Atendendo a algumas respostas apreciativas e inúmeras ignorativas, aqui está......

14 junho 2016

Half a dialogue about impeachment

My side of a discussion about the impeachment with some bloggers who argue, roughly speaking, "Fora Temer therefore it was a coup therefore Fora Temer". Repetitive, posted here for safekeeping.

The rationale for the impeachment procedures, the reader must be told because the article doesn't, was not personal enrichment or accusations of corruption by the president. Rather, the president was accused of budget fraud, which IS a crime of responsibility according to the Brazilian Constitution: the executive branch of the government clearly and deliberately disrespected the federal budget approved by Congress, by amount of dozens of billions of dollars.

These fraudulent acts artificially propped up the economy in the year before the election, and directly led to an explosion of public debt and inflation, and to the subsequent collapse of growth. The unprecedented unemployment level is a direct consequence of the budget fraud committed by the PT government. Corruption is a part of it all, as is incompetence; but the fact is that the so-called "pedaladas fiscais", the reason for impeachment which the article goes out of its way to avoid mentioning, are not "legal formalities", but rather concrete actions which led to an unprecedented economic crisis.
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Now I agree with you: the argument against impeachment is based on legal formalities. It is up to the Senate to judge whether the high crimes and misdemeanors are sufficient grounds for impeachment.

The fact remains that the president under trial willfully violated the laws of the land, and that her acts directly led to a crisis the proportions of which have not been experienced by Brazilians in 3 generations.
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Just to clarify in a separate comment, because it is really an issue of smaller importance: the whole line of defense presented above rests on a particular interpretation of Art. 86, § 4o The incumbent president, during the mandate, is not liable for acts unrelated to the exercise of his functions.

The reading that exonerates the president under trial is that her reelection makes her in-imputable for crimes of responsibility committed in the previous mandate. This is indeed how the Brazilian Supreme Court decided to interpret the paragraph, although in plain language it only says that while president she is not responsible for acts that are unrelated to the presidency.

In any case, it's a technicality. The president is of course allowed to mount of full defense, but in her supporters thought she truly were not guilty as charged they would have come up with a better argument.
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Absolutely correct.

Those who think that the "high crimes and misdemeanors" of the president don't rise to the level of an impeachable offense only have to persuade ⅓ of the Senate of their thesis. Given the state's representations in the Senate, that could be achieved by the votes of the representatives of as little as 8% of Brazil's voters! And considering the difficulties that the current president has encountered in establishing a government with relatively clean support, it may well happen.
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Thanks for explaining the issue carefully. Except you didn't.

You just listed relevant documents and stated that some are right according to you and others are not. Weak argument, to the extent that it can be considered an argument.
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Thanks for clarifying that 1st of all comes the desired conclusion, and then perhaps some argument for it. Or not even, who needs an argument when the conclusion will never change?
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The 1st paragraph confirms that your starting point are your conclusions. Bad, bad logic.

The 2nd and 3rd, thanks for your condescending explanations.

The 3rd is incorrect. The "very few informed persons" suggests that the universe of people you hear from is rather limited. Or perhaps that the universe of people you deem to be informed only includes those who agree you your premise, which coincides with your conclusion.

You end by restating your premise-conclusion. Not a persuasive style of reasoning. Have a good day!
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I think this requires a detailed response.

1 - The article attacked the impeachment procedures by defending the personal honesty of the impeached president. I pointed out that the grounds were accusations of fiscal fraud. That is a #fact which I stated unequivocally, yes. Whether they rise to the level of crimes that merit impeachment has to be decided by a political process. That is also a #fact and we have to wait for the process to see its conclusion. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion.

2 - This stuff about the pedaladas being legal is utter nonsense. I suppose that minor deviations from the budget could be dealt with by quick and dirty fudges. This in fact is the essence of the president's current legal defense: everyone does it. The "pedaladas" were deliberate, voluminous, repeated, and premeditated. Once again, whether they are ground for impeachment is for the Senate to judge. Opponents are meanwhile entitled to their opinions, but not to invent their facts.

3 - It really doesn't matter who I am and who you are. In case you are a graduate student or a recent graduate, I should say that forming arguments by innuendo, picking and choosing facts, appeal to authority, and so on, is an expedient that is unfortunately often very successful in academia, but it is a sad spectacle to behold. Please do not follow that route, even when it brings approval and applause from colleagues and mentors.

