When Republicans Attack Republicans
We’ve had a Republican Governor for the last eight years, so it’s easy, and understandable, for outsiders to conclude that the party has some clout. It doesn’t. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more fragmented, marginalized and ineffectual group.
November 2 was a good day for Republicans nationwide, but the conservative wave fizzled into foam before it reached the Aloha State. Hawaii elected a Democratic Governor and reduced the number of Republicans in the state Senate from two to one. The GOP did gain a seat in the House–bringing its impotent caucus up to eight.
Whatever your political persuasion, this is bad news. We have a de facto one-party system and the ruling party has grown predictably corrupt and complacent, led by a power-drunk good-old-boys club and unchecked by a worthy opposition.
So where’s the outrage? Enter Eric Ryan, a right-wing activist who fired off a letter two days after the election, calling for the heads of state GOP bosses and an audit of the party’s finances. “Two days ago, the rest of the country turned red while Hawaii became even more blue,” Ryan wrote, addressing his remarks to chair Jonah Ka‘auwai, vice chair and failed lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Lynn Finnegan and Gov. Lingle, among others. “In light of these massive losses, missed opportunities and misspent resources, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Ryan went on to accuse party brass of taking their eye off the ball by focusing on civil unions instead of the economy, of “engaging in a persistent and reprehensible campaign of lies” to secure Finnegan the nomination and of “blowing 99 [percent] of our party’s resources on Aiona’s and Djou’s quests for glory.”
“Please do the right thing and tender your resignations, place the past party chairman in charge as an interim leader, support a full, independent audit of the party and its finances, and help to ensure repayment of improperly diverted funds,” concluded Ryan, adding, “this would be righteous,” a reference to the Scripture-littered pro-Aiona e-mail Ka‘auwai sent to church groups before the primary.
Of course, it’s easy to survey the wreckage and point fingers. But Ryan made similar, if more measured, remarks last year when Ka‘auwai, Finnegan and others were tapped as the party’s new, “fresh-faced” leaders. “Not one of these officers has ever run a campaign, most have never been on a campaign,” he told the AP at the time.
Now they have, and the results speak for themselves.
Maui Legislator Lands Top Post
Lost amid the din of Colleen Hanbusa’s contentious victory over Charles Djou was the question of who would replace her as state Senate President. The answer: Maui Sen. Shan Tsutsui.
Tsutsui, who cruised to victory on election day, was handed the job by his Senate colleagues late last week. He’s the first Valley Isle legislator to hold the position–an impressive feat considering he’s still nine months shy of his 40th birthday.
Reached for comment, Tsutsui called it “an honor and a tremendous responsibility” and pledged to “move things forward.” Asked about the partisan imbalance in the Senate, Tsutsui said he has a “good working relationship” with Sen. Sam Slom–the Senate’s lone remaining Rpublican–and that as Senate President (as opposed to Majority Leader) his job is to “listen to all 25 members and make sure every voice is heard.”
Palm Oil: At What Price?
“The ultimate price is not paid in dollars, but in ecological crimes against nature, injustices to native peoples and in extinctions to some of the most majestic creatures with which we share the planet. Sacrificing all this to keep Hawaii’s lights on and homes and condos air-conditioned is not merely unacceptable, but is also ill-conceived and reprehensible.” That was MauiTime contributor Rob Parsons, blowing the whistle on imported Southeast Asian palm oil in a 2008 feature titled “Deadly Price.”
Two years later, the issue remains a hot one, as Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) moves forward with plans to burn palm oil for power generation. Per an agreement between HECO and the Natural Resources Defense Council approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), HECO will initially use palm oil supplied by a company called Sime Darby at two test facilities, on the Big Island and in Maalaea. Most of Sime Darby’s plantations are in Malaysia and Indonesia, and the company–which raked in $2.3 billion in profit last year–has been blasted by environmental groups for causing massive deforestation.
The question is simple, even if the answer isn’t: Instead of switching from one imported fuel to another, why don’t we turn our attention to indigenous power sources like solar, wind and wave generation, and locally grown biofuels?
If you want to weigh in, contact HECO (heco.com) or the PUC (puc.hawaii.gov) directly, or sign a petition at rainforest-rescue.org.
PULL QUOTE: You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fragmented, marginalized and ineffectual group than Hawaii Republicans.