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Aug 23

Like a bad case of the Clap, it keeps coming back

There’s an extremely interesting article in Slate titled The Heart of Queens: Can Nancy Pelosi single-handedly take impeachment off the table? Which castigates the first female Speaker of the US House of Representatives, for saying something along the lines of our local politicians: no impeachment, not now, not before the next elections, which means, not ever (see Opposition not rushing to file new impeach case vs Arroyo).

There’s this great passage from the article, which looks not only at American public opinion at present, but which also explains why public opinion is crucial when it comes to proposals for impeachment:

According to public opinion polling, the percentage of voters supporting the impeachments of both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are now approximately 45 and 54 percent, respectively. Most Americans instinctively feel the president is an untrustworthy steward of the Constitution’s checks and balances because, among other things, he flouts laws, prohibits White House aides from testifying before Congress, consistently defends an attorney general who is an inveterate liar, and detains citizens and noncitizens indefinitely as enemy combatants on his say-so alone. The prevailing barometer of acute public dissatisfaction with the White House surpasses the corresponding disaffection with President Richard M. Nixon when the Senate Watergate hearings began in May 1973. And Mr. Nixon had recently trounced Sen. George McGovern in the 1972 elections, winning 49 states.

Sounds familiar? The principles remain the same, just as there have been those who’ve pointed out the at times uncanny similarity between the administration’s take-no-prisoners approach and the Republic playbook in the States. As the article goes on to explain,

The prospect of an impeachment inquiry by the House judiciary committee would concentrate the minds of the president and vice president wonderfully on obeying rather than sabotaging the Constitution. But Speaker Pelosi has at least figuratively joined hands with the White House in opposition. Emulating the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, she has threatened the removal of Michigan Rep. John Conyers from his chairmanship of the House judiciary committee if an impeachment inquiry were even opened, according to reliable congressional chatter.

The writer says it’s unproductive for the Speaker to undermine the Judiciary Committee chairman:

With more than four decades of service in the House, Chairman Conyers is a veteran of constitutional battles between the branches. The speaker, in contrast, is a novice on such matters. Unlike Conyers, she never experienced the Nixon impeachment travails that sobered and toughened the chairman against executive abuses and secrecy. If she had, she never would have emboldened President Bush and Vice President Cheney to intensify their assaults on congressional power by pronouncing that “impeachment is off the table.”

If you still don’t get it, here’s the clincher, the similarity that’s so relevant:

Not surprisingly, after receiving that reassurance that there would be no consequences for their misconduct, the White House swiftly choked off the authority of Congress to expose executive lawlessness or maladministration by instructing current or former White House officials, including Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and Joshua Bolton, to refuse to appear for testimony. And despite the recent enactment of the Protect America Act of 2007 – which amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 for the ninth time since 9/11 to suit the administration’s fancy – President Bush continues to claim constitutional authority to ignore the law at will and in secret.

Now the President, herself, of course has come out swinging, as Jove Francisco recounts:

She was even wearing a powder blue number, her color of choice during the biggest political storm that hit her administration ever. Gloriagate. (So that’s why she’s back to wearing blue lately…)

A revival of sorts…amidst the sudden revival of the Hello Garci Controversy.

This time though… Mrs Arroyo also threw punches at her opponents.

Mrs. Arroyo, reading the teleprompter in front of her, said: “I have a country to run, I have terrorists to fight, I have a peace to win and a bright future to secure for these children. I embrace work and will just leave the titans of hate to have a monopoly on the politics of destruction.”
(On cue -some say “as rehearsed”, as soon as she uttered the word children, she slightly turned to touch one of the babies at the back. What registered in the faces of Bingbong Cirologo and Sonny Belmonte were precious. They were even reading with her. Not much choice really, napatayo na sila nung tumayo ang Pangulo.)

(BTW, there was even a debate whether PGMA said “PYTHONS OF HATE” or “TITANS OF HATE”… official OPS transcript stated for the record that she said “will just leg a title of hate”. That confused all of us more, so we had to playback our tapes and realized that she actually said TITANS of hate.)

And her factotums have come out swinging, too: Gonzalez uses Aragoncillo case vs Arroyo foes (how can you punish a Filipino for soliciting information on a foreign power? What the Americans punished was one of their own assisting citizens of a foreign power; and what if, as it’s been suggested, the President or her people were reading the same documents that Estrada and Co. supposedly obtained?). The administration bloc flexes its muscles in the Senate, too: Arroyo allies stall Garci probe over concerns of tape legality. And the legal armor’s been dusted off: Palace to invoke EO 464 again (the spiritual armor, too: Arroyo declares Sept 12 Nat’l Day of Prayer, Reconciliation).

