Koko and I went out in a murky night that was a mere hair away from a Pisces new moon — a night made darker still by the arrival of thick clouds holding rain that arrived, heavy and hard, about 10 p.m. and lingered, drumming relentlessly on the roof for hours, until it finally just stopped and deep, solid sleep returned until the downpour resumed, in earnest, just about the time I heard the sound of the car that delivers my neighbors' newspapers, wrapped in plastic.
A Honolulu friend came over recently, bearing his lunch in a plastic bag, the kind with handles that you can’t get on Kauai anymore.
“Are those still legal over there?” I asked and he affirmed they were.
“Can you bring a few next time you come?” I asked. “They really come in handy for the homeless people who visit the food pantry.”
“I don’t know,” he replied, squirming visibly in his seat. “I don’t want to get caught at the airport smuggling in plastic bags.”
It used to be that folks only worried about the illegality of a plastic bag’s contents. Now, as the stuff that is typically transported in a plastic bag eases toward freedom, plastic bags are moving into the realm of prohibition. And folks who otherwise would never come to a Council meeting showed up to vigorously debate a proposed change in the new bag-banning ordinance.
Yes, the times they are a-changin.
Like the “personal message,” in the form of a mass email, I got from Sen. Akaka, announcing he won’t run for re-election in 2012, thus opening a seat that’s been locked up since 1990. Wow. That's a long time for one man to reign, and Inouye's been in there even longer. Of course, Linda Lingle is eyeing the Senate seat. But don’t you think Mazie Hirono could beat her?
A Hawaiian national circulated the email with his own take on the announcement:
The U.S. S. Akaka is sinking or is this just ole school, sit down, keep still and shut-up while I lomi-lomi you? The hewa created by these types continues even when they are in the ground. I for one don't believe a word of it. What was the first order of business by the Provisional Interim Government (PIG)? Take down the Ka Hae and raise their Flag. What was their Flag? What was the first thing Christobo Colon (Columbus) did when he allowed three very special passengers of his three ships to go ashore "officially" before him, plant their homeland flag, the Flag of Greed? Did British Supreme General Cromwell leave after the America's Revolutionary War? No, he stay around to make sure the Constitution of the United States of America was in favor of the Crown of England by selling franchise corporations And what is England's favor? As Braddah Ken says, when the US Armed Forces are disarmed and the U. S. flags and corporate State of Hawaii Flags are down, and all Finances are transferred to Hawaiian Kingdom Postal Savings Bank, then there is some indication of good faith.
Or as Dr. Keanu Sai, who has sued the U.S. government over its theft of Hawaiian land, sees it:
“We haven’t lost our land. We’ve just lost control over it.”
But it's going to take a lot more than the departure of Akaka to change that.
Other signs of the changing times: for the first time in its 102-year history, GM sold more vehicles in China than the U.S. Meanwhile, I paid $4.12 a gallon for super unleaded at the Kapahi station — up a dime since my last fill up ten days ago. Sure makes me glad I get 38 mpg from my Korean-made car.
And tape recordings made in the Oval Office have gone from secret to searchable over at White House Tapes, where the University of Virginia has released more than 5,000 hours of White House audiotapes spanning the presidencies of FDR to Nixon.
Politicos and history buffs will find plenty of interest, like Maxwell Taylor playing the consummate “yes man” as Johnson coaches him on how to sell Eugene McCarthy on the continued bombing of Hanoi using folksy, yet still articulate, phrases that put Sarah Palin to shame:
He says there's no case and nobody's every given him any reasons for it, and he doesn't understand it, and he doesn't know why, and so on and so forth. And I think that you can show him that if the boys just hunker up in these enclaves like a jackass in a hailstorm and let them shoot at them, why they're going to be a helluva shape.
Or Chicago Mayor Richard Daly calling to ask Johnson to send federal troops to that city in 1968.
The site is quite the treasure trove of source documents, and there’s something compelling about actually hearing the voices of the men —invariably, it is men — who were running the nation all those years.
But don’t be thinking this means a sea change in political transparency. With the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, CIA and other lettered agencies working overtime, the government’s got more secrets now than ever before. But this time they’re about you, me and the rest of the citizenry.