The Maui News’ Liz Janes-Brown, Men are Easy author Lynn Rasmussen and the honorable Mayor Charmaine Tavares got together at Seabury Hall tonight for another monthly Philosophy Club gathering, this one on feminism. All three panelists agreed with each other for the most part, though I’ve got to say Tavares surprised me with some of the evening’s most interesting observations—most notably that our market economy and its attendant high cost of living has done much to help feminism by forcing women into the workplace so couples and families can afford to buy nice, expensive stuff. “If I’m going to get married, I’m going to find someone who’s truly a partner,” Tavares said. “Maybe that’s why I’m not married.” Later she advocated dumping grade levels in schools and criticized rap lyrics for having “disrespect for order, disrespect for women [and] for anyone in authority.” She opposed “overzealous” attempts at bringing about equality like forcing girls and boys in school to play the exact same sports. She observed that, “until men are the ones having babies, they won’t understand” why abortion should be a woman’s choice. “Our society is so permissive it’s ridiculous,” she said near the end. “You cannot be a 250-pound, six-footer and wear clothes like Britney Spears. This does not fit.” Finally, Tavares observed that chivalry wasn’t dead—and wasn’t just for guys. “Women can open the door for men,” she said, to not nearly enough applause.
THURSDAY, May 10
Eleven months before a minority of the American electorate boosted him into the White House, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush bravely told a Florence, South Carolina audience, “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” That Bush was not engaging in subtle ironic humor and was, in fact, giving the entire nation—and world—a sneak peek at his future approach to governance, education policy and the English language should have been obvious to us all. It most certainly should inoculate us from any shock we might otherwise receive after reading something like today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin story “No Child law is leaving isles behind, study finds.” Yes, kids, the educational apocalypse has indeed come to pass. According to the story, the Center on Education has determined that 65 percent of Hawai`i’s schools are failing to meet No Child Left Behind’s “Adequate Yearly Progress” benchmarks. Sixty-five percent. You know, some nations consider that a majority. Anyway, the reason for this travesty is, according to state Department of Education, inadequate funding from the fed to meet the goals they set up in the first place. That this is a phenomenally stupid reason—the federal government spends $9 billion every single month on a war we can’t win in Iraq—should only reinforce the view that we all should have been paying a lot more attention to Bush seven years ago.
FRIDAY, May 11
Good news, everyone: Hawai`i’s new Smoke-Free Workplaces Law doesn’t seem to be driving Japanese tourists away. “A healthy environment can only be good for tourism—you hear that wherever you are,” Hawai`i Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert says in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin. See, when you live in a place completely controlled by the tourism industry, you’re going to see stories like this. Forget about trying to gauge the health effects such a law would bring to the whole county—the power brokers really want to know if the big tourist groups still come here. You know, I’m really surprised the tourist lobby didn’t veto Kent Smith’s Kaheawa Wind Farm because it’s such an eyesore on the Pali.
SATURDAY, May 12
Jacob and Emily—those are the two most popular baby names in the U.S., according to Social Security Administration stats cited in an Associated Press story today. And I think I speak for everyone—well, everyone not named Jacob—when I say that this is messed up. Jacob? Growing up, I knew of two Jacobs: Jacob Marley of Christmas Carol, who you really didn’t want to be named after, and that Jake guy in the 1980’s TV show Jake and the Fatman, starring William Conrad and Joe Penny. Shows what I know about names.
SUNDAY, May 13
This just in! Hawai`i Democrats have moved up their caucus! To Feb. 19, 2008! According to today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the reason is to “give the state a higher profile in the presidential campaign.” Now in all seriousness, this is probably a good thing. Holding the caucus in March, like previous election years, is much too late in the presidential election cycle to give Hawai`i voters a chance to affect the race for party’s nomination. And moving the date up to mid-February would be tremendous news were it not for one small detail: all the other states are moving their primary elections up even further! Feb. 5, for instance—two full weeks before Hawai`i’s caucus date—will see primary elections in California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah and Delaware. In addition, Texas, Illinois are also considering moving their primaries to that date. In fact, so many big states will hold primaries on Feb. 5 that CNN reported on Mar. 15 that the date constitutes a “quasi-national primary that could largely settle nomination battles before the first piece of Valentine’s candy is ever eaten.”
MONDAY, May 14
Well, looks like Kamehameha Schools’ Hawaiians-only admissions policy is safe from the constitutional clutches of the U.S. Supreme Court. After all that arguing, debating and pontificating about how the court would side on the case, the young plaintiff named “John Doe”—supposedly prevented from attending the school—has gone and settled for undisclosed terms. Kam Schools supporters are happy (any day that sees a Supreme Court challenge fall away without you having to do anything is a good one) and are even boasting they’ll pass the far more controversial Akaka Bill. And this is ironic, because it had been my understanding that the federal government needed to pass the Akaka Bill in the first place to make it likelier that court cases like Kam Schools would go the Hawaiians’ way.
TUESDAY, May 15
Isn’t it great that political arguments can be so flexible?
Anthony Pignataro is not a surfer, but he played one on TV. MTW