Bush Gives the Country the Finger

Posted December 11, 2008 on 6:08 pm | In the category Economy, Environment, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

“Well, we only have one president at a time. My problem is, at a time of great crisis and [massive] mortgage foreclosures. … I am afraid that overstates the number of presidents.” – Barney Frank

Say what you will about Canada’s “prorogue” approach to delaying a change in leadership, it still beats the U.S. approach. George W. Bush’s presidency is all but over – but he will have had over two months since the election to join with his lame duck Republican brethren in the Congress to screw the country as much as possible. Barney Frank may wish to consider whether he really wants a full-time Bush presidency.

For Bush the time between the election and the actual change of government has become a time to rape the environment, pad the pockets of his pals in the banking sector, implant his discredited ideology on as many parts of America as possible and set up sleeper cells in every federal agency where the eight year onslaught on American interests can continue until the new administration can – literally – flush them out.

Among Bush’s already in place regulatory actions needing reversal are the limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, the so-called global gag rule barring international family planning groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal, and the decision last year to deny California the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.

Bush’s last minute efforts to totally soil his legacy include the opening of some 360,000 acres of public land in Utah to oil and gas drilling, the reduction in outpatient services for low-and moderate-income people covered under Medicaid, reduced access for reproductive and family planning care through a new rule permitting workers to refuse to perform abortions, dispense birth control pills, or even provide emergency contraception in rape cases, the revision of OSHA regulations that make it more difficult to limit on-the-job exposure to toxic chemicals, and the erosion of the Endangered Species Act. In addition, Bush opened up some 800,000 hectares (2m acres) of land in Rocky Mountain states for the development of oil shale, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. And the list goes on.

Meanwhile, as Bush fiddles among the burning ruins, the Republican members of the Senate have determined that while they could give $300 billion to banks over a weekend with absolutely no strings attached they cannot bring themselves to support the automobile industry which employs hundreds of thousands of Americans with a $16 billion loan. They prefer to watch the industry go into bankruptcy and the American economy to crash further into disaster in order to destroy the autoworkers union and keep their right wing ideology pure.

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Prorogue – what the hell does that mean?

Posted December 4, 2008 on 7:23 pm | In the category Canada, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

Canadians woke up this morning to the sound of a verb they had never heard before – to prorogue – which in parliamentary lingo means to stop parliament from meeting for awhile and in street talk means to screw the electorate. The Queen of England’s representative in Canada, Governor-General Michelle Jean, an excellent woman with great experience in the entertainment industry and none in parliamentary procedures, returned early from a tour of somewhere or other to agree to Prime Minister Harper’s request to close down parliament for almost two months so that he could avoid a vote of non-confidence on Monday. That certainly would have occurred only 6 weeks after his party set up a minority government after having won only 33% of the vote in a federal election.
Canadians do not elect a Prime Minister, as Amurcans do a President, but rather members of parliament, who in turn elect party leaders, the strongest of which becomes Prime Minister, either by leading a party holding a majority of the seats or by getting together a group of parties which agree to work together under his or her leadership. This is the case, for instance, in Germany today, where a very close race for seats between the two largest parties led to a coalition government, in which the Prime Minister position belongs to the leader of the party with the most seats, and the next most important ministry – foreign affairs – belongs to the leader of the second ranked party. In the current Canadian situation, the leader of the party with the most seats, who never considered seeking such a German solution – a coalition government with another party – asked the Queen of England’s representative to stop the vote from happening so that the other parties could not coalesce with enough votes to run the government. But this vote will still have to happen, but now not until February, leaving the country without a functioning government until then. This will certainly be terrible for the economy in perilous time and give the separatistes in Quebec good reason to press their cause all the more confidently.

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Parliamentary democracy in action – the return of Michael Ignatieff

Posted December 1, 2008 on 3:14 pm | In the category 2008, Canada, Election 2008, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

A couple of years ago, my brother Doug and I predicted that the next Prime Minister of Canada could be a very high level intellectual and genetic aristocrat, (his grandfather was the last minister of education in tsarist Russia) Harvard guru, BBC talk show star and prize-winning author (for both fiction and non-fiction) Michael Ignatieff, returning from years of voluntary exile to show Canada how to do it. We were wrong in the short run. Ignatieff ran into too much resistance in his own party because he had been away for too long, and failed to win the party leadership position. Instead he settled for second place behind compromise candidate Stephane Dion, who then went on to fail miserably in the election that followed only one month ago. But Ignatieff did win a seat in parliament, became deputy leader and put in his time in the trenches. And now it seems that we will be right in the slightly longer run as a singularly uncanadian (unprecedented in great white north history) event seems destined to take place within a week.
Prime Minister Steven Harper, having set up a minority government with only about 1/3 of the vote, amazingly failed to note that he was not in a strong position of power and had to rule with the opposition in mind. With breathless arrogance he announced a political programme in his first act of power in the new session, that failed to address the economic crisis but did include a number of issues that were unacceptable to the socialist, liberal and separatist opposition parties. The result was the seemingly impossible agreement of the 3 opposition parties to vote against the ruling conservatives in the vote of confidence that goes with such a government bill, and thus bring down the government and state that the opposition parties were ready to rule in coalition. Such a coup d’état by parliamentary means may be familiar to Italians, Austrians and others but it is unheard of in supposedly stable Canada, and has many flocks of geese flapping around wildly. But it does seem now that it will happen within two weeks, and either Stephan Dion, who has already said he will step down as party leader in May, or heir-apparent Michael Ignatieff will be catapulted into power. Ignatieff and Obama would be an interesting pair as Ignatief sometimes pops up to the right of Obama on key issues, such as the invasion of Iraq that Ignatief as head of the appropriate Harvard Institute showed sympathy for because of the Iraqi government’s history of war crimes against the Kurds.

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