Harper is continuing his bullying way, but this time the opposition parties have been quick in calling his bluff. Rather than dealing with the economic problem, he is playing politics. The economic plan Finance Minister Flaherty has come up with offered no major new spending. Instead, he proposes to cancel the subsidy that parties get ( $1.95 per vote ). This money make a large amount of their war chest and was brought into force by the Chretien Gov't as a means of limiting the influence of big business and big union, by limiting the amount that they can contribute.The Liberals and the Bloc benefit the most from this subsidy as fully 2/3 of their revenue last year was from this source. The Conservatives got only about 35% of their funds from it. Obviously, the Conservatives saw a means of dealing a crippling financial blow on them. Another proposal was to suspend the right to strike for civil servants thtrough 2010-2011.
The opposition parties responded by threatening to bring down the government, through a vote of non-confidence. They are careful to emphasise that it is the lack of economic initiative by the Conservatives that they oppose. A defeat, would mean the end of the Harper Gov't. Should that happen, two options will emerge. The Governor- General can call a new election ( it brings to mind the King/ Byng Affair 1926, when then P.M. King , in order to avoid a vote of non-confidence asked the then G.G. Byng, to dissolve parliament and call a new election. Byng refused and instead, asked Arthur Meighen, the conservative leader to form a government. Byng's rsefusal was based on the fact that an election had just been held and that the Official Opposition should be given the opportunity to form a government. Meighen was unable to do so and thus an election was held. King used the campaign to attack the office of G.G. He won the election with a majority and immediately proceeded to demand from Britain constitutional limits on the G.G. It resulted in the Statute of Westminister, which gave Canada more control over its affairs, eg. no more veto of Canadian laws by the British Parliament....Canada's full independence from Britain would not come until the Patriation of the Constitution with full amending power in 1981).The second option is to do, what Byng did, and that is to ask the Official Opposition to form a government.
This is interesting, because the Liberals do not have the numbers to form a viable govenment by themselves. They need the support of both the NDP and the BQ. The BQ has made it known that they will not be part of a coalition gov't, but are willing to prop up a coalition of the Liberals and the NDP. There has only been instance in Canadian history that there has been a coalition gov't, and that was during the Conscription Crisis, 1917, when the country was split along linguistic lines over the issue. It was short-lived and ended with the end of the war.
The REF/CON have bitten off more than they can chew. Either they back down or face defeat. They have already started to back peddle, postponing for one week the vote on their measure. Now the propaganda battle begins, with the REF/CON accusing the opposition of wanting to grab power without the benefit of an election and the opposition accusing the gov't of doing nothing to deal with the economic crisis. This self-inflicted problem is typical of the mistake prone REF/CON. The idealogues ( Harper, Flaherty, Clement et.al ),are so fixated in their dogma, that they refuse to accept that increased gov't spending, coupled with tax cuts are necessary . The USA, Japan, the EU and even China have come to this realisation, but not the idealogical driven Harper.
Who will back down?
The appointment of Timothy Geithner, head of the Federal Reserve in New York, who had played an important role in preventing the collapse of the financial system, by steering the bailout of Bear Stearns, AIG and Citigroup, and who was one of Obama's closest adviser at the height of the Wall Street crisis, as Treasury Secretary, coupled with the naming of Lawrence Summers ( Treasury Sect. under Clinton ) as director of the National Economic Council; University of California-Berkeley professor Christiona Romer ( an expert on US economic crises ), as head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Melody Barnes ( vice-president of the liberal think tank, Centre for American Progress ) as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, has sent a clear and strong message to Wall Street. The markets reacted positively, going up 500 points on Friday and 400 points on Monday.
Pres-elect Obama realise that he needed to send a much needed signal, that he is willing and prepared to act decisively, even though he is not as yet sworn in. He has seized the economic initiative with the announcement of his team and his outlining of his goal to create 2.5 million jobs and to spend massively to improve infrastructure, alternative energy technology and tax cuts for the working class ( 95% ). He knows that the window of opportunity is not large and that he has to show that he is completely in charge. So far, so good.
