From the Forum
Online readers are able to respond immediately to Star-Bulletin stories through our Web forum, which can be accessed at the end of stories, editorials and columns at starbulletin.com. Below is a selection of forum comments that appeared last week. Most forum contributors use pseudonyms; their "names" have been omitted here.
Tourism slides deeper: We have visited your state every year since 1975, staying for the month of December. We got sick and tired of listening to the locals saying how they didn't like the "mainlanders" coming over and taking over "their" land. Tourism is your industry and "bread and butter." I wonder what the local complainers are wawaing about now? I'll bet they have a different attitude now and wish they had kept their mouths shut. What goes around comes around. You don't bite the hand that feeds you.
The decision to be a tourism based economy cannot be changed quickly, if at all. In the face of this continued adversity, we must take a deep breath as we calculate how to deal with the major enemy: oil prices. We may enjoy a slight, short-term reprieve from Canadians and Asians due to favorable exchange rates, but we need to use that time wisely to plan for Hawaii's future.
Do airlines make money on their flights from the mainland to Hawaii? Oil is $141 this morning. My guess is no. This means inevitable further cuts in number and/or capacity of flights even before some of the majors go in to bankruptcy. This is like a storm that everyone knows is coming but leaves everyone shocked at its ferocity when it hits.
Solar mandate concerns: The payback is under 10 years, and the 30 percent cut in energy cost makes more money available for house payments.
I fail to see how this is bad for first-time home buyers. If we are that close to the edge, we have no business buying our own home!
This is good news. If we get stuck in "analysis paralysis" we'll never get anywhere! I applaud the governor for moving forward and not stalling this anymore. Great news for us all.
Aloha, Gov. Lingle.
Isle golfer struggles: Take off those earrings, Michelle, your game will improve 100 percent. Those earrings are throwing you off balance like a fly would landing on your shoulder and you notice it.
Considering some of the champs are 35 years old, (Michelle Wie) has another 17 years to improve her game. Didn't she just earn $18,000 for three days of work? I'd like to make that kind of money over the weekend when I'm not at my best.
Driver dies after SUV flips: I hope this tragedy reminds everyone how very fragile and precious life is. How much we need to appreciate the people we love, and to take good care of them. My heart and prayers go out to the family of the man who died. I also pray for the young people and baby who were involved, and those who witnessed this accident. It is something that will probably haunt them always. Please everyone. Drive with care.
Make prison as unpleasant as possible
The Supreme Court justices made the decision not to have the death penalty for those who abuse and rape children. They made the correct decision. Death sentences should be for those who kill others intentionally.
But those sentenced to prison should be punished by going to a facility that has no game rooms, TVs or comfortable beds. An effective prison is a place that no one wants to go. Hard beds, meals that have basic nutrition, no TVs, no air conditioning, no visiting privileges, no such thing as rehabilitation. People have to get their priorities straight.
No wonder we have so many people in jail -- they don't mind going there. It's free room and board and a place to live comfortably.
Francis K. Ibara
ZipperLanes show irony of island life
Twenty years ago there were no ZipperLanes. If we had all kept our zippers zipped up, we still wouldn't need ZipperLanes.
Why not bring in small, higher-mpg cars?
I have good, fast and simple solutions for all of you complaining about the price of gas in the United States. Have our administration cut the red tape on importing all those little cars (foreign and U.S. name, made in Europe or Asia) that get 40 miles per gallon. All the big names have been making those for years but for whatever reason, we can't find them here.
Car dealers, think of it -- you have a choice of either putting two SUVs in a 40-foot container (two vehicles that will sit on the lot in the sun forever) or four little economic cars (four vehicles that will be sold in a week) for the same shipping cost.
Also, don't try to compete with the Joneses, get back to a simpler lifestyle. The ones who bought the SUV, the treadmill and the huge house to fit it all, get rid of them, consolidate, take the bus and walk or ride your bike that hangs in your garage.
Don't wait for eulogy; say something nice now
When someone dies you never hear about what a dimwit or moron that person was. All you hear from friends and foes is what a wonderful person they were.
It's ironic when a politician passes away, their opponents who said terrible things about them during the primaries and general elections now have nothing but praise for a person they publicly despised. Nobody wants to talk dirt on the deceased, even if the diseased was a villainous creature.
I guess when it comes to death we are all politicians (hypocrites), flip-flopping left to right speaking angelic things about anyone who departs this earth.
We do not have to be dead to be praised. Instead of waiting for someone to kick the bucket to say nice things, why not make a practice to say good things for those still cruising around on this glorious planet Earth.
James "Kimo" Rosen
Protect America Act endangers rights
The unconstitutional Protect America Act before the Senate doesn't protect America. It exposes citizens to further warrantless wiretaps, providing retroactive immunity to the telecom organizations that participated in past illegal wiretaps.
The defacto effect of this law gives the Bush administration amnesty for past crimes against the Fourth Amendment. It's stunning that the House has passed this flawed legislation. It must leave Americans wondering if the president didn't eavesdrop on enough of the House members and get sufficient dirt on them to control their votes to pass this bill on to the Senate.
