Friday, February 29, 2008

Fabulous Leap Day Party at Porky's

Hello Porky's Fans,

It only happens once every 4 years!!

Friday Feb 29th and Saturday March Ist Porky's will be letting out all the stops to throw a great 2 day party. The fun starts at 7PM both evenings and goes uintil 2AM. You can come by earlier if you want to and have dinner and watch the sunset from our Beach Patio.

There are great food specials like Pollo Loco (Crazy Chicken) marinated in fruit juices and grilled on our outside grill. Wonderful local favorites will be served up.

The Ikon Band and Parker play live back to back. Dance floor, pool, darts, Karaoke and games.

Pacific Trading and Miller products have donated some great prizes that will be given away. All Miller products are offered at discountd prices all day both days.

Drink specials and one-off Leap Year Cocktails abound and all are affordably priced to save you money.

Pacific Trading, Miller Products and Porky's brings you 2 days of fun and frolic. Come on out and have some fun!!

Charlotte, Olive, Ruby, Anne Marie, Samantha, Jovie, Amy, Jimy, The other Jimmy, Chef Hubert, Simeon and Bruce will be there to host you.

We hope to see you here! Leap on over!!


A. GRILLED POLLO LOCO (chicken) $ 9.50
Half a chicken marinated in a special blend of fruit juices and spices then
grilled to perfection. Served with Saipan (Red) Rice and local pickles

Slabs of baby ribs marinated with our very own barbeque sauce then grilled
to perfection Served with rice or baked potatoes; local pickles

Served with steamed rice and local pickles

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Flying High
Airstrip on Pagan

Now here is an idea that seems truly ridiculous. Of all the things we could think of to spend nearly Five Million dollars on, an airport on Pagan has got to be right up there with generating electric power with hamster cages, or an open air ice rink in Garapan.

According to the news source, the Pagan International Spaceport is expected to serve up to two flights of single or twin-engine aircraft per month for the first five years. Wow, that’s a whopping 120 flights for only $4,900,000. What a bargain! Let’s see, that would be a bit over $40,800 for each landing over the next 5 years. This is assuming Pagan does not erupt again spewing lava over the runway like it did last time.

Northern Islands Mayor Valentin Taisakan says this would be a good idea because there may be economic potential in exporting lava rocks, that’s what he said, lava rocks from Pagan to somewhere where they don’t have a volcano closer than 1500 sea miles away, I guess. This in lieu of exporting pozzolan or pizza dough, both of which are pretty much tapped out as highly sought after investment opportunities at this point. Whatever Pagan may be exporting, flying rocks off the island will not be part of the business plan. They may have some valuable, exportable commodities ummm, stashed on Pagan, that can be flown off but if so, no one is specifying the cost per kilo.

Now to get serious. The handful of people who live on Pagan, and the handful that would like to travel there to see the sights would be much better served by buying an unimproved field STOL (short take off and landing) aircraft outright. Such aircraft are used extensively in Alaska, Africa and many other parts of the world where landing fields are unavailable and or where there is insufficient air traffic to warrant large expenditures building airfields. It could be purchased, owned, maintained and operated for far less than the cost of the Pagan Spaceport and could also land without runways anywhere else a few hundred feet of moderately level terrain could be found. Other islands and constituencies could be served, not just Pagan.

Here is another reasonable idea. Buy a boat. You can buy and maintain a pretty sizable craft and operate it for a lot less than $40 Thousand per trip. It can carry a lot more than an aircraft and once again, it can be made to serve more than just Pagan Island. And, hey, you can dangle some lines and haul in a few fish on the way there and on the way back.

One last option. We taxpayers could even afford to charter a helicopter when needed to go to and from Pagan and elsewhere cheaper than the proposed permanent airport’s cost. Remember the proffered 5 million only buys a landing strip and does not include the cost to fly there and back or an aircraft to do it in.

All in all, this is an idea that should be canned immediately before additional funds are wasted on it. If our authorities have a hole burning in their pockets and want to get rid of 5 million smackers anyway, might I suggest finishing the airports on Tinian and Rota where sizable populations live and where reasonable numbers of tourists and residents might be expected to fly in and out. Tinian needs an ILS and a fuel farm to begin using its already expensive runway. Rota, will begin taking in charter flights and as gaming causes the islands economy to take off more scheduled flights will be necessary, both of which will require upgrades to the existing Rota airport.

