Moon Valley Gallery
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Selected writings by Rob Lafferty
former editor of the Haleakala Times on Maui
and the West Lane News and Tri-County News in Oregon

Titles and excerpts below are linked to the full text. Contact Rob directly here

How to own your government – A 2012 election year series

How to own your government in one easy lesson
"I don't want everybody to vote. Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." – American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) co-founder Paul Weyrich, 1983
The presidential election circus of 2012, as usual, has little in common with the true practice of democracy. Nearly a billion dollars will flow into the campaigns of the incumbent and his challenger. More than a billion will be spent in local elections across the land. All of that money will be used to sell American citizens something we already own – our government.

Can I Have A Third Party, Please?
"If liberty and equality are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost." - Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Americans generally don’t vote much. Our voter turnout runs as low as half in a boring presidential election year and doesn’t even rise as high as two-thirds in an interesting one. In between those national elections, we’re lucky to get half the registered voters to cast a ballot, and we’ve dropped as low as one-third many places, many times.
In the 1960 presidential election, only 63 percent of the eligible voters in America actually did. When it comes to citizens exercising their civic duty, that’s the best we’ve done over the past fifty years.
We’re not alone. In the United Kingdom of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, voter turnout has dropped from 84 percent in 1950 to just 65 percent in 2010. Most of that decline has come during the last fifteen years.

The best elections money can buy
"There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can't remember what the second one is." – Political consultant Mark Hanna, 1896
Now comes that time when we bear witness to America’s most bizarre and entertaining ritual – the prelude to National Election Day in November. It’s a time when political hopefuls and incumbents say and do just about anything to win an election. Hypocrisy and propaganda fill the airwaves as television ads portray each candidate as a Strong Leader. A wave of attack ads follows, painting the opposition as someone who wants to steal your money and your freedom.

Voter purges attack the wrong problem
There’s a time-honored tradition in American elections of stuffing ballot boxes and counting the graveyard vote. It probably wasn’t an issue in our first national election, but it’s been part of the political landscape ever since. In states across the land, a lot of attention is being misdirected towards the problem of voter fraud. Ensuring an honest voter list is an important responsibility of state government, but the far greater problem of vote tampering is being ignored.

Don’t Get Bought
The difference between a campaign contribution and a bribe is this: a bribe goes directly into someone’s pocket while a contribution gets deposited into a bank account. The level of influence remains the same in either case. But if we really want to adhere to the Constitution and allow free speech in America, then we can’t stop corporations or rich folks from spending millions of dollars to influence the outcome of elections. The Supreme Court has so ruled, and they are right.
On the other hand, Justice Anthony Kennedy offered this strange justification in support of that decision: "We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."

No peak in sight for oil production or demand – July 21, 2009
Petroleum kings who rule the corporations that produce energy from oil have long hoped for a return to Iraq, yearning for a chance to once again suck black gold from the ground in a foreign land, using cheap labor and with no regard for the environment. They lost that source soon after their puppet Shah in Baghdad was thrown out of the country in 1979. Only one has returned so far; the rest will never have the access they once enjoyed. But there are new players in the global oil market these days. Earlier this year, Iraq’s national North Oil Company agreed to partner with the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to operate current oil fields and develop new sites. The new partners have a $3.5 billion, 20-year contract that opens wide, wonderful doors for a thirsty China seeking new sources of oil and energy.

The Long War and the Great Bailout – July 7, 2009
The universe always balances out, although it may take a strange path to reach equilibrium. In an odd kind of way, the American Republic has balanced two massive investments in our collective future. The Global War on Terror and the Great Corporate Bailout have now cost American taxpayers roughly equal amounts – about a trillion dollars each. One huge difference in those trillion dollar twins is that it took more than seven years to run up the military tab during the Long War, while our Congressional representatives, under two different Presidents, approved that much bailout money in less than one year.

Shattering a Christian illusion – June 10, 2009
Dick Cheney spoke openly of “taking the gloves off” and “traveling to the dark side” in order to deal with the jihadists who planned the 9/11 attacks. He used carefully cultivated attorneys who lawyered torture down into “enhanced interrogation techniques” by ignoring dozens of legal precedents set across more than a century of national and international law. It worked. Changing the description of that foul practice seems to have masked its stench fairly well. If we can trust the results from three different nationwide polls conducted during the past six months, about half of all Americans believe that torture of evildoers may a necessary thing. Not as a general practice, of course, but only on suspected terrorists, and only if a ticking time bomb is about to explode, or perhaps anytime lives might be saved should the tortured suspect crack and confess.