There are already laws on the books that give the government legal rights to eavesdrop for 72 hours before receiving court warrants, where it deems serious threats exist! This new un-American law expands government rights at the expense of the Constitution.
You can be a part of the solution, to bring democracy with honor, back to Capitol Hill by asking your senator to vote against this bill. Please share this urgent message with your friends and neighbors.
Hale Naau Pono aids the most vulnerable
I attended the rally at the state Capitol June 24 to protest the Department of Health's decision to cancel mental health services contracts with Hale Naau Pono (Star-Bulletin, June 17). As I looked around I noticed several people I had seen many times before in downtown Honolulu, near the bus transfer point on Bishop Street. Some of them were holding signs protesting the closure. One man carried this little hand-written sign, "Hale Naau Pono save me all the time help save us."
I was struck by the sight because I realized that 1) this person probably wrote the sign himself, and 2) the most vulnerable in society were here, on this day and at this event, because of fear of further disruption in their already fragile lives.
They are right, of course. Those who are hanging by a thread have almost zero stability. I'm wondering how the state can mess with their lives by cutting those thin threads, by making decisions that will suddenly and abruptly cause even more personal havoc.
And when the threads are cut, the ones that connect them to the little bit of safety and reality they have now, will they continue to reach out, or will they fold inward? Will they get better? Will we, as a society, benefit from the state's decision? Or have we, at last, discarded any notion that all members of our society, especially the mentally ill, deserve equal care and treatment?
McCain has history of bipartisanship
There is one issue Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama agree upon: Both want to end the extreme partisanship between the White House and Congress, and between Democrats and Republicans. Civility and mutual respect no longer have a place in Congress. Members are unable to find common ground and to make compromises.
McCain has always been open to work with his Democratic colleagues on critical issues. For example, in 1975-1976, he worked with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold on enacting a law on the financing of presidential campaigns. The intent was to curb the money power of special interests and lessen their influence on presidential candidates. Both senators were able to bring together a bipartisan coalition and pass it in the Senate. The senator has worked to again create bipartisan coalitions, to reform immigration laws and to combat global warming.
McCain is a leader of experience in fighting for bipartisanship in Congress. He has always been an optimist about America. He believes, even now, with all the challenges the we face -- the rise in oil prices, a possible recession, the war on terrorism -- we can overcome these problems. He has walked a tightrope in Congress between idealism and realism. It is always very difficult for any politician to keep his balance. McCain has been more successful than not in this role.
Obama is best choice for Iraq veterans
I'm confident that Sen. Barack Obama will bring change to our country. As a veteran of the Iraq war, I am enthusiastic about keeping the war at the forefront of the election debates. With our troops and their families making so many sacrifices, it is simply inappropriate to discuss gas prices as more important than this disastrous war. Besides, all of our domestic problems are linked to this war financially.
As Republicans claim to be the party that supports the troops, they are also the party that opposed the GI Bill. They are also the party that refuses to apologize for sending men and women to fight a war under false pretenses. Obama has been standing up for our military and for our veterans. It's time we elect a president who doesn't start a war unless it is absolutely vital to our safety. It's time we elect a president who doesn't think a college education is too big a gift for military service. It's time we elect a president who considers all the routes to peace before floating the idea of war with Iran.
The economy, health care and education are important issues. Gas prices, energy independence and the environment are important issues. But to put these issues ahead of a war on your voting priorities is a slap in the face to every man and woman fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vote for Obama.
Mayor's ad maligned rail's opponents
By now, most Honolulu residents have heard about Mayor Mufi Hannemann's purchase of $20,000 of newspaper ads attacking me, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and a number of those who question the financial and environmental viability of the mayor's rail plan. Yet rather than use his advertisements to respond to factual criticisms raised by the Grassroot Institute and others, Hannemann chose to demagogue those of us who refuse to blindly follow his plan.
Hannemann stated that only four people are dissatisfied with his rail scheme -- when more than 30,000 have signed the petition calling for rail to be placed on the November ballot. He fabricated oil and chemical industry connections that simply don't exist -- and why would they, when the rail will consume at least as much energy as the marginal number of cars it helps to replace?
He also invoked the name of my former employer, the Texas Public Policy Foundation. If Mayor Hannemann wants to talk about Texas, perhaps he should know that the new rail line to Dallas/Fort Worth airport has run $900 million over budget, the Austin commuter rail will carry only 0.5 percent of daily commuters and the Houston passenger train had 129 collisions with automobiles in its first 30 months.
On a good note, at least Mayor Hannemann did not use taxpayer money to fund the advertisement against me and fellow taxpayers. However, we should all question his, and his funders', motives for producing such a piece.
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
If we wait longer, we still won't have oil
I really like the Democrats' math: If we drill for fuel now, it won't come due for at least 10 years. If we drill in 10 years, it will take 10 years to come due. That's 20 years -- right. Just keep on adding 10 ... forever.