Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Laguna Regatta

Tomorrow, Sunday December 30th., the Over The Reef Yacht Club will host the 33rd running of the Lguna Regatta. This is the longest running countinuously held sporting event in Micronesia (or is advertised as such). The Regatta is a series of sailbot races featuring Hobie Cat 16' racers held in the Lagoon north and east of Managaha. The action is exciting and can be viewed from Managaha, from a boat stationed around the course or fom shore in several places.

Come on out and watch if you have the chance, it will be a lot of fun. You can participate in next year's race with any similar sized cat hulled sailboat if you wish. Contact Tony Sterns or Ron Smith for details.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, December 25th

Dollars and Sense

As of Feb 1st the new Zoning Law of 2007 will go into effect and will affect just about everyone on Saipan in one way or another. You can read a copy online at or you can go to the library or the zoning office in the Joeten Dandan building to see the map and read the law. Everybody from a homeowner building or adding to his house, to commercial builders/developers, to subdividers, to existing business owners, to any interested investors and just about everyone else should familiarize themselves with this new set of regulations. You should become ‘reg savvy’ as Ed Peterson of Susupe suggests. (I liked that letter…’made me think’).

Some will view it as an additional bureaucratic obstacle to efficient development. Others will see it as a cure all that will change our infrastructure overnight. The truth lies somewhere in between. Small towns (like us) and big cities alike have used zoning to revitalize blighted areas, to stimulate additional new themed construction in now stabilized areas and to transform a hodgepodge of unrelated buildings into comfortable, clean and enticing spaces for tourists and residents alike.

Steve Tilley, the zoning board and the small staff of the zoning office have worked hard to generate a useful and hopefully usable set of regulations. Whether it gets off the ground and becomes a meaningful part of things Saipanese or not depends upon funding and staffing priorities. If the government can afford to staff and fund the department it will be off to a flying start. If not it will languish, forgotten regulation books moldering away, like the last set of zoning laws established in 1993.

There are three possible weak links: Enforcement (can and will the new codes be enforced – see staffing requirements and funding discussion above). Fairness: (can and will the new codes be administered fairly and impartially in all cases). Future Leadership: (unimportant details can turn into personal vendettas and it’s easy to lose sight of the overall zoning picture when all the myriad details are swirling around. Success through the years will hinge almost totally on the ability to find and hire the right leadership).

Good luck to all in this endeavor. Done right this could be vitally important to our efforts to produce a better tourist product and to make our island a better place to live. Done wrong it can be a nightmare.
* * * *
While eating something-on-a-stick at the Thursday Street Market I ran into Angelo Villagomez. As we sat and discussed how to save the world, the conversation came around to oldtown Garapan revitalization. Angelo espoused a couple of ideas that made a lot of sense to me and I will pass them on to you for your edification. (Notice how I deftly laid it off on Angelo in case you think the idea is wacky).

He believes that to make the place better, jobs, like government agencies, and other office type private job generating businesses need to move into the Garapan downtown area. Tourists would like to participate in a “real” local experience, not just a tourist sham experience put up for their benefit. Tourists want to meld into an already existing unique cultural enclave a la San Francisco…cable cars, rice-a-roni, wharf, Nob Hill, China Town etc. Tourists come to see the local ambiance in a location not to create it.

Also needed are people to move their residences into this area, real working folks, living there full time. Angelo has already moved in there for whatever nefarious reasons (kidding) and would like to see others do the same. Real residents walking the streets (no not street walkers), using the business facilities and adding foot traffic to a sometimes barren area will make it a pleasant and comfortable feeling place to go.

He has a good point on both counts if you ask me. So MVA, find yourselves a new or now empty building somewhere in Garapan and move on in.
* * * *
Merry Christmas

The 26 million dollar tax rebates issued to tax payers by the central government last week will certainly help stimulate the economy. Those dollars will begin spreading around the CNMI right away and will help not just the individuals who got the checks but will help spur on the economy generally as the bucks flow from place to place. Retail items will be bought, bills – some past due- will be paid, some hard earned entertainment may be enjoyed, vital financial help to family, neighbors, friends and the needy may be forthcoming for the first time in a while.

