Category Archives: Politics

Pretty Pretty Butterflies

I’ve recently heard that Miriam Santiago wants to eliminate the practice of being a “political butterfly” in our country. To the uninitiated a political butterfly is someone who switches political parties every election or when it benefits them the most.

I really don’t even care that the proposal comes from Miriam, one of the most prominent political butterflies in the system. What I do care about is the method that is proposed to solve the situation. She proposes that everyone who changes their party within one year of being elected be forced to give up their position.

What will that accomplish exactly? If you are a politician in a position of power what a party is really after is your vote on the issues. Not whether your name is on their membership list. If a person wanted to jump ship with Miriam’s plan in effect all you would really have to do is stay in your current party and vote with the party you intend to join when applicable. All the bill would have accomplished is to make it so that you officially leave your party one year later than you would have anyway.

If you really want to stop this practice then all you have to do is move to a two-party system and strengthen our parties. I mean could you imagine a person changing from a Republican or Democrat and vice versa every election? With only two recognized parties our politicians would be forced to adhere to one or the other. Constant defections like we have now would leave them with no party to join and get funds from.

This is really a minor issue though. This bill has almost no chance to get passed. It just irks me that some of our supposed brightest minds still solve the symptoms of our problems rather than the root.

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Unstoppable Philippine Army Juggernaut of Doooooom!

Unless you really have not been paying attention these past few weeks you will know that the dispute over the Spratley group of islands have flared up yet again. You have China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and a host of other countries including our very own Philippines are disputing the territory.

I love our response to the situation. Beef up the army! Talk tough with the Chinese then threaten them with the increased might of the glorious Philippine army! Which has, by the way, has been unable to prevent any of the insurgencies that have plagued our country. Nor have they been able to make a dent in the terrorist organizations operating in Mindanao, Even with US military aid and intelligence. I gather they will send our PT boats against that new aircraft carrier the Chinese are building.

I also have more bitter news for the Aquino government. The U.S.A will not come to our aid in a shooting war, no matter what our treaties say. I’m not even thinking about the interests of the big corporations which have a say in American politics. Of course they don’t want a war with their most profitable trading partner. These interests can be set aside for the right price. After all if America goes to war with China they probably won’t have to pay their massive debt to that country. The Americans will not fight because their people are not ready for it. There is no will for another war and rightly so. They have just begun to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Asking them to fight now would be like asking them to engage in another war after Vietnam.

What now then? The way I see it our country has two options. Fight the Chinese or try and make a deal and get something out of the Spratley’s to our benefit. In essence sell the Spratley’s to the Chinese. Before I detail what each option would entail I would just like to make a categorical statement. We will not be able to claim the Spratley’s ever. China is just in too strong of a position for them to lose this territorial dispute to a country which is probably not even considered a minor power.

If we still decide to fight after knowing this fact, building up our army is not the way to go about it. The gap is just too large. Even if we spent a hundred times what we have just spent to upgrade our military we would not achieve anything close to parity. Our money and effort should be spent on coalition building. Joint exercise with Taiwan, Vietnam and any other countries who are willing. Diplomatic visits and alliances with other countries bordering China. Essentially we have to make sure that if it comes to war we will not be fighting alone. Ironically when it comes to China countries like Vietnam and Taiwan with more proximity and a higher stake in the situation would actually make more stable allies than the Americans.

A better course of action would be to sell the Spratley’s to the Chinese. Of course the nay-sayers will point out that all that oil is worth more than the money we will receive but again I say that we will never be able to mine that oil. It actually has 0 value to us right now. We might as well get something out of it.

Of course it would be political suicide for any leader to actually suggest that the islands be sold. Any “sale” would have to be achieved by subtler means. There are plenty of territorial dispute cases in the International Court of Justice. The Channel Island dispute with the islands going to England for example. Our country could do everything it can to make sure that it will lose any ICJ case that China starts. In return since China can’t really pay us outright they could assume some of our national debt “in the spirit of greater cooperation and charity with its Asian neighbors”. The Filipino people always ready to believe another conspiracy theory could be told that the Chinese bought the ICJ ruling. There we go the Chinese get the islands and we get a greatly reduced debt and no one is the wiser about it.

