Monday, August 25, 2008

I hope you'll dance ...

"When you get the chance
to sit it out or dance,
I hope you'll dance."

Here's a beautiful inspirational song and video for all Unity Movement supporters, participants, and kindred spirits. For all of you out there for whom "better times" is not simply an hollow, insincere, empty campaign slogan but something we can actually achieve together, this is for you. Dance, aspire, achieve ... and be true to your highest self.

The dust is settling. So everybody, come on now, pick up from the mud, and let's dance!

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Building on FDR's 'Four Freedoms' -- American diversity is the foundation for American leadership, strength, and prosperity

Barack Obama just made a major foreign policy speech, May 23, 2008, in Miami, Florida. The speech, running a bit over 30 minutes, reflects his vision and promise of a fundamentally different way of doing things, demonstrates a seamless connection between foreign and domestic policy, and stakes out firm ground on immigration policy, including unequivocal and unflinching support for comprehensive immigration reform and bringing illegal aliens "out of the shadows."

Here you will hear Barack Obama express many of the same principles and values that underlie the Unity Movement.

This is real leadership: Obama unafraid to confront his political adversaries and the right-wing demagogic, xenophobic, fear-and-doubt mongering spin machine head on. Unafraid to lead, at home and abroad.


What all of us strive for is freedom as FDR described it. Political freedom. Religious freedom. But also freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
We must heed the words of Dr. King, written from his own jail cell: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions. There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And as President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom ....

I will never, ever, compromise the cause of liberty. And unlike John McCain, I would never, ever, rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty. We've heard enough empty promises from politicians like George Bush and John McCain. I will turn the page.

It's time for more than tough talk that never yields results. It's time for a new strategy. There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. That's why I will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island. It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.

I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That's the way to bring about real change in Cuba – through strong, smart and principled diplomacy.
We've heard plenty of talk about democracy from George Bush, but we need steady action. We must put forward a vision of democracy that goes beyond the ballot box. We should increase our support for strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press, vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and the rule of law. That is how we can support democracy that is strong and sustainable not just on an election day, but in the day to day lives of the people of the Americas.
We must also make clear our support for labor rights, and human rights ….

… if we've learned anything in our history in the Americas, it's that true security cannot come from force alone.
That is why the United States must stand for growth in the Americas from the bottom up. That begins at home, with comprehensive immigration reform. That means securing our border and passing tough employer enforcement laws. It means bringing 12 million unauthorized immigrants out of the shadows. But it also means working with Mexico, Central America and others to support bottom up development to our south.
We'll establish a program for the Department of Energy and our laboratories to share technology with countries across the region. We'll assess the opportunities and risks of nuclear power in the hemisphere by sitting down with Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. And we'll call on the American people to join this effort through an Energy Corps of engineers and scientists who will go abroad to help develop clean energy solutions.

This is the unique role that the United States can play. We can offer more than the tyranny of oil. We can learn from the progress made in a country like Brazil, while making the Americas a model for the world. We can offer leadership that serves the common prosperity and common security of the entire region.
An alliance of the Americas will only succeed if it is founded on a bedrock of mutual respect. It's time to turn the page on the arrogance in Washington and the anti-Americanism across the region that stands in the way of progress. It's time to listen to one another and to learn from one another.
… We'll expand the Peace Corps, and ask more young Americans to go abroad to deepen the trust and the ties among our people.

And we must tap the vast resource of our own immigrant population to advance each part of our agenda. One of the troubling aspects of our recent politics has been the anti-immigrant sentiment that has flared up, and been exploited by politicians come election time. We need to understand that immigration – when done legally – is a source of strength for this country. Our diversity is a source of strength for this country. When we join together – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and native American – there is nothing that we can't accomplish. Todos somos Americanos!

Together, we can choose the future over the past.
Every moment is critical. And this must be our moment. Freedom. Opportunity. Dignity. These are not just the values of the United States – they are the values of the Americas. They were the cause of Washington's infantry and Bolivar's cavalry; of Marti's pen and Hidalgo's church bells.

That legacy is our inheritance. That must be our cause. And now must be the time that we turn the page to a new chapter in the story of the Americas.

