LETTERS for December 30 issue
TOUGH TO RETURN TO HAWAII
After years overseas, I yearn for home, Maui.
Although I am doing quite well in Taiwan, I long for home.
And that, somewhat, makes me procrastinate. The economy in Taiwan is pretty solid (4 percent jobless). Back home in Hawaii, it’s in the double digits, and that makes me hesitate.
I plan to open my own business(es) again, as I used to have during the 1990s and the early new millennium.
But should I really invest all my life’s savings and capital for my final approach? Or ought I be better off staying in Asia, where job opportunities are plentiful, particularly in my field of expertise?
My home in Maui, meanwhile, went into foreclosure. The lender is extremely stiff and rigid and is in no way an actual aide to reestablish residency.
Here, I own two three-story houses; interest rates are 1.5 to two percent. My loan in Maui was sealed in for 6.5 percent, which now is unrealistic. But the lenders are not negotiating. Is that really what our president had planned?
My heart is with and in Maui, but my shrewd and sane logic has to stay in Taiwan, against my desire, but based on prudence.
Is that what citizens ought to do? Turn their backs from their homes, simply based on naked survival?!
DR. GEORG WOODMAN
TV DINNERS SAVED MARRIAGE?
Food was not on my agenda when I married Sara 50 years ago. Since then, Sara demonstrated that cooking is not one of her better points. She kept trying with many disastrous results.
In recent years, supermarkets and warehouse clubs have come to town with their freezers and shelves full of wonderful prepared dishes I haven’t seen for years. Sara is preparing the good things from the instructions on the package. The markets have saved our marriage.
Bless the markets.
ARSENE “BLACKIE” GADARIAN, Lahaina
A PARTING MESSAGE
This is not a holiday, make you feel good piece for your paper. However, I do hope someone benefits from its content. Lahaina has been my home for 23 years. I’m tired of seeing young people going down the same road I traveled as a younger man trying to act tough in order to survive. I’m tired of cops viewing me as a suspect, and I’m very tired of security persons overstepping their bounds. I’m tired of medical doctors and their aids ill-equipped to deal with drug and alcohol-afflicted people. I’m tired of dealing with employers or enterprises that I once did business with profitably.
I thank God alone that I’m not too tired to write this down, send it in and then wait to see if it gets published in this paper I’ve read for many good years now. My son attends King Kamehameha III School and my wife works for the Department of Education on call. I collect unemployment benefits along with cans, bottles and plastic beverage containers. We get by as a family, and the three of us help out our friends and neighbors as best we can with what we have.
I am not mad at this community any longer. Countless people have helped me through the years and many have passed on, either through death or from a need to relocate their home base. I’ll be leaving soon enough myself, and I hope my little family makes the move with me. Before I go, I’ll continue to clean up the junk left behind on the beaches. I’ll continue to lend an ear to someone dying to be heard. I’ll continue to try and drive sensibly, whether it be by car or truck or bicycle.
I prefer to walk through this town, so you will see me in the days and nights to come. If we happen to meet up, I truly hope we can accept each other for what we actually are: just a bunch of God’s kids trying to make it through another day.
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
PROGRESSIVES TRYING TO FIX AMERICA
Yes, those pesky liberals and progressives. Thanks to them, the American employee typically has two-day weekends, some vacation time and sick leave in addition to 40-hour workweeks (compared to none of that and 40- to 80-hour workweeks at the turn of the last century). But who needs it?
And how dare liberals and progressives try to fix America? After all, just because the United States has the highest per capita rates of homicide, incarceration, poverty, obesity, medically uninsured, infant mortality, untreated mentally ill, gonorrhea and syphilis, teen pregnancy and homelessness in the industrialized world (see sociologist Gregory Paul’s essay entitled “The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions” in Evolutionary Psychology, 2009) doesn’t mean our great nation needs fixing.
