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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

French poet, touted as the most influential romantic writer of the 19th Century, Victor Marie Hugo, and his thoughts on:

Religion

These two haves of God, the Pope and the emperor.

God became a man, granted. The devil became a woman.

Obstacles to Fame

You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do no bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.

Death Penalty

You insist on the example [of the death penalty]. Why? For what it teaches. What do you want to teach with your example? That thou shalt not kill. And how do you teach thou shalt not kill? By killing.

Progress

A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas. A day will come when the bullets and bombs are replaced by votes, by universal suffrage, by the venerable arbitration of a great supreme senate which will be to Europe what Parliament is to England, the Diet to Germany, and the Legislative Assembly to France.

Ideas

One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.

Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.

Balance

To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.

Humanity

Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. Of that divine tear and that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization.

Tolerance

There shall be no slavery of the mind.

Revolution

I represent a party which does not yet exist: the party of revolution, civilization. This party will make the twentieth century. There will issue from it first the United States of Europe, then the United States of the World.

Life

To love is to act.

Foundation

 The need of the immaterial is the most deeply rooted of all needs. One must have bread; but before bread, one must have the ideal.

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The following post is an email from Domingo T. Ligot:

Not too long ago Jessica Soho had Bongbong Marcos on a one-on-one interview on live television and, as may be expected, Jessica asked Bongbong what his take was about the past regime of his father qualifying it as one of the blackest (pardon the paraphrase) in this nation’s history. Bongbong did not respond immediately and appeared at a loss prompting Jessica to follow up to ask “mahirap bang sagutin ang aking tanong?” This time Bongbong replied “hindi, pero matagal ng pinagusapan and tunkol sa regimen ng aking ama at lahat ng maaring sabihin tungkol dyan ay nasabi na” now, what then?

Indeed, really, what then? I lived through the martial law years of Marcos and even before that, I voted for him for his first term. Certainly there were scandalous episodes then (as in all succeeding regimes) among which I vividly recall is an alleged affair of Marcos with a foreigner (American I think) actress named Dovie Beams. The affair with very sordid details was written about in a Playboy Magazine purportedly based on the confession of Dovie Beams and it was a sensational smash at that time especially because Imelda reportedly threatened Marcos  with ending their union unless he stopped this nonsense. I recall that Martial Law was declared during the final years of Marcos’ second term and, as Teddy Boy Locsin admits in his TV journal in “The World Tonight”, Marcos was twice elected in a democratic process and should be treated as such. There were many incidents happening in Manila prior to the declaration of Martial Law and in hindsight many would claim, rightly or wrongly depending on whose side one was on, that all of these were merely contrived and stage managed to justify the declaration. In the years before the war in Europe Germany reportedly went on a sustained media blitz warning the Germans and the rest of Europe that France was gearing up to invade Germany so that when war finally broke it was more a sigh of relief among many Germans that the war that they have been anxiously anticipating finally came. Historians report that it was Germany all along that wanted the war and the media campaign was really just a mind conditioning ploy to gain the people’s support for Germany’s plan to crush France and Russia first on its way to conquer the whole of Europe. Media was a tool then of the powerful as it has always been, even more so now. But during the time of Marcos the owners of most of media were his enemies so that among the first things that Marcos did after establishing Martial Law was to close down all media until new ones sympathetic to his regime started sprouting and were allowed to flourish. Opposition media however continued underground.

Historian Louis Paul Benezet in his book “The World War and What was Behind It” wrote “Someone has said that no people are happier than those living in a despotism, if the right kind of man is the despot”. He was referring to one Otto Eduard Leopold Von Bismarck-Schonausen or more popularly known simply as Bismarck. His one object was a united Germany, which should be the strongest nation in Europe. He organized the German army and equipped it with every modern weapon anxious to use it to accomplish his purpose to conquer all of Europe. The historian noted how “marvelous to see how near he came to carrying through his whole plan”.

The first years of Martial Law I remember were very positive. There was discipline among the people I noticed that people begun lining up to board jeepneys and buses and most importantly the economy markedly improved and boomed. I remember that I was at one time a scholar in The Hague, Netherlands under the sponsorship of the UN for students from developing countries during those years and my colleagues were all praising Marcos and the progress of the Philippines under his Martial Law regime. But as the saying goes: “power corrupts and absolute…” you know how it ends, and perhaps like Bismarck in Germany, Marcos despite his lofty intentions (I will grant him this) was destined to deteriorate in power as well as his health sooner than the time line required for his plans to succeed. That is over now and I agree with Bongbong that talking about it still will serve no useful purpose. As he said “What then!”