It was the right thing to do. Thank you for having the guts, and the smarts, to give it back to the people you ‘borrowed’ it from. Better late than never as the saying goes.
* * * *

It looks like the CNMI will join the other insular areas like Washington DC and Puerto Rico in submitting a design to the treasury for a commemorative quarter coin (25 cent piece). May I suggest a couple of indigenous CNMI citizens standing valiantly before a huge caricature Uncle Sam who wields a carrot in one hand and a big stick in the other? Or maybe Uncle Sam has a wad of US greenbacks in one hand and a whip in the other and sports a “Labor and Immigration” sweatshirt. Spice it up with military aircraft landing on Tinian in the background. Okay, last chance: a jack booted Uncle Sam stepping on a copy of the Covenant while snickering “self governance?” in a cartoon quotation balloon.

Commemorative Quarters. It turned out to be the first stimulus for personal savings generated by the federal government in decades. The mint pumps out Billions (think Carl Sagan) of these quarters every year and the discerning American public actually hoards them believing they will be valuable collector items someday. Beach sand has a better chance of appreciation than a coin produced in huge volume does. Numismatists know better, but the ever-gullible public holds on to the zinc clad wonders as if their future retirement hinges on it. Okay, you got me…I’ve got a dozen rolls of uncirculated State CQ’s stashed in the old safety deposit box even as we speak.

One last thought: the government may have actually stumbled on a profitable business for a change(bad pun). If it costs 4 cents to make a quarter and you sell it discounted to 23 cents to member Federal Reserve banks and then it disappears from circulation requiring new ones to be minted to meet demand, a tidy profit ensues. As soon as they find out they are making money (sorry pun) they will probably start subsidizing an expensive process to turn it into a loss at the earliest opportunity…they wouldn’t want to spoil their record. (Hey, it could be worse, I could coin a phrase like last week).
* * * *
Quote of the week:
Doubt comes in at the window when inquiry is denied at the door. –Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, December 18th

On the Soap Box

This past weekend a new annual event was inaugurated which could become a major draw for tourists and a fun family oriented contest for those of us lucky enough to live here all the time.

Saturday Dec. 15th saw the first Soap Box Derby races held on the island. Actually, these were Cubmobiles not Soap Box Derby racers, but the idea is much the same. Unlike the sleek aerodynamic low slung Derby racers I remember as a boy, these Cubmobiles are sturdy, roll-over resistant coaster cars more suited to the younger drivers. (Although the older boys and the adult older ‘kids’ could hardly wait to get their hands on the Cubmobiles for a test run down the hill last Saturday).

Basically, a Soap Box Derby is a race in which two homebuilt miniature cars coast side-by-side down a measured hill in timed elimination races to determine who has built the fastest car and who can drive the race most skillfully. More than just a race, the event teaches an array of skills and moral lessons to the boys and girls who compete. Honesty, fair play, sportsmanlike conduct, sharing, graceful winning and losing, and many other lessons are learned. The kids also learn use of tools, wood crafting, patience, conducting actions within a limited framework of rules, reading and following plans, time organization, deadlines and more while building and racing their machines.

The race held up on a Capital Hill back road was organized by local Cub Scout pack #913 and their leader Cub Master Matt Smith, a local attorney. Cub Scouts are boys 8-11 who band together under the leadership of volunteer adults who teach thru example and guidance the art of moral living and successful community life. They do it by allowing the boys leeway in learning skills and doing things that are naturally fun for young boys. Also involved in organizing this event and in building the cars ware members of Boy Scout troop #913, the version of scouting reserved for older boys aged 11-18. The Scout Master of Boy Scout troop #913 is Valrick Welch. Both of these Scout groups are sponsored by the local LDS Church.

Scouting is a worthy endeavor and other interested parties are involved in organizing additional troops of Cub and Boy Scouts. David Sablan, Al Cabael and Bob Jones, among others are actively promoting troop formation around the island. Hopefully inter-island camps and competitions will materialize over time. My thanks to all who work to encourage these Troops of young men and boys in their work and play.