On a less positive note, civil groups are reportiong a rise in hate crimes against ethnic minorities. Hundreds of incidents of racial hatred have been reported according tro the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Far- right groups ( KKK ), are capitalising on rising unemployment and a demographic shift, that could result in making whites a minority by 2050. Pres-elect Obama will have to ensure that the situation does not become untenable. He must act swiftly and must clearly demonstrate that he is listening and doing what is necessary. Time and action are of the essence.
On another note, George W. Bush is leaving a toxic legacy as he prepares to leave office. He is issuing last minute regulations to help out special interests groups, letting truck drivers stay on the road for longer hours, allowing more mine-waste dumping in waterways, and easing limits on pollution from power plants and chemical factories. There is a mandatory 60 days waiting period, after which it will be difficult to change these regulations. Bush is ignoring the will of the voters. They voted for change, but he is leaving them with more of the same. He could not get these measures thtrough Congress, so he has decided to by-pass Congress and reward these polluters. This last-minute legacy is a slap in the face of the people and a reward to the special interests that have controlled his administration
The expectations are very high for the incoming President Obama. He is expected to solve " toute suite ", all that ails America. It must be pointed out that he has so far not demonstrated the ability to walk on water.
The American people are so beaten down, what with the two draining, devastating wars, the recession, the growing difficulties with the auto industry and falling employment, that they are hoping for a Messiah to lead them out of this quagmire and into the light. Obama promised much and he has to start delivering as soon as he takes office. He has made a good start, naming his team. He has made some astute choices in Emanuel, Axelrod and if it is true, Hillary for State, Holder for Atty. General and Daschle for Health and Human Services. These are tried and tested veterans. They have shown competence and have demonstrated that they can handle the tough tasks. Emanuel is tough as nails and is a bulldog. Axelrod is a loyal confidant. Holder has dealt with hard decisions as Deputy Attorney General,. Dashle was Senate Majority leader and Hillary has done it all.
Kennedy had " the best and the brightest ", and they still got bogged down in Vietnam, but there is a difference. Most of Kennedy's advisers were academics, whereas those whom Pres.-elect Obama has chosen are " tried and tested " members of Congress and holders of important decision-making positions. It does not mean that they will solve all the problems overnight. There will be mistakes and setbacks, but with their feet firmly planted on the ground and with control of Congress and being part of an experienced and informed team, there will be less " group think ", less kowtowing and more robust inputs. Obama has made it clear that he wants people with strong positions, who will defend their ideas and his selection so far, including his choice of Biden as vice-president, is an indication of this.
He is not in office yet, but the signals he is sending are very positive.
Another day and another set of promises and " change of mind ". Charest is now willing to pay for the first two attempts of in vitro fertilization. Pauline after saying on Sunday that " if I had to do it over, I would do it over ", now says " Jamais " " Would I do that again ? Jamais, Jamais "She is refering to the drastic cuts to health and education in the 1990's, when she was Education and then Health Minister when 1,500 doctors and 4,500 nurse were bought out by the PQiste government. In the meantime, Mario is taking the blame for his party slide in the polls, saying that he was not prepared to lead his large complement of MNAs, most of whom did not know what to do.
It is time to send a message to these deadwoods. It is not enough that they make all these outrageous promises, now we have to listen to their mea culpas, their regrets and their " I change my mind ", so we can vote for them again, so they can do the same thing again. Enough of this pathetic pandering. None of them deserve our support. Look for alternatives... the Greens and Quebec Solidaire.
Quebec Solidaire is a left-wing separatists party, led jointly by Francoise David and Amir Khadir. They emphasise social justice and diversity,health care, the environment, raising the minimum wage to $10.20 an hour, increase of corporate taxes and raising the rates for higher personal income, make it easier for foreign- trained health professionals to get licences to practice and are opposed to privitization and two-tier health care. They also propose to call a constituent assembly to decide on wording and timing of a referendum. They are taking support away from the PQ, especially from the left..
