Form or substance

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If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial and Blackshama’s Blog take similarly jaundiced looks at the President’s latest propaganda poster.

The editorial focuses its attention on how the President’s latest brainchild morphed from this proposal, P2-B subsidy to pay for electricity bills and ended up transformed into Arroyo to dole out P500 to 4M lifeline electricity users (see, as well, Philippines prepares electricity subsidy). And today, there’s this: Farmers to get P1,500 each for fertilizer. Just in time for Joc-Joc’s return?

Over at [email protected], he takes the President to task for this stunt (as does smoke; an interesting peek at how our neighbors are viewing similar stunts in their countries can be had over at Youthful Insight in Indonesia) and warns that the administration hasn’t resigned itself to bowing out by 2010. Apropos of 2010, I’m glad Philippine Politics 04 latched on to the main message an Arroyo retirement will send:

One thing for sure, if she is able to “gracefully” end her unelected and corrupt term in office (2010) without being impeached or “people powered”, then she will get away with everything.

But then, things may be catching up with her, or is it wishful thinking?

Patricio Mangubat says a “perfect storm” (food and oil price increases; brewing conflict in Mindanao; skittish investors due to the Garcia gambit; and escalating grumbling in the armed forces) is brewing. My column for today, Eight is enough , starts off with proposals for snap elections ( Snap-poll reactions ‘ignorant’ says Teodoro Locsin, Jr.) and proposes the President simply quit while she’s ahead. Of course she won’t -but it will be interesting to see if the combination of populist stunts and sending the administration senatorial slate on the stump can be maneuvered into providing the pretext for saying the public is clamoring for an extension of the incumbent’s term. To, say, 2020?

Mon Casiple, who just recently seemed pretty confident the President had thrown in the towel, suggests it ain’t over ’til it’s over and what’s far from over is the ruling coalition’s (understandable) obsession with avoiding being categorized as a lame duck:

The ruling coalition is torn between arranging yet another scenario to keep the power with GMA and the increasing likelihood of scrambling for another presidential candidate. With neither in sight, it is vulnerable to party-raiding by pirates in the person of presidentiables. It is in danger, in fact, of being relegated to a bystander helplessly watching on the side as its local power-brokers play the field of the presidentiables.

In the absence of a unifying presidentiable (in the clear absence of a genuine party), the ruling coalition has embarked on a process to produce such a presidentiable and senatoriables, hoping that the process itself will be enough to maintain unity and cohesion. It hopes that it may even produce such a presidential candidate.

And so, sending the party nabobs out on the stump (recall last week’s news items on the ruling coalition’s merger having been postponed, pending consolidation of the grassroots) keeps them relevant, maintains the peace, keeps the party bigwigs in play, and helps forestall poaching by prospective presidential candidates. Meanwhile, puso ng saging fans rejoice: Mark Lapid is acting PTA chief.

The Business Mirror points to The Economist Intelligence Unit forecast on the Philippines, which came out on May:

* The government ran a budget deficit of P32.9bn (US$783m) in the first two months of 2008. The deficit was higher than the level for the whole of 2007, and was mainly the result of a fall in privatisation receipts.

* Inflation reached a 21-month high of 6.4% year on year in March. The increase was above the 3-5% range targeted by the central bank, and was mainly a result of higher food prices, which increased by 8.2% in March.

* The peso has depreciated slightly against the US dollar since the start of March. The fall reflects worries about how committed the government is to balancing the budget.

(relevant to the above are May inflation highest in 9 years, interest rate hike looms and Central bank intervenes to support peso — traders )

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(photo above sent by a friend today from their school’s canteen)

Yesterday, my Arab News column was War Fever Hits Mindanao as Per Predictable Script and bingo, a news story on panic buying in Mindanao gets reproduced in The Mount Balatucan Monitor. In his column, Lito Banayo delves into the high price of rice even in areas where there have been bumper crops, and says we’d better factor on the effect high oil prices will have on the price of fish, which people have been buying instead of meat with produce prices escalating (on the BBC last night I saw a story on how Japan’s tuna fishermen have warned that high oil prices have made it a losing proposition to go out to sea in the lean tuna catch months):

In the Visayan Sea, in Balayan Bay, in the Lingayen Gulf, in almost every fishing ground of the country, there are less and less fishermen wandering into the deep to harvest fish. Why is this? The price of oil to run the engines of their boats has become exorbitant. In Tagalog, “talo ang puma-laot”, meaning, the catch cannot recover enough to cover the costs of fuel. So the boats just lie idle by the beach. Fishermen just fish nearby, enough to feed themselves.

So what do we citified folks do? For those in the A and B, they just have to bear the pinch of higher prices. For those in the middle-income levels, it means cutting down on food intake. But for those in the D, (isang kahig, isang tuka) and those in the E levels (kahig ng kahig, kulang pa rin sa tuka), for those we categorize as the urban poor, who could hardly grow food on backyards that do not exist, it could mean hunger.

The last time the people of this country experienced real hunger was during the Pacific War. Many of us who were born after never really experienced that kind of hunger. Will we experience it in the coming months? Pray like you’ve never prayed before.

Meanwhile, monkey see, monkey do. Both Ellen Tordesillas and the Philippine Experience point to Joc-Joc Bolante’s continuing woes in America. How’s this for suggesting a hidden agenda for the President’s Washington visit: pleading to keep Joc-Joc in an American jail?

time_cover_05may2008.jpgAnd now, a brief foray, overseas: Economist Nouriel Roubini says The Complacency that the Worst Was Behind Us in Financial Markets is Rapidly Fading Away. The Economist’s story on the airline industry, Buckle up: Trouble ahead for the world’s airlines, has got me wondering what this means for OFW’s. And then a return to home, after a brief stop in Waterlogged Jakarta, and then moving on to a Historic night in America.