These are really only examples of the alternative ways we can approach the problem. The main point is that our current solutions of relying on American intervention and upgrading our military will not solve our problem and will actually lead to disaster.

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The Greatest Trick

A friend of mine once told me that the greatest trick the Republicans have played is to get the poor south to vote against their own economic self interests for the GOP. Of course it is obvious that my friend was a staunch democrat. I disagree with him though. I think the greatest trick the republicans have pulled is professional wrestling.

I’m not referring to the fact that it is fake. Everyone knows that, as an aside I still maintain that even though it is fake it still requires more hard work and dedication that most of the other “real” sports. What I am talking about is how the GOP has used the program to push it’s agenda.

It’s a stroke of genius really. Wrestling is like our modern day equivalent of the gladiatorial games during the roman era. It reaches a wide, mostly younger audience. Its heroes are mostly emulated and cherished (except for that john cena debacle) and it’s villains usually act like assholes and get the public to hate them. What better way to mold the public’s mindset to favor the republican’s point of view?

First example I could think of right of the bat is the coalition against the war on terror. You had France and other countries refusing to participate. At the exact time they did it you had Renee Dupree come into the scene. With his arrogant French attitude insulting all Americans and telling them what morons they were for supporting the war on terror. With entertainment like this it becomes easier for the American public to discount France’s stance.

Next you have Muhammad Hassan, appearing on the scenes after 9/11 just when the republicans were cracking down on terrorists and limiting some of the freedoms of the public to better protect it against terror attacks. Hassan plays an Arab-American who is aggrieved at the recent racial profiling and complaining about it, till he brings his terrorist clad friends to the ring to help him beat up his opponents. Reinforcing the point that, yes, they just might be terrorists and we do need to limit their freedoms.

There are too many specific examples for me to list here. I just wanted to show you some to establish that, yes, there is a pattern and it is systematic, deliberate, and planned. Next time you watch your favorite WWE show. Watch who acts like an asshole and what their cause is. You will see what I am talking about.

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Game of Thrones: KBL

For the second installment in my AGOT series I want to talk about one of the bigger parties in our country: the KBL. Founded by Marcos during the dictatorship years as a coalition party for all his allies. It was of course the dominant party back then, but has long since waned in power.

When you first think of the KBL what is the first thought that comes to your mind? I guarantee it will be one of these two things. First and the probable answer of most of the youth these days is, who the hell are these guys? Second and the probable answer of people in the older generation is, Marcos loyalist. Which actually perfectly illustrates the position of the party now. On the one hand they have terrible PR and direction, so that the younger segment of the population is unaware of them. On the other they have the older population who has already made up their mind about them. Of course in typical Filipino political party fashion they have found that the proper answer to their problems is to do nothing and hope for the best when it comes to elections. Awesome.

The first thing the party needs to do is focus on the youth. One hundred percent. Take the forefront in issues related to the youth. Raise awareness in issues that affect them. Take stands on issues today that benefit them. Most importantly pick the side that is the most popular with them. More than any other party the youth are literally the future for the KBL. Everyone who lived thru martial law will already vote for them based on their feelings for Marcos. The anti Marcos forces already have a negative outlook towards you and will be very hard to shift, while the loyalists a smaller but more committed group will vote for you whether you pander to them or not. There really is no incentive for the KBL to target the older generation when the younger ones will be more receptive.

Of course this is in the short term. In the long term you have to make yourself acceptable to the the whole population again. Getting rid or having the Marcos family leave the party was a start. Next, Natural attrition will play its part in this as people who remember what you did die. But the process can be hastened. Like the lakas party in the previous article they must take more stands in issues so that they will not be defined by their one and only misdeed. Some people who are against Marcos may actually forgive you for it if they like your current agenda. One thing they must not do is to apologize for the Marcos years. That would only remind the public of what you did and would needlessly antagonize your member base.