The races held this past Saturday were between two teams of Cub Scouts. The T-Bone team (thankfully not a description of their driving prowess) was comprised of Ezra Conner, Salofi Welch, Carter Smith, Wallyson Wally, and JJ Brown took home the 1st place honors and the team trophies. Mere seconds behind in overall points were the Bumblebee Team with William Fong, Matthew Alonzo, Sterling Brown and Christian Rider at the wheel of their buzzing yellow Cubmobile. Congratulations to all who raced, all who prepared, all who organized, and special thanks to whoever baked the cookies!

I would like to see our island put together a full scale Soap Box Derby annual event that coincides with the races now run by the Scouts each December. I write this without having done my homework on just how a community goes about interacting with the Akron, Ohio based national Soap Box Derby organization, but a few phone calls and a net search should provide the necessary information. I would be happy to work with any interested parties to see this project get going. Please contact me if you have an interest.

We have some great hills that would make a safe but exciting venue for the annual races. With the addition of regulation, speedy Soap Box Derby race cars this event could become a major regional and international tourist draw. Where else could they go to see this kind of action anywhere within thousands of miles? The finals are held in July by the All American Soap Box Derby In Akron so we could hold qualifier heats and send our winner to Akron next year for the big final race, or perhaps the year after. They have been racing these cars and promoting healthy competition and strong moral values in the country’s youth for 70 years. The first national event was held in 1937. Saipan could be in on the action for the 71st or the 72nd National Finals! These races would be open to Scouts and all the other age qualified kids living in the CNMI. This could be an event that will help put us on the world’s tourist maps.
* * * *
Next week we’ll look at downtown Garapan revitalization. This week I’m saving space for a couple of photos from the Cubmobile race.
* * * *
Quote of the week:
The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged. Ovid (43BC – 17AD)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I went with a small goup of friends to Rota last weekend and spent a delightful 3 days scuba diving and exploring there. Below are are just a few of the hundred or so photos I took while there. Harry Deal, one of the friends above mentioned, took all the underwater photos and I hope to get a disc from him so I can share a few of those with you as well. Meanwhile, here are some of the points of interest on land.

In the Town Square on Friday evening they had a Christmas event, did some decorating and just came together as a community. Nice. More on the interesting live tree decorations later.

Here is our dive group, ready to strike awe in the underwater denizens with our fearsome presence. Also note our trendy bathing attire.

Here we are having dinner at a local watering hole. I had Rota red beans and rice with spicy saugage....ummmmmmmmmm.

Secluded bays and some original jungle higlight the island's terrain.

The traffic, however, was terrible.

There are a couple of well preserved Japanese WWII era guns, and at least one well preserved tourist.

There were very few others touring Rota while we were there. These gals came up from Guam along with a friend from the mainland, Virginia, I think. We saw them briefly then we all disappeared into the jungle to see more of fabulous Rota.

Babbling fresh water streams; now that is refreshing.

The Rota Swimming Hole. Frankly, not very impressive except for the Alcapulco cliff divers in residence.

The view from my hotel room's patio.

The sunset view is not bad either. Better than a sharp guava in the eye. It looked even better after a couple of Harry's patented Porky's Road Show Margauritas.

'Nuff said.

The Fabulous Foursome at the Taga Stone Quarry. Very impressive. Not us, the giant Taga stones. Looks like they may have had a work stoppage at a critical moment. I'm thinking Lek Wolensa showed up. Seriously, the work involved to laboriously chip those stones from the underlayment must have been grueling. Not to mention moving them afterwards. These particular ones, of course, never got off the ground as we say these days.

This was strange. A small farm in the boonies with most of the fence posts topped with these sometimes moss covered statues. Some were pretty odd.

'Nuff said again.

How about these Christmas ornaments. Beautifully painted fresh fruits hung in many of the Town Square trees. Neat. Biodegradable. Could be dessert later. Great idea.

I'll end this mini travelogue with a view of Songsong Village and Wedding Cake Mountain in the drizzly distance.