In a powerful entry in Philippine Commentary, Dean Jorge Bocobo argues that when the Supreme Court struck down portions of the controversial executive issuance, it actually left intact the bits most precious and useful to the administration. Bocobo also says,

But a potentially explosive new development in the saga of the Garci Recordings is the accusation that a MAJOR TELECOM firm was involved in the alleged illegal wiretapping operation of the Intelligence Services of the AFP. Now here the Senate has a chance, because even Chief Executives like Manny Pangilinan and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala are NOT covered by EO 464. I think these telecoms could lose local and international licenses and franchises and become the subject of intense Congressional pressure if these accusations of participation in illegal wiretapping operations turn out to be true.

Which goes to the heart of a news item like this: Smart: We don’t have capability to bug phones. Newsbreak asks, Wiretap Scandal: Was there a Basement? Gen. Esperon says, there isn’t one; the reporters say, someone like Doble could easily confuse the ground floor with a basement.

In other news, HSA overlooks $-denominated terror funds, the President’s inlaw says: Iggy Arroyo says solons want DAR abolished (during my past visits to Bacolod, I’d heard the hacenderos were, indeed, looking forward to the Arroyos spearheading the abolition of CARP, and not out of objections to it on grounds of efficiency). Palace submits P1.227-T budget proposal.

Newsbreak also has two articles of note: GRP Backtracks on Self-Determination Offer to MILF and New Marines, Isafp Chiefs in Massive AFP Revamp.

Overseas, Asian stocks rise, looking to the Fed, as Fed chairman signals US interest rate cut. However, even as While the west takes a battering, China weathers the global storm, there’s Subprime hits German state banks. William Pesek warns, Bernanke must avoid Greenspan’s Asia bubble mess. In our neck of the woods, Burma rounds up protest leaders (see Fuelling discontent in Myanmar).

My column for today is Visions in isolation. Also, Connie Veneracion looks at Malu Mania; Tony Abaya investigates Ninoy’s assassination.

In the blogosphere, some, like smoke, aren’t amused by the latest Lacson bombshell; Patsada Karajaw is delighted; Philippine Politics 04 says it brings up unresolved questions over past events.

Mong Palatino defends playing basketball in the streets. Pedestrian Observer on Malu Mania, saying enough with the fat jokes, and Superblessed makes an appeal for sobriety and calm.

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102 comments

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  1. benign0

    “Looking at things from the standpoint of economic development, we need to build up the level of trust, within and among segments of our society in order to reduce transaction costs as well as the costs of resistance to new initiatives. This is necessary to allow our people to be better able to engage in productive enterprise”

    Yes, I agree with all this (who wouldn’t?).

    But cheating is an institutional issue. And the effort required to address it is an OPERATIONAL component of the COMELEC overseen by the judiciary and its law enforcement agencies.

    As such, an election that is made to be all about cheating is shortsighted and (as is evident now), of no substance IN BETWEEN ELECTIONS.

    If you think about it, all this moronic GMA-cheated-boo-hoo is really in essence a CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION effort. And it is the justice system that needs to be held accountable for resolving it. If you recall the basics about our form of democracy as taught in Grade 5, you will remember THE WHOLE POINT behind having three separate branches of government.

    If the justice system is dysfunctional and fails to prosecute election cheaters, then the problem is with INSTITUTIONS OF JUSTICE and should not be carried over into our elections. If there are rallies and street antics to be held, they should be directed to the officers of the juduciary and our national investigation services instead of being made into a blanket indictment of our politicians.

    Elections are about selecting our representatives in government; representatives that will STEER the society to a goal or vision through MEANINGFUL legislation and leadership. It is NOT about prosecuting criminals. Mechanisms to do that do not reside in the election process.

    See, this is what I meant by our society being sold on to the processes of democracy (and even THAT is questionable) yet is incapable of understanding what it is REALLY all about.

  2. cvj

    Benign0, thanks for using ALL CAPS as these clearly highlight our points of disagreement. How can you begin to address the operational component if the perpretrators of the cheating operations are still part of the Comelec? If we do nothing about this issue in between elections, we would not have enough time to correct this matter for the next elections. The best we can do is try to react, which proved only partially successful in the case of the recent mid-term elections. Besides, cheating is not a point-in-time act. It is more in the nature of a ongoing crime with the beneficiar(ies) continuing to reap the rewards.

    The criminal investigation can only get underway if the political institutions cooperate. The whole point in having three branches of government is to have a system of checks and balances. A legislature that is beholden to Malacanang occupant for pork barrel has rendered this system inoperable.

    The institutions of justice do need to be involved in this matter but this issue is more than a matter for the judiciary. Cheating is also a political question of who has the right to choose our country’s leaders – Garci/Bedol or the voter. Something this fundamental cannot be something our society can just delegate to a judge or group of judges.

    As Manolo said, our Congress is not just about legislation. You can refer back to his previous ‘Ping Pong’ thread for a more thorough explanation.

    Our people understand that Democracy is really about process. I can refer you to a couple of sources for your education on this matter. If you’re too busy to read, there is this video by Hans Rosling in ‘TED Talk’ with a good explanation on distinguishing means and goals.

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