Archive for category Commentary

HCR107 — A secessionist resolution in the Hawaii legislature that is both ridiculous and dangerous.

House Concurrent Resolution 107 (HCR107) in the Hawaii legislature would establish “a joint legislative investigating committee to investigate the status of two executive agreements entered into in 1893 between United States President Grover Cleveland and Queen Liliuokalani of the Hawaiian Kingdom, called the Liliuokalani assignment and the agreement of restoration.”

The investigating committee would be empowered to “Issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of the witnesses and subpoenas duces tecum requiring the production of books, documents, records, papers, or other evidence in any matter pending before the joint investigating
committee; … Administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses at hearings of the joint investigating committee; Report or certify instances of contempt as
provided in section 21—14, Hawaii Revised Statutes …”

This resolution is both ridiculous and dangerous. My own testimony explains why, and is on a webpage at
http://tinyurl.com/4t5pecj

The purpose of such an investigation is not merely to do academic research on an obscure historical question from 118 years ago. The purposes are to claim that the U.S. had an obligation to restore Liliuokalani to the throne; and to claim that the obligation of the President of the United States continues to this day to restore the Kingdom of Hawaii to its former status as an independent nation.

Three of the many harms that would result by passing HCR107 are briefly identified here and discussed in detail in the testimony.

1. A resolution such as HCR107 brings ridicule and disrespect upon those who support it, and upon the legislature as a whole — as shown by recalling what happened in connection with another Hawaiian sovereignty resolution passed in 2007. Many current members of the legislature, including members of this committee, participated in that debacle. The 2007 resolution established a permanent annual Hawaiian Restoration Day holiday for April 30. Reverend Kaleo Patterson knowingly used a fake Grover Cleveland proclamation from 1894, cited it as fact, and used it as the basis for a media blitz in 2006 in Hawaii and on the mainland calling for a national day of prayer for restoration of Native Hawaiians and repentance for the overthrow of the monarchy. He repeated his local and mainland propaganda campaign in 2007 and pushed a resolution HCR82 through the Hawaii legislature citing the joke proclamation as real and “proclaiming April 30 of every year as Hawaiian Restoration Day.” A 4-page flyer pokes fun at the legislature for passing that ridiculous resolution despite testimony proving the Cleveland proclamation was a joke.
http://tinyurl.com/2tj5jl

2. Such a resolution as HCR107 provides a platform whereby certain perpetrators of historical malpractice bring fame and fortune to themselves while spreading false information far and wide, using the legislature as an accomplice. Keanu Sai is the man behind this resolution. He is now revving up his third big scam based on twisted historical allegations which the resolution describes as fact. His convoluted lawsuit against U.S. government officials including President Obama, based on the allegations in HCR107, was dismissed on summary judgment in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on March 9.

3. HCR107 contains numerous false or misleading statements, some of which are refuted in my testimony. For example: There was no “executive agreement” between President Grover Cleveland and ex-queen Liliuokalani. One reason is that Liliuokalani was overthrown by the Hawaiian revolution on January 17, 1893 and no longer held executive authority after that, but Grover Cleveland was not installed as President until March. Also, President Cleveland had no power or authority to put Liliuokalani back on the throne, which is what Keanu Sai’s theory says is the core of the “executive agreement.”

For my entire testimony, see
http://tinyurl.com/4t5pecj

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Thank You, National Review

The omnibus spending spending bill died last week for lack of support. Senator Inouye had inserted into it a mandate for a study to figure out how to make a federally recognized Indian tribe out of persons who have native Hawaiian blood.

Commenting on that insert, National Review online editorialized: “ That’s a reference to the notorious Akaka Bill, an odious piece of segregationist legislation that would establish a race-based government on the Hawaiian archipelago”. That is a great description. Thank you National Review. It now appears that the proposed Bill is road kill. Now if we could only get some prudent management of the grant activity revealed on this website. That’s the mission, please help.

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Omnibus Luau

I don’t know why we should be surprised that Senator Inouye is so accomplished at adding pork to the federal budget.  After all, if there’s one thing we love out here, it’s a luau.  But even the most liberal spender might blanch at the provision that Inouye just attempted to slip into the notorious Omnibus Spending Bill:

NATIVE HAWAIIAN RECOGNITION STUDY AUTHORIZATION
SEC. 125. The Secretary of the Interior shall, with funds appropriated for fiscal year 2011, and in coordination with the State of Hawaii and those offices designated under the Hawaii State Constitution as representative of the Native Hawaiian community, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and the Attorney General of the United States, examine and make recommendations to Congress no later than September 30, 2011, on developing a mechanism for the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian governing entity and recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian governing entity as an Indian tribe within the meaning of Articles I and II of the Constitution.