4 - No need for apologies. Make sure you don't fool yourself. As that most penetrating analyst of Brazilian academy, Richard Feynman, used to write, the important thing is not to fool yourself. The easiest person to fool is yourself. If you are not fooling yourself you're off to a good start.

5 - The "very few informed people" is again only a sign of a circumscribed world. The overwhelming majority of professionals, businesspeople, shopkeepers, and small business owners are relieved that the cause of the collapse of the Brazilian economy has been removed. I believe that is true about a large fraction of the 11 million unemployed as a consequence of the expedient of pushing expenses from a year to the other.

I will add that many of those don't particularly care that the procedures were legal and constitutional. They just wanted their nightmare over. Of course, people who rely on government support or who benefit from subsidies to their lines of work may have different opinions, more in accordance to their financial interest. That includes many academics and artists working in areas that don't often lead to attractive career prospects.

6 - Yes, the Constitution wisely determines that the impeachment procedure is essentially political, with judicial safeguards. It would not have gone anywhere if not that the crimes of responsibility of which the president is accused had not directly led to financial collapse.

7 - The reason to oust an elected president is that the Executive was impinging on the prerogatives of the equally elected Legislature and the equally legitimate Judiciary. The argument that the president was elected doesn't fly - so was Congress and the votes for the people's representatives are equally legitimate.

Unless one reasons that the elected president has a mandate to pretty much govern as they please. Unfortunately that IS the thought of many of the supporters of the ousted president, as exemplified by proposals that "the president should call new general elections once reinstated" although the president has absolutely no legal power to call elections in Brazil. This of course only reinforces the political argument for ousting a president, which is, I repeat, to prevent undue assumption of powers by the executive.

8 - Thanks for going back to the premise. No, I don't expect that any argument for the "Fora Temer" campaign will appear beyond that he was the vice president and therefore shares by association all the president's guilt.
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Ambassador Gordon was wrong. Ambassador Fitzpatrick is right. The argument that one was wrong 50 years ago so the other must be wrong now as well is a non sequitur.
Of course you are entitled to your opinion, although it is shared by less than ⅓ of Brazilian elected senators or representatives; but you have not made a convincing argument for it.
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The argument why impeachment proceedings are admissible, despite the fact that the legislature itself is far from, well, unimpeachable, is as follows:
Both branches of government were duly elected, and, as the judiciary, are equally legitimate, and equally bound by the law. The impeachment procedures were designed to prevent the executive branch from assuming undue powers, and are not dependent on individual honesty of the politicians involved, which is the case is not being judged.
Whether the accusations of abuse of power are valid and sufficient for removing the president from office is up to the Senate to decide, under Supreme Court supervision. This being to a large extent a political judgement, all citizens - and if fact why not non-citizens as well? - is entitled to voice their opinions and try to influence the Senators. Only ⅓ of them need to be convinced of the argument in defense of the suspended president for it to be successful.
The point of my post is that the fact that the US ambassador expressed a wrong opinion in 1964 is not a logically relevant argument for any position in the current situation. Overall the post is a non-sequitur, and though it is erudite, it is not convincing.
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Thanks for the explanation, such as it is. From my point of view, a lot has happened between 1964 and former minister Jucá's firing. To give just 2 examples, the president of the US is Barack Obama, and Brazil has a rather solid Constitution. So the continuity over a span of 52 years needs to be argued in more detail than just the mention of beginning and end point.
My argument as to why the impeachment procedures are perfectly constitutional is above; though Brazil's Congress as well as its Supreme Court agrees, of course one is allowed to disagree. I don't see on what basis you do, so I still see the procedure as constitutional, and the original argument as a non-sequitur.
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I can't resist adding one more thing that happened in the last half-century, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
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Well, formal democracy is what we have. What's the alternative, absolute power to the elected president? In any case, as I pointed out above, if the impeached president's defense can persuade just ⅓ of the Senate, she is back in power.
The flaws in Brazilian democracy, according to the defenders of the impeachment, are that it allowed the president to commit budget frauds that subsequently threw the country in a recession the likes of which have not been known for at least 3 generations. Impeachment is the answer, not the problem, according to this view. You may disagree with it, but you cannot logically dismiss it by claiming that it is undemocratic without a more solid analysis.
And no, sorry, the similarities between 1964 and 2016 are nonexistent, and both you and the original article failed to mention any relevant ones, or to make any case for continuity across 2 generations. Just claiming that the procedure is undemocratic doesn't support the argument; it is a circular argument: "the procedure is undemocratic because it is supported by the US ambassador therefore it is undemocratic".
Sorry, the arguments are still unpersuasive.

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