Current Thoughts (Mostly Hawaii)

A real assessment by the Left

For those who know me, I frequently listen to podcasts In fact, on my main page at www.politicshawaii.com, I even list the podcasts I listen to and blogs that I read, regularly.

And once in a while, what I hear from those shows really stops me in my tracks. In the case of this post, it stopped me running on the treadmill, frantically looking for the rewind button to hear the statements again.

It was a statement made on the show Pod Save America. It is a show, produced by a company called Crooked Media, in which, as they describe themselves, “Four former aides to President Obama—Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Vietor—are joined by journalists, politicians, activists, and more for a no-b******t conversation about politics”

Mayor Garcetti on Pod Save America
Pod Save America at a recording with Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti
PC: “Mayor Garcetti on Pod Save America” by Mayor of Los Angeles is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

They were talking about, in the Tuesday, November 17th episode entitled “Transition to Greatness”, about how messaging done by leaders regarding COVID restrictions is actually one reason why people are so tired of the mandates. They were discussing it in the context of the current “3rd wave” of infections across the nation, currently.

This is what they said:

I mean, I do think that the part of the [expletive] up public messaging is a consequence of policy choices, which is that like and we’ve seen this here in Los Angeles, like you hear you hear [Los Angeles] Mayor Garcetti or our public health commissioner be talking about, like don’t see even close friends and family is absurd. Cancel all Christmas. And then on the on then you see and then and then you see restaurants are open. Gyms are open. Right.

They go on to speak more about the egregiousness of how the messaging is affecting people

Again I agree with that, except that it’s been particularly egregious in L.A. when you had Democratic officials, Garcetti, the [California] governor, others like criticizing people for going to the beach. Right. There were very dumb early messages about like outdoor gatherings, totally like condescending and sneering at people being like, don’t forget the other with your family, yada, yada, yada. And it’s like, no, stop with that {expletive] that is over. It didn’t work then. It won’t now. Give me specific, concise, actionable things that are practical that I can implement in my own life that might actually help mitigate this thing at scale. But like, hey, telling everyone that Thanksgiving, Christmas is over, it’s not going to work. It’s just not going to work.

Mayor Garcetti Introduces LAFD Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas
Eric Garcetti (Center) Mayor of Los Angeles, CA.
PC: “Mayor Garcetti Introduces LAFD Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas” by LAFD is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

And then, a realistic assessment of what political leaders should have been thinking about when it comes to long term management of the virus in the community.

And it is about actually finding a way to live sustainably in a way that prevents the disease from spreading. Which is, to your point, Tommy, like we went from criticizing people to being on the beaches, which felt incredibly draconian and about being outside, which we now know is like really safe. And by the way, part of what makes this [explitive] sustainable is being able to go outside and be six feet apart from somebody you care about and having a conversation, and catching up. There is never a moment where they said, here are the things that you can do to make your life sustainable and OK during this time. And so now we come to the holidays. Everyone is burnt out. Nobody knows exactly what’s right. Everybody’s been kind of thrown to the wolves of their own version of risk mitigation.

Now what has been said here has been expressed by many, mostly in conservative-leaning circles. What the news is, here, is that this show is not hosted by conservatives – far from it. Instead, this is being said by four who, one could say, are Democratic operatives.

I find it refreshing that at least some on the Left can see what those on the right have been saying all along – the way these liberal government officials have been handling the messaging on controlling the virus in the population is a bit to be desired.

Furthermore, and you can see it implied here, it’s because of this messaging why people are not universally doing the things they should be doing – wearing masks, washing hands, staying apart, etc. The fact is, through this, that our political leaders have failed to because of the way they approached it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, leaders imposing (some say draconian) measures to manage the virus in the community lacked an understanding of human behavior. The fact that human behaviorists have been devoid of the policy discussions on imposing measures is, unfortunately, coming back to bite them hard.

Even liberals are now seeing it. Now let’s see if anything changes?

For the record, PHwSF did reach out to Crooked Media, prior to publication, to inform them that we’d be citing quotes from their show for this piece.

