaped me.
It’s probably time to concede that the early critics of Sarah Palin had a point, and that they shouldn’t have been tarred and feathered and (in some cases) nearly purged from the conservative movement. I’m not excusing the vilest attacks, of course, but for a long time, there was close to zero tolerance of anything remotely critical of Palin (or, at least, even mild criticism would evoke stern rebukes), and that was wrong. And, as evidenced by the spate of articles coming from conservative venues this week, it’s also over.


--> Jeb 'Put Me Through Hell'
 by Michael Kruse

CLEARWATER, Fla.—Sitting recently on his brick back patio here, Michael Schiavo called Jeb Bush a vindictive, untrustworthy coward.

For years, the self-described “average Joe” felt harassed, targeted and tormented by the most important person in the state.

“It was a living hell,” he said, “and I blame him.”

Michael Schiavo was the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman from the Tampa Bay area who ended up at the center of one of the most contentious, drawn-out conflicts in the history of America’s culture wars. The fight over her death lasted almost a decade. It started as a private legal back-and-forth between her husband and her parents. Before it ended, it moved from circuit courts to district courts to state courts to federal courts, to the U.S. Supreme Court, from the state legislature in Tallahassee to Congress in Washington. The president got involved. So did the pope.

But it never would have become what it became if not for the dogged intervention of the governor of Florida at the time, the second son of the 41st president, the younger brother of the 43rd, the man who sits near the top of the extended early list of likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates. On sustained, concentrated display, seen in thousands of pages of court records and hundreds of emails he sent, was Jeb the converted Catholic, Jeb the pro-life conservative, Jeb the hands-on workaholic, Jeb the all-hours emailer—confident, competitive, powerful, obstinate Jeb. Longtime watchers of John Ellis Bush say what he did throughout the Terri Schiavo case demonstrates how he would operate in the Oval Office. They say it’s the Jebbest thing Jeb’s ever done.

The case showed he “will pursue whatever he thinks is right, virtually forever,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida. “It’s a theme of Jeb’s governorship: He really pushed executive power to the limits.”

“If you want to understand Jeb Bush, he’s guided by principle over convenience,” said Dennis Baxley, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives during Bush’s governorship and still. “He may be wrong about something, but he knows what he believes.”
And what he believed in this case, and what he did, said Miami's Dan Gelber, a Democratic member of the state House during Bush’s governorship, “probably was more defining than I suspect Jeb would like.”

For Michael Schiavo, though, the importance of the episode—Bush’s involvement from 2003 to 2005, and what it might mean now for his almost certain candidacy—is even more viscerally obvious.

“He should be ashamed,” he said. “And I think people really need to know what type of person he is. To bring as much pain as he did, to me and my family, that should be an issue.”
November 10, 1984, is when they got married; February 25, 1990, is when she collapsed, early in the morning, in their apartment in St. Petersburg, for reasons that never were determined with specificity but had something to do with a potassium imbalance probably caused by aggressive dieting. Michael Schiavo woke up when he heard her fall. She was facedown, feet in the bathroom, head in the hall. He called 911. Police noted in their report “no signs of trauma to her head or face.” The ambulance raced to the closest hospital, but her heart had stopped, robbing her brain of oxygen, and the damage was catastrophic. A court named her husband her guardian that June. Her parents didn’t object. All of this was before Bush was elected. And after years of rehabilitation, of waiting for any sign of improvement and seeing none, Michael Schiavo decided to remove the feeding tube that kept his wife alive, saying she had told him and others she never would’ve wanted to be this way.

To this, Terri Schiavo’s parents objected. Bob and Mary Schindler, Catholics, argued that their daughter, also Catholic, would want to live, even so debilitated.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One Night in Hagatna...

On January 15, 2015, the capital of Guam, Hagatna was shut down due to Marine Corp training that was happening in the area. Roads were blocked off by Guam Police Department. Helicopters were flown over the area and explosions were heard. This created an uproar amongst some on Guam who saw this as another militaristic intrusion into life on Guam, a place already heavily militarized.

People often misinterpret the militarized exterior of Guam or extrapolate high levels of patriotism or support for military policies based on the amount of people serving in the US military. This disconnect leads to so many problems. The myth of Guam as being a place where the military is adored is partially true, but the military, because of its intimate and often times invasive and disrespectful nature is also reviled. What is often lost in this is that while Guam is overall very pro-military, that attitude can change quite quickly once people feel like they are being taken advantage of and not being taken seriously.

Below are some responses, primarily from Facebook to the military training.


From the GUAM PDN

A Marine Corps special operations group is conducting live fire training in Hagatna this evening. Authorities have closed off streets in the area.

The training is being conducted by a small group of Marines with the III Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Training Group, according to a press release.

Military members are being transported to the area via helicopter and ground transportation, the release states. The group is conducting training in an "urban environment."
Residents are likely to hear noises from aircraft, military vehicles and small weapons.



