Monday, March 02, 2015

On Prime Minister Netanyahu's Visit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - a True Leader

In the spirit of full candor, I will reveal - to those who do not know this about me - my utter admiration for this man. Among my political heroes, Benjamin Netanyahu is in the Top 5. And likely, if I think about it, #1 of all.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, March 3rd, and it will be historic. He is not being well received by those who support the King President of the USA, mainly because said president has no love for Israel or her leader.

But I cannot stay silent on my feelings about the speech. I've had debates with those who are against this visit, and I've heard all the points of contention. "It's a political stunt, two weeks before an Israeli election" - that's one.

Here's the thing: even some Israelis don't agree with this speech, and it puts Bibi's re-election at risk. Clearly it is not a political stunt if the odds are against landing on his feet. Clearly his love for his country and his concern for her very existence are more important than his chances at re-election. That pretty much negates the "political stunt" argument.

I've heard it said that the timing was not coincidental. Here's something I wrote in response to that argument:

The timing of this is not devious - it is unfortunate. The deal deadline keeps getting pushed back because the 0bama administration's style is to do exactly that instead of adhere to an actual deadline (see: Syria and red lines drawn in chalk). If they'd stuck to the original deadline, there would be no need for the speech because the deal would be dead. Instead, Iran is calling the shots, the USA is begging them for another chance, desperate to leave some sort of big grand gesture as a legacy for the Clown-in-Chief, and the new deadline is end of March. Netanyahu didn't choose for the stars to align this way. They did because 0bama's minions can't say no (see: bad parenting and "just one more glass of water before bed?"). Blaming Netanyahu for the timing is like blaming James Foley for daring to get his head cut off shortly before 0bama's golf game.

It's true, too: the deadline has been moved by the administration because they want the deal so badly, they don't know how to say "no" to Iran's demands. The cartoon below illustrates this all too clearly.

I've seen Democrats interviewed because they have stated they will boycott the speech. The rumblings of potential boycotting were soft at first. Nancy Pelosi (that paragon of wit and intelligence - yes, my sarcasm is showing) had started the ball rolling when she said she wasn't encouraging a boycott but oh, many people on the Hill have very busy schedules.

What is more important than listening to the visiting leader of America's strongest ally in the Middle East, the ONLY democracy in that region?

Then, the word "boycott" became a shameless self-characterization of what they were doing, and now it seems approximately 50 Dems will walk out or simply not attend.


Many of them are Jewish.


If the Republican representatives have the grace to attend the State of the Union, a yearly lie-fest, then the Democrats should, too, show grace and dignity to a man who may well end up winning the election in 2 weeks, someone with whom they will have to work in the coming years. Burning their bridges tomorrow is not only foolhardy, it is beneath the office they hold. And it is age-inappropriate.

It's been said that the reason this speech is "wrong" is because there was a breach of protocol. The White House wasn't asked, or informed, Netanyahu was just invited by the Speaker. Here's the thing: that happened in 2011 as well. But in that case, the White House had no problem, no complaints, and did not use it as a political football. Why not? Probably because there was a general election coming up and the Emperor President still had to maintain a facade of at least tolerating Israel and her leader.

There was nothing illegal about the Speaker's invitation. Nothing unconstitutional. And just last month, PM David Cameron visited from the UK and was given carte blanche to phone and meet with Senators in private to promote the Iranian nuke deal.

Double standard much?

Are Democrats and their party leader so worried about breach of protocol that they bristle because the Prime Minister didn't ask "mother may I?" before accepting the invitation appropriately extended to him? Should Emily Post's spirit be invoked when the survival of an entire country is at stake?

Please spare me! Protocol is a convenient, and specious argument put forth by the same administration that blamed an obscure YouTube video for the murders of 4 brave Americans - one a US Ambassador - by terrorists who, I'm sure, never knew the video existed, much less took umbrage with it.

My anger lies with the immaturity of those who are supposed to be representative of their constituents. I would bet most - if not all - of the voters who put these people into office support Israel and would support their reps being in that chamber for that speech. Instead, they're stomping off and playing baby games and showing their true colors.

Why are they so afraid to attend? I even heard Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) state that he'll WATCH it, and read all the pundits afterwards. He just won't be there personally. Why not? Does he believe his body in the seat shows support? Does he not understand how the First Amendment works? If he - and his fellow tantrumites - don't like what the PM has to say, they are free to give interviews ad nauseam to refute PM Netanyahu's words. But it seems they're afraid to show up - do they know something we don't? Have they been threatened by the administration?

