Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bill Moyers

I recently sent an email message to Bill Moyers's staff in response to a program that I found especially informative and meaningful. Any reactions?

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I watched from day one when Bill started the NOW program, and still watch David Brancaccio most of the time. I never stopped grieving about the loss Bill's departure from NOW represented, though I realize that he's risen from the Ashes at last, the Bush agenda at PBS was revealed in all its ugliness as a result, and there is perhaps some light at the end of the long, dark tunnel we've all been trapped in for the past six years.

One definitely needs an hour long format to do justice to the kinds of issues Bill and David focus on, so I am ecstatic that Bill is back with BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, and better than ever in my opinion, based on what I've seen so far. I've recorded a few of Bill's shows over the years, and occasionally I've shown them to our Adult Ed. group at Church of the Crossroads: .

More often I show them to my classes at Hawaii Pacific University, or loan them to studenst for purposes of their research on essays. As soon as I send this message I plan to order a copy of last Friday's show. It was one of the best I recall ever seeing on PBS. I've been saying for at least four years that Bill should be president and Scott Ritter his vice-president. Can you have Scott on the Journal in the near future? Also, I suggest that Bill and a crew spend a week or so in Hawaii doing a show on the many fascinating and challenging issues we wrestle with out here in the middle of the Pacific. The right wing Republican vendetta against our Senator Dan Akaka's Native Hawaiian Recognition bill needs to be exposed. An interesting sidelight would be last fall's senate race between Dan Akaka and Steve Case's first cousin, former Rep. Ed Case. A few months before the election TIME mysteriously labeled Sen. Akaka "one of the FIVE WORST U.S. Senators"-- of course we know who is the biggest individual shareholder of Time
Warner! Then there is a huge amount of Hawaiian history that needs to be understood by Americans in general. The overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and the annexation of Hawaii by the McKinley administration in the midst of the conquest of the Phillippines and the Spanish American War is one of most instructive and apochryphal stories in the annals of American Imperialism.

The controversy over the "racially exclusive" admission policies of the Kamehameha Schools (the largest privately endowed, primary and secondary educational institution in the world) run by the trust
established by the monarchy in its last days is also in need of explanation and explication. Stories on ethinic harmony in a racially diverse culture are  part of the more uplifiting aspects of the half-century history of the "Aloha State". Our political system is unique in several ways, one being the constitutional requirement that allows a majority of registered voters to convene a constitutional convention once every decade if they choose to do so. The next vote on that will be in 2008. The voters have been scared into rejecting a "Con-Con" in each of the elections since 1976 on one basis or another. In the last election opponents used the fear that "gay marriage" would be enshrined in the constitution, or that Native-Hawaiians would lose their special status in the state constitution.

Well, as you can see, I am in love with Bill Moyers, all he stands for, and all  who are part of his mission and ministry at PBS. If you need someone to found the Moyers fan club here, put me on the list of
With sincere aloha,
Mike S.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Victor Davis Hansen

I just sent the following letter to the Honolulu Advertiser editors, responding to another of the screeds of the master of tortured (and tortuous) logic, part time raisin farmer, and darling of neo-cons and war mongers everywhere, Victor Davis Hansen. None of my prior letters complaining about Hansen's loopy diatribes has been deemed worthy of editorial favor, so I've taken a different approach (see below). The column published on May 17th in "Hawaii's newspaper" is little more than one of Hansen's periodic attempts to shore up his reputation as a "classicist", while bashing the usual liberal suspects -- Al Gore, George Soros, celebrity environmentalists -- for variety he adds a predictable hypocrite's kick at the beaten dog which shock jock Don Imus has recently become.
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Since your editors seem strangely wedded to neo-con apologist, Democrat basher Victor Davis Hansen, and loath to publish rebuttals to his screeds from readers, perhaps I will be permitted to point out some common ground that even such a consummate spin artist as Hansen is forced to acknowledge: (1) "by all means" celebrities and environmental activists like al Gore should continue their "well meaning" efforts to save the planet; (2) those guilty of conspicuous consumption who cannot and will not give up huge houses and illiberal energy use are "offenders" guilty of "environmental sins"; and (3) Don Imus was "serially warned" that he would face severe consequences if he crossed the line with his foul, racist trash talk.
Thank you Mr. Hansen, for small favors. And thank you Advertiser editors, for these editorial crumbs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Governor Ben