No amnesty for torture architects – April 27, 2009
We allow people to own weapons designed purely to kill people because we have a Constitutional right to bear arms. We also accept the death of innocent bystanders as we did during the month of March, when eight different Americans went berserk in eight different places and used their mostly legal arsenals to kill a total of 56 people, mostly at random. Such is the price of freedom, we say, as we shake our heads in grief and wonder at the senselessness of it all – but we accept it all the same.
We accept the sacrifice of thousands of young American soldiers who fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan. We send them into battle for reasons that aren’t very clear against enemies they don’t understand and have trouble identifying. They fight and die, we tell them, to protect our freedom but when our government wouldn’t allow us to witness our dead returning home, we allowed that freedom to be taken from us.

Tax rates don’t reveal tax equity – April 20, 2009
In 2006, Elites earned 55.7 percent of pretax income and paid 69.3 percent of the federal taxes. They took in a little more than half of the profits generated by the economy that year and paid a little more than two-thirds of the national tax bill. That’s not an equal share of the burden for one-fifth of the citizenry to bear, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable considering the vast amount of profit those Elites enjoy.

A new cycle of the same old spiral – April 13, 2009
You can’t base an economy on the essential goodness of human nature because it’s still human nature to be selfish and greedy. We haven’t evolved beyond excessive consumption yet; given the chance to steal a pile of money without committing an outright crime, most of would do it. We might regret it later, but we humans always learn to live with our regrets.

Systemic change requires individual change – April 6, 2009
“The road to recovery cannot be simply about returning to modified free-market capitalism and a re-established, utterly bankrupt consumer society.” Henry A. Giroux
The slow, expensive death of the American version of free-market capitalism is causing a lot of pain across the planet. That’s always what happens when a terminal patient lingers for months or even years before finally succumbing to the inevitable. Even for those most deeply affected by the tragedy, however, comes an opportunity to learn valuable lessons and live a better life in the future. Unfortunately, our politicians don’t seem to have learned much from the imminent demise of a financial system that has dominated the world economy for the past sixty years.

One more war that can’t be won – March 30, 2009
Aside from the damage sustained during decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan seems much the same as it did a century ago. A few people make a comfortable life from the ancient trade in opium poppies, but many more live under the same stagnant economic conditions as their great-grandparents. Outside of the cities little has changed in living memory, only the names and faces of a continual stream of invaders – usually infidels – who come and go in ten-year cycles. Afghans know their own history of resisting every invading force that has come their way across thousands of years. Most of them deeply resent outsiders who try to impose changes on their society. That, at least, is one belief Americans and Afghans share.

Earmarking Pork – March 16,2009
For other members of Congress, it seems the temptation to designate federal funds for specific projects in their home state is too strong to resist. The Republican party has taken the position that it’s not enough to make the budget process more transparent. They don’t want the president to call out the big spenders, they want him to personally veto any earmarks that any representative attaches to any bill. In effect they’re repeating the mantra of every hopeless junkie – “Save me before I earmark any more pork, because I won’t stop myself from doing it.”

Which “ism” is it? – March 9, 2009
Rush Limbaugh continues to make national news as he speaks out strongly in defense of his right to freedom of speech. After being criticized for publicly stating that he hopes President Obama fails in his attempt to revive the American economy, Limbaugh chooses to justify his obstructionist position as a patriotic defense of the American Way. I support his right to vent as much rhetoric and anger and weird personal philosophy as he wants on his radio show.

The Road to Imperial Bankruptcy – March 2, 2009
From 1950 through 1980, each successive American President could take credit for reducing the national debt created by the Great Depression and World War II. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter all left behind a similar legacy of paying down our debts. Even during the escalation of the Southeast Asia conflict during the Nixon years the size of the debt compared to growth in the economy continued to decrease. Under Reagan and Bush I, however, that debt rose sharply every year until peaking in 1992.

The Ownership Society goes into foreclosure – February 23, 2009
In 2007 the 500 biggest companies in the US paid their CEOs a collective total of $6.4 billion – an average of $12.8 million each, but that's a deceptively low number. The top 25 executives took in 1.8 billion of that total all by themselves, as 21 of them took home more than $50 million each. At the head of the pack was Lawrence Ellison of Oracle, who received a remarkable $192 million in total compensation.

