Monthly Archives: January 2017

The devil is in these details

I’ve just finished reading through several excellent stories about Trump’s immigration edict.

The first consists of links to primary documents (“Litigation Documents & Resources Related to Trump Executive Order“). Here’s you’ll find the legal memos from cases filed in several jurisdictions. Read the legal arguments first hand.

The next article is by Ben Wittes at the Brookings Institution, “Malevolence Tempered by Incompetence: Trump’s Horrifying Executive Order on Refugees and Visas.”

I worked with Ben Wittes early in his career. In the mid-1990s, I was an investigative reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Ben was a reporter for Legal Times when we first worked together, and later moved to the Washington Post. We were both chasing stories about illegal fundraising by the Democratic National Committee during Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, which happened to involve several people from Hawaii. I was digging into the story from the local side, Ben from the Washington side.

Here’s his lead in the current story:

The malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly—and perhaps only—by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction.

NBC is reporting that the document was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.)

This order reads to me, frankly, as though it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all.

And then Wittes goes on to cite other published accounts showing just that. The Trump cabal intentionally avoided having the proposed order reviewed by the agencies with expertise in the areas involved, relying instead on hiding it even from those with a clear need to know.

Wittes then states his belief that the executive order is not in fact intended to improve national security, as it purports to do.

…in the rational pursuit of security objectives, you don’t marginalize your expert security agencies and fail to vet your ideas through a normal interagency process. You don’t target the wrong people in nutty ways when you’re rationally pursuing real security objectives.

When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point. In other words, this is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do.

And then from Foreign Policy Magazine, a further account of Trump’s policy of secrecy (“Steve Bannon Is Making Sure There’s No White House Paper Trail, Says Intel Source“).

It’s pretty troubling, if you’re someone concerned about the processes of a democratic government.

“They ran all of these executive orders outside of the normal construct,” he said, referring to last week’s flurry of draft executive orders on everything from immigration to the return of CIA “black sites.”

After the controversial draft orders were written, the Trump team was very selective in how they routed them through the internal White House review process, the official said.

Under previous administrations, if someone thought another person or directorate had a stake in the issue at hand or expertise in a subject area, he or she was free to share the papers as long as the recipient had proper clearance.

With that standard in mind, when some officials saw Trump’s draft executive orders, they felt they had broad impact and shared them more widely for staffing and comments.

That did not sit well with Bannon or his staff, according to the official. More stringent guidelines for handling and routing were then instituted, and the National Security Council staff was largely cut out of the process.

By the end of the week, they weren’t the only ones left in the dark. Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, was being briefed on the executive order, which called for immediately shutting the borders to nationals from seven largely Muslim countries and all refugees, while Trump was in the midst of signing the measure, the New York Times reported.

In any case, these articles all dig behind the rapidly moving headlines. The details aren’t pretty.

University of Hawaii responds to Trump travel restrictions

The University of Hawaii released the a statement this afternoon responding to the Trump administration’s executive order imposing restrictions on travelers from certain countries.

In addition to recommending that individuals who might be subject to the travel restrictions defer all travel outside the U.S., the statement expresses support for those opposing these and other restrictions.

More fundamentally, we stand in support with the broader higher education community in our concern over the impact of this restriction on the free flow of information and ideas that is enriched by our international students and scholars.

Here’s the complete text of the UH announcement, which was emailed just after 1:30 p.m.

To our UH System ohana:

With the issuance of the recent Executive Order on travel, our first concern is for our impacted students, faculty and staff who are currently abroad or have plans to travel abroad. The situation is fluid as courts weigh in and different guidance is provided to holders of green cards. Out of an abundance of caution, the best advice as of this writing is that individuals with immigrant or non-immigrant visas or with green cards who are originally from the seven named countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) should defer travel outside the U.S.

Our international students and scholar support offices are already reaching out directly to the impacted students and faculty we know of with additional support and guidance. Faculty and scholars from across the UH System with specific questions and concerns about their situation can reach out to our Faculty and Scholar Immigration Services office at http://www.hawaii.edu/fsis. Students who have specific questions should reach out to their campus international student service office, listed at: http://www.hawaii.edu/international/students/international-students.

More fundamentally, we stand in support with the broader higher education community in our concern over the impact of this restriction on the free flow of information and ideas that is enriched by our international students and scholars. The University of Hawaii, State of Hawaii and our nation have been immeasurably strengthened through the diversity of the students and faculty we attract. The fundamental values of our nation and our state have long supported the welcoming of others to our shores and embracing them into our communities.

Diverse knowledge, ideas, cultures and perspectives enrich us immensely as we work toward a better future for all. We will support our professional associations and colleagues who are working to promote more effective solutions to keeping our nation safe.

Aloha,
UH President and UH Chancellors

A dark view of the weekend’s events

This from a very disturbing story by Yonatan Zunger published at Medium.com (“Trial Balloon for a Coup?Analyzing the news of the past 24 hours“).

…the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.

There are links to the stories he references, which are worth checking.

But it is Zunger’s final point that is the heavy hitter.

Finally, I want to highlight a story that many people haven’t noticed. On Wednesday, Reuters reported (in great detail) how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has been sold to parties unknown. This was done through a dizzying array of shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money “paying” for it was originally loaned out to the shell layers by VTB (the government’s official bank), even though it’s highly unclear who, if anyone, would be paying that loan back; and the recipients have been traced as far as some Cayman Islands shell companies.