I just heard on Public Radio that our illustrious former governor is coming out with a memoir titled: FROM STREET KID TO GOVERNOR. Obviously it's intended to be the impetus for an upcoming race for national office. Sen. Inouye or Akaka (or both) will step down in the not too distant future, and Neil Abercrombie (and Ed Case?) will battle it out for the seat. Perhaps Ben will join the fray, or content himself with taking over Neil's seat and teaming up with Mazie again as they did so successfully for 8 years. I plan to be in the audience at a public venue for a reading Ben is going to be giving from the tome next week. I can't wait to read Ben's stuff; there's sure to be a lot of juicy gossip alluded to, if not disclosed outright. For anything really juicy one would have to visit Ben's former "first lady", Lorraine, I suppose. I wonder if there will be any mention of Roddie!! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


The dynamic duo of morning radio and media in general in Hawaii are getting themselves in water nearly as hot Don Imus did recently. Most who know much about Larry Price would forgive him just about anything, and expected that he'd come to his senses and issue an apology to Senator Hooser and "haoles" in general, and especially to those of us who have been here long enough to think of ourselves as local, regardless of birthplace or hair and eye color. We know what he was trying to say (inappropriately and insensitively as he has admitted.) Politicians who pontificate, especially white ones from privileged backgrounds, are an endless source of annoyance and insecurity to local folks who are less full of themselves. Not that Gary Hooser is such a person; anyone with Kaua`i roots will tell you that he and his family have worked tirelessly to understand local perspectives and to champion those that are sincere and worthy.
Larry Price's problem is clearly not the kind of arrogance or racism displayed routinely on the Don Imus shock jock free for all. Price is simply addicted to the endorphins released in his brain when his antics and motor-mouth create general laughter -- we all know the type who's the life of the party, and generally liked, but sometimes goes too far and needs to be reminded that not everything emanating from his "waha nui" is a sparkling gemstone of wisdom.
Michael W. Perry's syndrome, on the other hand, is more problematical. How can one explain his failure to see that a perfect teaching opportunity had presented itself when his sidekick came to terms with some inner demons and outed them before their large local audience. Clear premediatation exists in Mr. Perry's far more insidious remarks ("you're apologize.") Where is Perry's sensitivity to the obligation of all local broadcasters to promote racial harmony in our community at this time, after the emotional controversy involving an alleged violent hate crime in broad daylight in a busy shopping center, and the terrible murder on a public beach of a promising young mainlander planning to attend the University of Hawaii law school? Mr. Perry would say I'm only being critical because I haven't taken the time to go to the internet to listen to the original interview with Senator Hooser; but I don't have to. My beef is with Mr. Perry -- he's one of the clearest examples I've found of a case where the conduct of the enabler is far more harmful that that of the offender himself.

Planned Parenthood

The big debate question on Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room" today was whether the revelation that Rudy Giuliani and his former spouse gave $900.00 to Planned Parenthood will kill his chances of winning the presidential nomination. It shouldn't, if he points out that PP's work is much more about preventing pregnancy than abortion. The debate may now focus on just what it is that the "pro-life" cadres of his party seek in this regard. I'm convinced that a large percentage of Republicans have much in common with the three wing-nuts who held up their hands as "nonbelievers" in evolution in the recent debate; they're fundamentalists who would not only restrict a woman's right to abortion, but would invade the bedroom of each and every American to deny us birth control pills and other forms of contraception, and would shut down sex education programs in our public schools. The debate should be much broader than whether to reverse Roe v. Wade -- abortion was available in Hawaii, New York, and other states before 1973, and would remain so regardless of a retreat on privacy rights by the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead we should establish once and for all that freedom of (and from) religion is a cornerstone of the American experiment, and rebuff those who would require a religious test for any woman or man seeking to hold public office. In this I support Mr. Giulani, and I sincerely hope he wins the nomination of his party-- I do so for the same reasons many Republicans secretly hope that the Dems pick Sen. Clinton as their standard bearer. They assume she'll be easier to defeat than Obama or some others. I think they're wrong about that, but I'd bet lots that Giuliani will go down in flames like the WTC if he manages to spin his way onto the Republican ticket.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


When one awakes at 5:00 a.m. with an idea churning between one's ears it seems appropriate to document the phenomenon in some way, and when the idea involves the fate of millions of Americans, perhaps invite others to comment on it. That's the main function of this blog, so here goes....
If the U.S. is ever going to convince the fanatics of the world it is not a paper tiger that will eventually roll over in Iraq and abandon the population to their fate, we must start by reversing the world's perception that our intervention was solely the result of an evil neo-con cabal, or the whim of an airhead, spoiled brat President now on his way out. In truth, the Congress and most Americans supported this horror in the beginning, and it is in the self-interest of all of us to try to insure that the entire Middle East does not go up in flames when we leave, with Osama's allies taking the helm, and our "allies ' in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia (not to mention Israel)in his cross-hairs.

