Monday, February 26, 2007

Winning the “New” Political Game

Unquestionably, the Democrats were masters of the old political game -- of political bosses speaking for a disempowered citizenry -- much as the union bosses did in the mass production assembly line age that has given way to the new age of customized lifestyles by an empowered, educated, technologically- and media-savvy generation that defies control by the power brokers of old.

Yet the old powers that were, are reluctant to “let go,” and are insistent that everybody “stay in their places,” until somebody dies, and then everybody can move up in seniority by one. For many of today’s talented, that pace of upward mobility is not enough, and they are curious to take on the world now and see how they will fare in the big ocean -- rather than the severely constricted ponds by which many of the big fish could remain the biggest fish because nobody was allowed to grow any bigger than they are.

That kind of status quo could easily be maintained as long as Hawaii was geographically the most isolated place on the planet -- and information could be easily controlled by the labor unions in the communications/media industries of old. But when there is “virtual” information -- or information not filtered and controlled by the self-designated “authorities” anymore, it’s a whole new ball game in which the best information has a chance to get out as much as that which is controlled by the old information controllers -- who were the media, schools and universities.

One would think that those in the universities would have a distinct advantage in the resulting leveling of the playing field, except that academia choose to go on a path that while entrenching themselves in the old world of information, doomed them in the new -- because their tactic was to adopt jargon that excluded participation, rather than appealed to the universal. This was a critical error in an age in which expertise was judged mainly by the ability to connect with as broad a range of audience as possible.

The carefully targeted message could still reach the resonating million person audience -- distributed over the entire world, and not just in the area of one’s specialty in which one no longer had to prove their “leadership” in the field. People no longer care how long one has been doing what one is doing -- especially indifferently, dispassionately, with the only topic of concern being how much they are going to be paid -- with no expectations that such compensation should be commensurate with any ability other than their demand for “More” each year.

In the new world, benefits are calculated periodically with costs so one cannot be expected to continue in their patterns of behavior because that’s what they’ve always done before -- and that is the only way to do things because the information of any other than the officially sanctioned are expressly prohibited. So deservedly, the media, schools and universities should be those scrambling now to rediscover their relevance in an age that increasingly says they aren’t.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

District 21 Newsletter (Waikiki-Kapahulu)

It’s That Time of the Year Again

This Tuesday, February 20, from 4pm-6:30pm, the district organizations (19-30) of the Hawaii Republican Party of downtown Honolulu, will convene with a potluck at McCoy Pavilion (Ala Moana Park across from Nauru Tower), at which time we select delegates to the state convention on May 18-20 at the Wailea Marriott on Maui, and determine the officers for each district in individual caucuses.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for political participation at the most basic (and effective) level of involvement -- before it gets distorted by the exigencies of conducting campaigns for anything. First one has to identify like-minded people who resonate with what one believes is the essential and central reasons for government and society -- or one will be overwhelmed with the notion that a strict conformity to any line of thinking is the only way possible.

So that is the importance for at least a two-party system -- in which there can be an alternative point of view and solution(s) that might be better. These objectives have a tendency to get lost in only the discussions of power that even to this day, many still think is the only reason for politics -- that it legitimizes a naked grab for power! A few of us would like to believe we’ve moved beyond that -- and that merit is what should determine leadership, and not merely who is the most ruthless.

Despite the overwhelming imbalance of the representation of parties in the legislature, we have to marvel at the achievement of having Linda Lingle as governor of the state of Hawaii, as our greatest achievement as voters and party organizers. That is the office that makes the biggest difference of influence and impact -- which is not lost on Governor Lingle but maximized to the greatest effectiveness ever seen. She was given the opportunity to be the titular leader of Hawaii and has become the de facto leader of Hawaii -- in setting the standard of excellence in public life.

That makes it possible to raise the standards of performance in all other arenas of life -- because the person at the highest level of accountability, is no longer just inventing explanations and excuses for why things aren’t going right -- and undermining and persecuting the perceptions of every citizen who believes otherwise. Already that is a huge difference in the transformation of the underlying culture that makes everything else possible -- and inevitable.

Nothing just happens -- as arbitrarily as many would like us to believe is the way of the world. Things happen for a good reason -- and good things happen, because people make them happen -- and not just because everybody demands that somebody else who they believe has all the power (while they have none), can act and do something.

I remember that’s what I used to point out as the dysfunction of Hawaii political life and government -- that people felt that there was nothing they could do but write a futile and desperate “letter to the editor” of the newspapers, begging, demanding, shaming the governor into doing something -- while the governor insisted that the authors of all those reports showing Hawaii distinctively last in every ranking, had no idea what they were talking about -- "because this was Hawaii, where all the rules of logic and commonsense were overruled.”

That was hardly a climate in which progress (or any change) was possible. And now we have a governor who is at the forefront of change and innovation -- as well, a leader ought to be. So we seem well on our way to restoring trust and integrity to at least the meaning of words from those at the highest offices, in order to have the confidence that we’re talking about the same thing.

What has been helpful also, and no less meaningful, are the changes in culture and thinking, taking place alongside government -- and no longer regarded reflexively as a competitor to the government for its exclusive loyalty and obedience. So the fall of tyrannies in every part of the world, has affected life and the experience in every part of the world -- now that the world is so increasingly and inevitably interconnected. Nowhere is that more true than in these Islands formerly considered the most isolated spot in the world.

It may turn out that because of these historical challenges, Hawaii now stands to be uniquely poised to be the worldwide leader in the emerging international global civilization. The key is the creativeness with which we solve today’s problems -- using today’s greatly enhanced technologies and the resulting greater consciousness by which age-old insurmountable problems can be eliminated instantly and entirely by the will to see life wholly differently.