ANDREA BAER, Wailea
STOP SECRET ELECTION SPENDING
Whatever you thought of the outcome of November’s elections, you were probably, like me, relieved to see the end of an unusually nasty season of political ads. An unprecedented 1.5 million political ads aired in October alone, many of them false or misleading attack ads paid for by anonymous special interest groups.
Congress will have the opportunity, when it gathers again in January, both to put some of the bitterness of the 2010 elections behind it and to eliminate these anonymous campaign ads from our democracy. By passing the Disclose Act, a bill requiring groups that spend money in elections to disclose the identities of their donors, members of the new Congress would show that they are willing to work across party lines to do what is right for voters and for democracy.
What the Disclose Act does is simple; it would require organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose the sources of major campaign contributions. The disclosure rules would apply equally to conservative and progressive groups. Under the act, voters would go to the polls armed with more information, and wealthy individuals and corporations paying for political advertisements would be held accountable for their claims.
The 2010 election cycle made clear the need for greater transparency of campaign spending. When the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money on political ads, it opened the door for groups to funnel huge sums from corporations and wealthy individuals to fund campaign ads without disclosing the identity of the donors. Because the people and corporations behind these groups remained in the shadows, voters had no way of knowing who was trying to sway their vote and to what end. According to the Sunlight Foundation, these secretive groups spent a whopping $126 million on federal elections this year.
Take, for instance, American Crossroads, a group founded by Bush political advisor Karl Rove. Its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, spent almost $17 million on ads attacking Democratic candidates throughout the country. They didn’t have to disclose the source of a single penny. A reporter later found that Crossroads GPS received significant funding from Wall Street bankers, and then turned around and used its money to buy ads criticizing lawmakers who voted for the extremely unpopular Wall Street bailout.
These ads ultimately served the interest of Wall Street by helping to elect pro-corporate, anti-regulation candidates and did a disservice to voters, who had no way of tracking the ads’ origins or intentions.
Some argue that making groups disclose their donors limits those donors’ free expression. But even the Supreme Court justices who ruled to allow corporations to spend unlimited money on elections recognized that voters have an interest in knowing who is spending that money, and who they’re spending it on. Whatever your opinion of campaign spending limits, there’s no reasonable explanation for allowing the wealthiest and most powerful in our society to pull strings in our elections in secret while voters are left in the dark.
Covert spending will only balloon in the 2012 elections if Congress doesn’t stop it in its tracks. Republicans in Congress, who benefitted from the vast majority of this shadowy spending in 2010, made sure that the Disclose Act didn’t make it into law before the midterm elections.
Now is the time for members of both parties to put the 2010 elections behind them and do what’s right for voters and right for democracy.
MICHAEL KEEGAN, President, People For the American Way
STATE DEPARTMENT FUNDS TV SHOW?
I just read an interesting story about a police crime show called “Eagle Four.” It airs once a week in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Police officers solve crimes in their weekly allotted time slot. It resembles “NCIS” or “CSI” — two American crime shows featuring rape and murder.
“NCIS” and “CSI” are not financed in part by the U.S. Department of State. “Eagle Four” apparently is.
To be clear, the State Department is that part of our federal government currently headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Apparently, the financing comes from the public diplomacy arm of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. That’s the embassy run by Karl W. Eikenberry, who always has something to say about his adopted home, Afghanistan.
He retired after about 40 years from the Army with the rank of lieutenant general on April 28. On April 29, he was sworn in as ambassador to Afghanistan.
His career included time in Kabul as U.S. “security coordinator” and chief of the “Office of Military Cooperation.” He is quoted as saying, “Afghanistan has been at the center of my career since 9/11, when the terrorist-commandeered aircraft crashed into the Pentagon just below the office in which I was working.”
He further stated, “There is no silver bullet and no quick, cheap or easy solutions. There is no substitute for more resources and sacrifice,” and, “There is no exclusively military solution to the issues we and our partners confront in Afghanistan.”
Will an Emmy help them?
ALFRED BROCK, Via E-mail