Allow me to cut through the legislation-ese:  This provision grants an unspecified amount of money for a study (made in cooperation with OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands) on implementing the Akaka Bill constitutionally.  If it weren’t for the fact that it’s a blatant pork project, one would be tempted to say something like, “Hey, since you’ve been pushing for this for years, don’t you think it would have been good to address this earlier?”  However, given the nature of politics and the truer meaning of this project, perhaps the best response would be, “Hey, you sure have a lot of nerve funneling money to the two biggest supporters of this legislation to produce a ‘study’ that will support it.”

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Akaka’s Civil Rights Problem

So much of the argument for the Akaka Bill is couched in Civil Rights terms–we are given to understand that to oppose it is to somehow oppose the rights and privileges of Native Hawaiians.  In fact, one of the most pernicious historical fallacies surrounding the former Kingdom of Hawaii as it relates to the argument for the Akaka Bill ca be found in the way that Akaka supporters blithely ignore the multi-ethnic make-up of the Hawaiian government at the same time as they push for the wholesale creation of a race-based “reorganization.”  In light of this sensitive question, it might be interesting to examine where some of the nation’s experts on matters of civil rights stand on the Bill.

Would you be surprised to hear that they oppose it?  It’s true.  On Dec. 7, 2010, the United States Commission on Civil Rights delivered a letter to key Congressional leaders reiterating their opposition to the Akaka Bill. If you’re interested, you can read the letter in full here.  (And the earlier, more detailed letter it references can be seen here.)  Without equivocation, the USCCR expresses its opposition that any attempt made to attach the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act to a spending bill this session.  In addition, the letter states that the changes that have been made or proposed to the Act are insufficient to overcome the constitutional concerns that have been raised, and reiterates the Commission’s opposition to the Bill.

What is the source of the Commission’s opposition?   The reasons given should be familiar to most of those who have made a careful study of the legislation and its possible consequences: that Congress lacks that constitutional authority to thus “reorganize” ethnic groups into dependent sovereign nations without a strong history of self governance; that doing so will set a dangerous precedent; that it should not be used as an attempt to shore up race-based benefits threatened by recent court decisions; and that it is contradictory to the history of the Hawaiian government.

Above all, the opinion of the Commission makes it clear that the questions of race that surround the Akaka Bill are far more complex than Akaka’s supporters would like to admit.  It’s as though, in their efforts to help one ethnic group, the pro-Akaka lobby has deliberately ignored the fundamental principles of civil rights.

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Transparency?— Not with the Akaka bill

Yesterday there was much talk in Washington, DC that Senator Inouye was planning to attach the Akaka bill (presumably the latest version after major changes) to the Senate Omnibus Spending bill later in December. That would mean that would mean that it would pass without hearings or any other vetting. Indicating that the possibility was real, four seasoned U. S. Senators released statements deploring the idea. See press release here. At about the same time, Hawaii Reporter reported the story and quoted Peter Boylan, Senator Inouye’s spokesman, as saying Inouye was not planning such a move and reaffirming Inouye’s 2009 statement that attachment to an appropriations bill would be “nonsensical”. See text here.

Next was Robert Costa at NRO who reported Senator Inouye told NRO that he would like to bring the bill forward, but “it depends on if we can work out something with amendments”. He then quoted the Senator “We’ve been working on this for over a decade now….. No one can say we’ve been hiding this”. That remark prompted a response from Steven Duffield here.

If you are not confused, you should be. But here is the bottom line: there is no transparency here. GRIH stands for transparency in government. Hawaii’s people do not know anything substantive about this bill and people in government are keeping them in the dark.k

Before statehood in 1959, Hawaii had a Plebiscite. Approval was 94+%. Now a secret “nonsensical” attachment will skirt that? Walk your talk, Senator Inouye.

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What Are the ‘Returned Lands’ of Hawaii?