A snapshot of where things were before the delegate numbers put Obama over the top can be found in Phoenix Eyrie, Reloaded:

Dr. Jacobson… was simply pointing out the difficult issues facing the Republicans this November and underscored how much of a… force of nature (my terminology) the Obama campaign has been. Dr. Jacobson pointed out that the in all of the issues for the elections, the Republicans only outscored the Democrats in one category: terrorism. He also pointed out that the recent performance of the Republicans in various congressional contests showed just how disenchanted the American public is with them. In fact, in one rather funny instance in the talk, Dr. Jacobson told us about a headline on Bush shaking McCain’s hand. The question he asked us was, where did we think that headline came out? The unanimous choice in the room was in the Demcorat’s website.

I guess you could say that Dubya, like a certain little girl in a palace somewhere near a rather stinky river, is like a millstone dragging his Party’s candidates down with him.

Indeed, History Unfolding points out that Obama is now the front runner:

As recently as a month ago, the excellent site electoral-vote.com showed John McCain beating Barack Obama in the general election. The site works in a straightforward fashion–its webmaster, an American living abroad, keeps track of every individual state poll and creates an electoral map based upon the most recent results. A month ago the most recent polls showed New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin in McCain’s camp, and gave him about 290 electoral votes. I had trouble believing some of those polls, especially in New Hampshire, where the Democratic primary vote was more than twice the Republican. Now all of those but Michigan have gone over to Obama (the one poll in Wisconsin that showed McCain ahead has turned out to be an aberration), giving Obama 276, enough for victory. Indiana and Virginia show as ties in the last two polls. Obama leads in both New Mexico and Colorado, and is within striking distance in South Carolina (where, to be fair, the poll is so old as to be worthless) and in Missouri. In short, during a period when McCain supposedly had all the advantages, he has lost significant ground. Meanwhile, Obama has once again offered something genuinely new in foreign policy, pledging to end travel and currency transfer restrictions towards Cuba. That takes courage. It is not clear whether he can carry Florida, but the power of the anti-Castro Cuban lobby will be hurt nearly as badly if he is elected without Florida, He would be the first President since Clinton in 1992 to accomplish that feat. Before that, the last President to be elected without Florida was John Kennedy.)

Tom Bevan in Real Clear Politics compares and contrasts McCain, Clinton’s and Obama’s speeches and says,

And so with tonight, the gun for the general election race has been more or less officially fired – even as Clinton takes the next couple of days to figure out how (or whether) she’s going to exit the track.

How do you solve a problem like Hillary? Roger Simon says by telling her to go home:

But her fighting words only increased the need for Obama to show that he can be strong, tough and in charge. Clinton’s unwillingness to recognize Obama as the victor only increased the need for Obama to act like a president and not like a doormat. And denying her a vice presidential slot may be a way of doing that.

Harsh! In Slate, David Greenberg points to the often acrimonious Kennedy-McCarthy primary contests in 1968 as an augury for 2008, this year marking the anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy:

But in a political season that resembles 1968, another aspect of the assassination is also worth considering, especially with the Democratic Party now seeking to unify its ranks. For in 1968, the persistence of intra-party divisions – which helped usher in the presidency of Richard M. Nixon – stemmed not just from the tragedy of Kennedy’s murder but also from McCarthy’s own subsequent failure of leadership. McCarthy’s refusal to extend a hand to disoriented Kennedy supporters after June 6 left the party sundered, directionless, and ripe for defeat.

Which brings me on the return trip home, by way of this article, Obama, Propelled by the Net, Wins Democratic Nomination:

Ever since the internet propelled Howard Dean’s campaign to national importance in 2004, observers have expected the web would soon play a pivotal role in electing a president. As Obama makes history by becoming the first African-American presumptive presidential nominee, his campaign is also the first to fulfill that long-anticipated internet promise. With an enormous internet-driven donor base of 1.5 million people, more than 500,000 of whom have accounts on Obama’s social networking website, Obama is the first internet candidate to win mainstream success. His online supporters have created more than 30,000 events to promote his candidacy, some of which are still underway in the last primary states of Montana and South Dakota.

The article goes on to list the Obama campaign’s innovations:

The campaign came up with a number of innovations on the internet. It used wikis — online collaborative software — to coordinate and churn out precinct captains in both California and Texas. And it created a counter-viral e-mail campaign to combat the anonymous e-mail smears that question his religious faith and patriotism. It set up policy pages that solicited ideas from supporters, and at one point, the campaign solicited letters from supporters over the internet to lobby the undecided superdelegates.

And Obama’s campaign constantly updated its YouTube channel to keep its supporters around the country up to speed on his latest speeches.

Bear the above in mind. What the Obama campaign credits to the net is: serving as an alternative source for fundraising; a means for coordinating precinct activities; a means for fostering esprit de corps among campaign workers and supporters; countering The Message of The Day of The Other Side; and fine-tuning policy by getting supporters involved in the process.

And see how we have only begun to explore these possibilities, because we’ve only begun to digest these lessons.

Which brings me to a further elaboration on the internet, blogs, and politics. Politics abhors a vacuum, and the blogosphere is no exception. But the intrusion, as some see it, of partisan politics into blogs is handicapped because of a fundamental difference between politics in blogs, and politics in the “real world.” The former works best as retail politics; the latter only works as wholesale politics. Whether you view blogdom as an interconnected series of conversations, or the new realm of the pamphleteers, or whether it’s a Hyde Park to you, it is a person-to-person thing, or at least, is widely understood to be so, which is why there is pressure to be receptive and civil to commenters, etc. This is political pointillism and not a giant panorama painted in bold strokes. This rugged individualism is, however, of limited value in real-world politics, where numbers count.

This was the basis of a lot of my frustration with middle class types who were animated more by fear and loathing of other groups, than by a recognition of, and devotion to, their responsibilities to history and the country. I operate from the assumption that the middle class ought to be a significant constituency, that it has proven itself capable of idealism, that its interests are quite compatible with ending poverty in this country -in a word, it would be a pretty good place if most people were middle class and the very wealthy and the very poor a minority. But as I discovered that the middle was molded by the upper class, so too, did I discover that it insisted too much, as it turned out, on its individualism instead of building alliances: coalition-building is at the heart of the political process. And when it wasn’t, it was stuck in a quicksand of ignorance (a perfect distillation of this mentality is in this entry by Pilipinas, you need to work: there you can see a failure to understand what the separation of Church and State means; an incomplete appreciation of what religion and faith and morals in the public sphere requires; and an absence of a basic understanding of how issues require periodic divisions among the people to resolve them; in a word, this mentality flourishes in the absence of an understanding of how civics and the civic process ought to work).

