WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 8
Just slogged through a tape-delayed version of the second presidential debate; here are a few thoughts: All the talk about how the “town hall” format (although I’ve never seen a town hall that featured stage lights and Tom Brokaw) would favor McCain? Not so much. His interaction with the allegedly “undecided voters” (come on people—still?) felt uncomfortable and forced, his repetition of the disingenuous verbal tick “my friends” went from grating to creepy to sad and, while I know this is shallow and not his fault, his hobbling gait and stiff-armed gestures made him look, well, old. Obama by contrast was fluid and self-assured. Pundits have criticized him for being “professorial” and that came across. But honestly, after eight years of a sentence-mangling, smirking anti-intellectual hanging his hat at 1600 Pennsylvania, aren’t we ready for a dose of nuance and critical thinking? I posed that as a rhetorical question, partly because I’m afraid of the answer.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9
The presidential race isn’t the only one offering up testy political rhetoric. The scramble for the County Council seat from Lanai has generated harsh words as well, with candidate John Ornellas accusing opponent Sol Kaho‘ohalahala of being out of touch with the island’s needs. Speaking at a Kula Community Association forum and quoted in The Maui News, Ornellas said his rival “doesn’t have a good grasp of what’s going on.” A dozen Lanai residents—including Alberta de Jetley, who ran and was eliminated in the September 20 primary—have filed a residency challenge against Ko‘ohalahala with the county, seeking to disqualify him from the race. Though Ornellas didn’t officially lend his name to the challenge, I have a sneaking suspicion he’s rooting hard from the sidelines… In other news: Yesterday, nearly 100 people showed up at a hearing called by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Cable Television Division, almost unanimously to voice support for Akaku and opposition to the DCCA’s plan to put the community access station up for bid. In an era when apathy is more the rule than the exception, it’s heartening to see that Mauians recognize this is a valuable public resource and are willing to speak out to protect it.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10
I’m starting to think they need to re-make that Gene Wilder/Richard Prior classic See No Evil, Hear No Evil, with Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska and our own Sen. Daniel Inouye in the lead roles. Testifying at Stevens’s corruption trial, Inouye said of his friend and colleague: “I’ve never known of him to lie, and I wouldn’t expect him to.” Stevens, who’s accused of receiving oil company kickbacks, is essentially mounting an was too busy serving my constituents to realize bribes were being taken on my behalf” defense. Whether it works or not, he may have a bigger problem: while he sits in court, his Democratic opponent is campaigning hard and actually looks to have a shot at unseating the 40-year Senate veteran. Between this, global warming, oil drilling and the Palin Show, little old Alaska is suddenly blinking under the glare of the national spotlight.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11
The cuts keep coming: With belt-tightening the buzzword of the day, the state Department of Education is planning to excise more than $45 million from its budget over the next two years. The proposed cuts come as the state stares down the barrel of a $900 million shortfall. Yes folks, it’s gonna get ugly… In other news: Looks like the County Clerk is going to reject the residency challenge against Kaho‘ohalahala, as reported in today’s Maui News, putting a wet blanket on that pint-sized political inferno and probably squashing Ornellas’s last best hope of pulling off an upset.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12
More from Sen. Inouye’s testimony: “I don’t know Ted Stevens ever told a lie.” Wow, not even when he cut down that cherry tree?
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13
Bad timing, guys: With budgets being slashed and burned across the board, Hawaii’s lawmakers have decided to give themselves a nearly 40 percent pay hike and to up their expense accounts from $7,500 to $10,200. Quoted in The Maui News, Speaker of the House Calvin Say said the salary bump will help the state’s elected officials “afford their rents, utilities and everything else that has gone up in price.” Have those things gotten more expensive, Calvin? Hadn’t noticed… In other news: Some excitement in the world of professional baseball, with Maui’s own Shane Victorino—whose Philadelphia Phillies are two wins away from the World Series—finding himself at the center of a bench-clearing almost-brawl after he responded negatively to having a pitch hurled at his head. Things have been tense since the outset of Philadelphia’s series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and emotions bubbled over last night when LA starter Hiroki Kuroda let fly a cranium-seeking fastball that missed Victorino’s noggin by inches. Though he was understandably miffed, Shane was remarkably forgiving after the fact and all but gave his blessing to the attempted beaning, telling a reporter that “the situation called for it.” His only request: “Just don’t throw at my head.” Seems reasonable.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14
Governmental rulings, even theoretically compelling ones, are usually dry as South Maui. So it’s always fun when a bit of inadvertently esoteric philosophy manages to squeeze its way in. Like the County Clerk’s ruling in the Kaho‘ohalahala residency challenge, officially released yesterday, which found that the candidate, who has said he intends to return to Lanai to live in a family home, meets residency requirements through his “state of mind.” It’s a Zen koan waiting to be written. MTW