So today our illustrious U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (D, Hawai’i) blabs in his own press release that the illustrious U.S. Air Force will soon base a squadron of illustrious F-22 Raptor fighter jets at Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu. “Final approval of the environmental impact statement will allow a squadron of 18 F-22 aircraft to be assigned to the Hawai’i Air National Guard,” Inouye said in the release, according to today’s Honolulu Advertiser. “The F-22s would replace the [Air National] Guard’s aging F-15 Eagles.” I mention all this because Inouye’s joy exemplifies the financial madness that grips the Pentagon today. The F-22 is an extremely expensive airplane—each one costs $300 million, a bit more than the projected $86 million offered back in 1986. But what Inouye doesn’t say is what those those fancy F-22s are going to do. Remember, the F-15, which certainly dates back to the 1970s, has never been shot down in combat. Not once. Ever. Besides that, our own government is fond of telling us that we live in an age of terror, where threats to this country will come from loners carrying suitcase bombs. I mean, more than 2,000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq without a single incident of air combat. In fact, a case could be made that the only real aerial threat our armed forces will face in the next generation will be hijacked airliners. Do we really need a $300 million stealth fighter to shoot down a lumbering 767?
THURSDAY, Mar. 2
So I guess we’re all better people now that the world’s largest ocean liner, the 151,000-ton Queen Mary 2 dropped anchor off Lahaina today. The Oahu dailies were beside themselves when she docked in Honolulu yesterday. And I suppose it’s a big deal: 2,600 passengers, 5,000 restrooms and such. And yes, it’s a big ship—twice as long as the Washington Monument is tall, if her Cunard owners did their math right at the official QM2 website. But beneath all its pageantry and flourish, the Queen Mary 2 is still just a cruise ship, packed with thousands of people paying thousands of dollars to stand in glorified chow lines. And even though it’s relatively fresh from the builder’s yard, the Queen Mary 2 didn’t ace its most recent Center for Disease Control health inspection, which took place Oct. 6, 2005 in Boston. There, inspectors found bread stored out in the open without the use of a sneeze shield, milk that wasn’t nearly cold enough and non-stick coating on four frying pans that was peeling or scratched off. Blimey!
FRIDAY, Mar. 3
There was a big protest in Lahaina today by Na Kupuna O Maui. Seems they want the Lahaina Bypass too, and they’re sick of waiting decades for it. Organizer Patty Nishiyama told The Maui News that the festivities were open to all. Given that the protest took place on Honoapi’ilani Road at Puamana Park from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., a great many people—and their cars—showed up.
SATURDAY, Mar. 4
Not now—still in traffic
SUNDAY, Mar. 5
Today Congressman Ed Case (D, I guess)—who really wants U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka’s job—held four “Talk Story” sessions throughout Maui. At the one in Lahaina at Kamehameha III Elementary, he spoke and asked questions for about an hour, somehow managing to never say anything interesting or controversial. He called ex-Republican Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a Vietnam War naval aviator/cheap, chiseling crook who was recently sentenced to more than eight years in a federal penitentiary for soliciting $2.4 million in bribes “an incredibly tragic individual story.” When one local asked if there’s any effort in the Beltway to change the partisan, polarizing system, Case thoughtfully said “Yes and no.” When a woman asked if President George W. Bush was really as dumb as people make him out to be, Case said, “It depends on whom you talk to.” And he said some other stuff, too: “We are obviously in a tough time in Washington right now… [partisanship] eliminates moderate, middle-of-the-road consensus-based solutions… Our [federal] budget now has been out of balance for five years… There have to be more imaginative ways to deal with [land] speculation… The world is going through tremendous change… I think the American people have to get more involved in their government… I’m hoping for a little self-correction… I think No Child Left Behind is a good law… I’ve got a mixed view of this President. And that would be true of whoever was President… [The Bush Administration] has an unfortunate tendency to polarize issues that didn’t need to be polarized… [But] he is not going to be impeached. That’s the way it is and let’s deal with it.” Wait, now I remember that Case did say something thought provoking. He said that his single greatest, number one transportation priority in the State of Hawai’i was getting the Lahaina Bypass built. Has been since he took office in early 2003. Given all the work that’s been done on the Lahaina Bypass since it was first proposed many decades ago, Imust congratulate Case on a job well done.
MONDAY, Mar. 6
And now I’d like to get serious a moment. There’s a big story in today’s Maui News on the Wailuku municipal parking lot. Rather, the story’s on what the county’s going to do with the lot—get a big parking garage built there, sell it to a developer, etc. Now see, this strikes terror in my heart, because that lot is where I prefer to park my car when I go to work. Since it’s virtually the only 12-hour free parking in Wailuku Town—i.e., the only place where people who work in town are reasonably free from Maui Police Officer Keith Taguma and his parking ticket pad—all the spaces in the lot are usually taken by 8 a.m. And while I love the idea of a big parking garage sitting atop the ragged, pitted, unstriped asphalt that’s there now, I cringe in fear at the thought of losing that lot for however many months (years?) it takes to build the garage.
TUESDAY, Mar. 7
Of course, some of us at the office have found parking elsewhere, but I’m afraid that location is a secret I must never reveal. Seriously, they would murder me.
Anthony Pignataro wonders what life would be like if he had a real job. MTW