Critical thinking skills — or more precisely, their pronounced lack among so many politicians and political movements — came up in two separate conversations the other day.
And then, as serendipity would have it, someone left this comment on the “Dustin's Dirty Deeds” post, which included photographs of anti-GMO graffiti on Maui:
This isnt the first time people who are actually trying to protect the Aina (Land) and do something good are being slandered in the media. Wake up people! These groups like The shaka movement are the only people who are trying to save our islands from being controlled by these large corporations. from a 90's baby im saying we see through all your lies. When our lands being destroyed with poison that "graffitti" [sic] or vandalism is a form of revolution against the chemicals and harm done to our islands every day!
So in other words, you buy chemical spray paint made by the chem companies you're fighting, use it to deface something in your own community, throw the cans in the bushes, do a mobile upload from your sweatshop-made smart phone to corporate-owned Facebook and proclaim Viva la revolución!
And people wonder why things don't change....
Dylan Hooser showed his own lack of critical thinking when he left this comment on a Facebook post by Luke Evslin that lamented the $568,000 spent on the Kauai election and how that money surely could've been put to better use:
I agree Luke. It would be nice to take the money out of politics. How about the $6.3 million spent on Maui by Monsanto & Dow. Pretty crazy amount of money to spend. Sounds like it'll be closer to $8 million once they are done.
Yes, the chem/ag giants did raise a record $7.9 million in their bid to stop the crazy — and likely illegal — Maui initiative, which would impose hefty fines for the cultivation of a single GMO papaya tree and bring biotech seed production to a screeching halt, putting some 850 people out of work.
You might be tempted to spend millions, too, to protect your investment and your future production, as well as an industry that the Maui Chamber of Commerce estimates generates $85 million a year for that county, with nothing in line to take its place should it fall.
Ashley Lukens, the Hawaii director of the mainland-based Center for Food Safety, which spent at least $15,000 to promote the Maui initiative, demonstrated her lack of critical thinking when she falsely claimed the companies could've done a comprehensive EIS and health study for just $500,000 (ya, right) and made this comment to Hawaii News Now:
"What's happening to our democratic process such that mainland corporations can dedicate unlimited amounts to county-level politics?" asked Lukens.
What's happening, Ashley, is that mainland political advocacy groups disguised as nonprofit corporations, like Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network, came to Hawaii to wage an international battle and manipulate local politics. And this big-spending is just more of the ugly fallout.
Meanwhile, Ashley donated to Baby Hoos' own failed bid for the state House, as did GMO opponents Laurel Brier (“red shirt” leader Andrea Brower's mom), Chris Kobayashi, Joan Porter and Judith Shabert, even though none them even live in his district. And then there was $525 from Papa Gary and $2,000 from some group called COPE that Dylan's campaign report still hasn't identified with an address.
If you want to take money out of politics, Dylan, why not start with yourself, or at least stick to accepting donations from your prospective constituents? But it's always and only the other guy that's "bad"
Papa Gary, meanwhile, took $2,000 from Anne Getty Earhart — California heiress to the J. Paul Getty oil fortune — in the latest example of mainland oil money coming into the local anti-GMO campaign.
Yet due to their lack of critical thinking, the anti-GMO crowd has never questioned why mainland groups, upscale Hawaii Realtors and the scions of big oil are supporting their cause. Mmm, doncha think they might want something in return for all that dough? And how is that folks are still supporting Center for Food Safety when it authored the Kauai GMO/pesticide regulatory bill that got thrown out of court? Hello!
Gary has been spending large on Facebook ads, which provide a very distorted picture of his supposed supporters. Here I am, falsely shown as endorsing him, when he knows darn well I totally oppose his candidacy:
Yes, why would you choose da Hoos when he has lied to voters and divided the county for his own political gain?
Gary's own organization, HAPA, has yet to file any reports on the source of its money, or how it's spent, but its actions have been focused on political advocacy to a degree that seems to exceed what is allowed for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Careful, Gary. People are watching.
Mayoral candidate Dustin Barca, meanwhile, appears to be soliciting donations for the Maui initiative via his own campaign, which is clearly not allowed under the Hawaii campaign spending law:
And in looking through Dustin's various campaign reports, there's no mention of who funded his slick media stuff (website setup and maintenance, videos, TV commercial production, graphic design, etc.) and the catamaran sail with his campaign logo, just as there's no disclosure of his two-minute video competition, with all kinds of swag donated by different companies.
Interestingly, both Council candidate Felicia Cowden and Gary took donations from Patricia Hanwright — one of the landowners accused of blocking the “ala loa” at Lepeuli (Larsen's) Beach. Guess anti-GMO trumps public access? And though Felicia's campaign report shows total receipts of $51,000, she claimed in a TGI comment:
I wish I had raised $51,000, but my numbers are nowhere near that. Thanks for the heads up on a mistake that might be in the official books. Reporting is complicated. The spending is so high, because my signs and banners come down about as soon as they go up on the south and west sides.
Thank god people didn't blow $51,000 on her doomed-to-fail candidacy. But if you can't keep your own campaign records straight, Felicia, it doesn't speak well to your future budgeting abilities as a Councilwoman.
Still, it's too bad that candidates on both sides of the GMO debate have reported vandalism and theft of their signs. It's yet another indication of the divisiveness and polarization that is still tearing Kauai apart, nearly a year after the passage of Bill 2491.
And no doubt the intense sentiments it has fueled will influence the general election results.
For evidence, all you have to do is look at the whopping $80,140 that pro-ag, first-time Council candidate Arryl Kaneshiro raised — nearly all of it on-island.
"Do you think we're going to end up with a pro-development Council?" a friend texted.
I had to stop for a moment to think of who might even be considered anti-development these days. Certainly not Gary and Councilman Tim Bynum, with their bid to pull 23,000 acres out of ag dedication and tax it at market value, or Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, with her "bright line" amendment to the shoreline bill, which would make it easier to develop on rocky coastlines, which are pretty much all that's left.
"I don't know where any of their heads are at any more," I texted back.
"It's all so complicated," emailed another friend, trying to make sense of the possible allegiances and power blocs that could form with a serious shake-up on the Council. "Is anyone worth voting for besides mom and apple pie?"
Guess that depends. Who's your mama? And is the pie GMO or organic?