HAWAII'S ONLY WEEKLY FILIPINO-AMERICAN NEWSPAPER
SERVING THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY SINCE 1993
MAY 4, 2019
EDITORIALS
 

EDITORIALS

Continue Supporting Filipino Culture; Attend the Annual Filipino Fiesta

The world recently watched in shock and sadness as the Notre Dame Cathedral in France caught fire. It was heart-wrenching to see the over 850 year-old church, one of the first Gothic-style buildings from the Middle Ages that took 200 years to build, perish in flames. Fortunately, the structural integrity of the Cathedral wasn’t compromised in the fire.

Besides its architectural grandeur, religious significance mostly to Catholics (it’s a Catholic church co-built by both French Kings and the Vatican), the Notre Dame Cathedral is so endearing to the French people because of its history and culture.

Preserving this history and culture is so important to the French that already billions of dollars have been pledged (mostly by three French billionaire families) toward rebuilding the cathedral.

Filipino Fiesta

At the heart of the Filipino Fiesta is also a strong desire to preserve culture and identity. In the course of a lifetime, individuals develop multiple self-identities – identity based on profession, identity based on economic class, even superficial identity based on material possession. In a way, these new personal identities erode at “inherited” identities such as religious or ethnic ones people are born into.

In cases where individuals relocate to new communities where their inherited culture is no longer the dominant culture (e.g. when Filipinos leave their mother country the Philippines) – the possibility of this erosion is even greater as they assimilate to a new dominant culture they’ve adopted from which yet another identity forms. Our new label, the hyphenated: Filipino-American.

Slowing down this erosion of ethnic identity takes effort particularly among younger generations who find themselves more removed from their parents’ cultural heritage.

Events such as the Filipino Fiesta serves a purpose of reconnecting Filipinos to their roots before it is lost entirely or watered down. This is a reason why Filipino parents bring their children to the fiesta. This is why organizers of the fiesta work ardently to present it each year.

Filipino food, Filipino song and dance, booths that highlight Filipino culture and history, or just hearing Tagalog or any other Filipino dialect – which can be fully enjoyed at the Filipino fiesta – all play a part in cultivating culture and ethnic identity.

Role of culture in a modern world

Why is this of value in modern society? Some believe knowing who we are and where we came from give us a sense of being anchored and foundationally planted in a rapid world with fleeting values, fleeting impersonal relationships, and fleeting places of residence that can often leave us feeling lost.

Because the modern world pulls us in so many different directions, it could be one explanation why people seek out the familiar, the old, something like our own heritage with deep roots. We then do what we can to cherish and preserve our inherited culture, almost instinctually. On a grand scale, this is recently exemplified in the French people’s overwhelming commitment to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral. Locally, a similar motivation is behind why Hawaii’s Filipino community needs its annual Filipino Fiesta.

This is the 27th year for the Filipino Fiesta and once again it is being presented by the FilCom Center.

Join the fun. Bring along family and friends. Support the community and the FilCom Center. A big mahalo once again goes to the FilCom Center, Filipino organizations, businesses and sponsors who continue to make this event something we can all be proud of.

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AG Barr Misled Public in His Summary; Mueller Report Lays Out Evidence of Obstruction

The long-awaited Robert Mueller’s report was finally released in redacted form and the special counsel’s findings is far from “total exoneration” as President Donald Trump had earlier proclaimed. Nor has the Mueller report establish as what Atty. Gen. William Barr earlier concluded that no obstruction of justice existed.

Atty. Barr’s four-page summary of a two-year investigation – that Barr completed only days after Mueller submitted it – was grossly misleading and a false characterization of the overall content of the report, the public is now finding. The initial four-page summary was so contemptuous of the evidence presented in Mueller’s report and revealing of Barr’s partisan stripes that his role as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer should be abdicated.

The Mueller report is damning and shows the president engaged in “multiple acts” that could have exerted influence on investigators, but that his actions were “mostly unsuccessful” because his subordinates refused to carry out his orders.

The president ordered close aids and associates to undermine investigators. Trump instructed then White House counsel Don McGahn to pursue the firing of Mueller but McGahn threatened to quit rather than follow through.

Trump also encouraged his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to carry a message to then Attorney General Jeff Sessions telling him to limit the jurisdiction of the special counsel. Trump’s legal team knew that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow project.

Trump’s legal team advised Cohen to keep his statements to Congress “short and tight, not elaborate, stay on message, and not contradict the President.” (But there was no evidence found that Trump directed his legal team.)

The federal crime of obstruction of justice applies to “whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of law.”

The Mueller report outlined 10 potential instances of obstruction of justice. AG Barr says obstruction charges are not justified in the report. But the report suggests that this determination of criminal obstruction of justice is left open for Congress to decide.

Jessica Levinson, law professor at Loyola Law School, makes an astute commentary, “If we were talking about Mr. Trump, not President Trump, we’d be talking about an indictment for obstruction of justice. Today we know that Attorney General Barr put a highly positive (for Trump) gloss on the report. Today we know that Mueller found substantial wrongdoing that would plague, and perhaps end, any other presidency in American history. Today we know that perhaps the difference between a suggestion that Trump be prosecuted for obstruction of justice and a suggestion that he not be was 1) Mueller’s inability to sit down and speak with Trump without subpoenaing him and Mueller’s decision not to subpoena Trump, and 2) actions by Trump’s staffers that may have protected the president from legal liability.”

To Impeach or not Impeach

The Democrat-controlled House must now balance between 1) following through on its Constitutional responsibility of oversight and pursue whether sufficient obstruction of justice evidence exists to pursue impeachment; or 2) forego impeachment proceedings and allow the findings of the Mueller report to play out in public opinion in the 2020 elections.

As a matter of principle, the U.S. House is more than justified by the evidence presented to seek impeachment.

But for compelling political reasons – that impeachment would fail in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate; and that pursuing impeachment could further divide the country – Democrats could legitimately forgo ramping up further investigations to impeachment status.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated before the release of the report that impeachment was not worth it. Now that Mueller’s findings has been released, an overwhelming public outcry (which seems to be building) to pursue impeachment, could change Democrat leaderships’ minds.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has already called on the impeachment of the president. Others could follow suit within the coming weeks. She said, “To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, House Intelligence Committee Chair, said “in every way, this is more significant than Watergate.” But he adds that House Democrats will take the “political environment” into consideration when deciding whether to undertake impeachment.”

In a more bipartisan time

It’s arguable that in any other time the Mueller findings would have been enough for impeachment to prevail. But these are different times politically (far different from the days of Watergate). Bipartisan today is practically non-existent on most issues and matters of consequence; and the GOP has already allowed the President to get away with far more than any president in history could.

Some Democrats say the Democratic Party’s leadership is too soft and wishy-washy – which is a legitimate assessment. On one hand, they want to pursue further investigations into other matters not covered by Mueller, e.g. to look into Trump’s taxes. Then, on the other hand, leadership is unwilling to seriously commit to impeachment as a course of action. What more must it take for impeachment?

If the tables were turned, it’s likely that Republicans would be far more resolute.

What’s not being talked about in the calculation to impeach or not, is that Democrats are really uncertain how impeachment would affect that party’s chances of winning in 2020. If they were truly convinced that enough Americans favored it, the wheels for impeachment would be spinning.

But there is also the possibility that they’re waiting for greater consensus to come. Barr’s misleading summary certainly didn’t help toward this cause.

Waiting for popular consensus could be politically practical (arguably even a prudent, wise strategy). But doing nothing could hurt Democrats running for president especially in light of the damaging evidence provided in the Mueller report. Weak leadership does not win elections, Pelosi should know this. Democrats should know this.

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