Monday, May 30, 2022

Silence of the Lambs, Who Have Been Slaughtered (Again)

Well, this has been an awful week, hasn’t it? And one we’ve gone through so often, you’d think we’d change things up one time. But here we are again, feeling some kinda way.

According to my Labels list, I’ve at least sideswiped the topic of guns and mass shootings 74 different times since 2009, and I know I’ve dedicated at least a half dozen full posts. But this shit just keeps happening. I came to the conclusion ages ago, that if the Sandy Hook slaughter of a bunch of first graders didn’t move the needle, it’s never going anywhere. (And I’ve seen that same sentiment come up a lot this week.)

So now we do the well-practiced dance where Republicans blame everything but the guns for the incident and Democrats try to make a case for some kind of legislation but get voted down because they can’t go it alone.

And the Republicans are even lying about THAT!

I heard an interview with Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) and when the reporter asked him about how to stop the shootings, he said that the Democrats can do whatever they want to address it because they have control of Congress and the Presidency.

This is a common Republican method of lying. While it is “technically” true, it’s a “practical” lie because the good congressman knows full well that the Democrats can’t do a thing in the Senate without the support from at least 10 Republicans, maybe more if the two DINOs bail. But there he was anyway, blaming his political opponents for not being able to take the action that his side is doing everything in their power to prevent from happening. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of how our government works and the current political makeup of Congress knows it’s bullshit. I’m sure his base eats it up though.

I’ve been seeing this meme drift around Facebook again and it’s still an easy one to debunk:

Yes, the god who authorized the killing of millions of men, women, and children is the key to stopping hails of bullets in classrooms. </sarcasm> But that’s just the moral angle. This meme provides a concise counter:

The real reason the “rock” thing is a bullshit argument is practical. While one can kill with a rock, one cannot use one to kill 19 children and 2 adults in a matter of seconds. (Unless the Coyote is rolling a boulder down the hill and there is a crowd of children surrounding the Road Runner.)

And the same goes for every other red herring method of killing, like what Junior Mints was just talking about.

From knives, to bats, to golf clubs, to the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, you have to use those on one person at a time, from up close. People can run away. People can intervene. People can get their own rocks because they have time. These AR-15s make it SO EASY to kill SO MANY in seconds, from many yards away. THAT’s why eliminating them makes sense.

Can we also dispense with Ted Cruz’s nonsense about arming teachers? He doesn’t trust them with books but he wants them packin’ in the classroom? And what happens if a shooter bursts in and caps the teacher first? After all, he knows what he’s doing, he’d probably wearing body armor, and the teacher is concentrating on getting a math lesson across while keeping her charges from running around the room and stuffing crayons up their noses.

The gun nuts will say that maybe the kids should be armed as well. That should make an interesting day in the Principal’s office.

Principal: Why are you in here again?

Kid: Jimmy was hoggin’ the ball again so I had to shoot him.

At this rate, every school will be Military School.

Congresswoman Heckle, from the farce comedy team “Heckle and Dyed” added her two cents (adjusted for inflation) as well.

It’s the same kind of flawed, “strawman” argument. No one suggests banning things in which one can be hurt by accident, or there would be nothing left in the world, just a big bubble-wrapped expanse. Planes have a beneficial use, just like knives, bats, and golf clubs. Guns, however, have one purpose and that’s to kill. And AR-15s have a more specific purpose, to kill by literally destroying whatever it hits.

And then we look at the damage these things can cause when they hit their target. Did you know they had to use DNA to identify some of these kids? They even knew what clothes they were wearing but still couldn’t identify them by sight.

As far as I’m concerned, no civilian needs a weapon that can do that much damage, ever. There is no logical, beneficial reason for non-military personnel to carry that kind of firepower. We already know what banning semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity clips will do because we have the data from the last time they were banned. The number of mass shootings sank, but then returned once the Republican Congress under the Bush Administration allowed bans to lapse.

How to enact such a ban again is a question better left to the experts, but there’s no doubt that such a thing would improve the numbers. I would presume there would have to be some kind of buy-back and it would be foolish to think that all such guns would be collected. But there would be fewer and people like this kid wouldn’t be able to waltz into the store, buy a gun that morning and start shooting children before they can dig into their Lunchables.