It will serve us better to look into our present and talk about where we should be heading. Accusations fly thick and plenty that P-noy is showing signs of authoritarianism and some even say that he is even worse than Marcos. Surely, with Sec. De Lima defying a TRO of the Supreme Court and we can rightfully assume that this is with P-noy’s blessing or upon his direct orders even, indeed there are signs that this regime is headed towards a despotic regime.
Any lawyer will tell you that a court order must be obeyed more so if it is the highest court that orders it, subject only to well defined exceptions under the constitution. This is another case where all that needs to be said has already been said so lets leave this to the courts to finally decide. As lawyers would say the matter is now “subjudice”.

My take on whats happening however is, granting that P-noy is intending (this must be intentional no less) to rule the country as a despot and will not tolerate political opposition of whatever color, he must look at it as an opportunity to progress the country. At the end he will either be loved or despised depending on what happens to us. As the historian said “no people are happier than those living in a despotism, if the right man is the despot.”

Domingo is a retired lawyer from the Philippines. He has worked in various capacities as a lawyer in both the private sector and Philippine government.

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This post is an email from Domingo T. Ligot:

In his book entitled “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell wrote about a campaign slogan a long time ago about cigarettes which read “Winstons taste good like a cigarette should”. Slogans like these are coined by highly paid experts employed by advertising agencies who sell their services to anyone wishing to promote something like an item or product for sale including a candidate seeking public office. Mr. Gladwell recounts that the Winston slogan successfully “stuck” in the minds of cigarette smokers in America first then the rest of the smoking world that steadily Winston started to gain ground and eventually begun to outsell its competition like Philip Morris, L&M, and other brands. It goes without saying that the study and coining of effective slogans certainly requires an understanding of its target market. The market for Winston cigarettes and its competitors Philip Morris and L&M clearly would be a higher strata of the smoking public than perhaps smokers of Bataan Matamis, Gold Coin, and Fighter, local cigarette brands then that were cheaper (1/2 the price of Winston etc. or cheaper for those who still remember) so that the slogan for Winston must appeal to a more sophisticated motivation to choose this cigarette from its competitors than slogans promoting the cheaper cigarettes. It will not be unusual therefore to find slogans aimed at lower strata markets like the poor sounding unsophisticated, inane, and ridiculously simple because, lets face it, they would’nt be able to understand or appreciate a sophisticated slogan anyway. (Do you recall a sound bite for Bataan Matamis that aired over the AM radio many years back which even sounded like a “ngo-ngo” speaking? The idea perhaps was to promote Bataan Matamis to the real poor even a “ngo-ngo” who is a ridiculed but amusing fellow likes it). An ad agency which does not know or appreciate this basic reality will fail in its business.

With the foregoing as background let us now examine certain political slogans of the recent past. Candidate Joseph “Erap” Estrada used the slogan “Erap Para sa Mahirap” when he won the presidency and more recently candidate Noynoy Aquino had the slogan “Kung Walang Corrupt Walang Mahirap” when he won the presidency. Glaringly common in the two slogans is the word “Mahirap” betraying that the target of both slogans are, you guessed it, the “Mahirap” or poor. Going back to the Winston slogan analysis above, it makes sense that when your target market for a slogan are the lower strata of society it must by necessity sound inane and ridiculously simple otherwise it will not be effective or, in the words of Malcolm Gladwell, it will not “stick”. If we are to ask their promoters whether the candidates sincerely believed or meant what their slogans said, we will probably just get a shrug and a “who cares they won did’nt they” retort. But unfortunately the “Mahirap” will swallow these slogans as true albeit inane and insincere, just look at how Erap remains popular among the poor despite his shenanigans while he was in office, and in the case of President Noynoy you can see how the poor currently resonate with his supposed anti corrupt campaign they have become like mindless hooligans out to lynch GMA at whatever cost. The lamentable thing however is many of those who should know better ride on this ignorance and instead of promoting calm and orderliness they serve like rah-rah boys egging the poor to proceed in their mob mentality (Recall who were on platforms with microphones egging the “masa” to invade Malacanang during the so-called EDSA III and those now in congress, especially the party list kind, and priests who love to run and those who love to appear in media every chance they get who are dressed and speak nowhere near being poor). Are the poor really in the hearts and minds of these powerful people, are they concerned that the poor are just being exposed to more harm than good? Who cares, they won didn’t they!

