War in Iraq
Read between lines of glowing tax ratingJerome Manis's March 23 letter to the editor about Governing magazine's evaluation of Hawaii's taxes spins the facts. Yes, the magazine gave us only three out of four stars for tax adequacy, but that doesn't mean we need higher taxes; it means state government needs to live within its means and quit spending money we don't have. And yes, the magazine said our taxation is spread fairly. But Manis forgot to mention the part about Hawaii having the sixth-highest combined state and local tax load in the nation. We still live in a "tax hell" -- it's just a fair tax hell where everyone is equally ripped off.
Many showed kindness after wife's accidentAmid all the tales of horror in the news, an event occurred that shows that love, caring and compassion of one human being for another still exist. On March 12 I received a call from a young woman who told me that my wife had been in an accident at the Kahala post office. In a few minutes, I was at my wife's side. She was prone in the front seat, her left foot cradled in a gauze bandage and held firmly by a young Caucasian man. A crowd had assembled, including Laurie Ramelb, the post office's branch manager. A Kaimuki fire department crew appeared, then an ambulance. Sensing that my wife was in safe hands, I excused myself to pick up my granddaughter from preschool. Upon my return, Ms. Ramelb told me that the ambulance had taken my wife to The Queen's Medical Center. She gave me the names of the woman who had first called me and the man who cradled my wife's foot. They were visitors from Waco, Texas. They were still at the scene, so I was able to thank them. My wife is still at Queen's and under good care, although she will require multiple surgeries. I am thankful for all the good people -- a couple from Waco, Ms. Ramelb, the firemen, the police officers, the ambulance driver and attendants, State Farm Insurance and all the others who gathered at the scene. My faith in the goodness of man was renewed.
Legislators must set example, reject raiseThe Legislative Salary Commission's recommendation that House and Senate members pay be biannually increased should be rejected by either the governor or the Legislature itself. Politicians and public servants should set an example and in tough economic times, all government employees should be prepared to bite the salary bullet. Voters should very carefully look at how their elected officials react to the recommendation and remember that reaction come next election.
Stuart N. Taba
Proven plant screening system can work hereThis is in response to Richard Criley's "Gathering Place" column (March 4), regarding controlling the importation of invasive plants into Hawaii. I would like to assure Professor Criley that the Weed Risk Assessment system that Curt Daehler (University of Hawaii Department of Botany) is looking at is hardly "reinventing the wheel." It is a modified version of a system now used by New Zealand and Australia. The system uses a series of questions that a "plant profiler" uses to score a species' invasive qualities. This system has been accomplished by a single person for all of Western Australia since 1994. All of the data on plants screened by these countries are in a database, making it even easier for Hawaii to screen these plants. The Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program held public meetings statewide last October to introduce Weed Risk Assessment to the public and the green industry. There was agreement that the Weed Risk Assessment was the most sensible approach to addressing future threats.
Public information officer
Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species
Oshiro's comments not too smart, eitherIn a letter to the editor ("Editorial advanced 'donkey-dumb' idea," Star-Bulletin, March 27), Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho) writes that an Ethics Commission letter "explicitly referred to conflict of interest for 'state officials' or 'employees' who might take official action affecting a nonprofit corporation on which the official or employee sits as a board member. It says nothing about legislators and conflicts of interest. Zero. Nada. Not one word." If Oshiro is not a state official and an employee of the taxpayers, then I do not know what he is. Perhaps someone with poor comprehension?
Medicaid program cuts will cause sufferingAs a social worker in this community for more than 20 years, I think it's sad to see funding for much-needed Medicaid programs like expanded care homes and Nursing Homes Without Walls cut instead of being increased. These programs have been proven to be cost effective and help keep our elders in family settings instead of in expensive nursing homes. For every person Medicaid pays to house in a nursing home, two or more could be served through these valuable programs. When the state lacks the resources for these programs to admit more people, the only option for families is to have their elders institutionalized. People wait-listed for nursing homes in hospitals drive up medical costs for all. Cut out government waste, but don't cut the essentials!
Americans lose rights, freedoms under BushWhile our military is searching for weapons of mass destruction, we at home are experiencing a weapon of mass distraction. Keep your eye on the ball -- both the House and the Senate have passed President Bush's tax cut. With interest it will amount to well over a trillion dollars. More than half of this will go to the top 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers. This surely qualifies as the biggest heist in recorded history -- no king's ransom was ever greater -- but that's not all: Political power and now wealth are being concentrated at the top as never before. We are losing our rights and along with them, the very things that make this country unique. I hear often enough that we must get used to increased government surveillance and a suspension of due process for "matters of security." I don't know about you, but I liked the way things were before Bush took office. What can we do as citizens to help get our nation back on an even keel? It should be obvious. By all means vote, but not for George Bush.