And again, we hear it all the time; “But I’m a good gun owner, my stuff is locked up and my kids are properly trained.” Which may be true, right up until it’s not. The mother of the Sandy Hook shooter did all the “right” things too. It’s never a problem until it becomes one.

Republicans are trying another way to keep things status quo, too, by intimating that it’s somehow a big deal to amend one’s position.

Question: How does one “loudly” edit a website? Just asking.

But here’s the real point. Every change of policy, every new direction the law can take, comes about because people shift their positions. If they didn’t things would stay one way forever. This is not a big deal or a “gotcha” moment. It’s not now and it wasn't to the GOP when every one of them changed their minds on RomneyCare. One minute it was the answer for pushing back against single-payer, the next it was Pinko-Commie Socialism. (Right around the time that the “Romney” part was replaced with “Obama.”)

Lots of things will have to change if we are to prevent more mass murders like the one in Texas: minds, laws, standards, and expectations. And lots of state and local elected officials. As with access to legal abortion, it will only get better when citizens replace their elected councilmen, mayors, state reps, governors, and the like, with people who will take concrete steps to protect schoolchildren and everyone else who ventures out of their houses. And even then, the current SCOTUS is likely to shit-can any and all new gun regulations, because support for unlimited gun ownership is as much of a requirement of the Federalist Society as support for banning abortion. So we have to create a super-majority in Congress so they can approve replacement justices when the time comes or add more seats to the bench.

Republicans are fighting for their professional lives by trying to keep things exactly the way they are. Without taking tangible action on gun laws, any statement to the contrary is a lie. The only conclusion for their inaction is that the slaughter of children is the acceptable cost of doing business. And that business is the selling of guns. Big ones that go boom-boom-boom.

We have to vote like our lives depend on it, because they do.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Homeless Thoughts - the Idiotic Edition

We’re going to jump around a little bit with this post. I do this when I don’t have a big cohesive topic to ruminate on, merely a bunch of semi-coherent notions.

More on Forced Birth

I’ve said for years that the top Republicans don’t really care about abortion, they just love to use it as a wedge issue; something to get their voters worked up about. It’s been a great issue for them because they’ve had Roe established for so long, that there was never any danger of having to face any serious backlash.

And the most important thing was that fighting the abortion wars didn’t cost Big Business any money. Overturn? Don’t overturn? Doesn’t matter a bit to the Koch Brother and the energy industry. Or Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Farma, Big Tech, etc. Just as long as it could continue to be used to drive the evangelicals to vote Republican, they could count on passing tax cuts and cutting safety regulations.

But along the way, some True Believers have made it to the top levels of government. To them, the Mike Pences of the world, abortion is a moral issue they take personally, as in making it their personal business to force you to adhere to their morals in lieu of your own. And now, we have a fistful of SCOTUS members who can’t wait to make the rest of us dance to their church music.

So it will be interesting this fall to see if Republicans will be forced to pay a price for installing religious ideologues into the land's highest court. If they don’t, it’s the end of our secular world as we know it, because they’ll be coming for birth control and gay marriage next. The precedent will have been set that there are no more precedents, especially those the religious folk doesn’t like.

Speaking of More Ons…

I saw this headline last week:

That’s the problem with having a “useful idiot,” that no matter how useful he is, he’s still an idiot. I wonder if Putin made TFG sit on his lap as he explained world history and geopolitics to him. That would have merely been the visual representation of what had been going on all along… a ventriloquist act.

Poll Vaulting

I saw a poll a while back that asked, “Is the country going in the right direction?

I never know how to answer that question unless I know who’s conducting the poll because they can interpret the answer in whichever way suits their needs.

I say the country is going in the wrong direction. A conservative outlet could consider it evidence that Biden is doing a bad job. A progressive outlet could make the case that the public is against the GOP roadblocks to everything the Dems try to do because the Republicans and Sinimanchin put the kibosh on it. (Which would be the reasoning behind my answer.)

Everybody Hates Joe

It looks like “baby formula” is the new “gas prices.” One of the 3 major providers of baby formula in the US had to recall their goods and shut down production due to contaminated products that killed or sickened some babies. These are post-birth babies, so the Republicans don’t really care about them, but it still makes for a good smear. Just look at how many GOP congressmen voted against removing the Trump-era tariffs on Canadian formula, to help resupply our stores. But Fox “News”  and conservative media are beating this new drum trying to put the blame on the Biden Administration as if Joe had his minions out creeping about the factory dropping E-Coli into the vats. You know, because anything bad that happens when there’s a Democrat in charge is the Democrat’s fault. And if there’s a Republican in charge, it’s also the Democrat’s fault. 

