The Best of The SuperflyOz Podcast
By Stan Fichtman
The best of my podcasts dating back from Jan. 2018.
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Current Thoughts (Mostly Hawaii)
As the standoff on Mauna Kea, between the Kia’i and the government continues, one has to wonder if this whole episode is reaching the level of what happened in the state the last time Hawaiian’s rose up and made a lot of noise about a matter.
I’m talking about the 1997-2000 period in Hawaii known as “Broken Trust”. It was the name of an article published by the (then) Honolulu Star Bulletin, outlining real issues going on with the trustees of the Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate (KSBE) Trust. Stories of bullying students, mismanagement and greed filled the papers while students and alumni from the Kapalama Campus of Kamehameha Schools marched on Kawaihao Plaza – the headquarters of KSBE, demanding change.
The greed issue leached from the school to the halls of the Hawaii State Legislature, where a number of high-powered legislators like Sen. Milton Holt, were on the KSBE dole to do its governmental bidding.
This greed was laid open when, in 1999, Governor Ben Cayetano’s reappointment of his Attorney General-designate, Margery Bronster, was rejected on the floor of the Senate by a thin-hair vote. Brosnster, after getting orders from then first term Governor Cayetano, used the power of the office to open up investigations on KSBE, leading to links that touched the rich and powerful.
The votes to reject came from a cadre of Senators that were aligned with the trustees of KSBE, of which their marching orders were to “put this stupid thing to bed FAST”- some of whom were already under investigation by the Attorney General (funny how that works out).
Instead of it just being put to bed, it roused up rank and file voters in the state, looking at the Democratic Party (which it was, then, and still is now the ruling party of Hawaii) and asking “what the hell is going on”.
That question eventually gave a entré to the nascent opposition party, the Republicans, to maximize on the feelings, put forward a candidate that spoke to the voters with a new vision message, and proceeded to defeat (twice) Democratic candidates for Governor of the State of Hawaii.
Keep in mind that the level of “issue” KSBE’s trials had blew open the door to opportunities for others to step in and be leaders. When all the dust settled, though, the Democrats came back into power and have made it very clear that they are in charge and intend to stay in charge for a good long time.
Could the Mauna Kea blockade rouse the same emotions in voters this time around and really evaluate alternative candidates for Governor in 2022? Could the (now really irrelevant) Republican Party of Hawaii figure out a path to maximize on this opportunity?
Or are we just left with choosing tweetle dee or tweetle dum from the ruling party to be our next generation leaders?
On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned as the President of the United States. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, took over the position of President, informing the people of the country that “our long national nightmare is over”. That next month, on September 8th, Ford provided a full and complete pardon of Nixon.
It was that move that most likely killed his presidency, losing to Jimmy Carter in 1976. For years Ford had to dodge the stigma that he let a person off on their criminal past, especially those who wanted to see justice served to Nixon.
Upon Ford’s death, though, a lot of re-examination of his move to pardon Nixon came to light. And it turned out, albeit too late, that Ford might have done the most brave thing through this action – saving the republic and all that.
So where am I going with this and current Hawaii Governor David Ige? Succinctly, as the pardon was Ford’s downfall, Ige’s light handed treatment of the Kia’i at Mauna Kea might see Ige seeing the same fate.
What if Ige is playing a real long game here. Hear me out. Say for instance he ordered the police right now to march up the mountain and evict the 1,000 or so protesters that are up there.
It could be done. In the past, actions like this has been done, with Hawaiians being forced to move by police who got in there and carried the protesters out. I cite a 1985 video of Hawaiians being evicted from a Waimanalo, Oahu park by police – look it up on YouTube.
What kind of response would that elicit at this point? Obviously, nothing too pleasant. Kanaka Maoli would be up in arms. Strikes may occur. The blockade of roads that happened in early July on Oahu may resume with aplomb. Indeed, the amount of noise would leach into the plaster walls of the hotels and TVU’s around the island, with tourists hearing all this thinking “we better get out of here”.
A massive disruption of business on the islands would occur. And the clean up of that would take months if not years.
So comes Ige, knowing this, realizing that making a move like that would do more harm than good, has decided that for the sake of peace, he chose to be light handed. Of course he is getting serious flack for it – from legislators like Sen. Loraine Inouye to Hawaii News Now General Manager Rick Blangiardi. If you listen to how things are said, you’d think that Ige was a dead duck politically.
And he might just be.
But if his political duck is cooked now AND gets the situation under control over a period of time, look for that re-examination to happen. I can see it now: “He was politically dead, but through patience and careful negotiation with all the sides in the Hawaiian community, he was able to get the road opened again without creating undue unpleasantness in the state”
“Business continued to hum; the tourists continued to come. And while there was still issues between the state and the Hawaiian community, at least there was more talk happening.”
Maybe that is what Ige’s goal is. And if it is, than it’s a game on a whole other level.
You get the sense that things are up on the Big Island the minute you get your rental car out on the roadway. That being the flags.
I am not talking about any kind of flags, but two types, typically flying from the back of trucks throughout the island. On one side is the Hawaiian State Flag. The other side is the “Kanaka Maoli” flag, introduced in 2001 by Gene Simeona of Honolulu and commonly seen in the community as “the people’s flag”.
