Akaka Bill merits continued support
A sit-in by dissidents failed to persuade Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees to drop their support of the Hawaiian recognition bill.
HAWAIIAN opponents of the Hawaiian recognition bill staged a sit-in at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, but the proposal continues to have broad support by OHA and most residents, both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian. Senators Akaka and Inouye should continue to seek Senate passage of the bill by the end of this year.
Amendments offered by Akaka last month prohibit gambling operations anywhere in the United States by Hawaiians, ensure existing federal and state jurisdiction in criminal matters, protect Defense Department operations and ensure against the bill's use to settle Hawaiian claims against the government. The changes were made to satisfy concerns of the Bush administration.
The changes demolish the results of a distorted poll taken earlier this year by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a conservative organization opposed to the Akaka Bill. In its telephone survey, the group asked 10,000 residents whether they want Congress to approval a bill that "would allow native Hawaiians to create their own government not subject to all the same laws, regulations and taxes that apply to other citizens of Hawaii."
A surprisingly high 20 percent said they would support such a bill and 41 percent said they would not. The phrasing of the question is tantamount to asking people if they would be in favor of repealing the Bill of Rights.
Polls commissioned by OHA in 2003 and in August provide a more accurate sample of opinion. The poll, conducted by Ward Research, a professional survey company, posed the following to 401 random respondents: "The Akaka Bill provides federal recognition for native Hawaiians. It begins a process for native Hawaiians to form a governing entity similar to the governing entities indigenous groups now have within every state. Do you believe that native Hawaiians should have a right to self-governance similar to the way other indigenous groups now do?"
Sixty-eight percent said they would support such a bill; 17 would oppose it. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.
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U.S. made Iraq front for terrorism war
President Bush is urging Americans to refocus on the war against terrorism.
WITH opinion polls at rock bottom, President Bush has tried to refocus attention on terrorism, but his continued attempt to morph Iraq and Osama bin Laden remains unconvincing. Americans have come to realize that the invasion of Iraq created a front for the war against terrorists and the mistake cannot be easily corrected.
In a Washington speech before the National Endowment for Democracy, the president said his intention was to remind Americans of the war against terrorism after "a lot of distractions." Those include the administration's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina relief and rising gasoline prices. A new CBS poll shows the president's approval rating has dropped to 37 percent.
Bush warned of the danger of bin Laden and al-Qaida being "in control of Iraq, its people and its resources." He said Americans "will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our own country, seizes control of Iraq by violence."
That perilous prospect is real, but it was created by the U.S. invasion of Iraq based on flawed intelligence concluding that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al-Qaida. Iraq turned into a battleground for terrorists who had been holed up in Afghanistan, which U.S. and allied troops properly invaded in response to the 9/11 attacks.
American troops will be able to leave Iraq without creating such a dangerous vacuum only after Iraqi soldiers can maintain security. Bush said more than 80 Iraqi Army battalions are "fighting the insurgency alongside our forces."
U.S. troops will be able to leave only after enough Iraqi battalions have received training adequate for them to fight insurgents without American military support. That effort needs to be greatly accelerated.