Now we all have our inherent biases: in my case, it’s an almost pathological distrust of organized political parties on every side of the ideological divide and a belief that NGO’s are the new parties and superior, in many ways, to the old models of political parties (insofar as they are a vehicle for contesting elections). But that’s just me.

Consider, though, what we’ve seen when it comes to the organized old-model parties. The President mobilized the old parties and machineries and her consolidation was ruthless and effective; the only other parties able to resist her engulf-and-devour efforts belonged to the Left -and the solution of the President was to liquidate their local leaders and arrest, detain, or otherwise harass, their national ones. The middle didn’t budge, didn’t even mind, didn’t care -to the extent that Tonyo Cruz has had to wonder why the Left is often accused by their middle class critics of wearing ideological blinders, and yet those critics don’t see that it’s they (the middle, etc.) who are wearing blinders.

The fundamental difference? The President’s coalition is primarily about job security for incumbents; her opponents in the Left are about changing the power structure that makes possible the current incumbents entrenching themselves in power. And you wonder why no one will weep for, say, Raul Gonzalez when his time comes while the nation mourned Crispin Beltran?

That being said, the Internet as a whole can be a vehicle for wholesale politics, as some parties in the West have proven (fundraising, presentation of platforms, etc.) and as the use of various technologies by protesters against the WTO, etc. proved as early as the late 1990s. It was crucial, I think, in mobilizing solidarity movements to pressure Western governments concerning our government’s policy of liquidating the Left, when domestic public opinion proved too feeble to stop it. And where once they were crowded out of the established media, other voices and groups have a limitless space to expand and find kindred spirits on the world wide web: this is particularly remarkable in the case of Filipinos blogging in Filipino and other Philippine languages, and those challenging the concept of the Fiilpino (national) Language itself; the opportunity to create and distribute literature at very little cost to producer and recipient, is unprecedented.

Blogs, as a subculture in the broader online culture, by their very nature are personal and the difference in expectations boils down to a blog being the equivalent of a handshake (when civil on both sides) or a vigorous debate in a bar or even living room (more often the case). But when you think of it, it’s a rather old-fashioned notion that this highly personal approach represents something formidable in this era of mass communications (or, to be precise, in the slightly outdated, from a Western point of view, view that the broad public can be best mobilized through mass media; in the West, they’ve embarked on approaching political messaging by targeting smaller and smaller, more and more discrete, chunks of people, i.e. niche marketing; but even as, say, our middle and upper classes start behaving more along Western lines, the massive majority still operates along predictable lines and so the wholesale mass media approach still pays off: thus, the extinction of the old campaigning in the plaza culture and its replacement by political ads being the main focus of the energies and resources of Filipino candidates).

In The Filipino blogosphere’s insipid aristocracy, Tonyo Cruz aims a broadside at those who believe the blogosphere should subscribe to certain conventions:

There is a danger to the way these characters view themselves. They may be harboring not ill thoughts about others, but an overestimation of their self-worth. Given the discussions on related topics, it is not farfetched that they would soon propose a canon for the Pinoy blogosphere and anoint themselves as the new “gods” to whom we should solely and exclusively look for truth.

That is not democracy. That is only a complete reproduction of mass media and Philippine education in general. Full of elitism and bullshit, exclusivist rather inclusive, and finds as questionable the entry of new voices such as Lozada, Panlilio and the nameless masses.

His views resulted in soul-searching by Nick in FilipinoVoices.com and The Marocharim Experiment as well as a wistful post by smoke and incidentally and unrelatedly, a reflection on bloggers and product-peddling on the part of [email protected] (Let me just reiterate a misgiving I have with non-linking for whatever purpose, a disagreement I had with Connie Veneracion in the past; I do believe, strongly, that if it’s worth hitting, it’s worth linking to, if only as a courtesy to the reader: but on the other hand there is the counter-argument that a link is an endorsement.).

As for me, I have very little patience with the usual way “politics” (as something bad, and avoidable) and “elitism” (something unnatural and also avoidable) are articulated, in large part because bandying both things about as purely negative happens to be possible on the basis of elites, each armed with a particular political perspective, doing the charging and counter-charging.

My view is that everything is political and everything sooner or later involves an elite: hierarchy being an instinctive means for humans to organize themselves just as humans instinctively engage in political behavior, because we’re social beings and it’s the way we sort things out even as we divide on our attitudes on the existing pecking order (even a misanthrope who shuns the world is doing so, in a sense, in fulfillment of an ideological imperative, and subscribing to hierarchy of one). The only question is whether politics will be harmful or helpful, limiting (and limited) or inclusive and diverse, in terms of resolving the competing interests of various individuals and groups; whether what constitutes an elite in any activity is based solely on inheritance and therefore, an unyielding hierarchy, or is constantly evolving because towards one based, as much as possible, on merit.

There is a reason why when it comes to political discussions, anonymous blogs can have a larger following or simply make more sense and be meaningful, than blogs written by people who don’t hide their identity. In the end, it’s what’s said rather who says it, that matters: at times the known identity of a blogger can actually get in the way of the reader properly appreciating or evaluating what’s being presented. Questions of style, of course, then becomes central to the argument.

Returning to Cruz’s views, I personally believe people may very well try to impose a canon: I agree that any effort to do so is reprehensible, because it will be used as an opening by governments to try to corral their blogger-citizens. But that effort, by the very nature of the interweb, will fail. Enforcing standards is difficult for the same reason that although the relative freedom of the interweb allows people to plant ideological flags all over the place (and every person who has a position on any political issue, whether they recognize it or not, subscribes to some sort of ideology), what’s taking place is like the transformation from primary to secondary and then old growth forests in what was formerly open grasslands. The ecology is getting more complex, and niches are evolving.

