Monday, December 7, 2009

Extra Credit: Obama Speech

What view of America in the world does Obama argue for? How does it compare to the view of the neoconservatives discussed in "Visions of Dominance"? To other views we've seen this semester.
- Obama really tries to explain how he does not think America is an empire. He wants America to be portrayed as a country that dealt with unfortunate circumstances due to our past leaders and everyone should overcome it in order for us to accept the present and to focus on present situations. Obama wants America to be shown as a country that unites during a a time of need and that we can all come to an agreement when we need to for the greater cause. I disagree with his thoughts because we have only come together for business purposes since 9/11. Klein explains how individuals are taken advantage of during a time of shock, and I agree.

What is Bacevich's argument and how does it relate to critiques of U.S. power we've read this semester?
- Bacevich argues that Obama is repeating what had happened in the past. I thought that connecting this war to the Vietnam war was very interesting. Many might say that this war is a lot more organized and less chaotic than the Vietnam war. I think Bacevich's opinion brings about a different sense since he had witnessed other leaders that did everything they could in order to persuade the military the pros of war. Many individuals seem to like Obama, but to hear Bacevich criticize the speech and tear it apart was unique. His different perspective showed how Obama is not much different than any other president we have had, even during the worst of times.

Revised Introduction and Thesis Paragraph - Please give feedback!!!

First Paragraph:
While the U.S. is a powerful, lucrative country, this is not necessarily true of other countries. After focusing on Mexico, it is clear that there is a direct contrast between the U.S. and Mexican economically. The Mexicans were subjugated to impoverished negative conditions. They too lacked employment. Nevertheless working would not have a substantially effect on them since their money had little value. Mexicans have been seeking help for numerous years, hoping for a change in life. Unfortunately, to their dismay, America has responded to this call. In duration of America’s dominance of Mexico, we examine what results have taken place based on its new opportunities. Is the United States of America living up to the imperial role means taking care of other countries it chooses to become involved with? How about the Mexicans in America? A relationship that has been based on a corrupted dominating spectrum results in a weak and vulnerable Mexico with very little economic freedom and potential to improve their status.

Thesis Paragraph:
The United States has exemplified numerous ways in which they abuse their power as a nation. We may consider their relationship with Mexico for instance, a relationship which is based on economic and political dominance sprouted from an opportunity to take over a vulnerable country. Throughout history, Mexico was susceptible to America’s trap and is left with very few benefits from the situation. The public fails to witness how the American government acts as a traitor and hypocrite, in order to help them prosper and maintain their imperial status.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thesis Paragraph

The United States has exemplified numerous ways in which they abuse their power as a nation. We may consider their relationship with Mexico for instance. A relationship which is based on economic and political sprouted from an opportunity to take over a vulnerable country. Mexico does not see how America is only using them for their resources to make themselves prosper, but goes along since they are receiving particular benefits which stabilizes their economy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Prewriting/Brainstorming for Research Paper

Country of choice: MEXICO

Why are you interested in this country and its relationship to the U.S.?

- Well at first I wanted to research India, but when we were in the library that day, I realized that there was not much for me to say. I was not very interested in the topic either. I began to think about the Hurricane Katrina film and what countries I could connect to that. I thought to myself: what happened during the Swine Flu epidemic took place? It really made me think. Why was Mexico being blamed? How did the Mexican government take care of their people? The U.S. is so quick to help other nations but what happened this time around?
-We also read about Mexicans in Prof. Miller’s class. I was astonished yet amazed by how the American and Mexican government treated laborers. I also thought about the Farmingville film. Again, the mistreatment of a being really makes you think.

What has struck you about this history and relationship to the United States from our readings, and from other knowledge and experience you may have?
-I first think of the stereotypes against Mexicans. Everyone thinks that they are illegal and uneducated. It is really unfair.
-The Bracero program really got to me. I understand how it seemed like it benefitted everybody but the aftermath of it seemed like a disaster to me. People were being mistreated, overworked, and then deported.

Based on your reading and knowledge so far, do you think the U.S.’s relationship with this country supports the thesis “The United States is an imperial power”?
-I think the United States’ relationship with Mexico is definitely an imperial one but I have trouble explaining it. I think the U.S. was controlling the economy and everything was done in a sneaky way so that the U.S. is portrayed as a great country who helps others in need but is just using them to prosper.

What don’t you know that you want to find out?
-How did both U.S. and Mexican governments react to the Swine Flu?
-How was the U.S. acting as an imperial power?
-What were the drug problems?
-Tourism: Cancun*
-What is NAFTA’s role?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Our Brand is Crisis"

At the end of the film, one of the U.S. political consultants says that leaders like Evo Morales represent a "dangerous form of populism." In the chapter "Latin America in Revolt," from How to Rule the World, Mark Engler describes how Morales and other new leaders in Latin America have been accused of "anti-Americanism," "populism" (260) and "demagoguery" (281). What do these accusations mean? What specific policies are these charges based on? Based on Engler's chapters, do you think these fears are justified? What specific policies has Morales implemented and how do they relate to these fears?

