Not sure if you heard, but Apple released a new product last week. Can’t remember what it’s called—they should really ramp up their marketing. All kidding aside, the feverishly anticipated iPad arrived with a local connection: a Maui-based visitor pub is on a short list of companies—about two dozen—to roll out approved apps for the new device. James Quine, publisher of Maui Island Guide & Driving Magazine, had the app developed specifically for the iPad; the experience is touted as a more interactive version of the magazine. Whether this is a new way forward for the publishing industry or, as Salon CEO Richard Gingras put it, “a fatal distraction” remains to be seen. But it’s always cool when Maui is part of the conversation…. According to the latest figures from the state Department of Business, Tourism and Economic Development, a lot of Mauians, especially in the County’s rural reaches, aren’t mailing back their Census forms. As of April 5, East Maui and Molokai were in the 0-40 percent return category (see By the Numbers, page 8), meaning even in the best-case scenario less than half of residents have responded. The irony, of course, is that rural communities will suffer most from inaccurate population counts. As previously noted in this space (and in the massive Census outreach campaign), federal funds and governmental representation are at stake. Or, if you believe Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, it’s all (possibly) part of a plot to bring back internment camps. Discussing the matter with FOX News last June, Bachman said that in the 1940s “the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps.” She did add the caveat, “I’m not saying that that’s what the Administration is planning to do,” but anyone who says “I’m not saying” is always, in fact, saying. And Bachmann isn’t the only one. Texas Congressman (and Hawaii golden boy) Ron Paul offered his two cents (though not from the Federal Reserve!), telling the Houston Chronicle that “the invasive nature of the Census raises serious questions about how and why government will use the collected information.” Apparently Paul’s peeps are listening, because some rural Texas counties have reported Census returns as low as 5 percent. This could end up costing Texas seats in traditionally deep-red districts, thus counterproductively (or productively, depending on your perspective) decreasing the influence of people like Paul and Bachmann. In case anyone needs a reminder, the Census is mandated by the Constitution, so if it is in fact a nefarious government plot, the conspiracy runs deep….
Good news—Hawaii lawmakers are done messing around. “[Legislators] have killed proposals dealing with casinos, medical marijuana, cockfighting, flag-flying, foie gras and civil unions,” declared an April 4 AP dispatch. “We’ve kept our eye on the ball,” House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro is quoted as saying. Sure, at least one of the above bills could generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and another deals with fundamental civil rights, but never mind all that—they’ve got bigger fish to fry! So I assume we can expect the important work and bright ideas to start…now. Now? Anyone?…. Speaking of the medical marijuana bill: before it died in committee, Gov. Lingle warned of its dangers during remarks to the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce on the Big Island. In a video posted at bigislandvideonews.com, Lingle tells the Chamber that in California there are now “more marijuana stores than McDonald’s and Starbucks.” That oft-repeated “fact” has been disputed, but even if it’s true, what’s the point? McDonald’s and Starbucks sell addictive and physically harmful products, and yet if they were shut down people would still find ways to consume triple mocha lattes and double cheeseburgers. Isn’t that an argument in favor of regulation and taxation? Lingle also told the Chamber that today’s weed is more potent than the stuff of yesteryear (another worn-out, discredited argument). “Those of us from the Baby Boom generation are thinking of marijuana as it was when we were in college,” she said, “and so maybe we’re not as upset about this. [But] the chemical component, the drug in marijuana in the years that we were in college was 2-3 percent. Now, it’s 26 percent…this is a very powerful drug.” Apparently Lingle had a lousy dealer in college…. Got a press release from Keep Hawaii United about the state GOP’s new platform. Keep Hawaii United is excited about something that’s being removed—a line implying support for the Akaka Bill—but I’m more interested in the five “core principles” that remain: “liberty, limited government, individual responsibility, fiscal accountability and equality of opportunity.” The only thing I’d add is an asterisk next to the first three and the last one that says, “*except in the case of gay people who want to get married.”…. Bit of intrigue in the race to fill Neil Abercrombie’s vacated 1st District seat, as Sen. Dan Inouye has thrown his support behind state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa and, more to the point, against fellow Dem Ed Case. Inouye has a grudge against Case for challenging Sen. Dan Akaka in ’06. That’s not speculation; Inouye said so himself. “Part of it is personal,” he told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. “I don’t like the way he proceeded to run against Dan Akaka.” Case’s retort: “Unfortunately, it appears Sen. Inouye took [it] personally that I did not ask his permission.” Snappy sound bite, but if you’re looking to get back into national politics, locking horns with an influential eight-term Senator from your own party may not be the swiftest course….
OK, one final dig at the anti-Census crowd, courtesy of The Onion. A Census “infographic” posted in March asks, “What information are they trying to keep private?” One of the answers: “Whether they rent or own their heavily armed secessionist compound.”