Returning, yet again, to Cruz: prior to the existence of the blogosphere his taking people to task would have been difficult, if not impossible, as far as reaching a wider audience is concerned.

As for Jun Lozada… criticism is the least of his problems.

A very basic thing sets Jun Lozada apart from most other people commenting on line: he was forced to confront his own mortality, because he very nearly got rubbed out; and he has lost his freedom, without even the benefit of a trial; and he went through both because he essentially decided to do the right thing by exposing the fixing he helped undertake for the President and her people.

The biggest proof of the validity of his claims, is that he was worth liquidating and that the attempt took place in a highly public manner that left officialdom scrambling to try to excuse it.

Criticisms of Lozada focuses on form, if you noticed, and not on substance. The man is a patriot and a threat to an administration that wanted him off the headlines by June. In that sense, his foray into political blogging was a political masterstroke!

His embarking on blogging serves to prove what an enduring threat he is to those who kept insisting he’s a has-been, done for, etc. Well, apparently not. And the conventional wisdom that he was only interesting because of his lurid revelations, or his having survived an attempt to liquidate him, but only to that extent, may well be on the way to being debunked, in turn: people want to know what he has to say, and that includes his proposals for larger reforms.

The substance is there, and has always been there, and that substance is interesting: even more interesting is that people are finding his views of sufficient interest to foster serious, even heated, discussion.

To elaborate some more on my previous observations: it’s interesting to me that Lozada has decided to propose an entire ideology, a schema for understanding and acting upon, the problems of our country. My own view is that the blogosphere is better suited to proposing the need for such schemas, then discussing them, and having the schemas evolve through the participation of people. It seems to me that chances are higher people might object to, and thus reject out of hand, something they perceive as a “take it or leave it” out-of-the-box scheme, but gravitate toward, and accept, and then evangelize, something they’ve been invited to help formulate from day one.

That the schema is derivative is not a criticism, but an observation -any intellectual effort requires building on what came before- but I do think that there will be many who will view the Gorrells and Gos as actually more subversive than Lozada (it’s a cultural thing; the breakdown in the transmission of culture means far fewer are liable to be moved by references to abstractions like liberty or by mentioning heroes like Rizal or Mabini).

52 comments

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  1. There is a reason why when it comes to political discussions, anonymous blogs can have a larger following or simply make more sense and be meaningful, than blogs written by people who don’t hide their identity. In the end, it’s what’s said rather who says it, that matters: at times the known identity of a blogger can actually get in the way of the reader properly appreciating or evaluating what’s being presented. Questions of style, of course, then becomes central to the argument.

    Ah, but of course, “the author is dead”. But wait, Nicholas Rombes is saying something about “the rebirth of the author”! Tsk.

    • leytenian on June 5, 2008 at 9:20 am

    wholesale,

    agree . the cost of transporting these goods from one place to another is not the real issue but the additonal costs imposed by another ( corruption). to make real profit and to motivate new enterprenuers to employ another person… our port, freight and office of delivery require a positive new policy. which department is in charge?

    in our country, we still don’t have warranty of goods and services in place. people are being left to worry when products do not work and when quality services are not properly rendered. talking about service quality, our very own politicians cannot warranty. because they don’t know who they are servicing.It’s really simple… quality service to the people with warranty of fulfillment.

    • leytenian on June 5, 2008 at 10:34 am

    on Eight is Enough:

    “But it’s safe to say she will do none of these things, because she is not a leader gifted with imagination. She isn’t unique in preferring a sure thing over a gamble; but her inability to grasp the motive power of the imagination, truly sets her apart from all her predecessors. It is the reason she hasn’t found a way to vanquish her critics, she can only keep them at bay”

    On perfect storm:
    “There are five things which threaten the very existence of the Philippine state today.the government will find it quite impossible even to resolve this rising social tensions caused by its ineptitude in resolving structural problems”

    this is also about lack of quality service. Quality service that will warrant the people of fulfilling his/her duty.

    • Jeg on June 5, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Im all for anarchy (in the sense of ‘no government’ and not in the negative, pop sense) in the blogosphere and view most attempts to ‘organize’ bloggers, with a code of ethics and standards with suspicion — but Im willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. As you said, this is a natural social inclination of us humans and is very useful and should even be encouraged despite the risks.

    I do believe, strongly, that if it’s worth hitting, it’s worth linking to, if only as a courtesy to the reader: but on the other hand there is the counter-argument that a link is an endorsement.

    I agree. The counter-argument is bollocks, pardon my French. If youre hitting someone, how could that be misconstrued as an endorsement? It’s easier for the reader rather than having him go through the Google. Not linking is like talking about someone behind their back. (Resty would say ‘talking about someone behind his or her back’. Apir, R.O.)

    • cvj on June 5, 2008 at 11:02 am

    On criticizing elitism, i feel alluded to so i might as well respond. I also believe that hierarchy, as i’ve said before, evolves naturally (in a loose sense of the word). (In fact, the Capitalist system involves such an interplay between Markets and Hierarchies.) I just don’t believe that in modern society, there is one overarching hierarchy that trumps them all. If you have come across that joke that involves the conversation between the different body parts, i.e. the brain, the stomach and the asshole (among others), on who should be the boss, you’ll see what i mean.

    • BrianB on June 5, 2008 at 11:06 am

    “My view is that everything is political and everything sooner or later involves an elite: hierarchy being an instinctive means for humans to organize themselves just as humans instinctively engage in political behavior, because we’re social beings and it’s the way we sort things out even as we divide on our attitudes on the existing pecking order.”

    Pecking order that goes against freedom of speech, democracy and truth? No. Pecking order that can be passed on to your kin and friends? No. If Einstein were in front of me, explaining the theory of relativity, do you think I’d try to mouth him down? No. Hierarchy should be ad hoc, not permanent.