By Jere Krischel

In an article titled “What are the ‘Ceded Lands’ of Hawaii?” written for Honolulu Civil Beat on 11/08/2010, Professor Van Dyke makes some critical errors in his assessment of both the history and the law.  While acknowledging the Supreme Court’s rejection of the “Apology Resolution,” he still relies on it for his “legal” justification.  While quoting from the Admissions Act of 1959, he omits a key clause that differentiates between “should” and “can.”  But most problematically, Van Dyke intimates that “Native Hawaiians” were somehow legally separate during the Kingdom period in Hawaii, and that the public lands that were returned to the State of Hawaii have some sort of racial lien on them.

The first red flag we should recognize in Van Dyke’s writing is the use of quotes around the term “illegal.”  In order for something to be illegal, we must have several things – a concrete body of law which was violated, a judiciary to arbitrate the dispute, and finally, a finding after a trial presenting both sides of the issue.  Without these necessary requirements, we are substituting personal opinion for legal fact.  Although PL103-150 (aka “The Apology Resolution”) uses the term “illegal” several times in describing the Hawaiian Revolution, it does not identify any specific law which was violated, any judiciary with jurisdiction over the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893, nor any trial which was conducted to determine guilt or innocence.

So can the “Apology Resolution” unilaterally declare the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893 illegal?  Absolutely not.  Ex post facto laws are explicitly forbidden by the U.S. Constitution –  one cannot simply pass a law which declares someone’s prior actions illegal.  Neither does the legislature have the authority to declare someone guilty as a matter of legal fact.  In recognition of this and the basic principles of statutory construction, the Supreme Court on March 31, 2009 firmly established that the “Apology Resolution” had no legally binding effect, stating that the “‘whereas’ clauses cannot bear the weight that the lower court placed on them.”

The second major mistake Van Dyke makes is a subtle, but important distinction between something that is necessary, and something that is allowable.  Van Dyke states that the 1959 Admissions Act demanded that “revenues from these lands should be used” for native Hawaiians.  This is a misread of the Admissions Act, which provided limits on what the revenues could be used for, not mandates.  The specific text of the Admissions Act reads, “such lands, proceeds, and income shall be managed and disposed of for one or more of the foregoing purposes…their use for any other object shall constitute a breach of trust…”

This means that the State of Hawaii could spend every penny on public education, and not a dime on the development of farm and home ownership.  Or, it could decide to spend everything on public improvements and provisions for public use of the lands, while not funding anything else.  Any combination of “one or more” would be legal according to the Admissions Act.  The only two things that would be a breach of trust would be to spend none of the revenue at all, or spend any of the revenue on a non-permissible use, such as supporting private schools, or the development of automobile ownership.

With his words Van Dyke echoes a misinterpretation of the Admissions Act that OHA has been intentionally cultivating for many years, using it to justify a 20% share of revenue from the public lands of the State of Hawaii to native Hawaiians (although OHA specifically ignores the blood quantum definition used in the Admissions Act).  By their rationale, exactly 20% should be allocated to farm and home ownership, exactly 20% should be allocated to public schools, exactly 20% should be allocated for public improvements, and the last 20% should be allocated to make public lands available for public use.  But the Admissions Act, as plainly read, has no such mandate whatsoever.

The most insidious misrepresentation Van Dyke makes, however, is regarding the citizenry of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the chain of ownership of the ‘ceded’ lands.

From its inception, the Kingdom of Hawaii was a multi-racial nation.  High Chief Olohana, otherwise known as John Young, fought beside Kamehameha the Great to establish the unified Kingdom, and was the grandfather of Queen Emma herself.  The first constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1840 stated boldly that all people were “of one blood,” and established equality between all races over 100 years before the modern civil rights movement in the United States.  Characterizing the Crown Lands or Government Lands of the Kingdom of Hawaii as being dedicated to only one race is a desecration of both the spirit and the laws of the Kingdom from which they came.

With his synopsis, Van Dyke perpetuates the fiction that the ‘Ceded Lands’ are still ‘ceded.’  But the truth is, they are now more properly called  the ‘Returned Lands.’  The Crown Lands and Government Lands of the Kingdom of Hawaii were consolidated into the Public Lands of the Republic of Hawaii in 1894.  These public lands (about 1.8 million acres) became the ‘Ceded Lands’ in 1898, when the Republic ceded them to the United States on the condition that the revenues and proceeds, except for the parts used for the civil, military or naval purposes of the U.S., “shall be used solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands.”  Van Dyke acknowledges that this created a “special trust”, but he carefully omits that the ‘Ceded Lands’ Trust was established for all the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands, not just for those of a specific ancestry.