Why is this interesting? Because the much-maligned Steele Dossier (the one with the golden showers in it) included the statement that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission.”

Restauranteur Peter Canlis went from the Armed Services YMCA to Waikiki fame

After telling a bit of the history of Kaaawa’s Crouching Lion restaurant in a recent post, I decided to follow-up with another dose of island restaurant history.

One thing that isn’t often fully appreciated is the role the military buildup in Hawaii during WWII contributed to the later directions in Honolulu dining.

My dad arrived in Hawaii on May Day in 1939. He was 25 years old at the time, and had a job waiting for him at the local office of the San Francisco-based Dohrmann Hotel Supply Company.

The food service business at that time was all about the military.

When my dad was in his mid-90s, he typed out descriptions of his work in those early days, when he was expected to go out and drum up business from military buyers.

My new assignment took me to Fort DeRussy, where five Army companies lined the Kalia Road area, each with their own kitchen and mess halls.

Fort Ruger, located on the back side of Diamond Head, was the other base in town. It had four companies stationed there, each with mess halls, kitchens, and orderly rooms.

On the other end of town there was Tripler General Hospital fronting Fort Shafter, a major facility with a large number of mess halls, offices, and parade grounds as well as officers and NCO clubs.

Hickam Field and Pearl Harbor were major calls and fitted with a Marine Corps company as well as the multitude of offices, cafeterias and clubs found in naval and air corps bases. Between Pearl Harbor and Schofield, there were no other military facilities. THe main road to Schofield was a two lane highway.

Schofield was located in a city town as Wahiawa but Schofield was the main activity there, a group of four quadrangles, each with sixteen Army companies fitted with mess halls, barracks, and orderly rooms.

To properly cover this area, one man could spend a week making required contacts. Each company had their own company fund and made purchases of products that were not government issue. The area was being worked only by one competitive organization at the time and was a lucrative territory. Hurd Polman was the name of the competitor who had a truck fitted with many of the items normally required by the Army mess halls.

I soon learned that cutlery was a popular item as every cook in every kitchen wanted their own set of knives. The cutlery case made up by Russell Harrington Cutlery Company become one of the more popular items I would carry on my weekly calls. I called it my “friendship maker”.

Those rapidly growing military bases with their hundreds of kitchens, mess halls, clubs for officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted men, bars, cafeterias, and similar facilities, produced their own army of food service veterans, many of whom stayed around in Hawaii and grew their own restaurants in the postwar period.

My dad told the story of one of those, Peter Canlis.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the facilities at Pearl Harbor, Schofield, Hickam and elsewhere were being bolstered, while others were being created. Barbers Point Naval Air Station was developed. The radio station at Lualualei was commissioned and rest and recreation facilities set up throughout Honolulu. The Armed Services YMCA was developed.

Peter Canlis, an employee of a suitcase and shoe supply company whose parents had operated a food establishment in San Francisco, was put in charge of the food facility there. We worked with him on the design of the kitchen and dining room. That food operation became a popular spot for civilian as well as military use. It was super and Peter Canlis became popular as a result.

Following the war, Peter decided he was going to open his own restaurant. We were friends from Junior Chamber of Commerce activity and over several nights on my living room floor we made layouts of his proposed first Honolulu location in a small bungalow across the street from Kuhio Beach.

It was a small place with a few tables and chairs but a huge broiler visible to the guests from the dining room. Candlelight was used on the tables and the china, glass, and silverware were the best that could be found. From the first night he opened, the place was filled and was considered “the place to go”. It wasn’t cheap but it was good, and Peter was always on hand to greet his guests.

[text]In 1954, Canlis opened his iconic Canlis Broiler at 2100 Kalakaua.
As late as 1985, it was described in a New York Times story as “a dependable old favorite with excellent food and service at moderate prices….”

I recall my parents taking us all to eat at Canlis on special occasions as a kid. I vividly remember being unhappy at having to “dress up” when we went there, as they had a dress code calling for coats and ties.

But, according to the NY Times story: ” It abruptly dropped its strict jacket-and-tie rule after King Hussein of Jordan and his entourage, unaware of the regulation, showed up one night in aloha shirts.”

Despite their long association, there weren’t many photos of Canlis among my dad’s memorabilia. He said Canlis actively shied away from cameras and, as a result, photos of him aren’t common.

Food serviceHere’s one, taken at a meeting of the Geneva Club in Honolulu, probably somewhere in the late 1940s or early 50s. The Geneva organization was made up of chefs and others in the culinary and food & beverage service world.

Canlis is second from the right with a big smile. Next to him, on the far right, is Donn Beach, made famous by his Don the Beachcomber restaurants. Ed Kina, executive chef at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, is at the center. And my dad, John Lind, is on the far left.

An earlier photo was taken at the Pacific Club during a January 22, 1941 awards banquet sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Honolulu.

I found the photo back in 2009 or so when my dad was in a local nursing home, suffering from dementia and other maladies. The day I brought the photo to his bedside, he couldn’t find his glasses, and had trouble seeing the photo. But he had no trouble recalling that he sat across the table from Canlis.

[text]So I enlarged this second section of the photo. My dad is on the far side of the table, second from the left. And across the table is Peter Canlis. He’s the third person from the far right (second visible face from the right), his left hand extending towards the camera behind the back of the man next to him.

Both Canlis and my dad certainly look like they were having a good time.

In any case, it was certainly an interesting and dynamic time in Hawaii history.