The text of the complete speech (as prepared) is here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vote for Change

Here's a glimpse of Barack Obama's revival of grassroots democracy and nationwide campaign for change.

Participate in the Vote for Change movement here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dancing with wolves, negotiating with devils

Today's Saipan Tribune has excerpts of an excellent Op-Ed piece by Leslie H. Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, writing for the Washington Post: "In the end, every President talks to the bad guys."

These verities of international relations, or any successful engagement of an opposing power, not only highlight the superiority of Barack Obama as the next President of the U.S., but also reveal lessons for us right here on the tiny islands of the Commonwealth.

"I have been charged by the president with making sure that none of the tyrannies in the world are negotiated with. We don't negotiate with evil; we defeat it." -- Vice President Dick Cheney, December 2003

Lil_hammerhead has hosted a lively discussion of just how stupid the 43rd POTUS is. Leslie Gelb tells us more. Posing the question of how do you deal with someone you believe to be evil, Gelb tells us simply: "You just can; it's done all the time." After citing examples from history's greatest (and less great) leaders, Gelb continues:

"Only President Bush messed up this simple, effective two-step approach to diplomacy. In 2002, he famously blasted Iraq, Iran and North Korea as "an axis of evil." (They were evil, though certainly not an axis.) But unlike Reagan, Bush virtually blocked his own future diplomatic path by making regime change his goal toward these evildoers, thereby slashing incentives for the devils to negotiate with him. Why should they negotiate if Bush's aim was to overthrow them? The policy made no sense, and sure enough, it didn't work. Bush did indeed go to war against Iraq, but he entered into direct negotiations with Pyongyang and eventually wound up holding ambassadorial-level talks with Iran about the present situation in Iraq. Those reversals made Bush, rather than the bad guys, look hypocritical."

Here's the nitty-gritty:

"The real issue is not whether to talk to the bad guys but how -- under which conditions, with which mix of pressure and conciliation, and with what degree of expectation that the bad guys will keep their word. When figuring out how to go about negotiating with devils, the questions [are] very basic."

Unfortunately, too many people miss this simple principle. The Cheney-Bush mentality, lodged in a very different part of the political spectrum, also exists right here in the CNMI and in the thought processes of overseas allies, thwarting progress toward goals and engendering missed opportunity.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Become An Obama Organizing Fellow

The Obama campaign is looking for students and recent graduates to train in the basics of grassroots organizing and campaign fundamentals.

Obama Organizing Fellows will then be placed in a community to work for real change from the ground up.

This is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a new generation of leadership. Here's where you apply.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama 2012

Now here's real Hope ...

Cast your votes for the best Obama in 30 seconds ads here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Long-Term Resident Status and "Secrets" that Never Were

Middle Road has a March 22, 2008 post entitled, "Permanent residency for aliens courtesy of the CNMI gov't? Really now?" There has been much erroneous and misguided talk about this issue. Some of the recent promotion of negativism relative to the owngoing discussions is difficult to discuss charitably. There is a need for more clarity and perspective. Accordingly, I just posted a comment there and am reposting it here to be more readily and conveniently accessible to the public:

Get a grip, Weird Elle. There are far too many points for what little time I have, but here are a salient few.

One, there was nothing secret about the meeting. A meeting is not secret just because the media are not invited. If this meeting was "secret" then 99.9% of all meetings on the island are "secret." Truth is, the term "secret" got applied to this process only as a rhetorical device used by some to disparage the process because they were not participants and were not given a veto over what would be done or allowed to dictate what is in the best interest of workers and long-term alien residents of the CNMI.

Two, the people involved on the side of workers and long-term alien residents of the CNMI are all responsible individuals, chosen by the workers and long-term alien residents themselves to perform leadership roles. We are intimately familiar with the myriad details of exactly what aliens and workers in the CNMI face in the labor and immigration arena.

Three, we also know what the current "federalization" legislation will and will not do to meet the needs of workers and long-term alien residents. We harbor no illusions; neither are we deceived by specious legal analyses, threats of litigation, and other propaganda. We carefully evaluate the legal and political landscape.