A good start would be an even more ambitious conference like that held in Egypt this past week attended by Bush's girl "Condi", at which she actually spoke to and rubbed shoulders with the foreign ministers of Syria and Iran. If in fact hell did freeze over as a result, it can only be a good thing, especially if it slows the rate of global warming. Who can argue against the idea of devising a plan for the injection of an international/regional peacekeeping force in Iraq as the U.S. presence is reduced and/or reconfigured? Obviously, this would give greater legitimacy to continued actions there by the U.S. (policing and training, etc., as well as the continued reconstruction effort which is a moral necessity if the U.S. is ever to overcome the sorry legacy of its Iraq wars and a decade of devastating sanctions.)

Nothing could do more to enhance U.S. credibility at this time than a popularly supported decision in the U.S. to reinvigorate and strengthen our military forces by reinstitution of the draft, providing the U.S. Army with a backbone of well trained "citizen soldiers" motivated by something other than reinlistment bonuses and the threat of courts martial. How can this be accomplished? Certainly no presidential candidate (even John McCain, who knows in his heart that it's the key to the massive "surge" strategy he has been urging for years) will have the "balls" to propose drafting our young people to be sent off as "IED" fodder in Afghanistan or Iraq. Perhaps McCain (or Sen. Clinton) could regain some credibility and respect with the skeptics in both their parties by advocating some form of the following plan. (1) Hold a national referendum on immediate withdrawal from Iraq--with the understanding that should Americans vote "no" on withdrawal, they are voting "yes" to establishment of a truly universal draft of all Americans, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. [2] The draft would be implemented at the same time that the volunteer army is supplemented with any current undocumented immigrants seeking the path to citizenship, and any qualified felon in the U.S. penal system seeking early release (obviously, the lifers and those on death row would have a difficult time qualifying, but the poor bastards who simply got unlucky under "three strikes" laws might make willing candidates.) [3] People without prior military service who are physically fit and able to pass a minimal intelligence test, despite the approach of retirement age, would be equally draftable (especially those like the author of this blog who are filling no job indispensable to the functioning of the economy, and have no young dependants to support.) My only stipulation would be that as long as I am serving in the military, my college student son would be exempt from the draft.(4 I would of course expect such a system to contain liberal standards for exempting one from combat duty based on conscientious objector status. Being one myself, I'd expect to be assigned to the medical corps or other support function that does not involve me directly in the use of deadly force. Nevertheless, by going to Iraq I'd be just as likely as anyone else to end up the victim of an IED or suicide bomber.

NOTE: Eventually, I'd expect the U.S. forces to become the main contingent of a U.N. sanctioned force like those in Bosnia and Kosovo. It is my dream that one day a comprehensive peace treaty will be signed by Israel and all nations in the Middle East pursuant to which Israel (1) would be admitted to NATO and the EU; (2)would sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty as a nuclear power with the obligation to disarm eventually; (3) would withdaw from most of the West Bank, and (4)would have its borders protected by a U.N. peacekeeping force with a large U.S. contingent. If "peace" (whatever that means) can be brought to the major areas of conflict in the world, the international community can finally turn its attention to the looming catastrophes of global climate change, population meltdown, and ocean poisoning. It can't happen too soon. In the meantime all I can do is live sustainably, and wake up early and post my "epiphanies" to this blog. Also, those who know me know that I'll do something else every day, faithfully and fervently. Each and every one of you all, as well as our planet, will be in my prayers. Yes, they may be the prayers of a confused, constantly backsliding reformed atheist, but they are prayers that I deeply believe are listened to.