Spend the money where it will make us some money. Not on a crackpot (did I say pot?) idea to build an airport on Pagan. -- Klingons now arriving at gate 15. Klingons now arriving at gate 15. Please be sure to secure your phasers and tricorders to prevent terrorist access…. Fade to a waiting line of the only 2 passengers being checked out by 6 TSA agents, an x-ray machine and a big bomb-sniffing dog.
* * * *
Bomb Me up Scotty

A B-2 ‘Sealth’ bomber crashed on Guam a few days ago. The pilots got out safely, that’s the most important thing. The plane, however, is totaled. An accident investigation is underway. They will figure out the cause and make recommendations. The oldest B-2s are now about 20 years old but even so the technology is cutting edge.

B-2’s are based on the dream of Jack Northrop of the Lockheed (and later Northrop Aviation) company 60 years ago to build a flying wing. Jack actually began work on the first of his flying wings in 1928 and wound up building large jet powered versions 20 years later (YB-49s). Some say politics killed the revolutionary design back then. The dream, now finally actualized, was to make planes with less aerodynamic drag and more payload capacity. Why have all that other stuff like tails and fuselages hanging off the wing if the wing itself could be made to fly, went Mr. Northrop’s reasoning.

Fast forward to the early 80s when Northrop-Grumman got a contract from the Air Force to try it again. The resulting B-2 bomber’s first flight was in 1989. 21 have been built. They have played major roles in the ‘smart’ bombing of Yugoslavia and later during the early phases of the current Iraq war.

B-2s cost One Billion, Two Hundred Million dollars ($1,200,000,000.00) each. Now that is a fair amount of cash-ola by any standards. I don’t know about you but I have a hard time wrapping my brain around just how big a Billion really is. I know that if I am making $1,000 a day ($365,000 per year) I am doing pretty well. (Heck, with a thousand a day we could turn on the aircon in the living room again!). If I spent the whole thousand every single day it would take me over three thousand years to blow the loot. Yep, at a grand a day I would have had to start 1,279 years before the birth of Christ to finish spending the money it takes to build one Stealth bomber by today. The good old USA has 20 of them left (plus the smoldering ruin at Anderson AFB in Guam). You have to flip a lot of burgers to pay out that much in taxes.

Nowadays we use them to show our presence and enhance our security around the globe. Not to mention strike terror into the hearts of those souls on the ground when one of those smart bombs comes blasting though their window unannounced. B-2s are just one weapon in the US arsenal, but it is a most formidable one. Imagine being attacked by an airplane you can’t see coming. We’ve come a long way, technology wise, since the B-29s that used to take off from Tinian and Saipan.
* * * *
By the way, if you like airplanes, Saipan history and a good story, try reading Rain of Fire B-29s Over Japan, 1945, by Charles L. Phillips, Jr. Colonel USAF (Ret.). It will soon be available at the bookstore at American Memorial Park and possibly at the Museum of History and Culture. It is a fascinating and vivid, firsthand tale of the men and machines that flew from here on Saipan to Japan during WWII. The book can also be ordered from the publisher online at . I am reading it now and find it very entertaining and very informative. I recommend it highly.

* * * *
Quote of the week:
However far you travel, you will never find the girl who smiles out at you from the travel brochure. Unknown source

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lucky Scarface Castro

Since the Sicilian Mafia seems to be on the downswing in the US according to recent 'bust' features in major national newspapers, I suggest we help revitalize this needy group by overthrowing the now powerless Castro regime and replacing it with some of the good folks who were ousted in 1959. Namely, the Mafioso.

We could keep an eye on them and everyone interested could fly down for a pleasure junket once in a while. Their economy would boom and America would have a new playground once again. Everyone wins, (except Raul...and hey, we could make him a croupier at the Havana Hilton....good tips).

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Fronds, Tentacles and Trash
My wife and I spent the weekend at the new Palms Resort. Our family business is such that we found ourselves hosting others on Valentines Day with no time for us so we decided to treat ourselves to a romantic get-a-way weekend at the Palms to make up for it. That is our story and we are sticking to it.