Is it truly right to shut down your home streets to only let military "safely" practice how to protect their own land? Why?

 Why were the Marines having a live fire training in Hagatña? What point is there to this? Would they shut down downtown Spokane to shoot and blow things up? Why does this happen then on my island?



live fire helicopter exercises were banned by Okinawa for a reason. The Japanese were smart to stop playing such gracious hosts... which is one of the main reasons for the Guam buildup and Asia realignment/pivot. Now Uncle Sam wants to play with his helicopters over Hagatna without notice?
Not cool, bro....



Yo I was just down there with Charlie...the shit was crazy they had 3 helicopters flying around, one who didn't have any lights on, like some stealth mode shit. Then cops fuckin everywhere blocking the street. We went up to one to the cops and ask what was going on and they said "oh we're just doing an exercise...u should probably get under a bldg" They even blew up something...I didn't see it, only heard it.



This is so upsetting. With little (and last-minute) warning, something like this leaves the base and gets to occur on "civilian" grounds. If this is expected to be "normal" for our community, then there are problems, the main one being we are normalizing war for our children. It's disgusting that our children are being raised on an Island that says it's okay for this type of violence to come so close to our doorsteps. ‪#‎wheresourhumanity‬ 



I don't know about doing these things in populated areas at all, and just because they do it in other populated areas doesn't justify it as far as I'm concerned.

Having freedom doesn't mean "you shouldn't have opinions on anything we do."


From National Security Blog: What the Guam and NMI media won't tell you.

@ Hafa Adai.
The Jarhead Jigger; Landscapes of Violence, Public Nuisance And Manufactured Surprise in Hagatna; Thoughts from a Oka, Tamuning boy.
The marines are doing their thing and this time it’s in Hagatna.
Penchants for training and combat exercises have always been the bread and butter of the marines, who under sequestration are seeking respite and ways to further validate their existence.
For years the marines have been conducting urban exercises to the irritant of many villagers.
Yet that is what they are supposed to do, conduct tactical training iterations to remain ready for combat.
Sounds violent uh. It is.
Last time I had the misfortune of being close by these training irritants, I got a call from my auntie Chai, complaining about the noise. I parked the truck near the perimeter as GPD officers watched.
It was then that I knew who was fully in charge and it wasn’t the GPD.
Yet, the marines knew they could get away with making noise, disrupting an otherwise tranquil environment, without even having the courtesy to let the village mayor know beforehand.
As Rodney Dangerfield once said “no respect” and that is what we have here once again - no respect.
The intelligence community spooks living on Guam and Saipan and the marine training planners are having a field day by delivering surprise to villagers.
What better way to deliver the message that Guam remains the epicenter of American military governance and control that to take the training op to the heart of the island?
Madison Avenue nor Hollywood could not have done this one up better. ”Live firing, overhead aircraft, marines rappelling, etc. etc.”
What better way to irritate, upset, frighten and demonstrate who is in charge than to have the marines, under the shadow of a moonlight night, embark on a urban exercise training op in an otherwise relatively peaceful little village located in the remote western Pacific.
Make no mistake folks, the marines are here to stay, for good or for bad.
My question is who is collecting the section 30 monies if at all?
Where’s Madeleine or Mo’ Money Eddie and what do they have to say?
The MARSOC community views Guam with special importance for where else in the country can you so fully disrupt and become a public nuisance while enjoy the backing of the local media, who condone and produce non-evaluative reporting?
I suspect the answer is “no where else in the country.”
Perhaps, the marines could do a training op at Mo’ Money Eddie’s compound in Maite. I’m sure Paul senior would be much appreciative of the gesture.
My question is where is Admiral Bordallo?
Having her accompany the marine office in charge of this urban training exercise would make for a great photo op and demonstrate to villagers why she represents MARFORPAC so well.
The CIA employee who coined the term Only On Guam was right on this one.
Because “OOG” can Ronald Reagan’s 9/11 force be so irritating and so overwhelming, but hey, that’s the whole point isn’t it?
Masters of chaos in Tano Y Chamorro.
Hafa Adai.


Military, leaders failed us in live-fire exercise

Letter to the PDN

The live-fire training conducted by the Marines in Hagåtña was done in violation of their own policies. Just as concerning was the failure of our leaders to properly inform the public at large and to safely prepare for the invasion of Hagåtña.

U.S. military policy MCO3570.1C, DOD policy 3150.03D and 1322.28, requires that the use of non-DOD property meet applicable environmental and local regulations. A legal review and formal agreement with the owners is required. The U.S. must identify ammunition intended for use, procedures and accountability, scope of liability (property damage and injury), control measures, procedures for decontaminating the training area, coordination with local authorities, written notification of activities, anticipated population nuisance, precautions given to the residents, etc. Mission failed. This exercise in the capital of Guam could have proven fatal with the substantive homeless population in the area.

