This Week in Review
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14
December 22, 2005
Nice to see some pretty good shots of the old fake whaling ship Carthaginian in all the local papers this morning. It was also nice to read that the Lahaina Restoration Foundation—which was responsible for the upkeep of the Carthaginian, until it decided the boat was too expensive and just stopped maintaining it—wants to move a Hawaiian sailing canoe into the Carthaginian's old berth. What wasn't nice was driving into Lahaina Town this morning and seeing a cruise ship tender tied up there instead. Man, they don't waste any time… Speaking of wasting time, U.S. Congressman Ed Case (D, Hawai'i) sent out a press release announcing that he'd just today introduced a bill that would allow the Hansen's disease patients who still live at Kalaupapa on Molokai to build a memorial to the thousands of people who were exiled there. "It is fitting and appropriate that our nation, through the National Park Service, ensures that they are never forgotten through the establishment of a memorial," said Case in the release. Absolutely. Never forget. Just one question: how come it's taken this long to come up with this brilliant idea?
THURSDAY, Dec. 15
So six out of the six Maui County Ethics Board members have decided to sweep away any and all objections Councilwoman Michelle Anderson raised when her colleagues recently appointed a Maui Land and Pineapple Company lobbyist to the county's General Plan Advisory Committee. "I feel we need to have input from the companies that provide a lot of business, provide a lot of employment," board member Harriette Holt says in today's Maui News. Fellow board member Jim A. Stewart even told the paper that local government is favoring "concerned citizens" while "the corporate side is generally the one with the bull's eye on it… Both sides are equal opposites," he said. "They both should be heard." Wow. Citizens who advocate slow growth development policies—which entails scrutinizing endless environmental impact statements and attending day-long planning hearings all while trying to hold down a regular job—are "equal" to publicly traded corporations that hand out thousands of dollars in campaign contributions every year while employing people making six and seven-figure salaries? Really? Man, I had no clue how easy it was to sit on an ethics board.
FRIDAY, Dec. 16
In a rare show of strength, the U.S. Senate sucker-punched the Bush Administration today, rejecting an attempt to make permanent some of the most draconian, anti-civil liberties aspects of the Patriot Act, like allowing federal investigators to run barefoot through library records and conducting so-called roving wiretaps (both Hawai'i Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye voted against the act extensions). But for those of you who believe Bush and his minions when they say that dumping the Patriot Act will make us vulnerable to terrorists, take heart in today's New York Times story exposing the Bush Administration's post-Sept. 11 action allowing the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on domestic phone calls and e-mails without having to get a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court—an absolutely illegal practice usually only sought by tin-plated dictators like Saddam Hussein who feel the need to spy on their own people. When courts or long-established civil liberties stand in the way of his definition of "public safety," Bush simply ignores them and does as it pleases in secret. Remember, this is the guy who justified his invasion of Iraq using bogus intelligence; authorized U.S. forces to torture prisoners in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan; opened secret prisons in Eastern Europe; and okayed assassinations of suspected terrorists. So far he's not given a damn about the U.S. Constitution—why should he start now?
SATURDAY, Dec. 17
I'm allowed one day off, right?
SUNDAY, Dec. 18
In other news, the Honolulu Advertiser led off with the revelation that our very own Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spied on Democrat Patsy Mink before, during and after she became a U.S. congresswoman in 1964 representing Hawai'i's Second District. They apparently never investigated her, but did manage to file away a couple reports from confidential informants labeling her a communist. The reason? Well, your guess is as a good as mine, but possible explanations include that she was a liberal, anti-war, Asian-American endorsed by the International Longshoreman's & Warehousemen's Union (ILWU). Any one of those chararacteristics would have perturbed noted FBIboss and dress-wearer J. Edgar Hoover. "Another informant who attended the conference stated he had known Patsy Takemoto [Mink] quite well and remembered her as one of a group who, during evening, sat round a campfire and sang Russian folk and revolutionary songs as well as Japanese and Chinese communistic songs," wrote an unknown FBI agent to Hoover deputy Cartha de Loach on Nov. 6, 1964. "He said that in his opinion Patsy Takemoto was a communist sympathizer."
MONDAY, Dec. 19
Even Democratic Congressman Ed Case thinks Bush's allowing the NSA to ignore the long-established FISA courts when it spies on Americans is a bad idea. Ed Case! He just voted to make the Patriot Act permanent! Anyway, him being Ed Case and all he's totally cool with Bush spying on Americans—"I accept the President's argument that, in fighting the reality of terrorism in our post-9/11 world, we cannot any longer distinguish neatly in intelligence gathering between foreign and domestic, nor even between wartime and peacetime," he insisted in a press release today. But Case takes umbrage at Bush's brazen disregard for FISA courts—which Bush has said will continue. "We have never given our presidents carte blanche to outright suspend basic constitutional rights and civil liberties in times of war just because they want to," Case said. "It is clear that if we don't step in, swiftly and effectively, the President will conclude that his administration can simply continue and perhaps expand domestic surveillance without independent judicial supervision."
TUESDAY, Dec. 20
Doesn't that Patsy Mink communist nonsense seem so quaint now?
Anthony Pignataro believes that it is morally indefensible to shave more than once a day. MTW
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