- "Populism" and "demagoguery" go hand in hand. Both explain how there is a stance for getting people their rights and doing whatever is needed to get natives what they want. Apart of "populism" and "demagoguery" includes getting rid of officials which make natives unsatisfied. We saw this when riots and protests were led Evo Morales to get rid of Goni in Our Brand is Crisis. There is an idea of how Morales was born in poverty and understands the people's needs.

- There is a twist in ideas when "anti-Americanism" is used to characterize new leaders because it can be interpreted as America being based on what only officials want and has nothing to do with the people. Basically the government makes desicions without the equality America symbolizes. I believe these accusations present how leaders are oblivious to the reality of their nation and make claims which would help them get the power that they want.

- I think Morales did what he had to do to get his position in governemnt but he is actually trying to make an improvement. Bolivia has been in poverty for a long time and never changed their status or really attempted to. Morales finally tried. He had cut his salary to stop taking away from everyone like previous leaders had done before.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Revision Brainstorm

What is my thesis?
- "McDonald's has, in some way, been considered to be one of America's greatest symbols of power worldwide; one of the greatest contradictions yet. We then question, what do those oversized golden arches really represent? By far does McDonald's represent how powerful America is considered to be."

If I hadn't written this, would I have convinced myself of this thesis? What would I be skeptical about?
- I think you can tell what my train of thought is but you cannot read it and understand it in an instance. It should be more clear, precise and to the point.

Does my evidence support my thesis?
- I think the examples I used in my essay support my thesis very well. I think I do have to work on explaining the quote a little more and show how it connects to my thesis for the reader's better understanding.

Where am I being vague?
- After inserting a quote, I do not explain what this quote means and how it connects to my thesis. When I do not explain my connections, the reader may assume a different connection which may trail away from my arguement.

Where is my reader confused?
- Some of my sentences make no sense at all. There are some phrases that I understand but do not flow in my writing.

What have I left out?
- I think I should include the court case that took place as an example. It would really explain the health situation in America.

How can I make what I'm saying more interesting?
- My writing needs to be more clear. I feel like I have a lot to say but I cannot word it properly. As a result, my writing does not make sense and becomes less interesting.

What parts of the text(s) are important that I haven't dealt with?
- I think I covered all grounds from Fast Food Nation that would relate to my essay. I think I should have discussed Life and Debt a little more though because I only discussed it in one paragraph.

Revised Paragraph

An idea of conformity had spread around the globe. In Eric Schlosser’s Global Realization, Schlosser argues the different impacts of the international Golden Arches. McDonald’s was presented as a place to change your identity and flaws. Like an American who eats McDonald’s, you will somehow fill in the stereotypes which trail them. In other words, in just one bite you will be powerful, white and rich. The idea did not seem as psychotic concept when it was advertised by elite individuals in such a manner. Den Fujita, a Japanese billionaire who brought McDonald’s to Japan, promised his nation that ‘“we will become taller, our skin will become lighter and our hair will be blonde’” as one if they ate McDonald’s food. (231) This misconception had, in turn, promoted Japanese citizens to eat more of the American fast food. There was a spread of an influence amongst the many countries who were apart of the McDonald’s chain. Schlosser stated, “Teenagers dressed in Nikes, Levis, and Tommy Hilfiger T-shirts sat in groups and smoked cigarettes.” (234) McDonald’s had changed people for who they really were in order to ‘help’ communities to become more westernized. The unrealistic illusion had furthered the Golden Arch’s success as they went along with the lies and never denied them. If McDonald’s was to symbolize America, they were now labeling a nation as money hungry liars.

America had spread cultural diffusion world wide with ease. In Eric Schlosser’s Global Realization, Schlosser discusses the different impacts of the international Golden Arches. Natives believed that if they were to be like an American who ate McDonald’s, they would somehow fill in the stereotypes which trail Americans. In other words, in just one bite you would be powerful, white and rich. This idea was advertised by elite individuals who were influential to their nation. Den Fujita, a Japanese billionaire who brought McDonald’s to Japan, promised his nation that ‘“we will become taller, our skin will become lighter and our hair will be blonde’” as one if they ate McDonald’s food. (231) This misconception had, in turn, promoted Japanese citizens to eat more American fast food. There was in no way that eating a particular type of food would change one’s wealth, hair color or complexion. As a result, the Japanese were taken advantage of by being so gullible.

