June 10, 2006

More On the Akaka Bill

Hatched by Dafydd

This article in the Hawaii Reporter makes me feel a little better -- but not much -- about the close cloture vote on the insane Akaka bill, introduced by Hawaii's 81-year old junior Sen. Daniel Akaka (D, 95%). It failed to get cloture by the uncomfortably close margin of 56 to 41, with thirteen Republicans joining 43 Democrats (counting Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-VT 90%, as a Democrat) voting to bring the bill to the floor for final debate and a vote.

Two Democrats failed to show up for the vote: Charles Schumer (NY, 100%) and Jay Rockefeller (WV, 100%); it's a pretty safe bet they would both have voted for cloture, had they made the vote. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 92%), one of the original sponsors of the Akaka bill, also failed to show up and vote; again, presumably he would have opposed the filibuster. Those votes would have made it 59 to 41, as close as a cloture vote can fail.

The Akaka bill would have established a separate, race-based government in Hawaii that could -- in Akaka's own words (as quoted by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN, 92%) -- "make a decision as to what happens to independence or returning to the monarchy.” (Hat tip to commenter Urey in the comments of our previous post on this topic, Cloture, Cloture, Who's Got the Cloture?)

The Hawaii Reporter is not sanguine about the bill's future prospects:

Whether Akaka got the message or not, Republicans sent both Hawaii Senators a strong one with the 41 votes in opposition to the cloture vote. These were votes Republicans organized and worked diligently to secure, despite heavy lobbying from Hawaii’s Republican Gov. Linda Lingle and vote trading by Inouye and Akaka.

The 41 votes let Hawaii’s delegation know that the bill will never pass with this current Senate in place. Especially now that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in May and the U.S. Department of Justice this Wednesday issued strong statements against the Akaka Bill, calling it unconstitutional, divisive and in the case of the Commission, the worst piece of legislation they’d ever reviewed.

The first point that leaps out is that "this current Senate" lasts only until December 31st; that is a mere six months away. When the 110th Congress convenes in January, there will likely be at least one fewer Republican senator. Since none of Republicans who supported cloture are vulnerable, any senators we lose will necessarily be from the 41 who supported the filibuster. That translates to at least one net loss on cloture for the Akaka bill; thus, supporters will be able to bring it up again and will likely have the votes to bring it to the floor.

The second thing that worries me is the "reasoning" behind those Republicans who voted for cloture. The article makes much ado about the fact that some of them say they will nevertheless oppose the bill if it comes to a vote:

All Democrat Senators were willing to vote for cloture, but not necessarily for the passage of the final version, according to political staffers.

But Republicans played let’s make a deal with theirs, negotiating up until the very last minute. Organized in caucus beforehand, some Republicans who knew they would kill the cloture vote, cast their ballot in favor of the Akaka Bill because they either served on the Senate Appropriations Committee with Inouye, the co-chair, and wanted to show him the courtesy, or because they’d traded their vote with Inouye in previous sessions.

You need sixty votes for cloture; that means that the proponents of this racist bill can lose as many as nine senators from the cloture vote and still pass the bill.

One senator in particular stands out for his hypocrisy, considering how vocal and adamant a conservative he has been and how much he openly opposes so-called "amnesty" for illegal aliens:

Republican Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ, 100%], one of the biggest opponents of the bill, promised the Hawaii delegation he would not stand in the way of the cloture vote because of a previous deal he made, but he told them if it passed cloture, he’d be their toughest opponent.

I'm having kind of a hard time following Kyl's views on national sovereignty: if an immigrant sneaks into this country illegally to live the American dream of a democratic republic, Kyl is in a lather and wants to bar him from becoming a citizen.

But at the same time, Kyl is willing to gamble with a bill that would allow "native Hawaiians" to secede from the Union and form their own anti-democratic government, in which native-born American citizens who are not aboriginal Hawaiian cannot even vote... and which could even form a monarchy, if the superior race decides to do so. Even though Kyl himself opposes that bill, he's willing to vote for cloture and gamble that it won't pass or will be vetoed. Why? Because he cut a deal with Danile Inouye (D-HI, 90%) or Daniel Akaka.

Yeesh, talk about a cheap date. I have become somewhat skeptical about Kyl's committment to principle... on either issue.

If this is generally true -- that some number of Republicans oppose the Akaka bill, but are willing to be persuaded to vote for cloture (which risked having the bill pass) simply because they've traded votes on other bills, then that tells me that their opposition to the Akaka bill is not principled at all... and that makes me believe that with sufficient incentives, they can be influenced to vote in favor of the bill itself, once it comes to the floor.

The Reporter lists some of the "fatal mistakes" the bill's sponsors made; I worry that if they simply conduct a better campaign next year, this wretched piece of legislation could still pass. "Fatal mistakes" included:

  • Disregarding the public in favor of courting Hawaii's "top political leaders;"
  • Personally attacking senatorial opponents, rather than responding to their points;
  • Underestimating how much ordinary people would oppose this bill once they began to learn what it allowed.

Here is one specific "fatal error" that worries me more than all the rest, because it's fairly easily corrected and could go a long way towards making the bill more likely to pass next year:

Rather than grassroots support, they believed the money they spent lobbying for the bill, buying support from conservatives, advertising dollars spent by the millions to buy off media, and public relations campaigns they ran to promote the bill, would manipulate Hawaii residents into believing that the Akaka Bill is the best legislation for Hawaii. A good bill -- and honestly addressing the legal and constitutional problems in the bill -- would have been much cheaper, easier and saved the taxpayers a bundle.