When the Territory of Hawaii was established in 1900 by the Organic Act, it reiterated that the public lands were acquired by the United States in “absolute fee” under the Annexation Act, free from “all claim of any nature whatsoever.”  These ‘Ceded Lands’ finally became the ‘Returned Lands’, when the lands were returned to the public of the State of Hawaii as per the Admissions Act of 1959.  The circle was finally complete – what had originally been the public lands of all the people of the Kingdom of Hawaii, became the public lands of all the people of the State of Hawaii.

Placing exclusive racial claims upon the ‘Returned Lands’ is an abuse of the trust placed in the State of Hawaii, and a violation of our Constitutional guarantees of equal protection.  No matter how many times these false claims are repeated, and no matter how many myths are invented to justify such race-based distinctions, they will never become true, and will never be justified.  All of the inhabitants of Hawaii, regardless of ancestry, have a powerful claim to the ‘Returned Lands,’ as clearly demanded by the Organic Act and the legacy of the multi-racial Kingdom of Hawaii.

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The Immunity Question

When Governor Lingle announced, with all due flourishing, her newly acquired support for the Akaka Bill, a big part of her new-found appreciation for divisive race-based legislation was in the compromise over criminal immunity that was theoretically being added to the bill.  (I say “theoretically” because–while that language was added to the House version of the Bill–there is no guarantee that it will survive to a final version.)  Lingle was understandably concerned that Native Hawaiians under a new tribal government might be immune from prosecution of criminal activity under state law.  Before anyone starts planning to discover a Native Hawaiian ancestor and set up a counterfeiting ring, I should point out that tribal governments can still prosecute such crimes (and are generally expected to do so).  In short, the question of immunity in a new Native Hawaiian government was a critical one.  So at least that has been addressed, right?

Not so fast.

In addition to the fact that there is no guarantee that the criminal immunity provisions survive to a final version of the Akaka Bill, there is also the fact that the problem doesn’t end with criminal immunity.  Consider this story:

On November 29, 2005, Robert Gutierrez, an employee of the Pueblo of Santa Clara in New Mexico, was driving a car owned by the Pueblo on Pueblo business.   That business took him outside of the tribal boundaries of the Pueblo, into a town in the state of New Mexico.  It was while he was off of tribal land (though still in a tribe-owned car on tribe-business) that Gutierrez made an improper turn into oncoming traffic and caused a car accident.  Peggy Reed and Timothy Reed, a husband and wife who were injured in the accident, sued Gutierrez and the Pueblo for damages arising from their injuries. The Pueblo and Gutierrez didn’t deny their part in the accident–they merely argued that the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity protected them from the lawsuit.  And sadly for the Reeds, the court agreed, dismissing their lawsuit–a decision that was then upheld by the New Mexico Court of Appeals.  And all based on the concept of tribal sovereign immunity.

How does this relate to the Akaka Bill?  Well, if the bill is passed and Native Hawaiians are provided with the same tribal immunity, it brings an unfair and divisive element to our islands.  If you are crossing the street with your spouse/husband/grandmother, and you’re hit by a Love’s truck doing some deliveries, you can sue Love’s and the driver for your injuries.  That’s how you can recoup the cost of your medical bills, lost pay at work, chronic pain, and so on.  However, under the post-Akaka immunity scenario, if that truck is owned by the Native Hawaiian government and driven by one of their employees, you’re just out of luck.  Tribal sovereign immunity prevents you from being able to sue the Native Hawaiian government for your hospital bills, your Grandmother’s wheelchair, the 3 months of work you missed, or anything else.

These are the kinds of problems we’re speaking of when we warn the people of Hawaii that the Akaka Bill poses a real danger to our state and the spirit of aloha that makes it such a special place to live.

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Why Would a Native Hawaiian Oppose the Akaka Bill?

Actually, there are plenty of good reasons for Native Hawaiians to oppose the Akaka Bill, from believing that it’s not good for Hawaii to mistrusting how it handles the creation of the new Hawaiian government.  But the reasons don’t have to be specific to the bill itself.  There is also a principled approach that questions how it affects the Hawaiian spirit of ohana.  Consider this explanation given to Grassroot Institute President Richard Rowland by a Native Hawaiian who is concerned that the Akaka Bill forces Native Hawaiians to turn their backs on spouses, in-laws, and friends:

In addition, they would also be turning their backs on many others with whom they might have long and close ties that bind such as:  hanai children or parents, aunties and uncle, classmates, teachers, students, coaches, business partners, co-workers, faithful employees, squadron mates,  church parishioners, canoe club members, swim club members, fellow professionals and on and on.

