Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Musings: Digging Dirt

The air was filled with moisture, which expressed itself as a shimmering halo around Venus, foggy mist creeping silently out of the pasture and onto the road, when Koko and I went walking this morning. Meteors shot through the constellations, leaving satellites – so many methodically ply the skies now! — in their dust. A friend sent an email saying she’d spotted 34 shooting stars between 3 and 4:30 a.m., and the show’s not over yet.

The cool damp air and Christmas lights twinkling in two windows offered proof that it is winter, as did the thin streaks of pale-pink and yellow clouds that huddled in the west at sunset. I watched them gather around the bold blue hulk of Waialeale while walking on the mountain trail, which pigs had crossed in numerous places, leaving fresh tracks in the soft, moist soil. Nearby, it was easy to see large swaths of land where they'd dug up the dirt, offering evidence of the threats they pose, especially to native forests.

Salon is one of the few media outlets that’s keeping the WikiLeaks story front and center, while focusing on some of the deeper issues, like Glenn Greenwald’s piece on how prosecuting the site and its founder threatens freedom of the press and investigative journalism. He then goes on to note:

Amazingly, the Obama administration is surpassing its predecessor when it comes to assaults on whistle-blowing and a free press.

What's most striking about all of this, as usual, is how the worst and most tyrannical government actions in Washington are equally supported on a fully bipartisan basis.

I liked the statement from Julian Assange released by his mom after she visited him in prison, where he’s been held in solitary confinement and just today was granted bail:

We now know that Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy. It’s not something we knew before.

So I was interested to see that Honolulu Civil Beat, whose publisher, Pierre Omidyar, is chairman of eBay, which owns PayPal, ran an editorial last week in which it discussed how the Wikileaks case had exposed the vulnerability of Internet publishers. The editorial had a bland, stilted tone that perhaps reflected the uneasy relationship between its First Amendment ideals and its funding source, and it reserved its criticism for the government, not the corporations that caved in to its pressure:

Unlike the press barons of old, the executives of these businesses cannot tell their shareholders that it will hurt their company more to cave on a matter of principle than to drop a customer. It is their right and common practice to shut a customer down when they receive complaints from criminal investigators, even without a court order. This even though the existence of a criminal investigation is no indication of guilt.

The executives have a fiduciary duty to do what's best for their shareholders. And if they didn't respond to government warnings, they very well could risk their own business being shut down. The end result, we're learning: A website can be cut off and cut down, even by a foreign government.

I find it ironic that even as we ignore and destroy the web of life that connects all species, we’re simultaneously creating a connective web via the Internet and world trade that recent events have shown is equally fragile and subject to disruption.

And that corporations, which control politicians through campaign donations, simultaneously fear government, which we all know has the power to fuck with anybody about anything. Or, in the case of the billions in federal bailouts that allowed the big Wall Street banks to earn record profits, dole out generous favors.

Finally, I had an opportunity to talk with Kauai County Council Chairman Jay Furfaro yesterday and asked him what the Council planned to do about the allegations of wrongdoing that Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura had leveled against County Clerk Peter Nakamura, who was recently reappointed to his job by a 4-2 vote of the Council. (His sister-in-law, Nadine Nakamura, recused herself.)

Jay replied that — (as I reported previously — the salary commission’s resolution recommending a pay raise for Peter, the County Auditor and the Prosecuting Attorney was passed unanimously by the Council, which also had the power to reject it or amend it. “There was nothing illegal about that process. That’s the first thing we need to make clear,” he said.

Jay then went on to say that the County Council conducts a review of the County Clerk every six months. “We will continue that process and every Councilmember will have a chance to participate. That is my plan going forward.”

So that gives JoAnn and her ally in the attack, Councilman Tim Bynum, until June to dig up some dirt, I mean, conduct their due diligence.


Anonymous said...

mahalo Joan 4 going to Jay, and getting facts. So Peter does get reviewed by the council and they in fact approved the pay raise. Thanks for getting the facts rather than tim and joanns smears. As councilmembers , that is a lousy way to start the session . I sure hope they get more professional

Anonymous said...

Wow, facts.

Anonymous said...

Wow. $50K and did Jay say he knew that vacation was being paid for in that amount?