And how do they get away with doing that?


Watch out, the ‘Rona is on the way back. Even in highly-vaccinated Maryland, the stats have made a big U-turn.

This clip was from Saturday’s Baltimore Sun. Only a month or two ago, the positivity rate was around 1.5%. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID was under 150. But since all the rules have been shelved and people rushed back to acting like they did in 2018, the ‘Rona has waltzed right back into our midst.

I still need to get my second booster. I’ve been waiting for two reasons: 1) I’m hoping they come out with an Omicron-specific booster and 2) I’d like the coverage to go further into this fall and winter’s germy season. Although I have a plane trip coming up in a couple weeks so I probably ought to get that booster right now. I plan to wear a mask but I doubt there will be many more doing so at the airport and on the plane.

On the Home Front

We have a big sea-grass bush outside the house that needs regular attention. This is its usual state:

This is a shot from mid-summer a few years back. Normally we clip it down in the fall because if we don’t, all those leaves turn brown and it looks like Cousin Itt on a bad hair day. But we never got around to it last year.

So with all the alternating rain and sun we’ve been getting, Cousin Itt was completely out of control. All the brown-bladed leaves were still there, but a lot of fresh green ones popped up as well. We should have done it earlier, before the new growth, but we needed gardening gloves. Those blades are finely serrated and sharp; they’ll cut your hands to pieces in a series of paper cuts. You’ve heard of Death by 1000 Cuts? That’s what it’s like to tackle Cousin Itt without gloves.

So after running out for gloves on Saturday, Sweetpea and I got the job done. We try to avoid having to rake up all the leaves, so we just cut bit by bit. I would grab a big handful, she would cut it off with the shears, and I’d drop it right into the leaf bag. It’s not the speediest method but it makes up in efficiency.

But it’s funny how much different he looks.

This is the final product.  And you should have seen it before he got a final once-over with the electric shears. It looks like a 5-year old that just cut his own hair. But don’t fret; within a month or so, he’ll be back to looking like his usual hairy self, albeit taking up a bit less space.

The whole experience, out there in the fresh air, the sun beating down on me, working with Mother Nature’s children, totally makes me want to move into a Condo and stay inside all day. Mr. Greenjeans, I will never be. And that's your second ancient TV reference for this story.

And Finally…

An apt cartoon from Sunday's Funnies, Pearls Before Swine, by Stephen Pastis.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Cruelty is Still the Point

Now that the Law of the Land is expected to be lacking Roe v Wade, the race is on to see who can dance on its grave the hardest. The Governors of both Nebraska (Pete Ricketts) and Oklahoma (Kevin Stitt) have just been quoted as insisting there will be no exception for victims of rape or incest.

I’m dying for an interviewer, one day, to reply, “How in the hell are these “babies?” They’re not babies, they’re thumb-tip-size blobs of cellular material that you’re giving more rights than the sentient being who’s carrying it in her body, all because your personal strain of magical thinking says so. Why do your values take precedent over those of the people involved?”

That’s really the nut of the question. “Why is your moral stance more important than that of the woman carrying the baby?” And if they try to answer about the sanctity of innocent life, then ask “Then why do you reject every program established to help this sacred life once it passes through the birth canal?  

Governor Stitt is making similar claims like it’s a race to see who the biggest unborn baby-lover is and who can put the cruelest vise around the Libs?

That is a human being inside the womb. And we’re going to do everything we can to protect life and love both the mother and the child. And we don’t think that killing one to protect another is the right thing to do either.”

There it is. A grownup woman will be sacrificed before being allowed to have a simple medical procedure, to protect the potential of human life. And it’s because of the morals of a bunch of strangers in elected office and not the person to which this is happening. This is a message to women across the country and the world: “You are nothing but a bunch of cattle to us, cows who are only here to be incubators.  My friends and I can tell you what to do with your body and there’s nothing you can do about it. But we’ll tell you what, you don’t have to be immunized. You’re free to infect whoever you want with a serious virus.”