The Greens will stop the Romaine hydro project in Nortern Quebec, spend $8 billion on equipping business and homes with geo-thermal systems, reduce consumption of fossil fuels by 3% a year between now and2020, develop wind power, develop railways and commuter trains, extend the metro to Anjou, cut cost of monthly bus and metro passes by 50% and introduce proportional representation, so smaller parties that do not have enough votes concentrated in any one riding, can still win representation from its scattered support ( the Greens got 3.9 % of the votes in the 2007 election.... would have given them 6 seats in the last election ). They have been cutting into Liberal support in anglophone ridings.
In the 35+ years, that I have taught Political Science, I have refused to endorse any political party, because I wanted to maintain my neutrality and did not want to influence my students. Now that I am retired, I am free and while I will not endorse any party, I will try to influence whomever I can, not to vote for the Liberals, the PQ or the ADQ. The unctuous and prevaricating Charest, the silly and arrogant " no regrets " Marois and the obsequious and wheedling Dumont must not dupe and insult the people anymore.
Charest claimed that he called this election, because the opposition parties were making it impossible for his gov't to deal with the economic crisis, because of constant threat to bring down the government. This is a lie, as both parties have promised just days before that not to bring it down. Charest called this election because the polls show that he can win a majority and he wants to take advantage of the disarray in the PQ and \the ADQ. This is understandable, but he preferred to lie to the public. He has insulted them and they will deny him a majority.
The ADQ is mired in bad polls and face the severe loss of seats and 2 of its MNA's have deserted the party for the Liberals. Also Finance Minister Jerome-Forget recently assured Quebecers that the province is in a good position to deal with the economic slowdown .
The PQ have their own problems.....the usual infighting and a leader with an image problem. " Call me Pauline " is seen as a snob. That will not play well in the Regions, where the PQ lost support to the ADQ in the last election. Granted that the PQ had an unpopular leader and Dumont capitalised on his " reasonable accomadation "
Now that the campaign is on, the promises are piling up. Charest is promising everything to everyone....more daycare places, continue the $ 7 a day, create 100,00 jobs a year , spend more on infrastructure, boost paychecks, raise minimum wage by $1, improve transit, and on and on...every day a new set of goodies. This is the one, who promised $ 5 billion tax cut the last time.
The PQ, not tio be outdone are making their list of promises...tax credits for mortgages, more money for job training, $200 to 2.1 million low income, more child care spaces, as well as more money for newborns, tax credit to middle-class with combined income of less than $150,000, tax credit on mortgage, reduce number of students per class , and on and on.
The ADQ promise less government, more help for small business, privitize 7.5% of Hydro-Quebec, give tax credit to home owners, provide $ 858 million of direct help to families, tax exemptions for RRSP's, loan guarantees, tax credits to invest in business etc etc.
The PQ and the ADQ are also investing in the Politics of Division. Louise Buaudoin, former cabinet minister, newly resurrected, wants to force new arrivals to sign a contract in which they commit to learn French within 3 years or they will not be given " Quebec citizenship ", when Quebec becomes independent ( O happt da. The ADQ will use the new ethics and religious culture courses to incite fear of " les autres ", even as he did with reasonable accomadation in the last election. These lame brains do not realise that attitudes about diversity can be readily change by education, example and tolerance. They persist in the politics of fear , ignorance and insecurity,
They fail to realise that the world is moving on. "Les Bleuets " are no longer isolated and insulated in their far-flung hamlets. Cell phones, text-messaging, blackberry and the internet, have opened up the world and bring it to their doorsteps. They no longer can be kept in a linguistic and insular ghetto. They will no longer be fooled or taken for granted. The opening lines from Rousseau's Social Contract ....." Man is born free. but everywhere is in chains " , is about to be " Vox Populi, Vox Dei ". Let the Jean, Pauline and Mario, take heed.
The visit today of President-elect Barack Obama, to the White House, has been along time coming, and somewhat ironic. The White House, was built with slave labour and many slaves and free blacks worked there, first , doing menial tasks ( cleaning, gardening, cooking, chlidcare etc ). then later as clerks and sentries and still later as Cabinet members. Now finally, President Obama and the First Family, will become the residents.
