You're right about the money being perceptual and subjective--even though you and Wadhams hoped to use it as a shield against the real questions, which involve Schaffer's "Potemkin village" tour of the CNMI, and his subsequent official actions that were precisely aligned with the Abramoff strategy of stalling reform in the territory. This is about how Bob Schaffer, either willingly or negligently, abetted a scheme that deprived workers of basic rights (and even their unborn children) for the enrichment of Chinese nationals who wanted to manufacture their products in the same sweatshop conditions found in China while still being able to label them "Made in the USA." This is about Schaffer's unyielding and deeply troubling opposition to human rights reform in the CNMI, reforms which Udall co-sponsored repeatedly while Schaffer took parasailing trips to Saipan and declared the situation there a "model" for the rest of the country. This is about how Schaffer enabled a medieval nightmare of abuse and exploitation on American soil, a nightmare that is only now ending with a different majority party in Congress.My question is whether Alan (not to mention absurdicus, Taylor West, or the rest of the Big Blue Lie Machine) has actually read or looked at any of the Congressional oversight hearings on the CNMI issue in which Bob Schaffer participated. If he (or they) had, he probably wouldn't be so brazen about using the term "Potemkin village tour" or stating that Bob Schaffer was opposed to reform in the territory.
Here is the key excerpt from Schaffer's testimony at the oversight hearings** (Note that this was Congressional testimony made under oath):
I went to Saipan and spent five days. Visited probably eight or nine factories in the time that we were there. And, with the exception of two or three, all were unannounced. We literally showed up based on testimony we had taken from other workers that we had heard off-premises of work sites and worked kind of backwards. Found out where the complaints were first, then went to the factories and met—showed up at the gate and asked to come in and sometimes there were exchanges between the gate and the front office, but, in all cases, we were eventually let in, never took more than five minutes at the longest.To say therefore that Bob Schaffer "abetted a scheme that deprived workers of basic rights (and even their unborn children)" is more than a gross exaggeration - it is an intentional mischaracterization of a substantive, philosophical policy disagreement, taken out of the context of its time as fodder for a scandal du jour. Whether it's been perpetrated out of ignorance or willful malice, participants in an "honest debate" would look at such evidence and reassess their characterizations.
The first factory we saw was a Chinese-owned factory, owned out of Hong Kong. It was probably the worst one we saw. My experience was not the same as those who said they had been there and found things to be wonderful. I found a number of specific factories and specific incidents that I found to be offensive and believed they need some attention, clearly. Those issues I’ve discussed with a number of people and, for my part, my five-day investigation is not over. This hearing is certainly part of it and there’s still a lot of documents that we’ve requested that we have yet to receive.
But I will say this. We spoke with lots and lots of workers, not just on work sites. We met with about 10 who had plaintiff’s attorney bringing lawsuits against the garment industry, had helped arrange for us. We met with several at a church on Sunday. And with the exception of those that were organized by the plaintiff’s attorney—obviously they had complaints of some merit or they wouldn’t have been there—almost all workers said they would come back to CNMI. The biggest complaint we had was that, because of the work slowing down, the number of contracts seemed to be dropping, that workers are not able to work as much as they want to. They like the overtime hours and they like the time and a half pay that they receive and they want to work more. And that was probably the biggest complaint....
You know, there are, in all seriousness, there are real problems in CNMI that need to be addressed. I am encouraged that there has been a new election in January and there is some new leadership that seems to be a little more forceful in bringing about some of the changes that need to occur. I’m also impressed that the industry itself seems to have gotten a little more serious in the last few months about trying to enforce some of its own internal standards. And we did see some evidence of that, not just because they told us, but because we interviewed workers and asked them about changes that they’d seen, whether they knew about the rights that they had and how they found out and how they had read them.
But question is one that does ignore the importance of maintaining and preserving and elevating the level of human dignity for any human being. That is not in dispute in my mind. What is in dispute is how to arrive at securing that goal, whether we resort to Washington, DC, and our laws here in Washington to accomplish that or whether we rely on the ingenuity of local governments.