Honestly, I do not want to see "a good bill" to create a racist government in Hawaii that ends up being controlled by nativist activists who secede from the Union and declare a monarchy -- that might include our primary naval and Marine Corps bases in the North Pacific.

One very good thing the article in the Reporter does is list the roll call. All of the Democrats who voted cast their votes for cloture on this despicable bill; in addition, here are the thirteen Republicans who joined them:

  • Thad Cochran (MS, 88%)
  • Norm Coleman (MN, 64%)
  • Susan Collins (ME, 32%)
  • Pete Domenici (NM, 91%)
  • Charles Grassley (IA, 96%)
  • Charles Hagel (NE, 96%)
  • John Kyl (AZ, 100%)
  • John McCain (AZ, 80%)
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK, 83%)
  • Gordon Smith (OR, 58%)
  • Olympia Snowe (ME, 32%)
  • Arlen Specter (PA, 63%)
  • Ted Stevens (AK, 80%)

Of this group, only Kyl and Snowe are up for reelection this year; Snowe is certain to be reelected, and Kyl is very likely (and he has no primary challenger, so far as I can tell). So there is nothing we can do about any of these senators.

But let us remember their names for 2008... particularly if the Akaka bill passes the Senate in the next Congress.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 10, 2006, at the time of 7:19 PM

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The following hissed in response by: hunter

My $.02:
I have heard of other situations where badbills are allowed to go all the way to a vote in order to kill it off completely.
I hope this is one of those.
Has the bill already passed in the House?
Has it evenbeen introduced in the House?
This pos legislation is not going to pass into anything except a footnote ofhistory wihtout the House going for it. I do not see that happening, unless Murtha is majority leader and figures that declaring defeat and withdrawal in Hawaii is a bad idea whose time has now come.
I do not see the overall cloture/ no cloture as having much to do here.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 11, 2006 1:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: velocette

Although it is entirely possible that a future congress will pass something even worse than S147, I believe the Akaka bill is finished, as in done & over. It tended to lose rather than gain support as time passed both nationally and here in Hawaii. This was Danny's swan song. If he and Inouye thought it would have had a better chance of passage next year they wouldn't have pushed to have it voted on this year.
The house companion bill to S147 is HR309. It would have to be reintroduced & passed with the next congress as well as S147.
I do not blame Lingle et al for trying to move the problems of the Hawaiians from the state to the federal government. This state has had four or five constitutions in the 120 years between the time Captain Cook landed and annexation. Public land issues are a nightmare. There are specific federal requirements that order the state to use some public lands to benefit people of > 50% Hawaiian blood. There are also state laws -- written into the state constitution, no less -- that give you certain benefits if you have even a drop of Hawaiian blood.
It's a big frickin' mess.

The above hissed in response by: velocette [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 11, 2006 1:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: The Yell

The bill will be back, as long as Inouye is there. He's been pushing it in one form or another for over a decade. In fact, back when the Donks ran the whole shebang and the House was letting Puerto Rico's reps cast symbolic votes, I read inside-Washington columns saying Inouye was doing some quiet lobbying for Congressional restoration of the Monarchy supplanting the usual, constitutional republican form of state government.

It's a situation similar to what you discuss regarding Ann Coulter: Sen. Inouye lost an arm fighting the Japanese, so blunt questions about loyalty and soveriegnity are held in especially poor taste. An unrepentant zealot like myself doesn't mind asking: for what was he fighting, the United States or the Hawaiian Ethnarcy?

Secessionism used to be grounds for impeachment, and maybe that tradition ought be revived.

I'd caution you to go easier on Kyl. It might seem logical and appropriate to demand a guy vote against crap law every step of the way, but the *ahem* political reality is that breaking the process into discrete hurdles permits the lovely miasma of gray areas in which statesmen love to nest. Kyl is at least open about what result he wants, and what he'll do about it; he's just gaining some brownie points by promising to let someone else's pet project mature a bit, rather than throttling it in its cradle.

If you insist duty requires his Yes mean Yes and his No mean No, no ifs ands or buts, Black or White...then you're The Yell

The above hissed in response by: The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 11, 2006 2:18 AM

The following hissed in response by: Urey

Hawaii-Reporter has a follow-up about the "no-shows" at the cloture vote, and the extensive lack of support among Democrats despite the obligatory Democrat finger pointing at Republicans. Very interesting. Thankfully, I think the movement is dead for the foreseeable future - maybe forever. It was never popular among Hawaiians, except the minority revanche-istas (my coinage of "revanche" - good word).

Here is the link: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?40472716-99f2-423b-bb10-ab48ad2a3cae

What nobody is recognizing is that the entire native Hawaiian movement (again - the revanche-istas led by lionized by Akaka's bill) rose up in reaction to the Supreme Court decision that outlawed racial preferences as practiced by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, i.e., schools limited to Hawaiians, support and Hawaiian only institutions financed by government funds, etc. The Supremes threw'em all out - unanimously. And thus the impetus for the Akaka bill and the underlying Hawaiian Native Tribal rights/sovereignty movement. It was a minor cult movement until the Supremes stepped in.

Hopefully, the movement has now peaked.

The above hissed in response by: Urey [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 6:32 PM

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