What a fine trip we had. What a wonderful way to spend a holiday weekend. Thanks to my friends Jeff, Rose, and Harry for sharing some quality time with me. And Special Thanks to Olive for taking care of Porky's so I could go out and play.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Futility March

Well the “unity” march is in the books. Organizers claim thousands more attended than others saw. Whatever the real number it was a lot of them. Self congratulatory back pats are flying around as if it actually accomplished something other than wearing down some shoe leather (Payless and Sportica probably think that is good enough in itself).

Did it ‘unify’ the island? No it further polarized it.

Did it accomplish its published goal of changing the stifling and unworkable PL 15-108? No, nor is it bloody well likely to.

Did it get the long-term foreign contract worker provision put back into US HB-3079? No, nor is it bloody likely to. (In fact if they manage to ‘win’ on that account it will spell near certain doom for the bills passage in the Senate)

Did the entire US Congress tune in breathlessly to the live coverage of the ‘unity’ parade a la Macy’s Day and decide en mass to vote for overall federalization of labor and immigration in our Commonwealth? No, but should they decide to do so in a later vote, I’m sure the organizers here will be standing in line to take credit for the entire fiasco. Like Gore, they will have invented the internet and swayed the whole US Congress to do their bidding. Yeah right. (They will conveniently forget that a few months ago in the face of multiple protest marches by hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of folks wanting improved immigration status back in the US, that the Congress voted it down).

Did the business community (which nearly unanimously dislikes the labor bill) come out and join the ranks in any sizable way? No.

What am I saying? Just what I said before the march. That it was a feel-good exercise in futility. I may have erred in saying they would get a few new paying members of the desperately naïve club. If they did so, they hid the receipt books. No enrollment sales pitch was seen this time. No violence either, that is a very good thing.

Bottom Line? The march accomplished none of its goals. It did give marchers a sense of false and unrealistic short term hope.

It did prove that the First Amendment still lives (no surprise there). It did prove that 3000 or 6000 or some number of contract workers want to stay here and not go home (no surprise there). It did prove that a small number of vocal haoles and foreign worker organizers can stage a parade (oooh). It did prove that Wendy Doromal can ride on an airplane for 21 hours and look dour afterwards. If it proved anything else, I didn’t see it.

So what would I like to see? Something, anything at all, some tiny glimmer of real evidence that these people can change any of the forces acting for good or for ill on the citizens and on the guests of the Commonwealth…then do it….then and only then hold a celebratory parade. Otherwise it is just grandstanding BS.

* * * *

Glen Doutrich sees it far more positively. His comment that “This will be a profound statement to the U.S. feds that they must consider when writing the final version of a new labor and immigration bill, this will carry way more weight than the governors weak unfounded ignorant assessment of the ‘it will ruin the economy’ letters.” shows a possible scenario that I just don’t think will happen. As mentioned above, a few million Mexicans marching right down Main Street USA didn’t seem to phase Congress except to make them back off. Why would a paltry 6000 marching 10 thousand miles away make a dent? Glen seems to have an uncanny knack for calling these kinds of things. Maybe he will be right on this one too. My opinion meter, however, is stuck on “futility”.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, December 11th

Wonderful Rota
Burning at both ends
A headline the other day read, “PSS loses 86 people due to money woes”. I have spoken with some of those teachers and most are not leaving because of money woes. Most fall into one of two categories. They have now been here and seen this and don’t need or want to see any more exotic culture, or they have reached the end of their endurance and simple don’t have the patience to wait for better times to cycle back around as they inevitably will. Inevitably sometimes takes a long time. The threat of not being paid timely is certainly worrisome, but is not what causes teachers, good ones or bad ones, to leave. Think burnout or frustration if looking for the real cause.
* * * *
Another tree fell on it
Last Wednesday I was sitting in an SCC meeting where a very positive presentation was being given about marketing the Marianas as a world class scuba diving destination (hold that thought for later)…as we leave, we find the power is out island wide and stays that way for 3 or 4 hours. I imagined a dive shop owner saying to a high dollar tourist just arrived from afar, “Sorry sir that you flew 8,000 miles to get here to go diving but we can’t fill your tank because the power is off – AGAIN.”

