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     Volume 5 Issue 119 | November 10, 2006 |

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Straight Talk

The Tides of Change

The last week has seen some interesting changes and shifts in the balance of power in the United States with the results of the mid term elections. After twelve long years of the Republican Party having had control over the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Democrats have finally dealt President Bush and the Republicans a crushing blow and regained power over Congress. It was a night of celebration for the Democrats and their victory was enhanced by the resignation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. At long last the head of Mr. Rumsfeld was on a platter and the jubilation at his exit was felt around the world. As one of the main authors of the war in Iraq, and the subsequent mishandling of the situation there, his departure was long overdue. The American public have spoken and their voice is being heard loud and clear by both the Republicans and Democrats. The war in Iraq has taken the shape of an unwieldy beast which George Bush has seemingly lost control of and the voters have shown their growing disenchantment of the way the Whitehouse has dealt with certain issues. Maybe this defeat will teach the president a lesson or two in humility.

Poor Mr. Bush must have been choking on his words while congratulating the Democratic Party on their success. In fact I almost felt sorry for him while he was addressing a press conference soon after the results of the mid term elections were declared. His feeble attempt at humour was met with stony gazes when he started by saying, “Why the glum faces?” He must have been referring to members of the Republican Party and then went on to say, something along the lines of “up until yesterday I thought we were doing fine, shows how much I know” it just fell flat. That statement coming from the president of the most powerful nation in the world is plain scary! But then again most of us are used to George Bush's many blunders and gaffes.

The elections also heralded a few more changes, the most noteworthy being that of Nancy Pelosi's election to the speaker of the house! This is the first time that a woman has ever held a position as high as this in the United States. In fact in order of hierarchy, she comes in after President Bush and Vice president Dick Cheney! This is probably another bitter pill for the president to swallow as she labelled him as 'dangerous' at one point. Since I read an article in the Guardian stating that “Pelosi is unabashedly pro-women, pro-choice and has been anti-war throughout the conflict in Iraq” I have already become a fan. It is about time the United States had women in positions of real power.

The other development that caught my attention was the election win of Keith Ellison, a Democratic candidate for Congress. This victory will make Mr. Ellison the first Muslim in Congress as well as the first black representative from Minnesota. Despite the fact that during his pre-election canvassing Mr. Ellison did not shout from the rooftops his religious background, his election to Congress may just be the kind of positive publicity the Muslim Community are in need of especially in the United States.

The mid term elections have put George Bush in a position he probably never thought he would be in --- that of a lame duck president. George Bush may be the President of the United States but now the real power is in the hands of the Democratic Party. I am sure he is painfully aware that he now has to take on a more conciliatory tone with the opposing party if he wishes to retain any semblance of power for the remainder of his stint as president. This may mean changing his tune about issues such as minimum wage, global warming, the health care system and a whole host of other topics. How easy this will be for a man who has spent the last few years in office giving tax breaks to the wealthy and has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, is something only time can tell. Maybe we will see the conflict in Iraq coming to an end or talks with Iran being re- established. But for the time being all I can say is that the whole world seems to have breathed a sigh of relief to finally be able to welcome in these changes in the United States Government.

I just thought I would leave you with a few words of wisdom from the former Secretary of Defence of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld which I believe have been termed 'Rummyisms'. I thought it would be a change from the Bushisms that we are all so familiar with. I think this a fitting tribute to a man whose comments and answers to many questions left most of his listeners baffled to say the least. I thought this one was a gem --- “I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know." Or… "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know." Or…"I believe what I said yesterday...I don't know what I said, er, but I know what I think, and...well, I assume it's what I said."

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