Overall I give this party a fail, but a close to passing one. They are in a very difficult tactical situation and it would be difficult to form a plan of action. Ironically the Marcos family seems to have realized the approach i mention here. If you look at Bong Bong’s achievements you will see that there are plenty of youth oriented accomplishments. However it does seem that they did not pass on this knowledge to their former party.

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Game of Thrones : Lakas – Kampi NUCD

I’ve had a little bit of a dry spell recently. I just couldn’t see aything I wanted to write about. SO to break the monotony I decided to write about about our political parties. So for this article and any article with a prefix like this I will be focusing on one of our political parties. Analyzing their strategy and of course commenting on it.

We begin with Lakas. The particulars like when it was founded, where, etc. are relatively easy to find thru wikipedia so I won’t bore you by rehashing them here. What is important is that they were a very popular party before. Having, what I think is the most successful presidency in our history after martial law in the Ramos administration. No coup or Edsa attempts happened, unlike every other administration, the economy was doing well till the Asian crisis, and there was no real flare-ups to derail us. Sure there were still corruption charges but that is to be expected. As I said before our system requires public officials to be corrupt. Couple that with the leadership role the party and its members played in the ouster of Estrada and you had the party in a very favorable position.

Enter Gloria. We all know what her administration was like. Corruption charges everywhere, a list of broken promises, Edsa attempts, etc. I don’t really need to go any further. I honestly think the whole thing could have been handled with proper PR, which none of her people really had, but it is what it is. This administration spent all the goodwill that the party had built up over the years, and didn’t really leave anything for it to work with. As a result they now have a very unfavorable image among the people.

The party is in damage control mode right now. They are trying to sever any connections they may have had with the previous administration and would prefer it if the populace forgot any role they may have had in it. Like any party who doesn’t really know what they are doing they just follow what other people have done before them and hope it works. What do criminals do when the law is searching for them after a crime? They hide. They lay low until the heat is off and they can operate again. The problem is they are not a criminal organization. They are a political party which will have to participate in the coming elections. If you spend all the time between then and now hiding, I wonder what will become the one single issue that people remember and define you by? It really doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.

What they should be doing is taking the forefront on any issue. Rh bill, corruption, drug mules, it really doesn’t matter what. Of course they should support bills that are popular or that would help the country, but that is not really important. What is important is that they will be remembered for something other than Gloria. They could be the party that stood up to the church, backed the church, stood up for labor, etc. Sure some people will dislike them for their stances and other people may like them for their stances but they will base their decision on things other than the previous administration. When the election comes the Gloria issue will still hurt. There is really nothing that can stop that. But the party will be defined by multiple issues so people may vote for them on other grounds.

Overall I would give the party failing marks. It’s not really difficult to reach the logical conclusion of their current political strategy and it is a wonder they are still doing it.

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Wrong and Crosswise

Well the appointment ban is over and our president is now placing various people who ran under his ticket in positions of power in his cabinet. Business as usual I suppose. I would normally not care. The people assigned are seemingly qualified to run the positions they have been given and they are blessed by the fact that the president does owe them something.

What irks me about the whole situation is the reaction of the president to the media and how they handle the news. They seem to be apologetic about the whole thing and try to downplay the appointment of Roxas and the other appointees. This is just terrible PR. My annoyance just doubles when I remember that one of the main points often repeated by the president and his team is how the media is against them. I dunno, maybe if they learn to put a better spin on things they wouldn’t get hit as much?

Do not apologize for the appointments. Especially if you do actually think that these people are the best fit for the job at hand. I mean the president did choose them to be future senators, congressmen, and a future vice president. He must have had some confidence in their abilities. In fact I wouldn’t even make a big deal out of it. Just a quick announcement regarding their appointment then a press release that would also go on their website as to their qualifications, plans, any other issues like that.

The main issue in the whole thing is of course Binay, and how the people accepted him but rejected Roxas. So address that issue and that issue only. Which is a very simple issue to address. What does it matter if the people voted for Binay? They did not vote for him to make this type of decisions. They supported Mr. Aquino to. They knew full well that when they voted for one as the vice president and one for the president that the president would be making all staffing choices. Usually the vice only gets one department. The argument that it is against the people’s will for Roxas to be appointed is precisely the argument that should validate his appointment. The people gave their trust to Noynoy to make these decisions by voting him in. Whether these decisions are right or not, will be based on the appointees performance. After all, like Diokno they can still be removed if they perform poorly.

