Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Musings: Puppet Masters

Seeking relief from a restless sleep, I roused Koko and went out walking, craving the peaceful calm that night approaching day can bring. The sky was only partially clear, but it was the part I knew, inhabited by Orion and Triangle, which was pointing the way to Waialeale, and Makalii/Pleides, which appeared, under the influence of passing clouds, as a sort of celestial swirl.

That is what I saw, looking up, heading mauka, and I turned often to gaze back at a boomerang-shaped crescent of light resting briefly on floating fluff, holding up the dark whole of the moon.

It’s election day, the time when we can finally put a stop to all the ads and predictions — “election night cheat sheet; the races to watch” blared one headline — and prepare to lie in the bed we make for the next two to four years.

Aside from numerous emails, politicos made two last minute attempts to sway my vote. One was a 9:30 p.m. text from 4907618@conservativetext.com that read “(Alert) Senator Daniel Inouye passed Obamacare and voted to increase your taxes. Tell him your thoughts” followed by an Oahu phone number. Actually, those are two of the least offensive things he’s done. If they really knew me, they would have focused on his militarization of Hawaii….

And then there was the call from Mazie. Well, not Congresswoman Hirono herself, but a recorded message telling me to be sure and vote for Democrats, like her. I was already planning to vote for Mazie, who seems to be doing a good job, but I wasn’t so sold on the vote for the Dems just because they’re Dems bit.

As Ralph Nader put it so well in a Democracy Now! interview today:

When people say, "Gee, why aren’t the wars an issue?"—well, because the Democrats are complicit in both the Iraq and Afghanistan war. "Why isn’t corporate welfare and subsidies and bailouts of Wall Street crooks an issue?" Well, because the Democrats have done the same thing as the Republicans. Just now, they’re giving away the store to the taxpayers’ share in General Motors in the IPO that’s about to be issued. And they say, "Well, why aren’t the Democrats making a big deal of corporate crime against consumers and workers and issues like minimum wage and card check?" Because the Democrats don’t want to be involved in that. They’re dialing for the same corporate dollars. They say, "Well, why aren’t the Democrats raising these great civil liberty issues, like what’s in the PATRIOT Act?" Well, they just rubber-stamped another renewal over a year ago of the PATRIOT Act.

This was followed by a quote from a very thoughtful article, “My Support for Ralph Nader, Ten Years Later: Lessons Learned,” by Stephen Zunes in Common Cause:

So, as reluctant as I am to say it: If you can stomach it, please vote Democratic this Tuesday.

Then, even more importantly, fight like hell to make sure they stop selling out to the militarists and the corporations. With only a few conscientious exceptions, Democratic officials have rarely led when it comes to progressive positions; they have generally had to be dragged kicking and screaming by their constituents. We were able to force many Democratic elected officials to move to the left on civil rights, Vietnam, Central America, nuclear power, women's rights, South Africa, East Timor, globalization, Iraq, gay rights, and other issues.

And here is the difference: Democrats, if pressed sufficiently, can change.

Republicans, by contrast, are hopeless.

To which Nader replied:

Well, he’s right on the civil rights area. The Democrats can be pressured by mass appeals on these civil rights issues. But on the corporate power issues, they’re too far gone.

Therein lies the crux of the issue. It’s not Republicans vs Democrats any more. It’s the people vs corporations. Ultimately, it’s not the voting booth where changes will be made, but the marketplace. So long as Americans keep gobbling up cheap consumer goods and factory foods and subsidized oil and weapons of mass distraction, the corporations will continue to rule.

But they will let us choose their puppets and call it democracy.

On another note, I have to say I was wrong. I didn’t believe the work at Kalalau would actually be completed on time, and it was. The not-so-wild wilderness park was reopened yesterday, as scheduled. I’m still not convinced they needed to remove pohaku from the pali — “rockfall mitigation,” as it’s officially known — but the cleanup was likely long overdue. In sending out a press release about the re-opening, DLNR linked to one video about abandoned trash and another video with the unfortunate title of “Kalalau, Kauai hippie camp.”

If you want to see more visuals of what happened during the two-month closure, you can check out photos taken by DLNR public affairs officer Deborah Ward here.

Wonder how long it will be before the "hippies" are back in the valley? My guess is they're already there.


Anonymous said...

no, the contractor ended up not moving the biggest pohaku, that was the one that will create a poor outcome if moved.

Anonymous said...

I received a text from 4738290@conservativetext.com at 11:52PM on Nov 1. What the heck, text spam I didn't ask for?

Anonymous said...

The new mayor on maui said tavares lost becuase of the rules she imposed on small business and tvr.....

Anonymous said...

I went to Maui news to check on that small business story, this is a quote, and it seems to be true...

The call to expand allowable home-based businesses in residential areas had already been on the lips of business owners and residents alike for some time. But with media-covered debates, it came to the fore as a campaign issue in the mayoral and council races with the economy still lagging and unemployment stubbornly high.

'home-based business,' interesting ...

Joan Conrow said...

Here's the link to that story.

Anonymous said...

So nice of the Democrats, Republicans and Supreme Court Justices to look after the interests of multinational corporations.

Anonymous said...

At least Tavares had the balls that Carvalho, Kenoi and Mufi lacked to reign in out of control tvr's...and she didn't do the furlough thing for her county employees like the good ole boys did. What was the need when the county had a surplus? Lani questioned that.