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”.


The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Gore did invent the Internet.

Jeff said...

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

Bruce, you were in Rota diving with me. Perhaps this is one to stay out of since neither of us saw it and hardly know who came out and who didn't.

And as for futility, imagine if Rosa Parks took that attitude and gave up her seat on that bus and said screw it, it's futile.

These grapes are too sour even for you.

I conclude with an inspirational speech:

War's over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.
Bluto: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Otter (Tim Matheson): [whispering] Germans?
Boon (Peter Riegert): Forget it, he's rolling.
Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... [thinks hard] the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go! [runs out, alone; then returns] What the fuck happened to the Delta I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer -
Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
Bluto: We're just the guys to do it.
D-Day: Let's do it.
Bluto: LET'S DO IT!!

Anonymous said...

Bruce, I just wrote a letter to variety and I quoted you...I am disappointed in your public opinion and am voicing mine. I will also not be returning to your bar, it just doesn't seem right. Blogs can be a double edged sword Bruce, you are somewhat of a public individual here (your own creation) so you will be criticized in public.


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

False hope? Bruce, you sound just like Hugo Chavez. You underestimate the power of Unity and the United States Constitution. I do not know which labor laws should be in place, but to see those people in the thousands march for what they believe in, well it is truly inspiring. I also believe that there should be more marches by groups like TaoTao Tano trying to voice their opinion for or against anything. You state that contract workers would rather stay here than go back to the Philippines, so what? Life here on Saipan is fairly easy and for a family who wants the American Dream, GO FOR IT! Would YOU rather go back to the US Mainland and wear a sticker on your shirt that says "HELLO, My Name is Bruce, may I help you?" I thought not.

“The movement that Rosa Parks helped launch changed not only our country, but the entire world, as her actions gave hope to every individual fighting for civil and human rights. We now can honor her in a way deserving of her contributions and legacy.” - Harry Reid

-Brady Barrineau

Bruce A. Bateman said...

And cured global warming too, Angelo. ALl hail Al.

You have a point, Jeff. However, both papers jumped on this like a tick on a coon dog. They printed the names of everyone concievable who came out in support, and there were only a couple of businessmen named. A1 Ron hardly counts since he was an organizer. I think many, like me, only supported part of their agenda and thus did not march or support.

Anyway, I had a lot more fun diving and exploring Rota than I would have had taking pictures of the parade.

You have more than a point, you have a possibly winning argument in your remark about Rosa Parks. True...if the line isn't drawn in the sand somewhere then nothing will be accomplished, for good or for ill.

Did you quote Animal House from memory? Pretty impressive!

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Sorry you feel that way, Brady. But the truth remains....while the march made the marchers feel good for a short time and elated that they were finally speaking up, it acomplished none of its stated goals. Nor is is it likely to be the cause of doing so in the future. It is just icing, not cake.

A march to capital hill and the legislature when it is in session, including prominant and influential business people and political movers plus might make an impression on them and get some action on 15-108, or maybe not.

Marching along to hear speakers 'preaching to the choir' just won't move their agenda forward. That's my point. Still is.

Jeff said...

The first Vietnam protests didn't end that war, either. Protests take time, and the more citizens protest and speak up, the more democracy we'll have instead of the corporate rule we have in the states. It is ridiculous to say they didn't accomplish their goals less than a week later. And for that matter, the labor bill they are protesting is 1/3 of the way to disappearing already, though I would agree it is not because of the march.

Anonymous said...

You are mistaken by leaps and bounds Bruce. That group of people clearly got the attention of the US Congress, including Alan Stayman, etc. People's voices were heard loud and clear. This march was advertised and thousands showed up. I did not see any other marchers going against this group, that in itself is profound. Not only did the people speak, but no one seemed to disagree. Federalization of immigration and labor is a moot issue at this time, it will happen. I have noticed that people against the additional rights for non-res workers are usually business people who are employing really cheap labor, like yourself. This cycle has been happening here for decades and will now finally come to an end. This will open up opportunity for Chamorro-Americans and Filipinos. Your comments really struck a sour note for me, it shows frustration and bleakness. I never cared about the Casino act, but I heard that you were on a payroll to promote it, and really that's your business. To state that a march of Unity is futile and a waste of time will follow you for a long long time. Free speech is what makes America the world's last best hope, it's not perfect but close to it. I will say this to your face in person anytime, I hold nothing back, and don't hide.

