Czarina

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Filipinos aren’t Russians but how they love to designate “czars” to head this or that campaign or group of offices. It’s a practice they’ve picked up from US media and officialdom. Both have the habit of attaching the label to anyone who’s been given powers over several agencies in pursuit of a common goal. One suspects it’s the media that started it all, and that officialdom merely picked up on it, like that linguistic atrocity, “presidentiable” or even — eww — “senatoriable.”

Philippine media and Malacanang itself seemed hard put over what to call her when Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo put herself on top of the so-called Philippine anti-drug effort. They ended up calling her Czarina, which didn’t remind me of Catherine the Great, but of Pooh Bah– the pompous, self-important and useless official in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, The Mikado.

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Yes it will

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There’s a developing consensus among US historians, academics, journalists and more thoughtful citizens that if George W. Bush isn’t the worst president the US has ever had, he’s at least among the worst.

Those of a nationalist bent, including the legions of Republicans who either voted for Barack Obama or who’re now supporting the first black president of the US, see Bush policies (e.g., the unilateralism of his first term that damaged and nearly destroyed the Western alliance) as the cause of the deterioration of US prestige across the planet, which even in usually pro-US England has sunk to historic lows.

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Full of it

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Practically everyone who’s not part of the Malacanang Mafia of conmen, plunderers, congressmen you wouldn’t buy a used car from, and relics of the martial law period has weighed in with his or her opinion on why there are plans afoot to impeach Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Mostly they’ve linked it to the wide-ranging conspiracy to keep the present Palace occupant in power beyond 2010.

Former Senate President Franklin Drilon thus said it’s part of a “grand scheme” to force amendments to the Constitution so our cross, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, can extend her term. In his own statements Senator Panfilo Lacson echoed Drilon’s take, as did Makati Mayor and United Opposition chair Jejomar Binay.
They could very well be right. Although the retirement of seven justices this year (Ruben Reyes retired last January 3, while Adolf Azcuna will retire next month, followed by Dante Tinga on May 11, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago on October 5, Leonardo Quisumbing on November 5, Minita Chico-Nazario on December 5 and Ma. Alicia Martinez on December 19) will give the Philippine Bush the opportunity to further pack the Court, she’s running out of time as far as charter change is concerned.

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Eyeless in Gaza

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The 12-day Israeli assault on Gaza and its cost in non-combatant lives has elicited the usual tongue- clucking about the need for a ceasefire to prevent another “humanitarian disaster”.

The phrase is straight out of the dictionaries of UN relief agencies, and by now has little meaning to many people. The entire planet having become one huge disaster area, humanitarian crises have become so common millions are part of one, while others have been desensitized to the tales of suffering that daily flood the media.

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