WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13
Breathless story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin today about how the Hawai`i Constitution requires that taxpayers get a rebate because the state’s been running a general fund surplus. The story’s packed with detailed information about the size of previous surpluses, economic explanations for the increased tax revenues and the politics of tax rebates—everything a thoughtful, learned taxpayer needs except for one small piece of information: the actual size of the rebate. “As far as how much, it all depends on how the Legislature and the executive [branch] want to work on it,” House Speaker Calvin Say told the paper. Considering the overwhelming ways in which both Republican Linda Lingle won re-election and the Democratic Party controls the state Legislature—to say nothing of the crumbling infrastructure, poor schools and reduced health care the state is facing—those should be fun talks.
THURSDAY, Dec. 14
Do you people realize that we have less than 23 months to go before we vote for U.S. President? That’s practically no time at all! Thank goodness that a bunch of local political and business leaders refuse to waste any more time. “SHOULD HAWAII-NATIVE SENATOR BARACK OBAMA DECIDE TO RUN, the race [for] President of the United States is on with a Hawaii grass roots steering committee launched to draft Senator Barack Obama (Ill.) to run for the nation’s highest office in 2008,” read a press release sent today from Draft Obama, LLC. Now the group is clearly serious, given the way they weren’t shy about mentioning Obama’s name in the first sentence or using the caps lock key. The reason local Democratic leaders, including former State Representative Brian Schatz, state Senator Russell Kokubun, state Senator Clarence Nishihara, state Representative Scott Saiki and state Representative Della Au Bellatti, want Obama to run? “IF ELECTED, SENATOR OBAMA WOULD BECOME THE FIRST HAWAIIAN-BORN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” the release all but screams. “His Grandmother still lives in Hawaii, and he plans to spend the Holidays here.” Man, with street cred like that, you can’t lose!
FRIDAY, Dec. 15
If the Draft Obama group didn’t make you want to run out and wave a sign for still-first term U.S. Senator, how about this: “Senator Obama is a very charming person and he may likely become the Democrat’s [sic] presidential candidate in 2008,” Andrea Lafferty of the Anaheim, California-based Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) said in a press release sent out today. “But I hope Christians will pay attention to his actions and his voting record—not his words—in deciding whether or not to support him in 2008. He has a voting record as far left as John Kerry or Ted Kennedy and his support of abortion and homosexuality make him an anti-life, anti-traditional marriage candidate.” Amazing that the nutball daughter of gay-bashing but dapper-dressing TVC founder Lou Sheldon—who regularly puts out press releases titled “Pro-Homosexual Democrats To Push Anti-Christian ‘Hate Crime’ Legislation” and “Will Cross-Dressing Activists Come To Your School?” made a far more eloquent and compelling case for people to vote for Obama than his hometown Democrats. Though she did neglect to say anything about his grandmother, which could prove significant as the campaign moves to the traditionally conservative western states.
SATURDAY, Dec. 16
Cheetos: animal, vegetable or mineral?
SUNDAY, Dec. 17
Governor Linda Lingle often says her administration is “finding solutions” to Hawaii’s growing numbers of homeless people—so many, in fact, are living on the streets and in beach parks that the nation as a whole is taking notice. According to a Honolulu Advertiser story that came out today, Lingle’s government may actually be part of the problem, rather than an effective searcher of solutions. “While many reasons can be cited to account for the homeless crisis, including some beyond the control of government,” the Advertiser reported, “the state has added to the worsening situation because of shortsighted decisions to siphon more than $200 million from the housing funds over the past decade, and because of its poor record of maintaining and keeping occupied hundreds of public housing units, housing advocates and housing industry officials say.” Granted, most of that divert money happened during the 1990s, before Lingle came to office, but the story is still a gut-wrenching account of a problem that’s only gotten worse since Lingle took office. There are, according to the paper, an astonishing 12,000 people currently waiting for public housing, even as hundreds of the state’s public units have sat vacant for years.
MONDAY, Dec. 18
Walking past the county building in Wailuku this morning, I noticed a large menorah out front. Though the menorah was just standing there, minding its own business, I couldn’t help but notice that it was, indeed, a menorah. Of course, a menorah is an ancient Hebrew candelabrum used in the Temple, and thus a religious symbol—much like a Christmas tree, except it doesn’t drop a lot of pine needles on the ground when you try to move the thing. Anyway, we as a society typically try to keep such displays out of public spaces like county buildings, civic centers and airport terminals. Now this morning’s Maui News has a story about a statewide campaign by Chabad of Hawaii to put up menorahs all over, including airport terminals, which also have Christmas trees. “In light of everything that’s going on, we thought it was a good idea to approach the state,” Chabad’s Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky told the AP. “And we got a very, very favorable response.” Apparently no one has yet complained about the trees or menorahs, which I guess is good. Though personally, I’m hoping someone complains—loudly. Loud enough for the good folks at Fox News to hear so they can fly out here and start doing remotes denouncing Hawai`i’s ruthless new War on Hanukkah.
TUESDAY, Dec. 19
Like that would actually happen.
Anthony Pignataro tried to enlist in the War on Christmas, but failed to meet the height requirement. MTW