    • BrianB on June 5, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Agree with JEQ. CVJ… again!

    An anarchic government based on mutual respect and common humanist principles should be enough for the blogosphere. It’s just that if Manolo asks me to chip in for his server caused, I’m going to have to pass.

    • hvrds on June 5, 2008 at 11:09 am

    CJ Puno said it so clearly. You want a First World Judicial System on a Third World Budget. It is not going to happen.

    Bernanke, the most powerfull seer/God on Olympus finally said it yesterday. The weak dollar is the cause of consumer price inflation.

    What are Central bank governors to do when the world’s trade is based on the dollar as a unit of account. That unit of account has been depreciating versus major currencies of the world.

    Thus exporters of these commodities have been forced to raise prices to compensate.

    This anomaly is apart from the physical supply and demand
    of commodities. Financial markets are all operating in very opaque physical markets where information is either lacking or non-existent.

    We saw an example of that recently when the media played up the opinion of an oil market analyst that said that oil might hit $200 a barrel.

    Is it for real or not. yesterday we saw a visibly upset DOE SEC reyes who insisted that no one in the business should make forecasts and talk to the media.

    Someone should tell him that the horse has left the stable already.

    The government is hedging their bets since they expect prices to cool off in a few months.

    They had better as the ramifications would be interesting.

    The only cure for price inflation is to destroy demand with high interest rates.

    But when price inflation infects food and energy then it becomes a deadly force for governments.

    The question on everyones mind is will a new higher becnhmark be established for the cost of food and energy going forward.

    If so that would essentially bring the world to a new level of contradiction between the haves and the still trying to have and the have not countries around the globe.

    The solutions for the country are going to narrow and be limited for the state to survive.

    In the U.S. numerous municipalties are defaulting already on their bonds. Housing and the taxes from home values are a major source of revenues for these local governments. They are taking a major hit.

    Unfortunatley there are no set paramters for the Philippine state to declare default and renegotiate the pricipal of their bonds outstanding.

    This coupled with a massive asset reform program that can financed through capital account controls.

    • cvj on June 5, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I’d just like to point out that anybody who followed hvrds’ advice to ‘short the peso’ back in February would have made money already.

    http://www.quezon.ph/1695/an-immoderate-threat-when-representatives-fail-the-people/#comment-743716

    Not bad for a ‘wordy Marxist’.

    http://www.quezon.ph/1807/malakas-at-mahina/#comment-817821

    Certainly better than that wannabee-Carl Icahn.

  2. BLOGGING is merely politics by other means, although in this case those means are almost purely intellectual, or should I say, “memetic”.

    And so all the same characters from the real world are here, the totalitarians, the liberals, the conservatives and the solipsists. And of course the terrorists and insurgents and their pretentious front organizations and apologists.

    So let’s not mystify things or pretend that the new medium changes the terms of the old war among ideas and ideologies. Just because certain old fogeys have recently discovered the new sandbox and are only now getting used to the Rules, bloggers ought to merrily get on with evolution and let the pterosaurs and control freaks toil in their own night soil.

    What’s humorous are those Leftists who take their grave pronouncements and themselves more seriously than any of their possible readers have the fortitude, patience, bodily strength, or mental masochism to endure.

    Frankly, I’m all for the Aristocracy, since their alternative is mainly that aging Dutch Treat of a nut, Joma, and his local subalterns in the Mass Media and the Web.

    • Jeg on June 5, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Frankly, I’m all for the Aristocracy, since their alternative is mainly that aging Dutch Treat of a nut, Joma, and his local subalterns in the Mass Media and the Web.

    Joma et al., if they choose to blog, are part of the aristocracy, DJB, simply because he’s Joma.

    MLQ3: “There is a reason why when it comes to political discussions, anonymous blogs can have a larger following or simply make more sense and be meaningful, than blogs written by people who don’t hide their identity. In the end, it’s what’s said rather who says it, that matters: at times the known identity of a blogger can actually get in the way of the reader properly appreciating or evaluating what’s being presented.”

    I expand the meaning of ‘anonymous’ here to include all the ordinary schmoes. That is, those not of the aristocracy.

    • magdiwang on June 5, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Criticisms of Lozada focuses on form, if you noticed, and not on substance. The man is a patriot and a threat to an administration that wanted him off the headlines by June. In that sense, his foray into political blogging was a political masterstroke!

    His embarking on blogging serves to prove what an enduring threat he is to those who kept insisting he’s a has-been, done for, etc. Well, apparently not. And the conventional wisdom that he was only interesting because of his lurid revelations, or his having survived an attempt to liquidate him, but only to that extent, may well be on the way to being debunked, in turn: people want to know what he has to say, and that includes his proposals for larger reforms.

    The substance is there, and has always been there, and that substance is interesting: even more interesting is that people are finding his views of sufficient interest to foster serious, even heated, discussion.

    Jun lozada for me is a charlatan. No backbone and all a masquerade. Just like other whistle blowers before him, they dont even have the credibility until they substantiate the allegations they peddle.

    He is looking for attention to become relevant. People pretty much already forgot about him and pretty soon he will be just be a footnote on the ongoing drama to oust GMA.

    JLo a target of liquidation is so far fetch, Im not sure what will they gain from that. He has not provided any relevant information implicating the president.

    Provide some convincing evidence and GMA administration will fall sooner than you think.

    • DevilsAdvc8 on June 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    well, i’m still on track for my prediction. and what’s more, whatever indication this admin may be giving re 2010 is all false.

    remember the garcia gambit, about feigning weakness and assaulting at the last moment? though it failed, it showed how this admin thinks.

    so who really believes GMA will throw in the towel?

    or that we can really avoid a bloody revolution this time?

    even PDI columnist Neal Cruz asks

    So what do we consumers do short of a revolution and lining up the top public officials and businessmen against the wall?

    well, we’re getting there.

    as more and more people are unable to get justice thru the institutions and government agencies, they will band together, and then they will fight back.

    it doesn’t take a genius to see that.

