The Trump Administration: Children in a Fantasy

The American philosopher Ken Wilber called Trump, when he was running, “the boy who would be King,” by which he meant that Trump was at the psycho-emotional level of a young child, and urged voting against him:

Not because he is a big alpha figure who would bust up the establishment. Not because he’s vulgar. Not because lacks a coherent policy vision. Those things can actually be evolutionarily potent in their proper measure. No, the real problem with Donald Trump is that in important lines of development he is arrested at the level of a five-year-old. Keep nukes out of the hands of children. Make sure to vote!


[For more on what is meant by “development” see my article “Integral 102”]

Now that Trump has tapped Steven Bannon for his inner circle, I looked at a Breitbart article (Bannon is a Breitbart executive). The article made the “argument” that the key to women’s happiness was to “uninvent” the washing machine and the birth control pill, both of which had made them completely “miserable.” First, nothing is ever uninvented. Once technologies catch on – especially labor-saving devices – for better or worse, we seem to be stuck with them. Second, if anything needs to be “uninvented” is it really the washing machine? Not the nuclear bomb? To think that these things can be uninvented and that there’s not a population problem is to live in a fantasy world. They want women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen – no wonder they were against Clinton for President!

Trump also speaks of using nuclear weapons, imperiling us all, as if only the US has them! Or only the US and Russia. As if he doesnʻt know that there are at least 13 nuclear states. And his responses to questions about their use is consistent with that of an adolescent boy: “Then why do we have them [if not to use them]?” This shows no understanding that nuclear weapons, to the extent that they have any valid use at all, are deterrents.

Finally, as far as I have observed, Trump has not once used the word democracy in his campaign, a campaign that has shown nothing but contempt for the idea. If things go the way many are predicting, Americans will have – proudly – voted their own, hard-won rights away by handing the nuclear codes, the Bush-Obama surveillance apparatus and the power of commander-in-chief of the US military to a child.


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The 1840 Hawaiian Kingdom Constitution – one of the world’s first modern constitutions

The first modern constitution (the Magna Carta is not considered an actually constitution, but rather a precursor to constitutions) was the US Constitution of 1788. Fifty-one years later, the Hawaiian Kingdom, having proclaimed a Declaration of Rights in 1839, promulgated the Constitution of 1840, of which the Declaration became a preamble. It always struck me that 50 years, in the slow process of “constitutionalism” was quite a short period of time. Today, constitutions are standard documents, but in the mid-1800s most governments were absolute monarchies, without constitutions. I had my students look up the answer to the question: How many constitutions were made in that 50 year period? The answer, excluding Hawaiʻi, is four! So if my information is correct, the Hawaiian Kingdom’s 1840 Constitution was only the fifth modern constitution in history! The four constitutions that predate Hawaiʻi’s are: the United States (1788), The Kingdom of Norway (1814), the Netherlands (1815), and Belgium (1831). Hawaiʻi followed in 1843 and Denmark was next in 1849. Now this list is of constitutions that are still in effect and only counts independent states, not federated states like New York, etc.


Those who question the credibility and viability of “The Kingdom” should contemplate this revelation, and consider the significance of the fact that Kamehameha III gave this constitution voluntarily, rather than being forced as King John was when the Magna Carta was created. The constitution was revised in 1852 by Kamehameha III and 1864 by Kamehameha IV to better adopt concepts such as separation of powers, before the 1887 Bayonet Constitution (according to Dr. Willie Kauai the first time race was used to delineate citizens) was illegally forced on King Kalākaua.

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The 2016 Primaries

This is for my Political Science students, and may represent for the astute political observer a very rudimentary analysis of this month’s primaries.

2016 was not a good year for progressives. On election night, I followed the results with Ikaika Lardizabal Husseyʻs campaign (he ran for State House to represent Kalihi), and some of his supporters were involved in the Kuleana trainings, which prepared progressive candidates for electoral success. Ikaika was one of those progressive candidates who was unsuccessful, even with the active support of the union Local 5, receiving just 28%to John Mizuno’s 68% (some ballots were blank, but far fewer than in previous elections, when voters only had Mizuno to choose from). Progressives’ best hope was Tiare Lawrence from Maui, and even she was unable to unseat the incumbent. In fact, the only successful progressive candidates were those who were already in office, like Della Bellati of Makiki-Tantalus and Kaniela Ing of South Maui. In a year of “throw the bums out” (what, after all do Trump and Bernie Sanders represent?), this was quite strange. It was as if, on the local level, the message was the reverse.

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Ikaika Lardizabal Hussey

As for Honolulu mayoral race, Kirk Caldwell managed to reverse a 9 point deficit, and defeat Charles Djou and all comers (including former Mayor Peter Carlisle), setting up a showdown in November against Djou. The rhetoric on rail, reached the point of absurdity, with Djou campaigning on the idea of changing the type of rail at this late date – to rubber, rather than steel-on-steel. It seems impractical, and more likely impossible that such a change can happen, but Djou is doing what he feels he must to get elected. Sometimes I wonder if most people in town, East Honolulu and Windward donʻt ever go past Salt Lake and thus donʻt realize that the rail is already built – thereʻs no stopping it – and if Djou is capitalizing on that ignorance, or is even that ignorant himself. Overall, thereʻs not much change to the politics of rail that I donʻt comment on below (from previous election cycles).

As for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs: Mililani Trask’s upset of OHA chair Bob Lindsey may have surprised some, but she was, after all, an OHA trustee in the past. What has been more surprising is the growing support for Kealiʻi Akina, whose platform would undermine OHA main purpose of the last 15 years – the drive for Federal recognition (Fed rec). Itʻs unclear how many voters know that this is his agenda. One could take his vote count – about 100,000, or nearly ten percent of the population – as a measure of the opposition to mainstream Hawaiian goals. To be fair, there are a small number supporters of Akina whoʻse support is precisely the reverse of this – they oppose Fed rec in favor of independence – Keliʻi Makekau, himself a candidate, is an example of this group (Makekau was a plaintiff on the lawsuit that prevented Naʻi Aupuni from ratifying their vote – for more on this, click here).