Yes to Empire, No to the People – February 16, 2009
When I look at the record of overall Congressional spending during the past forty years, I see this:
• Most Democratic politicians have a history of spending taxpayer money on anything and everything;
• Most Republican politicians have a history of spending taxpayer money on everything except services for taxpayers in need;
• Both political parties support military spending with few or no restraints.

A Graveyard of Empires – February 9, 2009
"The Pashtun are very ancient people," former Pentagon official Pierre Sprey added. "It's not a tribe; it's a nation of 40 million people spread across Afghanistan and Pakistan who don't even recognize that border. It's their land. Within it are tribal groupings but they all speak the common language. The Russians at the peak of their invasion brought in over 150,000 troops and trained a 250,000 man Afghan army. And they lost."

Partisan, united and behind the times – February 2, 2009
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas are Republican governors who've criticized government handouts in the past, but their states are in dire need of quick cash so they actively lobbied Congress to provide some financial help through the proposed $819 billion tax cut/new spending plan. Despite their efforts not a single Republican member of the House of Representatives voted to support the plan, which was approved by the Democratic majority.

The Democratic Socialist Republic of America – January 26, 2009
After weeks of pre-inaugural buildup and post-inaguaral anaysis I've had my fill of the Obama-worshipping crowd. They've gotten almost as obnoxious as Bush-worshippers around the time of that infamous "Mission Accomplished" bit of political theatre. That kind of blind faith in a Leader has become an American tradition but it's a dangerous habit; like any other drug, false worship has heavy consequences over time. I voted for Obama and I hope he can deliver on his promise to implement bipartisan solutions, but it's probably best to remember that he's a politician in a country where most people still believe that "Us vs Them" is a viable political philosophy.

In Secret, With Contempt – January 16, 2009
The pursuit of one's own selfish interests at the expense of others is an almost universal human trait. Many of our Captains of Commerce and Governance hold themselves to a loose set of standards that they would never allow the rest of humanity to operate by. They do so because their peers have demonstrated time after time that it can be done, that a complicit society allows the upper class to operate outside of the law so long as they remain discreet. It's no surprise that they hold such a system with contempt even as they take full advantage of it.

Two percent have got to go... – December 16, 2008
Based on numbers produced by one of their recent polls, the news folks at NBC claimed last week that two percent of the American public believe the national economy has improved over the past year. Their poll also tells them that two percent of us believe George W. Bush has been "one of the very best" presidents in American history. Given their extreme distance from any semblance of reality, both of those opinions must be shared by the same two percent.November

Wall Street bailout won’t cut the cost of fighting in Iraq – December 2, 2008
With all the talk about various financial crises and the need for the government to pump money into a struggling economy, not much is being said about the massive amounts of US dollars flowing into military operations in the desert sands of Iraq and mountain valleys of Afghanistan. How much money? Forget about numbers, there are so many, so massive that they're almost meaningless. It's just one huge pile of cash, the equivalent of taking several thousand dollars out of the pockets of every man, woman and child in America every year during each the past five years.

Small change is better than none – November 11, 2008
You can't engage in the grand American tradition of stealing elections unless it's a close election to begin with – as evidence, consider the 2000 and 2004 presidential contests, both stolen by Republican party operatives just as blatantly as John Kennedy's Democratic crew did in their win over Richard Nixon in 1960. When Barack Obama won last week by some eight million votes along with a large electoral margin, he made a theft of the presidency impossible – but Republican vote-stealing mechanisms weren't as strongly in place this year as they have been in the past, either.

Dying in the name of GWOT – October 21, 2008
The Global War On Terror is an awkward name with the terribly appropriate acronym of GWOT. Those who believe in the romance of war prefer "The Long War" as a name for our current military misadventures against Islamic jihadists. It resonates better in speeches and looks better when printed on a page, and that's important when selling a war to a nation. There's no glory in a GWOT, but a Long War evokes the full range of Hollywood war imagery that most Americans have grown to love.

Debating To Nowhere – October 8, 2008
The first presidential debate and the only vice-presidential debate are both over – but in one sense, they never really happened at all. There was little debating to be heard at either event, but plenty of scripted political theatre at both. In the September presidential debate, moderator Jim Lehrer repeatedly had to ask John McCain and Barack Obama to answer his questions, as both men kept shifting the subject of their response to a more comfortable topic. At the VP debate, Sarah Palin told everyone straight up that she wouldn't be doing any debating that night.

