Monday, May 12, 2008

1234 I can't take it anymore

I haven't jumped in with this Marine Monument imbroglio, or most anything else of late including my column, for a lot of reasons. Number one is the fact that I'm intellectually tired of pointing out the raging idiocy that simply can be expected here. Lately I have watched KSPN's broadcasts of "Old News" that comes on in the late evening, and it is astonishing how all the same identical issues: minimum wage, federalization, luring investors or CUC's latest show of incompetence have been around for twenty years now. KSPN could save money and just put that on at 6:00 p.m. A lot of the same people appear -- Heinz, Fitial, Pete A -- only the video is granier and those people are a bit lighter and have more hair.

Number two is that I'm otherwise focused on my new baby and other personal tasks I have at hand. Three is that I've almost completely lost hope that this place can be turned around, and I think a lot worse is yet to come. An honest appraisal of this situation is just too depressing, and I don't want to be that guy -- at least repeatedly. Prices have gone up, and they are going higher. The one good thing about the garment factories is the shipping containers that would come here for export. Those will be gone and the shipping to our remote rock in the ocean will be even more expensive and less common and that brings the supply of goods down, which will make things even more expensive. I think we are a long, long way from the economic bottom. Oil is on an inexorable march upward, with many experts seeing it headed toward $200 per barrel. This place simply isn't set up to manage that situation. I think $7.00 a gallon gas and .70 cent a KWH power turns this place into Beirut circa 1983, and there is no reason to think those prices won't head there. If there was real risk management going on, we would have prepared for the inevitable spike in oil, but we didn't even find it wise to maintain the power plant, but we did keep the municipal councils, we do string along those same workers and "save" their jobs every couple of months instead of just paying them a severance to go get retrained for a useful job. Beyond that, we still hire PIOs, we still have the various affairs offices, we still hire useless lobbyists and we still have almost two years left of Governor Fitial, who is ascending the ladder to Bushian levels of incompetence. While this island suffers from expensive and unstable power, he still has his eyes on this revolting and decided minimum wage and federalization issue. I bet the ranch he uses his reprogramming authority to enrich some connected law firm with whatever corporate welfare he can get away with distributing from the CNMI's meager coffers to take on the U.S. Congress -- with our sordid reputation on labor and wages. He gives every indication of grasping at straws in his public comments. His stand on this PEW monument is but the latest revolting decision he has made. I read his letter to President Numbnuts, and it is an exercise in shoddy reasoning and petulance.

But, the biggest reason I've stayed out of this is that a number of people have done a good job expressing my feelings for me. Ruth Tighe has said a lot of sensible things. Ken Kramer wrote about it in a style similar to how I would -- only he brings much more environmental knowledge to the table than me. Mike Tripp wrote a decent piece on this controversy. Mike tried to be nice and diplomatic, but this situation doesn't call for niceness and diplomacy -- especially at this stage. It calls for someone to point out the corrupt nature and the shoddy reasoning of the governor, the legislature, John Gourley, as well as the rest of WESPAC and their minions. Fortunately, Jane Mack did that brilliantly in her Variety letter.

These are my three favorite graphs from Jane's letter:

Why do we turn a blind eye to the past damage and continuing harm these fishing
interests and WESPAC are doing? Because there are liars and cheats among us,
people willing to twist the facts and prey on fears and prejudices to get what
they want, to keep their pockets full while emptying us of our world’s natural
resources. Twist the facts to pretend we’ll lose control that we don’t have.
Prey on fears about the federal government, when WESPAC, which is now in
control, itself is a federal agency.

It is the governor who is shutting down the process, not letting us be heard! Where is the due process and public involvement in the governor’s way of handling this?
There is NONE.

The decision is too important to be left to Charles Reyes Jr. or Governor Fitial, or our Legislature who have not listened. It is ironic that John Gourley complains that Pew Charitable Trust hasn’t listened to him — he is one voice, speaking with and from the experience of an advisory council member for WESPAC. If you want to be heard, then let the process continue so that we can all have a voice on the matter. Please make the stupidity stop. Make corruption stop. Make the devastation of our natural world stop!

