One of my favorite TV shows is the West Wing. Its most recent episode featured an interesting experiment. The show has Alan Alda (as Sen. Arnold Vinick) running against Jimmy Smits (as Rep. Matt Santos) as the Republican and Democratic candidates respectively; the episode (number 7 in the 7th season of the show) had a debate broadcast live between the two. So you have a presidential debate between two actors but broadcast live and with a minimum of scripting, as if it were a real presidential debate (actually, more free-wheeling than any real presidential debate). Then, apparently, a survey was undertaken. Via Free Republic, this surprising story from the Washington Post: young viewers have swung to the right:
Before the episode, viewers between 18 and 29 preferred Santos over Vinick, 54 percent to 37 percent. But after the debate, in which veteran Alda gutted pretty-boy Smits without him even knowing it, Vinick now leads among viewers under age 30, 56 percent to 42 percent.
(Among viewers 65 and older — or, as TV execs like to call them, the Irrelevantest Generation — Santos has a lead of 68 percent to 27 percent.)
I suddenly feel so geriatric.
Paris and the rest of the woes of France takes center stage today. The Herald-Tribune reports the proclamation of a State of Emergency. Max Soliven in his column claims his Europe correspondent says the whole thing is being exaggerated! Presto Vivace a few days back points to an American example of how to handle rioting. My Arab News column for this week, French Riots: Symptoms of a Kind of Colonialism in Reverse? takes off from this previous blog entry, and owes a great deal to a conversation I had over lunch with a couple of media colleagues. Paris Riots Not Intifada, which came out in the Arab News yesterday, makes points similar to mine. Belmont Club also tackles the question of whether the Paris troubles represents an Islamic revolt or simply a revolt of the poor; Philippine Commentary takes on the Paris phenomenon as a meme.
Speaking of DJB at Philippine Commentary, his latest post wonders how I can personally abhor Communism and yet take an accommodating attitude toward it. It begins with my view that it is counterproductive to suppress thought: one must fight ideas with ideas. The problem is, Communist thought has won an intellectual victory, in that with the demise of the generation that defeated Communism in the 1950s, no one has taken their place. Generations of Filipino schoolchildren are being brainwashed in the schools, because the history textbooks are being written by Communists. Second, Communism in this country has mutated into a kind of religion, and the history of religious persecution suggests that persecuting religions only strengthen them. Which brings us to the question of armed struggle.
The rights of a citizen to espouse whatever ideology he picks up can only be tempered by the right of the State to defend itself if the ideology in question embarks on armed struggle. But there is more than one way to win a war. There is winning “hearts and minds,” which begins with education, and involves economic development: eliminate, or reduce poverty, or even more basic than that, establish a justice system that is less susceptible to subversion by the wealthy and well-connected, and you strike a mortal blow at Communism. Our counter-insurgency efforts have been characterized by brutality and corruption, and there are times when I am quite convinced that the military feels it is in its interest not to really defeat insurgencies, because the insurgencies give them something to do. From a pragmatic point of view, it is better to neutralize, in a sense, Communists the same way that putschists such as Gringo Honasan were neutralized: elect them into office. That’s one way, at least: you defeat Communism by smothering them with love, so to speak: but a purely military solution, with the present military we have, simply won’t work.
Dean Bocobo does make a pungent point about the Communists lacking the guts to admit what -and who- they are. I earned evil looks from Atom Araullo when, on Studio 23’s Y-Speak Live, I castigated he and his group for lacking the intellectual honesty to state they’re Communists and they want the overthrow of the existing system by any means. This country, were it to become a fully-functioning democracy, must inevitably have an above-ground Communist party just as it should have a flourishing Socialist party (and not the one headed by National Security Adviser on leave Norberto Gonzales): my personal inclinations are for a kind of State Socialism on the European model, after all.
There is, of course, a highly personal aspect to the question of Communists and Communism, and it began with asking my father how he could bear no hatred in his heart over the murder of his mother, sister, and brother-in-law by the Communists; and similar questions to my aunt who lost her mother, sister, and husband to the Communists, and yet who spent martial law visiting Communists in prison. Their answers were the same: the depths of hatred and despair over the inequities of our society make the unthinkable happen. For them it helped that their faith taught to hate the sin but not the sinner; since I don’t have their faith, I have to ask myself, how can we beat their swords into plowshares?
Anyway, I actually attempted to make my first podcast, with coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Citizen’s Congress for Truth and Accountability, but I’m having a devil of a time posting it online. For now, there’s the PCIJ report on the fist fight that broke out, as well as Sun Star’s reporting the government objecting to the process, even as it’s vetting the whole thing for sedition (according to the Daily Tribune). RG Cruz gives a front row and backstage account of the day’s events.
The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport is the subject of an entry by The Unlawyer: the airport sounds like a hybrid modern-day facility and a throwback to Stalinist East Berlin.
The punditocracy has the Inquirer editorial taking a dim view on the President’s handling of the arrest of (it turns out) the wrong one-armed person: Marichu Villanueva of the Star, Johnna Villaviray-Giolagon of the Manila Times, weighing in on the subject, too. Dan Mariano tackles the President’s retreat from her proposal to legislate wage increases; Benito Lim skeptical about governments of national unity; Carmen Guerrero Nakpil compares President Arroyo to President Bush; Greg Macabenta says Philippine advertisers are poised for takeoff; Ed Espiritu says the Asian Development Bank’s peso bonds are a great thing. Gail Ilagan is outraged by the behavior of the Filipino driver involved in the case of a Filipina raped by an American soldier.
The blogosphere has Leon Kilat with an interesting report on porn popping up in the Addict Mobile portal, from writing his column to the reactions of Smart Communications, to his suggestion that companies start monitoring blogs.
JJ Disini suggests how bloggers can properly handle retractions, which he says will become an inevitable part of blogging ethics.
Jove Francisco has the press corps skinny on the President’s tirade aimed at the press; Big Mango says the present Constitution is mediocre; New Economist points to a study that says the richest 1% of American hold a third of the US economy’s total wealth – the “highest degree of wealth concentration, with the largest shares of total wealth in the hand of the richest percentiles of the wealth distribution.” Washington Note has an intriguing entry on how some Americans want to effect a citizen’s arrest on Ahmed Chalabi, Uncle Sam’s once and future Golden Boy in Iraq.
Travel tips: Howie Severino writes on the horrors of riding trains in Metro Manila (I once hosted Inquirer TV’s show and one segment involved me reading from a teleprompter as a train creaked past squatter shanties: as the train rumbled along, bags of garbage and excrement slowly slid from the pointed roofs of the coaches, designed specifically to keep things from remaining on top.
In other news, Pajamas Media (which will be renamed when it formally launches on November 16), has my profile up. I’m apparently the Philippine correspondent. Another Filipino, wretchard of The Belmont Club fame, is on the editorial board.