Mazie Hirono Ready To Keep Kicking Trump's Okole
What with the state of Hawaii having just gotten slammed by Hurricane Lane -- the main force of the storm didn't make landfall, but the rain set records and did plenty of damage as it was -- we figured this might be a good week to spotlight the state's junior US senator, Mazie Hirono, who's seeking election to a second term. Hawaii's a very, very blue state, so it's not terribly likely Hirono's Republican opponent Ron Curtis is likely to even get a Trump visit out of his run for the Senate, if he'd even want one. Sure, there's a "Trump International Hotel" in Waikiki, but it's one of those licensed dealies that isn't even actually owned by Trump, so there'd be no money in his traipsing out there for a rally.
There's just something relentlessly nice about Mazie Hirono. Not that she's a pushover or anything, but she's also such a fundamentally decent human being who embodies so much of what Democrats stand for. It's worth noting that when Republicans were trying to murder Obamacare last year, while John McCain got all the attention (and all the Trump hate) for his decisive vote against repealing the ACA, McCain wasn't the only member of the Senate fighting cancer. Hirono had been diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer in May 2017, and gave a hell of a speech about the pure meanness of stripping insurance coverage from tens of millions of Americans, even as her colleagues (all with good insurance) had wished her well in her own (well-insured) treatment:
You showed me your care; you showed me your compassion -- where is that tonight? I can't believe that a single senator in this body has not faced an illness ― or whose family member or loved one has not faced illness ― where they were so grateful they had health care. [...]
I know how important healthcare is. What I don't get is why every single senator does not know that [...]
I find it hard to believe we can sit here and vote on a bill that is going to hurt millions and millions of people in our country. We are better than that.
Why, yes, she is a cosponsor of Medicare for All, and will keep fighting to expand coverage under the ACA until single payer is a reality. She says her cancer is responding well to treatment and that she doesn't expect her ongoing immunotherapy to interfere with her job:
[My] doctors are very optimistic, and I just want to let you know that it is a long-term kind of a treatment process. But I'm optimistic and certainly that optimism is shared by my doctors.
Hirono, the only immigrant currently serving in the Senate, has also been out front on fighting Trump's New Cruelty. In June, she called for DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson to resign, and didn't mince words:
These are not normal times, because we have a president who lies every single day and he expects the people around him -- he thrusts them forward as he did with Kirstjen Nielsen yesterday to lie for him [...] So, I have said that everything around him who have basically sold their souls to keep their jobs and lie for the President, I would welcome their resignations. She lied yesterday for the President.
She was even more blunt about what Trump should do: take out his "God damn pen" and end family separations.
Hirono also came in for her very own rightwing bullshit storm after July hearings on the "zero tolerance" policy, when Fox News and other rightwing outlets circulated carefully-edited video of Hirono asking an ICE official questions about the family separations. Hirono said "I'm confused" regarding one small portion of the process, then correctly noted that the Trump administration had taken the novel step of targeting parents for prosecution under "zero tolerance," which then resulted in the kids being taken away.
Big surprise! The wingnuts ended the clip at "I'm confused" and then pretended to be OUTRAGED that a US senator was so dumb she doesn't even know that illegal border crossing is a CRIME!!!! Not that she was actually confused about that, but she said the words, didn't she?
Hirono also made the news last week for her continued resistance to Republicans' rush to pack the courts with rightwing judges as long as they have a compliant "president" and a Senate majority. Hirono cancelled a planned meeting with Trump's SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh after Tuesday's guilt glut, explaining to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Hell No:
I do not owe this President the courtesy to meet with his nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who, by the way, is being nominated because the President expects Justice Kavanaugh, should he make it to the Supreme Court, to basically protect the President's '"okole,'" as we say in Hawaii.
CNN decorously explained, "Okole is the Hawaiian word for the buttocks."
Hirono also rejects the notion that Trump has turned her into a fighter. In this excellent NPR profile, she reacted to a column calling her a "badass" by saying, "I always was [...] I just wasn't very noisy about it. I've been a fighter all my life. I just don't look like that."
Just in case you've missed "The West Wing," how's this for a senator who can bring Jed Bartlet to mind? Here's Hirono explaining why governing matters:
I've said to my staff for many years now, people are getting screwed in our country every single second, minute, hour of the day. And, by our efforts, if we can decrease that number, we will be making a difference. We will be doing our jobs.
And how's this for REAL populism: When Nina Totenberg asked Hirono why her skepticism of every single Trump judicial nominee differs from Republicans' automatic opposition of every single Obama nominee, she rejected such easy -- and false -- equivalence, saying she wants judges who can be fair and qualified, and who "care about individual and civil rights." And then the coda:
If that's considered liberal, as opposed to what I call justice and fairness, as I am wont to say, '"Fuck them!'"
Yeah, NPR bleeped that.
Hirono's Republican opponent, Ron Curtis, is actually not a Trump-style Republican; he acknowledges climate change is real and wants carbon emissions regulated, with tax incentives for green energy, which is nice. On healthcare, while he says the ACA is "going to implode," he's not actually a raving free-market let-Granny-die Paul Ryan clone.
Instead, he's pushing what he calls a "nationally guided health care system" that would be a single-payer system along the German or Dutch model, with private companies providing insurance and healthcare. On his webpage, he basically embeds a 2017 article from the Nation -- yep, the liberal publication! -- albeit without clarifying where it ends and where his proposal begins (Jebus, guy, you're not gonna win, but at least do citations right!).
Curtis calls for a national health plan based not on Medicare but on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), which he says would make for a more workable transition to single-payer from our current chaotic mess of different coverage schemes. Weird thing: it's not an altogether crazy idea, and we could probably get behind something like what he's talking about. Ron Curtis may not have much chance of getting elected, but we're actually interested in taking a closer look at that Nation piece. If nothing else, it's nice to see a Republican in a blue state who's actually pushing an idea that doesn't sound like yet another Paul Ryan plan to let the free market do its magic. One big difference between the German/Dutch model and what Curtis seems to be calling for: in both those models, the insurance companies are nonprofits, and Curtis doesn't explicitly state he'd make that change.
Then again, Curtis also says Atlas Shrugged was one of the works that best describes his political philosophy (along with Civil Disobedience and the movies The Patriot and Braveheart), so for all we know, he could be one of those Rand Paul types who makes sense for all of five minutes, but then, whew, you're backing away slowly. If you don't mind, we won't be pushing for him to remake the world in his ideal image, either.
So hey, how about you send Mazie Hirono some money to help her keep fighting? She's one of those rare candidates who manages to make us feel outright optimistic about what this dumb country of ours can get right.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.