Archive for March 2006

March Goes Out Like A Lamb? Hardly

Friday, March 31st, 2006

So goes the saying, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, somehow this lion didn’t undergo its metamorphosis.

Keeaumoku & Makaloa St., March 31, 2006, 12:45 p.m.

This was the scene just a block from my office. I wanted to have lunch at Ala Moana as I normally do, but I saw this lake that was the intersection of Keeaumoku and Makaloa Streets, and I turned around and had lunch at Hanazen (little Japanese eatery at the Makaloa corner of Wal-Mart).

In short, Honolulu got hit with perhaps its heaviest rain yet. Upscale shopping mall Kahala Mall was flooded, starting at the theatres and spreading throughout the entire mall. The Honolulu Centennial festival scheduled for this weekend has been postponed. Flooding was also reported in Manoa (where seventeen months ago to the day a flash flood inundated homes and flooded the UH-Manoa library), Makiki, and McCully.

Well, if anything, all that rain may dilute the 48 million gallons of raw sewage that is now fouling Waikiki Beach.

Forecasters are predicting a return to normal tradewind patterns this coming week, but hey, they predicted that weeks ago. And with the rain in its 41st day, we can now say it’s beyond biblical proportions.

Oh, for some sunshine!

Illegal Immigrant, or the Next Celebrity Chef?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Perhaps no issue has revealed our inner divisions more than the question of immigration in general and illegal immigration in particular. A Senate committee has passed an immigration measure that would create a guest worker program and a path for undocumented immigrants in the country to earn full permanent resident status, provided they pay back taxes and fines. This contrasts with a House measure that seeks to make illegal immigration a felony. Critics of the guest worker measure call it an amnesty for illegal immigration.

Call it what you want, but I completely agree with Michael Stickings at The Moderate Voice, who calls for an immigration policy that is generous, fair, and flexible:

To be sure, something needs to be done about “illegal” (or “undocumented”) immigration, but I must say this: Let America’s policy towards these immigrants be generous, fair, and flexible. Do not punish them for having chosen to come to America. Offer them an opportunity to settle, legally, for good. If they work, if they pay their taxes, if they accept the American way of life and want to be a part of it, indeed, if they are already American, broadly speaking, be generous to them. They only want to live their lives in Lincoln’s last, best hope, in a nation of immigrants that has historically welcomed the tired, the poor, the huddled masses who have yearned for the chance to start anew, to make a better life for themselves and their families.

These new Americans want to breathe free. Let them.

As an example of the above, consider the story of Hawaii’s most famous “illegal immigrant.”

A young Thai man by the name of Chai came to Hawaii on a tourist visa, and opened two restaurants in Honolulu. However, his attempt to get a green card was denied because the INS declared his marriage to be a sham. While he appealed his case to the INS, he became one of the best known chefs in Hawaii.

His immigration problems came to a head in 2001, when, after returning to Hawaii after visiting his ill father in Thailand, he was taken into custody and prepared for deportation. It took petitions by his fellow isle chefs and ultimately action by Sen. Daniel Akaka to partially settle the matter. Akaka introduced private legislation that would essentially overrule the immigration service and make Chef Chai a permanent resident. The bill has never yet come to a vote, but Akaka has vowed to keep introducing the bill until it passes. Meanwhile, Chef Chai continues to cook, constantly considering the chance that he may yet be deported. Should that happen, the Hawaii culinary scene will never be the same.

Of course, we have immigration laws for a reason, and by all means, they should be enforced, preferably before said immigrant is in the country. But in the final analysis, though, I believe that before we start branding undocumented immigrants as criminals once they’re in the country, that we stop and think…are we turning away the next Emeril Lagasse?

They’re here. They ain’t leavin’. Let’s deal with them and move on.

Finally, A Record Setting Month Approaches Its End

Monday, March 27th, 2006

The weather service says that several areas have received record levels of rainfall for March. Lihue has received more rain this month than in any month on record.

