Thursday, October 30, 2014

Musings: Critical Thinking

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?

I know it's tough, and every candidate has flaws, but put on your critical thinking caps, folks, and vote for the candidates you believe truly have the best interests of Kauai, and not themselves, at heart. 


Anonymous said...

Reading your blog makes me laugh, makes me think and brightens my day.

Allan Parachini said...

Well said, as usual, Joan. But more impressive is the way you reasoned all of this out in one place.

Anonymous said...

Another example of Gary Hoosers cheating and deceiving. This Makes me wonder who else he's falsely using for "likes" who doesn't actually "like" him. For example, does Luke Evslin actually "like" and therefore endorse looser? Because the same picture of Gary with Lukes name proclaiming his "like" is all over FB too, as well as many others I'm surprised about. You just can't trust anything about Gary whooser anymore. Not in real life or in the Internet.

Anonymous said...

"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?"

Not necessarily. Plenty of wealthy people have a social conscience. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and many other billionaires have signed on to donate nearly all their wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, helping eradicate disease, end poverty, etc. The Ford foundation has done incredibly helpful things for the underprivileged. Many environmental movements have depended on very wealthy benefactors, who wanted nothing in return - except a healthier planet. Why do you think that rich people always want something in return, anymore than anyone else?

Steven Davis said...

Insightful as always Joan! There was a time when all children were taught the trivium: Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic. These were the foundations for developing sound reasoning and critical thinking skills. Today, one cannot read many journalistic pieces, blogs and hear speeches and comments that don't contain multiple logical fallacies. It seems to be a troubling form of anti-intellectualism where, instead of a reasoning brain-trust, it is more like sewage treatment plants where all the crap floats to the surface. People like Da Hoos know what it takes to control the masses: never, ever let the truth stand in the way a radical idealogue.

Joan Conrow said...

I agree that some wealthy folks do have a social conscience.

And I don't think that rich people want something in return more than anyone else, but just like everyone else.

What about Hawaii Life Real Estate, and Mark Sheehan, the high-end Realtor behind the Shaka movement on Maui? Just wanting a healthier planet? Mmm hmm. Right.

Also, we have already seen that Center for Food Safety does indeed want something: political power and the expansion of its anti-GMO platform.

Anonymous said...

Blows me away that you keep blasting a dip-shit like the Hoos, and never mention the 2 crack-pots who completely freaked out at Kapaa forum over the thought of legalizing marijuana. One of which will probably be council chair.

Joan Conrow said...

Maybe it's because exposing a self-serving, lying political ideologue who polarized the island and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars is of greater concern to me than the stance of politicians who will not even be voting on the legalization issue.

Anonymous said...

"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." Sure, let's blame PAN for the millions these companies put out all over the world to promote their companies and policies with false and misleading advertising, and to try to convince people that labeling is wrong. Most people in the world have never heard of PAN. I form my own opinions from researching news and science articles from around the world. We need more facts and less stereotyping, name-calling, and personal attacks. If we are looking for the truth, we will find that the problems around the world related to these chemical companies, pesticide use and GMO's are created by the companies themselves, not by scapegoats. Just research their history, a very sordid history that continues today with recent class action lawsuits being won by citizens all across the USA. PAN may not be perfect, but at least they are not poisoning the people and the land. And yes, I agree that we all have to take personal responsibility for any poisoning that we contribute to in our personal lives. At least I will admit to being hypocritical with my lifestyle and try to improve daily, something you will never see these chemical companies do. Whoever gets elected, watch what they do with issues concerning poisoning our environment. Which elected officials have ignored dust complaints for years, ignored reports about reef and coral collapse, have ignored requests to stop spraying roundup on roadsides and near schools and parks, and have failed to investigate health complaints? What have the individual council members and the mayor done to attempt to improve the health of our island? I would like to know. Might make for an interesting blog.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if candidates who put their signs on the west and south sides would ask the property owners first they wouldn't be removed.

Anonymous said...