For the state flag, the official flag of the Kingdom, Republic, Territory and then State, there were trucks flying that flag upside down, which is a universal signal for “distress” or desecration of the flag. On other trucks, the state flag was flying right side up. There was no rhyme or reason as far as I could tell of why one truck would fly it upside down, and another right side up.
Maoli” flag, though, was always flying right side up. That seemed to be the
only constant outside of the fact that there were a lot of trucks driving
around the Big Island with flags a flying.
It was a interesting way to spread the word that something was up with out unduly alarming the visitors that were also on the island. For all that I could see, the quiet demonstrations using flags went almost unnoticed by any group of visitors that I would see in proximity.
In fact, it has come to be even with our return to O’ahu that when we see a truck with flags flying, I typically look to see the orientation of the flags. I eventually call out “that one is upside down” or “right side up”. It has become the car game that you may have played as a kid “red car, blue car”. Instead, its “right side up, upside down” that is called out. I am sure that it is not appreciated that the quiet demonstration is seen like this, but at least it’s noticeable no matter where you go.
I write this post just coming off the plane from Kona, Hawaii. I spent three days on the Big Island with my wife and my daughter touring around the island. While it was a visit to see sites (it was my daughters first time on the island), the big news of what was going on at Mauna Kea and the standoff between the Ki’I (“protectors”) and the State of Hawaii over the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
And yes, we did drive on Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) and passed by the demonstration happening at the intersection of DKI Highway and Mauna Kea Access Road. I didn’t stop to visit the encampment as we were pressed for time. But I will say if we did have more time, I might have been more curious as a political scientist to stop and visit. For this first post, some observations of what I saw driving by the “intersection”
You get your first sense that something is up when you see a Hawaii County police car about a mile down the road just monitoring traffic.
You have to ask yourself “what’s that cop car there for, out in the middle of nowhere?”
Soon enough you come upon the tent city. It is not as spread out as it seems in photos in the media, but actually compressed together, making in essence a tent city. They are behind water filled barriers to block off pedestrians and tents from the highway, keeping the highway open.
One thing that came to mind – topically really – was scenes I saw of Woodstock back in 1969.
A noted visual I saw before the intersection was that of what I assumed to be a parent playing with their child. She was swinging the kid around in a fun sort of way, both laughing. Most likely it was to pass the time up there, especially for kids whom I could see, getting board in doing nothing. Again, tents going back two or three layers from the intersection on the mountain side, at least one layer of tents across the street.
As you get closer to the intersection itself you see the stoplight installed to regulate pedestrian traffic. There are so many people by that point that you could see a need to regulate traffic. So, you slow down and more times than not, you hit a red light.
My gaze turned to the mountain and the roadway. It was blocked. A way up the road you could seek the kupuna tent that marks the actual “blockade” of the road by the Ki’i. It seemed as if it was well established and definitely not subject to quick removal, if that is what it comes down to be. People were milling about all over, with at least a hoodie on because at that level, it was just below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
You stay at the stop light for just a moment. When the light turned green and you move on, just more tents, a lot more tents along the road on both sides. You start to get the feeling that while the debate rages about the merits of the issues of “the Mauna”, a certainty one gets is that there are a lot more people there than one initially realizes.
A last scene one has before you leave the “intersection area” is that of cars parked along the opposite side of the road. A lot of those cars, looked like rental cars like mine. That meant to me there were a lot of visitors, and a lot of money for travel and rental cars were being spent. This would be affirmed a couple of days later, at the airport, where I saw a number of Ki’i getting on flights back to Honolulu.
I could not tell how many were encamped at the area, but it would not surprise me if the actual count reached into the thousands.
My next post will talk about what I saw in the communities throughout the Big Island and how the protests on the mountain has left a light but notable fingerprint on that islands community.
So it came to pass at about 9:30 on Sunday night (8/11) I was about to head to bed when I got a text showing the now infamous “arrest of Jason Momoa” at the location of the campsite of the Mauna Kea opposition.
I immediately sent the photo (below) out to friends and asked them to confirm or figure out what was going on. For me, my blood was boiling when this photo. It relayed that the whole thing going on at Mauna Kea was nothing but a big fat joke by both sides – Jason and the police.
Soon enough, though, I got confirmation – this photo really went out.
For this, and a Tweet Momoa sent out a day before this saying that he got run over by a tractor and couldn’t film Aquaman 2 right now, were all “jokes in fun”.
The point is, up until I saw this photo, I was taking the Mauna Kea blockade seriously. Every move and every visit portrayed a sense of respect and reverence, and a host of seriousness as an add-on. Well, obviously, the lead voice in the protest, Jason Momoa, was a little more lighthearted about it or just thought that it would be fun to make jokes out of it.
And, of course because of his fame, people would just laugh it off and say “oh how witty Jason, good one!” Sorry, I’m not laughing.
The issue of Mauna Kea is one that, on one side, is trying to address grievances with the authorities. On the other side, it’s a serious discussion about enforcing the law. On both sides, they are in a stare-down mode daring either side to make a move that would lead, possibly to violence. This is a issue which has affected people on all islands and brought to question who Hawaii is.