This ain’t the first time, this ain’t the last time

Over the past couple of days, I started hearing the news about CARES money, awarded to the City and County of Honolulu, being spent on material and personnel for the Honolulu Police Department.

At the time, I thought “oh, yeah, they bought a bunch of ATV (all-terrain vehicles) that I saw at Old Stadium Park”. The police there were patrolling to keep people out of the park during the second shutdown of Honolulu in August 2020.

I also heard that money was being used for personnel costs, providing overtime coverage to new teams to go out and crackdown on gatherings and illegal activities. And I thought that was about it.

But then a City Council committee investigated the invoices from HPD, and the shopping list came to light.

This article in Hawai‘i News Now spells out exactly what the police department has been getting from this influx of money.

From my perspective though, I am not surprised at all that this is occurring. As I was thinking about the the article, my mind reminded me of the past when I worked at the City Council, and a drive to work a few years later.

Police Boat
If more money comes down for COVID relief for the city, what other items is on the HPD toys list?
PC: “Police Boat” by ahisgett is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The first part was when I worked at the Honolulu City Council. During my four and one-half years there, a lot of resolutions were filed and voted on for acceptance of grant monies (the City Council “accepts” the gifts or the money before it is spent, that’s the rules)

These resolutions would show where the money came from and, generally, what it would be used for. Considering this was a short time after September 11th, the grants that came in were heavily focused on public safety and to “first responders”. Lots of money for vehicles, equipment, training, and the like were put through, accepted almost automatically.

Once in a while, you’d get a real question about the gift, but that was rare.

Then, after a few months, whatever items were bought with the money would show up. From mobile command centers for HPD to ambulances for Emergency Services. It was like the Wells Fargo Wagon showed up and we got the new shiny toys.

And no one questioned it.

This segways into something I saw a few years later. In 2011, the State of Hawai‘i was tasked with hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC), on O‘ahu, November of that year.

Already I knew then that there was real money being put into organizing the conference. Senator Brian Schatz made sure that money was available to take care of sprucing up the town – from fixing up the medians on Nimitz Highway to paving the road near Waikīkī just for the conference, to be torn up again soon after for delayed underground work.

While driving to work one morning, though, I saw on the road this very new Ford truck emblazoned with state markings. Thinking nothing of it I didn’t pay attention until it passed me. When I saw who it was assigned to, I quickly picked up my camera and took a photo of it.

“Attorney Generals – Investigative Division”.

Really, they need a 4X4 truck to go to places to investigate? Oh, APEC money you say bought that….well okay, I guess that’s okay.
PC: Stan Fichtman, November 2011

I thought to myself in seeing the truck “why in everything holy does the Attorney General’s office need a full-sized 4×4 truck? What are they going to investigate things in the mountains or off-road trails or something?”

Keep in mind that the State has a bevy of automobiles that is in the General Services division that departments can sign out for, and I am sure that in the lot, there is a truck or two that might be able to do the job.

In asking a question about this on Facebook at around that time, someone responded with this simple retort “APEC money”.

Yup, the largess that pays for trucks pays for a lot of other things too, and while it looks really stupid considering people are suffering from the economic shutdown, getting the toys our government needs to have is, still it seems, important.

That is why I don’t think everyone should be shocked when you see what the City is spending on HPD with all these items. Why? Because that is what they did in the past. And that is what they are going to do in the future, especially if Congress opens the money bag again and dumps out even more COVID-related money.  

Perhaps it might be best to figure out, instead, what is realistically needed, and make sure that the largess of the rest goes to the most in need. Because God knows, we have more people in need than anything else during this COVID saga.

Results of the final interview – General Election 2020 results

It was 11:30-ish or so on Tuesday the 3rd of November when the first results of the Hawai‘i elections were finally released.

And, while some of the results were foretold by reported pollsters in October, the fact that the final results pretty much tracked the same as the pols were quite interesting.

So without further ado, some post-election analysis by PHwSF.

