So I open up my edition of The Maui News this morning and see a giant photo of the gray haired, pale heads of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert looking like a pawn shop sign. Was that State of the Union thing last night? Amazing how time flies when you’re both scared and infuriated at the federal government. But seriously, do people even still listen to these speeches? Anyway, His Imperial Majesty apparently decreed last night that “we can’t be isolationists,” as though our only options are to conquer countries that don’t agree with us or, as he so wonderfully put it, “surrender to evil.” He also said we’re “addicted to oil” but rejected calls to end the war in Iraq, as though they’re completely unrelated issues. Even Democrats are saying it’s great that he’s saying we need to get started on alternative energy, but no one did back-flips when Jimmy Carter asked for that 30 years ago. Look, Bush says a lot of things. Remember that big mission to Mars we were supposed to start spending billions on? Hell, remember how last year he said he was going to “save” Social Security? Back in 2002, the swine even said “every” wiretap undertaken by the National Security Agency has the backing of a legal warrant. But hey, presidents lie. Bill Clinton lied about getting a blowjob from an intern, George W. Bush lies about destroying our civil liberties and legal protections. Same thing, right? Anyway, he did make it all the way through a speech without using made-up words, so I guess there’s cause for celebration after all.
THURSDAY, Feb. 2
So people are apparently ecstatic that our beloved state government is doing something about all the homeless people who live—or try to—in this great state of ours. “The governor and legislators have heard the cry of the people,” homeless advocate Reverend Bob Nakata told the Honolulu Advertiser today about bills enjoying bipartisan support that would build 10,000 to 15,000 affordable homes over the next five years and greatly expand the number of homeless shelters throughout the islands. “I’m flabbergasted.” Yeah, this certainly does seem shocking, until you remember that our Governor Linda Lingle and the state Legislature is up for reelection this year. That makes this one of those time-to-get-stuff-done years. Flabbergasted that they’re suddenly paying all this attention to people who don’t vote or buy expensive luxuries like high-definition TV sets, black marble bathroom tiles or 87 Octane? No, but I will be if they actually go ahead and build all those affordable homes and shelters.
FRIDAY, Feb. 3
Bad, bad news for Congressman Ed Case (D, Hawai’i) and his campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka: according to today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin, hugely popular/liberal U.S. Senator Barak Obama (D, Illinois) has thrown his support behind his Senate colleague. Or rather, his spokesman has. “He [Obama] told him [Case] he [Obama again, I think] supports Sen. Akaka completely,” Obama aide Tommy Vietor told the Star-Bulletin. Case responded to the paper by calling the U.S. Senate “a club” in which the members “support each other in primaries.” Shocking—good thing the Democratic Party isn’t like that.
SATURDAY, Feb. 4
After nearly three years, a U.S. District Court judge has finally decided to toss out a wrongful death lawsuit against the County of Maui over the matter of the late Richard Gregory. To recap: while struggling with three police officers on the night of Dec. 2, 2002, Pukalani resident Gregory suffered a heart attack and died. Seven months later, his family sued the county, alleging that officers Edwin Among, Garett Tihada and Nicholas Angell used excessive force in trying to arrest Gregory. Judge Samuel P. King didn’t buy it. “In granting judgment for the County and its police officers, Judge King found that ‘the Officers’ behavior [was]… reasonable in the situation they confronted,’” a county press release trumpeted yesterday. Funny thing, though—while that release had no problem naming the three involved officers, county officials freaked out when I reported the very same names in my Apr. 15, 2004 story “Was Rick Gregory Really a Danger?” Apparently, the county doesn’t think people should know which police officers are suspected of using excessive force, so its attorneys tried to black out all the names on the hundreds of pages of police reports I obtained from them. Given the story we eventually ran, they were obviously less successful than they’d hoped.
SUNDAY, Feb. 5
Spent the afternoon flipping channels between Superbowl XL and the 1994 Alec Baldwin movie The Shadow. Both were equally entertaining.
MONDAY, Feb. 6
Hey, how come the state government’s looking at a $570 million surplus next year, but today’s Honolulu Advertiser has a story about how more than half of the public schools throughout the state are going to have to fire their librarians to save money? Given how government typically handles surplusses, you’d think they’d sack all the librarians.
TUESDAY, Feb. 7
Oh, and the Advertiser is reporting today that the state House of Representatives missed payday last Friday for 224 workers there who started last month. Yes, yes, I know there were last minute delays getting the budget approved and all that, but somehow the state Senate made payroll for its clerks and aides. But hey, budgets are mysterious things. Look at the $2.77 trillion monster Bush just proposed—that he can still call himself a “conservative” when lobbing around numbers like that amazes me. Bush says his “budget” will saddle the country with a $201 billion deficit in 2009. Must I point out that in 2001, when Bill Clinton left office, the federal government was running a budget surplus? You people already know that, right? You remember back five years? I thought so.
Anthony Pignataro’s latest film, a romantic comedy tentatively titled Romantic Comedy, is due out this spring. MTW