Thankfully, our brave U.S. Congressman Ed Case (D, Hawai’i) is finally back from his Middle Eastern fact-finding trip. He gave the Associated Press in today’s Maui News the standard administration line that most of the country is peaceful but we need at least 150,000 combat soldiers in the field until 2007 at least. And Case even resurrected the old, thoroughly nonsensical “Domino Theory”—the U.S. had to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people to keep the commies from overrunning all of Southeast Asia—to justify his position. “The alternative to doing so will be chaos and even greater tragedy not only within Iraq, but well beyond, as that path will surely negatively impact other crucial countries in the region like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Never mind that between 24,000 and 27,000 Iraqis have died in the war. Never mind that there were no terrorists—Al Qaeda or otherwise—in Iraq blowing up cars, cutting off heads or setting mines before we invaded in March, 2003. Never mind that U.S. troops are doing practically nothing to stop the sectarian, Sunni-on-Shiite violence that’s increasingly plaguing the nation. And never mind that the whole reason U.S. soldiers and marines got sent to Iraq in the first place—destroying dictator Saddam Hussein’s massive stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons—turned out to a big, fat lie. But hey, Case says we need to stay the course, so by all means, let’s keep right on killing.
THURSDAY, Sept. 8
Today’s the day The Maui News joined up the Associated Press to carry Norwegian Cruise Lines’ water. And why not? The company—owned by Hong Kong-based Star Cruises, Ltd.—only brought in $1.3 billion last year. For its part, the News glorifies the cruise operator with a big full-color front-page photo of the gaudy NCL ship Pride of America and an even bigger story on how the cruise line is bitching about the recent, wonderfully scathing Mayor’s Cruise Ship Task Force report. “[I]t didn’t include the cruise ship industry,” NCL spokesman Robert Kritzman told the News, ignoring the fact that cruise line officials had given recommendations to the task force. But that story was inconsequential when compared to the big wet one the AP planted on NCL’s ass that ran on page A4. Titled “Norwegian Cruise Line finds success in Hawaiian waters,” the “story” detailed how NCL owns all these ships and is so popular and can’t build ships fast enough to keep with demand because it’s just so popular. “The ships also provide a unique vantage point of the islands, sailing past the glowing lava fields of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island, the remote green peaks of the Na Pali coast on Kauai’s North Shore and the urban cityscape of Oahu,” wrote AP reporter Jaymes Song in a style rarely found outside visitor brochures and in-flight magazines.
FRIDAY, Sept. 9
Maui’s real estate market is hot, Hot, HOT! Nearly as hot as NCL! And that’s fantastic, right? Um, not especially, Hawaii Pacific University economics professor Leroy Laney told island business types today at the Maui Beach Hotel. You see, since property values have risen 190 percent since in just eight years—high enough and fast enough to induce dizziness, loss of vision and nosebleeds—Maui quite possibly meets all the qualifications of a full-blown housing bubble. It’s definitely a seller’s market right now, until something small pops the bubble, plummeting housing prices so much that everyone pretty much loses their shirts, pants and even an accessory or two. Granted, that’s a worst-case scenario, but these things do happen from time to time… you know, like the way gasoline shortages sometimes follow exploding prices.
SATURDAY, Sept. 10
SUNDAY, Sept. 11
It’s just a scant 15 months away, but The Maui News is already handicapping possible Maui mayoral candidates. Five people, including current Republican Mayor Alan Arakawa, have either announced or refused to rule out a candidacy. There’s fellow Republican Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares, who’s termed out in 2006 and is toying with the idea of either taking Arakawa’s job or opening her own bowling alley—a dilemma not seen since Herbert Hoover made the wrong call back in the 1932 presidential race. On the Democratic side, former State Senator and current Wailuku Agribusiness tool Avery Chumbley is considering a run, as is former Mayor James “Kimo” Apana. You know he’s serious because he—who never met a developer he didn’t like while in office—is now bitching about “sprawl.” All the above challengers are perfectly nice and more than acceptable to the big money establishment, but my money’s on Councilman Dain Kane, the father of the county’s contradictory, not-at-all enforced anti-smoking ordinance. Have you people seen this guy’s hair? It actually radiates ambition—it alone could beat Apana in a one-on-one race.
MONDAY, Sept. 12
Sometimes, when I’ve had too much to drink or not enough sleep or when I’m just so bored that absolutely nothing seems interesting, I try to imagine what it’s like to be President George W. Bush. His is truly Bizarro World, where facts are lies and defeats are victories. Case in point: Bush’s threat today to veto Senate Resolution 20, which would force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to return to the 1996 CLean Air Act rules concerning mercury emissions from power plants (see our “Mercury on the Rise,” Aug. 25, 2005, for more information). According to Bush, the resolution would “unnecessarily delay [his] first-ever reduction of mercury emissions.” To anyone but Bush this is nonsense—the old Clean Air Act requires far lower mercury emissions than Bush’s new industry-friendly rules. But considering he’s president and we’re not, does that really matter?
TUESDAY, Sept. 13
Soaring gas prices… housing bubble… elevated mercury emissions… a never-ending war in Iraq… I forget—why did we reelect George Bush again? Was it his eloquent command over the English language? His Alfred E. Newman good looks? That weird square hump on his back? Come on, I’m a grown-up. You can tell me.
Anthony Pignataro just left for a week’s vacation and will not be checking his email or voicemail messages. MTW