September 05, 2008

Stand up and fight!

Fight! Fight! Fight! Celine L. 'kaw ba yan?

Okay, okay, I'm just teasing, hehe.

But I was almost on my feet today after watching Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's speech at the Republic National Convention, when he plead to the party delegates to stand up and fight. For sure McCain doesn't make the grade in public speaking unlike Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama; I think he overpracticed his speech. Still McCain was convincing in his arguments on why he should be President. I, of course, fell for his moving life story, of him being imprisoned in Hanoi Hilton, of breaking under torture from his captors, and of the impact it has made in his life.

I think McCain is sincere in wanting to improve the Republican Party by returning it to its progressive roots. (Abe Lincoln who freed the African slaves was a Republican btw.) He knows there is no other way to go if the party is to convince the American public that it is for the people and not just for the elite few. (The changes are being slowly instituted, firstly by not having President George Bush speak in person. The party is quite aware he is not popular and didn't want his presence to take away from the positivity that McCain is supposed to inspire.)

McCain spoke particularly to the swing voters, those who are still undecided because they think McCain is too old, while Obama is inexperienced. I think his speech today may have convinced some of them to vote for him, not only because of his life story, but because he had a more detailed platform for the economy than Obama had earlier presented at the DNC. And I have no doubt that he has a better grasp at foreign diplomacy than his VP Sarah Palin.

I always liked McCain, primarily because he is funny. I've watched him appear on several TV shows – Oprah, SNL, Ellen... the man is witty and has a self-deprecating humor. It may not count for much but I think a good leader must know not to take himself so seriously, and delude himself into thinking that he is God's gift to humanity. (Presidentita take note.) McCain amuses, Palin just condescends.

I just wish he didn't crib from the Democrats' main theme of change. In his speech, McCain said: "Change is coming", "We're going to change Washington" etc., also, "stand up and fight" which was vintage Al Gore, DNC presidential candidate in 2000, if I remember correctly. And yes, sana he chose a different VP.

Needless to say, McCain is a lot more intelligent, is better-read, and more traveled than Bush. He is certainly no buffoon. So if McCain does get elected as U.S. President in November, I think he will be able to turn the U.S. government around and rebuild it from the shambles that Bush has left it. Well, sana nga.

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But let's not delude ourselves that with a Republican win, the Philippines will likely receive more aid from the U.S. government, as some misinformed quarters suggest. The Philippines has not been on the list of foreign aid priorities of any donor country for the longest time. The fact of the matter is, we are no longer of any use for the Americans since their bases were removed from the country. Also, the Philippines is considered a more developed and stable economy — albeit with hiccups — compared to say, the African nations, which the U.S. government has prioritized in terms of official development assistance. (We mostly get second-hand Huey helicopters for our military forces, ngek.)

For fiscal year 2007, the Philippines was allocated a budget of $70 million by the US Agency for International Development. In FY 2006, it was $73.6 million. For FY 2008, the country will likely receive only $66 million. In contrast, U.S. development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa rose from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.6 billion in 2006. So clearly, those are the priorities of the U.S. government and will not likely change even if a Republican or Democrat wins the U.S. presidential elections.

Anyway, let's see how the campaign goes. Stay tuned for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.
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The conventions now over, it's back to local issues for us: Inflation at 12.5%... gasp! Miriam won't seek presidency...thank you Lord!

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