There isn't enough room or time for me to list all my grievances with the way this event has been treated. I turn, instead, to the wisdom and humor of Benjamin Netanyahu himself, at the AIPAC conference this morning:

"You know, never has so much been written about a speech that hasn't been given."

I urge those who are on the fence, or have already made up their minds, to be open-minded and turn it on. Or watch it on video when it's posted. Try to see it his way. His country faces an existential threat from a regime that chants - regularly - not only "Death to Israel" but "Death to America". The Iranians want to see Israel annihilated. And if Americans - or Canadians - believe it ends there, they're just fooling themselves.

I am proud of Prime Minister Harper's, and Canada's, unwavering support of Israel, proud that my country stands shoulder-to-shoulder with my spiritual homeland. But I am angered that our closest neighbors are governed by an administration that holds a view that is diametrically opposed to ours. And that so many of them buy into that rhetoric without being critical thinkers and seeing the whole picture.
I will be watching, and I will re-watch as I watched today's AIPAC speech numerous times. Benjamin Netanyahu is the true epitome of a Leader and, as outlined in an article today, is the true Leader of the Free World.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe and the NDP or: How I Learned to Start Worrying and Love the Conservative Party Initiatives.*

(*with thanks to Itsik Romano and apologies to Dr. Strangelove)

In my previous piece, I outlined how a recent propagandist pamphlet made its insidious way into the mailboxes of Pierrefonds-Dollard residents, and all the things that were wrong with it.

Now I would like to point out everything that was right with the pamphlet: Stephen Harper.

How can that be? An NDP Member of Parliament promoting the Conservative Party? She sure did!

See, Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe's deceptions didn't end with her outright falsehoods attempting to discredit the government. They continued with the long list of tax credits and deductions Canadians are lucky enough to count among our entitlements.

Here's the punchline: most of those tax credits and deductions are Harper initiatives! Yes, the NDP seems to be embracing Prime Minister Harper's love for families and taxpayers with the love shown in this pamphlet for his initiatives.

For example: the "Children's Fitness Tax Credit was recently increased from $500 to $1000 effective for 2014 and subsequent tax years." I put that in quotation marks because it is a direct citation from the pamphlet circulated by the NDP rep in my riding. She seems to like this, wouldn't you agree? She should - it is a bold initiative, amounting to $3,000,000,000 (that's 3 BILLION dollars) set aside by the Harper government for this purpose. I'd say that's a very positive and beneficial initiative our Prime Minister's administration has instituted. I'd also say Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe is a fan.

Let's take Child care expenses - also in this pamphlet. The deductions allowable by the Canadian government have now been increased from $7,000 to $8,000 for each child under the age of 7, from $4,000 to $5,000 for each child aged 7 to 16 (or for infirm dependent children over the age of 16), and from $10,000 to $11,000 for children eligible for the Disability Tax Credit. For families who have dependents, this is a huge benefit, and again, the Harper government put this in place.

How about valuing the arts? If you've paid for a child to participate in an arts program, there is a $500 tax credit coming your way. How can this be bad? Well, for the NDP it is; they didn't come up with it.

Harper's income-splitting program is a controversial one, as it benefits two-parent families. Much has been written in favor and against it. Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe's pamphlet skewers the government for the program, but in the very next paragraph, she discusses helping families - by raising the minimum wage. As I discussed in Part 1 of this piece, that makes no sense. Most two-parent families do not subsist on minimum-wage jobs and would likely end up being single-income families if that were the case and the NDP got its way.

Instead, helping families is what the income-splitting program does, and while it doesn't benefit every Canadian, what program does?

In short, do the research. Prime Minister Harper has already done an extremely good job of helping the Canadian economy to flourish, and he is dedicated to continuing that job. Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe's propaganda pamphlet attempts to take credit (no pun intended) for the programs that are already helping Canadians whether they have kids or not.

If we allow this kind of spin to dictate our votes in the fall, we are giving into deception and outright lies. Do you want a government that lies to you and smiles from the pages of a booklet? Or do you want a government that will keep helping this economy to thrive and citizens to grow in all walks of life?

I think you know the answer to that. Remember: knowledge is power. Arm yourself with information.