Four, this process is not about the Fitial administration "granting" something to workers and long-term alien residents. It is not a government initiative. Legislators have specifically been excluded to date (that is, from the first two meetings), although that restriction no longer applies. Legislators were excluded in the initial stages to avoid the possibility of negative reactions before the concept had really formed any substance. There is so far no evidence whatsoever of the Governor endorsing any enhanced status. Indeed, I know that legislators who believe there should be action in this area are concerned about having a bill the Governor would be willing to sign.

Five, calling it "permanent residency" is confusing. That term is a lightening rod for uninformed negative reactions both in the CNMI and Washington, DC. We are very well aware of what the legal considerations are for any such proposal, and the processes available to address those considerations.

Six, the process is actually nothing more than an attempt to answer the question of what a meaningful reform addressing the legitimate concerns and interests of long-term alien residents and actually capable of becoming CNMI law would look like. Answering this question requires that all stakeholders have a place at the table.

Seven, Deanne Siemer requested a meeting with some of the Filipino leadership out of the Unity Movement core group. As the largest ethnic group of foreign national workers in the CNMI, Ms. Siemer believed this to be the best starting point for an attempt to build a consensus on how to address the status question locally.

Eight, local action and federalization are not mutually exclusive. This is especially true right now for two reasons: a) there is much the legislation presently before the U.S. Senate does not address, and b) even after the President signs the "federalization" bill, it will be a year to 18 months before the bulk of the law kicks in.

Nine, the interests of workers, long-term alien residents, businesses, locals, and the government also are not mutually exclusive. We all have some interests in common and some that are different. Consequently, it is possible through discussion to reach agreement on an approach to an issue that leaves us all better off than we would be otherwise.

Ten, there are many reasons for business, locals, and the government to want to reach common ground with workers and long-term alien residents of the CNMI. In short, doing so is in the best interest of the community -- the entire community we all share. That, supposedly, is what the Unity Movement is all about.

Eleven, in larger terms, workers and long-term alien residents have the stronger position at present. Their concerns have the attention of the U.S. Congress. Here in the CNMI, the Unity Movement has displayed a solidarity that did not previously exist. Federalization looms. Many businesses and politicians have shortsightedly fought against it. I have repeatedly said that we need to "cross the federalization hurdle" so we can all work together to make federalization work for the benefit of everyone in the CNMI. The present balance of power and political dynamic creates a unique opportunity. This process, which has just begun, has the potential to lead to the steps that make federalization work for the CNMI.

Twelve, "the other side," and specifically Deanne Siemer and Maya Kara, may still vigorously oppose federalization -- but as a practical matter, assuming they represent certain business and political interests and their own, they must prepare for that eventuality even if they insist it will never occur. Predictably, their course (based on the foregoing assumption) would pursue the outcome they believe best in the context of either eventuality.

Thirteen, the small group of Filipino leaders, drawn largely from the Dekada Movement, which has been at the forefront of the quest for improved status for long-term alien residents, agreed to meet with Deanne Siemer only with the presence of legal counsel and only a venue of their choosing (my conference room). When that first meeting took place, Ms. Siemer brought Ms. Kara along with her. Naturally, there was no reason to object because we are well aware of Ms. Kara's extensive connections with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the CNMI Bar Association, and many leading politicians and (principally past) public officials.

Fourteen, at that first meeting, we first listened to hear what Ms. Siemer and Ms. Kara had to say. We then locked in our concerns and challenged points on which we disagreed. The most important thing that happened at that meeting was the laying down of some ground rules for opening this dialogue, this conversation about status. Distinctly, there is much in common with the ground rules Tina Sablan laid down for her Commonwealth forums, e.g. no personal attacks, everyone gets to have a say, no media grandstanding. The most important rules were that the discussion is not about federalization, PL 15-108, or minimum wage. Our respective views on those topics are to be put off to the side and the discussion focused on the question of status under prospective local law. it was explicitly agreed that all sides are free to advocate their respective positions on these issues independent of this process and without affecting the process.

Fifteen, consequently, it should be very clear that we are pro-federalization and strongly advocating for federal action to fully address the status question and provide U.S. lawful permanent residence and a pathway to citizenship in appropriate cases -- consistent with the mandate in the present federalization bill. The present initiative is for the purpose of addressing current needs for reforms in CNMI law. Those needs exist and are morally and socially compelling regardless of federalization. Furthermore, the steps we take here have the potential to frame the implementation of federalization in a way that benefits all.