I’ll start with the negative impression, in honor of the Sour Grapes logo. The new owners have a landscaper on staff who doesn’t like plants apparently. He has been attacking the once lovely gardens at the ex-Nikko Hotel with a chain saw and a small army of machete wielders. Bare dirt is found where there once were luxurious flowering shrubs, stumps where beautiful palms and mature shade providing trees once stood. Even the signature tree that the original pool was built around has fallen to the crazed chain saw murderer. Gravel, yes gravel – as in little prickly rocks, replaces nicely trimmed greenery in a number of highly visible areas, and the desert landscaping concept seems to be growing elsewhere around the grounds.

I don’t own the Palms so I don’t get to choose, but I will point out that tourists come to this place to see and be part of a tropical paradise…a jungle like setting of green and exotic blooming plants, shining crystal seas and the adventure of getting to be near plants, people and animals not found in their homelands. If they wanted a desert they would probably have gone to Arizona, or Egypt. I would suggest you leave every green mature thing you can, commensurate with your plans for expansion. You, of course, can suggest that I refrain from suggesting.

Now I must say that the owner’s taste in things botanical is the only fault we (I) found with the Palms Resort (the rest of the family didn’t seem to mind Sir Hacks-a-Lot and his propensity for dirt). The rest of our experience was refreshing, relaxing, fun and rewarding. The restaurants are serving up fantastic food at reasonable prices. The pool, rooms and public areas are well maintained and clean. The staff is universally gracious and accommodating. We were made to feel right at home from the moment we walked up to the breeze wafted front desk to check in. The service was impeccable. The smiles, authentic. The new owners are doing a great job, that will include finding a world class Hotelier group to act as executive managers in the months to come. The prospects for attracting many new tourists by linking with a world renowned Hotel group are exciting.

There are plans afoot to increase the size of the pool and other projects are underway that will add value and prestige to a facility already steeped in an aura of luxury and accommodation. The Palms deserves our local support. Please find your way to the foot of the hill in As Matuis/SanRoque and enjoy the fine surroundings, excellent food and friendly staff at the new Palms Resort. You’ll be glad you did. (Go soon before the next attack of the Giant Bushcutter).
* * * *
Octopus hat
There has been a bit of controversy about free-dive spear fishing recently. When I was a lad back in the Stone Age, we spear fished using scuba tanks and thought nothing of it except how yummy the fish tasted. Times have changed and a new ethic of conservation surrounds most everything now, including the time honored art of fishing. The use of scuba tanks while hunting fish has been ruled an unfair advantage now that there are a lot more people and probably a lot fewer fish.

The replacement for scuba fishing is an art form that awes me. Free Diving. Part art, part sport, part subsistence activity, part excitement, part commerce, Free Dive spear fishing and the men (mostly) that perform it are a wonder to behold. I will relate a short experience to illustrate why I hold these special fishermen in such esteem:

During the last Micronesian Games the Free Dive team from Guahan came here to Saipan to compete. They needed to reconnoiter the area and someone mentioned I could pilot a small boat and might take them around as they explored the reefs for the best fishing spots. I did and they did. It turned out to be an educational experience for me. I thought free divers would want to go to 20 feet or so, spear a fish and get back to the surface to hunt another. Not so. They search an area from the surface, like pilots flying along over a submarine landscape looking for their quarry. When they find a likely site they take a breath and dive down 50, 60 even 70 feet….they wait, if they take a fish and still can, they wait some more for another…finally they come back to the surface to begin the process all over again. The free divers are pulled along behind the boat on towropes until another likely spot is encountered.

They use specialized gear including very long flippers and long single shot spear guns. Most wear a thin wetsuit to help prevent hypothermia from long hours in the water and to prevent scratches and scrapes from the rocks and coral they swim down to.

The sport is a dangerous one with injury and even death possible for those brave and skilled enough to participate. They usually dive in pairs so one can keep an eye on the other as a safety precaution. When you hold your breath for 3 minutes or so and exert yourself by strong swimming, you can pass out and drown while unconscious. It is a looming threat every time they submerge. I saw these fearless free divers dive to the depths repeatedly over a two day period, maybe 40 or 50 dives each day and I must say it was a spectacular sight.

One day, one of the divers ascended and attached to his dive suit balaclava (skin tight head cover) was a sizeable octopus, holding on for dear life. When he climbed aboard the boat he deftly peeled the octopus from his head, a tentacle at a time and explained to me that it was hard to contain a smart and wriggling octopus once caught, but if you put it on your head the creature would hold on tight and change color to match its new surroundings (your bean) and ride peacefully all the way back to the boat.

I don’t free dive because I don’t have the stamina or the skills to do so. I don’t spearfish anymore preferring instead to comb the depths with a camera discovering the wonders to be found there using scuba tank air so I can stay submerged for an hour or so at a time. I won’t ring in with an opinion on whether certain species fish should be taken or not because there are reasons to do so and reasons not to that are complex and run close to the hearts of people on both sides of the issue. What I will do is gush effusive about the daring (mostly) young men who go out in search of fish with nothing more than their own skill, bravery and endurance to match wits with wiley aquatic creatures adept at skillful escape from predators. My hat is off to them, even if it has no resident octopus festooning it.
* * * *
Tinian rocks

Speaking of things aquatic, the Marianas Dive club (of which I am a member) made a trek to Tinian this past weekend (leaving me to wax eloquently about shrubs ‘n stuff back here on Saipan). They went to expand exposure of some of the scuba diving wonders to be found on that relaxing isle. They went to participate in the Hot Pepper Festival helping to educate folks about the undersea world. They went to help clean up the underwater sections of the main swimming and gathering beach there. They went to explore new dive sites with potential to be used by our tourists. They went to introduce scuba diving to a few new people. They went to have fun. They succeeded all the way around.

The Marians Dive club is a positive force trying to get the word out to the rest of the world that the Northern Marianas offers truly world class scuba diving and it is worth a trip from just about anywhere to get here and see the beautiful and exotic wonders that Saipan, Tinian, and Rota have to offer. Diving can be a big part of tourism here and the Marianas Dive club members work hard to promote that image and to be good stewards while doing so. Please think about joining them to help tourism grow here in the CNMI.
* * * *
Quotes of the week:
W.C. Fields (1880 – 1946) was fond of making jokes about water, since he preferred gin. Here are a few:

“You can't trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.”
"Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.”
“I never drink water. I'm afraid it will become habit-forming.”
“I don’t drink water, isn’t that the substance fish make love in?”

He also said with a straight face:

“I have spent a lot of time searching through the Bible for loopholes.”
"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies."

All in all Fields was a pretty entertaining character.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Less is less
The real reason
Last week I complained about the static ‘filler’ commercials found on the local cable channel. In the interest of fairness, below you will find reprinted, an email I received from Mark Birmingham of MCV regarding the real reason they don't show commercials during the Super Bowl and many other live sports broadcasts.Bob Coldeen and Jim Barry also rang in to let me know what is going on. Some of you may not know and some of you may already understand the reason. As both Bob and Mark point out, without the AFN (Armed Forces Network) feed, even though restricted, we would not have live sports coverage at all so they, I and probably you should be happy to have what we have, elevator rap and all.Anyway, here it is from the horse’s mouth:
Hafa Adai Bruce,The reason you do not see Super Bowl ads, or any other national ads for that matter, on AFN is because AFN does not show them. They substitute their own Military commercials (you may have seen the start of some inadvertently) and we are restricted from showing those commercials, so we must cover it up with our own ads (preferable because we make money) or"filler" ( just some filler stuff, logos, and stuff). The filler was a static screen that said "Stay tuned for more Sports", but we wanted something with a little bit more movement. Our Graphic Artist is always looking for ideas, so if you have one let me know (Note: It cannot becamera video due to certain issues, but we can do graphic motion, which we do now.) The music is what is called "Music Bed" and is available for free. I cannot tell you how much trouble we can get into if we start putting Beyonce or Nickleback as the background. Unfortunately, Music Bed is basically elevator music.I wish we would sell more advertising and cover up the graphics with ads, but you know how that is. Maybe when the economy improves a bit. Mark

So there you have it. Notice that Mark calls for usable ideas so if you have one, give him a call at MCV headquarters.
* * * *
Smaller spender
Back in the United States, the battle rages over who will be on the ballot in November shooting for the Presidency. Primaries erupt over the face of the country like a “wave” in a football arena – coming and going and leaving not much but a bunch of people sitting there after it passes. The end result of all that ‘waving’, however, will be profound as from it comes the nominees with the only chance of ruling (no running) the country for the next 4 or 8 years. He, She, It will be a Republican or a Democrat. Third parties are not welcome at the table (except sometimes as spoilers). Third party candidates are basically ignored by the media and can’t get a seat at the ‘open debates’. Within that restricted framework of RepubliCrats will come the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet.