The ad agency and the expert who came out with the slogans must have gotten a hefty bonus and a rousing celebration after the elections for coming up with the winning slogan, now they rest until the next election, that is simply how it works.

Domingo is a retired lawyer from the Philippines. He has worked in various capacities as a lawyer in both the private sector and Philippine government.

 

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For the past weeks, Mideo Cruz and his artwork have been feverishly discussed.

I had not gone to the exhibit, but I have seen a number of pictures on the internet. Being a former Catholic, I could imagine how some of the Catholics would react. But being a spiritual atheist, such art did not bother me. I am not saying that Mideo Cruz created his exhibit to offend. In fact, in an interview, he explained his reasons for such display.

Most of the outcry has been about the phallic object placed on the works. Phalluses have been objects of devotion in many cultures; they use them as amulets, symbolic statues, etc. They might be a symbol of power and patriarchy.

If Mideo did have good intentions for the display, should the offended Catholics have the right to complain or not?

The purpose of this article is not on the Mideo’s intentions with his art. It is not even to figure out if Mideo is guilty of anything or not. What a lot of people here in the Philippines are concerned about is Mideo’s art and how it impacts the idea of “free speech” and “free expression”. While a lot of people are offended by his art, a lot of those same people also do not want to censor such expression since it might serve as a precedent and limit free expression in the future.

I am not a lawyer, but my curiosity made me read the on the internet on what possible laws may be related to free speech and expression?

(more…)

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The International Institute of Management (IIM) released a white paper on the symptoms of dysfunctional organizations and dysfunctional leadership. Bad politics is a disease that can drain organizations of productive potential, and the IIM white paper also proposed some possible cures to help afflicted organizations out of the rut and back to health.

The white paper describes symptoms of bad leadership, which upon reading, have a strong correspondence to a lack of critical thinking:

3. Performance Diagnosis Checklist

Even fast-growing and profitable companies can develop bad internal politics and unproductive work habits that will eventually lead to declining performance. It is true that the larger the organization, the more susceptible it is to the breakdown of communication, the emergence of management silos and misalignment. Yet, in my experience many of the smaller companies also suffer from similar problems. When management tends to focus so much on one management area, e.g., sales, and has no time to manage the internal organization challenges, dysfunction creeps in and takes hold. To build and sustain high-performance teams, leadership and human resources managers should keep an eye open for the following symptoms and treat the root causes before it becomes too late.

Dysfunctional leadership symptoms and warning signs:

  • Dictatorial Leadership: Management that does not allow disagreements out of insecurity or arrogance.
  • No 360 Degrees Feedback: There is limited or no leadership performance feedback.
  • Personal Agendas: Recruitments, selections and promotions are based on internal political agenda, for example hiring friends to guarantee personal loyalty at the expense of other highly performing and more-qualified employees.
  • Political Compensation: Stock options, bonuses and perks are not fairly linked to performance.
  • Inefficient Use of Resources: Budgets are allocated between business units or departments based on favoritism and power centers rather than actual business needs.
  • Empire-building Practices: Managers believe that the more people they manage and the bigger the budget, the higher the chance that they will be promoted. This results in raging battles around budgets, strategies and operations.
  • Unequal Workload Distribution: You’ll find some departments are underutilized while other departments are overloaded.
  • Too Much Management: There are many management layers in the organization, thus, hindering communication and resulting in slower execution.
  • Fragmented Organization Efforts: Interdepartmental competition and turf wars between rival managers lead to the emergence of silos, which results in communication gaps. Management silos almost always result in fragmented and duplicated budgets and projects, thus wasting valuable company investments.
  • Too Much Talk: Plans are heavy on talk but light on action. In a political corporate culture, image management becomes far more important than actions.
  • Ineffective Meetings: Argumentative and heated cross-divisions meetings with discussion and language focusing on point scoring and buck-passing rather than sharing responsibility and collaborating to solve the problem
  • Lack of Collaboration: Every person for himself/herself. Low sense of unity or camaraderie on the team. The key criterion for decision-making is What is in it for me?
  • Low Productivity: Management wastes more time and energy on internal attack and defense strategies instead of executing the work, innovating and overcoming challenges. Critical projects fall behind on deadlines, budgets and performance targets (e.g. sales, market share, quality and other operational targets).
  • Constant Crisis Mode: Management team spends most of their time on fire fighting instead of proactive planning for next-generation products and services.
  • Morale Deterioration:Muted level of commitment and enthusiasm by other teams. Even successful results cannot be shared and celebrated due to animosity and internal negative competition.
  • Backstabbing: Backbiting among the executives and managers becomes common and public.
  • Highly Stressful Workplace: There is a high rate of absenteeism and a high employee turnover rate.

