Tar baby controversy

This is the first time a journalist who’s been murdered is someone I’ve actually met. I was a guest on Fernando Batul’s radio show when I was last in Puerto Princesa City. He seemed a nice enough person. From what I saw during his radio show, he didn’t seem particularly different from other hard-hitting radio hosts. Now he’s dead.

Good news: a bill exempting those who earn 125,000 pesos a year or below from income tax is closer to being approved. In his column, John Mangun suggests that all isn’t peachy keen in the economic front, though. Besides which, as Punzi points out, it’s increasingly obvious that despite working hard, people aren’t getting what they deserve as compensation for their efforts.

Connie Veneracion explains what’s wrong with the compromise deals the PCGG wants with the Marcoses.

Overseas, Netindia reports a controversy involving contending claims as to which Filipino was really the first to climb Everest. The Nation of Thailand points to round two in the Thaksin drama. After having beaten a strategic retreat, Thaksin’s now attempting a comeback. As Thepchai Yong’s opinion column explains,

So the question is whether Thaksin will improve things or make them worse with his comeback.

For Thai Rak Thai, its leader’s sudden political re-entry was definitely a boon to its rank and file, who have been badly demoralised by the changing political tide. The party is facing the possibility of dissolution after a sub-committee of the Election Commission found some of its top officials to be involved in bribing small parties to contest the April 2 election. Thaksin himself is facing a lawsuit in the Administrative Court that threatens to strip him of the premiership for alleged dereliction of duty.

But it’s the pending election that was probably a major factor in prompting Thaksin to end his break. Without their leader actively at the helm, Thai Rak Thai was obviously as disoriented as the government itself. The prolonged political stalemate that was already causing rumblings within the party threatened to intensify factional conflicts that might result in mass defections.

So it’s fairly easy to see the reasons for Thaksin’s latest political flip-flop. Salvaging Thai Rak Thai’s sagging image and saving it from a possible disintegration was at the top of his agenda. The party also badly needs him to lead the charge into the next election.

But for the public at large, Thaksin’s return signals a protracted deadlock. Lest he forget, the political anarchy in the country now is entirely Thaksin’s doing. His six-week political hiatus only compounded it.

Thaksin’s resumption of the premiership will not in any way dispel the charges of conflict of interest, abuse of power and interference with independent bodies that have been levelled against him and which were the reasons for him being rejected by large sections of society. His party’s continuing support for the embattled election commissioners also lends weight to the accusation that they are working hand-in-glove.

If the election date as proposed by the Election Commission holds, it means that the current caretaker government with Thaksin at the helm will continue to hold power for another five months. And that means another five months of political uncertainty.

Thaksin’s political juggling only proves that his style of CEO leadership has been a big failure and his Thai Rak Thai is anything but a political institution. Even top level Cabinet members, including his second in command, often cited as his possible political heirs, were helpless without their commander-in-chief around.

Sounds familiar. As does the paper’s editorial calling for an end to the revolving-door and heavily politicized policies towards the Fourth Army of the Thai military.

A reader pointed out a tar baby controversy in America, concerning the new White House spokesman (and former Fox News anchor) Tony Snow. What’s wrong with using the term tar baby? This cartoon tells it all:

Snow Tar Baby

Actually, that’s a parody cartoon. What really happened is explained by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill: the context of the statement and why it has been found objectionable by so many, though he suggests Snow was a victim of a culture that doesn’t consider the feelings of others. PERRspectives graphically demonstrates why “tar baby” is objectionable.  Sea Change adds that the statement is more likely a slip, and focusing too much on it ignores other acts of racism that deserve attention. Then again, prying1 says it’s all much ado about nothing -another case of political correctness run amuck.

I’m inclined to agree with Lamont, if only because the tar baby story itself is a kind of age reference: only Filipinos of my generation know the story, just as American whites of Snow’s generation may know it without realizing how it’s viewed as a racist image or epithet by non-whites. The speed at which things can change is actually best demonstrated by my generation: I think we were the last to think nothing of being taught to sing “Yankee Doodle” in school, and read about Abraham Lincoln in classes.

The Suburban Ecstasies writes a hard-hitting critique of what he considers the reverse-racism of other conservatives, such as the one I most like to dislike, Michelle Malkin: he say’s she’s on the warpath on allegedly racist statements made against her, but really, she’s only being selective about the facts. And just for the hell of it, Click Mo Mukha Mo on a Filipina pornstar running for governor of Nevada makes a good companion story.

And there’s the sudden death of the most insanely popular gossip blog (at least for a few weeks: it was certainly causing mental -well, okay, emotional- anguish among the glitterati).

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

10 thoughts on “Tar baby controversy

  1. Manolo

    Loved that post on Michelle Malkin.

    Hey did your friend at the Standard take a break from writing lifestyle columns?

  2. speaking of sudden death of blogs…I am beginning to miss Ricky Carandang’s blog…i hope I was not responsible in any way for his decision to stop blogging……

    i got a terrible commenter beating at the last blog Ricky posted…Oh forget it!

  3. On media killings..I read in the inquirer maybe about two weeks ago that Senator Dick Lugar was noticing the Philippine media killings….

