9/29/2008

CBC: Sorry about Ms. Mallick

Pardon me while I laugh.
CBC apologizes for column maligning Sarah Palin
CBC News publisher: I agree with our ombudsman, we're really biased
We erred in our judgment (You think??)
What Vince Carlin, the CBC Ombudsman, said
What Ms. Mallick said (Looks like the "Mighty Wind" still blows...)
Michael Coren's commentary (Scared witless)

I read Mallick's piece when it wsa first posted on the CBC website.
It was terrible. Typical of what the CBC chooses to call "objective."
And I quote:
It's possible that Republican men, sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman. They're unfamiliar with our true natures. Do they think vaginas call out to each other in the jungle night? I mean, I know men have their secret meetings at which they pledge to do manly things, like being irresponsible with their semen and postponing household repairs with glue and used matches. Guys will be guys, obviously...No, she isn't even female really. She's a type...

This sort of sexist garbage has no business being written, much less published by the CBC. Sexual inadequates? Unfamiliarity with women's "true" natures? Secret meetings? How is this rational thought?
I am out of patience for the likes of Mallick.
Finally, someone has told the CBC to get their act together. After many years of blatant Liberal (small- and big-L) bias, perhaps now we will finally see some true, objective, balanced journalism.
I agree with what the Ombudsman said.
Liberty is not the same as license.
And this is clearly a piece of truly licentious writing.

9/27/2008

Liberals "Hemorrhaging" Votes

Yes.
That was the CTV NewsNet comment on the Liberals just now.
On their right side, they are losing votes to the Conservatives. On their left, they are losing votes to the NDP. In fact, the pundits were predicting Conservative majority with an NDP opposition.
Also heard just now, the Liberals are pegging everything on the debates.
Excuse me while I laugh my head off. Yeah, right!!! I have seen Dion on TV. Slaughter is inevitable!
As much as I dislike the NDP, I actually think it would be better for the country if they formed the Official Opposition. This is not because I agree with any of their policies. In fact, I think the NDP are wrong on pretty much everything.
However, there is no question that if the Liberals were to lose even their status as the Official Opposition, they would have to completely rethink every aspect of the party. The Liberals have always been a sort of de facto government; even this past session they have viewed themselves as a sort of government-in-waiting. Despite touting themselves as the party of the little man, the Liberals have always received support from mighty corporations: that lack of support now is clearly hurting them.
The Liberal Party of Canada is out of touch with Canadians, has policies which will ruin this country both economically and morally and they need to realize this. I can think of no better wake up call than voter punishment.

9/26/2008

The Conservatives on "Art"

Today at Canada.com:
A day after Stephen Harper complained that the arts community is "a bunch of people at a rich gala..."

But is that exactly what he said?
Tuesday, also at Canada.com
Stephen Harper took a swipe... at members of the arts community...
"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see . . . a bunch of people at a rich gala . . . all subsidized by the taxpayers - claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have gone up - I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people," Harper told reporters.

There was a little more to it than just "rich people at a gala."
And by the way, Harper is right. Swanky, tax-payer funded galas do not impress the average Canadian citizen, especially when some of us have to work hard to get by. Tolerance for swanky government galas is even limited, even though most people would argue that those things are more important than arts' galas.

The arts are important. I would not suggest otherwise. There is definitely a place for sculpture, music, paintings, architecture, literature and the like. But, during economic hard times, is funding these art projects the best use of tax payer money? What about when the art is particularly controversial?
I would argue that the government's first duty is to its citizens. People need to have their basic needs taken care of first. Crime, health care, and employment ought to be priorities.

9/19/2008

The NDP on Childcare

By now, many of you will be well aware of the NDP's plan for a national daycare system. They call it an "investment."
(Before I begin, let me just say that such a view on children ought to immediately alarm every parent who can read. Our children are not commodities.)
A few notes from their site:
Healthy environments, nutrition and engagement are crucial.

True.
...learning-oriented child care is one choice that gives kids a valuable head-start.

Also true. In fact, in a child's first five years of life, it is almost impossible for them not to learn. Furthermore, roughly 50% of the information a child will need for the rest of its life is collected before age five.
With its stated goals of ending childhood poverty, providing a better world for Canadian children and helping parents, this sounds like a noble goal on the face of it.
But, closer examination reveals the following:
most families with preschoolers rely on outside child care

Really? Are you sure? And, incidentally, do the families that rely on outside child care want it to be that way? And what about those of us that don't rely on outside care?
With a shortage of 1.4-million quality spaces...