Mike Tripp, who later went on to praise Angelo, said this in his post: "A number of people don’t like the locally hired Pew coordinator or lobbyist if you prefer. No doubt Angelo O'Connor Villagomez can be cocky and arrogant. His sense of humor often easily missed, especially by strangers."
The Marianas Variety said this: "We have come to conclusion that the local community support required by this undertaking is simply not there.This is not a question of whether the monument proposal is good or bad for the NMI — but of whether the local community can stomach what some perceive as yet another unilateral attempt by an “outsider” to “take away” yet another portion of local cultural identity... At this point, its proponents must take one on the chin, and acknowledge that they have to do a better job of reaching out to the local community and its elected leaders."

Angelo never had a fighting chance with this thing. The timing was off with the federalization takeover about to be finalized. Global issues have grown far more complex and people's willingness, and ability, to comprehend them has gone down, and this is without expounding upon the media's willingness to cover these issues in a world with Britney Spears and professional sports. This is the recipe that led to the disastrous regime of Bush. People focused on "values" and "guns," and not competence and corporate plunder.

This monument fiasco is just the latest example of how easily people can be manipulated. WESPAC spun the elected powers that be, who are largely too ignorant to fully comprehend this issue, have never really represented the people and can't think much beyond the next election anyway. This issue was ripe to be easily demagogued. There has been years of propaganda about the evil feds. "Anger over foreigners telling them what to do" is an act of cutting off your nose to spite your face. There would be $20 million in federal gravy coming in here, not to mention the help to our very sullied reputation. That good publicity is now all but foregone, and it would have boosted the engine of this economy: tourism. But people here want to oppose this because they're angry over federalization. Boy did they show them.


Marianas Pride said...

Brilliant post! Is it me, or have we all lost or are in the process of losing any sense of hope? Wht can the average Joe and Jane Citizen do when stupidity is king? Perhaps we have one card left in the terrible hand we were dealt...recall anyone? If polls and the general sentiment of the people are any indication to just how unpopular this governor is, perhaps it can be done. Sure, we may put another idiot in place, but I think the threat of being the first governor in CNMI history to be recalled may be Fitial's wake-up call. Reality can be a real biatch sometimes, and I am ready and willing to serve up a piece of humble pie to our governor who makes President Bush look intelligent and loved by the general populace. If the marine monument gets axed, I am ready to shake things up.

scubatripp said...

You're right Jeff, I was too polite and I'm also glad Jane Mack got her two cents in because that would have taken me forever to write!

And for the record in the big scheme of things a few people not liking Angelo's approach had little to do with undermining the proposal especailly when you stack it up against the WESPAC propaganda machine.

And yes Ed, many people are losing the sense of hope. How can we believe anyone who says they are on the lookout for new investors and a stimulus to our economy when they are so quick to shut the door on the first reasonable thing that is dropped in their lap.

Everyone says tourism is the only game in town - so support it, nurture it and let it reach its full potential. The monument would instantly put us on the map and keep us there. Any additional tourists would be a welcome sight!

Saipan Writer said...

3 favorite paragraphs! (blush)

Despite the depressing economy and the seemingly strong grip of corruption, I think things may be changing here. People are less likely to go along with the way things have been done, because the problems that result are starting to be felt.

And the Varitey it just plain wrong when it says the local community support is "just not there." If by "local community" they mean indigenous, all they have to do is talk to students and they'll find plenty of support. Even among adults, there are locals signing the petitions, and at least Pete A., Tina Sablan, Jacinta Kaipat, Ike Cabrera, and Angelo Villagomez have written letters in support. The governor, Charles Reyes Jr., and Lino Olopai have written against it. The Legislature? They voted one way and then insist it means something else.

So where is the evidence that the "local community support" isn't there? Unless that means the local government support...

But people are starting to think, to question, to wonder about things...And that's building critical thinking skills that will help in the future.

Jeff said...

I thought the Variety made a stretch there, as well. John Gourley has followed Angelo around to his presentation and I think he's gotten some fisherman wound up, and I was at the presentation for the Marianas Dive meeting and it was quite animated.

Ms. D. said...