Undoubtedly military training is an urgent national priority in a time of war, but they have already taken more than one-fourth of the island and continue to practice eminent domain or land-grabbing. The U.S. government did the same thing in the state of Colorado, using eminent domain to steal ranchers' property. So in Guam, an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the U.S., they don't even have to ask. Why should they ask to use their own property?

We love America, we don't need self-determination, we want status quo -- and the Spanish called us the island of thieves. This is how the military exercises eminent domain -- they use non-DOD property as a testing ground and then they seize it under federal control.

The failure of our elected leaders to ensure citizen notification and safety is derelict and criminal, especially if they were aware of the live-fire training and still gave no notice. Where were our elected leaders with the inflated salaries -- mayors making $75,000 (because they are on call 24 hours), senators with salaries of $85,000 (who are just as deserving), our lieutenant governor at $95,000 (painting bus stops) or our governor at $130,000 who is the most deserving (for his landslide victory)? Were they all sleeping at the wheel?

One day we are living in peace and then overnight we become a war zone. Guam has been more than welcoming to U.S. military, but we are not welcoming them to become a war zone -- conducting training outside the DOD fence leaves the entire island vulnerable to being a war zone like it was in World War II.

We sought U.S. protection as they were on island prior to the invasion of Japan and then the U.S. leave the Chamorros to fend for themselves.
Biba colonization!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

American Sniper and the Role of Film in Warmaking

I'm already quite tired from a long day, but before I go to bed I wanted to post some articles about American Sniper. I tried to watch the film last weekend on a Sunday night when usually theaters are empty on Guam, but to my surprise it was sold out. In just a week it is now a huge blockbuster and seems to be a commercial and critical success. Amidst all the buzz, people have been criticizing the film because of the incredible amount of fabrication that went into creating the movie figure of America's most lethal sniper. The Chris Kyle in the film is very different than the Chris Kyle of history and who published a memoir and loved to exaggerate his history of violence, even to the point of boasting and lying about fights he was never in and murders he never committed, all in the US, not the Middle East.

I have written so many times over the years about the way in which national policies become conflated with the soldiers who enact, in some cases illegally or violently those policies. If you oppose a war, you oppose the troops who fight the war. It is a frustration sort of discursive strategy because it doesn't leave any room for national error. It basically assumes that if the US is bombing or attacking someone and troops are involved, shut up and support the troops. Don't question what the troops are doing, don't question whether it is right or not, just shut up and support them. 

In my history classes we often times discuss the interactions between history and film. How people create a movie using elements of history and make changes to it. All films will take "liberties" but the question of analysis is why they take these particular liberties? In my history classes, students all usually agree that history isn't boring, as I try my best to make it exciting and interesting. But the usual response that people have is that movies change history because it is too boring and has to be spiced up. History is shaped in movies to meet different artistic or narrative needs. It is changed to meet audience expectations. It is changed for convenience. The creators make choices and we are at the mercy of their choices. All this is important though because films are a way in which people absorb information about history and also absorb values or at least fragments of values. For movies that take recent wars as their backdrop there is always the problem of patriotism. Do you create something that is challenging and that shows the horror of war and how the world needs less of it and not more of it? Or do you show war as being exciting and heroic and epic? A narrative form that tends to give the impression that more war is needed in the world, so we can have more awesomeness both of the national form, but also the individual servings in veterans. 

One problem with American Sniper is that since it is from the perspective of Chris Kyle himself, the movie offers up what is largely his world view as historical fact. The connections that he saw between races and countries become the scenery in front of which he kills, the color palette that gives meaning to his actions. It is no wonder that there was a sizeable amount of tweets in the first week of release all expressing a desire amongst viewers to go and kill Arabs, because according to the film's universe the Arab world attacked the US on 911, evil Arabs and Muslims were killing the US in Iraq and making widows of poor ladies back home and giving PTSD to other good American heartland boys. 

This is such a distorted view of history, and perhaps the main reason why the film is being criticized as propaganda. Iraq had nothing to do with 911 and the US was the occupier in Iraq. The fact that we are to see American troops in Iraq as victims and not invaders is part of the whole imperial consciousness that most war movies tend to perpetuate. America is a nation of liberators who go from place to place liberating and handing out freedom. Anyone who doesn't like that must be evil right? As we focus on the anguish of Chris Kyle and other American soldiers in Iraq and feel the potential patriotism well up within us, we so easily and too quickly forget that the entire Iraq war was based on lies. Lies that cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives. Clint Eastwood has stated that this is an antiwar film because it shows the incredible cost that war can cause on the families of soldiers, the wounds both visible and invisible that persist when soldiers return home. If he wanted to make an antiwar film, he went about it all wrong. A film like 'American Sniper' will most likely increase the chances of future, purposeless and pointless wars. So long as the focus of a movie about the War on Terror is on the heroes who come out of it, people who watch it will still have trouble distinguishing between the policies and the troops. They will support whatever next fight is on the horizon, because American heroes will fight it. War is the domain of national, masculine hero-making. It is the place of last-stands and valiant sacrifices, and so long as those things are highlighted and promoted, people will have trouble remembering the lies, the manipulations which often led to the wars taking place. It is unfortunate, because all of this blindness prevents people from actually supporting the troops, meaning only deploying them if they are actually needed and not sending them into quagmires like Iraq. 