Both of these practiced politicians are doing that thing I mentioned in last week’s post, assuming facts not in evidence. They just breeze on about “babies” as if it’s a foregone conclusion that these intersecting cells count as sentient human beings. It’s that imagery that they want everyone to have in their head, to help sell their point. Like in this headline I saw this morning:

See? The Slaughter of Babies! Those commie liberals want to slaughter cute little, chubby-cheeked, toe-grabbing babies. They want their opponents to seem barbaric, like the kind of people who support slaughtering babies and bathing in their blood in the basement of pizza shops across the country. And they skip right by the part where 98.5% of abortions happen long before the fetus resembles anything close to an actual baby.

That 1.5%, that’s where they want to live, which is even more grotesque because the poor souls who are having those late-term abortions desperately want to have the baby, but can’t due to medical problems beyond their control. It’s a tragedy, now with the added insult and injury of the state demanding they have the baby anyway, even if the baby can’t survive. Even if the baby is already dead. Even if the delivery or continued pregnancy kills the mother. How can this be tolerated in a "free" country?

What kind of ghouls are we in this country to allow this to happen? How is this forced application of a religious stance not in violation of the First Amendment? Republicans are racing to see who can turn the United States into an Evangelical Christian version of Iran, only with less of a warm and fuzzy image.

There’s only one realistic way to change any of this. The Court is not going to change, not without a filibuster-proof Senate in place. While that may be possible, it will take quite a while. At best, a simple majority will keep the Republicans from enacting a federal abortion ban. Meanwhile, SCOTUS is kicking it all back to the states, and that’s where the action will have to happen.

We need to elect people to state governments who will not support designating women as second-class citizens. We need Governors, state Senators, Assemblymen, Representatives, (or whatever is applicable to your state) who support the right to self-autonomy, period. Republicans have made themselves one-issue voters over abortion, I say we do so too. Because abortion is only the first domino.

This isn’t “slippery slope” bullshit here. Various Republicans have already been quoted as wanting to go after gay marriage, inter-racial marriage, and contraception. If we are to have any illusions that we’re a “free country,” we must ensure that we have the individual freedom of bodily autonomy, and absolute privacy regarding what goes on in the bedroom, or any other room of our own houses.*

*As long as no one is getting hurt, obviously.

We have to be louder than they are. We have to outnumber them at the polls. We have to impose the will of the many over that of the few. And before anyone says, “Isn’t imposing one group's will on another group what you're fighting right now?” no, the liberal proposal is that we do what is morally right for ourselves, rather than forcing a particular action on other people. That’s the big difference. That’s why we’re right and they’re wrong.

They get to act in whatever way they're guided. But they can’t implement their bizarre fetus-worship on unwilling participants. This has life and death consequences, for real, loving, feeling, fearing, people. Or in other words, broodmares, as far as Republicans are concerned.

This controversy highlights the hypocrisy of the conservative “Freedom’ bullshit. To Republicans, we’re free to have as many guns as we want, but not to control the fate of our own bodies. We’re free to eschew proven (and free) medical care so we may infect others as we go about our daily business. The government can force women to face death over an ectopic pregnancy, but can’t force someone to wear a paper mask in public.

America the free? Hah. Republicans have made it clear that they want a country where we’re only free to be Republican. Anyone who objects to that is clearly sub-human, so who cares what they think anyway?

We have to vote these motherfuckers out of office, from town to state to Washington DC. Because if we don’t, this once-great nation continues the spiral right down the tubes, straight into a more powerful emulation of the countries we currently oppose.

It won’t be Sharia Law… maybe Uteria Law. 


Monday, May 9, 2022

The End of Roe

Kind of a big news week last week, huh? And don’t you know, the big story about the abortion decision leak drops right after I publish my weekly post. I had thoughts about dropping an interim post but it probably wouldn’t have been anything more than a bunch of incoherent howling and guttural sounds. Yes, I was viscerally upset.

I’ve been flipping through Facebook all week, looking for something on the subject from my conservative friends, some of whom attend Right to Life marches. I was dying to start tearing some shit up. But there was not a mention to be found. All week long, up through today, I haven’t seen a single GOP friend post anything on the subject; just usual wildlife mpegs, food shots, and other trivia. I wonder if they’re shocked that they finally got what they wanted, or they’re afraid of the massive blowback (that those like me were itching to unleash.)

