WEDNESDAY, Jan. 10
Like many Americans tonight, I found myself watching President George W. Bush’s big speech on the ongoing hilarity that is the Iraq War. Not because I was curious as to what he might say—all week the papers have been reporting that he’d announce the sending of another 20,000 troops to the fighting—but because Bush is just fascinating to watch, like that one kid in high school who never read the assigned book but now has to bluff his way through an oral report on it in front of the whole class. Now I don’t see why all these Democrats and critics are saying the speech doesn’t represent a new war strategy, when Bush very clearly articulated a new way out of the Iraq morass: by attacking Iran and Syria! No, hear me out—what better way to take pressure off our troops in Iraq than by bombing the hell out of Iran and Syria? And we could use nuclear weapons, too—what possible bad could come of that? I mean, yes, those countries could respond by invading Iraq and making our troops’ lives even more hellish, but the only analysts putting forward that theory are those who insisted back in 2003 that invading and occupying Iraq was going to be a disaster. What do those people know anyway?
THURSDAY, Jan. 11
Big story in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin about 2nd District Congresswoman Mazie Hirono. Though the story could have been written about any incoming freshman—“First-term lawmakers have to know their place in the Capitol pecking order”—it does provide some background on her Washington background, law school experience at Georgetown and the fact that, being a freshman back-bencher in the U.S. House of Representatives means she’ll be lucky if she gets a chance to speak during committee hearings. “Pay attention and keep quiet,” is how political scientist Ted Carmine sums up her next two years in the story. If only our president had gotten such advice six years ago. Who am I kidding—people should be telling him that right now.
FRIDAY, Jan. 12
Since Hawai`i is so often at the bottom of those national rankings (school test scores, homeless population, etc.), we should probably all celebrate that our lovely state landed right smack in the middle of a state-by-state study of average weekly income. According to today’s Honolulu Advertiser, U.S. Department of Labor statistics show the average worker in the state makes $704 a week, or $36,608 a year before taxes. That’s the 26th highest average wage in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. What’s even worse is that the stats show that worker income here isn’t keeping pace with that of the Mainland, though at least one local economist doesn’t believe this can continue. “The gap can’t get too far because people will start to leave for the Mainland,” University of Hawai`i economist Steven La Croix told the Advertiser. This is true, though rather depressing when you think about the fact that American worker income has been largely stagnant for the last few years. “After you adjust for inflation, the wages of the typical American worker—the one at the very middle of the income distribution—have risen less than 1% since 2000,” reported the esteemed magazine The Economist on June 15, 2006. “In the previous five years, they rose over 6%.” This is hardly new. “But every measure shows that, over the past quarter century, those at the top have done better than those in the middle, who in turn have outpaced those at the bottom,” The Economist piece continued. “The gains of productivity growth have become increasingly skewed… Put another way, the typical worker earns only 10% more in real terms than his counterpart 25 years ago, even though overall productivity has risen much faster.”
SATURDAY, Jan. 13
Man, wasn’t that Tsunami Watch last night just hilarious? And that time when the National Weather Service suddenly issued a Tsunami Warning—meaning a potentially island-drenching wave was on its way and it was time to start seeking high ground—only to pull back a couple minutes later and say it was a mistake? Man, that rocked! We should do that every week.
SUNDAY, Jan. 14
As if we didn’t all know this was coming, today the Star-Bulletin reported that U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D, Hawai`i) will soon reintroduce his Native Hawaiian Recognition Act. This is fantastic—it’s a bill that just won’t die. C-SPAN ought to do a reality show on this thing, following it as it meanders its way through Congress. This season, will the Democrats manage to get it out of the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee? Will it come up for a vote? What will Bush do when it reaches his desk? Will he sign or veto it? Does he even know Hawai`i is part of the U.S.? Hell, I’d tune in.
MONDAY, Jan. 15
It’s been two years since a devastating Indian Ocean tsunami killed a few hundred thousand people and local civil defense officials announced they would redouble efforts to make sure that never happened here, and yet this weekend the Star-Bulletin somehow managed to report that there are still 148 places around the state that need doomsday sirens but don’t yet have them. The story says Maui County alone needs 38 sirens in such obscure places as Kihei, Hana, Kahului, Lahaina, Kaluakoi and Menele. A big reason for the gaps in coverage? “For one, officials said the state has not been able to keep up with housing developments,” said the story.
TUESDAY, Jan. 16
You know, that makes perfect sense. We’re building new neighborhoods without corresponding increases in road, water or sewer construction, so why should we expect the state to add in new warning sirens?
Anthony Pignataro has created many reality shows in his career, including the critically acclaimed Violation! The Life and Times of a Hoboken Meter Maid.