Now that we are back to paying real market rates for our power maybe there will be a dollar or two left over to buy some functioning circuit breakers so the whole island does not go without power because a tree falls down somewhere. Can we please get that sort of reasonable fix underway?
* * * *
Off with his head

Everybody and his brother has rung in on the letter written a while back by Ron Hodges, AKA Mr. Employment Expert without a single employee. My turn. What he wrote was not written as satire; until he had a talk with his lawyer who told him he better cover his ass with some phony story of a satirical piece to keep the Dept of Homeland security from coming down on him like an air marshal on a ticking tennis shoe.

I’ve read and reread his letter and it was not written as satire. It was written, probably in a drunken stupor, calling for and promising to aid in a massive and dangerous public health gaff. He also called for, in no uncertain terms, promoting vandalism and defacement of public and private property. Last, and worst, he specifically asked for government workers to turn terrorist and sabotage our public utilities.

Some other nitwit comically suggests we have a Ron Hodges day. What will we do to honor him…poison the water supply? Kill all the flame trees on the island? Burn the hospital to the ground? (That by the way is satire – notice I did not say I would promise to participate in this, nor did I call on someone else to perform the dirty deed - I mentioned it as an obvious and outrageous over the top example). Please notice that Ron is capable of writing quality satire…see his letter about Article XII as an example…read it. You will see the difference immediately. In the latter he satirically pans the restrictive land alienation system and makes some very telling points while doing so. In the former he specifically calls for terrorist acts, promises to help and incites others to commit them.

The guy is a flaming whacko who frankly deserves to be brought up on charges of incitement to riot and conspiracy to commit terrorism. Censuring him via a legislative proclamation is a waste of time and does not get to the heart of the matter. His criminal intent should be enough to get the attention of the enforcement authorities.

Where is our Attorney General? Where is Homeland security? Kids playing hotshot big guy on the internet have been brought to task, arrested and convicted for far less conspiratorial calls to action. The fact that so far, no one in the contract worker community is dumb or evil enough to answer his call for terrorism does not make his attempt to get them to do so or his promise to help any less onerous.

You may agree with his philosophy and idolize him as a saint or a ‘human rights activist” or vilify him as a rabble rousing little-to-lose outsider trying to destroy local culture and human mores. Either way makes no difference. It is just plain wrong to call publicly for violence, destruction and terrorism and then weasel out on an ‘I plead the First’ excuse and get away with it.

I invite you to read the letter if you haven’t and reread it if you have. Try looking at it objectively, not as a piece written by someone who spouts invective you happen to like or ranting about positions that you don’t like. The man calls for insurrection, terrorism and menaces public health. I, for one, call for a probe, an arrest and a trial to bring him to justice. Need someone to file a complaint to get started? I volunteer.
* * * *
Rhode Island Red
A friend of mine points out that the recent spate of personally offensive letters to the editor reminds him of cockfights at the Derby Ring. I tend to agree with him. The polarizing comments from each proponent defending their own chunk of self interest territory are akin to the taunting and shake-in-your-face preparations for a real cockfight. The back and forth sparring that goes on often draws blood in the form of wounded pride and irrevocable harm to reputations. He goes on to suggest that we dig the opposing letter writers a big hole, drop them in two-by-two and bet on the outcome. I’m putting my money on the large local rooster. You may bet otherwise. That’s what makes a cockfight.
* * * *
Fair, Splendid Luta

I spent the Constitution Day holiday weekend on the lovely Isle of Rota, exploring, diving and taking in the sights. I saw no actual preparations for the coming casino related boom but the air was palpable with possibilities. One of the small but well constructed vacant beachside hotels has been purchased and may prove to be Rota’s first gaming attraction.

We explored the now forlorn and abandoned beachside water park near Songsong and I found it hopeful…depressing now, but hopeful for a resurrected future. That is exactly the kind of ancillary attraction that folks attracted to Rota from Guam would like to enjoy between trips to various casinos and exploration tours of the beautiful countryside.

