Monday, January 28, 2013

Last Call

Republicans have to punish those awful poor people so they'll choose to stop being poor, you know.  The latest iteration of Shame The Poors:  Tennessee GOP's latest scheme to send kids to bed without any pudding.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield has proposed legislation that would cut welfare benefits to parents whose children fail to make "satisfactory academic progress" in school, a move he says should inspire parents to take a more active role in helping students learn.

While the Knoxville Republican says SB132 is a step toward "breaking the cycle of poverty," Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, says it could make life more difficult for parents and children who are already struggling.

Campfield said in an interview that the best way to "break the cycle of poverty" is through education and a child's success in schooling rests on a "three-legged stool" - teachers, schools and parents.(Note: His blog post on the bill is HERE.)

He said Tennessee has already embarked on education reforms designed to improve the quality of teachers and the quality of schools. There should also be a focus on the "third leg," parents, he said.

"We've set the tone (through legislation) to push and improve teachers and schools," Campfield said. "Now is the time to push those parents. This bill is giving them motivation to do more to help their children learn in school."

"If the family doesn't care if the child goes to school or does well in school, the odds of that child getting out of poverty are pretty low," the senator said. 

See, if we just cut benefits to the stupid poor families, the parents (who must be poor because they choose to be poor and lazy) will simply stop being poor and lazy because otherwise they'll starve.  Problem solved! Hey, the problem is clearly poor parents on welfare don't work anyway, so they have all the time in the world to tutor their kids and make them get better grades.

So your kids are having problems learning because they are hungry all time time from being poor?  Better make sure Junior aces that test or the family gets cut off and goes hungry.  No pressure there, son.  Just choose to succeed, that's all!  After all, why should Tennessee taxpayers have to worry about schoolkids eating and stuff anyway.  Just punish them until they are motivated to stop being poor, and the problem resolves itself.  If the difference between the family having enough to get by and the family crashing and burning is the little guy's next math test, well by gosh you'd better make sure you poor people care enough about your kids to make them into honor students.

It's so simple, even a child can do it.

Johnny Volcano And The Lost City Of Voters

Sen. John McCain thinks he can be the reasonable voice of centrist Republicanism in America, and while he has the Village fooled, his own party has at this point all but thrown him out.  Exhibit A:  Immigration reform.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Sunday that losing the Hispanic vote in the last election will encourage Republicans to get on board with a comprehensive immigration bill that will provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

"I'll give you a little straight talk," McCain said on ABC's "This Week" when asked how Republicans could be convinced to include a path to citizenship in a reform package. "Look at the last election.  Look at the last election.  We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we've got to understand that."

If you think immigration reform is going to pass the House GOP and John Boehner will be able to deliver, I have some beachfront property in McCain's state of Arizona for sale to you.

In a speech that was closed to the press, Boehner told the Ripon Society, a Republican public policy organization, on Tuesday that it is “time to deal” with immigration changes. He said the House group, whose members he did not name, have been holding quiet conversations for three or four years and would be coming forward soon with proposals.

The Ripon Society released some excerpts on Wednesday but Boehner’s comments came in a question-and-answer period that has received less notice. They were first reported Saturday by the Hill newspaper.
The comments were significant because advocates of immigration changes have long assumed legislative action on the issue would need to begin in the Democratic-majority Senate.

Oh House Republicans want to get out in front of immigration reform, but it doesn't mean they'll pass it.  They want to come up with a bill on their terms, but frankly anything they will come up with will get trashed by their own side, and will be torpedoed.   If you thought there was a civil war in the GOP before, wait until any of the GOP proposals including the words "path to citizenship" come up for a vote in the House.

A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a set of principles for a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system, including a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants that would hinge on progress in securing the borders and ensuring that foreigners leave the country when their visas expire. 

The senators were able to reach a deal by incorporating the Democrats’ insistence on a single comprehensive bill that would not deny eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants, with Republican demands that strong border and interior enforcement had to be clearly in place before Congress could consider legal status for illegal immigrants. 

House Republicans are already steeling themselves for battle over this, and the split is going to be ugly.  90% of GOP districts may be blood red and safe, but primary challengers are always just around the corner, and these guys know it.  By the time it's over, even Johnny Volcano will find himself having to filibuster the bill or his political career will be over.  I guarantee it.

Immigration isn't going anywhere.  It'll be killed by the far right just like in 2007.   I'd like to be wrong, but betting on the GOP to take the sane, reasonable approach on something is for suckers.

Israel Getting Up In Syria's Business

And just when your thought it couldn't get too much worse in the Middle East, along comes Israeli hardliners to make me regret thinking we've reached a logical nadir.

Any sign that Syria's grip on its chemical weapons is slipping as it battles an armed uprising could trigger Israeli military strikes, Israel's vice premier said on Sunday.

Silvan Shalom confirmed a media report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had last week convened a meeting of security chiefs to discuss the civil war in Syria and the state of its suspected chemical arsenal.

So yes, this was going on as the votes were being counted in Israeli election last week.  Charming, huh?

Should Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas or rebels battling forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad obtain Syria's chemical weapons, Shalom told Israel's Army Radio: "It would dramatically change the capabilities of those organizations."

Such a development would be "a crossing of all red lines that would require a different approach, including even preventive operations," he said, alluding to military intervention for which Israeli generals have said plans have been readied.

"The concept, in principle, is that this (chemical weapons transfer) must not happen," Shalom said. "The moment we begin to understand that such a thing is liable to happen, we will have to make decisions."

So yeah, in the chaos that is Syria right now,  if it looks like anybody's going for Syria's chemical arsenal, the Israelis are going to start a war, which of course will draw in the United States, Iran, and well...things get really bad from there.

Here's hoping cooler heads prevail.  I personally think this is a play to force the US hand to intervene in Syria before Israel "feels it has to."  Which of course, could lead to Iran following up.  All this is pretty awful, frankly.

Happy Monday, right?


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