Partisan Politricks – September 17, 2008
You're a loyal Democrat or a loyal Republican. You vote in every presidential election and you vote for your party's candidate each time. You're a true believer, a partisan – and you're part of the problem in what passes for democracy in our modern American Republic.

The dis-united State of our Democratic Republic – September 3, 2008
You're not truly responsible for the mistakes you make in life until someone holds you accountable for them. Without consequences, there can be no accountability, no justice. As a nation, as a society and as a people, America is responsible for violating international law and for the indecent treatment of other people, acts that were done in our name over the past century and across the globe. We're also responsible for living well beyond our means at the expense of others. In a variety of ways, we're now being called to account for some of that history.

Investing in a country better than investing in a corporation – August 22, 2008
So it was a little surprising when the Government Accountability Office reported this month that more than 3,500 large American corporations – all with an income above $50 million – paid no income taxes in 2005. According to the GAO, foreign corporations doing business in America were even less likely to pay taxes here. During the eight years noted in the report, 72 percent of foreign corporations and 55 percent of domestic corporations paid zero income taxes in at least one of those years.

Heavy weather over the horizon – August 6, 2008
I'm neither scientist nor soothsayer, but like most folks, I can spot a trend developing. So like most folks, I'm thinking that we're looking at some hard fiscal times ahead. I'm also willing to bet that we're in for heavy weather for a long time to come, but nobody I know will take that bet.

Dreams of Empire fade into the dawn of a new day – July 23, 2008
The century-long quest for a global American Empire has ground to a painful, final halt in the sands of Mesopotamia, as many other dreams of Empire across history have done before. In its final push, however, it may have instead killed the American Dream. For the dreams of Empire are the dreams of only a few: the privileged and powerful who have little allegiance to any country. Their dreams do require armies, however, for empires are always funded by economic exploitation backed with military power. Of course, the dreamers of Empire never serve in any army themselves – that chore is left to those who are less fortunate but more patriotic.

Past time to prohibit Prohibition – July 17, 2008
To begin with, the plant's proper name is cannabis. It’s not marijuana, although you can find that word written into laws that regulate the use of the plant. Anyone who believes that English should be the one legal language in America, by the way, should be unhappy at this inclusion of a Mexican slang word in the laws of the land.

What you hear is what you know – July 3, 2008
Information is to the mind as food is to the body. A healthy mind requires a diversity of information in order to maintain a proper balance.
Trying to learn the realities of life in Iraq and Afghanistan by following American news reporting is a little like trying to live on a diet of rice and beans; you can fill yourself to the stuffing point day after day, but you'll be missing out on a lot of key nutrients that only exist in other foods.

Why? – June 17, 2008
“Why” may be the most important word in America today. It's certainly the least answered question in this country, because we seldom honestly ask it. Most of us would just as soon not know why bad things happen, so we tend not to ask. The answer, we suspect, would just interfere with our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Onward, Christian Torturers – June 3, 2008
Meanwhile here in the real world, we actually do sanction torture. Cheney speaks openly about the decision in 2001 to "take the gloves off" and journey to "the dark side" in order to "deal effectively with suspected terrorists" and protect America from the bad guys.

Soft Hope in Hard Times – May 20, 2008
If you've been reading this column lately, you'll have noticed that it usually has bad news to offer. That's pretty much the standard here at the National Affairs Desk, where we try to shine some light onto the dark side of current events whenever possible. The end result is rarely a pretty sight...

The Genetic Food Fight – April 22, 2008
In a world where every living thing is a food source for some other living thing, from the ultimate predator to the most primitive microbe, the quality of life for every species and plant genus is directly related to the quality of food available. We are what we eat.
Since the dawn of Time humans have had WYSIWYG food - when you sat down to eat, What You Saw Is What You Got. If it looked and tasted like a potato, it was a potato. But you can't be as sure as your ancestors were about what's on your plate, because scientists are genetically modifying edible things in an ever-growing number of ways.

Rapid withdrawal: the Iraq solutionApril 22, 2008
" gives me pause to learn that our vice-president and some members of the Senate are aligned with al-Qaeda on spreading the war to Iran."
Lt. Gen William Odom, Ret.

