Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Essential Reading List: Danny de Gracia star profiles and interviews

I've met many amazing people. (Photo by Christina Giuseppe)
Aloha friends, hope you are blessed and that 2014 is treating all of you well. Over the last two years I've had the honor of meeting and interviewing some of the most unique and interesting individuals both here in Hawaii and around the world. I decided to put together an "essential reading list" digest of some of the people I've profiled and interviewed. I've learned a lot from the incredible spectrum of opinions, life experiences and perspectives of these and so many others, and I think you'll enjoy reading these if you haven't already.

Brianna Acosta, model, Miss Hawaii USA 2013

Tiffany Au, second generation immigrant, Hawaii GOP candidate
Davis Aurini, YouTube personality, author
Doug Bandow, foreign policy expert
Tammy Blair, Texas GOP candidate
Jackie Bodnar, FreedomWorks
Michael Boldin, Tenth Amendment Center founder
Mike Bond, bestselling author

Gigi Bowman, Liberty Candidates founder
David Chang, Hawaii GOP chair
Michelle Ching, MLM expert, Millennial entrepreneur
Lauren Cheape-Matsumoto, Miss Hawaii 2011, Hawaii state representative
Aaron Clarey, YouTube personality, author
Anthony Cordesman, CSIS Strategy Chair, major policymaker
Laura Grace D'Angeli, model, actress, media personality
Dan Danner, NFIB president
Matt DiGeronimo, Hawaii GOP congressional candidate
Lauren Easley, model, fashion expert
Nigel Farage, European Union MEP, UKIP party leader
Blake Filippi, Tenth Amendment Center legal expert
Christy Giuseppe, actress, model, media personality, Miss Los Angeles 2008
Robert Harris, Hawaii Sierra Club director
Lanson Hoopai, first time 2012 election voter
Janie Johnson, author, conservative leader
Cherry Lei, model, gogo dancer
Tim Lussier, Mitt Romney campaign staffer
Edward Luttwak, CSIS policy expert, Cold War strategist
Tiana Morales, model, YouTube personality, actress
Michael Moriarty, Emmy award-winning actor, composer
Leianna Kai, model, music producer
Evan Klassen, FSR immigrant, MLM expert, millionaire, bestselling author
Randal O'Toole, policy expert
Ronnie Paul, son of Ron Paul
Lyndon Remias, Virginia Beach city auditor
Andy Roth, Club for Growth
Clea Saldania-Rountree, actress, fashion model, Hawaii media personality
Sam Slom, Hawaii's only GOP senator
Kristen StephensonPino, model, actress, rising star
Jamie Story, policy expert, Miss Texas 2004
Stephen Lowell Swisher, Christian scholar, national evangelist

John Tate, Ron Paul campaign director
Hunt Tooley, historian, hyperinflation expert, scholar
Jessica Wooley, Hawaii state representative, environmental leader

(Note, this is by no means a comprehensive list and several have multiple interviews with me, this is just a digest of some of best articles I've done. Be sure to check out my other articles and multiple columns!)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Check out my new interviews!

Aloha friends, hope all is well and you are enjoying your weekend. If you have time, be sure to check out my two separate exclusive interviews with Kristen StephensonPino at Yahoo and also at CDN which ran yesterday.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And now for something non-political and different: BACON.

All politics aside, today we will discuss the weighty topic of multiple-layer fried bacon strips. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hawaii Senate wants giant "nonremovable" warning labels on your cell phone

Tomorrow the Hawaii State Senate joint committees on Health and Technology and the Arts will be hearing a bill that would require all cell phones sold in the state to feature a "conspicuous, legible and nonremovable" warning label that "occupies at least thirty per cent of the back of the cellular telephone." This would apply both to new devices and to used/refurbished ones sold in Hawaii, and per the bill's language, the text will read:

"This device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially children and pregnant women, should keep this device away from the head and body" (SB 2571).

Still preserved to this day, this is the phone I used in college and graduate
school. I keep it for historic and sentimental value.
The bill goes on to say that failure to comply "shall constitute an unfair method of competition and deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade of commerce under section 480-2 and shall be subject to a civil penalty as provided in section 480-3.1. Each cellular telephone sold in violation of this part shall constitute a separate violation."

I think it's clear that there are biological implications for using wireless devices, but the legislature is totally going about this the wrong way. Mobile devices are surging because they are easy to use and highly portable. People are going to use the devices irregardless of what kind of aluminum warning plaque or painted advisory the legislature mandates be plastered on the phone. This measure is just going to inconvenience people who sell and manufacture the phones by adding extra cost and it lowers the visual aesthetics of the phone by those who like having a nice-looking cell phone.

Hopefully this bill is simply a form of "legislative communication" - that is, merely a very elaborate means for the Senators to say "we're concerned and just want to have a hearing to discuss this" - and perhaps they will vote to defer the bill in committee, depending on who testifies. In either case, I submitted written testimony and encourage you to do the same. Here's my personal comments on the record:

Testimony of Dr. Danny P. de Gracia, ThD
Regarding the measure
Senate Bill No. 2571, Relating To Health
to be heard before the
Joint Committees on Health and Technology & the Arts
on February 3, 2014 at 1:15pm in Conference Room 229

Chairman Green and Wakai, Honorable Members of the Committees:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony in opposition to Senate Bill No. 2571, Relating to Health. While I fully appreciate the Senate's legislative intent in attempting to bring attention to the potential health hazards associated with wireless usage, it is my firm belief that mandating the placement of large "conspicuous, legible, and nonremovable" labels that occupy "at least thirty per cent of the back surface of the telephone" will accomplish nothing more than increasing the burden on companies selling cell phones in the State of Hawaii and substantively degrading a user's visual value of their mobile device.