-Brady Barrineau

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Well, Barry , you heard wrong if you heard I was on anyone's payroll for the casino gaming proposition. Its a fucking lie perpetrated by the anonymous anti casino crowd who, unlike you, don't have the balls to stand up and say who they are or what their agenda is or was. You say what you mean and put your name behind it just as I do. Those scum don't have the balls, or the conviction for it. I repeat, it is a lie. Pass it around.

You are also wrong about my being against rights for workers. I'm not.

I have few contract workers on staff as a percentage of total workforce and even that will be decreasing to near zero. This new labor bill is so onerous it precludes hiring and keeping a foreign national labor force. If that was it's goal, it is working. If that was not it's goal it is backfiring on them. My business is not the only one that will be putting contract workers out of a job. Lots of others will be doing likewise.

I didn't say anyone was against the march and your point is well taken that there were no counter marchers or counter protesters. That was not my point at all. My point is that the march itself is futile gesture. Now, Jeff rightly points out that futile gestures and futile protests somtimes lead to the desired goal later. I won't dispute that. Maybe this will lead in the same direction some time in the future.

You are wrong about one other thing, Brady. This won't "open up opportunity for Chamorro-Americans and Filipinos" If anything it will accelerate the cycle to send more of them back home to try to make a go of it in the PIs terrible, hard-to-find-a job economy. I don't know what you refer to about Chamorro-Americans having increased opportunity. Maybe I am misreading you. But again, the likelyhood is that filipinos will be harmed not helped as many will be sent back. How will that help?

One last item, Brady. The overall difference between most small businesses paying $3.05 or $5.25 (now $3.55 vs $5.75) is a small part of the total overhead and is not that important. Industries like the garment factories who cannot compete with $2 a day wages are history anyway. So your comment that this system is perpetuated by businessmen want to keep cheap labor just doesn't cut it. Maybe in a bygone day...not anymore. Even the other big manpower intensive group, hotels, could pay full tilt US minimum wage of $5.75 and still make plenty of money....if the tourists are coming and filling the rooms.

Thanks for stating your opinion. And thanks for having the balls not to hide behind a mask when you do it.

Mark Vernaus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Vernaus said...

I've only been on island for a little less than two years, but in that short span of time, it is obvious to me that alien workers here are treated quite differently from the "locals". Pick any spot on any day and you will probably witness some incident of rudeness displayed towards a Chinese or Filipino.

You seem a bit hostile towards the idea of these people trying to better their situation. At the very least, they had, as you state, a moment to "feel good for a short time". Considering what most of these workers go through every day, we should exhault in that fact alone.

...just got lost and lucky.... said...


The effect of a protest is not a one minute deal. wait and see! When the effect is there, I will see you personally and tell in front of your face that you were wrong!

"the tsunami effect of a tremor amidst the sea will reach the shore in time... it will be there when you least expect it..."

glend558 said...

Mark V. you should list your blog in your profile. That being said do you write one? If so let us know where to find it.

Marianas Pride said...


As much as I disagree with you and think you are quite rude and obnoxious, you crack me up. Thanks for the laughs.

One thing I can say about you, you hold no punches.

Hope your bar is doing well with all the boycotters. I have yet to step in to your bar, but you probably wouldn't want my "kind" anyway. I'm just a hapa representing a "circle of idiots."

Anyway, again, thank you for the laughs.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and may the good Lord bless you and Porky's so that you may obtain more than two customers each night.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

The small circle of crackpots and cowardly pissants too afraid to even put their name to their 3 person 'boycott' don't, haven't and won't affect our business. We're doing great and see business growing consistantly.

You should come by sometime, Ed. Since you are so evenhanded and universally loving, I don't see why you don't drop in for a drink and a conversation. You might actually find out what I really think about the issues bandied about here on the blogs. You might find yourself surprised.

Glad you can still laugh.

What is a hapa? Which circle of idiots do you 'represent'?

Mark Vernaus said...

Sorry Glen558, my blog is Under Construction. Meant to put something up for awhile and haven't found the time. Maybe over Christmas break.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Mark V. Actually I'm not hostile about the idea of these people trying to better their situation. I'm hostile at the organizing force behind this march and the false promises they foist on the rank and file protesters. At first they were actually charging them $100 bucks a pop and claimed, true or not, that they had rung up 3000+ members. $300,000 is a fair chunk of change to spend on bottled water.

Now, when pressed recently, they claim to not be charging anymore. But they still rant and promise the moon, a green card, a fast track to citizenship and everything else short of a second coming. What can they deliver? Wala. Zilch.