But fortunately, the forecasters see light at the end of the tunnel:

WEDNESDAY NIGHT A STRONG SHORTWAVE ROUNDS THE UPPER LOW TO THE WEST
AND MOVES THROUGH THE ISLAND CHAIN BRINING POSSIBLY ANOTHER ROUND OF
ROUGH WEATHER TO THE REGION. WAVES CONTINUE THROUGH SATURDAY TO
EJECT THE UPPER LOW OVER THE STATE FOR CONTINUED WET WEATHER.

IF THE LONG RANGE GFS IS RIGHT THE UPPER LOW WILL BE KICKED OUT OF
THE REGION…AND BACK TO REGULARLY SCHEDULED TRADE WIND WEATHER.

So the weather is expected to stick around for another three days or so. And we’re in the 37th day of this weather pattern we’ve been seeing. That makes…no, it couldn’t be. Too much of a coincidence. Or could it?

Global Warming and Our Bad Weather Streak: Related?

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Commented Eric:

I heard there was a small tornado. This is the second tornado in as many years coming through the state.

Global warming is more dangerous than a small terrorist war to the United States of America. What would an increase of 5 or 10 feet do to the coastline of the world? New York, Tokyo, Calcutta, London, Dubai?

Agreed to a point. I wouldn’t go so far as to infer that our recent month-long stretch of bad weather is directly related to global warming. On the contrary, it looks like the weather we’ve been having is consistent with La Nina, cooler equatorial ocean temperatures, the opposite of El Nino. El Nino tends to produce dry winters here, La Nina wetter ones.

But by all means, global warming is a problem. And it should be addressed now. recent article in the Christian Science Monitor implies that the world may have less than a decade to stabilize the process.

Global warming appears to be pushing vast reservoirs of ice on Greenland and Antarctica toward a significant, long-term meltdown. The world may have as little as a decade to take the steps to avoid this scenario.

Those are the implications of new studies that looked to climate history for clues about how the planet’s major ice sheets might respond to human-triggered climate change.

Already, temperatures in the Arctic are close to those that thawed much of Greenland’s ice cap some 130,000 years ago, when the planet last enjoyed a balmy respite from continent-covering glaciers, say the studies’ authors.

The article includes a map of what the U.S. coastline would look like. The version in the Web article is sorta hard to make out, but among the highlights:

  • Much of the eastern seaboard, including the Outer Banks in North Carolina and Virginia, and about a third of the Florida peninsula, would be underwater.
  • So would much of the Gulf Coast, including all of the Mississippi Delta area including New Orleans.
  • San Francisco Bay would extend as far inland as Sacramento.

Bottom line: sea level is going to rise if we don’t do anything about it. And we should sign on to Kyoto. But right now, when we’re trying to beat back alligators, it’s hard to keep in mind that our ultimate objective is to drain the swamp.

Dear A-List Blog Dude, Please Link To My Blog, K?

Friday, March 24th, 2006

This weather is finally getting to me. I’m sneezing, sniffling, sick. But post I must.

I happened across these strips from User Friendly that speak to all of us who seek the almighty reader and who are slaves to their site stats.

See if you don’t find a little bit of yourself in these, fellow bloggers…

OK, Now I’ve Heard Everything…A Tornado? (UPDATED)

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

In Hawaii?

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
930 PM HST THU MAR 23 2006

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HONOLULU HAS ISSUED A

  • TORNADO WARNING FOR…THE ISLAND OF LANAI IN MAUI COUNTY
  • UNTIL 1000 PM HST
  • AT 928 PM HST…RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF
    PRODUCING A TORNADO 8 MILES SOUTHWEST OF LANAI CITY…OR ABOUT 37
    MILES WEST OF KAHULUI…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 20 MPH.
  • THE TORNADO IS EXPECTED TO BE NEAR…LANAI CITY BY 940 PM HST

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A
WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS
AVAILABLE…SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN
INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO
COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES…EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE…LIE FLAT IN THE
NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

UPDATE 11:11 p.m.: Fortunately, there was apparently some high winds, lightning, and thunder, but no actual tornado. Forecasters had noticed rotation in the thunderstorm that passed over Lanai, which triggered the warning.

