Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Senator Akaka's Bill

I worked hard for Senator Akaka's re-election in 2006 along with a number of the poobahs of the Democrat Party --unfortunately I wasn't smart enough to get in on the ground floor with them when Obama announced and they hitched up to his rising star. Loyalty has always been one of my (various) Achille's Heels (I think even the most critical of my critics would admit this) and I felt I had to remain committed to Hillary Clinton. Actually, I did donate to both Barak and Hillar early on, and emailed each of their organizations urging they choose the other as a Vice-Presidential running mate. That's another story.
Admittedly, one reason I went to bat for Daniel Akaka was my dislike for his challenger (and colleague.) Many of the arguments that U.S. Representative Ed Case made about having two octogenarian Senators made sense, but there was no way I could stomach the idea that a Blue Dog Democrat, and especially an arrogant opportunist, should be the one to replace Dan. However, I didnt' shift my efforts into high gear until TIME Magazine did a pre-election cover story that called our kanaka maole (Native Hawaiian) kupuna (respected elder) senator one of the five worst in the U.S. Senate. I was not the only one who believed it was no coincidence that Ed Case's first cousin (Steve Case - former AOL CEO) just happened to be the largest single shareholder of TIME-Warner.
More importantly, though, I felt it was only right for Senator Akaka to get another shot at passage of the legislation that has been his career's passion, the so called Akaka "Hawaiian Sovereignty" Bill. Before long someone like Jon Osorio, Hawaii's preeminent 21st Century historian, will write a fascinating narrative about Senator Akaka's career, and his mission to secure passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.
Now that the U.S. House of Representatives is even more firmly in Democratic Party control, and the Senate is nearly filibuster proof, it appears that momentum is building and the legislation's future is brighter that it has been in the past. Apparently Akaka is feeling confident enough that to eliminate a provision which would have prohibited legalized gambling in any Native Hawaiian government established under auspices of the legislation. This had been deemed necessary for passage in the past; Native American gaming interests could be affected, obviously, not to mention the powers that be in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, etc.
I just submitted the following Letter to the Editor about an article that appeared in the February 8th Honolulu Star-Bulletin under the headline: Deleted Gambling Ban Upsets (Governor) Lingle. How about some comments... anyone?

A prominent Republican I spoke with after church last Sunday agreed with me that any state law maker truly against gambling in Hawai'i could propose a constitutional amendment requiring a "super-majority" for passage of enabling legislation. If approved by the voters, it would mean no casino could be authorized by the legislature unless the bill was adopted by a two-thirds majority of both houses. The 1978 Con-Con did this with respect to nuclear power plants and the voters concurred. Some now think that was a mistake. In any event, it is oxymoronic to conceive of prohibiting a "sovereign nation within a nation" from making the decision to allow gambling, unless state law prohibits it (only Utah and Hawaii do so completely.) It was logical for Senator Akaka's bill to omit the gambling ban as reported by the Star-Bulletin on Feb. 8th (if it is no longer needed to secure passage in Congress.) I hope President Obama has his answer ready when he's asked about the Akaka Bill -- Republicans will not hesitate to attack him if he supports it, as Carter was pilloried for "giving away" the Panama Canal.


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