Finally, if you want to know why a Citizen Soldier army is needed now more than ever, read all about the Christian Taliban's takeover of the Pentagon (sorry, they're not clickable hyperlinks):

And if you believe there's nothing we can do to slow / stop global warming, here's what farmers and business owners (not just eggheads and scientists) are getting excited about:

Thursday, May 03, 2007


What a fantastic breath of fresh air Stephen Colbert sent our way tonight with his interview of former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel. The voters up there must be truly schizophrenic to have elected two polar opposites like the mercurial Gravel (pronounced like a frenchie: "grah-velle") and the terminally curmudgeonly Ted Stephens. Stand aside Barak Obama-- I want a vice-presidential running mate for Hillary who has the balls to stand up and say the reason the Spartans were such kick ass warriors was that they were homosexual, and they fought to protect the guys who shared their foxholes. One answer to the debate about the effect on military morale of allowing gays to serve their country might be to create an all gay boot camp, and all gay job classifications. In fact, why not create an "all queer" unit to fight in Baghdad like the "all Jap" unit that nearly single-handedly conquered the Italian peninsula, became the most decorated unit in the history of the U.S. Army, and in the process proved once and for all the patriotism and loyalty of all Japanese Americans.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


My final week of classes at Pearl Harbor (Naval Shipyard Apprenticeship Program) features a surprise debate (not mentioned on the syllabus) between teams in each class. With a bit of manipulation on the part of Darth Salling each class chose an excellent topic for debate:

Resolved: The first recipient of the Annual Media Ignoramus of the Year Award (known as the IgnorIMUS award or the “Imus” for short) should be Alec Baldwin. In the alternative, the negative teams may argue that the award should go to either Imus himself, or to Michael Richards of “Kramer” fame. (Mel Gibson will undoubtedly receive a lifetime achievement award at some point in the future.)

Resolved: If the Congress were to immediately pass legislation similar to that vetoed by the President on May 1st, 2007, which appropriated more money than asked for to support the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq, and contained a mandatory date to begin troop deployment / withdrawal from Iraq, as well as a non-binding benchmark for final withdrawal, the President should again veto such legislation.

While the Iraq debate is far more important, the IgnorIMUS debate will of course be more fun, so I’ll direct my self to that in the next update to this post (to follow shortly.)

It's now half an hour later:

The top three reasons chosen by my students to support the AFFIRMATIVE case in the IMUS debate are as follows:

1. Baldwin was stupid enough to record himself calling his 11 year old daughter IRELAND a "rude, thoughtless, little pig...."

2. Baldwin used his 11 year old child to vent his anger and frustration with ( ex-wife Kim Bassinger, the courts, lawyers, etc.)

3. Baldwin acted impulsively and arrogantly considering the negative financial consequenses not only for himself but for countless others dependant upon the success of his film and television career.

4. Baldwin did serious if not fatal damage to his credibilty as a spokesperson for various liberal and "do-gooder" causes.


The top three reasons chosen by my students to support the NEGATIVE case in the IMUS debate are as follows:

1. Imus should get the award named after him because he was stupid enough to air his slurs to an audience of millions.

2. Imus should receive the first annual award because it was a public remark of a seriously insulting racist and sexist nature that was personally damaging and demeaning to the young women of the Rutgers team and their coaches & team staff, as well as to their families, all who look up to them as role models, the extended Rutgers family, and last but not least, to womens' athletics in general.

3. Imus should get the award because of the negative financial consequenses not only for himself but for countless others dependant upon the success of his radio and television career.

4. Alec Baldwin is attempting to use the incident in a positive way. He has taken steps to reconcile with his daughter by apologizing to her and (on "The View") to anyone else who was hurt or offended by his remarks. Baldwin is using the gaffe as an opportunity to advance understanding of the court system and the problems with child custody litigation in America; it is thus likely that Baldwin's image will be enhanced at the end of the day (certainly this will be the result in the case of millions of "downtrodden dads" who feel they have been abused by the courts, not to mention their wives and girlfriends who are often more frustrated by the tactics of the former spouse than the male is.) Baldwin's ex-wife (or whoever was responsible for turning over the recording to outsiders and creating a media frenzy in the process) owes an apology to young Ireland for involving her in such undignified, publicly humiliating news coverage.

5. Both Mel Gibson and Michael Richards are more entitled than Baldwin to become recipients of the IMUS

The best media account of this "black on black" farce / tragedy that I've seen can be reached using the link below: