Who’s To Blame?
Posted in Economy, General Topics, National Issues February 22nd, 2010 by admin

I received an email a while back from my stepfather with an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune. The basic thrust of the piece was that the President, and public at large, were pointing the finger of blame for the financial meltdown in the wrong direction. Instead of pointing them at the banks and large financial firms, we should be directing the blame toward all those selfish, unaccountable individuals who bought homes with adjustable rate mortgages. Those stupid, self-interested bastards!

Just like it was the unions and workers who should be blamed for the ruin of General Motors and the other American car companies, not the companies themselves selling gas-guzzling cars no one wanted.

The opinion piece has a whining tone, it seems to me. Oh, those poor banks and financial giants are always being picked on. (more…)

From a Demoralized Activist, Part 2
Posted in Elections, General Topics, National Issues February 12th, 2010 by admin

Some time before the indefinite deferral of HB444 SD1, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a devastating ruling on corporate financing of campaigns. The ruling confers rights to corporations under the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

and 14th Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (more…)

From a Demoralized Activist, Part 1
Posted in Civil Rights, HI Politics January 31st, 2010 by admin

Friday Hawaii saw the cowardly defeat of House Bill 444, which would have provided equal benefits to same-sex couples. Aside from the crushing and demoralizing defeat by a procedural voice-vote (House members couldn’t even bring themselves to take a roll-call vote on the motion), there is a sad irony in the movement’s most recent defeat. The movement to ensure equal rights to same-sex couples started right here in the early 90′s.

What’s more ironic is the bill’s final death took place in the same chamber that saw its end in the same chamber that passed it just one year ago, merely a single vote shy of a two-thirds majority vote. Yes, the same people that passed the bill so overwhelmingly last year felt the undeniable need to save themselves from perceived losses in the coming elections. Rather than stand on principle, rather than do the honorable thing and grant these residents and citizens the State Supreme Court has said they deserve, our elected officials in the State House of Representatives tucked their tails between their legs and voted to save their jobs. (more…)

Afghanistan: A ‘Just War?’
Posted in Afghanistan, General Topics, Iraq, National Issues, War December 15th, 2009 by admin

President Obama, in his address accepting his Nobel Peace Price, referred to the notion of ‘just war.’ Early in his remarks, he says:

The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence. Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of “just war” was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different G[-]d. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations — total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. And while it’s hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

Here he refers to basic principles, a checklist of sorts, that helps define what constitutes a ‘just war.’ As a country in the midst of two wars, the President makes no apologies for either the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, only states that one of them is drawing to a close. If a war is illegal, it follows naturally that the war is also unjust. One might conclude from statements Obama made during his campaign, that he would agree the Iraq war was not only ill advised, but illegal, and therefore unjust. As our nation’s focus has slowly shifted, since Obama took office, from Iraq back to Afghanistan, his administration has done nothing to punish, or even investigate, those responsible for the illegal war in Iraq. (more…)

Congressional Hypocrisy
Posted in Civil Rights, National Issues October 10th, 2009 by admin

This week the U.S. Congress moved one step closer to expanding Hate Crimes Legislation to include protections against crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation.

There is no doubt that this is a huge step forward in the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation. What’s more,  President Obama again pledged to today to end the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in the military. This pledge, unfortunately comes without any specifics with regard to a timeline for such an end. (more…)

The Race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional
Posted in 2010, Civil Rights, Economy, Elections, Environment, HI Politics October 2nd, 2009 by admin

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I should say right up front  that I do not and will not support Ed Case in his bid for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional seat in 2010. I didn’t support him when he ran against Senator Akaka in 2006 and I in fact worked on Akaka’s campaign. I feel I should say, however, that politically, he’s not totally bad. As a self-proclaimed progressive, I will say that he’s generally good on social justice issues, such as same-sex marriage, as well as on environmental issues.

Seeing as he’s started campaigning so early and seeing as how I’ve already received a flier from his campaign in my mailbox, I thought I’d start laying out the reasons for voting for someone else. Let’s start with the aforementioned flier. (more…)

Strong, Well-Crafted Words from Bill Maher
Posted in Economy, Environment, General Topics, Health Care, Impeachment, National Issues September 13th, 2009 by admin

I came across an article today that one which I feel the need to comment. Bill Maher, talk show host and progressive guest blogger on HuffingtonPost.com, put to words much better than I could, the things I’ve been thinking and feeling at least since the health care debate started heating up this summer, if not since Obama took office.

Its also been my major complaint with the Democratic Party since they took back control of the U.S. House in 2006; right off the bat, House leadership proclaimed impeachment was ‘off the table.’ (more…)

Prejudice in Paradise?
Posted in Civil Rights, General Topics, HI Politics, National Issues September 2nd, 2009 by admin

An article came to my attention yesterday on which I would like to comment. In this year’s fall issue of the Intelligence Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) there is an article titled ‘Prejudice in Paradise,’  which discusses racism against whites by Native Hawaiians. It refers to and discusses racial slurs, like ‘haole,’ both verbal and physical harassment, and the State’s response, or lack thereof.

As is suggested in comments on the story at both iLind.net and Volcanic Ash, I think the SPLC article is awkwardly one-sided. Does prejudice exist in Hawaii? Certainly. Do I need the SPLC to tell me that? No. The matter is far more complicated than a native culture breading violence against white people. (more…)

Development and Local Awareness
Posted in Economy, Environment, General Topics, HI Politics August 30th, 2009 by admin

I’ve always been impressed with the quality of events Kanu Hawaii puts on to help the community and raise awareness about important issues.

The Eat Local Challenge is no exception. In fact, it strikes at the heart of possibly one of the most immediate and important questions for our islands. Eating local is beneficial on both an economic and environmental level. And the light the Challenge shines on food channels couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin featured on Wednesday, August 12, an article discussing plans to develop 1,500 acres of some of ‘the best ag land’ on Oahu for a 12,000 home community. The loss of this prime agricultural land to tract housing, shopping centers, and business parks will be a significant loss of our ability to grow food for ourselves. (more…)

Astroturf Activists
Posted in General Topics, Health Care, National Issues August 10th, 2009 by admin

This is an absolutely brilliant term for the outspoken and occasionally violent movement that’s begun to spring up in opposition to health care reform. It, of course, refers to ‘grassroots’ activists by making a conscious distinction between the organized tea parties, angry mobs at town hall meetings (astroturf organizing), and true grassroots movements.

Mainstream media has begun to pick up on the differences. I’ve seen both CNN and MSNBC make references to astroturf organizing and while I doubt FOX News would call it that, I have to admit to not knowing for sure, seeing as watching a minute of FOX News creates a growing desire in me to stick sharp, pointy objects in my eyes and ears. (more…)

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