The Akaka bill allows only those with at least one ancestor indigenous to the Hawaiian islands to participate in the process of creating the new government; but it leaves it up to the new Native Hawaiian governing entity to decide the criteria for its own citizenship.  Since the Akaka bill is intended to protect the existing race-based entitlements, it is a given that the new government will not have an Equal Protection clause.  That means the new government will be free to discriminate on the basis of race, even against some of its own citizens.

Hard to see why any Hawaiian would want to join.

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What Do You Djou?

If we were handing out political courage awards, we wouldn’t exactly break out backs trying to carry the ones needed for Hawaii’s political class.  Especially on the Akaka Bill.  Heck, a three-year-old child could probably handle the load on that one.  Hawaii’s Democrats are rather remarkably in lockstep agreement on a fairly controversial issue–which pretty much indicates that the Party has declared its approval and will brook no dissent.  Hawaii’s Republican Party (such as it is) thankfully lacks the inflexible message of the Democrats, but makes up for it with party leaders who take a half-measures approach that consists mainly of offering weak disapproval and then caving-in after a few showy are largely meaningless “compromises.”  (Yes, there are exceptions.  There always are.  But not enough of them.)  Thus we have Linda Lingle’s shift on the Akaka Bill and Charles Djou’s rather bewildering variations.

Djou, in particular, is an interesting case.  Prior to getting elected, he gave some the impression that even if he wasn’t a vocal opponent of the Bill, neither did he plan to promote it.  But consider the statement he made in a recent radio interview: “Should the Akaka bill come back to the U.S. House, I’m confident that I’d be able to garner far more Republican support for the Akaka bill — make it bipartisan, make it less controversial, and make its passage far smoother.”  It’s hard not to see this as full support for the Bill’s passage.

Then, perhaps sensing that his position on Akaka was gaining him no friends among the Republicans and Independents that he needs in order to win, Djou decided to add a little nuance to his stance on the Bill.  Now, he says that he supports public hearings on the Bill and a non-binding vote from the Hawaii people.  Needless to say, those who are concerned about the impact of the Akaka Bill feel that the voice of the people of Hawaii on the issue should be a binding one–the current suggestion raises the strange possibility that hearings and a vote could show significant opposition to the Bill only to have it overridden by Congress.  Still, Djou’s latest position demonstrates some understanding that the most radical political questions since statehood deserves a public voice.  And of course Djou’s opponent, Colleen Hanabusa (a Democrat) is an unreserved supporter of the Akaka Bill (she has mentioned some support for public hearings, but not for a public vote).  Clearly, election day this year may have a real effect on what happens next in the effort to pass the Akaka Bill.

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Bar None

The American Bar Association is currently lobbying in favor of the Akaka Bill, having sent a letter this week to every US Senator in favor of its passage.  This is much less impressive than it sounds.   Much like The Simpsons or David Lee Roth, the ABA is a shadow of its former self, living off the credibility of a name that too few have realized no longer carries any guarantee of quality or professionalism.

So when did the ABA jump the shark?  It’s hard to say . . . it’s really one of those incremental things.  Until one day you wake up and they’re applying purely political considerations to their evaluation of judicial nominees.  Among those people who follow such things, it’s common knowledge that the ABA no longer has any credibility as a neutral arbiter of constitutional interpretation or judicial ability.  Now, it functions more like a mouthpiece for the left wing of the Democratic party.  Take the aforementioned letter to the US Senate on the Akaka Bill.  One might imagine that the American Bar Association would present a neutral evaluation of the constitutionality and possible objections to the bill.  Don’t make me laugh.  In essence, it’s little more than a distillation of the same arguments presented by the pro-Akaka Lobby.  In fact, it bears such a similarity to an OHA column that one hopes the ABA didn’t spend too much money to produce such a propagandist rehash.

Of course, that’s how the game is played nowadays . . . bias disguised as neutral analysis is par for the course in modern politics.  It’s just a shame that such politics-as-usual methods are preventing a true debate on the merits of the bill and its possible impact on Hawaii.

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