I read an article the other day that showed the projected dollar/spending effects attributed to each potential candidate should they be elected and should their respective agendas be put into place. The information is instructive:

New Study: All Candidates But One Will Increase Government Spending

Of all the Republican and Democratic candidates for president, only one is proposing to actually cut government spending. That one, not surprisingly, is libertarian Republican Ron Paul. The rest, Republicans and Democrats alike, are proposing to increase government spending by anywhere from several billion to hundreds of billions of dollars.

That's the startling conclusion of a comprehensive new study from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF). NTUF is the research arm of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a nonpartisan citizen group founded in 1969 that works for lower taxes and tax reform. Their new study provides cost estimates, based on hard data, for more than 450 actual proposals by the presidential candidates.

The leading Republicans love to describe themselves as "fiscal conservatives" and they all pledge to cut back government. But that's all hot air, says NTUF. The truth is, all but Ron Paul are proposing an even bigger, even more bloated, even more intrusive federal government than we have today:

* John McCain's proposals would result in a $6.9 billion spending hike.
* Mitt Romney's programs would result in a $19.5 billion spending hike.
* Mike Huckabee's proposals would result in a $54.2 billion spending hike.

As for the Democrats:

* Hillary Clinton's proposals would result in a $218.2 billion spending hike.
* Barack Obama's proposals would result in a $287 billion spending hike.

What about Ron Paul? The NTUF study notes that only Ron Paul is proposing to eliminate whole departments he considers wasteful, unnecessary and unconstitutional. Among them: the departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. He would also end "corporate welfare," or government handouts to business. He has proposed numerous other measures to reduce government spending as well.

Finally, his call for ending America's self-assumed role as policeman of the world would save trillions of dollars over time, as well as American lives.

Bottom line on Ron Paul, according to NTUF:

* Ron Paul's proposals would result in a $150 billion spending CUT.

(Source: National Taxpayers Union Foundation study: )

So what does it all mean to us, sitting out here in the western Pacific? Probably not much except that if you are wanting to see the federal government get smaller instead of bigger, and you are eligible to vote in the coming election, you might give some thought to researching Ron Paul as a candidate to see if his other platform stances are compatible with your voting philosophy.
Quote of the week: Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Batter up – Butter up

Spring Forward
A couple of people have recently mentioned in separate Letters to the Editor, the possibility of using baseball as a means of increasing tourist flow to the CNMI. Specifically courting more teams from Korea, Japan and possibly other areas where baseball is played competitively to come here for spring training was mentioned. This proposal seems a sterling idea and an achievable goal.

This concept works well in Florida where spring training camps are a big part of the tourist industry. Likewise Arizona and other locations where, professional teams and their minor league counterparts also hold sway during the months leading up to the beginning of the major league baseball season.

Huge sums of money flow into the coffers of the private sector and the local and State governments as a result of these training camps and exhibition games. Fanatical fans fly themselves and their families out to Arizona and stay for weeks and sometimes months to have a chance to see the teams practice and play each other in warm up games. The stadiums, affordable to build and much smaller than the big league mega arenas they play in during the regular season, are always filled to capacity.

The tourists come for the same reason the teams come, the weather. It’s tough to practice your sidearm screwball when your fingers are frozen. It’s also hard to exercise your baseball watching habit from the bleachers of an empty, cold and possibly snow covered stadium. We’ve got what both parties need: reliable, warm sunny weather. We also have what other spring training camp locations offer: other things to do and see when the teams are not playing and a transportation system flexible enough to bring the fans and the players here and to take them back home when they are ready.

