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.
* * * *
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.
* * * *
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)


jed horey said...

Excellent piece on Taotao Tano and federalization. I've never heard it said better.

I take issue only with the characterization of pro-federalizers as "liberals." Real liberalism is anti-imperialist by definition. A liberal might be for wage or immigration reform, but never by way of federal coercion.

Also, our tendency to blast our our opponents as "liberals" is one of the things that make us sound like racist rednecks, and alienates the liberal support we really ought to have.

Jeff said...

So when the feds forced schools to put black kids into the same schools as white kids, was that really a conservative position?

When people voted for the covenant, which clearly provided for this possibility, did the imperialist feds hold guns to the back of the voters who voted overwhelmingly in favor of it, or is it just convenient to overlook the fact that it's in the agreement?

KAP said...

I am absolutely amazed that you would presume to speak for "most of the citizens" here.

Chutzpah, thy name is Bruce.

bigsoxfan said...

Hi, being a liberal allows for flip-flopping. How about a non-controversial post on spear fishing? Ha.

Nice look at the other side of the TT, but get mr C out of the picture and the kids off the side of the road. On the same side of the coin, raising money for any project which involves putting kids in the median strip isn't all that good of a plan.

To paraphrase the other lighting rod; "can't we all just get along" Or to use anothers typescript; "I'VE BEEN SAYING IT ALL ALONG, BUT HAVING THE FEEBS IN CHARGE OF IMMIGRATION WILL BE BAD FOR THE IMPORTED WORKERS AND THE INDINGENT RESIDENTS." Hope Ambrose didn't copyright the caps.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

So Jeff, there is a dichotomy between self government as promised and federalized labor and immigration. Not unusual to have sticking points in agreements between parties. Each side can sue or negotiate. That is what 902 is supposed to be for. With good faith talks to work out the kinks, the process and the base agreement can continue on. But when one side of the negotiators sends as their voice, the very guy who penned the offending piece, it does not show much in the way of good faith. A real 902 negotiation should be opened and with the goal of trying to iron out this kink and resolving the disparity between intent and application. Unlikely to actually happen.


Sorry to disappoint you, Ken. I do not speak for the majority of citizens here, nor did I claim to. In fact I make special note in the piece to point out that I am not a spokesman. I do notice that a huge majority of the citizens I talk to, and I talk to a lot of them; agree that federalization as proposed will be detrimental to the CNMI. There are, of course, exceptions in some minority subsections of the citizenry, but overall I stand by the statement that in my observation the vast majority oppose federalization as proposed by the current takeover bills. Obviously, you don’t oppose it, fine; I simply submit that is a minority position.

To know the exact numbers, a plebiscite would have to be held, a la Ambrose Bennett. I’ve been saying so FOR YEARS, MARK!!

Brady Barrineau said...


You do not speak for the majority of indigenous people, or any other majority people here. Whenever you mention the "Federalization" of the CNMI you have such a negative overtone, so do you believe that the entire United States which has been "Federalized" for a few hundred years is an oppresive, colony seeking 1984 Power? All of the people living in the United States are oppreswed? Say it ain't so Bruce? I put my name down as always...

Brady Barrineau

Bruce A. Bateman said...

As mentioned before, Brady, I don't 'speak for' the majority but I do observe and record what I see.

Without a lengthy history lesson on the battles fought over how much central government was deemed too much by the founders of the USA, and how that choice has been subsequently overridden, it will be hard to address your question.

Suffice to say it isn't so. Hope that makes you feel better.

Brady, I'm not anti American, but I am a realist about what we Americans do as opposed to what we claim to stand for. There is a difference.

Federalization here has nothing to do with patriotism, it has to do with revenge over a failed bid to shut down a competing garment industry 15 years ago. It's a grudge match with one party already on the mat.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Jed, you are right about the L word use. It is a heavily charged word that even those who used it as a tag for a philosophy decidedly un-liberal, have now abandoned for the more errrr progressive sound of the word progressive. I could have written the piece without using it and probably should have. Thanks for pointing it out.

Any time we tag each other with labels we inadvertently include some and exclude some and falsely define others.

The pro federalization contingent here on Saipan is a strange admixture of bedfellows, some of whom have open enough minds to at least look at the other side of this issue. It is those folks I am trying to address. The already committed are, well, already committed.

bigsoxfan said...

Hey, I commented on your blog in my mene. Thought I should comment here, as commenting was part of the rules. All the same, love those sour grapes. Is your's an alternative viewpoint, or the prevailing one?

On the anti-
american front. Such bullcrap I've never heard before, even in the LA that would be papers from Lewiston-Auburn in the state of Maine. Speaking your mind, pro or con, is the most American type activity anyone can do. Happy Lunar new year to you Olivia, Alex, and the gang at Porkys from Mark, Erdene, and the Pmpkn.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks, Mark, and thanks for the New Years greeting.

We wish Golden Rats for you and yours this coming year. (A slab of gold as big a some of the rats around here, at the prevailing AU price, would be a pretty darned good wish to get). (:-))

Alex, Olive and the crew at Porky's are all well and doing fine. We all met today for a picnic at Pau Pau and had a blast.