Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Musings: Laws of Man and Nature

Thin clouds fanned out like sun rays over a star-struck sky when Koko and I went out walking last evening, and the moon, which only yesterday seemed new, was already edging past half-full.

By morning, or the dark time that precedes it, the celestial picture had shifted as the moon and constellations moved west and set, allowing a new pattern to form above us, and as we walked, the fragrance of angel’s trumpets gave way to the stink of something dead.

Such are the immutable laws of nature, which differ from the laws of man, which are always being altered and made anew.

Such is the case with the Akaka Bill, whose “final” text, or so the crafters hope, was released yesterday. It’s worth a read, or at least a skim, to get a sense of what the federal government is offering to the Hawaiians, whom they acknowledge they’ve treated badly and will continue to do so with this legislation, which they don’t acknowledge.

In short, it lays out a process by which the Secretary of the Interior will appoint the members of a commission that will determine who is a Hawaiian, based on criterion set forth by the bill, and figure out how to create a council, which – if it can get funding thru a state or federal grant or contract – will develop governing documents for a Native Hawaiian governing entity that the U.S. may, or may not, sit down with to negotiate:

the transfer of State of Hawaii lands and surplus Federal lands, natural resources, and other assets, and the protection of existing rights related to such lands or resources [and] grievances regarding historical wrongs.

That entity will be the only one that the U.S. will recognize or deal with, and its members will be subject to federal and state taxes and civil and criminal laws. It isn't given any land or money, and it can’t operate any gambling enterprises, either.

Such a deal.

As the National Review reported, members of the U.S. Commission Civil Rights, who are concerned about the creation of a “race-based government,” and also the process used in drafting this most recent version of the Akaka Bill, sent a letter to members of Congress that said, in part:

The bill slated for a hasty House vote was apparently negotiated behind closed doors among Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, possibly the White House, and certain state officials, although those actually involved are unclear. Indeed, more changes were reportedly made over the weekend and released less than 48 hours prior to the expected House vote. The citizens of Hawaii, Members of the Committees on Natural Resources and the Judiciary, and any other experts will not have the normal opportunity to discuss or debate the revised provisions of the bill. Nor will members of the general public.

We wish to register our profound disappointment that a bill of this great importance would be dealt with in this manner. The creation of the largest tribal entity in the history of the nation – potentially 400,000 strong – is too important a step to take this lightly.

If the feds plan to tell the Hawaiians who is a Hawaiian and the process they’ll be allowed to follow in forming a reorganized government, it seems the least they could have done was conduct hearings in Hawaii to see what the Hawaiians and others think.

So why didn’t they?

Because they knew there wouldn’t be support and they didn’t want the public embarrassment?

Because they didn’t want to give a forum to the people who would come and say we want something better, something else?


Anonymous said...

If that "something better" is sovereignty, it simply isn't in the cards. Off the table.

The USA only adds stars to its flag. It doesn't subtract them.

Yearn all you want, but it's a total fantasy to think you're going to get anything more than the feds are willing to offer...a "longer leach", that's it.

Anonymous said...

Under Akaka, the Feds will say who is Hawaiian and who is not.

If you disagree, who do you recommend make that assessment? Kam schools, who has a "program" in place to make those determinations for their school (it's a sham)? Other Hawaiian groups who are experts in genaeology? Doctors and geneticists who draw and analyze the DNA? Anyone who comes before a gov't body and says "I'm Hawaiian and you all know it, so I don't have to prove it."??

Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

"can’t operate any gambling enterprises"

-- good chance that is the only smart clause in the entire thing

"If the feds plan to tell the Hawaiians who is a Hawaiian "

-- wonder what the "blood quantum" is

"Because they knew there wouldn’t be support and they didn’t want the public embarrassment? "

-- probably. so in all of the yrs since that HI sen introduced this bill, no joe blow ethnic hawaiian folks (whatever their view was) have even testified before a subcommittee on this thing? i know there have been plenty of visits and briefings and DC lobbying as to the individual members, so there is informational flow, but never anything formal and on the (congressional) record? if so, not a good foundation

"geneticists who draw and analyze the DNA?"

-- the prospect is fascinating. it would be accurate, but should that be the only / main thing that governs? seems too brave new world, orwellian. maybe have it as optional? in case some people dont have the paper records going back 100 yrs (assuming such testing is offered to "include," not "exclude" people from the group they seek to be formal part of)

hope this thing gets handled right, whatever "right" is


Anonymous said...

I wonder why the media, including Andy Parx, has not picked up on the citation that Dr. Becky Rhoades received for having her dog in an unauthorized area of the bike path. Amazingly, she was cited while yelling at a local beachgoer to tie up his dog. Hypocritical in my opinion. Very interesting!!

Anonymous said...

Leaving Niihau and Kahoolawe out, there are 6 inhabitable Hawaiian islands. No reason there can't be a sovereign Hawaiian nation and a US state. Kauai would be nice (separate kingdom and all), but there is probably a much easier transition for Molokai and Lanai. Actually, Maui doesn't have any military installations, so why not create a genuinely viable nation with lots of land.

As for the gambling, I've heard that's what always held up previous Akaka bills, and the NV senators always get a say in things. I think it's disingenuous to take gambling out because it shows they're not offering true sovereignty. So I think the gambling would be a great Argument for those opposed to the Akaka bill: they'll never allow it so demand it in order to defeat the bill, whether you want gambling or not.

Personally (as a haole who would like to see the Hawaiians succeed in a ntion of their own), I'm split on gambling. Properly managed, it would be a cash cow that would assure the finances of a small sovereign nation, especially on an island with infrastructure like Maui. But it brings so many hard to control ills, and it seems so out of place even in modern Hawaiian culture (and I don't mean to speak for Hawaiians, feel free to correct me).