Those Who Have Grown to Hate Bush, Read This

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Lately, I’ve been reading Impostor by Bruce Bartlett, one of the key people in the Reagan Treasury department. Yep, the folks that brought us supply-side economics. You’d think that, since Reagan and Bush the younger were ardent fans of the tax cut, he’d be singing his praises. Think again.

In short, Bartlett eviscerates Bush on the economic front, but making it clear from the start that his is a classical conservative viewpoint. He uses such choice phrases as “the worst record on trade since Hoover,” calls Medicare Part D “the worst legislation in history,” and predicts a huge tax increase in the making, if not by him, then by his successor. Heck, he practically puts Bill Clinton on a pedestal.

Bartlett is one of the latest of people associated with the right side of the aisle coming out against the policies of President Bush. And just earlier this week, I read Cal Thomas’ column in the paper. Of course, I hardly read his column; he makes Jesse Helms look like Jesse Jackson. But I do have to give him props for calling the GOP out on their lack of fiscal prudence.

Which brings me to a great essay by Jane Smiley at the Huffington Post (mahalo Linkmeister). She has tips for Bartlett from “those of us who have been anti-Bush from day 1.” Her basic thesis, in four words: We told you so. But read the whole thing.

And Smiley closes with this, which, again, is the reason I don’t support impeaching Bush: “As bad as Bush is, Cheney is worse.”

What’s That Strange Color?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Yesterday, people in Hawaii saw an unusual color in the sky, a color that they hadn’t seen in quite a while.

Blue.

Yes, there was clear blue sky for most of yesterday as Hawaii had a chance to dry out a bit after the record-setting rain we’ve been having. But no sooner had the day ended than the state was put under a flash flood watch yet again.

OK, What Else Do We Stand For?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

From the Bull Moose:

The Moose ponders the political Zeitgeist.

The Moose has a sense that the Democrats may very well capture the House and/or the Senate this year. It has nothing to do, however, with the donkey. It has everything to do with the incompetence of the elephant. …

While the Democrats lead the Republicans on most domestic issues, the Moose senses that the country isn’t moving significantly to the left. Cultural issues still matter. And if there is some improvement in Iraq, the Democrats are vulnerable to the charge that they are naysaying defeatists.

Moreover, while the Republican coalition is under stress on issues such as government spending and the war, it is not yet in danger of splitting apart. It is still fairly united as a low tax, social conservative, hawkish party.

And what of the Democrats? What are their ideas for governance? Is the Democratic coalition growing? What new groups are attracted to the donkey? Exurban voters? Moderate Republican women? Independents? Anyone?

The Moose has a point. It seems that we Democrats have been fixated on the “I” word. They did it to Clinton just because he couldn’t keep his willy where it belonged; why shouldn’t we apply the big “I” to Bush, who has committed much higher crimes and misdemeanors?

God knows that I’d like to see Bush get his comeappance. And I think Russ Feingold’s attempt to implement the “C” word (maybe as a step toward the “I” word) is bold, if ill-timed. But Democrats need to think about how best to sell what else we offer if we are to be taken seriously as an alternative. I mean, there’s one thing that Democrats can offer, namely, security that doesn’t compromise civil liberties. How about taking the money we spend on Iraq and using it to bolster U.S. Customs or the Coast Guard? The list goes on and on.

Simply put, we can’t be cast simply as “impeach and censure” Democrats. Besides, if a Democratic Congress does impeach Bush and by some miracle manages to get the Senate to convict…the most likely outcome is that Dick Cheney fills out the rest of Bush’s term. The cure may then be worse than the disease.

The Least We Could Have Done Was Send Flowers

Monday, March 20th, 2006

It’s been three years since our destiny became intertwined with that of Iraq. Says the Borowitz Report, the least we could have done was send flowers.

Of course, considering that it was a shotgun wedding…

I would post more, but…not tonight. I’ve got a headache.