Congress is almost a continuous investigation like this. Every day you can walk somewhere around Capitol Hill and find an investigation about some American scandal, whether it’s selling missiles to the Chinese, whether it’s letting the Chinese government steal sensitive nuclear technology out of our most sensitive areas, whether it’s a labor disputes, whether it’s sweatshops in New York City. And so the notion that somehow we are the definitive characters in deciding what laws are most appropriate is just nonsense.
The INS, for example. I would hate to see the CNMI have a record similar to the INS in the United States. When I call the INS, when we find illegal aliens in my district, they laugh at us and tell us we’ll get there in a year or two if we feel like it. Now nobody can tell me that those kinds of laws will be in the best interests of CNMI.
The Department of Interior, for example. Now I heard the gentleman from Samoa talk about the unfortunate nature of these hearings becoming political. When the Department of Interior itself fires off memos that says, ‘‘As a one-time candidate with a similar district against a Frelinghuysen in the old New Jersey fifth, I understand the utility to all hands of administrative candidate communications on such matters.’’ Now this is a communication involved directly in a political campaign about this issue at CNMI. I’m sorry the administration has decided to make this topic a political issue. It should not be and it’s unfortunate that it has become such.
Yes, the Department of Labor. I could go on about all the efforts that I’ve seen in my own district of the Department of Labor putting people out of work and reducing the number of jobs in my district.
And then, of course, you know, I don’t what I’d say about the Department of Justice, the least of which is that they themselves in the CNMI hire non-resident aliens to do jobs for them. You know, we could go on about the other investigations going on in the Senate about the new revelations that the Department of Justice down there in Texas. FBI background checks. Chinese campaign checks making their way to Democratic National Committee going uninvestigated. The independent counsel and on and on and on.
I guess the final conclusion is that there are acknowledged problems in CNMI but Washington, DC, is the absolute last place anyone should look to fix them because this government has proven time and time and time again that, in the end, at the end of the day, people around here in DC tend to make matters worse, not better. [emphases added]
I suggest that if Alan and the Big Blue Lie Machine wanted an "honest debate" about the issue, they wouldn't ignore actual evidence and leap to a conclusion that smears someone's character, and then browbeat anyone who disagrees with that evidence-free conclusion. Because Bob Schaffer did not work to support a particular kind of heavy-handed federal reform does not mean he "enabled a medieval nightmare of abuse and exploitation on American soil...."
Those on the Left may disagree with Bob Schaffer's view (whether past or present) of how to reform CNMI, but they have not been approaching the issue in that way - they have been approaching it as an opportunity to engage in political mud-throwing. Too bad. Perhaps they could explain why workers trapped in alleged "sweatshops" that were enduring "a medieval nightmare of abuse and exploitation" did not see the situation as dire as cadres of Lefty bloggers sitting in comfortable Colorado homes and offices apparently do.
Besides building their attacks on a distorted characterization of events and conditions at CNMI, the Big Blue Lie Machine's impeachment of Bob Schaffer's character and integrity has yet to prove that any of the arrangements or indirect connections with Jack Abramoff led to a change in Schaffer's votes. They have just concluded that the votes were immoral based on a preconceived notion that has been challenged here.
I submit that Alan, absurdicus, and company have greatly distorted their disagreements with Schaffer both on description of the island's working conditions and on policy prescription to address the problem. They also have taken the leap and falsely aligned Schaffer's views and interests as aligned with a class of Chinese manufacturers, when they are in fact distinct and separate.
Because Bob Schaffer's personal visit to CNMI, which included numerous unannounced visits to factories and other sites to interview real workers spontaneously, did not come to the same conclusion cited by Alan and his friends, perhaps we should look more closely at where the observations differ in terms of time, place, context, source, and methodology, etc.
However, I think all that gets at a deeper point than the Big Blue Lie Machine is interested in dealing with. They want to drive a 30-second soundbite attack TV campaign commercial based on loose points, drawn from a Denver Post news story written to win some sort of investigative journalism award.
In case some point in this post was missed or didn't come across clearly enough, please feel free to follow up. I hope the Left will not ignore the evidence but is willing to continue the "honest debate."
**Due to temporary FTP troubles, I'm not currently able to upload the large PDF. Please feel free to remind me, and I will upload and link a copy of the Congressional oversight hearing for further examination**