The IIM paper provides a good basis of how critical thinking can help (or the lack of can destroy) organizations from a practical perspective. 

Read more here.

Download the paper here.

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Billionaire financier, businessman, philanthropist, and advocate of liberal idealism, Gyorgy Schwartz, more popularly known as George Soros, and his thoughts on:

Open Societies

A full and fair discussion is essential to democracy.

An open society is a society which allows its members the greatest possible degree of freedom in pursuing their interests compatible with the interests of others.

I chose America as my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and an open society.

Markets and Social Needs

I think there’s a lot of merit in an international economy and global markets, but they’re not sufficient because markets don’t look after social needs.

Markets are designed to allow individuals to look after their private needs and to pursue profit. It’s really a great invention and I wouldn’t under-estimate the value of that, but they’re not designed to take care of social needs.

Markets and Uncertainty

Stock market bubbles don’t grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality, but reality as distorted by a misconception.

Markets are constantly in a state of uncertainty and flux and money is make by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected.

Philanthropy

I’m not doing my philanthropic work, out of any kind of guilt, or any need to create good public relations. I’m doing it because I can afford to do it, and I believe in it.

War on Terror

Bush’s war in Iraq has done untold damage to the United States. It has impaired our military power and undermined the morale of our armed forces. Our troops were trained to project overwhelming power. They were not trained for occupation duties.

Marijuana

Just as the process of repealing national alcohol prohibition began with individual states repealing their own prohibition laws, so individual states must now take the initiative with respect to repealing marijuana prohibition laws.

Who most benefits from keeping marijuana illegal? The greatest beneficiaries are the major criminal organizations in Mexico and elsewhere that earn billions of dollars annually from this illicit trade – and who would rapidly lose their competitive advantage if marijuana were a legal commodity.

The criminalization of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries. But it did result in extensive costs and negative consequences.

Testing

The financial markets generally are unpredictable. So that one has to have different scenarios… The idea that you can actually predict what’s going to happen contradicts my way of looking at the market.

Fallibility

Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.

The people currently in charge have forgotten the first principle of an open society, namely that we may be wrong and that there has to be free discussion. That it’s possible to be opposed to the policies without being unpatriotic.

Contrarian Thinking

The worse a situation becomes the less it takes to turn it around, the bigger the upside.

The United States

We are the most powerful nation on earth. No external power, no terrorist organization, can defeat us. But we can defeat ourselves by getting caught in a quagmire.

We must recognize that as the dominant power in the world we have a special responsibility. In addition to protecting our national interests, we must take the leadership in protecting the common interests of humanity.

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Best known for his satirical novels: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948) and Animal Farm (1945), english novelist, polemical journalist, literary critic, and poet, Eric Arthur Blair, more popularly known as George Orwell, and his thoughts on:

Happiness

Happiness can exist only in acceptance.

Honesty

In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.

If you have embraced a creed which appears to be free from the ordinary dirtiness of politics – a creed from which you yourself cannot expect to draw any material advantage – surely that proves that you are in the right?

Morality

Mankind is not likely to salvage civilization unless he can evolve a system of good and evil which is independent of heaven and hell.

Media

Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.

Sides

There is hardly such a thing as a war in which it makes no difference who wins. Nearly always one side stands more or less for progress, the other side more or less for reaction.

Politics

In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

Liberals

Liberal: a power worshipper without power.

Sainthood

Many people genuinely do not want to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.

Generations

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

Writing

It is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane.

Bias

All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

Doublethink

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

Freedom

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

Democracy

It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

Homo Sapiens

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals.

Invulnerability

Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.

Lunatics

What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?

Tragedy

A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.

Equality

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Propaganda

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

Representation

As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.

Justification

Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.

Love

To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others.

One can love a child, perhaps, more deeply than one can love another adult, but it is rash to assume that the child feels any love in return.

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