The MauiTime office has fielded several calls and e-mails from residents concerned about the Census. Not so much making sure they fill it out correctly, but rather—at least in the case of one irate man—accusing a Census worker of criminal trespass. I’ve never understood why people are so suspicious of the Census; yes, the government is gathering information about you, but if you think the only time they do that is once every ten years you are, to put it mildly, naïve. And the nice thing about the Census—as opposed to, say, warrantless domestic wiretapping—is that it actually benefits everyone. Adequate governmental representation (meaning we have an adequate number of representatives, not that the ones we have are necessarily adequate) and fair allocation of federal funds both hinge on accurate population counts. If you still need convincing, you can learn more at a series of islandwide promotional events that’ll run through March 15; visit www.2010census.gov or call Hawaii liaison Roberta Wong Murray at 960-1252 for details….
Press releases only tell half the story, part 8,473: This week the Neil Abercrombie camp slung some mud at Abercrombie’s Democratic opponent, Mufi Hannemann, in the form of a media dispatch about, you guessed it, the Oahu rail project. The release calls on Hannemann “to remain as mayor in the public’s best interest to ensure that Honolulu’s proposed rail project gets off to a proper start.” Nowhere is it mentioned that Hannemann abandoning his gubernatorial aspirations would also be in Abercrombie’s best interests, though I suppose it’s implied…. Speaking of Abercrombie: Last week I mentioned the upcoming special election to replace him, and the fact that some—including candidate and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa—have questioned whether we can afford the $1 million price tag. I also noted an irony: the guy who’s probably rooting hardest for the special election is the only conservative in the race, Honolulu Councilmember Charles Djou. That’s because, while Djou wouldn’t stand a chance in a head-to-head matchup with either Hanabusa or former Rep. Ed Case, he could sneak in if the two Democrats split the vote. Well, add Hawaii Republican Party Chair Jonah Kaauwai to the list of Tea Party-placating small-government advocates who’s willing to abandon his principles in the name of winning an election. “Is $1 million a lot of money? Yes it is,” Kuuwai said in a release posted on the state GOP Web site. But wait, he’s not done asking and answering rhetorical questions: “Is the Congressional representation for half of Hawaii necessary? Absolutely.” Funny thing is, though Kaauwai goes on to take predictable shots at the free-spending Dems and their union pals, he’s making essentially the same argument Case has made repeatedly. Even Hanabusa, while she’s expressed reservations about the cost, has said she understands the importance of maintaining Hawaii’s Congressional delegation. To sum up: Kaauwai is pretending the Democrats oppose the special election—a conservative position—so he can attack them for being…not conservative? My head hurts, and it’s only March…. Up until now, I’d never thought about the strain the “birthers” are surely putting on Hawaii record-keeping agencies. (If by some miracle you don’t know who the birthers are, stop reading now and take a long walk on the beach. Trust me.) Then I read quotes in the Honolulu Advertiser from Hawaii Department of Health spokesperson Janice Okubo about how her office gets 40-50 requests for Obama’s birth certificate every month (see By the Numbers on page 7). Morbidly curious, I called Okubo to learn more. She confirmed the number and told me that because of furloughs and other cutbacks they’ve got just two staff members handling the requests (among other, relevant duties). That’s not the worst of it: “The majority of the requests,” Okubo said with a laugh both weary and exasperated, “are coming from about four or five people.” Never mind the fact that, per state law, birth records are only available to certain people for specific reasons not including “I believe the President of the United States was born in Africa”—the birthers will not be daunted! To paraphrase Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of committed, insane citizens can make life difficult for the rest of us…. So there’s this persistent Internet meme where YouTubers take a clip from the movie Downfall, in which Hitler’s advisors bring him bad news and the Führer goes unsurprisingly apeshit, and change the subtitles to make it about other, more trivial things. (Example: “Hitler reacts to Brett Favre Playing for the Vikings.”) This week, a couple readers gave me a heads-up about “Hitler Reacts to the Hawaii Superferry,” which was posted in October 2009 by CaptainNemo999. Best line: “I waited and waited for the crowds to thin out and the prices to drop, but look at me now! I’m [screwed]!” My first thought was: Hey, this might unite folks on both sides of the issue. Then I read the bickering (some of it intelligent, to be fair) in the comments section, and I realized that not even Hitler trumps the Superferry….
I know the Oscars are old news by now, but in keeping with this week’s movie-themed feature (page 12), I wanted to note how cool it was to see a journalist—Mark Boal, who was imbedded in Iraq in 2004—win Best Original Screenplay for The Hurt Locker. For a profession that’s taken a beating of late, it was a nice moment.