Four articles are included below to give you a better sense of some of the critiques of the film.

"My 12 Years of Support for the Troops "
by Michael Moore
Before I post my more general thoughts later today or tomorrow about the ruckus of the past week regarding the response to my heartfelt comment on twitter about my uncle who was killed in World War II by a sniper - and how I was taught to despise snipers of any stripe - I would like to address this one insane mantra that the right-wing has twisted my tweet into: "Michael Moore hates the troops."
Well, who would know better about hating our troops than those who supported sending them into a senseless war Iraq in the first place?
And, for 4,482 of them, a senseless, unnecessary and regrettable death. 
If you supported that invasion, if you voted for George W. Bush and the Republicans and Democrats who backed this war, then you are the ones who have some 'splainin' to do. Not me. You. 
Because only "haters" of our brave young men and women would recklessly send them into harm's way for something that had absolutely nothing to do with defending the United States of America. Nothing. Nothing to do with 9/11. Nothing. In fact, WE, the USA, were the ones who provided Saddam with his weapons in the 1980s that he used against the Kurds. We wanted him to use them against the Iranians, but you hand a crazy guy crazy weapons, something crazy is probably going to happen. Ask Osama bin Laden about that -- what he did with the crazy training, crazy money and crazy weapons that WE gave him. Oh wait. You can't ask him. Because the new president took him out. No 150,000 troop invasion necessary. Just 12 or so Navy SEALS and two and a half choppers.
Here's the truth they can't or won't report: I'M the one who has supported these troops - much more than the bloviators on Fox News. To prove it (and I know this is going to crush some of you out there), here's just a partial list of all the things I do and have done for those men and women who serve -- and I guarantee you, you've never heard any of this reported about what the real me does because, frankly, it messes up their little story of the fictional "Michael Moore" they've created for your hate and enjoyment (please feel free to cut, paste and send this to your conservative brother-in-law):
** I have an aggressive affirmative action policy specifically to hire Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at my film production company, my movie theaters in Michigan and my film festival. I have asked other businesses in my town (and nationwide) to join with me on this.…/michael-moore-asks-business… . A vet was an editor on my films "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Sicko" and a vet (who served in both Iraq AND Afghanistan) is the projectionist at my flagship theater in Michigan (to name a few). 
** I also ask people to post a sign I designed and have made available: "I Shop Where Vets Work". Here's my policy and the poster: (Can someone at Fox News send me your posted affirmative action program to hire Iraq and Afghanistan vets?)
** Since I opened my movie theaters in northern Michigan, this has been my admission policy: "Admission to all movies at my theaters is FREE, 365 days of the year, for ALL active duty military and their families." 
** I allow local veterans support groups to use my theater to meet for PTSD issues, I host quarterly PTSD summits, and I've hosted a conference to start a jobs movement for vets in our town.
** I have raised tens of thousands of dollars through my website for groups that help veterans and wounded warriors:…/20140829053240/http://fa…/soldiers/
** In the early years of the war I made all my books and DVDs available free of charge to all service members through
** I produced and hosted a benefit for military families at the House of Blues that received national attention to their plight (raw clips here from the AP: )
** I will NOT do business with vendors who don't have a policy to hire vets.
** I gave voice to the troops who weren't being heard by publishing a book of their letters from the front lines in "Will They Every Trust Us Again?" (NY Times bestseller for 4 weeks)
** I regularly post blogs from troops and I show and support many movies about what they've gone through in the past 12 years at my theaters.
** I took vets, soldiers and their families on a 60-city tour of the country so their concerns could be heard:
** I helped Iraq Vets against the War with "Operation Recovery" and…/how-bout-dinner-just-you_b_…
** My movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11" - #1 selling/#1 rental on all military base PXs
** My books were the #1 requested books by troops from the nonprofit
** I sit on the Advisory Board of the Pvt. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning Support Network
** From the Dept. of Irony: I only hire Navy SEALS and ex-special forces for when I need security - such as this week, when so-called supporters of those SEALs want me harmed.
** When my father passed away this year, in lieu of flowers I asked that donations by made in my dad's name to the veterans group, Veterans for Peace. Enough money was raised so that the Vietnam Vets chapter could build a home in Vietnam for a family still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. It's being dedicated in my dad's name. 
** I am currently showing "American Sniper" at my theater that I helped restore and that I program and help run in Manistee, MI. Not because I like it, but because, unlike the other side, I'm not a censor. I trust smart people and people of good heart will know what to do. You can't have a conversation about what Clint Eastwood is up to if you haven't seen what it is he's up to. And regardless where u are on the political spectrum, you'll see that every character in Clint's film comes out dead or permanently damaged. This ain't no John Wayne rah-rah pablum. Eastwood made maybe the greatest western ever - "Unforgiven" - but now it's sad seeing him talking to an empty chair on a stage or making an Iraq movie that Rolling Stone this week called, "too dumb to bother criticizing."
In the end, the thing I'm most proud of for what I've done for the troops was sticking my neck out 12 years ago to become a leading opponent to Bush and the war. I tried to save more lives than a sniper ever could hope to -- by preventing us from going to war in the first place. Well, I failed at that. But I've done everything else humanly possible to try and make it up to those troops when they return home -- that is, the ones lucky enough to return home. 
So, Fox News and the other lazy media -- quit making shit up about me! You look ridiculous. If you want to have a debate with me about the ISSUES and the POLICIES, then let's have it. If you want to debate a movie that's trying to rewrite history, then let's have that. But when you hide behind falsehoods and then use them to try and manipulate the public, then all you are is afraid. Afraid of me, an unarmed American, and the truth I bring along as my sidekick. Only cowards have to lie. Be brave. Report the truth. It will feel good.

