The Drumpf phenomenon

15 Oct

A friend in Australia asked me if the US Constitution allows for parties to be disbanded if the situation gets too dysfunctional, and more generally about the 2016 election. Here’s my answer: There…

Source: The Drumpf phenomenon

No, KHNL, Carleton Ching is not even well informed

17 Mar

So yes, Carleton Ching is a controversial choice to run the DLNR. Ige sticks to him like an opihi, despite warnings that the Democrat base is hugely opposed to Ching in many ways.

Now KHNL general manager Rick Blangiardi has stepped up to support the untenable Ching, saying the poor fellow never had a chance. Mr. Blangiardi, what are you thinking? The issue really was clarified in Ching’s testimony: he could not answer basic questions about the role of DLNR in shepherding the lands of Hawai’i. It is not only that he has made a career out of opposing protection for the lands of these islands, it is that he cannot even articulate what he has already done. Evidently, he is just a spokesperson for development, and may lack understanding of what he has been doing all these years. If I were him, I would be deeply embarrassed at my inability to answer questions about the island environment and my role in its protection.

Now I need a new television station, and darn it, I am a rare person who thinks Guy Hagi is as good a weatherman as island weather can manage.

Carleton Ching saga continues

13 Mar

This is a letter I just sent to the Maui State Senators. Share if you wish.

Dear Maui senators,

Thank you for your service and support of Maui County. There are a number of issues that are demonstrably important to Maui voters, and high among them is protecting our environment.

You will make some good progress with environmentally oriented voters if you take a stand against Carleton Ching as head of DLNR. I strongly suspect this will turn into an albatross for Gov. Ige, and you can distinguish yourself from him now by using your influence in this case. Ching represents everything the environmentalist hates: pro-development, working throughout his career to derail and eliminate environmental regulation. I suspect Ige’s continued support of Ching will deal a mortal blow to his political future, because environmentalist voters do not forget, and they are motivated to organize, as is demonstrated by the growing anti-GMO movement. Abercrombie’s support of the PLDC lost him a significant segment of Democratic voters, and any stance for big development will work against you, as will stances in favor of GMOs and Big Agriculture.

This is my opinion, but I know it is widely shared. I hope you make the better choices here and in future deliberations about our environment.

Aloha a hui hou,
Stephen H. Fox, PhD

Opposition to Carlton Ching as head of the Hawai’i DLNR

22 Feb

This is my letter to the leg, drawn from the article. Feel free to use it in part or in whole when submitting testimony:

Dear Hawaii Legislature,

Governor Ige’s choice of Castle & Cooke exec Carlton Ching to head the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) would be a terrible mistake. Ching is registered as a lobbyist for developer Castle & Cooke, and placing him in control of the agency responsible for oversight of development shows a stunning level of favoritism for development. A petition immediately began circulating on in protest. Politicians who support this appointment may regret it in the next election.

Governor Abercrombie made a similar early misstep when he supported establishment of the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) in 2011, supposedly as a vehicle to help generate funds for the ailing DLNR.

The language used in Act 55 authorizing the PLDC gave its board broad powers to circumvent established due process in Hawaii land decisions. This placed lands with massive historic, scenic and cultural value available for development at the PLDC’s whim, and drastically weakened processes of environmental review and public input. The PLDC was so unpopular that Gov. Abercrombie was forced to repeal the act less than two years later. Ching is a lobbyist who has worked tirelessly for weakening of regulations via the PLDC and other measures. Gov. Ige has again placed protection of Hawaii’s lands in the hands of those most motivated to profit from their development.

What both men seem not to realize is that, while Hawaii’s Democratic Party does benefit from support of construction and hotel industries, environmental and conservation groups hold enormous sway. Malama ‘āina is more than a cool bumper sticker slogan; the maxim is buried deep in the psyche of the people here.

This was most recently demonstrated by the victory of Maui’s GMO moratorium initiative. Environmentalist groups spent around $60,000 on their campaign, compared to at least $6 million spent by Monsanto and their fellow agro-chemical companies. If nothing else, this should show Gov. Ige and our legislators that while they may have gotten campaign dollars from developers, money alone cannot overcome grass roots opposition to those who would poison the ‘āina—whether with chemicals or over-development.

Gov. Ige is alienating a large segment of his base at a time when he should be establishing positive feelings around the state. His primary victory over Gov. Abercrombie last Fall showed, more than anything, how deeply unpopular Abercrombie had become. Gov. Abercrombie’s base began to erode swiftly during the fight to repeal the PLDC. His support of the pro-development corporation splintered the shaky coalition that brought him to victory.

Between the burgeoning digital communities dedicated to holding government and the private sector accountable, and the good old coconut wireless word-of-mouth tradition in the islands, politicians simply cannot fool all of the people all of the time. And memories are long in Hawaii.

Take care of this ‘āina, Governor and legislators. The people are watching.


Stephen Fox

Deferment of GMO protections

20 Feb

I sent this letter to Rep. Tsuji, and I am posting it here because it takes a few days to get material posted on other places I publish. Also, this is a letter, not an article, so it is not really journalism, but rather, is an editorial. I do challenge anyone to dispute my facts.

Hello Rep. Tsuji,

If the Maui GMO initiative last election should give anyone a lesson, it is that massive spending may not work when people become aware that their well-being is threatened by moneyed interests. Monsanto and their allies lost that moratorium initiative, despite spending $8 million, compared to $65,000. That should make you consider your actions carefully.

Similarly, Gov. Abercrombie suffered a drastic loss of support when he backed the PLDC implementation. I and others wrote and published articles about that, exposing his questionable ties to big development interests. He had the good sense to back off and rescind, but that initial action alienated a section of his support base. People in Hawai’i do not forget easily. Gov. Ige has made a similar mistake, and I have already published an analysis of his DLNR nomination (Ching) that has enjoyed gratifyingly wide readership. I and writers of my ilk will similarly begin to dismantle your base of support.

I suggest that you need to realize that tides have shifted. People care deeply about their health, and major food corporations are distancing themselves from GMOs even in areas where the pesticides and questionable genetic effects are not an issue. Are you going to become a dinosaur with a big bank account drawn from sources like Monsanto that actually will make your voters hate you? It is a short sighted plan, when you will be faced with increasing questions about diseases arising from environmental toxins you could have prevented.
Rep. Tsuji, I suggest you reconsider your course of action and begin to protect your voters, instead of protecting big agricultural concerns who give you a lot of money but care little about the people you represent.

Aloha a hui hou,
Stephen H. Fox, PhD


Graphic of my FB network

12 Aug

Graphic of my FB network

I got curious about the network visualization tools mentioned in Rheingold, so I had a graphic calculated by the Yasiv ap.

pondering the emerging cultural dynamics of life on the Web

11 Aug

pondering the emerging cultural dynamics of life on the Web.