Why did the Kauai chicken (chikin) cross the road? To snorkel.
Some might call this a vacation, this journey to a relatively remote island, but that would imply leisure and luxury, neither of which would be helpful to the image or reputation of the Partisan. So let’s call it being “on assignment,” a one-week immersion into comparative politics and public affairs.
Here in this slice of the humid zone, let’s call it “Kauai,” election season is in full bloom. There are more campaign signs than tropical flowers. Many houses along the highways contain as many signs as all of Munras Avenue, as all of Seaside Highlands. If there is much stealing of campaign signs here, I am all for it.
There are so many signs that I suspect some candidates may pay for the privilege of planting them. There seem to be very few overt discussions of politics, at least not at the hotel bar or anyplace else where TVs display the World Series, yet so many locals are quite willing to obscure views of their yard sales. Other evidence of campaign signage as indications of commerce rather than ideology includes the fact that some highly visible residences allow both competing camps to post.
As in California, attack ads are the norm on television. This must be a highly Democratic state because one candidate for governor simply criticizes his opponent for acting like a typical Republican. A candidate for Congress displays an old news clip of his opponent saying sometimes it is necessary to raise taxes. The spot then segues into the assertion that Mr. Big Spender supports raising taxes on everything, including pensions. (A local radio commentator expresses his fear that the politicians soon will impose a tax on taxes.)
By the time this campaign is over, voters here will have an excuse for their confusion. The state’s congressional race is being inundated by outside money, mostly from Political Action Committees intent on besmirching one side or the other or at least blurring what little distinguishes them. For instance, the American Action Network will spend $300,000 on TV commercials accusing Democrat Mark Takai of not being conservative enough to be in Congress. That PAC is headed by Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota. It is nice to know he cares so deeply about Hawaii.
Republican Charles Djou, well he’s not liberal enough, according to the $144,000 in advertising sponsored by Working Familes for Hawaii, alias the public employee unions.
The newspapers are full of endorsement editorials, of course, and the editorials are full of endorsement speak. In other words, they contain almost no information about any of the candidates’ characters or records of either accomplishment or failure. All that seems to matter is the degree to which either candidate “gets it,” code of sort for the extent to which either candidate agrees with the newspaper.
Matsumoto “shows a deep understanding” of the issues confronting the town of Ka’Hio’Kalapaki while Takamoto “remains committed” to the principles of good government. Good to know Takamoto has not gone over to the bad government camp.
Because I “remain committed” to the task at hand despite the various distractions, I also am alertly on the lookout for any and all signs of voter alienation or “cross-channel contamination,” a term I saw in the Honolulu newspaper, unfortunately but accurately named the Star-Advertiser.
And since all politics is personal, I also remain on the lookout for insights into my own issues of the day. For instance, can anyone tell me with certainty why so many chickens run loose on this island and whether anything bad will happen to me if I run over one? The Democrats say they are descendants of ancestors who were freed when a poorly prepared Republican administration allowed the island’s chicken coops to be destroyed by hurricane. The GOP insists it is a function of fuzzy environmentalist policies that eliminated most natural predators.
Another nagging issue for me is this. Sunday I was in the lovely community of Hanalei and found myself humming that old ditty “Puff the Magic Dragon.” I am not sure why, and I do not subscribe to the flashback theory of cognition, but it came to me like a crashing wave that good old Puff had, according to song, frolicked in either the ocean mist or autumn mist in a town called Honna Lee or, could it be, Hanalei?
The most authoritative of references, Wikipedia, says yes, it could be.
Add to that the theory that “Puff the Magic Dragon” has something to do with marijuana, and the notion becomes even more compelling given the vibe of Hanalei. But I asked around. Truth be told, I actually just asked one grey-haired store clerk in Hanalei.
“I used to hear that all the time,” she said, “but not so much anymore. Maybe it’s because it’s an old song.”
So, there you have it, and without the need for any intrusive government involvement. Speaking of which, I also would like to see just one candidate stand up and explain once and for all this “resort fee” nonsense. The hotel charges good money for everything, including a “walking distance to Kmart” surcharge, and then tacks on $30 a night because management was smart enough to include “resort” in the name, as in Barney’s Beachside Barbecue/Shave Ice Bungalows Spa and Resort.
Finally, apropos of almost nothing, I conclude with my favorite news story of the week, reprinted in its entirety from the aforementioned Honolulu Star-Advertiser:
Prison Visitation Canceled on Oahu, Big Isle
The Department of Public Safety canceled visitation to Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu and the Punahele, Komohana and Waianuenue correctional facilities on Saturday due to ongoing staffing shortages.
Such cancellations have been an almost-weekly occurrence this year as the department deals with chronic absenteeism, especially on weekends and when major sporting events are on TV.
If I could vote here, I think I would vote for whatever candidate becomes “fully committed” to determining which sporting events have the greatest impact on staffing levels so taxes can be raised on the ticket prices.