As you all know, Valérie Assouline is our Conservative Party candidate for this riding, and I urge you all to get to know her. Talk to me - we can hold meaningful dialogue if you're willing to think for yourselves, and if you're willing to listen to the issues, not the reputation, deceit or misleading words that form an inaccurate opinion.

We thank Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe for her loving treatment of Mr. Harper's initiatives for Canadians. We just wish she'd given credit where credit is due.

Misleading MP: Pierrefonds-Dollard's NDP Rep Playing Head Games

Knowledge Is Power - Sir Francis Bacon

This week, in everyone's mailbox, in the riding of Pierrefonds-Dollard, Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, the NDP MP supposedly representing us, distributed the above pamphlet entitled "2014 Tax Guide". I'd like to point out - not just to my fellow residents in the riding, but to everyone - just how misleading this pamphlet is, and how she has tried to misrepresent her party while attempting to discredit the Conservative Party of Canada.

Let me go through the pamphlet's more insidious points, as I'm sure many people either tossed it without reading, or read through it without questioning some of the language.

The personal message right at the beginning contains some of the more underhanded methods one can see if one knows how to look deeper.

For example - the first paragraph draws attention to the closing of Target stores in Canada, and the shifting of Avon Canada jobs to the USA. The very next line suggests the government (meaning Prime Minister Harper's Conservatives) is "turning a blind eye" toward the loss of jobs and mentions a phantom - and unsubstantiated - "record high" household debt.

Regarding household debt - 80% of Canadians are not worried about higher debt and 85% are taking actions to reduce it.

As for jobs lost by Target's exodus and government, let me delve into that. I recently had the honor of attending an evening with Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, who talked about the misconception that government creates jobs. It does not. The government's job is to help create a strong economy conducive to thriving businesses. When businesses thrive, they can hire more employees, and that helps the business to thrive. Stephen Harper is not in the business of hiring you. Nor was he in the business of managing Target stores or its Canadian HQ.

Target failed for many reasons; besides not being as competitive, price-wise, as stores like Wal-Mart, one major complaint of shoppers was the empty shelves. There were even photos posted online which substantiated the complaints; and without fully stocked shelves, how is a business supposed to thrive? Target was its own worst enemy here in Canada; empty shelves and not living up to its previously known brand were reasons for its failure, and it was not - contrary to what this pamphlet would have you believe - because Stephen Harper didn't run it properly, nor is our Prime Minister uncaring toward those 17,000 people whose jobs were lost due to the exit of Target.

Moreover, Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe states: "I am proud to work with the NDP to offer concrete solutions for a more affordable living."

You know, I shook this pamphlet out several times and there were no concrete solutions anywhere within its 8-page span. These are feel-good words that are designed to endear the Party to readers of this brochure. Back it up with actions, and then you'll have some credibility. But without actions, pretty words are meaningless.
I should correct that: there was one initiative mentioned as an NDP idea, and that is to raise the minimum wage. This is a long-standing issue that remains tragically simplified by those who simply do not understand it and it is that unawareness that allows politicians to prey upon the uninformed.

Bottom line: minimum wage raised to $15/hour is not designed to help "those families who need our help the most". Let me help explain this:

Companies paying higher wages have to get the money from somewhere. Generating revenue in order to pay higher wages is not as easy as it sounds. Either they will have to raise their prices, or they will be forced to lay off enough employees to make the payroll work against profits. Is the NDP promoting unemployment? If they are touting a higher minimum wage, they seem to be going that way, to be sure.

Minimum wage is designed for low-skilled or inexperienced workers, not for those whose education or skill levels earn them higher wages. Most families do not rely upon minimum-wage earners to support them.

I like to look to well-respected American economist, Thomas Sowell, for his wisdom on issues such as these. He states it as eloquently as anyone can:

Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.
Think about it - he makes sense, and the NDP representative for my riding doesn't seem to have a grasp on that concept. Or perhaps she does. She's just keeping that common-sense fact from her blissfully ignorant constituents who don't seek facts and figures for themselves.

Born in 1930, Thomas Sowell has the years as well as the wisdom to comment on economic matters. He made this statement in a recent column:

Life was tough when all I could get were low-paying jobs. But it would have been a lot tougher if I couldn’t get any job at all. And a tough life made me go get some skills and knowledge.

Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe's pamphlet is a dangerous and irresponsible piece of propaganda.

