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The Long View

Everything is already decided

In Dave Cullen’s fascinating book, “Columbine,” about the mass killing in the school of the same name, he argues that of the two killers, one was a complete psychopath and the other, merely suicidal who went along with the plan all the better to liquidate himself. Eric Harris, the psychopath, in the days leading to the massacre tried to recruit an additional friend beyond his accomplice, Dylan Klebold. He did so by jokingly asking that friend, wouldn’t it be fun to kill the whole school. As Cullen, quoting an investigator, puts it, “That is a standard recruitment technique for aspiring mass murderers, [investigator] Fuselier explained. They toss out the idea, and if it’s shunned it’s a ‘joke’; if the person lights up, the recruiter proceeds to the next step.” In the current era, we’ve seen how many — millions, even — light up every time an aspiring mass murderer grabs the mic, though there are still plenty of people who shun being recruited as a partner for extermination — hence repeated denials that the proposals were serious. Just kidding! It was really only sarcasm, the aspiring mass murderer might say, except now, he has gained new accomplices excited over what he said, and who take subsequent denials of seriousness for what they are — a broad wink at the squeamish. The squeamish, on the other hand, feel relieved — it’s all just for effect, they console themselves, until the next time.

Because there will always be a next time, since the psychopath is fixated on what he wants to achieve, in this case, mass murder. In a similar manner, yesterday’s three-ring circus was merely simultaneous exercises in simulating free will, the appearance of choice, when predetermined outcomes have long been planned.

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The three-ring circus was composed of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the House of Representatives, and the presidential consultative committee on Charter change.

In the DICT, a production number for “stakeholders” was put on to try to convince the business community and the broader public that there would be free and open bidding on the already-decreed entry of a Beijing-approved telecom firm. Others are welcome to join, the DICT cheerily said, though of course within limits, such as having to work with the National Transmission Corp., and providing a door for DICT (and thus, the government) to have access to the system. Which all seems to be corporatese for instructing obliging businessmen that a reasonable to-do has to be made, to simulate an open bidding to superficially conform with law, and thus ensure the success of what has already been previously decided between Manila and Beijing.

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In the House of Representatives, the justice committee chairman piously declared his colleagues would engage in “discernment” for a few days, before doing what they were tasked to do, which is to provide some sort of veneer of procedural legitimacy for the removal of the Chief Justice. Months of straining at the committee level to excrete some sort of comprehensible — and not utterly laughable — articles of impeachment still needs a big push, it seems.

Meanwhile, the collection of mummies known as the consultative committee to review the Constitution sat in embalmed splendor as obliging academics deluded themselves into thinking that a genuine debate was taking place in the PICC. Yet both for themselves and the House, decisions had been made long ago. And it is precisely those decisions that are now making a mess of the process, leaving both commission and House stuck. What are those decisions? To name just a few: the incumbent chief executive must not have diminished, but indeed, increased powers; that the Senate must be purged of actual power if not actually abolished; that the public must be deprived of an actual say in the selection of the chief executive though perhaps allowed to delude itself into thinking it can have some say in some sort of decorative head of state — except the current head of state wants to remain chief executive, how do we solve that?; and that we must simply freeze time, to maintain the current head of state and government, over 80 third-term congressmen (including a Speaker everyone assumes will lose his seat in 2019 because he’s made too many enemies in his home turf).

But if everything is already decided why does it all seem stuck? Because we forget the miracle cure: guns.

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TAGS: charter change, Columbine, Dave Cullen, federalism, Manuel L. Quezon, The Long View
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