Why we're allowed to hate a movie about the military
On 'American Sniper' and more: judging art, and propaganda
By Drew McWeeny  @DrewatHitFix | Monday, Jan 19, 2015 7:30 PM

Over the weekend, I saw a headline go by about the truly remarkable box-office earned by "American Sniper," and I made a quick joke about it on Twitter. It was a passing thought, and then I was done.

"I'm not surprised 'American Sniper' opened so well. Fantasy films are huge at the box-office these days. #yeahIsaidit"

Yes, the hashtag at the end is snide. But it's still a joke. I put it up and I moved on. Or at least, that was the plan. A few hours later, I had to shut off the notifications on my phone because they just kept coming. For the most part, lots of retweets and a few jokes back at me, but there was a percentage of those replies that were overtly hostile and angry, and several threats of/calls for violence as a result. “Said the liberal insane POS. Sad our military die for ass wipes like you. Go away, little boy” was a charming one. I was intrigued by the one who called me a racist and then said, “You think there aren’t black people in our armed forces? You think that’s a ‘fantasy’?” I like it when people get upset about things that were never remotely part of my thought process.

One guy even attempted to loop Marcus Luttrell into the conversation, which made me laugh. The idea that the author of "Lone Survivor," the real-life retired SEAL whose story was the basis of the film and book would take time out of his day to join some anonymous goofball off of Twitter on a trip to LA to physically assault me is laughable. "Hmmm… maybe I should listen to this guy with 175 Twitter followers and go punch someone over a 140 character long wisecrack."

Right now, Seth Rogen's taking his turn in the barrel because of (this sounds familiar) a comment on Twitter about "American Sniper." His comment has been RT'd over 5000 times now, and favorited almost twice as many times. And you can now Google "Seth Rogen" and "American Sniper" together and you'll get an entire page full of results. People are getting hot about Seth's comment because it gives them a chance to say the word "Nazi" and draw huge ridiculous false connections between what Seth said and a very particular insult.

Here's the thing… he's not wrong. Sure, the film at the end of "Basterds" is direct state-sponsored Nazi propaganda, while "American Sniper" is a commercial movie, released by a major studio. In both films (one of which, I should point out, doesn't technically exist), though, we see a sniper being canonized on film for the killing of the enemy, the sniper-as-hero archetype. Rogen's comparison, offered up without any further slam or attempted insult, is an accurate one.

Personally, I have always been troubled by what our pop culture depictions of war say about us, and by the attributes war gains any time you point a camera at it, fact or fiction. Truffaut said, "There's no such thing as an anti-war film," and I understand that he was deeply troubled by the thrills that are delivered when we watch combat, the visceral reaction that he had to footage that upset him on a moral level.

I feel the opposite is true; any movie about war is automatically, no matter what the filmmaker's intentions, an anti-war film. I look at films about war, and I cannot imagine how we continue to send remarkable men and women into that situation. Any of us. One of the most disturbing things about the evolution of war films as a genre is the way technology has been used to create more and more graphic and realistic on-screen depictions of horrifying loss of life and limb. David Ayer's "Fury" was problematic, but I said in the review that one of the reasons I would tell people to see it was because of how great the tank combat is. Beautifully staged, harrowing, and photographed with a great sense of kinetic energy, it's impressive stuff. But tank combat is one of those things I'm not sure I should have a visceral action-movie reaction to, because of context, not because of form. That's the damnable thing about war movies.