Gen. David Petraeus came to Washington this month and told Congress and the nation that we must continue the occupation in Iraq until – well, he never did say when he thought we might "succeed" at whatever it is we're trying to accomplish with our meddling in Mesopotamia. The general spoke in mostly vague terms but that's not necessarily his fault. Nobody in the current chain of command from President Bush to Ambassador Ryan Crocker seems to have a clear idea of what will constitute "success" in Iraq.

Senseless Images in Strange Times – April 9, 2008
What was the point, George? Why do this thing? Were there weird promises made that must be kept? Why face a certainly hostile crowd when you're almost home free, when by some strange twist of Fate you'll stroll out of office in less than ten months without being indicted or impeached for violating your Oath of Office in ways that no other President even dreamed of? Why, indeed...

Just spend more – it's the American Way – March 25, 2008
"Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline? That's interesting. I hadn't heard that..." George W. Bush, Feb. 29, 2008
We need to spend more money fighting the GWOT, the Global War on Terrorism. I don't really know how much we spend altogether right now; you don't either, nor does anyone else, including the alleged experts on government spending. Their highly informed best guesses all tend to hover in the general vicinity of three billion dollars per week just for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. At home we spend about $4 billion per month to keep the Homeland free from Terror. We also know that we spend a secret amount of money to do all kinds of secret things all over the planet, but even the secret-keepers have no idea what the bottom line is for all those secret projects. Whatever the true total may be, it's apparently not enough.

Blasting them out of the water – March 25, 2008
There is a body of research that describes the adverse effects on human divers exposed to ordinary levels of active sonar. Those effects include dizziness, seizures and a loss of memory. The source of that research? The Navy, which conducted those tests and makes now makes certain that its own divers aren't in the water during LFAS tests. Rear Admiral James Symonds, who directs the Navy's environmental readiness program, has stated publicly that, "The Navy will continue to employ stringent mitigation measures to protect marine mammals during all sonar activities." Adm. Symonds use of the word "protect" is both incorrect and misleading. The Navy is taking active measures to lessen the impact on marine mammals; that's not the same thing as protecting them. The only way to "protect" cetaceans from LFAS blasts is by not firing those blasts at all.

Eighteen percent is all you need – March 11, 2008
Democracy is a wonderful thing. We should get one. The electoral process we have in America isn't democratic because it doesn't provide full representation of the wide variety of views that any nation of 300 million citizens will naturally hold. Instead we have a state-by-state, winner-take-all system that requires our president to be selected by electors, not by the direct vote of the people. It's riddled with arcane rules that are enforced differently by each state and political party. The end result is a kind of semi-controlled chaos that favors the best manipulators instead of the best representatives.

The Rising Tide of Rhetoric – February 26, 2008
I watch the various national news programs on television because that's part of what I do for a living, although I get the honest news from a myriad of better sources. While listening to political talk shows lately I keep hearing certain words and phrases being used as if they mean the same thing to everyone. They don't. Often those words have no common meaning; some have no real meaning at all. Here's just a few...

The Greatest Heist In History – February 12, 2008
The “ownership society” that President Bush was so proud of three years ago turned out to have a very short life. The housing market is in the middle of a serious dive that may end up in a fiery crash, and the rest of the world is buying up all the paper that mortgage companies are unloading as they attempt to maintain the illusion of control. According to a recent Pew Research poll, half of the Americans surveyed now think that they live in a society of haves and have-nots. That’s nearly twice the number of folks who felt that way 1988, and most of them see themselves as one of the have-nots.

Dinosaurs, Democracy and a Doomed Republic – January 29, 2008
The business of extracting fossil fuels from the earth is at its peak; a slow but steady decline in production looms in the immediate future. The practice of democracy in America has also peaked – but unlike crude oil, democracy hit its peak some fifty years ago and has been declining ever since. That slow slide into the abyss is quickening in these days, however, and the democratic process might die out completely long before the oil from the last dead dinosaur is burnt away.

Say what you mean – and mean what you sayJanuary 15, 2008
The keyword in politics this election year is "Change", a word that means many things to many people. It's a word that candidates for president are embracing as their own, but only Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich have offered any real definition of what the concept of change means to them.

Chipping Away Your PrivacyJanuary 15, 2008
“The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” - William Gibson
If your passport is less than one year old, the future has certainly arrived for you. Implanted in all US passports after October of 2006 is a tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that can transmit your name, nationality, sex, date and place of birth along with your digitized photograph. If the improperly named Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has its way – and it probably will – that data will soon include fingerprints and iris scans as well.