To everyone who is dismissing this event as a “nice joke”, here is my advise: knock it off. Instead get your head in the game and resolve this standoff now.
It seems that, more often than not, I am citing a line from the hit song “Land of Confusion”, Genesis, 1986 that says “Oooh Superman where are you now….where everything has gone wrong somehow,…men of steel, men of power….are losing control by the hour.”
It does not take much to see why, just turn on your morning news. From Hong Kong where demonstrators have literally shut down one of the most important air gateways in the world – Hong Kong International Airport, to the ongoing stare down at the intersection of DKI Highway and Mauna Kea Road, leadership behind these two events has been taken over by players who never got elected, but have gained outsized power.
The ironic thing about the imposition of “strong power” in each of these episodes is that while it is desired by the “silent majority” of those not on the street or blocking roads, there is a real fear of what that power looks like, and what the results of that imposition would be.
And I think, in essence, those with the power are also afraid of that too: if we quash this dissent now, does that really solve the problem? Or, as I think they really fear, is that ending the “disturbances” only puts all of the issues into a pressure cooker that, eventually, will either need to be depressurized or it explodes, starting the disturbances all over again at even higher levels.
Back in the past, it might have been easier to suppress and pack away the lingering issues, knowing that the spreading of a message would be slow and easy to maintain. But now, a message about, say a event at Mauna Kea is getting immediate circulation in social media to the point where it’s impossible to get ahead of it. A insanely efficient messaging system combined with skilled messengers provides movements the ability to create, direct and spread a narrative that wins.
And controlling that narrative, and how fast it can spread, makes the ability to just squelch the demonstrations and pack the issues away almost impossible. And the fact that elected leadership in Hong Kong and Hawaii have been unable to get ahead and manage the issues tells me full on that no one in leadership in both situations are the “Supermen” that Genesis was describing in their song.
And, for the love of all, right now, we could use that Superman that everyone respects, to figure out the problems that no one in leadership currently has the ability to.
For those paying attention to the calendar, you might understand the significance of the post’s title.
For those who do not, it signifies that August 8, 2020, the scheduled date of the Primary Election in Hawaii is now 365 days away.
Why make a point about a date a year away of an event that we do not even know the parameters of, meaning who will be running and what will they be running on? Well, as many have told me about how politics is played, it’s all about identifying how to play the long game, and not worrying about the Manini (small) day to day machinations in the political realm.
So, if you are a person that likes to play the long game, what type of actions are being done now, one year out, from the primary election?
One thing I have found is that potential candidates who are looking to jump in are already looking for people to support them. These could be people who are skilled in taking policy ideas and designing them into effective messages that will be deployed.
Of course they are also getting their resources together – money sources mostly. This is done, at this point, mostly in private meetings with influential and moneyed people who have signaled they are ready to invest in a candidate that aligns with their beliefs.
Yes, the people with money have already made that signal.
Another thing is that they are looking at the political landscape and seeing which way the wind is blowing. In Hawaii, today, the political winds are howling with the protest on Mauna Kea, continued issues of water rights on Maui and the entire rail issue that has absorbed all the political oxygen in the City and County of Honolulu.
These issues will not simply disappear between now and next year, and the well-informed pol (a politician, or someone who is very politically active) is already projecting ahead to see how a narrative can be created that they can control.
The other factor is who will stand as a candidate for office, and who will challenge incumbents. Some of those who are perennial candidates will most likely try again for either the same office as last time or another (maybe easier) office.
Others who have never been in the political realm might find it opportune to jump in. Finally, there is always the decision of the incumbent whether they want to continue in office, or head for the exit, seeking greener pastures.
Pols who will never run for office, but spitball, armchair quarterback or whatever analogy you want to say they do, are already working on this.
Therefore, it might be that there is another year before you may go to the poll to vote, but the narratives that you will hear the money that will be spent and the policies that you will be told are important to vote on are already being formed, banked and written up, now.
Early this afternoon, Monday, August 5, I got a text from a friend asking me if I had considered writing for a newspaper again.
I told him “perhaps” with the dreaded feeling of “I’m not ready to get back into officially commenting on things” .
My dread in even saying that I would think about it came from the fact that, for the past four months, I have been in a perpetual state of commentary burnout. It came upon me soon after I shut down my “SuperflyOz” podcast which I ran for two years, along with the ending of my hosting of the “808 State Update” on AM940.
The show went away, the Podcast went away, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, if anything at that point. “Maybe it’s time for me to do more listening than flapping my jaws” I said. So I listened to Podcasts like Pod Save America and did intricate research on the explosion of Chernobyl in 1986 (this was after watching just one episode of HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series).
But the nag of ‘ya gotta say something about things” came back up. So under pseudonyms, I delved back into commenting on newspaper articles and seeing how points of view I put forward played with other commentators.
But now I need to move past the phase of being a masked man, the guy behind the curtain and the one who shadow boxes more than puts my name on the line and says “this is what I think of this’
So I am getting back into writing. See here soon written pieces from me on the issues that you care about. And lets see where this goes.
Here are my current thoughts of things going on.