The fact that media reports and scuttlebutt have been quiet on the question of potential mischief by military elements, at least for a couple of weeks, suggests that the military threat (of a coup)has been neutralized. But if so, why is the Palace still paranoid? Well here you have it: Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has been sounding the alarm once more. She says the plan may be for December; the armed forces tries to pooh-pooh the senator’s statements as diplomatically as it can. Expect those who specialize in the military to start zeroing in on whether those suspected as potential coup ringleaders are still in a position to mount mischief, or not. (Update: Jove Francisco blogs on the Palace reaction; on another note: strange to think that December 30, 2005, marks the 40th anniversary of Diosdado Macapagal’s last day in office…)
And here’s an interesting clarification I missed from this post by Jove Francisco: in a press release the other day, the Speaker clarified that what was agreed upon between himself, the President, and former President Ramos was:
The party leadership, he said further, would recommend that the PresidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s term of office Ã¢â‚¬Å“shall continue and will not be disturbedÃ¢â‚¬Â under a French-style parliamentary system where a Prime Minister would be elected to run the government as its operating officerÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Reports came out in the Sun-Star, in the Philippine Star, and in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Which brings up the interesting point that the French model is what the Speaker of the House has wanted all along: he was very publicly for Constitutional amendments to establish the French system prior to July, 2005, and I recall asking colleagues why all of a sudden JDV was for a purely parliamentary system when prior to the President’s woes, he’d preferred the French system. Well, it seems the Speaker has won out (and the President has won out, in a sense, too): the Speaker can be Prime Minister, the President remains President, and Ramos gets to take credit for whatever happens, at least while the presidency remains somewhat powerful up to 2010, after which, presumably, the country would go purely parliamentary. So it’s still His way, or the highway, with a twist: it’s all partially her way: in other words, he and he (FVR and JDV are the “they”) did it her (GMA’s) way. Here’s the Speaker’s official press release, which includes his timeline for Constitutional change. Columnist JB Baylon calls the whole endeavor a house of sand.
Other items to note: the short list for the next Chief Justice of the Philippines is revealed: smart money is on Justices Reynato Puno or Artemio Panganiban. The Standard-Today reports the House speakership fight isn’t exactly over; and Jarius Bondoc has this great passage:
Tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best option is to dismount. In government, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies have evolved …These include: (1) change riders, (2) buy a stronger whip, (3) do nothing (“This is the way we have always ridden dead horses”), (4) visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses, (5) run a productivity study to see if lighter riders improve the dead horseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performance, (6) hire a contractor/consultant to ride the dead horse, (7) provide more funding and/or training to increase the dead horseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performance, (8) harness several dead horses together in an attempt to increase the speed, (9) appoint a committee to study the horse and assess how dead it actually is, (10) reclassify the dead horse as “living impaired”, (11) develop a Strategic Plan for the management of dead horses, (12) rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses, (13) modify existing standards to include dead horses, (14) declare that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overheads, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than many other horses, (15) promote the dead horse to supervisor (although competition for such position is fierce).
Mother of All Conspiracy Theories Department: Reader Wolfgang Struck sent me an email with a four-part saga titled What they don’t teach you at La Salle. I don’t buy it, but the odds are high his Unified Theory on Marcos as the Hero and Solution to Everything will find lots of people willing to buy into the delusion. Speaking of conspiracy theories, here’s Emil Jurado’s:
The fact that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a pattern to all these makes me have a sneaking suspicion that the Central Intelligence Agency is coming out with scenarios to make GMA dependent on American protection for her political survival. It was the same pattern the CIA did when they thought that Marcos was distancing himself from Washington. And the rest is history, as they say.
Good reads over at Slate: Tim Naftali on Vice President Dick Cheney’s Superiority Complex:
In the Constitution, the vice president is the nation’s understudy. He is not supposed to be in the chain of command. Cheney knows this better than most: In 1989, when he was George H.W. Bush’s secretary of defense, Cheney slapped down Vice President Dan Quayle for calling a meeting of the National Security Council about a coup attempt in the Philippines while the president was out of the country.
And Daniel Engber in The Explainer explaining The XXI Club: What’s the history of closed sessions in the Senate?; Michael Kinsley’s meditative essay on the concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” which, in Truth, Justice, and the American Way he says is,
...a conceit of the judicial system. That doesn’t make it a bad thing. In fact it is a good thingÃ¢â‚¬â€one of the ornaments of free and democratic society. The law, and especially the criminal law, is full of conceits that serve justice, although they require participants to make believe various things. The rules of evidence, for example. Anyone who has watched a TV courtroom drama, from Perry Mason to Law & Order, has heard a judge declare that “the jury will disregard” something no one seeking the truth would disregard. That’s because the judicial process has other goals besides seeking the truth.
One of those other goals is protecting the innocent. The law bends over backward to avoid a wrongful conviction. That’s why it excludes certain kinds of evidence, and that’s why the standard for conviction is guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil lawsuit, the standard is generally “more probable than not.” Whatever probably happened, as best as the judge or jury can determine, is taken to have happened. But in a criminal trial there is a whole range of probability that is off limits: It probably happened, but not beyond a reasonable doubt.
Finally, Jacob Weisberg on Karl Rove’s Dying Dream, in which he compares Carl Rove to 19th century American political boss Mark Hanna and George W. Bush to Hannah’s political creature and creation, William McKinley (both rather dim and both behind a bogus war) and argues,
The key to McKinley’s political success was the alliance Hanna forged between industrialists like himself, who provided the cash, and workers, who provided the votes. In Rove’s alliance, the rich provide the cash, and religious conservatives provide the votes. Refuting the conventional wisdom that successful presidential candidates must lay claim to the political center, Bush has governed from the right and won re-election in 2004 with a “base-in,” rather than a “center-out,” strategy.
When Bush was re-elected, everyone hailed Rove’s strategy as a masterstroke. …Less than a year into Bush’s second term, the president’s approval rating is down around 40 percent. Many things have gone wrong for Bush, but the underlying problem is his relationship to the constituency that elected him. Bush’s debt to his big donors and to religious conservatives has boxed him in and pitted him against the national consensus on various issues. His extremism is undermining Rove’s realignment.