    If Marcos flew to Hawaii the instant Lugar told him to cut and cut clean when will Luar ask Gloria to cut clean????

    ooops, someone might bash me for waiting for the big brother’s help…..

  4. ya, mimi for gov…

    rock da boat mimi’s vote
    always bare and honest
    nevada’s best asset
    hot rockin’ republican?

    yo, melody!

  5. On John Magun and his almost theological faith in the so called workings of the free market. How could he be so wrong?

    History tells us otherwise with the end of the gold standard -to which Nixon said, “we are all Keynesians.”
    State power to create assets out of nothing is an awesome power. Unfortunately corrupt governments have always used the power for the selective few. The technology of finance is awesome for good and evil.
    Going back to the biggest failure of the free market system in 1930’s and later in 1972 – “the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods,” the unscrupulous money changers” who, “through their own stubborness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated” Having thus driven the money changers” from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    Roosvelt promised to request Congress to grant him “broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.” FDR

    Two days later, on March 6, 1933, w/o waiting for Congress, the president issued an Executive order closing every bank in the U.S. and prohibiting the export of gold.

    Claudia Goldin an economic historian also wrote on the effects of the New Deal and the economic benefits of a war economy –

    FDR increased income taxes and capital gains taxes in the U.S. and historians claim that he singlehandedly created the American middle class.

    From Krugmnan’s piece on the “Spiral of Inequality”
    “The relatively decent society we had a generation ago was largely the creation of a brief, crucial period in American history: the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, during the New Deal and especially during the war. That created what economic historian Claudia Goldin called the Great Compression — an era in which a powerful government, reinforced by and in turn reinforcing a newly powerful labor movement, drastically narrowed the gap in income levels through taxes, benefits, minimum wages, and collective bargaining. In effect, Roosevelt created a new, middle-class America, which lasted for more than a generation. We have lost that America, and it will take another Roosevelt, and perhaps the moral equivalent of another war, to get it back.”

    In 1972 the world went off the gold standard and the world started the experiment with fiat currency. That combined with the fractional reserve system of banking essentially tranferred power back to the rulers’s of the exchange of mankinds goods (private owners of capital). In effect the State effectively guarantees the actions of private bankers in the creation of new money. (Privatizing gains and socializing loses) The world has never been the same since. The next few years we expect a more dramatic failure of the same. Guess who will once again pay the bills when the so called free market fails.

    Please check on how fast your fiat currency looses it real value. Ask the guys at the BSP and the DOF if they have an answer? Ask them why creating inflation and/or debasing currency is a favorite pastime of corrupt governments. Ask them why they had to get PHD’s abroad simply to learn this trick?

    Ask them to point to a particular advanced industrial economy that developed using the theology of the free markets.

  6. On the killings and disappearnces of journalists and activists from the left it appears that GMA has either wittingly or unwittingly unleashed both the “schutzstaffel” and the “sturmabteilung” in the country.

    I do not think she quite understands the evil forces she is unleashing. But I may be wrong.

    On both counts keeping silent is not an option.

  7. http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ann_pettifor/2006/05/the_house_that_big_brother_fin.html

    A good link to an article describing the pitfalls of unregulated financial capitalism or fictional capitalism. That is the only way advanced economies keep their economies going. (Trading and profiting in futures) Unfortunately over 2 billion people in India and Chin could have other ideas. Hence the West would like them to open up their economies fully to financial capitalsim. It is not a question of if a financial collapse will happen but when.

    It was Keynes himself who said that waiting for market equilibrium could take time and in the end we would all be dead anyway.

  8. Re the “tar baby” controversy, unfortunately what has been happening here in the US, and maybe elsewhere, too, is that the public discourse environment has become so unjustifiably and maybe even unscrupulously politicized as to now evoke an over-heightened, or may even contrived, sense of sensibility or outrage over the mere use of certain terms, even as innocuous as the word, niggardly, which as admitted has absolutely nothing to do with any reference to race, much less in any derogatory manner. And in this instance, only because it sounds like the n word.

    In this tense environment, any slip-up however unintended or seemingly benign will be highlighted and magnified in media. And because the race card sits better with the Democrats, the Republicans and conservatives particularly will be subjected to harsher criticism for any slip-up. This is the case with Tony Snow, with the added onus that he was extracted from the ranks of the envied Fox News organization, media’s alleged nemesis to liberalism.

    And whether one likes or dislikes her, I feel that Michelle Malkin deserves some due for taking tough and unpopular issues. And on this particular alleged racist flap, she was able to elicit a short written apology from the blog source (Wonkette, which also set the stage for the Malkin snipe by parodying earlier the FilAm pornstar’s candidacy). Thus, on balance, she got her vindication.

    BTW, at least two defenders of hers have challenged her detractors to cite anything written by Malkin that could be judged racist. I shall keep an eye on any development.

  9. Quite a nice blog you have going – Quite informative and hits various points of views in ways that should (but doesn’t) make the MSM blush with envy. Thanks for the link to my tar baby post.

    Re: Which Filipino was really the first to climb Everest. – If I were there I’d be more concerned with being the first one back down…

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