    • Jeg on June 5, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Oh, irony. Magdiwang, my man, you just proved MLQ3’s case.

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Chuck:

    as one who criticized or questioned your views on elitism here,di naman ikaw ang pinatatamaan that time.(I hope so)

    we are only human to feel alluded to, eto nga meron din ako.

    Jego,
    as one who compared government to anarchy a few blogs back,when you apply it to the blogosphere, I agree.

    as a commenter and reader of your blogs jeg (di pa ako naka comment pero nakabrowse na ako sa blog mo)and cvj,as a blogging friend thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt when I disagree.

    Brian,
    Sorry for the one time e-mail ,akala ko naka post online ang alam mo na.

    • BrianB on June 5, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    KG, what email?

    • BrianB on June 5, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Lozada’s status right now? I’ll put him a little below Gorrell. Poor man, I know it in my heart if he still had the money and connections he’ll not think twice of getting me beat up or worse if I said something wrong about him. He’s not one of us but still dangerous to the administration especially those who still think liquidating him is an option.

    • BrianB on June 5, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    We learn from these little experiments of truths – Gorrell, Lozada, Hello garci (leaked by CIA?) – about what kind of country this is.

  3. Jun Lozada may be a patriot, but he once famously had a dissenting voice removed from an audience he was addressing.

    A true Pinoy nga talaga. Great at dishing it out but utterly onion-skinned when the tables are turned.

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Brian,

    Ok lang magelaoborate?

    I clicked your link to look for your e-mail addy,tapos I said I read your poems online,tapos nawow mali ako di pala sayo.Yung parang may gumamit ng tagline mo.

    Kung nalimutan mo na, never mind.

    Karl Garcia

    • cvj on June 5, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    @Jeg (1:54 pm), adding in Benign0’s comment above, that makes it…

    Form – 2, Substance – 0

    Manolo’s thesis is holding up quite well.

    • BrianB on June 5, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Karl it’s ok? Did I respond? I’ve been using the same email address for years. Medyo madami email.

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Brian,
    I meant byline.

    • Jeg on June 5, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Ako din sasali.

    Jun Lozada? Puh-leaze… Look at his shoes! And omigawrsh, who does his hair?

    KG, paramdam ka naman minsan sa blag.

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Brian,

    Thank you very much,you did respond btw kaya nalaman ko na di sa iyo yun.

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Jeg, sure!
    ngayon na.

    • anthony scalia on June 5, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    JLo who? His 15 seconds of fame are up.

    Next

    • anthony scalia on June 5, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    cvj,

    JLo, may substance? ano ba yan!

    his Cebu escapade showed that he has less than zero substance.

    how could you say that being “utterly onion-skinned when the tables are turned” is still a comment on form?

    Neri has done more damage to gloria than JLo on the NBN ZTE circus!

    JLo kalbo! (o ayan ha, dagdag sa ‘form criticism’)

    • UP n student on June 7, 2008 at 9:29 am

    GMA’s P2-billion power subsidy program in which four million “lifeline users,” or families using less than 100 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly, will be given a one-time subsidy of P500 is a variant of the Bush $600-subsidy.

    Now, Bush’s $600-version is only to taxpayers, and those with smaller 2007 income get smaller of the Bush-“incentive”. GMA’s “electricity”-rebate is more pro-poor. But Bush $600-version will reach even the citizens of DC and California (Bush lost California and DC) just as it reaches the citizens of Texas. GMA’s version is more for the National Capital Region.

    • kg on June 7, 2008 at 10:02 am

    “we all need a paradigm shift. rather than pro-poor, we should be anti-poverty

    June 5th, 2008 at 8:31 am: anthony scalia”

    http://www.quezon.ph/1810/mindanao-hitting-the-fan/#comment-822375

    i understand this as beyond a stimulus package;something sutsainable.
    anthony can correct me if i am wrong

    • kg on June 7, 2008 at 10:13 am

    “if there is a government project for development a big obstacle are those who won’t budge kahit mayroon Right of way ang gov,bakit pa tayo kailanganlumayo ng example:northrail southrail na lang

    ayaw nila relocation ang layo sa tirahan nila, tapos ang big irony wala daw mass transport.
    langya kaya nga sila pinaalis para sa mass transport.Ayos!”
    That was my comment,btw

    http://www.quezon.ph/1810/mindanao-hitting-the-fan/#comment-822285

    to make things clear:the government, the middle class and some foundations so even the rich are contributing to the relocation of squatters and has spent a lot,kahit na sabihin na natin kulang pa ang sevices.

    But when it comes to corruption:
    north rail/ southrail may have it’s own corruption issues and it should not be swept under the rug.

    • leytenian on June 7, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    HVRDS,
    ” Bernanke, the most powerfull seer/God on Olympus finally said it yesterday. The weak dollar is the cause of consumer price inflation”

    Weakening Dollar Advantages for US economy

    U.S. firms find it easier to sell goods in foreign markets.
    U.S. firms find less competitive pressure to keep prices low.
    More foreign tourists can afford to visit the U.S.
    U.S. capital markets become more attractive to foreign investors.

    Disadvantages for US economy

    Consumers face higher prices on foreign products/services. ( here’s yourprice inflation according to bernacke)
    Higher prices on foreign products contribute to higher cost-of-living.
    U.S. consumers find traveling abroad more costly.
    Harder for U.S. firms and investors to expand into foreign markets.

    A weak dollar also hurts some people and benefits others. When the value of the dollar falls or weakens in relation to another currency, prices of goods and services from that country rise for U.S. consumers. It takes more dollars to purchase the same amount of foreign currency to buy goods and services. That means U.S. consumers and U.S. companies that import products have reduced purchasing power.

    At the same time, a weak dollar means prices for U.S. products fall in foreign markets, benefiting U.S. exporters and foreign consumers. With a weak dollar, it takes fewer units of foreign currency to buy the right amount of dollars to purchase U.S. goods. As a result, consumers in other countries can buy U.S. products with less money.