It has been a long, arduous and perilous journey, filled with obstacles, washed with blood and tears, and littered with hanged and broken dead bodies. There is still much to be done, but the next phase has begun, and hopefully the wait will not be as long ,and the suffering not so great. Threre will be those ( like the students at Baylor, with their fire and noose ). There will be those, who are just waiting to jump on any real or imagined mistakes ( like the House Republican leader, on the appointment of Emmanuel ). There will be the media waiting for their new headlines, whether based on innuendos, rumours, leaks and/ or speculation ( after all 24 hrs. news has a lot of time and space to fill and attention to hold on to ). There will be the doubters and the cynics, and the media created experts with " I told you so ", and their self-serving pronuciations. And then, there will be the haters and racists ( specifically those on talk radio , the press and the pulpit, eg. in Georgia, a sign on the lawn of a chuch which quotes Proverb 29.2 " When the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn " and the headline in a North Carolina newspaper, which screams, " Should Whites be Frightened ? " What do you fear more, a bleak economy or a black president?) , who will rant and rave.
President-elect Obama is aware of the challenges. He has surrounded himself with pros. He is not hesitant to call upon any, who can be of help. He has demonstrated, that he will not be panicked. He has been sorely tested and has dealt with each challenge with aplomb. It will not be easy ( the mess in Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, together with the divided nation, with its job losses, and its neglected medical, educational and infra-structure problems ), but the signal coming from the Obama team, is that they are ready and ready to act swiftly,( aready, they have have mentioned a new economic package for the auto industry, as well as Executive Orders to undo Bush's position on stem cell research, oil drilling and Guantanamo ).
With what I have seen so far, both from his appointments and his statements, Pres.-elect Obama is primed and ready to go. He has to respect protocol ( and he is ), and that Bush will continue to be president until the swearing ceremony on Jan. 20, 2009. After that will really come the new dawn...........
President Bush, in the latest poll , has a disapproval rating of 76%, the highest ever. Truman was 67%, Nixon 66%, G.H.W. Bush 60%, when they left office. A
Like rabid hyenas feeding on carrion, that is what the McCain, starategists/aides ( Steve Schmidt, Mark Salter, Rick Davis, Nicole Wallace ),are doing in their attack and blame mongering on Palin, They are cowards who hide behind anonymity, in their assault on her. They are hoping to rebuild their tattered reputation by leaks and innuendoes to a slavering media, that must find something to entertain their audiences, now that the election is over and/or before they can begin their feeding frenzy on " things Obama ".
They are the ones who selected her, advised her, clothed her and made her their attack dog. Now that their hate filled and barren campaign has ended so ignominously, they show their real self as dimwitted, vulgar, vacuous and without any integrity. This is not a surprise. This is what they are. They turned a decent man into a hateful, resentfull campaigner, and an uninformed and unprepared woman into a scapegoat. Rather taking responsibility for what they had done, ( running a campaign that was incoherent, negative and poorly organised ), they have resorted to a disgusting and meanspirited vendetta against the Alaska Governor. Sarah Palin did what they wanted. She fired up the base and played her designated role with gusto. She deserves better than this.
55 wealthy, white men met in Philadelphia, in 1787, to rewrite the Constitution and thus save the American union. The Articles of Confederation, had established a confederal system, with the powers in the hands of the constituent units...the States, with the Federal Govt. having symbolic and ceremonial powers. It was chaos, politically and economically, with States going in their own direction. The Union was unravelling and something drastic had to be done.