You may be right about the Center for Food Safety and the other anti-GMO players and personalities you frequently attack. But whether the center for food policy or other anti-GMO players use the exact same sordid tactics that large corporations do is besides the point. What is relevant is that the arguments of both be looked at and analyzed as logically as possible, with no weight given to the personalities or tactics of either side. The arguments that each side makes have to stand on their own - with evidence, regardless of their conduct. I think we can safely assume one thing - almost no large corporation has ever had a social conscience when it comes to the environment - they answer to profit -in fact, they are legally required to put profit (aka 'maximizing shareholder value") ahead of all else. It was large corporations -in fact, it was these very same pesticide manufacturers - that tried every trick in the book - threats, lawsuits, etc., - to keep Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" from being published and exposing the degree to which the natural world was being poisoned. These corporations can never be trusted to look out for the larger social interest, or the environment, and can never be trusted in telling us the truth. Perhaps the center for food policy can't be either. But by attacking them and the anti-GMO crowd without a counterbalancing view of the other side's agenda - I just don't see how you will uncover the truth - whatever it might be.

ekcoll said...

One may buy fb ads but fb controls the code.If you ever liked Hooser or a Hooser related post you may appear in an endorsement. Maybe even mentioning Hooser a lot in any context end in endorsement. Fb is not free nor open source. This is how you pay. Read the ELUA and watch your preferences.

Anonymous said...

10:34, Mahalo for your well written and thought -provoking words. Yes, i agree 100%- if you expose one side, give equal time to exposing the other. As you say, "What is relevant is that the arguments of both be looked at and analyzed as logically as possible, with no weight given to the personalities or tactics of either side." I must admit, though, as far as conduct goes, that I think it should be based upon aloha, love and compassion first and foremost, and not upon profit and the accumulation of material wealth. As you say, a corporation's bottom line is almost always monetary profit and their conduct will thus be based upon that bottom line.

Joan Conrow said...

10:34 wrote But whether the center for food policy or other anti-GMO players use the exact same sordid tactics that large corporations do is besides the point.

No, it's a key point, because they are claiming the high moral ground in the debate, and they don't have it.

Furthermore, after saying "with no weight given to the personalities or tactics of either side," you then go on to condemn corporate tactics.

I agree that counterbalance will help us find "truth." However, the anti-GMO groups have gone unscrutinized for so long that they now bank heavily on the claim that they are the "good" fighting the "evil."

And that's just not the truth, in large part because they employ tactics that are lacking in love, aloha and compassion, just like the corporations they and you deride.

That's why I keep hammering it. Because people have readily accepted that corporations are immoral and evil, but they are slow to accept that the groups that oppose them are just the same.

Anonymous said...

Am pretty sure Gary does not control the "likes" on facebook. He is a pretty smart guy and well connected, but I don't think that well connected. And to show you how smart he is, the ads of facebook are dirt cheap and can be targeted to zip codes and people. It would not surprise me Joan if da hoose has targeted you to make sure you see more of his ads than anyone else. That is the kind of guy he is.

Anonymous said...

Great Joan, Now you have made your point, and I agree with it, about scrutinizing both sides and holding them accountable for their actions. So, where do we go from here, Joan? What can you do with this blog to help unite "us and them"? What can you do now, after exposing so much negativity about so many people, to counterbalance it all with the positive? Maybe it is a good time to take this blog to the next level? A blog offering positive solutions, a blog stimulating readers in positive ways that will have positive effects in the community. I would love for you to interview council members, mayor, candidates, seed company managers, and state reps and discuss with them just a few topics in depth. For example, "What is your opinion of the precautionary principle and when should it be used?" Or, "What is your opinion of genetically modified organisms escaping and uncontrollably breeding in the wild." Or even better, "What kinds of major government reform would you like to see happen today?" Or. "Would you prefer that Hawai'i exist as an independent nation among nations or as a state of the USA? Why?" Would love to hear answers to these questions in print or on video. Such information on a blog would be a great community service! Good luck to you in the future and mahalo for all you do.

Anonymous said...