There is only one way to arrive at a number that large.
They are planning a space for every child in Canada.
Again, what about those of us who don't rely on outside care and never will? Do the NDP plan to over-tax the public to fund these daycare spaces anyway? Or do they honestly think that if daycare were available, everyone would use it?
Because, if they do think that, let me be the first to dispel that ridiculous notion and say my kids will be in daycare over my dead body.
I found the gross misrepresentation of the Conservative Childcare Benefit interesting.
[Harper's] "Universal Child Care Benefit" is a deceptive family allowance subject to unfair clawbacks — families that need childcare the most get the least, and nobody gets more than $100/month, which does little to offset the average family's child care costs.

Nobody gets more than $100 a month?
The amount is $100 per month per child under five.
So, no family in Canada has more than one child under five? Not one?
That's odd, because the last time I checked, I have two children under five. Lord willing, I could have another. I have a friend with three boys all under five. My two sister's-in-law have two kids under five (plus more over that age). There are several families in my church with two or three children under five, often plus more over that age. Funny how the NDP claim to represent the "working" family, when they cannot account for the many families who have multiple children and refuse outside care.
One wonders their true opinion of the "working" family.
Which brings me to Exhibit B.
Helen discussed in length with Ian Capstick the importance of the NDP acknowledging parental care in all of its form through childcare. At one point Helen Ward stated "every mother is a working mother." Ian Capstick, who is the press secretary to Jack Layton leader of the NDP, slammed back at Helen with a sharp tone "THAT IS POPPY COCK AND YOU KNOW IT!"

Poppycock.
In other words, not every mother is a working mother.
So, which of us don't work?
Hmm.
Bet I know.
According to the NDP site:
When Europeans countries invested to ensure child care for most of their citizens, they found that each dollar spent returned two more to the economy.

Again we see a view of the family that proceeds from the position of the dollar.
Did anyone bother to ask why two dollars are returned to the economy?
Because free day care means more people out in the workforce, working to pay their taxes, which, newsflash Mr. Layton is not why we work. But the NDP never seem to get that.
So, translated another way, stay-at-home-mom's don't work. If they did, they'd be "contributing" to the economy.
Why is the economy an acceptable prism through which to view the family?
Are people not more important than money?

When I first read Ian Capstick's comment, I was wave-my-fists-in-the-air, smash-my-face-on-the-desk angry. It is an outrage to suggest that stay-at-home-mom's don't work. It is even more of an outrage to suggest the idea that "every mother is a working mother" is "poppycock."
And yes, that is exactly what he was suggesting. Don't even bother trying to defend him.
Poppycock.
Does this guy have any idea what is involved in raising children?
Does he care that children abandoned to daycare don't bond properly with their parents in the critical first years of their lives? As a direct result, these kids have greater emotional, social and developmental problems, are more prone to inappropriate aggression and these things do affect them later on in life.
I'd also like to know at what age this daycare is expected to start caring for our children.
Birth?
A year?
I wonder how many people reading this are aware that children are not born self-aware? Do you understand how an child's brain develops?
Quick science lesson!
The human brain has not finished developing when we are born. Neural pathways are still forming, and continue forming well into adulthood. However, the majority of brain growth and half of all information collection required for life happens before age five. There used to be a commercial "The years before five last the rest of their lives." That's actually true. Furthermore, a baby's experiences develop their brain. Sensory experience teaches the brain its job. Without enough sensory experiences, brain cells will start to die off. It's possible to increase a child's intellectual potential through the correct environment, stimulation and discipline.
Just as a positive environment can increase a child's potential, a stressful environment can have detrimental effects on infants and toddlers. Young children exposed to continual stress do not build their neural pathways correctly due to high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These abnormal pathways cause the child to learn inappropriate and often violent responses, setting their brain up for "fight or flight." In other words, if your child is continually afraid, they will learn to continually react out of that fear. It is easily shown that one of the most stressful environments a parent can place their child in is one where they feel abandoned. Abandonment leads to fear. This brings me to separation anxiety. When a child is born, it identifies itself as a part of the mother. It takes as much as a year post partum for a child to understand that they are their own person. This new understanding is the underlying reason for separation anxiety, a genuinely stressful time in your child's life. Since all children do experience this to some degree, it must be noted that the effects of separation anxiety can be mitigated through proper parental interaction and discipline. In fact, proper parental interaction can make separation anxiety appear to not exist in a particular child. This only serves to underscore the critical importance a parent plays in the life of their child in the first years of their life.
And yet, how many daycare centers have children under a year in their care?
How many have children only a few weeks old?
I know of an instance where a child was placed in daycare at a mere six weeks of age! Six weeks! That child has barely learned to smile!
And this is what the NDP wants to fund?
Why not give parents real choices?
Like, not taxing the snot out of us to fund your ill-conceived, nanny-statist plots!
Don't think for a moment that families with a stay-at-home parent will be exempt from the taxes needed to fund this national daycare system. We won't. If anything, we'll will have to struggle more to fight for the right to raise our own children. The role of mother will be all the more disparaged as the state tries to take a place within the family that it has no business taking.
Two closing notes:
Someone sent me an excellent quote on motherhood by G.K. Chesterton.
"To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it coul... Read Mored narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."