Talking to a friend last night, she discussed how her reaction to the movie was to the movie itself. Not to Chris Kyle. Not to the true story. Not to the book. Not to any of the various controversies around Kyle. She liked Bradley Cooper's work, and she liked the way it played as a movie. When I wrote my review, I wrote about the movie, nothing else. I didn't really get into my feelings about Chris Kyle or his book or the industry that exists around portraying him a certain way, because that's really not part of a discussion of the film itself. I'll also confess… part of me gets nervous when those subjects do finally come up because of how the conversations inevitably break down. I may have laughed at that guy on Twitter who "threatened" me, but it does raise a question about that guy's reaction and the reactions of the people who are slinging fury and hate at Rogen right now over what he said. Why do people get so much more angry and defensive about any based-on-a-true-story that involves the military, and why do they feel some special need to attack anyone who dislikes these movies for any reason?

It's not like military-themed films are the only ones that get attacked for accuracy. It's Oscar season right now, so "Selma" and "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory Of Everything" and "Foxcatcher" and "Unbroken" have all had attacks launched at them over accuracy, and to some degree, every one of those films fails the test of "truth." "American Sniper" certainly isn't the only film out right now that can be challenged on matters of accuracy, nor would I consider it the biggest offender. In fact, I think what Eastwood tried to do, working with screenwriter Jason Hall, was shave away all the stuff from Kyle's book that was either difficult to prove or proven false, sticking instead to Kyle's service tours and his home life. The movie version of Chris Kyle is a movie star at the height of his creative energy right now, throwing himself into a physical transformation and pushing himself to a really grim emotional place. It's burnished mythmaking by Eastwood. The film makes a conscious decision about what character it wants to present, and there's nothing wrong with that, per se.

I understand if someone wants to go to the theater and have that experience, especially if they're military or if they have military in their family. I think a big part of the appeal (and I hate using that word in this context) of Chris Kyle's story is the horrifying irony of the ending. It seems to me that is the key with almost all of these films is that they're built on one particular idea about this famous person or this famous moment in time. I thought "Foxcatcher" was a frustration because there's so much good work in the film, hobbled by some really strange choices about the actual storytelling. The only way to look at these films is as fiction, based on things that actually happened. They are not true. In every single one of them, you have people who heard a story, who responded to that story, and who saw a reason to tell other people that story. In doing so, they edit. They massage. They shape. They edit. They emphasize.

Does it matter how Lyndon B. Johnson is portrayed in the movie "Selma"? Yes. Absolutely. And what I see in that film is a portrait of a man who understands what he should do and who equally understands what he cannot do at that point, a man whose position evolves over the course of the film, and who eventually realizes that there is something that has to be done. "Selma" is not a biopic in the strict sense. It is a film about the way it takes community to create successful protest, and how that community works. It absolutely telescopes events and situations in order to make its dramatic points. In the end, I believe "Selma" has a fundamentally honest perspective on the events, and that's all I can ask of any of these movies, just as I find that "Foxcatcher" has a fundamentally dishonest perspective. The fact that I think "Selma" is the better made movie of the two is unrelated to that belief, though. It's just coincidence that it lines up the way it does.

Obviously, there was an audience that was ready and waiting for "American Sniper," and I am glad they had the opportunity to see a film that means so much to them. But I wish it was possible in our culture to have a conversation about these movies and how they work as films without it automatically spilling over into accusations and anger. If you feel protective of the way the military is portrayed on film, that's fine. But the anger is part of something larger, some fundamental break that has occurred in the way we talk to each other in this country, a "your team or mine" thing that I constantly struggle to stay out of. What worries me is that at a certain point, if you say that what a film is about is more important than the actual artistry of the filmmaking, then you're talking about propaganda... aren't you?

I am not a binary person with a fixed binary opinion on things, and I suspect most people are the same way. I'd love to have a conversation about the way Eastwood's own attitudes about the military have evolved over the course of his performing and directing career. I'd love to have a back-to-back look at "Heartbreak Ridge" and "American Sniper" and discuss the way they each reflect the culture's attitude towards the military at the moments they were made. I'd be happy to talk about the way "Unforgiven" has defined so much of the career that Eastwood has had since it came out, and how "Sniper" seems to cover the same basic thematic ground of what violence does to someone over the long term and how hard it can be to live with a legend that constantly pushes people to challenge you as a way of proving themselves. There are conversations I'd like to have about "Sniper," and none of them are invalidated by my feelings about Chris Kyle, or by a short joke.

Wouldn't it be better to engage these conversations rather than just sniping every single fact-based film from a distance? Wouldn't that be the best way to make sure we keep truth and art and the relationship between the two in perspective?

"American Sniper," like "Selma," is in theaters now.