I’ve written about abortion rights a number of times since I began this blog, the first of which being back when I was just trying to entertain a small group of Pittsburgh bloggers. I look at it now and think, “Damn, that guy has no idea how bad it’s going to get.”

The ramifications of this probable decision are vast and abhorrent. More rights given to a rapist father and his family than to the prospective child-bearer? No exceptions for the health of the mother? (Haven’t these assholes ever heard of an ectopic pregnancy?) Any random schmo from Texas being able to sue the Uber driver who takes a woman to a clinic? It’s madness. It’s a festival of unspeakable cruelty. And that, of course, is a highlight, to the Right to Life crowd.

There are so many angles to this story, I barely know where to begin. So to me, let’s start with the big nut.

A Point With No Foundation

This should have been a slam-dunk reading of the law and it would have been if we didn’t have six religious ideologues on the bench, ones who rather than call the balls and strikes, go out and look for reasons and rationales to support the position at which they want to end up, as strained as they may be.

The whole issue comes down to the question of when “human life” begins. And that happens to be one of the great moral and philosophical questions of the ages. Basically, it’s a religious question.

Did the Founding Fathers set up the Constitution to follow religion? No. Ahem, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Making everyone follow the tenets of any specific religion is forbidden by the Constitution. So how can it be that a small percentage of the country (but a high percentage of justices) are allowed to enforce this religious belief on the rest of the country, to the extent that 51% of the population lose deciding rights to their own bodies? It’s ludicrous.

As far as I’m concerned, two cells intersecting is a science project, not a human being. And it stays a science project until the point of viability, or in some cases, until after college. Maybe longer if there’s a gap year involved.

If we don’t have dominion over our own bodies, how can we even pretend that we’re a free country? Isn’t that the bare minimum, as far as freedoms go? Look how upset the MAGAs got over being forced to get a shot or wear a mask. And then look at how enthusiastically they cheer the prospect of forced births. That’s because they subscribe to no principle other than “I’m allowed to do whatever I want, and YOU have to do whatever I want.

Legal Myopia

The author of the leaked decision, Justice Alito, hung a lot of his decision on the fact that abortion is not protected (or even mentioned) in the Constitution. He should know better than to use this angle because he knows full well that the 9th and 14th amendments state that rights cannot be removed based on their non-appearance in the Constitution. But like I said, these five radical justices came up with the conclusion first and worked to back-fill the reasons later. That’s not how the law is supposed to work.


Fox “News” is having a field day with this, filling hour after hour with outrage. No, not about the decision, about the leak. That’s the real problem, according to the GOP. And I don’t really think they care about it either, but it’s a great way to redirect the heat.

Republicans are deft at this maneuver, that when you can’t or don’t want to defend a point or position, then come up with a different point to defend. But it’s funny how they just presume the leak came from a Democrat. We’ll be able to tell in the future. If the big “investigation” yields nothing, we’ll know it was a Republican. It’ll be all over the news if it’s a Democrat.

The Argument

One of the stories about Fox’s coverage got my shorts in a twist because it’s classic conservative rhetoric. Per Greg Gutfeld: “If you ask somebody why they’re pro-life, they will say, because abortion takes a life and we believe life is sacred. You can disagree with that. But the problem with the pro-choicers is that they don’t have the balls to state their case plainly.”

Here’s why he’s full of shit.

The pro-life argument, again, comes down to the definition of life, which I talked about at the top of the post. It’s a highly personal and moral judgment. And if they really believed life was sacred, why are they against every rational safeguard to life, except guns? (I’m sure they miss the irony there.) Where’s the support for pre and post-natal care, medicines, food assistance, housing, and every other human need that comes into play outside the womb? What about the life of the mother? Why isn’t her body sacred?

The second part is eye-bogglingly misdirected. Can’t state our case plainly? Is he out of his fucking mind?

Maybe he is only going by what passes for liberals on Fox, who are directed on what they can or cannot say on these shows. If you look at my Facebook feed, you’ll see the massive balls of the men and women who are stating their pro-choice cases loudly and clearly. It’s not difficult to find out what pro-choice people really think, he just has to look outside the Fox Bubble.

And clearly, they have no interest in presenting the real arguments from the other side. Then they’d have to answer questions about why a couple of microscopic cells have more rights than a grown-up, sentient, woman. There’s no way they come out of that looking rational, hence the misdirection.