The Geocratic Revolution – January 3, 2008
Another kind of revolution in our country will be necessary before we can properly repair the damage we have done. It will be the Geocratic Revolution, a peaceful but persistent movement towards an Earthocracy, a system of governance that values equality for all human beings and holds jurisdiction over all human constructs. It will have no fixed ideas of how things must be, but will simply seek to find a relative balance for all things.

The Year We Hit Rock Bottom – December 20, 2007
The past twelve months have been historic on several levels, with much of it involving the loss of human rights that once were considered a fundamental part of American life. 2007 will be remembered as the year when the last crumbling pieces of a moral and ethical facade were stripped away and the true face of American government was exposed.

An Enduring Presence – December 20, 2007
You can forget about seeing all American troops withdrawn from Iraq anytime soon. All the front-running presidential candidates have made it clear that they envision keeping a large force in Iraq during their first term in office, if not longer. Congress had the chance last year to pass legislation forbidding permanent military bases in Iraq, but decided not to include that provision in the final vote. And most of the soldiers sent to Iraq in the future will live on four huge US bases that are already in place.

Everywhere is up from here... – Nov. 8, 2007
When it comes to living up to our own ideal as a nation, we've just about hit rock bottom. We kidnap and torture suspected terrorists, we owe nine trillion dollars to everybody and our soldiers are dying in a country we invaded "by mistake". How low is that?

A time for intervention: get in the way – Oct. 9, 2007
In 1866 the U.S. Supreme Court issued an explicit ruling that no emergency – not even an open civil war like the country had just suffered through – can justify the suspension or removal of any rights recognized by the Constitution. Although five of the justices were appointed by Abraham Lincoln, the Court delivered a message that Lincoln’s deliberate disregard of the law of the land during his “war presidency” was illegal. Their words were clear: “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.”

War on terror a booming business – July 5, 2007
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military expenditure in 2006 – the total cost of maintaining armies across the globe – is estimated to be at least $1.2 trillion in current dollars. That's a 3.5 percent increase over 2005 and a 37 percent increase since 1997.

And all the King's Men: laying down the law on Bush and his cronies – February 13, 2007
In March 2002, more than a year before the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush interrupted a meeting between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and three U.S. Senators, who were in her office discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations.
“Fuck Saddam, we’re taking him out,” he said.
According to one of the participants, the senators laughed uncomfortably at the President’s comment while Rice merely smiled. Bush then left the room, as he wasn’t part of the work being done there...

A Government Rises From Exile
The Hawaiian Nation reclaims its place in the world – November 21, 2001
The nation of Hawaii has never ceased to exist - it was only the government that was taken over and driven into exile. A nation is essentially the physical area of the land as defined by its borders, and the citizens who reside within those borders. It’s not the government - governments come and go, are overthrown and can be restored. The nation remains, existing above and beyond the government unless it surrenders its sovereignty to another nation. That never happened in Hawai’i...

Fear Defeats Freedom – March 2, 2005
That’s not to say that I think I’m off the radar screens of the Thought Police, but I always figured I was a pretty small blip on those screens. I’ve operated under the assumption that my phone is probably tapped for a long time now, and I’m used to that, but facing travel restrictions is something new to me...

For The Recorda few published editorials against the invasion of Iraq
Voicing my opinion in print got me placed on an airport watch list – inconvenient for my family and illegal under the Constitution, but not so bad in its effect on my life. I never really enjoyed flying around with someone else at the controls anyway – but the fact that I was targeted is deeply disturbing...

Guest Essays

The Undoing of America
Gore Vidal on war for oil, politics-free elections, and the late, great U.S. Constitution

"Europe, after all, is more populous than the United States, better educated, better quality of life for most of its citizens. And it has actually achieved, here and there, a civilization, which we haven’t."

Fatal Vision
The Deeper Evil Behind the Detainee Bill
By Chris Floyd

"That's right; from the earliest days of the Terror War - September 17, 2001, to be exact - Bush has claimed the peremptory power of life and death over the entire world. If he says you're an enemy of America, you are.
This is not hyperbole, liberal paranoia, or "conspiracy theory": it's simply a fact, reported by the mainstream media, attested to by senior administration figures, recorded in many official government documents - and boasted about by the president himself, in front of Congress and even a national television audience."