Aside from Japan, Schlosser stated how individuals progressed in Germany. “Teenagers dressed in Nikes, Levis, and Tommy Hilfiger T-shirts sat in groups and smoked cigarettes.” (234) McDonald’s had changed people for who they really were in order to ‘help’ communities become more westernized. There were no individuals in cultural attire. How was this franchise helping a community if they were promoting adolescents to smoke? This is definitely not the family oriented place it is advertised to be when it is being described as a local hang out. Nobody would ask these customers to step out to smoke or to leave because that would result to losing business. If McDonald’s was to symbolize America, they were now labeling a nation as money hungry liars.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Video of Naomi Klein on the Colbert Report

In this video, Stephan Colbert pretends to defend making money off disasters. Despite his jokes, Klein gets her argument across. Notice the connection she makes to Hurricane Katrina. How do you think this argument relates to our overall course theme of America's place in the world?
- Klein really tries to emphasize how the U.S. government tries to make money off of unfortunate disasters our country faces. She explains how when a disaster occurs, Americans expect the government to help but instead government officials take advantage of this respectable power and become selfish. This argument is seen throughout everything that we have been learning across our cluster. All the texts that we have read relate to how America was somehow selfish when they were being portrayed as doing a positive thing. An example would be colonialism. When America wanted to take over more land for their own benefits, they hurt many people along the way. They were racists against other cultures and dehumanized natives in order to get what they wanted.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


What was your experience in writing the first essay like? How does it compare to the kinds of writing you've done in or out of the classroom before? What do you think would help you become a stronger writer?
- I did not have a great experience writing the first essay. I was really stuck on the structure and format of my writing that I had learned in high school and my essay was not flowing properly. After watching Life and Debt, I realized that I did not use proper evidence to support my argument. In order to become a stronger writer, I think it would be best for me to develop my own style of writing.

Personal Responses

What view of "American in the World" did you have coming into the cluster? Where do you think this idea came from? Has it changed? If so, what text(s) or idea(s) changed it? What do you still want to know? Thinking of the quotes we started with, are your thoughts now closer to Obama or to King?
- I initially considered "America in the World" as being a powerful nation, and that is pretty much it. Although I am very intrested in history, I always perferred to learn about literature and began to ignore political issues and what not. This class recollected all of my previous knowledge in history. I was always left with the impression that America has made many wrongs, but eventually made them right. As your cluster provided us with texts and we watched films together, I learned that America is definetly not what I have been learning all this time. I think I was always taught about the good, whereas now we see specific faults in America's history. When I had to choose between Obama's or King's quote, I chose Obama's. I thought that it was unfair for America to be labeled as a whole, which was unfair. As of now, I am actually stuck between the two quotes. Both quotes come from two completely different thoughts which makes it difficult to decide. I think I am most stuck on the idea of an empire. I never considered the United States to be an empire till I saw how they were treating other countires, such as the Phillipines and Jamaica.

Life and Debt

Do you think Life and Debt shows an example of colonialism? Why or why not? How does it compare to other forms of colonialism we've talked about in the cluster?
-I think the film Life and Debt portrays a perfect example of how Jamaica became colonized. After Jamaica became an independent country, it was very undeveloped. They had sought help from the IMF but unfortunatley made their situation worse. I think the United States took advantage of Jamaica's weakness and decided to develop their own businesses. By adding major food chains, the United States took away the Jamaican culture and self-efficency by adding its westernized character. An example would be when the American McDonald's took over the Jamaican McDonald's business. This situation can also relate to how imported produce was perferred to be bought by natives rather than the locally grown foods. This can compare to how the Americans treated the Filipinos. When we were watching the documentry of how the Filipinos were treated as in a inhumane manner, there was a part where a speaker had stated that "we have no choice but to Americanize them." There was an idea that Americans were perfect and were role models for the Filipinos and sought conformity so that everyone could be like the white man.

Who has the power in the film? How do they hang on to it? What do you think the Jamaicans (either the government or the people) could do to challenge it?
- I believe the International Monetary Fund (IMF) holds the power in the film. Although the Jamaicans held high hopes, I think the best thing for them to do is to retaliate. Yesterday we discussed how violence was an essential key to the world politics. I think their rioting is sending out a message. I also think that it is important for them to systemize a way to provide eduactation for the youth. If natives become educated, they can soon get stable, high paying jobs which can better Jamaica's furture.

What connections do you see betwen this film and other cluster texts? Be specific.
- The attempt to retaliate really reminds me of the Reconstruction period. Blacks wanted their rights, which led to many riots and disputes against the government. There was a lot of violence going on during this period, just to make a point. The violence in the film was presented through the only successful businesses; security and cofin making.
- When natives had moved to the free zone, they were under the impression that they would get good jobs, fine lifestyle and a tax break. I think the idea of a free zone was advertised in a different way to persuade more people to come. In the articles we read from Prof. Miller's class, there was a very big misconception on how New York was a land to fulfill dreams and everyone listened to the stories of how everyone was becoming successful on a golden pavements. In the Mardi Gras film, there were very similar situations with how the Chinese factory workers lived on worksite and were extremley underpayed in poor working conditions.