This is a project that would require little in the way of capital infusion, as we could probably get funding assistance to build two or three facilities with assistance from the teams themselves. It would take a concerted effort on the part of MVA, the Administration, local sports authorities and concerned citizens. It would take lots of leg and phone work. That said, it is a project worthy of the time and energy necessary to put it together. If we can attract twenty or thirty thousand fans and a few hundred long-staying team players to our fair isles, the results to the bottom line will be noticeable.
* * * *
Commercial failure

As I sit here penning the above paean to baseball, I’m watching the Superbowl un-commercial that takes up more time than the game itself does here on Saipan. What entertainment!…vapid, endlessly repeating, third rate music (elevator rap?) backed up by a fascinating slide show of NFL team, errrrr logos, yes motionless, ridiculous logos reiterated ad nauseum. Why aren’t the high dollar, extravagantly produced super bowl commercials available to be seen here? I’m sure there is a reason, and I’m sure it’s inane. Go MCV! (Please note explanatory article below).
* * * *
Just gotta spend it
I see where the grant funds offered by OIA to our local government, with gooey strings attached to try to blackmail (too strong a word, – coerce?) particular behavior has been given instead to Karidat and will be strewn elsewhere as well. I also notice the strings attached aren’t quite as stringy as when offered to the government directly. Either way, the money is still here and circulating. Gov Fitial did the right thing by not giving in to the micromanagement demands of David Cohen, now the ex-assistant-deputy-under-beneath-below secretary of the out-of-sight backwoods.

Mr. Cohen it seems has resigned, probably in embarrassment at having co-written the CNMI Shafting Documents (aka theUS house and Senate takeover bills) along with his trusty cohort, Jim Benedetto, much to the dismay of most of our population.

I’ve always thought it is delightfully ironic that insular, ‘outside’, exterior affairs are administered by, who else (?), the Department of the Interior. Are we happy that they have such an all encompassing desire to rid US taxpayers of their hard earned loot? I suppose.

I also suppose that David Cohen will do well in his new incarnation. Since UP/Wharton graduates are among the sharpest pencils in the box, I’m sure Mr. Cohen will parley that innate skill along with his now strong connections inside DOI into a profitable and productive career now that he is back in private practice. Bye.
* * * *
Quotes of the week:
If it weren’t for baseball, many kids wouldn’t know what a millionaire looks like. Phyllis Diller (1917 - )

Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist. Alvin Dark, former baseball coach (1922 - )

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Political Strategy Session

I'm going to take a page out of GlenD's playbook and post an FFE (funny forwarded email) I recieved.

It gave me a giggle, and may do the same for you.

The Real Reason

In the interest of fairness, below you will find reprinted, an email I received from Mark Birmingham of MCV regarding the real reason they don't show commercials during the Superbowl and many other live sports broadcasts.

Bob Coldeen and Jim Barry also rang in to let me know what is going on. Some of you may not know and some of you may already understand the reason.

As both Bob and Mark point out, without the AFN feed, even though restricted, we would not have live sports coverage at all so they, I and probably you should be happy to have what we have.

Anyway, here it is from the horses's mouth:

Hafa Adai Bruce,
The reason you do not see SuperBowl ads, or any other national ads for that
matter, on AFN is because AFN does not show them. They substitute their
own Military commercials (you may have seen the start of some
inadvertently) and we are restricted from showing those commercials, so we
must cover it up with our own ads (preferable because we make money) or
"filler" ( just some filler stuff, logos, and stuff). The filler was a
static screen that said "Stay tuned for more Sports", but we wanted
something with a little bit more movement. Our Graphic Artist is always
looking for ideas, so if you have one let me know (Note: It cannot be
camera video due to certain issues, but we can do graphic motion, which we
do now.) The music is what is called "Music Bed" and is available for
free. I cannot tell you how much trouble we can get into if we start
putting Beyonce or Nickleback as the background. Unfortunately, Music Bed
is basically elevator music.
I wish we would sell more advertising and cover up the graphics with ads,
but you know how that is. Maybe when the economy improves a bit.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, January 29th 2008

Driving home a No
What is Taotao Tano?
I am not a spokesman for Taotao Tano but I will give you my opinion on what they stand for as I see it. I went to listen and see what they wanted. Here is what I found. They are not against foreign contract workers. They are not in league with, nor do they condone corruption in local government. They are not racist rednecks as some mainlander liberals, and mainland educated liberal locals would have you believe. They are not inarticulate boobs spouting hatred. Some big-government loving ‘liberals’, a few of our US government employees and a few other self interest oriented sympathizers of federalization call them that to try to close your mind to their message.

