Hawaii Five-0, Season Eight

I don’t watch the show, but there was a big foofaraw this past summer when two of the show’s four main characters, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, both quit after a salary dispute. They each wanted to be paid what Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan were paid, and CBS’s final offer to Kim and Park “was believed to have been 10-15% lower” than what O’Loughlin and Caan make in salary. After seven years of being paid less than the other two, I think I’d have said “pay up” too.

Anyway, the two characters had to be written out of the show somehow, so I was curious as to how that would be handled. Easy! Like so many other professionals, they left Hawai’i and moved to the Mainland!

In real life the reason most people move to the Mainland from Hawai’i is money. They can make more in their profession there or they can stretch the same pay a lot farther there, particularly for housing. The median price of a single-family house here was $795,000 three months ago. So it’s kind of a subtle joke that these two characters would head for the Mainland, presumably for more money, all while the real-live actors who played them couldn’t get the raise they wanted.

Maybe the writers didn’t think of it, but I did.

The end of the film

I was in the Navy in Japan relaying messages to ships off the coast of Vietnam from December 1972 through November 1974, just as America was desperately trying to get out of that war. Watching the final episode of Burns & Novick’s film tonight surely didn’t make me feel very good about the promises we reneged on and the haste with which we bailed on our allies. No matter how corrupt their politicians were, the South Vietnamese Army deserved better from us.

I remember seeing the famous photograph of people clambering up a ladder to get on board a chopper on the roof of the Embassy in Saigon on April 29, 1975. I don’t know whether I saw it in The Stars and Stripes or in Newsweek, and I know I didn’t know the whole story of how our erstwhile friends and co-workers among the Vietnamese were turned back from other helicopters that day, but I remember the sense of disbelief that the US would leave so unceremoniously.

Thinking on it now, we didn’t cover ourselves in glory at any point in that war, so why would the way we left be any different?

I’ve been to DC to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial once in 1984. I didn’t know anyone whose name was on it, but that didn’t keep it from being a very moving experience.

That documentary will stick with me for quite a while.

The NCAA & the FBI

Not to diminish the assistant coaches named yesterday in this FB investigation of NCAA basketball bribery and corruption at some of its member schools, but if Louisville really does fire its 2-time NCAA Champion coach Rick Pitino he will be the biggest scalp the FBI’s gotten without even naming him yet.

I’m inclined to think if it happens it’s about time. His programs have been under suspicion wherever he’s coached, from his time as an assistant at the University of Hawaii in the late 1970s all the way to today. He’s exhibited an attitude of being above the law at every one of them.

That said, Pitino may be the most visible, but he’s hardly alone in his corruption within the NCAA coaching ranks.

Vietnam, the music

The music to this documentary is a soundtrack of my life, which isn’t all that surprising, since the film starts in 1962, about when I began listening to AM radio.

Here’s the playlist for tonight’s episode seven:

Here are playlists for the previous six episodes.

There’s a 27-song soundtrack album available at iTunes or Amazon.

What drives this?

How is it that a political party has become so hateful and perhaps insane that it is perfectly willing to threaten the lives of 10% of the entire population of the country solely because a hated Democratic President (who happened to be black) instituted a health care program for that country?

Read some of the reasons some of this party’s Senators offer for doing this:

  • Pat Roberts (R-Kansas):
    … [Graham-Cassidy] is the last stage out of Dodge City. I’m from Dodge City. So it’s the last stage out to do anything. Restoring decision-making back to the states is always a good idea, but this is not the best possible bill — this is the best bill possible under the circumstances.

    If we do nothing, I think it has a tremendous impact on the 2018 elections. And whether or not Republicans still maintain control and we have the gavel.

  • Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma
    I mean it’s more efficient when it’s done from the states, and so they can do it with less money.

    Jeff Stein
    Are you confident, and how do you know those savings will be close to enough to protect everyone?

    Jim Inhofe
    Well, nothing protects everyone.

  • John Kennedy (R-Louisiana)
    My position has always been that, number one, I think Obamacare has been a failure.

    Number two: First chance I get to vote for repeal it, I’ll do it.

    And number three: If it’s replacement, if replacement is better than Obamacare, I will vote for it.

    Jeff Stein
    What are the policies that make you think that?

    John Kennedy
    I think it spends scarce resources in a more rational manner. It will control costs. I like the idea that it encourages states to innovate.

    Jeff Stein
    How does it do that? Any of those things?

    John Kennedy
    Well, you need to read the bill.

  • Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)
    But I’ll tell you what: Our states — our 50 states — are very flexible, very innovative. Much more so than we are here. I think it will work, and it will be a big step toward federalism.

    Jeff Stein
    The bill would cut federal funding to states by 34 percent over the next —

    Richard Shelby
    But it wouldn’t cut Alabama, though.

    Jeff Stein
    Well, do you think the other states should deal with —

    Richard Shelby
    Well, you see some of our states, four of our states, are getting a disproportionate amount of money from health care now. You know which ones.

  • Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
    Let me give you a political answer, and then I’ll give you a substance answer.

    The political answer is that Republicans have promised for seven years that we were going to correct all the things that were wrong with Obamacare, and we failed the first eight months. This is the last attempt to do what we promised in the election.

    The substance answer is that Obamacare starts with the principle that all knowledge about health care, and all decisions on health care, ought to rest in Washington, DC. The complete opposite of that is Graham-Cassidy, that Washington doesn’t know best and we’ll let each of the 50 states [decide what’s best].

Look at those answers. Roberts says it’s a bad bill but it has to be passed because if not Republicans might lose the 2018 midterms. Inhofe hand-waves to the theory that states always do better than the Federal government, and if they screw up and don’t help their people, well, too bad. Kennedy, same thing. Let the states do it. (For both Inhofe and Kennedy it’s more like make the states do it so we don’t have to.) Shelby is the most nakedly honest: Alabama doesn’t get hurt and those big blue states like New York and California do, so it’s a win. Grassley’s like Roberts: it’s purely political.

Screw all those people who’ll lose coverage. Let the states sort ’em out. Statesmanship this is not.

The Vietnam War on PBS

If you haven’t been watching this, you should be. It’s wonderfully good and it’s not pulling any punches about American misconceptions while at the same time explaining the politicians’ and the generals’ thinking. If you’re my age you recognize a lot of the music playing in the background or during interludes. The film and cinematography are amazing, too.

Watch it. You’ll be educated and heartbroken at the same time.

To the phones again!

Next week the Senate Republicans will put forth an abomination called the Graham-Cassidy bill, which intends to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate health care for millions of Americans. Oh, its sponsors would deny that hotly, but it’s nonetheless true.

In reality, Graham-Cassidy is the opposite of moderate. It contains, in exaggerated and almost caricature form, all the elements that made previous Republican proposals so cruel and destructive. It would eliminate the individual mandate, undermine if not effectively eliminate protection for people with pre-existing conditions, and slash funding for subsidies and Medicaid. There are a few additional twists, but they’re all bad — notably, a funding formula that would penalize states that are actually successful in reducing the number of uninsured.

Surely they can’t think this bill helps Americans, can they? Here’s what it does.

People, get on your phones to your Senators and Representatives. Tell them this is a horrible plan. If you’re in a state where the Senators will vote against it, call ’em anyway to say thanks and ask them to try to persuade some of the more moderate Republicans (Collins, Murkowski, possibly McCain).

Goodbye, Cassini

Tomorrow at roughly 7:55AM EDT Cassini will commit suicide by jumping into a planet. Okay, maybe that’s a little too human a verb. Put it that it’s being sent down to the surface (?) of a gas planet whose radius is 36, 184 miles, second in size only to Jupiter. It’s traveling at 76,000 miles per hour, so it won’t take much contact with the giant’s atmosphere to rip it to pieces. As that’s happening, though, it will continue to send data as long as it’s capable, plucky little (not so little — 22 feet high and 13 feet wide) spacecraft that it is.

Read that link when you have a few minutes. It’s got excellent audio-video links and graphics.

NASA TV will broadcast live commentary online of Cassini’s end, beginning at 7 a.m. Eastern time on Friday.

Harp, harp, harp

I know it. I know I’ve said enough about the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and their suffering from Irma’s effects.

But man alive, our news media stinks sometimes. On the Evening News from both CBS and NBC their reporters in the Florida Keys repeated the same phrase: “Here, where Irma made its first US landfall…”

The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are both territories of the United States, as are fourteen other places around the world. The USVI, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico all have sizable populations. Their citizens are US citizens, albeit ones with no voting representation in Congress. Parenthetically, I have lived on two of those five islands, Guam and Puerto Rico. They’re as American as any small city in the United States.

St. John in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico both got hit by Irma, hours before the storm hit the Keys. It does them a disservice to ignore their status as part of the United States.

Come on, media, grow a brain.