This Constitutional Convention was dominated by the largest slaveowners, bankers, landowners, America's first elite, and they will set up a system that emphasised stability and favoured the wealthy and their values. The Three Grand Compromises, that was negotiated, established a Federal system, but with residual powers in the hands of the states ( this meant that any new powers that would arise, would go to the states etc. ), a Written constitution, that was almost impossible to amend , 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the States were required, ( only 28 successful amendments out of more than 10,000 proposed, and these amendments, with the exception of The Bill of Rights (1-10 ), The Civil War Amendments (13-15 ), were mostly of little signifcance ), a President to be elected by an Electoral College for 4 years, a Senate ( 6 years ), 1/3 of whom will be elected every 2 years and a House of Representatives to be elected every 2 years. Changes , when they occur, will be incremental. Women were not given the right to vote, neither were native Americans, or poor, landless whites, and " blacks " would be counted as 3/5 of a white man, for purposes of taxation and representation. This body, was dominated by the Conservatives, and with the exception, of the 80 years old Benjamin Franklin, warned about the dangers and evil of democracy.
232 years after the Declaration of Independence ( We, the people,,..... hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal........ with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ), and 229 years after the conclusion of the Philadelphia Convention. an African-American is elected as President of the United States of America. The promise of equality has been a long time coming.
The landslide victory of Barack Obama, to the highest office in the land, signify, that in times of grave danger, the voters are willing to take a chance on radical change.......1860, 1932, 1960 and 2008, in order to save the Union. Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy and now Obama. It took a tremendous amount of money, 1.5 million volunteers, an organisation that made no major mistakes, and a candidate who, by his serenity his poise and his intellect, was able to calm the fears and sell his message of " Change ". Obama was able to galvanize millions with his message. He would not be distracted by personal attacks, by lies, distortions or the appeal to ignorance and fear. Hope overcame Fear.
The fear that white voters would not vote for him, when they got to the voting booths, did not materialise......he split the white votes with McCain, except in the South. He got about 43% of the white votes overall ( doing better than Gore and Kerry ), 96% of the African-American votes ( they turned out in record numbers ), 67% 0f Latinos ( the fears that Latinos would not vote for an African-American was also put to rest,........ immigration reform was more important and Latinos realised that a " common cause " with African-Americans and other minorities served everyone's purpose ), 66% 0f young voters, ( who came out in record numbers, and who volunteered as foot soldiers ), and 68% of new voters ( a record amount of them registered ). He won back the democratic party grassroots, who had strayed away or who had become disillusioned and stayed home......he also got more than 95% of those who supported Hillary, who realised that the appointment of Supreme Court Judges would change that social issues landscape ......abortion and gay rights etc, for the next 40 years.
It was remarkable. Now the healing can proceed. Minorities , especially African-Americans, have an inspiration. This Is a victory for all those who have been dispossessed and abused and exploited, and marginalised for so long. It gives hope to all. Now every American can say, anything is possible, and can dream the dream that had remained unfulfilled, until now. Every little child can now feel that the ultimate is achievable.
America is a better place today. The world is a better place today. America has spoken and we are all breathing a little easier today. Let us savour it. Tomorrow, the task of rebuilding begin in earnest. It will not be easy, and it will not happen overnight, but President-elect Obama has shown that he has the acumen, to deal with any task. Machiavelli wrote that if you want to know the brains of a ruler, you look at his advisers. President-elect Obama has surrounded himself with many able advisers. He has shown that he is not hesitant and/ or afraid to ask for help from anyone, Democrats or Republicans or whomever. He has such a strong mandate, that he can appoint, ( even Republicans and other outsiders ) to Cabinet positions, and I expect him to do so.
A last few desperate attempts by McCain/Palin, but iacta alea est. All the hard work has been done by the candidates and now it is in the hands of the voters. Are the polls wrong? Have people been lying to pollsters? Is race going to be a dedciding factor? Has McCain/Palin last ditch desperate and vicious ads. about his name, his religion, his past associations, his aunt, his " socialism ", all the lies and distortions, have they made a difference enough to close the gap. Will there be a ' Bradley ' effect? No, No, No!!!!
Obama will win and America will be the better for it. 70%+ in Europe and elSEwhere in the world are waiting for a new Amereica leadership, militarily, economically and politically. The stakes are very high but the people, with the exception of the religious fundamentalists and the haters will prevail....vox populi, vox dei.