The scuba diving there is graced with excellent visibility, abundant and varied sites that are mostly close by and easily reached in a matter of minutes. The people are friendly and accommodating…even when you are out in the middle of the boonies, obviously lost and probably trespassing, they give you a smile and directions to what you are looking for. The restaurants and other facilities are few but interesting and supply quality services. Those places will grow in number in response to increased tourist traffic lured by all the great things Rota has to offer plus the thrill of a casino game experience. The hotel we stayed at was wonderful and the dive shop professional. Both were moderate in cost.

Other attractions will spring up and Rota will boom, at it’s own pace and while maintaining its charm, but boom it will. The key in my opinion is to target Guam. The military presence there is large and growing, they also have a big chunk of our Japanese tourists on Guam looking for interesting experiences. Target them, provide them some transportation and they will come to Rota and leave it ‘greener’ than when they arrived. Thank you Rota for your hospitality, I’ll be coming back often.
* * * *
Quotes of the week:
An arrow may fly through the air and leave no trace; but an ill thought leaves a trail like a serpent. Charles Mackay (1814 – 1889)

I look to the future because that is where I am going to spend the rest of my life. George Burns (1896 – 1996)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Party for Northern Marianas Academy

You are invited!

Big Party at Porky's tonight Thursday Dec. 6th. 6PM to 2AM

The good folks at the Northern Marianas Academy are fundraising and saying THANKS all at the same time. Come on over and for only a $10 donation to NMA you will get free chasers, dancing with Parker playing live all evening, great company and lots of raffles and some surprises.

We will have a blast. Please come out and support these kids and the school.

The Porky's Crew

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, December 4th

Red Skies at Night
Mad Scrabble
The Commonwealth Health Center and the Registrar of Vital Records has announced that it will increase the fee they charge for issuing a birth certificate to $50.00. It got me thinking about just how important that document is. It’s main purpose is to keep track of citizens as they are generated, a ‘body count’ if you will so nation states can keep track of who to tax a bit later on in life. Birth to death ratios can be determined by contrasting BCs with death certificates. (Do they charge for death certificates? Who pays? This could raise a serious debt collection issue). Anyway, that ratio allows government planning agencies to decide whether to build more schools and subsidize the planting of more wheat or to increase the cemetery tax instead.

The birth certificate and other government issued ‘vital records’ like marriage certificates and divorce decrees are all basically tax documents that enable your government to keep track of how much and when to squeeze you for a few dollars. They can also generate some meaningful statistics from the long form birth certificate data. Maybe too significant. Your parent’s names and your weight are far from all the data they want to start a data base on baby Johnnie. See for a copy of the Official U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth. Issued by the CDC after an ‘extensive evaluation process’ (read ‘we spent 75 million to develop a form’). Race, education, cross referenced sibling births and medical records numbers, specific medical details and a host of other info are among the details your doctor is required to submit to the recorder to start your lifelong file.

While used to provide proof someone was born at a particular time and in a particular place your birth certificate is not a form of identification. Ironically, it is used to acquire a passport or a driver’s license or an ID card each of which has a photo, which acts as the actual identification document. All may someday be replaced by chips inserted into our bodies at birth so we can be scanned and tracked and herded more efficiently as we go through life.

Something else of interest is knowing that the souvenir birth certificate issued by most hospitals with the tiny foot prints smudged on the front are generally useless in supplying proof of your existence. A certified copy of the officially recorded certificate kept in a dusty registrars office is necessary to obtain usable IDs and apply for government handouts of one kind or another. The souvenir certificate probably won’t get you anything but another wait in line after being turned down at the passport office.

Reportedly, the mad scramble is on for hundreds or thousands of citizens to get a copy of that birth certificate while they are on pre Christmas sale over at CHC Vital Records. $20 bucks a pop, this week only! Get yours while they are hot!

All in all it is a good thing that they hold the monopoly on issuing these certificates and can force folks to obtain one. It would be a tough sell on the outside to convince a customer to pay 50 bucks for a 3 cent piece of paper filled out by .003 milliseconds of computer time and printed out when the machine happens to be working.
* * * *
Thanks and smooth sailing
I was humbled recently by hosting several US Sailors and Marines for the few days they spent recreating on our island paradise. In lengthy conversations while we drove around the island looking at monuments to the havoc wreaked on and by their predecessors 60 years ago I could not help but feel touched by the optimism and seeming disregard they exhibited for their own personal well being when compared with the service they provide. They want to Serve the interests of their Country. They will, one way or the other.