I just went to vote today. I did what Joan has been describing and have been suggesting for ALL OF KAUAI to do. I did not vote for the liars, community dividers and hypocrites. As described before, I voted for the top 3 that I wanted, and voted for 8th and 9th 11th and 13th. And the reason is! If we don’t vote for 8 and 9, they won’t gain ground to get out the liars, dividers and hypocrites.

I keep on saying this because, in order to get them out you have to either gain ground on 6th and 7th or they will have to lose ground in the standing. It would be so nice to see 8 and 9 gain ground and become 6th and 7th.

The silent voting majority showed it in the primary with their bloc voting (top 3), but we have to band together in the general to remove the lairs, dividers and hypocrites. This means voting bloc top 3 and bloc 8 and 9, and whoever else. Don’t forget, you’ve got only 7 votes to use.

I’ve said this before and I noticed a bunch of negative comments after my post, which means. They know the statistical probability. They know because I’ve never dropped any candidate’s name, just their standings. And yet, Not TB and others has slammed these anonymous views.

Vote your top candidates, 8 and 9 and whoever you have trust in that will represent ALL OF KAUAI, and stay away from the lairs, community dividers and hypocrites.

Great opinion again Joan.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan, Great Blog as always. I wish you were running for council or mayor; we need intelligent leadership like yours to help save Kaua'i.

Anonymous said...

12:46 pm - Really?!! It's not for Joan to fix this problem that others have created. You red shirts must be willing to come off your high horse and have a real discussion - which will sadly never happen.

Anonymous said...

Man alive. I voted and achieved a bit of calm, thinking that we are almost there.
Then I ran into several friends and acquaintances all hyped up about the election.
A constant thread in the conversations was "what the f*ck is going on with the Council?" The County is broke and the County is pursuing a dangerous lawsuit that has huge downside potential. Important stuff.
But my friends, locals and mostly old time Haoles are deeply concerned about the Social rift that the Council has caused.
You are spot on Miss Joan about this divide. It is serious and it will take some cool heads to bring about some sort of harmony or at least open communication.
How in the world could a couple of guys like Hooser and Bynum, take the entire island down this weird destructive path. They have incinerated Haole/Local tensions.
The large land owners and lessees have always been open to negotiation and maybe, compromise, but they know if Hooser or Bynum are at the table the conversation would NOT be on what is best for Kauai. It would be "how can da Hoos and Bynum get headlines"...national news, "da li'l island that could."
Time to heal, time for the Council to get to basics....and really time for the island to come together, whether a NS rich hippie, a local or just a regular Mom trying to get her kids thru school...Kauai has many pressing issues. I just hope the da Hoos, Bynum and Mason do not get elected. JoAnn needs to be there, sometimes her Wahine common sense is needed. And Jay, poor babooze, what to do with you? So many chances to calm things down. You let the Council and the Council testifiers get out of control.
Jay if you get elected, I hope you do some talkin' with the regular business people and down to earth folks..and maybe re-establish yourself as a leader. You have been a real disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a day late, and a dollar short...but I agree with much of the blog and many of the comments- particularly that of 12:46 - and I was surprised at the response of 3:51 because I, too, think Joan, as an award-winning Journalist, can help to frame dialogue by asking thought-provoking questions of candidates or political leaders which seek to enlighten constituents on their positions and the direction our island will go. It's not suggested that Joan SOLVE any problems in her role as a blog author/host or as a Journalist; but she can certainly play an important role in bringing to the forefront issues - which can then be addressed by community leaders, Legislators, politicians, and, YES - even the people of Kaua'i.
I have been kind of amused by some of the "throwing up of hands; all of this pilikia is the cause of our rotten politicians - namely Council Members' mentality. I admit to being idealistic, and if you want to attribute a shirt color to me, then I'll choose purple for Kaua'i's island color (and, interestingly a blending of red and blue), but it's been my experience that PEOPLE are driving our politicians and I've always felt that people can effect change. If there are people advocating for something which you don't agree with, then as an involved member of the community, one can mount a counter campaign and get a politician to sponsor a bill which supports your efforts!
Pat Hunter-Williams