Differences in the waving of the hand. President Trump (L); Former Vice President Joe Biden (R)
PC: Trump: “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
PC: Biden: “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

WHILE WE DON’T KNOW the final results of the national race for President of the United States, it’s apparent now that whatever predictions people had for this were in some cases wildly off.

Both sides’ cheerleaders – Trump and Biden – claimed that their candidate would blow out the other in the actual readout. What it turned out to be was that the race was a lot closer than anyone ever predicted. Whoever wins the race for the White House, once again they will win on the thinnest of margins, without a master mandate to “lead”.

Its still a close race, despite the hate for Trump out there.
PC:“God hates Trump” by phillyfamily is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The last President that was able to even claim that was Barak Obama, in winning his second term, and even then, it was a stretch.

Another read about the results of the Presidents race is that while there is a lot of hatred for President Trump, the idea that the whole country hates him so much to have a blow out for Biden was overly optimistic. Those who claim that the President is some sort of monster that needs to be removed and that the nation agrees with that seems to have missed the mark as to where the nation is on how they feel about the President.

A final read of this race is that whoever is President, they will deal with a House of Representatives that has fewer Democrats in it, and a Senate that is still in Republican hands. As we have come to find out about how the Senate works, whoever is in the majority make up the rules. So if (purportedly as of the writing of this) its Biden in the White House, the dreams of jamming through some of the legislation that he announced during the race may not come true.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN HAWAI‘I, the theme of the results for county races, and certain statewide races in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are that there are going to be new faces, and new ideas, coming to various governmental bodies.

Let’s start first with the Mayor of Honolulu. As the pollsters kept on saying in reports the last month of the race, Rick Blangiardi was ahead in the race over Keith Amemiya. In a post-electoral analysis, it seems that while both were new candidates, neither having run for office before, being new, and being desired were two different things.

There are going to be new leaders in this building come January. Will they be better than the guys leaving?
“O’ahu – Honolulu – Capitol District: Honolulu Hale” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While both promoted their “outsider” status, the voters felt that the line being said by Blangiardi was way more believable than when Amemiya said it. One source in the political world told me that when Amemiya got the endorsement of established political figures, like Senator Brian Schatz, that might have turned into a negative signal to voters to choose Amemiya.

I wrote about this way before the primaries in this piece.

Meanwhile, it seems that the people supporting Rick Blangiardi, while not loved in the past, have somewhat redeemed themselves in the interim. Backers like former Governor Linda Lingle and Ben Cayetano seems to have rehabilitated their reputation in the community and benefitted Blangiardi in the process.

There are probably a lot more reasons why Amemiya could not break out of his perennial second-place showing in both the primaries and in the pols that came out reporting on the race, afterward.

Blangiardi will have to now figure out how to work with a new City Council in which there are 2 political veterans, Tupola and Say, along with three new faces – Tulba, Cordero, and Kiaaina. All the races seemed more sleeper-ish than marquee in their presentation,

However, behind the scenes, there was a lot of activity happening. Unions and political groups were supporting candidates all over, From the unions backing Cordero to a hui of Councilmembers backing Will Espero, stakeholders seemed to find importance in putting in the time, and money, into City Council races.

The next thing that these new councilmembers (and the four still left) is who is going to be the next chair of the Council. Right now, all that can be said here is that it may be a competitive race between two determined Councilmembers (of the four that continue) to get that spot.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs race turned out to be a bit more interesting than usual.

Let’s start with the fact that Keli‘i Akina squeaked out a win over Keoni Souza. Souza from all reports was backed heavily by “establishment figures”, which comes as no surprise. Keli‘i has been, by all accounts, an independent thinker in OHA who continues to push for reform and audit of the Office.

File:Thirty Meter Telescope protest, October 7, 2014 C.jpg
Joshua Lanakila Mangauil (Center) was part of the opposition to the TMT
“File:Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, Thirty Meter Telescope protest, October 7, 2014.jpg” by Occupy Hilo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Hawai‘i County Trustee race was also interesting – Keola Lindsey vs. Joshua Lanakila Mangauil – as it pitted two candidates who had two very different views on Hawaiian issues.

