Based solely on its title, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, aka HR4213, would rank just below the Flowers are Pretty and Sunshine is Nice Proclamation on the no-brainer scale. But, as we’ve learned, you can’t judge an act by its title (unless your idea of patriotism involves warrantless wiretapping). OK, what’s the point of all this and how the hell does it fall under “hyper local”? HR4213, introduced this week by Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan and Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, features, way down in section “E” under “Agriculture Disaster Relief,” a $21 million allotment for “a Hawaiian sugar cane cooperative.” HC&S is never named, but since it’s the only sugar operation left standing in the state it isn’t hard to connect the dots. Some—including HC&S’s employees and its profitable parent company, Alexander & Baldwin—will surely greet this news with smiles. But for anyone who decries profligate government spending and likes to point the finger at social programs, this is a nice reminder that corporate welfare is alive and kicking. Also worth noting: in April, quoted in The Maui News, Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye pledged that “HC&S will not go under,” adding, “If I am wrong, I will be out of a job.” HR4213 doesn’t bear Inouye’s name, but it sure seems to bear his fingerprints….
Earlier this week, KITV reports, Gov. Lingle met with opponents of civil union bill HB444, including Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona and the Hawaii Christian Coalition. She’s also slated to meet with supporters of the bill. This could mean a decision is imminent—but there’s another possibility. According to an official release, Lingle will embark on a trip to China and Japan on June 4 and won’t return until June 19, two days before the deadline for stating her intentions regarding HB444 and any other bills she hasn’t signed or vetoed. Joining Lingle on her journey to the East will be an array of officials, including House Speaker Calvin Say and Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Mike McCartney. Notably absent from the list is Aiona, who’ll be acting governor. Are you following along? That means Aiona could veto HB444 in Lingle’s stead, a move that would: a) play well with his religious base, on which he’s counting heavily in the coming gubernatorial election; and b) let Lingle, who has been strangely tight-lipped and non-committal on the issue, off the hook. Maybe it won’t go down that way. Maybe Lingle will have made her decision by the time you read this and it’ll be a moot point. Then again, maybe not…. The confetti had hardly settled at Charles Djou’s victory party when the independent-candidate-who-doesn’t-answer-to-anyone-but-the-people-of-Hawaii-and-decries-outside-intrusion-into-local-politics appeared on FOX News. “Back in January…I was polling in the teens,” he told the crew of FOX and Friends. “Everybody told me that this congressional seat was purchased and the wholly-owned property of the Democratic Party.” (Really, Charles? “Everybody” told you that?) Amidst the predictable partisan shots and fist-pumping, Djou—who must start fundraising and campaigning again almost immediately to defend the seat in November—did say one prescient thing, in his remarks to supporters: “If anything, what the people of Hawaii have given us is a short-term lease with an option to buy.”… Best Djou headline, courtesy of the conservative blog scaredmonkeys.com: “Djou Betcha.”…
President Obama is deploying 1,500 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border according to a CNN report, but if you ask Sen. John McCain it’s “simply not enough.” He wants 3,000 troops on the Arizona-Mexico border alone. That’d be the same John McCain who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said he wanted to continue—and possibly escalate—both during the 2008 presidential campaign. At the time, more than 15,000 National Guard troops were in those two countries according to official Defense Department figures, meaning they weren’t available to lend a hand in McCain’s home state or anywhere else. Guess we can add McCain to the list of people who are glad he didn’t win.