To me they seem to be a force trying to keep the indigenous peoples of these Islands from being screwed like the Hawaiians and the American Indians and other original native peoples around the world have been screwed. They simply want to stand up and say this is our island; come and visit…even come to stay if you want, but please remember whose islands they are. Don’t promise to give us a helping hand up, then shaft us by taking over our fledgling self government and try running the place according to your best self interest instead of ours. We don’t want to be ‘federalized’. We do not want to be taken over and ruled by you.

That seems to be their message, and if you have missed it, it is because they usually articulate it in their own sovereign language, not yours. Try listening closely with an open mind and you will hear a different message than the stereotype their opponents would have you believe.

(As I said, I am not their spokesman. If the real spokespersons of CNMI Taotao Tano think I am wrong about their message or their goals, I invite them to reply through an unedited message in this column or through a letter to the editor).
* * * *
Don’t let the Red Herrings Sway you
Proponents of ‘federalization’ (a nice way to say US takeover), will try to make you believe the recent CNMI Motorcade protest was about the new labor law (15-108), or about the plight of foreign guest workers, or about a bloated government, or about how many cars showed up to protest, or twenty other off-subject items.

Not so. That grass roots upwelling of residents both driving and watching were trying to show support for an independently governed, self sufficient CNMI. A country simply trying to govern itself as promised.

The small but vocal takeover camp wants to divert your attention into counting cars or claiming some vague discrimination because they don’t want you to focus on the real root of the issue…a big powerful country taking over a smaller, militarily helpless one. That is what it is about. That is what the motorcade and the CNMI citizens sought to bring to the attention of the Island’s leaders and the US government legislators. The motorcade was about protesting that takeover.

Those who participated and most other citizens here are opposed to a federal takeover. It’s that simple. We realize that a house that does not control who comes and who goes or how long they stay does not control its own destiny. It does not govern itself. Its controllers do.

Some of my friends in the mainlander community are in favor of the takeover. Some of them are uncomfortable with the culture here. They don’t believe the local population is capable of governing itself. They want this place to be more like their hometown back on the mainland.

But this is not the mainland. This is not their island. They, and I, are guests of the indigenous people here. Under a UN mandate, the US signed on as a helping hand ‘big brother’ to help lift the CNMI and its people into position to self rule. That promise was codified in the Covenant. Now instead, they want to become George Orwell’s version of “Big Brother” government oppressing the people and forcing its rule on those incapable of fending them off. In short, taking over control now that the UN’s attention is diverted elsewhere and they want control of these Islands for their own use.

The universal claim of the pro takeover groups is that US rule will be somehow better than what we have now. I’ve heard it 20 times at least. It’s got to be better than what we have now they say. Oh? How so? Invisible, uncaring bureaucratic authority 10,000 miles away interested only in their self interest is not my idea of better government. The spirit and the promise of the Covenant was and is self rule, not subjugation.

So don’t be fooled by the many red herring stories or by counting the cars. Focus on Anti-Federalization, on Anti-Take Over, on Pro CNMI independent self rule. That is the core idea behind the recent protest motorcade. That is the core value of the CNMI Taotao Tano and the core value of most of the CNMI’s citizens. They want to promote a free and self-governing CNMI. They try to stave off those who would steal their islands as they stole governing autonomy and land from many other indigenous peoples. It’s that simple. Most of the citizens here don’t want a federal takeover. Pass it around.
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End of an Era
It was with a great deal of sorrow that my family attended the last Sunday Brunch
hosted by the great Hotel Nikko Saipan two days ago. This hotel closure represents the passing of the last major Japanese investment in the CNMI and as such marks the beginning of a new era in our tourism industry.

There are still plenty of people, companies, and organizations that rely on and contribute to the continuation of a vibrant Japanese tourist market here on Saipan. We should all support their efforts. Other market segments, most notably Korea but China and Russia as well, are growing strong and beginning to replace some of the ground lost from our tourist base in Japan. We should support their efforts too.

I am sure UMDA, the new owners of the hotel, will find top notch operators and do an excellent job of running the hotel and attracting tourists from Japan and elsewhere. We hope they will be able to continue the employment of the gracious staff that works there.

We’ll be going back to try the food and the service when the new Palms Resort gets up and running. Meanwhile I want to personally say thank you to the many pleasant staff persons at the Nikko who, over the years, have made our visits there a wonderful experience.
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Quotes of the week:
Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act. The Talmud

Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous. –William Proxmire, US senator, reformer (1915-2005)