A strong, cool wind pushed me from behind as Koko — literally pulsating with energy despite a good 5 miles of scampering and romping on the mountain trail yesterday evening — pulled me forward. And in this way we set out for a brisk walk this morning.
Patches of pale pink-orange were infringing on an otherwise gray sky when we ran into my neighbor Andy, who was being similarly propelled down the street by a tethered team of two dogs, and we all walked together in the traffic calm typical of weekends and holidays — in this case, Prince Kuhio Day.
It’s also a new moon in Aries, making it a good time to set intentions, and I literally grounded some of mine when I planted more taro, a crop that amazes me with its hardiness, bounty and willingness to thrive despite periods of benign neglect.
I’m not so sure the reasons were benign, but Kauai’s Sen. Gary Hooser failed to muster sufficient votes to bring the civil unions bill out of committee for a full floor vote, which means it’s down for the count this session.
Journalist Ian Lind, who also works at the Capitol when the Lege is in session, made some interesting observations about the issue on his blog today:
I wish we all knew more about the behind-the-scenes battle in the Senate over HB 444. During yesterday’s floor debate, a couple of things struck me. Resentment was expressed over a senator’s political ambitions, which in context appeared to target Sen. Gary Hooser, who made an early announcement that he’s running for Lt. Governor next year. There was grumbling about forcing the issue while some claimed to be working on possible amendments. And although I’m tempted to reject the “concern about procedure” arguments as smokescreens, I respect people who spoke on both sides of that issue and would like to know more about how it was seen within the Senate.
But despite all that, it was a sad to watch Democrats claim to support the substantive issue while voting to doom the bill. Someone needs to step up with a reasonable public explanation, which so far is lacking.
Yesterday he had this to say about the behind-the-scenes action (and while you’re over there, check out his outstanding Taro Festival photos):
But the key seems to be the shifting position of Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who has been swiftly backpedaling from her early tacit support of the civil unions measure and now reportedly has been twisting arms behind the scenes to keep it off the floor.
Could we be seeing one of the first volleys in the 2010 elections?
It seems that the key to Hanabusa’s “backpedaling” can be found in this quote from an Advertiser article:
Over the past few days, Hanabusa has warned that the bill, if passed, could prompt a lawsuit from gay activists who could claim an equal protection right to marriage. In October, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that same-sex partners have a constitutional right to marry as a matter of equal protection under the law. Gay couples had challenged the state's civil-unions law as discriminatory.
A similar lawsuit in Hawai'i, Hanabusa and other senators argue, could drag on for several years and expose lawmakers who voted for civil unions to political backlash for opening the door to same-sex marriage.
Ah yes. Political backlash and being affiliated with the horror of same-sex marriage is just too much for some ambitious lawmakers to risk. Others, like Gary Hooser, seem to be more concerned about doing the right thing. Or in other words, treating all members of our society equally.
If this is the one of the first volleys in the 2010 election, you might want to amble on over to Gary’s website and make a donation to his campaign so he can stay in the battle. The thought of having the religious right holding political sway in Hawaii kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies.
I was talking with a friend the other day who is gay in both the traditional and contemporary definitions of the word and I asked her why she thinks there’s so much homophobia. She observed that most of the vitriol and fear — you know, the bogus homosexuals as pedophiles bit — is directed at gay men, and she thinks a lot of it comes from straight men who are jealous because they believe that gay men are getting a lot more sex.
You know, she just might be on to something….
Meanwhile, the Garden Island is finally on to something with a story today that touches on a possible military link to the fish and whale kills at Kauai and Niihau. It reports:
In response to recent assertions that military activity could have affected marine life, causing large fish kills, Tom Clements, spokesperson for the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana, said no activities out of the ordinary were conducted when the fish were reportedly affected.
“Nothing occurred outside of the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement; nothing unusual,” he said.
Of course, if you’ve ever read the EIS for the base, you would know that the navy's definition of "nothing unusual" includes a lot of weird stuff, like net-centric warfare systems, air-breathing hypersonic missiles and high energy lasers. The story goes on to say:
Clements added that PMRF has a “very busy schedule” and over the past three decades, activities have virtually remained the same.
Yes, maybe the general activities — blowing stuff up, launching rockets, playing war games, testing new weapons, etc. — haven’t changed, but surely over the past 30 years there have been some major shifts in how they’re carrying out these activities, and the equipment and materials they’re using. Otherwise, America’s military would be seriously out of date and all the billions we've spent thus wasted.
The key point, however, is raised by Dr. Carl Berg, marine biologist and water quality expert on Kauai, who doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that classified operations were under way when the animals died.
His main concern is that if rodenticide cannot be linked to the deaths, why hasn’t another answer been found?
“It’s really upsetting that the state does not do more to find out what the true cause of this is,” he said. “The people of Ni‘ihau are afraid to eat the fishes because they don’t know what it is. It’s the state’s responsibility to look broadly at what is causing the fish mortality and not simply look at the rat poison problem.”
But given that the military wields even more power in Hawaii than religious fundamentalists, how likely do you suppose it is that the state would “look broadly” enough to find a cause that might reflect badly on the Navy?
If you answered "not very," I'd say you were on to something.
Finally, Hawaii’s Congressional delegation has introduced a new version of the Akaka bill that specifically prohibits gambling, thus ensuring that kanaka who go along with it will be fully stripped of power, including the ability to make serious money.
What the bill backers are really saying is "sure, you can have your nation — so long as it complies with all the laws of the state." And that brings to mind one of the signs on independence activist Mark Boiser's fence: "Free Like Iraq."
Maybe now folks will start to understand why those who oppose this bill are definitely on to something.