The Week in Review
March 20, 2008WEDNESDAY, Mar. 12
So a few hours after New York Governor Eliot "Mr. Clean" Spitzer resigns his office after allegedly getting nailed (hehe) for soliciting the services of a very high-class call-girl, I read a story on the Honolulu Advertiser website saying that today our own U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D, 2nd District) voted to create an "independent ethics panel" in the House of Representatives but Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D, 1st District) did not. "If our current ethics system doesn't work, it needs serious structural changes, not just another layer of process," Abercrombie said in the paper. This is hilarious—bust-a-gut, fall-out-of-your-chair hilarious—for three reasons. First, because Abercrombie is, from all the accounts I've read, a stand-up guy with no pending ethics charges/accusations/innuendo hanging around his neck. Second, because a whole host of good government organizations—U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Common Cause, Democracy 21—think this whole ethics panel thing is a peachy idea, and voters tend to see these groups as straight shooters. And third, because Abercrombie is right: the "current ethics system" (such as it is) doesn't work and is in need of "serious structural changes." And until such time as those changes occur (read: never), little tweaks like having non-House members look at ethics complaints will do just nicely.
THURSDAY, Mar. 13
So now Barack Obama can't be president because he wasn't born in the U.S.? Don't laugh—some Native Hawaiians are saying that anyone born in Hawai'i—before or after Statehood—isn't a U.S. citizen because of the 1893 Overthrow. According to the Associated Press, Native Hawaiian musician Leo Siu says the 1993 Apology Resolution is an admission that "the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom [was] illegal," and thus anyone born here isn't actually an American. It's an interesting argument, but one that's not actually that novel. See, some people are saying that John McCain can't be president either because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Yes, McCain's father was in the U.S. Navy and the Canal Zone was U.S. territory, but who cares about small details like that? These issues could balloon into constitutional crises that will make Watergate look like a Boy Scout Jamboree. Either that or disappear entirely, but personally, I'm hoping for the constitutional crises. Better copy that way.
FRIDAY, Mar. 14
So finally, FINALLY, for the first time ever, state officials have taken control of the Na Wai Eha streams. The state Commission on Water Resource Management voted unanimously yesterday to "designate" the streams, according to today's Maui News. This act marks a historic end to the plantation era-control of the Iao, Waikapu, Waiehu and Waihe`e streams, and the News was right to run the story above the fold on the front page and out to 39 paragraphs. Still, it would have been nice if readers didn't have to wait until the 36th paragraph before finding out that it's Wailuku Water Co. and Alexander & Baldwin's Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar—the two companies diverting the streams' water—that will finally have to install flow meters. Even worse, readers had to wait until paragraph 38 to find out that all this came about because Hui O Na Wai Eha and Maui Tomorrow petitioned the Water Resource Commission—which is a bit like waiting until the end of a story on a lawsuit before saying who won.
SATURDAY, Mar. 15
Working on battery power today because the power's out—but only in Haiku, Paia, Upcountry, Kahului, Pakakaulo and Wailuku. Now this is irritating, but not entirely infuriating. I mean, it's not like the whole island is blacked-out: that would be absurd, ridiculous, something straight out of a Third World nation. It's not even raining out! Sure, it's a little windy, but nothing even approaching hurricane-strength. Nope—the sun is shining, the air is warm… what the hell am I doing indoors?
SUNDAY, Mar. 16
Now this paper has been critical of Governor Linda Lingle in the past–taking her to task for her accepting substantial campaign contributions from Big Oil while talking about the need for alternative energy, cozying up to President George W. Bush and generally giving big corporations and developers a pass on just about everything–but right now I'd just like to congratulate her. She is, after all, one of the toughest governors out there right now. Her state may pale in size and wealth when compared to a New York or Florida, but she can more than hold her own in the political arena. A perfect example of this is the way she (and Attorney General Mark Bennett) have completely dicked around state Auditor Marion Higa—and the rest of us—in the investigation into who promised what to whom as Hawai`i Superferry (HSF) rushed to get started last year. According to yesterday's Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial, the Lingle Administration's assertion of "attorney-client privilege" in refusing to grant Higa access to emails, memos, reports, letters and who knows what else that's relevant to figuring out exactly what Lingle promised HSF officials has already caused the auditor to miss a March 1 deadline to give the state Legislature a preliminary report. The April 20 deadline for a final report remains in doubt. "[T]he public is due an explanation to dispel a perception that something untoward was behind the February 2005 [environmental assessment] exemption," the paper opined. Untoward? All we're saying is that it looks like Lingle gave special treatment to Hawai'i Superferry while accepting campaign contributions from company officials. For this administration, that's pretty much been standard operating procedure.
MONDAY, Mar. 17
Seriously: at this point, does this nation really need an excuse to get hammered?
TUESDAY, Mar. 18
And now to get somber for a moment. Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of our country's invasion of Iraq. It's been five years since President Bush said we needed to invade and occupy Iraq because Saddam Hussein was building chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; because Iraq had allied itself with Al Qaeda terrorists; because only we could liberate the Iraqi people and bring them the joys and riches of democracy. And as you're undoubtedly aware, we still have as many troops in country as we ever did. They're still fighting and still taking casualties. Insurgents are still fighting, suicide bombs—unknown in the country before the invasion—are still blowing up scores of innocent civilians. And making the whole war look like a profoundly sick joke, somehow most of Baghdad still–STILL–endures regular power outages. So happy birthday, War in Iraq, though I doubt many over there will be celebrating.
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