In 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada had this to say:
"...Our society is far from having repudiated the privileged role parents exercise in the upbringing of their children. This role translates into a protected sphere of parental decision making which is coated in the presumption that parents should make important decisions affecting their children both because parents are more likely to appreciate the best interests of their children and because the state is ill equipped to make such decisions itself. Moreover, individuals have a deep personal interest as parents in fostering the growth of their children.

Ill-equipped.
The government can barely run itself. How could it ever run your home or raise your children?

9/16/2008

Conservatives on Maternity Benefits

I was pleased to see this as a part of the Conservative plan.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that a re-elected Conservative Government will give self-employed Canadians the opportunity to access maternity and parental benefits...
Currently self-employed Canadians do not pay into the Employment Insurance program and are not eligible for benefits, including maternity and parental benefits...
The system will be voluntary. Self-employed Canadians will be able to opt in to EI premiums and, in return, will be able to receive maternity and parental benefits...
Self-employed Canadians will have access to the same type of maternity and parental benefits available to regular EI participants...
Self-employed entrepreneurs will be required to opt-in to EI premiums at least six months prior to making a claim...
Exact premium amounts and required payments post-claim will be set upon implementation, following a review by the newly created Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board...

I know a number of self-employed families who will benefit from this. In particular, if you are one of the many stay-at-home mom's who sell products such as Avon, Close to My Heart or Tupperware in order to make up that little bit extra your family needs, you will have the option to pay into the system in order to receive maternity benefits later.
Should the Conservatives form the next government, and I think they will, I will be paying close attention to see when this is passed.
Now all we need is income splitting for families.

9/10/2008

Sarah Palin: Pro-Family?

When I first read of McCain's pick for vice president, I laughed. It's struck me as ironic that the Republican's would nominate a woman for vice president when the Democrats, self-proclaimed advocates for woman's rights, treated Hilary Clinton with such severity. I did some light reading on her. You would think that feminists would be thrilled at the prospect of a woman vice president. Instead, the articles I read dripped with vitriol. Apparently, her pro-life position means that she isn't truly representative of women. Aside from an obvious lack of experience on the international scene, her politics seemed to be in order. Pro-life, pro-family, an apparently average woman, just what the Republicans need to give Obama a run for his money... or at least make the American election a little more interesting.
Then I had a chat with my brother. He mentioned the fact that her teenage daughter was pregnant and she had a six-month old baby with Down's Syndrome. (She also has an older son and a 7 year old daughter.) I am loathe to say anything about the situation with her daughter, since not only do I not know the entire situation, the girl is 17 and even the best mother cannot prevent rebellion completely.
But, I did start thinking about her young baby.
He's six months.
He has Down's Syndrome.
I just have to ask: why isn't she at home? Isn't she pro-family?
More reading revealed that Palin has been a career politician since about 1992. (If Wiki is wrong, please send me the correct information.) In other words, she's never been a stay at home, at least not for any length of time. She's always had a career, mostly in politics.
How can she claim to be pro-family when she hasn't spent the proper amount of time looking after her own?
Some will ask: "Well, what is the proper amount of time and who are you to judge?" and so on.
The proper amount of time maybe debatable, but the minimum is certainly until they are in school. A career ought to come second to the needs of one's family.
About half of all the information a child will need for the rest of its life is collected before age five. This has huge implications for things like the environment we choose to place our children in and discipline. Only parents can truly parent their kids properly. Outside help and/or daycare is not a substitute for proper parenting. Nearly all early childhood research that I have looked at shows that children placed in daycare do not bond properly with their parents during the critical first five years of their life and as a direct result develop poor social skills, have disciplinary problems, are more inclined to inappropriate aggression. These things, like it or not, do affect them later on in life. In fact, I can honestly say that I haven't found a single work so far extolling the benefits of daycare for children. All are negative. (But, should anyone know of anything, by all means send it to me.)
This brings me to the fact Palin claims to be a devout Christian. Since I don't know her, I can't question the sincerity of her walk. However, I would certainly ask whether or not she has thought through some of the implications of being a Christian when it comes to raising one's family. We confess that "children are a gift of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3) If this is true, then as parents, both mothers and fathers, we ought to make our families a priority over a career. The Bible does give us certain directives on how we are to raise our children, especially as regards teaching them the things of God. (Deut.4: 9,10, Deut. 11: 19, Ps. 34:11, Pr. 1: 8, Pr 3:1) If at least one parent is not at home then someone else is teaching your children. You need a way to guarantee that the primary caregiver is teaching your kids what God would have them learn. Even if your kids are with your parents this may not be possible. Even if your parents are Christians, you may have differences in opinion over theology or more practical applications of the Christian walk. It definitely will not happen if your child is out in daycare or under the care of unbelievers.
I would also argue that if a woman cannot properly care for her family, which is relatively small, can we be assured that she will be competent in caring for the country? Scripture indicates that the ability to lead one's family well is a prerequisite for leadership in the church (see 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1). I think Christians can fairly extend this test of fitness to government as well. If you can't parent, can you properly govern? Should you govern? Perhaps your time is wiser spent dealing with your family problems first. Govern the country when your affairs are in order.
It must be noted that I do not take issue with women who must work in order to feed their families. I recognize that in a few cases, if both parents do not work, the family will not eat. However, not only are these cases relatively rare in this country (generally if both parents work, it is to sustain a lifestyle) it is definitely not the case for Sarah Palin.