Lawmakers' politics ought to be localShame on the Ewa Beach legislators who are using the war with Iraq to scare the people of Ewa Beach. The town meeting held by Sen. Willie Espero, Rep. Romy Mindo and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo on March 25 was an attempt to persuade their constituents that they were ready to handle war's impact on Hawaii. Instead, they made it seem as if Hawaii, not Iraq, were being invaded. The Legislature earlier this year passed a resolution telling President Bush not to go to war with Iraq until he had U.N. support. Now our legislators masquerade as war impact experts. They would serve their constituents better by explaining why they have not worked to solve Ewa Beach traffic congestion or school overcrowding that gets worse with the sale of every new home. I guess it is easier for them to explain what they will do in case of war than it is to explain why they haven't done anything during peacetime.
Senate earns laurels for backing ethics lawThe Senate seems willing to clean up its act and practice some legislative ethics with the passage of
SB 1606. The question is whether the House is up to the task.SB 1606 creates a much-needed conflict-of-interest law that would require lawmakers to recuse themselves from voting on measures that would affect them financially. The bill also asks legislators to disclose those clients from whom they receive income in excess of $25,000. Such provisions would avoid conflict-of-interest situations as that one involving a former legislator a few years back and Bishop Estate. To make sure the provisions are observed, the bill proposes setting up a legislative ethics committee in both houses to act as a watchdog. To quote Sen. Gary Hooser, the Senate has already "proven cynics wrong" by supporting the bill. Let's hope the House does the same.
Don't let governor cut adult educationAs a retired teacher, I know that the Department of Education's Adult Education Program is one of the few choices many people have to improve themselves through learning. The classes that Governor Lingle calls "leisure topics" are nearly all self-sustaining. The real cuts will be felt in the areas of greatest need: English as a Second Language, high school diploma program and citizenship/naturalization courses for residents applying for U.S. citizenship. People can also broaden their career skills, so important in a shifting economy, by studying computers and accounting. Governor Lingle promised to improve our schools, not tear them down. I hope the Legislature holds her to her promises.
Airlines' stand was misinterpretedYour editorial "Airline exemption should stay as it is" (Star-Bulletin, March 17) misrepresented my position on the issue of expanding the antitrust exemption. I did not ask the Legislature to support a broader exemption allowing interisland airlines to divide up particular routes and schedules, nor do I advocate that. In fact, I told lawmakers that it would be "impossible" to expand the Air Transportation Stabilization Act antitrust waiver to include coordination of individual routes. To do that would require Hawaii's congressional delegation to start the legislative process all over again. The measure would then have to be approved by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the president, an action that would be far from the minds of our nation's leaders while the United States is at war. When the state Senate committee suggested it might reword its resolution to call for a narrowly defined expansion of the interisland cooperation agreement to extend the operating day, I said that Aloha would not object to that. Aloha Airlines believes the current cooperation agreement is accomplishing what it was intended to do and we fully understand it will no longer apply after Oct. 1, 2003.
Glenn R. Zander
President and CEO
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Home front debate about war rages on
War protesters should leave U.S. for IraqIgnorant protesters against the war should leave American soil and go live in Iraq. They wave American flags upside down while American soldiers are dying. These soldiers represent our freedom from crazy countries like Iraq. These protesters should be at home with their loved ones praying for the best outcome for our soldiers instead of making war with police, their own people. Any threat against the U.S.A. is a threat against my family and everyone I love. So if there is a way to eliminate that threat, it should be done. One death of ours is worth a billion deaths of theirs. I love my freedom, I love all the beauty around us. It is sad that they go to war, but this is the reality of life.
Only a great country would abide MooreMay God bless Oscar winner Michael Moore, who gave an anti-war speech as he accepted his award. It is an idiot's rant that verifies and confirms America's greatness.
Wealthy are profiting while others fight warAs heavy fighting picks up the pace of the war and casualties begin to mount, President Bush tells Americans they need to sacrifice. The poor and middle class who make up the majority if the U.S. military have left their loved ones behind and many have given up their lives in battle, the ultimate sacrifice. How are wealthy U.S. citizens and corporate America sacrificing during this war? It appears they have engaged and out-skirmished the Congress, successfully lobbying for $350 billion in tax cuts. So the rich sacrifice by not only receiving hefty tax cuts, but profit from investments in the oil industry and other war-related, lucrative businesses, while the poor and middle class fight and die. Is this fair or just? Is this what our forefathers had in mind when they created what was once a great country? What's even more distressing is that more than two-thirds of the country thinks the president is doing a good job.