For those who study cultures and societies, going from last to first is not unprecedented in the evolution of human civilizations -- because those who realize they have nothing to lose and everything to gain -- leapfrog even advanced cultures vested in protecting the status quo even until the complete dissolution and disintegration of their once proud and dominant achievements.

These are exciting times to be a part of creating that emerging world culture -- that these past few hundred years have uniquely prepared the citizens of Hawaii for. Never before has the world been more receptive to new and innovative ideas -- which is the theme of this year’s legislative focus. People are overwhelmingly saying, “No more of the same old same old. Let’s see what else is possible -- and what the old powers that be and who wished always to remain so, didn’t want us to see, or imagine possible.”

That’s how things are different already -- and what we get together to keep alive and moving.

Mike Hu
3123 Esther Street
Honolulu, HI 96815

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Weakest Link

Here they go again.

Hopefully they still receive hundreds of "Letters to the Editors" -- so that they choose to publish those that only serve to provoke and incite hatred, demagoguery, divisiveness and misinformation -- is very deliberate malice that IS the problems in Hawaii.

Otherwise, for the most part, people get along very well with one another -- harboring no ill-will with false memories of injustices planted in their heads by the media demagogues whose sole idea of fun is the partisanship, prejudices and violence that they distort with glee.

Having worked in “homecare” visits gave me an interesting insight into the minds of those who generate such epistles. One guy was even virtually paralyzed by a stroke that made it impossible to do anything else -- but make malicious phone calls 24/7 to every business and organization he could think of -- to complain and try to get everybody fired.

Shortly before, while working answering such calls for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), I used to wonder what motivated some people to spend all day harassing anybody they could still get to speak to them, thinking that the job of a public servant was to take such abuse indiscriminately and unsuspectingly.

Abusive people are abusive people -- undoubtedly products of an abusive childhood that drives them to land in positions that allow them to manipulate and abuse others with the approbation of their coworkers. That’s why these people are driven to be “somebody,” that they were browbeaten and humiliated as children to believe they weren’t.

And so the whole play of abuse, manipulation, deception and deep-seated hatreds for who knows what reason, are perpetuated as the life of the land.

GOP ensures future rule of Democrats

Being seen as the party of war against, and destruction of, the South destroyed any Republican presence south of the Mason-Dixon line for a century.

Being seen as the party responsible for the excesses of the robber barons, oppression of workers and for the economic collapse during the Great Depression ended Republican hegemony and leadership in either house of Congress for three generations.

Now the Republicans of the Senate and House, having learned nothing of history, stand behind their president in lobotomized unison, oblivious to facts, oblivious to the opinion of their own experts, oblivious to the will of the people and, sheep-like, prepare to make Republicans an unpalatable choice for voters for the duration of hostilities in Iraq, and perhaps a generation or more beyond.

As a shattered America tries to pick up its pieces of an economy destroyed by reckless Republican spending on a war of choice, coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy, and tries to rebuild its international reputation besmirched by the shame and enormity of scandals surrounding an illegal war, prisoner abuse, domestic spying, war profiteering by the vice president and the president's uncle, voters will wisely shy away from this cadre of untruthful and delusional Republican candidates. This leaves the prospect of unchallenged rule by the Democratic Party for the foreseeable future.

God help us all.

Donald B. MacGowan

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Toxic People

There is an interesting letter in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin by the governor’s senior communications advisor, Lenny Klompus, noting the distortion in his published letter which was noticeably altered and distorted to give a tone and message other than that which was intended. And while he points out the editors do have the right to edit for clarity and brevity as needed -- it doesn’t give them license to distort the intent, meaning and purpose of that communication.

It is so obviously malicious because all the senior advisors to the governor are so obviously more skilled at writing (communications) than the editors at the Star-Bulletin, that what is the purpose of such heavy-handed editing but personal resentment and retaliation by the editors (most notably Nancy Christiansen -- whose chief delight in life seems to be provoking animosities between everybody else in society from that critical position as letters editor as apparently the singular joy of her existence)?

When I, and undoubtedly many others have pointed this out to the supervising editors, their response has been to go into denial and damage control -- rather than reading their own paper, and recognizing the abuses that go on daily in the travesty of journalism that has caused the implosion of their circulation and credibility -- so that every few years, they have to look for a new owner naive enough to the local scene to take them over and revive them for one more run.

In the old days, multiple daily newspapers might have provided a valued second opinion rather than merely a consistently inferior source of mostly distorted/biased information -- so that the better of the newspapers should remain to compete against all the other viable sources of information now, and we should let obsolete controllers/manipulators of public opinion pass away -- as it would have done a few years ago, if not for the appeals of pity that their writers and editors would be homeless since they had no discernible and/or redeeming skills.

Leaders deserve more respectful tone

I appreciate the Star-Bulletin editorial page printing my op-ed piece, "Setting the Agenda," in last Sunday's paper.

However, it was obvious that many changes were made to my original piece. Of course it is certainly the right of the editors to edit some content as submitted, but some of the alterations made were both uncharacteristic of my writing and inappropriate to form. Specifically, I would never to refer to the governor by only her last name. The position Gov. Linda Lingle holds is one of high honor and respect, and I believe that should always be recognized.

While I understand that the standard style for the Star-Bulletin is to use full names and titles on first reference and last names thereafter, often times rules cannot be simply black and white. Perhaps it is time to revisit the editorial/op-ed guidelines employed to acknowledge the positions of our leaders and grant them their proper distinction.

For those who read my article, I hope you will look past this and focus on the content.

Lenny Klompus
Senior adviser, communications
Office of the Governor