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Politics

NEXT STOP ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: GUAM(!)

I must confess that I think about Guam about as often as I think about wolverines. That is to say, not all that much, with wolverines actually having a pretty big edge in the cross-my-mind department. And now Guam is the next primary in the hotly contested Democratic Presidential campaign. While the 4 delegates at stake there are hardly scale tippers for either Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama, no state or territory can be taken for granted in such a close contest. So now Guam gets to make some news other than being a remote battlefield of World War 2 in the 1940's or a prize in the Spanish-American War of 1898. When you're Guam, it's a long time between headlines so you take what you can get.

Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States, meaning…um… meaning… hmm… what? They don't get to have Senators or Congressmen, but they do elect a governor and a 15 member legislature and send a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives, one supposes to remind Washington that they exist and have needs just like anybody else. The electoral delegates they do send to the Democratic Convention don't get to vote but presumably can try to influence other delegates if they're of a mind to. Maybe invite them to Guam for some duty-free shopping and whatever else goes on there.

It must be a happening place since a million tourists a year visit this island of 173,000 American citizens. Ninety percent of their tourists are from Japan. Most of the rest come from South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan. Not many American citizens visit the place except for the many U.S. Military personnel stationed in the six bases there: four Navy installations and one each for the Coast Guard and Air Force. The Marines will be joining them between 2010 and 2014 when the Third Marine Expeditionary Force relocates to Guam from Okinawa. That move will increase the island's population by 25%. With all that firepower concentrated there you wonder exactly what's so valuable on this 209-square mile island smack dab in between Indonesia and Japan.

One supposes that like all real estate, Guam's great value is due to location, location, location. Modern day Imperial America needs to project its military might globally and Guam is pretty handy to Asia to deter the Chinese from getting frisky in the Pacific like Japan did 70 years ago. So for a place that doesn't have a lot of territory and not much to say about what goes on in American politics and whose capital "city," Hagatna, boasts only 1,100 inhabitants, Guam is actually more important to Imperial America than Arkansas. Probably a lot more fun and interesting too but that's another story. Candidates actually do visit Arkansas to try to win votes, as bland an experience as that may be, but none of them ever seem to visit Guam. I wonder if they hit the Virgin islands? That's also a territory and a tropical paradise, and pretty close to the mainland as opposed to the almost a half a planet away that Guam is from Washington, D.C.

At any rate, I think we all know about as much about Guam as is necessary for going about our daily lives. With all that military might assembled there one supposes it's safe from the Axis of Evil and Al Qaeda. Wondering why that armed juggernaut isn't assembled around around places like New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Seattle, New Orleans and a whole lot of other vulnerable and densely populated U.S.A. cities only gives you a headache. Let's just stay glued to our TV sets this May 3 to see who gets those four non-voting delegates. In politics, as goes Guam, so goes the Marianas.

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