Legislative limitations: Cost and Practical Use

As you are well aware, legislation and government policy is a slippery slope in that mandates always have unintended consequences. I can immediately see two problems with this legislation. First, the cost and inconvenience of a local company acquiring the labels for future phones. Secondly, I need not remind you that the cell phone has evolved in modern days to become an accessory and a very special part of the 21st century lifestyle. To many people, cell phones are luxury item. If you mandate that a label must be affixed to the back of the cell phone, Hawaii residents will likely detach the battery case of phones modded with the warning label and replace it with a Mainland-supplied replacement to avoid seeing the warning sticker. If this is not an available option, users will as a last resort buy cell phone cases to cover the unsightly government label. What will the legislature do then? Will it make cell phone cases illegal or require that all persons must display the warning label at all times?  Also, there are luxury cell phones sold in Waikiki which cost upwards of $4,000-$6,000 which are made of platinum and other fine materials. Are you honestly going to mandate that a luxury phone have a glaring warning label that occupies most of its back surface? At what point does government intervention become government interference in a person's personal life and individual style?

Mobile phones are a convenient platform for persons of all socioeconomic status and age, which means that the trend over the next decade will be to make devices smaller, wearable and even translucent in the not-too-distant future. People are not going to stop using wireless devices because they are easy to use and add functionality and as previously mentioned prestige to their lives. The Senate should be aware that mobile devices are selling faster than personal and laptop computers, and that in the next few years alone cell phones will evolve in such a way as to complicate compliance with this proposed labeling mandate. What will happen if phones become fully integrated into wristwatches? Will you require the strap have a warning label? What about if phones become translucent, flexible screens with integrated circuits? Will you require a flexible label attached to the screen? Who will be responsible for making labels to keep pace with the technology which is evolving so quickly?

The only thing this legislation accomplishes is to inconvenience people and businesses. Again, while it is appreciated that the Senate wishes to protect and inform the public, this legislation you have drafted stymies commercial innovation and personal choice.

A better solution would be to allow individuals informed consent when purchasing a mobile device that its usage could have health impacts and to allow the individual to have the personal choice to use the device responsibly and in a safe manner throughout the product's lifecycle.

I strongly urge you to defer this measure and to allow the free market to provide solutions for this matter.

Monday, January 27, 2014

AP: U.N. draws new Peru-Chile border

Good morning friends, thought you might find this story interesting for your Monday, today the Associated Press is reporting that the ICJ has drawn a new maritime border in the contested claim between Peru and Chile. (You can also read the official ICJ judgment here, if you wish.)

On page 66 of the report, you can see the new borders visualized:

(Photo via ICJ)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Two thumbs way up for The Last Savanna by Mike Bond

My first book review of 2014 is on political thriller author Mike Bond's latest book, The Last Savanna. Addressing the current elephant poaching crisis, Bond's book is the story of former SAS operator and Kenyan rancher Ian MacAdam who goes on a final mission to stop bandits from slaying endangered species on the savanna.

I recently wrote a review of the book here, where I mention Bond's book as "a novel that expertly captures the ravenous, chaotic and frustrating battles" raging in Africa.

Bond's book is incredible, and I definitely recommend buying a copy to read. It's available in e-book format and hardcopy through the Kindle store and If you live in Hawaii, Bond also published a novel last year called Saving Paradise which is also an amazing read and is an amazingly realistic - almost insider tongue-in cheek - portrayal of Hawaii politics.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

How "public" policy works

In my experience in elected and legislative politics, I've found that all public policy goes through the following stages:

The road to hell is paved with legislative intentions. (Painting by Cole Thomas)
First, an obscure person that no one has ever heard of visits elected leaders with a "great idea" they think government should compel people to pay for.
Second, if the case is convincing enough or the rewards are high enough for elected officials to support, they then launch a campaign to convince people that they should be forced to do something they haven't done before.
Third, once the "great idea" becomes law, the government gives research subsidies to major universities so that their "scholars" will produce "authoritative, serious research" justifying the new policy. Public schools will also revise their curriculum to reflect the "new" research and mainstream media outlets and celebrity "awareness campaigns" will also spring up to teach about the "great idea." There will be opposition of course, but anyone who criticizes the "great idea" is branded as a fool, a reactionary, or a bigot.
Fourth, as time passes, the "great idea" is eventually revealed to be a bad idea either as a result of the impact it has on taxpayers, the distortions it produces in market prices or scarcity of supply or worse yet, the cost in human life or environmental impact (or all of the above).
Lastly, elected officials realize they made a mistake, but instead blame private individuals and private corporations for the scheme they implemented and respond to the crisis by taxing people higher rates to pay for and correct the mistake. Suddenly, what you were told to eat for health is now bad for you; the public works project turned out to be "unsustainable"; the academic curriculum turned out to be "lacking in benchmarks"; the new agency "failed to communicate effectively"; the war you were told to support was a "unforeseen series of miscalculations" and so forth. Then, an obscure person that no one has ever heard of visits elected leaders with a "great idea" they think government should compel people to pay for ...

And that is the history of government policy.