The Mind Games

Republicans excel at the art of “talking past the sale.” That’s a sales term that can be applied to a persuasion technique. Like when a car salesman, long before you close the deal, starts telling you about all the things you can do in your new car, and how to take care of it, how much your friends will like it. He’s talking as if you’ve already agreed to buy the car, in the hopes of bypassing the point of decision-making to get to where it’s already a done deal.

Republicans do this by making statements that assume contentious points have already been decided. Like when they make the abortion issue all about “babies.” It’s “babies” this and “babies” that. They want to implant the image in the mind that everyone thinks of when they hear the term “baby.” They want to make it seem like that if weren’t for the abortion, the “baby” would be laying in a crib somewhere, playing with his toes or waving at a red, white, and black mobile.

This is part of what gets people so riled up… no one wants bad things happening to little babies. But they’re breezing right past is that 90% of abortions are done on a mass about the size of a grape. And the ones that come later are invariably due to severe deformities with the fetus, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother. Women aren’t having late-term abortions because they never got around to having one earlier.

Gutfeld was “talking past the sale” when he said, “abortion takes a life.” Whether it’s real human life is debatable, (again, because of the religious thing), but he’s already assuming facts not in evidence. There’s no question it has potential for life. But when pitting potential versus an actual human being, the rights of the human have to come first.

I’m Shocked, Shocked to Find Out They Overturned Roe

Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are now scrambling to deflect bearing responsibility for the justices they approved going on to overturn Roe. AOC called them out on their bullshit right away.

 “Murkowski voted for Amy Coney Barrett when Trump himself proclaimed that he was appointing justices specifically to overturn Roe,” she tweeted.

She and Collins betrayed the nation’s reproductive rights when they were singularly capable of stopping the slide. They don’t get to play victim now.”

How is it that every other Republican knew these guys were there to overturn Roe, but not these two? The mere fact that they were on the Federalist Society’s list is verifiable proof that they were enemies of reproductive freedom. That’s why TFG nominated them… that, and to get him out of whatever legal or electoral trouble he conjured for himself. The jury’s still out on the latter part.

The fact that this issue is still in play is an affront to half the country’s population. And with the way the various states are going about curtailing the right to abortion, it’s going to unleash a torrent of unintended tragedy. Or maybe it’s completely intended. It’s beyond debatable that these laws are meant to control women, to bring them completely under the dominion of men. If it weren’t, there would be more concern for the well-being of post-birth children or the very life of the mother.

But then that’s the new GOP, isn’t it? The cruelty is the point.

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Teaching Moment

I hear that this week is National Teachers Week, so Whoo Hoo! Can’t you just smell the chalk dust, crayons, and Elmer’s glue?

OK, maybe if you’re really old, like me, you remember those things from your classrooms. I don’t think they use any of that stuff anymore. Maybe crayons. (Is it just me or did you ever open a box of new crayons and huff that New Crayon Smell? Almost as good as Play-Doh.) But I know the schools around here have mostly gone to dry erase whiteboards, leaving the chalkboard to go the way of the ink well.

Let me say right off that I may have a biased opinion. I’m the son and husband of teachers (and yes, they are two different people.) But that gives me insight into what goes on behind the scenes, which parents and the general public rarely see.

Now, I know that not all teachers are angels. My family has had a number of run-ins with teachers that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children. (Paging the nuns at my old Catholic school!) But I believe those are a small minority.

There’s still a lingering misconception that a teacher’s day begins with the opening bell and ends at 3:15 with the closing bell. That’s not even close. You often hear about how teachers frequently have to spend their own money for classroom supplies, for general use for when a kid loses/breaks/parents never bought a classroom necessity, and that’s true. What doesn’t get talked about is the vast amount of unpaid work that is put in regularly.

I know that every weekend, Sweetpea is grading papers or writing lesson plans, commenting on report cards, and entering grades. Here’s a quick look at how a teacher spent the last Spring Break:

Yes, they are supposed to have work periods during the school day but it’s vastly insufficient for the amount of work that needs to be done, and there are often other requirements that pull them away from accomplishing any of that, like staff meetings or having to clean up the classroom or rearrange the fixtures to allow for a new activity the following day.