American Sniper Triggers Flood of Anti-Muslim Venom, Civil Rights Group Warns
By Dominique Mosbergen
Huffington Post
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said this week that threats against Muslims and Arabs have soared following the release of "American Sniper," a hugely popular and hugely controversial film.
Threats reported to the civil rights group have tripled since the film’s wide opening over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, the committee told The Guardian. "The last time we saw such a sharp increase was in 2010, around the Ground Zero mosque," said the group’s national legal and policy director, Abed Ayoub, referring to an Islamic center that was going to be located a few blocks from the World Trade Center site.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has even sent letters to "American Sniper" star Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood, imploring them "to help reduce the hateful rhetoric," according to USA Today. The group wrote that it has seen "hundreds of violent messages targeting Arabs and Muslims from moviegoers of the film."
"With all these threats coming in, we wanted to be proactive," Samer Khalaf, the committee's president, told The Huffington Post in discussing his group's decision to contact Cooper and Eastwood. "When we are not proactive, people end up getting hurt. ... We don't know if somebody's serious or if somebody's joking around, so we take all these threats seriously, especially when they're talking about shooting bullets into someone's head."
Khalaf said the group has not heard back from either Cooper or Eastwood.
Eastwood’s production company, Malpaso Productions, and Cooper's rep have not responded to The Huffington Post’s requests for comment.
"American Sniper" tells the story of the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who served four tours in the Iraq War and is credited as the most lethal sniper in U.S. history. It's based on Kyle's 2012 autobiography.
"Savage, despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq," Kyle wrote. "I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives."
"American Sniper" has been a massive box office success, raking in $90 million in the first three days of its wide release -- reportedly an all-time record for the month of January. The movie has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor.
But the film has also proved to be politically polarizing, with celebrities, politicians and critics adding their voices to the debate. The National Review's David French said the "phenomenal" movie had "created a cultural moment," while New York magazine’s David Edelstein slammed it as a "propaganda film" and a "Republican platform movie" that was "scandalously blinkered."
In a post for Electronic Intifada this week, journalist Rania Khalek noted that social media has been deluged in recent days with "American Sniper" fans posting hateful, discriminatory and sometimes violent messages directed at Arabs and Muslims.
The film "makes me wanna go shoot some f**kin Arabs," wrote one Twitter user earlier this month, punctuating his tweet with emoticons of guns. "'American Sniper' made me appreciate soldiers 100x more and hate Muslims 1000000x more," wrote another.
In its letter to Cooper, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee warned, "The threats advocate for the murder of Arabs, one going as far as to say, 'Great f**king movie and now I really want to kill some f**king ragheads.'"
The civil rights group said in its letter that it's working with the FBI and local law enforcement officials to address the threats.
"It is imperative for us, as Americans, to act now to prevent these verbal threats from turning into violent and physical hate crimes," the group wrote.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Decolonization and God

When the Solorzano skull was brought to Guam there were several events held to discuss the meaning of the skull and also the legacy of the violent time during which the priest Solorzano was killed in fighting between the Spanish and Chamorros. The event that I helped organize at UOG was pretty well attended, with more than 150 people there on a Saturday morning. The discussion never got too heated, with the biggest conflict being over the statement made by Father Fran Hezel that the Chamorro-Spanish Wars was a result of cultural misunderstandings. Religion wasn't touched on much, despite the fact that religion was at the core of the history involved. The Spanish priests were assaulting the religion of Ancient Chamorros. They were forcing them to give up their religion and take a new one. Solorzano himself, as a priest was driven to go into places where he would put himself at risk in the name of his religion and in hopes of dying in the name of his God. But very few people made their statements in an explicitly religious context. They didn't appeal to the status of a God or a spirit or anything else as they were challenging or legitimizing the historical legacy of colonization in the Marianas.

The night before this event however, there was another forum, this time at the Cathedral in Hagatna. This conversation was much more interesting, as more of the politics and discourse around the issue of the Spanish colonization of the Marianas emerged, and it did so in random ways. Often times I end up in rooms or in email chains or just in some everyday conversation with people for whom decolonization and self-determination are serious topics, things they know about and take seriously, even if they may not agree on many points. But what this forum featured was people who knew close to nothing about decolonization, either in its theoretical possibilities or in its political particularities, nonetheless making very aggressive statements, sometimes mixing in a heavy amount of religious discourse. As people attempted to tackle the topic of self-determination in a Catholic context, a local religious context, the results were both inspiring, but in generally frightening.