Yes, I know they are supposed to be so young they believe themselves invincible, but the real truth is they know that when they go into harms way their short life experience is likely to stay short. They are proud to be part of that group of souls willing to stand up and be counted. To DO rather than talk.

I was also touched by the tremendous esprit de corps they showed. They seemed always ready and willing to help a shipmate or a platoon mate. They seem more mature and reasonable and responsible than my peers and I did many years ago when we served on submarines. They don’t seem technically superior, but they do seem morally so.

Those young men (the ‘elders’ are in their late 20’s and 30’s) will not be reading this article because their job and their duty takes them far from these shores and may even take them into grave danger in the future. They go willingly. They go bravely. They go with a keen sense of honor.

The politicians and policymakers that send them out to protect or to expand are sometimes contemptible in their motives. Conversely, the young men and women who go out to do the bidding of those in power do so with a courage and determination I find hopeful. Fed by naiveté but exercised by a real world vision, these men and women have my heartfelt thanks and my wishes for good hunting, smooth sailing and following seas. May they live long and prosper.
* * * *
Quote of the week:
A politician is a man who thinks of the next election; while the statesman thinks of the next generation. -James Freeman Clarke, (1810-1888)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Smooth Seas and Mild Winds

Olive and I hosted several Marines and Sailors during their stay on island last week. We took them around to historic sites; we fed them wonderful (and to them exotic) Philippine food. We took some out on my small sailboat and let them sample our lagoon close up.

The reciprocated with kindness, and friendship not to mention a tour of their ship, the USS Germantown.

A couple of hundred turned out to celebrate at Porky's and we enjoyed their company; but the real fun was just being around these young men and women and listening to their optimism in the face of danger.

The Captain, who introduced our tour, remarked that the Germantown was just like a big pick-up truck in that it carries then unloads a cargo of men and equipment at the job site. I will say that she is a very well armed pick up and has a hellofa big gun in the gun rack over the back window.

Smooth sailing Officers and Crew of the LSD-42!!

Here are some photos:


The self serving are all set to march with the self indulgent, the wishful thinkers and the naïve to the tune of Strauss’ famous Futility March later this week.

The US Congress will decide the fate of the CNMI when it determines to sap the last vestige of Covenant promised self rule via its proposed takeover or not. Marching won’t add or subtract from the chances of ‘enhanced immigration status’ for long-term foreign laborers, it’s already out of the equation. It has been removed from the bill. With the immigrant status provision the US bill had no chance of passing. Without it there is some chance it will, in the House version anyway.

The Northern Marians Legislature has already passed, and the Governor has already signed into law the probably unworkable PL 15-108 Labor Reform Bill. Marching will not repeal, redress, change or make it any more palatable to anyone concerned.

So why march? Well to recruit new dues paying members. To foment unrest which can be parlayed into organizer agenda goals at the expense of those gullible enough to take the proffered bait. To enhance the fiction that the majority of citizens want to see unique island culture replaced with ‘Tulsa with an ocean’, one size fits all US culture and regulation by uncaring bureaucrats 10,000 miles away. The majority does not.

Maybe if they are lucky, protest march organizers will get a small act of violence to splash on front pages. Nothing spectacular mind you. A policeman’s shove to maintain order or a parking lot scuffle between pros and antis will do nicely to prolong and expand the coverage for weeks. Calling it peaceful and prayerful does not make it necessarily so. Anti war protests of the 60’s and 70’s were always touted as ‘peaceful’ but often had incidents of violence associated with them. Let’s hope and pray that does not happen here.

So the unity march is more like a funeral procession than the uplifting show of unity it is advertised as. Many different diverse people going in many different directions seeking happiness in their own way is a recipe for a successful cultural relationship and a successful nation. A homogenous ‘unified’ vision of culture, is a recipe for robotic stagnation. Harmonious? Yes, hopefully. Unified? No, thanks.