In Sweetpea’s workplace, they are also supposed to have a dedicated, child-free half hour for lunch, but that’s a joke. It may be different for teachers of higher grades, but she teaches 1st grade, so the first and last five minutes of her “dedicated” half-hour is spent walking her kids to and from the cafeteria. If she needs to use the restroom, that’s another five minutes. If she were to need to microwave something, that’s another five minutes to and from. So that’s 10-15 minutes to have lunch and maybe check messages before having to dive right back into the deep end.

After the afternoon bell, she has to get the kids adequately dressed in coats, hats, and whatever, and round them up toward the busses or parents’ cars. THEN, she spends another hour or so trying to get some work done or attend meetings. She’s usually home between 5:30 and 6:15 and completely beat.

This year has been particularly tough for first-grade teachers, because of the pandemic.

Her current class spent what should have been their kindergarten year learning remotely. That means they never learned how to act in an actual classroom. So they talk constantly, get up and roam around, and start playing with things, all right in the middle of a lesson. It’s still going on, even this far into the school year. It’s the kind of thing that would have been unheard of when I was a first-grader.

We were told, “Stay in your seats and pay attention,” by God, that’s what you did or you got smacked by the nuns. And if you didn’t pay attention, it showed up on your tests and homework. If you got bad marks, you’d hear it from your parents. Maybe they’d even go in to meet with the teacher to come up with a way to make you pay for your inattention or misbehavior.  What they NEVER did was blame the teacher for your faulty performance. If you didn’t learn, it was YOUR ass on the line.

That “long summer off?” That’s another illusion.

In our county, school usually gets out around the third week of June. It can vary because if more snow days are used than they are allotted, they add days to the end of the school year. So if you’re trying to schedule a post-school year vacation or travel in advance, you have to make sure it’s changeable, or allow at least another week in case of extra days.

School has been starting either in late August or right after Labor Day. But the teachers have a great deal of pre-term work to do, so they usually start putting their classrooms back together two weeks before that. So this big “summer vacation” basically comes to a week in June (maybe), all of July, and two weeks in August. That’s just a little more vacation than I have in the corporate sector, but I’m getting paid for mine. The teachers are not.

All this is just every day, week-in week-out, grind of the job. But now we have the whole political angle, where everyone and their dog are second-guessing teachers; people that often have no idea what they’re talking about.

It’s a lovely, feel-good, idea for parents to have direct input regarding what is taught in schools but it’s impossible to do that fairly on sheer numbers alone. Because you can’t only go by one or two or a handful of parents’ opinions. You have 25 (or so) sets of parents with 25 (or so) sets of ideals or morals. The teachers can’t abide by everyone’s demands. But that’s the whole idea behind public education. If you have some unique philosophy that you want to be instilled in your beloved offspring, then home-school the little fucker. Because chances are the other 24 sets of parents will not agree with you.

There’s another proposal floating around out there that wants parents to sign off on the whole curriculum before the start of the school year. What they don’t understand is that such a request would require a whole year’s worth of lessons to be prepared in advance. This would basically take up the entire summer, for which every teacher would have to be paid. If this bird-brained idea should pass, just watch how fast the same people pressing for this idea start bitching when their property taxes go up just to pay for it. It’s just another example of people trying to run things for which they have no expertise, the Dunning-Krueger Effect personified.

Teachers have to have the flexibility to address anything a child brings up, and it’s seldom something that’s in the curriculum. Kids in her classroom come from all kinds of backgrounds and parental situations.

I wish the idiots revolting over the alleged “CRT indoctrination” could see when Sweetpea teaches the lesson on Martin Luther King. They learn who he was, what he stood for, and how he died. Maybe then they would understand just how effectively an emotionally charged issue like that can be taught. These are first graders, and none of the white kids walked away feeling persecuted. If anything, they leave with a resolve not to let anything like that happen again.

So this week, if you have the chance, do something nice for a teacher on this, National Teacher’s Week. I’m not even talking about presents; they probably already have too many of everything you can think of for a gift. My wife has been teaching for almost 25 years so we’re flush with coffee mugs, thermoses, picture frames, Christmas ornaments, gift cards, and even chocolate. (Sweetpea doesn’t eat much candy, but luckily I do.) I’m just saying, let them know that all their hard work is appreciated. It’s as simple as A-B-C.