Loose Ends, May 2021

Analysis and Opinion

By Joe America

This has been an eventful week, news-wise and commentary-wise, on the media we engage on. Let me wrap up a few loose ends.

Thanks to Karl, Irineo, LCX, and Will

You’ve all created content for the blog these past months, leading to rich discussion and many insights. Thank you for that content, for the good thinking, the effort, and the engagement on discussions. Terrific work! I appreciate it and I know readers have gained much.

Did JoeAm Betray the Yellows?

I got accused of betrayal after publication of LCX’s excellent piece on Sara Carpio-Duterte. Haha! But I was also defended by those who know provocation inspires good thinking. You can tell who reads the blog, for sure.

If the purist yellows actually thought about it, they could figure out “Hey, JoeAm got us some insights we can use to defeat Sara in 2022!” But, hey, they have to figure it out themselves. I’m not telling them..

For myself, I would definitely put ‘Sara’ ahead of Pacquiao and Marcos right now, today, as far as leadership strengths are concerned. And above Poe, frankly, if she decided to intrude into elections again. But I’d need more data to move her above Robredo or Trillanes. She’s about neck-and-neck with Lacson.

The Credibility of Democracy

Sometimes I leave it to readers to decide if my comments on Twitter have meanings beyond the obvious. I throw the tea leaves, they read them. But this one needs explanation:

  • I’m not sure Americans, who elected the incompetent liar Trump, and still support him, have much of a platform to judge the acts of other leaders. Nor do Filipinos, with thousands of un-investigated police killings, have much of a platform to judge brutality elsewhere.

Well, by free speech rules, anyone can comment on anything. No problem. But what is one’s personal ethical or moral obligation before taking up free speech in democracy? Free-wheeling opinions or the integrity of taking care of business at home, first? On social media, the first order of business seems to be denying any and all accountability for things gone wrong. We are shielded by our opinions and arguments which shed accountability like water off a duck’s back.

I’m saying it should not be that easy. In democracy. Where the people run things.

Build an accountable democracy and you’ll have a good one!

The Hierarchy of Knowledge

I posted a short item on Twitter and Facebook after Israeli rockets took down a residential tower in Gaza. It simply gave the facts that a half-hour warning was provided by Israel, and the building housed Hamas leadership. I had to pull the article because the arguing got intense and was missing my point, that facts are important.

Since them, I have adopted the position of having no opinions about that mess because it is so entangled with so many villains and so many victims over so many years. But others come onto my timeline pointing fingers at one side or another as if their discernment were greater than all of history. Even if they weren’t there,

That causes me to want to give a score to different sources of information, as to reliability and usefulness. It looks something like this, where 0 is unreliable or unknown and 100 is high confidence, high credibility:

  • Social media, person I don’t know: 2
  • Social media, follows me: 10
  • Social media, I follow: 25
  • Philippine mainstream news: 25
  • Social media journalist: 55
  • Social media expert (MLQ3): 60
  • International news: 65
  • Philippine Business World: 65
  • Statistical publications: 70
  • Scientific publications: 80
  • Multiple sources: 95

President Duterte: Bankrupt Government

As we near the end of the Duterte presidency, we have clear evidence of what he did and did not do. It is clear that he never found a passion for the Philippines as a nation, proud and striving for honor and progress. He remained wrapped up in his crony connections and small-visioned exercises like red-tagging and scapegoating problems onto others, even largely helpless citizens.

Without nationalism, how can you fight a disease, or save the seas? How can you stop corruption or build excellence into the many halls of government?

You can’t. He didn’t.

It was a bankrupt presidency, totally lacking in the stuff of which great nations are built.

30 Responses to “Loose Ends, May 2021”
  1. NHerrera says:

    Joeam: “For myself, I would definitely put ‘Sara’ ahead of Pacquiao and Marcos right now, today, as far as leadership strengths are concerned. And above Poe, frankly, if she decided to intrude into elections again. But I’d need more data to move her above Robredo or Trillanes. She’s about neck-and-neck with Lacson.”


    • The incoming data is not looking good. Her party’s senatorial slate in 2019 included two convicted plunderers. They both lost, fortunately.

      • NHerrera says:

        A good bit of data to know.

        There are variations of the saying, but I like this:

        “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends” ~ Japanese Proverb

        [And may I add, his enemies too.]

        So we have this Revised Japanese Proverb: “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends and his enemies.”

        A prime example in the US of A: twice-impeached, one-termer Trump. Another is the present GOP!

      • George Yao says:

        How about her manipulating to put a plunderer on top of the HOR?

  2. Karl Garcia says:

    Many thanks for the mention. Always a pleasure to blog and comment here, but please forgive the outbursts of FYs maybe less than five times.

    • The Chief Tanod is always welcome to avail himself of necessary tools.

