Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Musings: After Burn

A few crashes and thunks woke me in the wet and windy night, but I was pretty sure they were tree limbs and not the sky falling because Republicans have gained control of the House. One on-line headline caught my eye: “Republicans vow to roll back spending.”

Yeah, but what kind of spending? You can be pretty sure it won’t be the “blow ‘em up, rule the world” kind of spending, which accounts for nearly a quarter of the national budget.

I’m working on a story about Newell’s shearwaters, and the state wildlife manager told me it would take about $80 million a year to properly manage and restore Hawaii’s nearly 400 endangered species. “That’s really not so much,” he said. “We spend that kind of money on a lot of things.” And I thought, hmmm, where can I find an equivalent expenditure? Then the very next morning, while working on a story about depleted uranium, I came across the cost for building just one training area for the Styker Brigade on just one Hawaii military installation. Guess how much? Oh, you’re so smart! That’s right: $80 million.

And I can’t imagine that even a Red-dominated Congress would cut those two big and growing entitlement programs — Medicare and Social Security — which account for another 40 percent. So that doesn’t leave a whole lot to work with, aside from environment, programs that help those on the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and education.

Btw, Hawaii’s sheep-like electorate gave up its right to vote — yeah, let’s give the guv even more power over our lives! — for the state school board.

But I digress….or do I? So many of the election results were based on fear and ignorance, with voters still deluded enough to think if they just bring in another group of politicians the nation’s problems will be magically — and painlessly — solved. Dream on, suckers.

Speaking of suckers, California voters chose to spend a whopping $1 billion a year enforcing unenforceable pot laws rather than legalize income-generating marijuana. Go figger....

And it appears Kauai voters didn’t care — or didn’t know, since the local paper never reported it (perhaps, like a certain blogger, they’re still “chasing the story,” which is all public record) — that Councilman Tim Bynum feels he is above the law and doesn’t need to cooperate with planning inspectors — even as he preaches accountability and transparency.

They also returned Dickie Chang, who showed his vote can be bought for a few beers and a bit of strong-arming by the County Attorney’s office. Yeah, we like our Councilmen pliant.

The big question: what will it take to get Kipukai Kualii elected? He keeps edging closer, but not close enough to get in, as voters choose instead to stick with the tried and true (to form). So the Council went one step forward — with the stunning second place showing of newcomer Nadine Nakamura — and literally two steps back, when former Councilmembers Mel Rapozo and JoAnn Yukimura were returned after sitting out one term following their failed bids for mayor.

No surprises there, or really, with any of the Kauai results, except I thought that blanks would have accounted for more than 10 percent of the ballots cast in the race that made Ron Kouchi our new Senator. At least Dave Hamman — described by one reader as the American Taliban — didn’t get in. Gotta look for that half-full glass… like at least we’ve still got Rep. Mina Morita.☺

Derek Kawakami scored really big, as everyone knew he would, so let’s just hope he takes — and demands, if necessary — the job of Council Chair (please, Derek, please) and does not defer to either JoAnn or Jay Furfaro, even though they are his elders.

Chair Kaipo Asing, who straggled in ninth, despite actually campaigning — he really should have honored his pledge not to run for re-election and spared himself the embarrassment of defeat after his many years of service — will leave a large power vacuum on the Council. And we know how nature abhors those. So expect plenty of elbowing by the aforementioned elders as they attempt to gain the chair.

Interestingly, even though the old familiars were elected, voters made it clear that they still want a chance to regularly review their options by turning down the Charter amendment that would have allowed for two, four-year terms, rather than the current four, two-year terms.

And folks made it pretty obvious that they don’t care much for the pervasive cronyism that is the hallmark of county government by passing Charter amendments that require a former county employee to wait a year, rather than six months, before they can peddle their influence, and any employee working on behalf of the Director or Deputy Director of Finance to file a disclosure form with the Board of Ethics.

Despite all the talk about Republicanism sweeping the nation, and polls that supposedly showed the Duke closing in, Abercrombie whupped him handily — wouldn’t it be awesome if he names Gary Hooser chair of BLNR?! — and Colleen Hanabusa pushed out Charles Djou, proving that Hawaii is still a decidedly Democratic state, even with all those Republicans moving into Princeville.

As politicians chortle over their wins and cry over their losses, Dubya is publishing his memoir, which reportedly reveals such shockers as he actually thought of replacing Dick Cheney before his second run, but didn’t because he “valued his steady hand.” Yeah, just tell that to the guy Cheney shot while quail hunting — and Cheney still nevah apologize.

Then there was the part about how the ex-Prez felt when he learned there really weren’t any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn't find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do," Bush writes..

Yeah, I imagine it would be kind of sickening to realize 100,000 Iraqis and 4,427 American soldiers and 318 coalition troops were killed because of your big “oops!”

And I loved his response to realizing he and his greedy cronies had run the economy aground:

“I felt like the captain of a sinking ship."

So astute, that Dubya.

But this really said it all, not only for George W. Bush, but so many other hit-and-run politicians:

"Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I'm comfortable with the fact that I won't be around to hear it," he writes in the book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.


Anonymous said...

Glad that "the people" will not be electing folks for the board of ed. Seeing how much money the christen right fascists are willing to spend funding their candidates I'll leave it up to the guv probably a dem.
At least a visible single person / party will be accountable.

Anonymous said...

Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.
Molly Ivins

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... Why no mention of the 16% of the vote that went to Diana 4 Mayor? Trying to remember when another first time candidate for a COK elected office did so well.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.... No mention of Diana's 16% vote. Impressive for a first time candidate!

Also in "Musings: Slogging Along the Campaign Trail" you and an unnamed friend agreed Kaipo would make it :-0

Joan Conrow said...

Yup, we were off by a good bit.

And no slight intended toward Diana, whose impressive 16% included my vote.

Anonymous said...

was it the timing of lani's harrassment charge? kaipo's broken promise not to run? his patronizing daze on the council are pau; andy's post is spot on. i don't think he'll be missed much as the nakamura/kawakami era begins. bet jay get's the chair; you think tim's bad? when it's all said and done, joann and mel bring alot to the table and provide nice bookends to the political spectrum of the council.garenz dickie goin' swing on the council seesaw, you wait!

Anonymous said...

16% is not impressive. It's fringe candidate level support and I voted for her.

Dave Hamman, a full fledged member of the American Taliban, got 27% ...

Harry Williams who spent $350 facing Mina Morita got 22%.

Don't get a blind spot just because you like someone.

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, but those guys had the advantage of running as Republicans. Diana did not.

Anonymous said...

Joan is correct.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the enlightening DU article. Did't they deny there even was DU here until just recently? .

Anonymous said...

The negative campaign from Lani and Tim probably had alot to do with Kaipo's not being elected.And from reading Andy's blog , it looks like tim is gonna keep the council polarized and keep the negativity, already going after Mel and Shaylene. The council was one of the worst ever because of the fighting, if tim is gonna do this again, he should be ashamed of himself, and recalled.
He must have never learned to play nice with the other children.
Pretty surprised to hear Tim say he wanted the council chair and committees chosen to be done behind closed doors. What mr transparancy? Power corrupts