Could Heco learn from Iraq utilities?As I was driving home in the rain, I heard a voice on my radio say something I was already thinking: Our military had bombed Iraq for almost a week and Iraq still had electricity and streetlights. In Hawaii, we get a few drops of rain and our electricity and streetlights invariably shut off. Hawaiian Electric, what's up with that?
Kenneth L. Barker
Communists fund U.S. war protestsFor the past few weeks, I have watched on TV hundreds of thousands of anti-war marchers in countries around the world. Are all these pacifists really compassionate for the unfortunate victims of war? Has the momentum for this movement really sprung spontaneously from a widespread conviction that military action against Saddam Hussein constitutes an immoral, unlawful action by an imperialist government against a sovereign nation? Or is something else at work? The main protest group is A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), an umbrella group created by the Worker's World Party, an offshoot of the American Communist Party. Many Americans have forgotten (or never knew) that before World War II, Adolf Hitler bankrolled similar "peace movements" in the United States. The Soviet Communist Party also paid for such propaganda for many years. It is quite likely that the core of the current anti-war movement is being funded by hostile foreign sources.
Robert M. Lowe
U.S. unilateralism reaches an apexAs the United States attacks Iraq, a book review (Star-Bulletin, March 2) by David McClain, a University of Hawaii professor, helps to explain it. The book is "Of Paradise and Power" by Robert Kagan. Kagan points out that early in the 20th century, Europeans lived through many wars while the United States has been more warlike in the past half-century. Europeans see peace as basic to their paradise. American power has led into paranoid delusions, such as the "domino theory," which was used in part to justify the war in Vietnam. Unilateralism is power in President Bush's foreign policy. He did not join about 170 nations at the World Health Organization in favoring a ban on tobacco advertising. He has rejected membership with many nations in international organizations concerning crime, environment, family planning, land mines and others. His pre-emptive strike on Iraq will seriously damage the United Nations, the only global organization that works to keep the peace and sponsors numerous cooperative actions that benefit people everywhere.
Anti-war activists play into Saddam's handsWhether anti-war demonstrators know it or much less even care to admit it, their behavior is anything but peaceful. As they rant and rave for peace, which we all want, they are furthering the aims of Saddam Hussein's cruel and dictatorial regime. He and his fanatical followers are feeding off their disruptive behavior as thousands of them display complete disregard for civil authority. It saddens many of us to the brink of total disbelief. They can take comfort in the fact that after the forces of freedom topple Saddam and restore peace and tranquility for the oppressed peoples of Iraq, we will forgive them for their dastardly behavior. As long as we keep God to the forefront of our lives, occupying our thoughts, minds and hearts, America and all God-loving countries will prevail, and embrace the poor, huddled masses and oppressed peoples of the world.
McWarren J. Mehau
Mountain View, Hawaii
War opponents are contradictoryI am amazed at how many people oppose action against Saddam Hussein. It makes me wonder where these people were when Clinton bombed Belgrade (without U.N. approval) in 1999. Slobodan Milosevic never did anything to us and yet there weren't all these massive anti-war rallies back then. I would think if you call yourself anti-war, you would be against all war.
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Get tougher with 3-strikes law
Dems should listen when the people speakThe Democrats should not be politicizing the three-strikes law debate. The Democrats are using their majority to quash Republican-led discussions of a three-strikes law. A true democracy responds to the will of the people. Recent surveys show that between 82 percent and 88 percent of Hawaii residents favor a three-strikes law for violent offenders. When will the Democrats stop ignoring the Republicans out of spite and listen to the people?
3-strikes proposal isn't tough enoughThe recent proposal by Rep. Bud Stonebraker for a three-strikes law is far too lenient. He limits three strikes to "felons with a violent history," but I see no reason why we can't go a few steps further. What has happened to the concept of punishment? Prison should be so terrible that when someone's time is served, they rehabilitate themselves instantly for fear of return. Want to solve the problem of overcrowding? Make prison the last place on Earth you would want to go, not the country club of today. Let's be real. Marine boot camp is far worse. Human behavior operates on a risk/benefit analysis. I'm only 25 years old, but I'm tired of the politically correct, offend-no-one mentality that is destroying our state and country.
Zachary S. Wilhelm
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