Dick Cheney – The Mask Behind The Throne
A three-part series that offers a retrospective of Dick Cheney
Draft Dodgers and Warmongers: Dick Cheney's early years
The darkest voting record in politics: the Vice's paper trail
History of the Vice: the Halliburton Years

Bypassing Pa‘ia
Who owns the best right-of-way? – April 13, 2005
Long before there was a Hana Highway, those three roads existed much as they do today. Linked together with Kala Road – as they still are – they mark the historic roadway used by residents of the North Shore region for over one hundred years. They also offer a sensible route for the long-anticipated Pa‘ia bypass road today. An 1893 map of the Spreckelsville plantation shows a fairly straight, inland route marked as “Makawao Road” running from Maliko Gulch, passing through Hamakuapoko and above Pa‘ia Town, then down to where Kahului Airport stands today. A more detailed 1896 map prepared by Hugh Howell shows that same roadway...

“The tragic results of war...” – January 19, 2005
So we sent our soldiers off to die, in blind support of our 'leaders' and to ease our own nameless fears. We carry that guilt together as a sovereign people...

They Knew...
They lied about it then and they’re lying about it still – September 15, 2004
But the truth is not in George W. Bush, or in his cronies and henchmen...

Patients Without Time
Cannabis advocacy group empowers patients to manage their own medication – February 2, 2005

From a small office in the Pa‘ia Plaza, a group of folks who represent both the future and the past are working to bring relief to people whose lives have been altered by pain and disease. They help patients and doctors re-learn an ancient herbal medicine with a 4,000 year history, and they’re changing attitudes about pharmacology in the Western world along the way...

Free speech and free access are quickly becoming less free – March 16, 2005
No form of communication is perfect, but modern society has created a deeply flawed method of delivering information to the public..

Spending The People’s Money – February 16, 2005
...just the tip of a massive, ugly iceberg of spending priorities that Vice-President Cheney calls “fair and reasonable”. It provides a clear picture of the Crusade this Bush administration wants to lead, here in the New World Order...

Welcome to Baghdad – you can see Tehran from here – May 19, 2004
A vital element in our current government’s long–term strategy is the creation of permanent military bases in Iraq to maintain a strong presence the Middle East. That plan is spelled out clearly in the “National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” a document President Bush released on September 20, 2001, just nine days after the Twin Towers were brought down. That statement of American policy is a close match to an earlier report issued by the Project For A New American Century. In many places, it uses the same language.

A hui hou – April 13, 2005 editorial farewell to Maui
...I decided to print stories that were not being told anywhere else, to find strong social and political commentary from all over the world that was still fit to print in a newspaper that is mailed to people’s homes. Editorially, I criticized the current administration policies as often as possible – but I would have done that, anyway, because they deserve it...

Hawaiians – a Nation, a Tribe, or wards of the State? – September 3, 2003
True believers in the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Nation don’t really care what U.S. law says about their legal status. Most folks who are part of the sovereign movement are law-abiding people, but they don’t respect American law as being historically valid in Hawai‘i...

Orwell would be proud, as Bush perfects “newspeak” – August 6, 2003
Although government in America wasn’t begun as a democracy, it was formed from a belief in honesty and open behavior. The Founding Fathers were mostly upper-class citizens who feared the instability of a democracy. They preferred a republic, so they designed one based on their personal ideas of honor and justice. It was an elitist system that was doomed to fail, but it worked fairly well at first and lasted for several decades...

The Crusade of the Shadow Men
Haleakala Times editorial, February 19, 2003
Decades ago, about a week or so after the US-supported Shah of Iran was overthrown by fundamentalist Muslims, the American government - the real one, the shadow men backstage who make the rules and own the actors who front for them - began cozying up to the Iraqi government. When Saddam Hussein took control of Iraq and started a war against Iran, the shadow men supported Hussein. They helped Iran, too, just in case things went badly for Hussein. But Iraq got most of the technology for making chemical, biological and nuclear weapons from US-based multi-national corporations, with US government approval...

A society of sinners, casting stones…
July 16, 2003 editorial
“No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.” – William Howard Taft
It’s almost a crime now to be young – and often a crime to be different. Generations that came of age between 1960 and 1990 lived through one of the most excessive and indulgent eras since ancient Rome, yet the survivors of those years seek to deny others the same freedoms that they themselves enjoyed and abused...