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America World Police

No this is not a rant about the evil American Empire. In fact I appreciate them taking the role of international police force. I get most of the benefits of their actions, a safer world, pressure on terrorists, some sort of control over the more extreme states, etc without having to pay for it.

However it does seem that one of the major factors of their country’s decline is precisely this. They just spend too much playing police. Take the war on terror for example. How much do they spent deploying their military every day? A million dollars? A billion? Those numbers may actually be too small. God forbid a tank blows up. Then you would probably double your day’s expenditure. That’s money that they could be using at home. Creating jobs, developing infrastructure, etc. No wonder China is gaining on them.

There is actually already a growing movement in their country for them to lay down the mantle of world police. You see the criticisms in their culture all the time. From movies like Team America, comments and jokes form south park and other comedians, to people simply posting on blogs on their latest blunders.

Is America to blame for this role though? And can they quit now as everyone wants them to? I would actually say that due to various external and internal factors in their history the U.S. could not help but be anything but the world’s police force. I also think giving up the mantle now would be disastrous for them. More so than the amount of money they sink for it everyday.

Externally countries who hate the States now would not stop hating them if they did not get involved. In fact they might blame them more for not helping in their problems. Even without these problems the poorer countries would still focus their hate on them for being the most prosperous country. Whether that hate is deserved or not. After all the leaders can’t very well blame themselves right?

Internally the citizens would urge their government to stop injustices around the world. After all whether America becomes the world police or not, the holocaust still happens, children still get sent to mines in Africa, the Middle eastern States still fight amongst themselves. The only difference is there would really be no one around to stop it. This is particularly true in times of prosperity. Where the people do not have enough problems of their own and participate in the problems of others. This situation is unique to America. I mean sure citizens in my country could demand that the government do something about child trafficking in Africa, but deep-down we would know that the government does not have any power to do this so we would not expect anything. While people in America would have a valid expectation that there government can indeed do something about these injustices. Of course there are also enormous short-term economic benefits to being the world police which really does make it inevitable.

Still now that it is actually hurting them, they just cannot drop the role. There has already been too much ill will generated in the past. Take the war on terror for instance. If the U.S. army were to abandon every single outpost in the middle east and leave the terrorists to their own devices, would said terrorists say “ thank you, come again!” ? No. They would take it as a sign of weakness and then begin pressing for their revenge. I would not be surprised if there is another tragedy on the scale of 9/11 within 10 years.

Is the US screwed then? Will they be forced to spend all the money on the worlds problems and none on their own?

Probably. I can’t really offer any creative solutions. I mean after seeing what they are going thru I doubt they can convince anyone to take over for them as global gestapo. Sure you can deputize people when they want to be deputized. Like in the case of France in Libya. But as soon as the immediate situation is handled everything gets tossed back to good old U.S.

All I can really offer is a suggestion. Right now the most expensive part of being the world police is the war on terror. So my suggestion will focus on that but can easily be adapted to other situations. Make your carrot, a gilded armored carrot. Then make your stick so long and sharp that whoever gets hit by it will never forget. In fact just make it into a sword.

The gilded, armored, carrot. Everyone who supports the U.S. must be rewarded financially. They must be rewarded so well that they will be able to live lives those who don’t support the U.S. can only dream of more. More importantly they must be guaranteed this life. After all what use is this wealth if they die in the process? US troops must protect them from any and all harm. Even if it means trading American lives for theirs.

The sword. Be harsher towards the terrorists. I would not mind if more of them died “while resisting arrest”. In fact I would not mind at all if the people harboring them die in the shootout. Sure human rights advocates and other people like that will complain. But there really is no other way. You have to show them what it truly means to stand against you.

It will be a long and difficult path. The tactics that have to be used will be harsh. Draconian even. But one day he U.S. may finally find itself safe to rectify its mistake and lay down the mantle of world police.

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