    “Thus exporters of these commodities have been forced to raise prices to compensate. ”
    What do you mean? Most countries have higher purchasing power. The dollar is weak. Its currencies will buy more…

    “This anomaly is apart from the physical supply and demand”
    Still demand and supply.

    • KG on June 7, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Leytenian,

    somehow my nonesensical comment has found some sense in your comment:

    http://www.quezon.ph/1794/market-stalinism/#comment-803630

    “Please appreciate that would mean purchasing power. That is a long story in itself”

    “The Big Mac Index,just try using The current price(Philippine)of Big mac and make it equivalent to a dollar, The OFWS and the exporters will be happy.”

    • leytenian on June 7, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    KG,

    you mean to say,you just started to agree with me. i thought we have established rapport with each other? LOL

    “On the us dollar and exchange rates, I tried to appreciate it more by googling Bretton Woods Act,Smithsonian,Plaza and Louvre accords and at least wikipedia has a brief summary of all of them.

    Good for you. you got it right. you think of long term..

    Going back to the chicken and the egg on oil prices and inflation, How come the republicans are taking credit and highlighting the failure of ford and Carter to see the real picture?? useless question!!!

    hahahaha… you are smart.

    • nash on June 7, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Are you Frigging Joking???

    Mark Lapid is PTA Manager???

    GMA is really scraping the bottom of the basurahan with her appointees. It seems the only qualification is to be a former politician na incompetent and talunan in the last election.

    Well there you go, another moron in high government office. SiRaulo Gonzalez would be proud.

    • Bencard on June 7, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    i tried to post this yesterday but for some reason, i could not access the comment section and submit these remarks.

    mlq3, i think obama’s slim plurality of delegates that made him the presumptive nominee was made possible by the intra-party coalition of the solid black constituency and the white ultra-liberal wing of the democratic party. the moderates or so-called bill clinton democrats, a.k.a. “reagan democrats, largely supported hillary. this is the same situation that spelled defeat for stevenson, humphrey, mccgovern, carter (reelection), mondale, dukakis, and kerry in the national elections.

    i’m sure that as a good and loyal democrat, hillary would sincerely work her heart out to help obama win against the republican mccain. i’m not sure, though, if the reagan democrats would come home with her for obama. the distrust of obama is so pervasive among clinton supporters (and vice versa) that not even her could persuade them to change their mind.

    american politics differ from that of the philippines in one very notable aspect. in america, voters are not captives of their candidate. for the most part, they remain independent and are not necessarily beholden to their candidate in case the latter support a person they dislike later on. if you visit hillary clinton.com blog, you would notice an overwhelming majority of clinton supporters urging her to run as independent, not to accept the vice presidential candidacy, if offered, or else they would be forced to vote for mccain come november. this doesn’t bode well for obama, neither for the democratic party.

    i predict that should obama lose the national election, obama’s die-hard promoters and followers would put the blame on hillary for his defeat. even now, the pundits in the liberal-dominated mainstream media are laying the groundwork for further demonizing hillary by insisting that she should have conceded defeat much earlier than she did, and that her failing to do that was a “great mistake”.

    they are ignoring the fact that 18 million or so americans voted for her and want her to stay on until the convention
    has officially chosen the nominee.

    • cvj on June 7, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Bencard, what’s your Plan B if Obama turns out to be the Antichrist?

    • Bencard on June 7, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    cvj, i’m not telling, nya, nya, nya, nya, nya…(lol).

    • hvrds on June 8, 2008 at 9:38 am

    “Thus exporters of these commodities have been forced to raise prices to compensate. ”
    What do you mean? Most countries have higher purchasing power. The dollar is weak. Its currencies will buy more…
    “Briliant blog by a pundit who is living in outer space.

    All commodity prices in the global market are denominated in the unit of account that is known as the U.S. dollar.

    Even the so called genuises over at Iran who insist on pricing their oil in Euros the countries of the world that import from Iran will use the dollar exchange rate versus the Euro to calculate how many Euros it will cost them to buy a barrel of oil.

    The standard medium is still the dollar. The GCC exporting countries except for Kuwait have a fixed peg of their currencies to the U.S. dollar.

    Since the unit of account of a barrel of oil is pegged in dollars that means coountries that earn dollars will see their costs go up since the other major currencies are stronger and so all imports from Europe will cost more as will all other products whose economies currencies are stronger versus the dollar. Even Chinese goods will cost more as their currency is getting stronger versus the dollar.

    So all resource exporting countries automatically will raise prices to compensate for dollar devaluation. Their imports from the world except the U.S. will be stronger.

    When they export they earn dollars.

    Try going to the Middle East and purchase oil with a peso instrument.

    Even the Europeans have to purchase dollars to pay for their oil bills except for when they buy oil from Iran.

    That is how the U.S. is exporting inflation all through out the world. The U.S. dollar is the premier reserve currency in the world.

    It’s purchasing power has been debased simply because the U.S. government has allowed the expansion of the money supply overand above the requirements of its own economy to save itself from collapse.

    It is an old mercantilist trick.

    It can get away with it for so many reasons.

    • cvj on June 8, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    It’s purchasing power has been debased simply because the U.S. government has allowed the expansion of the money supply overand above the requirements of its own economy to save itself from collapse. – hvrds

    Would the debasing of the US currency also account for the rise in US Stock prices? I’m curious because there is this one blue chip stock (where i have options in) that has been in the doldrums for so long but now has taken off within the past 12 months.

    • leytenian on June 8, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    “Since the unit of account of a barrel of oil is pegged in dollars that means coountries that earn dollars will see their costs go up since the other major currencies are stronger and so all imports from Europe will cost more as will all other products whose economies currencies are stronger versus the dollar. Even Chinese goods will cost more as their currency is getting stronger versus the dollar.”

    it costs more for philippines too as we are are importers of goods from other neighboring countries with strong currency. it will cost less for philippines if are we importers of US products.