Ex: The labor bill they are protesting has already been enacted. Where were they during the last 6mos to a year as this thing was being framed? That might have been a time to go up the hill and show some rankle and protest. Nope, they wait til it is a done deal.

These people are being duped. They'll probably be a bit pissed when they wake up. Right now they are still under the ether. That second verse of Kum-bay-ya will wear off pretty fast.

Wait and see, the dun will be going out to the mailing list soliciting more funds for this 'sure fire' track to federalization and improved status. The truth is the organizers have no more input into the approval or denial of this than the filing clerk marching down the street has.

Jeff said...


While Bruce's politics are quirky to put it mildly, and certainly none I agree with, and this post especially sour and unfortunate as I said earlier, he doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He has a wonderful Filipina wife in fact. I am not sure I've met any haole who has embraced island cultures, all of them, as much as Bruce.

The human Bruce is a lot more likable than column Bruce. I didn't much like him based on his columns either until I got to know human Bruce.

If we just write people off based on politics, I'd have to write off 40 million plus Americans who voted for Bush -- including my parents -- since Bush has done far more damage to the world, and it was obviously forthcoming the first time and demonstrable the second.


Marianas Pride said...

Hapa is Hawaiian for half-cast. In my case I'm haolepino (half haole, half pilipino).

The "circle of idiots" I refer to is what Taotao Tano calls anyone who disagrees with them on their blogspot. A bit rude, but I got thicker skin since I've been called worse things. Oh well, sticks and stones...

Marianas Pride said...

I wonder, is Human Greg Cruz more likeable than Anti-anyone-who-is-not-indigenous and shut-up-your-mouth-if-you-aint-local Greg Cruz?

Usually words written by a person reflect the humanistic side of the person, unless of course you're talking about Stephen King.

I have no beef with Bruce at all. He and I just have opposing views on the casino issue and the "futility" march.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jeff. I think Ed is already convinced otherwise and a closed mind has no need to talk. Pity, it could be interesting.

You have no reason to write me off via the Bush vote route. Not a chance he got a vote out of me either time. ( You might be surprised who did get my vote).

I did do well on Exxon stock which I began purchasing shortly after he was announced the winner. I didn't forsee 9/11 but the Iraq invasion was as plain as the nose (and Edsel ears) on his face, the oil price spike was a forgone conclusion.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

You and I have something in common, Ed. My son Alexander is a "hapa" also. (Although I never heard the term before). (I refer to as him a Haol-apino as in jalapeno ...spicy).

As with you disagreeing with me, I disagree with TTT on some issues and agree with them on other points. Don't know where that puts me on their 'circle of idiots' list.

So if those are the most disagreeable traits you possess, Ed, you're welcome to come to Porky's anytime. Hell, we let the world's most evil person in there on occasion. You will have to do some miracle convincing to change my mind about this march, but I'm open to listen - and talk.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...


Just a gentle reminder that you and your friends have used language stronger than "circle of idiots."

I believe you called me a "pretentious little smegma-infested twit" and hoped that I "will find some desperate woman wanting a green card" on another blog.

Many of the other bloggers, especially the anonymous bloggers, are even better at coming up with names for those they disagree with.

Take your own advice.


Marianas Pride said...

Wow, Angelo, you still hung up on those comments? I've called friends some things far worse. Actually, that is what prompted me to make sure that I don't drink and blog. Perhaps I got fed up with some of the things you say and the comment you said about me. But of course, you said it was "unintended." So I guess mine was "drunkintended?"

Angelo, read my letter again. I wrote about respect, love, and kindness after I said those things about you. Did I also not talk to you from the heart about change? If I can change, I believe anyone can.

Angelo, I've seen the comments you make, and I know of dozens of enemies you make, all "unintended" of course.

Yes, I am taking my "advice" to heart. And Bruce, yes, I would be happy to sit down at your bar and talk about things. I'd like to know what makes you tick. But can I bring Plato and Hammerhead? I think we all need to sit down and drink enough so that we can figure out the problems of the world and end world hunger, end the war in Iraq, solve CUC, and make sure that Christmas is filled with love and joy...

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all!


Bruce A. Bateman said...

You are more than welcome to come, Ed. You are more than welcome to bring a gueat or two. Plato and Hammerhead are welcome as well. We may not cause world peace, but we could start in our little corner of it.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Hey, I'm just saying you should take your own words to heart.

If I went around throwing beer cans on the ground, I'd look like a real jerk.

Ms. D. said...

Can Ms. Dildo come too?

Who will reveal herself first?