Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Amazon review of Franken's "The Truth, with Jokes"

Saipan chapter needs fact checking, April 11, 2006
Reviewer: Richard D. Vaughn (Saipan, Northern Marianas, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews

While I am a fan of Mr. Franken's, and enjoyed reading this book there were some errors in the chapter about Saipan and the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

First of all, Mr. Franken cites the minimum wage on Saipan and her neighboring islands as being $3.15/hour. Not true. It is still $3.05, even as of 2006. I know, I lived on Saipan for nearly five years and have worked for this amount before. Various officials in Saipan and in Washington have lobbied at various times to change laws regarding this, and bring labor and immigration policies here up to Federal standards, but have been accused of prying into local affairs and violating the Covenant between the CNMI and Uncle Sam.

Next, Mr. Franken states that Saipan was where the bombers took off for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Again, not true. The island that earned this dubious honor was the neighboring island of Tinian. I should know, I've been there too and have seen the pits where the bombs were loaded into the planes, and toured the runways.

Also, Mr. Franken states that the members of the Congressional junket stayed at the Hyatt Regency Saipan in 1997 or 1998 (the book was not clear on what year this took place) and were entertained at the SandCastle theater. This is also not true. The SandCastle Saipan facility did not exist until 2003. I should also know this, since I worked on the technical team that actually built the place.

I don't believe that there are any facilities on Saipan where the forced abortions Mr. Franken mentions were allowed to take place, seeing as the Mariana Islands are predominately Catholic. Rather, the pregnant garment workers would have to be sent for a short "vacation" back home in China, where the necessary procedure would take place, all in cooperation with the Chinese government.

Other than that, I found this book to be funny and well written. I just wish Mr. Franken would employ more dilligent fact checkers when he sits down to write his next masterpiece.

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