    • NHerrera says:

      I too indulge, I am in good company with you there, Karl. The times call for it, but in most cases, asterisks replacing some letters. Sometimes even without the asterisks, the level of the outrage that brings it on is not good enough.

  3. distant observer says:

    Joe, so you betrayed the Yellows because you published LCX’s provocative article on your blog?
    I obviously didn’t agree with the article, but I appreciated the perspective nevertheless. Thanks Lance! Judged by 160 comments, it surely “provoked” a rich discussion (literally).

    Sometimes it seems to me that many liberals (whether in the Philippines or elsewhere) have forgotten about the basic principle of democracy: let’s exchange ideas, and let the best idea win the conversation. Censorship is always a slippery slope.

    Oh, and Twitter is pretty much societal cancer nowadays.

    • Yes, that’s our time, anger and argument. Little ability to see outside our opinions.

    • Well, I guess two articles in TSOH so closely after each other may have stunned some classic Yellows as in Aquino/LP supporters:

      1) The Arrogance of the Yellows by Joe himself

      2) The Sara Duterte article by LCPL_X

      I also found the viewpoints of those defending the Liberal standpoint good because such arguments are what is needed to convince the majority which I think is neutral due to lack of information and/or analysis, as well as ex-DDS who still aren’t convinced by Liberals.

      BTW some VP Leni supporters on socmed like Gege Sugue on FB or @mrsunlawyer on Twitter were strong critics of PNoy in the past AND are more strongly anti-Duterte now – they probably have analyzed what is wrong in general with the way the Philippines is run nowadays most deeply and have the best ideas of how things can be improved. But of course if who one supports is like a personal article of faith, no discussion is possible. Also Philippine culture does avoid confrontation which often can turn uncivil there..

      • kasambahay says:

        you got that one right po, Irineo. many filipinos dont like the discomfort of a full on personal confrontation and prefer to laugh off controversial issues, but they’re good in giving the cold shoulder: ghosting.

        filipinos also knew when they are being gaslighted or manipulated to make them doubt themselves.

        • Most of that is a passive-aggressive attitude I am actually happy not to have to deal with anymore. I know the combination of wild accusations followed by deadma or “ask yourself”. That kind of petulance isn’t conducive to democracy.

          • “They also know when they are being gaslight or manipulated”.

            That is often a refusal to accept that another perspective on things exists. “My lenses even if I haven’t been to the optician in years, the view from my island is all that is real.”

            • kasambahay says:

              cheers, Irineo. the order comes from the top: filipinos to cold shoulder, bawal kumibo, and to ghost issues about the chinese incursions sa west phil sea. exception is the boss and his foreign sec.

              apparently, the boss cannot stand clamor and confrontation getting louder by the day and duly issued a gag order.

          • kasambahay says:

            discomfort and irritants, that’s what make oysters produced pearls, po. the bigger the pearls, the higher the price.

            duterte implants irritant enrile on west phil sea issues, only for the guard dog of the nation: trillanes, to gain mileage, luster and shine, lol!

      • distant observer says:

        Well I have to admit: I visited TSOH after some time of absence, and was also surprised to see such two article titles upon arrival.

    • LCPL_X says:

      Thanks all.

      Speaking of exchange of ideas, I hope all the 18 – 23 year old Filipinos that read this blog and enjoy these exchanges look into this school located near the California-Nevada border, near Bishop.

      https://www.deepsprings.edu/apply-information/ Submit an application.

      “After a century of existing as an all-male institution, Deep Springs now accepts applications from all students, regardless of gender.

      There are a few reasons why someone might be ineligible to apply to Deep Springs. We do not consider applicants who have already completed a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent at another institution, or are over the age of 23 at the application deadline.

      Transfer students who have not completed a four-year degree are welcome to apply. There are no special deadlines or processes for transfer students, but they must submit transcripts from their college-level careers in addition to secondary school transcripts. Regardless of prior college experience, every student enters Deep Springs as a “first-year.”

      The full-scholarship for tuition, room, and board is awarded automatically to all admitted students, regardless of financial need, country of origin, or any other considerations. Admitted students in financial need can consult with the Academic Dean to receive funding assistance for books, travel, and incidental expenses.

      International Students
      For international students, the application process is like the application process for domestic students, with one major exception: If an applicant has not attended an English-speaking secondary school or college, we ask for proof of English proficiency through the TOEFL, the IELTS or other equivalent exam. Deep Springs does not offer ESL (English as a second language) programs.”

      DS22 Deadlines

      Application will be released: September 1, 2021.

      First round application due: November 7, 2021.

      First round notification: December 16, 2021. Essay prompts for the second round will be sent to those who advance.

      Second round essays due: January 9, 2022.

      Second round interviews: January & February, 2022

      Final decisions sent: April 1, 2022.

      DS22 arrives: July 1, 2022.

        • sonny says:

          I wanted to engage LC on Scholastic metaphysics in previous blog with chempo too. To learn again, primarily. 🙂

      • Only 30 students, totally isolated. One is inclined to shout ‘cult’ until looking at the list of notable graduates. I did KP in the army though. Not my cuppa . . .