First off this race, choosing the Hawai‘i Island trustee – was voted on by the entire state. That is why it was interesting to see that Lanakila’s supporters on O‘ahu were sign-waving at the State Capitol on election day. Keola’s people were out in Kapolei, doing the same thing. They both know where the votes would come from.

The second interesting observation is that those OHA candidates – both Akina and Lindsey – understood that they needed to expand their reach to non-Hawaiian communities to solicit their votes. This could be an interesting pivot for the Office that, perhaps, Hawaiian issues may also need to address the needs of the larger, non-Hawaiian population in Hawai‘i, especially when dealing with issues like land use.

We shall see if the new makeup of OHA foments that invitation to the non-Hawaiian community to collaborate.

As to the status of each of the main parties in Hawai‘i (and for the sake of discussion, I will throw in the newly named “Aloha ‘Āina Party”), there are a couple of observations.

From the conservative/Republican side, for the last few weeks, it seemed that there might be a heartbeat at the party. Convoys of cars and trucks supporting President Trump were seen around the island, with one Congressional candidate – Joe Akana – getting enough money to bring over a decked-out RV with his banner all over it.

The supporters even put together a group of the like-minded and gave them a title – Knights of Aloha – and held events, along with blending their efforts with the convoys flying the Trump flag. Final results though were in line with expectations – Democrat Joe Biden won the popular vote for Hawai‘i over Republican Donald Trump, 60-something percent to 30-something percent.

Pic: Political parties' election day signs at The Murri School voting booth, Acacia Ridge, Brisbane City Council election 2012
We will have to see how far the Democrats in Hawaii get on progressive legislation. The results don’t show universal love for all these wish list items.
“Pic: Political parties’ election day signs at The Murri School voting booth, Acacia Ridge, Brisbane City Council election 2012” by David Jackmanson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

But the final results of the election show that the Republican/Trump/Knights of Aloha groups have a long way to go before Hawai‘i sees any sort of “Red Wave” politically. The party lost one seat in the House and didn’t grow any seats in the Senate. For each of the Congressional candidates, they weren’t able to break out of only getting 30-something percent of the vote. The best showing of a Republican challenger came from the Nānākuli/Wai‘anae House race, where perennial candidate Diamond Garcia came close but was not able to win over Democrat Stacelynn Eli, who will continue to sit in that seat for another 2 years.

As a promising new party in Hawai‘i, it seems that while the Aloha ‘Āina Party was able to field some candidates, but overall didn’t affect too much in the political realm of Hawai‘i. Going back to the Garcia/Eli race, the Aloha ‘Āina candidate did elicit 400 votes, which could have been the key to Eli winning over Garcia, as a third party typically takes votes from the challenger, and not the incumbent.

The Democrats, in the end, still stay firmly in charge of Hawai‘i. While there may be new faces in the elected seats, the overall infrastructure of who is running Hawai‘i stays generally the same.

And, in conclusion, paraphrasing the great broadcaster Walter Cronkite, “…and that’s the way it is”.

Read past entries of Stan Fichtman and PoliticsHawaii.com!

What am I listening to?

These are the Podcasters that I am listening to, try them out!

Tim Pool (on YouTube)

Pod Save America (on YouTube)

Sargon of Akkad - Carl Benjamin (on YouTube)

Who am I reading/getting news from

I am very choosy as to where I get my news from, here are some dependable sources I refer to when reading up on topics

The Atlantic

CNBC

Civil Beat (Hawaii on-line newspaper)

Honolulu Star Advertiser (mostly paywalled, but you get free headlines)

Beat of Hawaii (Tourism based news source from Kauai)

Twitter Feed

Here are my current thoughts of things going on.

The Best of The SuperflyOz Podcast
By Stan Fichtman

The best of my podcasts dating back from Jan. 2018.
Go to The Best of the SuperflyOz Podcast