    CPI index in the US show a decline in spending in electronic products imported from China. Higher prices on foreign products contribute to higher cost-of-living. The demand for China’s products will no longer advantageous for US economy. When demand is low, it will push prices down as inventories are up. Profits will be low and production will cease. Hopefully, this balancing of supply and demand will eventually push oil prices down.
    Other factors will also be consideredsuch as lifestyle, energy savings technique and etc.
    Ideally, the dollar and all nations’ currencies should be valued at a level that is neither too high nor too low. Such a level would help sustain long-term economic growth and stability both here and abroad. However, this ideal is difficult to reach since many factors affect the value of a nation’s money. Some of the factors are complex, but many are quite simple.

    • KG on June 9, 2008 at 7:10 am

    vaswani:

    as I said it was nonesensical
    out of this world

    • leytenian on June 9, 2008 at 9:33 am

    hvrds,
    “That is how the U.S. is exporting inflation all through out the world. The U.S. dollar is the premier reserve currency in the world. ”

    agree but more people are now aware of this old mercantilist trick. Not sure if they have gotten away with it. The US is feeling the inflation first, worst in its history. Yes it might be a trick or its policy, but i will partly blame this whole mess to greenspan. he lowered interest rates when demand of homes soars. the dream of every american became a nightmare.

    How Does the Weak Dollar Affect Oil Prices?

    http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=55612
    this article explains better.

    Here’s another article that Weak dollar not sole reason for high oil prices… ( supply and demand) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-04/18/content_7999121.htm

    • anthony scalia on June 10, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Bencard, what’s your Plan B if Obama turns out to be the Antichrist?

    sabi ko na nga ba na ang ‘Babylon’ referred to in the Book of Revelation is the US! 🙂

    • cvj on June 10, 2008 at 11:20 am

    sabi ko na nga ba na ang ‘Babylon’ referred to in the Book of Revelation is the US! 🙂 – Anthony

    Iraq = Babylon
    Babylon = US

    Therefore, the US = Iraq?

    • Marcelo on June 10, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Hmmm….

    If US voters are independent of their candidates while Pinoy voters are not, then why do Pinoy candidates spend so much? Would you spend on a “loyal” or “captive” electorate? (For the record, among all the major industrial democracies, the US has the highest election spending bar none, so maybe this is just a Yankee-Pinoy thing)

    If we really wanted clean politics, we’d do at least two things.

    First, all information about all political parties and candidates would be on the web…free of charge…paid for by the State. This is not as expensive as it sounds, since there would be loads of volunteers to do this.

    And anyone would be allowed to gather and post this information as well. No censorship.

    Second, we would have campaign finance reform. Full disclosure. All foreign and domestic donors identified. No one banned from giving money, but all of it accounted for.

    Then, let’s see….

    If corruption is such an impediment to development, how come other countries that have very high corruption rates continue to develop while we don’t (I think our corruption estimates are overstated and our foreign competitors’ levels undereported).

    Test: Imagine that we could all abolish corruption from all countries tomorrow (assuming we could all agree on what exactly constitutes corruption…it’s not all the simple “lagay” kind), would the Philippines draw equal to its overseas rivals or are other factors involved?

    Also….

    When the Peso fell against the dollar, administration critics were critical. When the Peso strengthened against the dollar, administration critics were critical. Interesting consistency.

    Finallly….

    We should ask oursleves why our country is the only one left in Asia (except those where the local Communist Parties hold absolute control, and that one odd exception, Nepal), where the most extreme leftist, Marxist and Communist opinions are still considered to be not only legitimate but sensible in many respectable quarters? It’s as if the national discourse was a record player that got stuck in the groove of the 1960’s.

    But it also means we’re fairly democratic about these things, doesn’t it?

    • cvj on June 11, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Marcelo, you raise good points on corruption similar to economist Joseph Stiglitz so you may be interested in this essay by Filomeno Sta. Ana (previously linked to by mlq3 in an earlier blog entry):

    http://www.aer.ph/index.php?Itemid=63&id=452&option=com_content&task=view

    Besides, corruption is not the only problem [aka ‘binding constraint] to economic development in the Philippines. We still have the problem of the Oligarchs, land and income inequality as well as a lack of industrial policy (where government helps local businesses grow).

    The more successful countries (both communist and capitalist) got rid of their Oligarchs (or the Oligarchs themselves initiated reforms), carried out land reform (quickly and decisively), and implemented an industrial policy that built local production capabilities. Because of their relative social and economic equality, their economies were able to grow and therefore, and are able to better tolerate corruption.

    When you say that we are the only country where communist parties are considered ‘legitimate’, on the contrary, i observe that we are one of the few countries left where the Reds are still considered bogeymen. In other countries like India, they even get elected to run the State government.

    I am not sure why Communism gets such a bad rap when it has proven to be successful in Vietnam and China. As i mentioned before, the winning combination for economic development for latecomer countries, as observed in both our communist and capitalist neighbors seems to be a two-phase approach where you implement Phase 1: Social and economic equality (via land reform and other asset reform) and then Phase 2: Industrial Policy and Capitalist reforms.

    By contrast, we have remained a highly unequal society which is why Capitalism over here does not seem to work as well.

    • Bencard on June 11, 2008 at 2:52 am

    marcelo, pinoy candidates usually spends so much because they have to “buy” votes one way or another, in addition to ads, transportation, & other campaign expenses. in the u.s., vote-buying is not as rampant, if there is any at all.

    election expenses in the u.s. must be viewed in the context of its size, voting population, costs of media ads, salaries and overhead of campaign personnel. personally, i don’t believe any part of it is used for buying votes (on the contrary, supporters usually contribute -give rather than receive for the cause they really believe in.

    • Bencard on June 11, 2008 at 2:57 am

    btw, marcelo, a voter who has sold his vote is a “captive” supporter, especially to a ruthless candidate who “invested” in his candidacy. and i’m sure the latter would find a way to ensure that his money is not wasted.

    • anthony scalia on June 11, 2008 at 7:56 am

    cvj,

    the author of Revelation never had the historical Babylon in mind when he used the word ‘Babylon.’ at the time Revelation was written, the Babylonian empire was no longer existing. the author was referring to something else

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