Thursday, December 16, 2010

John McCain v. Polynesian Voyaging Society

A couple days ago, John McCain obtusely bashed the Polynesian Voyaging Society for being the "#1 pork-barrel-funding project in America".

First, in an ill-researched speech attacking earmarks in a senate spending bill, the Arizona uber-conservative singled out dollars designated for the the maker and keeper of the history-shaping sailing canoe Hokulea.
"One of my all-time favorites that is always on here every year -- $300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii. Now some people are watching and thinking I'm making this up. I'm not making it up,$300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society."

Then the Senator, or some intern, tweeted a list of the most wasteful earmarks with PVS TOPPING the list for the day. My conscience conscripted me to retweet and respond to the arguably most ignorant tweet of the year--right up there with the worst of Kanye's.

We are talking a measly $300,000. With the trillions being spent by the federal government yearly, as compared to Hawaii's State Budget, $300,000 would be a proportional equivalent to less than a cent allocated by the State to a worthwhile project. Through another lens, FIM-9 Stinger Missiles for the Stinger anti-aircraft system costs $13,800 EACH. just 8 of these would overtake the funding of PVS. Currently, about 13,400 of these missiles are available in the Army and Marine Corps partly due to McCain's voice and votes.

Thankfully, The Economist, a popular and respected cenrist-positioned, national-weekly publication, has taken the side of the Polynesian Voyaging society in an online article posted yesterday morning:
"So why did John McCain pick this item as his "#1 pork barrel project"? In five seconds, I found an earmark for a historical-archaeological project that is equally expensive and obviously less valuable than the work performed by PVS: The Alamo Heroes Cemetery and Spanish Colonial Hacienda Preservation project...
But projects with the word "Alamo" in them don't attract the ire and ridicule of people like Mr McCain, while projects with the word "Polynesian" in them do. I wonder why that might be."

The publication correctly describes the purpose and value of the organization, which can be extended to the national level by the research and history revisions the society accomplished.

Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson also responded publicly:

"If he's questioning the quality of our work, I'll fiercely defend the sacredness of that canoe, the work of thousands and thousands in our communities here in the Pacific for 35 years of taking care of her, sailing with purpose, and doing our very best to create educational opportunities that help our children in Hawaii,' -- in an interview with Jim Mendoza of Hawaii News Now.

Thompson continues in an article by By Leila Fujimori of the Star Advertiser: "McCain said we take rich people on sails outside Waikiki," Thompson said, inviting the senator to Hawaii to see for himself what the society is about.
"I think it's disrespectful, and I don't think it's appropriate ... to attack the integrity of our organization," he said. By doing so, he attacks "both the symbolism and the reality to not just the people in Hawaii, but people in society. When he attacks the PVS, he attacks the canoe and attacks a whole race of people."

Nainoa Thompson is an intelligent modern Hawaiian hero, and an incredibly effective leader who almost single-handedly sparked my social-awareness, which led me to figure out how to most meaningful dictate my future, with a speech he gave our Senior class in High School a mere week before graduation (Kamehameha Maui 2006). John McCain is an unbranded range animal (a "maverick").

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