It has bothered me to no end the uncritical support I see conservatives throwing Ms. Palin's way. Generally, people are over-joyed at her strong pro-life stance. Being pro-life is all well and good, but I am sorry to say it is not the only relevant issue. You cannot gloss over her many defects just because she champions a cause you feel strongly about. Yes, she is pro-life. But is she truly worthy of the title pro-family?
I would argue not.

Blogging Panel on Michael Coren

Interesting show last night.
Steve Janke aka Angry, Andrew Prescott aka Christian Conservative, Jason Cherniak and James Curran aka What Do I know Grit discussed the role of blogging in politics.
It was bizarre in the extreme for me to see Cherniak and Curran actually trying to accuse Steve Janke of getting talking points straight from the Conservatives and/or not doing his own research. Janke's blog is consistently excellent. I can't say the same of Cherniak. (C'mon, the guy predicted a Liberal minority last night. How well can such a talking head possibly write?) Admittedly, I've never read Curran's blog before, but I definitely plan to look. I just thought the comments lacked class. It's obvious that Janke does great work, and you should be able to admit this even if you don't agree with his politics.

9/08/2008

My Election Predictions

Canadians will head to the polls on October 14th of this year.
I predict more of the same, although there is a possibility of a Tory majority. Dion will make it as far as the debates; after that, he's finished.
I've seen some of the new Conservative ads with the tag-line "We're better off with Harper." Typically, elections tend to be more about the party than the leader. I do not expect this particular election to follow that pattern. This election will focus on the leaders. The Conservatives have hit the nail on the head with their new ads. Because Dion is so unelectable, they are smart to focus on Harper. This will force Canadians to look at the alternative: Dion. How does he compare?
A few notes of interest: According to Wiki, the Harper government not only managed to hold the second longest minority government in Canadian history so far, but they have done so with the smallest minority government in Canadian history, with the smallest percentage of government seats ever and the largest number of seats short of a majority. (If Wiki is wrong, please send me the correct info.) This is significant for a few reasons. While there has been a considerable amount of political play, on the whole Parliament has worked. The Conservatives managed to introduce a fair amount of anti-crime legislation, and they dealt with the accountability problems left over from the previous Liberal government. The average Canadian has more money in their pocket as a result of lower taxes and higher income tax returns.
Going into the election, I expect the key issues to be taxes and the environment. The Tories would be smart to focus on the Liberal's poor record on the environment and their proposed tax increase to fund a plan that no one really understands. If the issue of a Conservative "hidden agenda" comes up, they should not even respond to it. Canadian life has gone on as before and if anyone brings up that red herring, no one will buy it. The Conservatives ought to treat that line of thinking exactly as it is: ridiculous fear-mongering intended to quell actual political discussion.

9/05/2008

A Test Post

I could write about McCain's VP pick, Sarah Palin.
Or, I could write about the impending Canadian election.
Instead, all I really want to do is test how imported blog feeds look on the redesigned Facebook Wall.
To be frank, I am not a huge fan of Facebook's new look. So far, it is more of a hassle than anything. I get what they are trying to do with moving apps into their own "box" section. However, what about those apps that I, the humble user, want displayed on my profile and now can't?
Hopefully, improvements will be made.
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