Some people came out strongly, connecting the Church's history of colonization as necessitating that they now help in Guam's decolonization. They invoked liberation theology, whereby the church may have been a force for violence, colonization and cultural destruction in the past, it could today do the opposite and be something to save and help the unfortunate, the oppressed. One priest for example came out in full force saying, this is something the church needs to take up, especially in order to help get past the colonial history. Others however took a very anti-political and anti-historical perspective in the name of their faith, saying, it doesn't matter what happened then, God must have wanted it to happen, and so we should forget about it and look to what he plans for us next. It was fascinating to see the way people ended up creating a double apex for their discursive points, whereby God and the United States or Spain sat atop of the universe, and as long as one was loyal to both of them, and the way they bless and sustain each other, all would be well.

It was interesting to see this side of the potential ideological spectrum, as it almost never rears its head in my day to day discussions. But given how religious Guam is in someways I should have anticipated it. Below are letters to the editor of the Pacific Daily News which take seriously religious issues but nonetheless support the idea of decolonization. One of them comes from Pastor Steve McManus, who will be working with the Commission on Decolonization this coming year in terms of helping to promote information on self-determination amongst Guam's high schools.


"Guam is in need of a great awakening"
Letter to the Editor
September 21, 2014

In my U.S. history class, we just learned about the Great Awakening. Beforehand, the American colonists lost their faith in God and continued to be oppressed by England. To my understanding, the Great Awakening, quite literally, awakened the American colonies.

I'm a firm believer in God and how truthful his word is. I believe that when the 13 colonies restored their faith, it re-established their understanding of truth and justice and helped them realize the injustices of England, their colonizer.

Now, I believe that for Guam to hold a plebiscite, the people need an awakening, just like the American colonists did years ago. Indeed, there is some doubt expressed by many of Guam's citizens, but I believe that we need to unite as one -- no matter what political status Guam ends up pursuing, to address our future.

It is true that changing our political status is intimidating and not knowing what our future as a nation holds is scary, but the plebiscite simply needs to happen.

The people of Guam must be educated on the three political statuses they are being offered, not only to create awareness, but to help move the plebiscite along, so we can take action.

Gina Santos is a student at Southern Christian Academy and lives in Santa Rita.

"Plebiscite is important to make voices heard"
Letter to the editor
September 14, 2014

What will it take to have a plebiscite? I personally think we have the ability to make it happen. Why? With the help of all the people on Guam, both indigenous and non-indigenous, spreading the word.
How? We can advertise around the island, making signs concerning our political status. Also, we can go canvassing door-to-door, passing out fliers pertaining to the important issues about the plebiscite, in order for the U.S. to be notified and aware of our plebiscite being noticed.

Our voice needs to be heard and it will be. We don't want to be considered property of the United States and want to change our political status through the help of this plebiscite. Thomas Paine said: "Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess."

It is our duty to let everyone know what we want, and that we want it now.

We can't just sit and act like we don't have issues we need to fix. It's very important because Guam needs to get out of being a colony and the amount of problems we face is increasing as we speak. Let's go, Guam! We got this!
Lorenzo Blas is a student at Southern Christian Academy.

"Let youths lead political status discussion"
Steven McManus
September 15, 2014

Let me rephrase a few words from Thomas Paine's Common Sense: "The sentiments contained in 'Decolonization' are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."
Time will help, but we need to make the most of it now by demonstrating that the current "custom" of things -- status quo -- is, at best, indefensible.

Two years ago, my government students from Southern Christian Academy conducted surveys on the issue of decolonization. The initial response was to stay status quo. But when the respondents were given information on the benefits of a better political status, the majority wanted change. This dramatic change of heart and mind came at little cost. All that my students did was share some facts on political status options in under 10 minutes.

Education really is key. This was also around the time that the same students were building a traditional outrigger canoe as part of a school project. The students appreciated the historic similarities of both assignments.

The following year, my class submitted a proposal to Gov. Eddie Calvo to have all high schools on Guam send student delegates to three islandwide debates, where they would argue the merits of decolonization. The plan was to have the brightest of our island schools compete in five rounds, leading up to a final debate held at the Southern High School fine arts theatre. The media would broadcast these debates over a period of six weeks.

The governor endorsed it wholeheartedly and we now hope to get the debates going in the second semester of this school year.

This plan echoes an article written by Tiara Naputi of Pepperdine University in the Journal of Public Deliberation, where she wrote: "What is needed to improve both voter turnout and deliberation is a broad-based forum, ... where high school students ... participate as debaters in a series of deliberations. Using a debate format, which gathers together both students and adult experts, these deliberations will investigate the three options on a public stage."

The debates will give us what a jam-packed brochure on decolonization can't: clear information, passion and, yes, lots of rhetoric.

The debates will expose the long habit of not thinking that 116 years of colonization is wrong and enlighten people to see that anything is better than status quo.

As the students investigate the merits of these issues, they will discover what is best for Guam, no matter what their initial inclinations.

Let the youths lead this conversation, and us, toward our political destiny. For when it is finally decided, they will be the ones to navigate Guam's outrigger through these tumultuous seas and into the right harbor.

Steven McManus is a resident of Yona.


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