Sixteen, there is nothing new about this. The Dekada Movement was formed four years ago to seek improved status for long-term alien residents of the CNMI, not just by way of "green cards" under Federal auspices, but also through improved status under CNMI law. Moreover, CNMI political leaders as far back as 1994 or 1996 were openly considering the possibility of granting "permanent residency" to some class of alien workers (despite the existence of a peculiar constitutional provision that is part of the existing legal firmament that must be considered).

Seventeen, this process and the work Rep. Tina Sablan is doing are not either-or propositions. Each informs the other. In fact, many of us involved in this process had another "secret" meeting with Tina yesterday evening. Deanne Siemer also talks with Tina outside of these other meetings. I suppose those too are "secret" meetings.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This is hilarious!

A new articulation of the McCain campaign theme ....

John "Bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb Iran" He Is

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Misrepresentations and misinterpretations of H.R. 3070

If you've been reading the local papers about what Howard Willens has been saying about H.R. 3079 or federalization of immigration, you may have many questions.

The short answer to all these questions is Howard Willens is wrong. Workers, businesses, and the public need to look to more reliable sources for legal interpretation. Bill Wicker, Communications Director for the Senate Committeee on Energy and Natural Resources, recently addressed the subject. He concluded:
It is unfortunate that ... there are those who misrepresent and misinterpret the U.S. government position in an effort to further delay reforms that are vital to the CNMI’s future.

Look here for more information.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

'Yes We Can'

This video was created by of Black Eyed Peas and Jesse Dylan, son of Bob Dylan, expressing support of the Obama Movement, but it applies equally to the the Unity Movement right here in the CNMI.

All foreign national workers, U.S. citizen supporters, members of the business community, lawyers for the public interest, opponents of the attitudes and approaches embodied in PL 15-108, indigenous and nonindigenous residents of these islands -- the real People of the CNMI -- united in seeking a better, more just and prosperous CNMI, "Yes We Can!"

People of the CNMI . . . Yes WE Can!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Grassroots politics ... growing a movement

Note to readers: This post also appears on my Election Forum blog.

I thought I'd share with you excerpts from an email I received from Barack Obama today (no, not a personal email -- a campaign email) and especially some videos on, as Barack says, "what hope looks like."

Barack writes:

"In less than 24 hours, voters in South Carolina will head to the polls.

Before they do, I wanted to show you a bit about what kind of campaign we're running here.

When Michelle and I talked about my running for president, one of the core goals we both had for this campaign was to leave the political process better off than we found it.

Here in South Carolina, a state with a history of some pretty divisive politics, ordinary people have challenged conventional thinking about the process and built a statewide organization based on local community organizing and neighbor-to-neighbor contacts.

Our supporters -- men and women of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds -- have come together around the idea that we are one people, invested in each other and in our common future."

* * *
"In communities across this state, people who have never been involved in politics before -- or who had given up on what they saw as a broken system -- have built something special.

No matter what the outcome tomorrow, our work here will have a lasting impact on those communities and on the Democratic Party for a long time to come.

We're seeing the same story play out across the country as grassroots supporters in 22 states prepare to cast their votes or turn out to caucus on February 5th."
* * *
"[After the South Carolina primary,] the spirit of the grassroots organizing we have done here -- of ordinary people taking back the political process -- will be apparent in thousands of communities across the country.

I believe more strongly than ever that this movement for change can do more than just win an election. Together, we can transform this country."

Here's one video of organizing in South Carolina:

You will find many more here, providing a sense of what the Obama campaign has built in South Carolina and all worth watching.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Monday, January 21, 2008 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
2008 is the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination.

Unity Movement organizers and coordinators pay tribute to Dr. King and his spiritual predecessor, Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi, whose messages of committed nonviolent action in pursuit of social justice are an inspiration to us all.

All members of the community, of all nationalities, cultural backgrounds, religions, and occupations are invited to join us in sustaining the principles and ideals of the Unity March by participating in a Day of Service on Sunday, January 20, 2008, and joining in the commemorative activities organized by the African-American Cultural Preservation Committee in honor of Martin Luther King Day on January 21, 2008.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Make it a Day ON, Not a Day Off!”