      • sonny says:

        I did take a glance at Deep Springs as curious possibility for my 2nd son in 1998. He ended up finishing at Cooper Union. Deo gratias.

        • LCPL_X says:

          sonny, Joe, et al.

          It blows my mind that Deep Springs College is probably older than half of the colleges/universities in the US, yet no body knows about it. sonny, how did you come to know of it? I just stumble d on this school while youtubing something totally unrelated I think it was for the Walker fault line. I’ve known of it a couple of years now, but I’ve been keep an eye on it.

          For example they recently just turned co-ed.

          1917 is a long time. There’s not much info on their financials, so I assume from that original grant they rely on donations; but the student body participation is most interesting. How they as a school can keep this going is worthy of study.

          Students seem to come and go, so 2 years; Teachers too come and go at the invitation of students; Administration seem also only visiting; so Staff meaning the ranch and farm folks are the ones keeping the school going, since they stay the longest.

          2018 was when they admitted women, so things usually go out of whack when male/females are in close confines. Nothing negative yet. I hope they succeed.

          Why there’s not more of these type of schools is a wonderment, because small schools , offering free everything, using student gov’t and work as means to instruct governance seem what we need more of. Especially in the Philippines, I can totally see a Deep Springs college there, whether it lasts more than a century, i dunno.

          Here’s a great speech titled, Solitude and Leadership
          If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts

          “But I know what it’s like for you guys now. It’s an endless series of hoops that you have to jump through, starting from way back, maybe as early as junior high school. Classes, standardized tests, extracurriculars in school, extracurriculars outside of school. Test prep courses, admissions coaches, private tutors. I sat on the Yale College admissions committee a couple of years ago. The first thing the admissions officer would do when presenting a case to the rest of the committee was read what they call the “brag” in admissions lingo, the list of the student’s extracurriculars. Well, it turned out that a student who had six or seven extracurriculars was already in trouble. Because the students who got in—in addition to perfect grades and top scores—usually had 10 or 12.

          So what I saw around me were great kids who had been trained to be world-class hoop jumpers. Any goal you set them, they could achieve. Any test you gave them, they could pass with flying colors. They were, as one of them put it herself, “excellent sheep”. I had no doubt that they would continue to jump through hoops and ace tests and go on to Harvard Business School, or Michigan Law School, or Johns Hopkins Medical School, or Goldman Sachs, or McKinsey consulting, or whatever. And this approach would indeed take them far in life. They would come back for their 25th reunion as a partner at White & Case, or an attending physician at Mass General, or an assistant secretary in the Department of State.

          That is exactly what places like Yale mean when they talk about training leaders. Educating people who make a big name for themselves in the world, people with impressive titles, people the university can brag about. People who make it to the top. People who can climb the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy they decide to attach themselves to.

          But I think there’s something desperately wrong, and even dangerous, about that idea. To explain why, I want to spend a few minutes talking about a novel that many of you may have read, Heart of Darkness. ” (continued, read on…)


          • sonny says:

            LC, if you relate to the theses of the author of solitude and leadership then you will understand Jesuits. The only difference is Jesuits follow a theistic God.

            • sonny says:

              Today (May 20) marks the 500th anniversary of the Conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the soldier-saint, founder of the Jesuit Order.


              “The appeal of this conversion today is that when confronted with a hopeless situation, Ignatius created greater intimacy with God. As he renewed his relationship with God, he was able to refocus his unsettled existence. Ignatius put God at the center of his life. He could look at the world not with fear, but with hope and the desire to set it on fire with the love of Christ.”

              • LCPL_X says:

                I read somewhere awhile back while researching the Carthusians (by the way,I still haven’t gotten around to visiting the Big Sur Camaldoli abbey, with fires and Covid lately) that St. Ignatius was gonna be Carthusian and actually the Jesuits have an affinity towards the Carthusian order.

                If I win the a half a billion in Mega this friday, I plan to fund a Carthusian monastery somewhere in the Cascades, but away from the volcanoes, so most likely in the Olympic penninsula, sonny.

                Also attempt another Deep Springs right next door to said Carthusian monastery.

                The Carthusian monastery is a one time lot and structure build then ideally the Carthusians will be left to their own devices;

                the new Deep Springs I’m still trying to figure out how to make that profitable, both in spirit and material, so will probably steal from the founder of McDonalds who stole from the McDonalds bros themselves here in California, and device a real estate induced franchise to ensure uniformed quality.

        • sonny says:

          LC, at the time I was looking the schools being considered among many were: Caltech (science), Harvey Mudd (engineering). In the process I came across Deep Springs. I couldn’t get a personal fix on the fact that it had such a small student population. So I struck it off the list. Application was sent to Caltech and 2nd son was put on ‘alternate’ list.

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