If it's a good idea now, it will still be a good idea in two or five years.

In the meantime, we should unite.

All sides can agree that the federal government should have a U.S. Coast Guard vessel patrolling CNMI waters.

There is no reason to let the feds off the hook for their current duties and responsibilities.

If a Coast Guard cutter is not needed -- because of satelite surveillance and Guam-based response capabilities, or because there is no problem with foreign poachers up there -- then perhaps a monument is not needed yet, either.

Focus on unity, not division. Incremental steps, not extraordinary lunges.

USCG now!

lil_hammerhead said...

"Let's unite..All sides can agree that the federal government should have a U.S. Coast Guard vessel patrolling CNMI Waters."

You are about as shallow as a 2inch pan of water.

U.S. Coast Guard patrols are a substitute for the potential magnificence of a National Marine Monument?

You're kidding us right?

Bruce A. Bateman said...

And you, Knucklehead, are about as perceptive as a magnesium nodule. Do you really believe that the Marianas Trench and 115,000 odd square miles of ocean is going to become "magnificent" as a result of being dubbed a national monument? It either is or isn’t awe inspiring all on it’s own. (I say it is already pretty spectacular). Having a couple of Smokey Bear Mounties hanging at a visitor center hundreds of miles from the park will hardly make it more magnificent than it already is.

You are becoming more ridiculous with each passing day, Knucklewalker. Heaven knows when you have time to pack all that sand up your ass.

lil_hammerhead said...

Of course it's magnificent.. If you read my comment, I elude to the magnificence of the idea of designating it a national monument. I didn't say "the potential magnificence of Maug or Asuncion".

Pork's.. get a grip. Each passing day, your creepiness becomes more evident.

Anonymous said...

lil, Mr Bateman is absoluitely correct here, that's all. WHy do you have to dislike him and others so? Differing points of view, such as Gourelys and others, are what make Democracy special. I know I should said this on your blog also.

Anonymous said...

Beirut circa 1983? Are you referring to the bombing of the Marine Corp barracks during the Lebanese civil war? The blasts led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force from Lebanon, where they had been stationed since the Israeli 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The same blast that "Islamic Jihad" took responsibility for with help from Hezbollah and Iran.

Do you really think Saipan and Beirut in 1983 will ever be comparable? Apparently you do. Not only do you show your ignorance of history and base wild conclusions on you distorted perceptions, you insult the memory of servicemen killed in Beirut and their families.

Time for you to go home you ignoramus.

Jeff said...

I'm talking about chaos in the streets. I didn't insult any servicemen you gutless jackass. Maybe it's time for you to grow a set.

Anonymous said...

Supporting WESPAC only hurts our troop morale. John Gourley is aiding Osama bin Laden. Shame on him.

dekada lawyer said...

For years and years, CNMI political leaders railed against WESPAC. Control of the 200-mile EEZ was the issue, and CNMI participation in WESPAC was deemed absolutely inadequate. Why? Because it is a federal body, and because the CNMI is only one voice in that body, easily unheard or unheeded. It was a perennial issue for Covenant Section 902 talks.

So you can imagine the Alice in Wonderland feeling I get when I see our legislators following a WESPAC lead. I'm a bit perplexed by John Gourley too.

I don't agree that Angelo never had a fighting chance with this proposal. He is still fighting, and that is much to his credit. What happened is he took rabbit punches from people who didn't play fair. It's not over yet -- or at least Angelo is not giving up, and no one else should either.

The real question is "What motivated so many legislators to vote the way they did?" And why did they refuse Rep. Tina Sablan's amendments that would have removed the self-destructive language from the resolution and made it consistent with its title (opposing unilateral establishment)? If, as some legislators have said, they didn't really mean to close and lock the door on the project, why have they not done anything to recall or clarify the resolution and let PEW and President Bush know that we just might be interested in the project after all, under appropriate circumstances?

Why is the legislature so much in concert with the Governor?

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

That noni is stealing my jokes!

That is not allowed!

glend558 said...

Number one is the fact that I'm intellectually tired of pointing out the raging idiocy that simply can be expected here.
I've had the same feeling, only have you expressed it so eloquenty.