The national organization, notes Dr. King “sought to forge the common ground on which people from all walks of life could join together to address important community issues.” This is the guiding principle and foundation of the Unity Movement.

This year, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, there is a national initiative, “40 Days of Nonviolence: Building the Beloved Community,” commencing with the King Day of Service. The Unity Movement joins this initiative, and will kick off 40 days of planning and participation in service projects and educational activities promoting Dr. King’s message of nonviolence and social justice, with a clean-up at American Memorial Park on Sunday, January 20, 2008, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The clean-up will be in preparation for Martin Luther King Day and to enhance the enjoyment of the park by the public for weeks to come. On Monday, January 21, 2008, the Unity Movement encourages participation by all in the Martin Luther King Day events. In particular, workers, supporters, and all members of the community are urged to join the commemorative mini-march and the subsequent keynote program at the American Memorial Park amphitheater.

March orientation and assembly begins at 2:30 p.m. at the American Memorial Park parking area, followed immediately at 3:00 p.m. by the mini-march. The keynote program follows at 4:30 p.m. at the American Memorial Park amphitheater and features Dr. Kathryn Takara of the University of Hawai’i. Join us to reaffirm our commitment to Dr. King’s ideals of non-violence, equality, and justice for all.

Sunday, January 20, 2008
American Memorial Park Clean Up
9 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Monday, January 21, 2008, Martin Luther King Day

2:30 p.m. – March Orientation and Assembly
American Memorial Park parking area.

3:00 p.m. – Mini-March

4:30 p.m. – Keynote Program
Amphitheater, American Memorial Park

Many other activities are planned by the African-American Cultural Preservation Committee, as reported on page 12 of the Marianas Variety for Friday, January 18, 2008; on page 5 of the Saipan Tribune for Saturday, January 19, 2008; and nicely presented online on Unheard No More.

One that may be of especial interest to readers of this blog is the afternoon forum, "Why and how the tenets of the civil rights struggle personified by Dr. King are pertinent here in the Mariana Islands." The forum will be held in the AMP Visitor's Center from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Featured panelists include Senator Maria "Frica" T. Pangelinan, Representative Christina "Tina" Sablan, Dr. Kathryn Takara, Professor, Ethnic Studies, University of Hawai'i, and Representative Edward T. Salas.

Supporting organizations for the Unity Movement include Dekada, the Human Dignity Act Movement, Pilcowa, MOVER, and others.

For more information about these activities, please text or call Boni Sagana at 484-0507, Jerry Custodio at 285-5137, Ed Probst at 483-7361, or Steve Woodruff at 235-3872.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Obama in New Hampshire

It's hard to stay timely, with the New Hampshire vote coming up so quickly and much to review. But I'm making an effort to vet and share with you what strikes me as noteworthy.

The train in New Hampshire is moving at breakneck speed. Here are my snapshots. First, here's a video from the of Michelle Obama talking about Barack and herself:

Also from the is this video of a New Hampshire woman talking about her decision to support Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton:

[insert new hamshire resident speaks her mind video] click here for video in new window

Interestingly, it seems even Republican candidate Mitt Romney's ads are helping Obama. The Washington Post reports:

Voters may object to attack ads, but they tend to remember the messages. Melissa Hanson, a stay-at-home mom, says that "I shut down" when negative spots come on. But she mentioned an ad in which Romney says Clinton has never run a state, city or corner store.

"Even though Romney's ad against Hillary was negative, he probably did make a few points," Hanson says. "I thought, 'You're right. What has she really run?' "

The Post is now calling Hillary Clinton the "underdog" and reports that Obama is "spreading consternation and bewilderment through the ranks of Clinton supporters here struggling to make sense of what is unfolding before them."

Friday, January 4, 2008

Barack wins big in Iowa

Barack Obama has won Iowa by a wide margin. Here is his speech:

The commentary here is a must read.

God Bless America! God Bless Iowa!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Your voice can change the world . . .

This literally brought tears to my eyes.

To support Barack Obama and view progress toward his goal of 500,000 people owning a piece of his campaign by January 3, go here. To learn more about who I am, what motivates me, and what I am doing, check out my website and my blogs.