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Streaking – Day 5: Attributes of a State

According to Shawʻs textbook International Law (Cambridge University Press) p. 178: there are 4 criteria for being a state (i.e., a country): 1. permanent population (citizenry) 2. a defined territory 3. a government 4. capacity to enter into agreements with other states (i.e. to make treaties).  Hawaii had all the criteria in 1898,  hence the need for a treaty for annexation, hence the illegality of annexation, hence the kingdom’s continued existence under occupation.

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Streaking – Day 4: Small change, big ramifications

Yesterday, I took my Intro to Political Science students to the Hawaiʻi State Capitol district for a tour of the legislature. A press conference started up while we were there celebrating the falling through of the deal for NextEra to buy HECO. While we were waiting, I finally got a chance to see with my own eyes what Iʻd heard about: the changing of the dates on the statue of Queen Liliʻuokalani. The plaque on the statue reads “Queen of Hawaiʻi” and used to read “1891-1893” but now reads “1891 – 1917!” Letʻs think this through: the new dates are certainly not her birth and death, she was born in 1838, and definitely became Queen in 1891. So the new dates can only signify her reign – after all theyʻre preceded by “Queen of Hawaiʻi…”

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Liliʻuokalani statue, July 19, 2016

This means that while State legislators in the press conference waxed on about the future of energy in “our state”,the statue they were facing clearly implies that no such state exists. There was no overthrow in 1917. The death of a monarch does not signify the death of sovereignty – thatʻs what the phrase “the King is dead, long live the king” is about – the continuation of sovereignty despite the death of “the sovereign.” So the only possible interpretation is that the overthrow was a non-event, and therefore did not legally take place. Hawaiʻi’s recognition of Japan on January 18th, 1893 also suggests this interpretation, as does Liliʻuokalani’s claim in her autobiography that “In December, 1893 the United States still regarded me as the head of state.”

According to a reliable source – I havenʻt verified this yet – Governor Ige Abercrombie presided over the ceremony in 2013 to change the dates on the statue. A strict interpretation of this fact (if, indeed it is a fact) is that the State of Hawaiʻi formally recognizes the overthrow as invalid. Iʻll be back when I get this last bit verified.

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Streaking – Day 3: More on Millenials

A question on Quora asked why millenials were “so left wing?” My observation, after a 20 year career teaching them, is that the older millenials , who are now in their early 30s, are not “left wing” by traditional measures – theyʻre libertarians. This is because they grew up at the tail end, or in the aftermath of the culture wars. Basically, the left won the culture war (no censorship) and the right won the economic war (neoliberalism is now unrivaled) – this is a recipe for libertarians, liberal on social issues and neoliberal on economic issues.

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The Occupy Wall St. movement – itʻs local manifestation shown here – caused a shift in political and economic attitudes among millenials

Itʻs only the younger millenials, now mainly in their 20s, who are traditionally left wing, and thereʻs a very clear reason for it: the 2008 market crash and ensuing “Great recession.” Michael Moore documented this shift in one of his films when he showed that the support for “Socialism” was around 40%, led by millenials. Prior to the floor falling out from under the economy, the idea of socialism was a non-starter. Now, an actual socialist, Bernie Sanders, won 20 states and nearly clinched the Democratic nomination.

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Streaking – Day 2: Confirmation Bias – A Discussion with Biologist and Educator Robert Hutchison

This is part of the Streaking series, in which I write something everyday, and my interview series, including discussions with Ikaika Hussey, Amy Perruso, Marti Townsend and George Cleveland. Thereʻs much more to this interview:

I began to think about possible biases in the conclusions being reached by researchers in Hawaiian Studies (I use this term very broadly and include myself among these) when Dr. Sam Ohu Gon of the Nature Conservancy (recently named a Hawaiʻi Living Treasure) brought up the scientific notion of confirmation bias, and suggested that it may be tainting our findings.

According to Science Daily:

In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.

I thought about my conversations over the past couple of years with the Advanced Placement Biology teacher at Kamehameha, Robert Hutchison – conversations Iʻve found very fruitful in the sense that they represent a kind of “Inside-Outside” view of human behavior. By “inside” I mean oneʻs own personal experience of the world; by “outside” I mean those things that can be measured. Usually this measurement is done by someone else – outside of your own head and experience. My view is that both represent valid, legitimate perspectives on reality, and rather than putting them at odds with one another, they should be constantly compared and contrasted to try to gain a more accurate, and useful, perception of “reality.” Robert is a Kamehameha graduate who has a bachelorʻs degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Masterʻs in Biology from UH Mānoa. He teaches at Windward Community College in the Summer.

Hutchison suggested that confirmation bias is about:

RH: your point of view and … how you rationalize it or how do you account for it and does it in any way cause you to rethink and modify your original assumptions? And thatʻs what science is about, science is about the search for truth and just the methodology of finding truth as best as we can possibly understand it. You have to wonder whenever anyone who tells you anything. Go back to the source – this is the importance of Kumulipo and chant because thereʻs an understanding that things will be lost if there isnʻt that rigor behind it.

UP: Iʻve been seeing some studies come out about this with child witness, that they can be persuaded through suggestion to have a certain memory that they can be persuaded to think they really had after a certain amount

RH: Exactly

UP: So what youʻre telling me that every time you recall a memory, itʻs being modified?

RH: The brain can fill in these gaps. Vision works this way. Sometimes what it interprets in not exactly what is in front of you.

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