In politics, it is almost the accepted norm to be misleading in order to benefit one's own Party/career. However, it should never be acceptable to those of us who are critical thinkers, those of us who want to be a part of the process instead of the beneficiaries or victims of government leaders.

Was there anything good in the pamphlet? You bet there was. Read on...

On The Campaign Trail: An Evening With Minister Ed Fast

Senator Leo Housakos, Minister Ed Fast, Valérie Assouline

As many of you no doubt already know, I have signed on to help our riding's Conservative Party candidate, Valérie Assouline, in any way I can on the campaign trail. Even though the campaign hasn't even gotten into full-swing mode, I have already attended a couple of events and Thursday night was another one for the books.

This past Thursday evening, I was asked if I could make myself available for an event at a local restaurant and that Minister Ed Fast would be in attendance. Minister Fast is with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet in the role of International Trade Minister. I am still rather new to politics, just finding my way around the landscape both on the local and federal levels. But it was going to be an exciting evening, I knew this already.

I asked if Valérie needed any help polishing her speech. Last time we'd met, I had mentioned my writing abilities were my forte, and she actually said she might need my help on speeches. So, I took the bull by the horns and asked if that was the case. I ended up on the phone with her several times that day, listening to what she had (which was already magnificent) and helping her with new passages, and polishing up the ideas she had.

Personal Interjection:
 Here's something you might know about me, but if you don't, here it is: I am a huge fan of The West Wing. I had not watched when it aired, but caught it one summer when I had no courses to take, and was instantly hooked. Besides owning the DVD box set, I have watched the series in its entirety (all 7 seasons) at least 5 times; it is that rewatchable.

Why do I love the show? It's about a Democratic President, whose values I now do not hold as my own, and whose party I would not support were I American.

I watch it because it is sharp. The dialogue is witty and compelling, the characters fully dimensionalized, and I happen to adore behind-the-scenes glimpses at lifestyles which intrigue me. I got into the show way before I was politically intrigued, but now that I'm involved, it is even more fascinating to me.

One character who held my interest from the start was Sam Seaborn. Rob Lowe's character was the Deputy Communications Director, and the skilled speechwriter for the administration. I loved the way Sam Seaborn would spend hours on draft after draft just to get the cadence right, or that one elusive passage just so, or even one word that didn't make itself known until the 30th draft. Sam embodied my sense of perfectionism, especially as a writer.

Well, I got to let out my inner Sam Seaborn, and it was even more rewarding when Valérie liked my ideas or my phrasing. But nothing came close to the excitement I felt when I listened to her speak, and heard those words we'd brainstormed not only resonating through the room but clearly moving the attendees. She energizes people with her passionate delivery.

Personal gratification aside, this evening was another exceptional event. Minister Fast is a humble, soft-spoken man whose speech was riveting. He spoke about our country in such patriotic terms I felt my own love for Canada renewing upon itself as he spoke. He talked about the achievements our government has accomplished, goals met and surpassed, success after success, and in every possible area of Canadian life (from the economy, to business, to security, to international affairs and foreign relations). It made me prouder than ever to be a supporter of Prime Minister Harper, and it reaffirmed to me that being involved in this campaign is one of the most important things I have ever done.

The evening was a huge success. Valérie spoke beautifully, passionately, and her convictions were inherent in her tone and her words. Minister Fast held us all rapt. Senator Leo Housakos spoke just as beautifully, supporting Valérie and her abilities to represent this riding as we've needed for too long.

Afterwards, many people with whom I spoke mentioned how impressed they were with the speeches. One note in particular: Minister Fast talked about government and the notion that jobs are created by government. We've heard this for years, from Canadian AND American politicians. You won't hear it from Stephen Harper or those with whom he surrounds himself. Know why?

Because government does not - and can not - create jobs.

See, a true leader creates an environment of trade and economy in which businesses thrive. That is how jobs are created; businesses grow, employers hire, and the cycle repeats. Anyone who listens to a politician say s/he will create jobs is buying into the myth.

I will touch upon this in a subsequent entry.

But the evening was another exciting time for me as a part of what will only increase in the thrills of witnessing what I'm sure will be the election of a truly devoted MP for our riding. I encourage you to "like" Valérie's Facebook page to keep up with events, photos, and information.

After all - information is power and I'm sure once you learn more about what she - and the Tories - stand for, you'll see why it's so important to vote Conservative in October.