Fashhhionating

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Earlier today we noted that the Republican Senate candidate from Colorado, Bob Schaffer, told the Denver Post that America should adopt an immigration and guest labor policy modeled on that of the Mariana Islands (aka the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) — whose guest worker program is notorious around the world for forced abortion, slavery, child prostitution, sex trafficking, beatings, female workers kept in shacks with no plumbing surrounded by barbed wire and other fun stuff.

When I first heard what a bang up job Schaffer thinks they’re doing in the Marianas I figured he had only some casual acquaintance with the situation in the Islands.

But it turns out that’s not so.

TPM Reader AK points out that the folks at ProgressNowAction have done a little digging. And it seems that that back in 1999, when Schaffer was serving in Congress, he went on one of those junkets to the Islands put together by none other than disgraced lobbyist and now-federal inmate Jack Abramoff.

Those of you with a clear recollection of the details of the Abramoff scandal will remember that one of Jack’s biggest clients was the group of sharks who ran the Marianas sweat shops.

They had a great thing going because they were able to slap Made In The USA labels on clothes and other items made in Saipan by female guest workers imported from other parts of East Asia to work in sub-Third World labor conditions. That is, when the guest workers weren’t busy getting beaten, raped or coerced into having abortions. Jack’s job was to find politicians willing to travel with him on junkets to the Marianas, hang out at the casinos and come back to the states and say how well the labor conditions actually there seemed to be.

It was actually amazing what Abramoff could get members of Congress to do for the Marianas sweatshop owners. After his Marianas junket, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) agreed to enter into the congressional record a series of personal attacks against a 15 year old sex slave whose ordeal had become a major source of press attention. “[S]he wanted to do nude dancing,” said Rep. Hall.

In any case, it was just one of these junkets with Abramoff that then US Rep. Bob Schaffer took back in 1999, which, as it happens, was a year after the release of the Department of Labor report that confirmed the 15 year old sex slave’s account.

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