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Teachers with Guns?

By: lokywoky Saturday January 12, 2013 9:16 pm
Handgun -- or: How to be successful at school...


Most of you probably heard about or watched Ed Schultz’ interview of a Utah teacher who said she had a concealed carry permit and was bringing a gun into her classroom. When Ed asked her if she had told the children she replied no, and when asked if she had informed the parents she also said no, that it wasn’t necessary in her opinion.

Well, here are my impressions of that situation. First off, let me say that I am not anti-gun. I grew up in a household full of guns, and have owned handguns myself. I don’t at the present time, but it is strictly a matter of not feeling like I want to deal with a gun, not because I am opposed to owning a gun. When I was a kid, hunting was a necessity to help feed our large family. It was not a sport. If my dad didn’t fill his tags, by the end of the year, we didn’t eat any meat. So this is where I am coming from. Back to this teacher.

There are many things about this teacher that trouble me, and the whole idea of guns in a classroom. Many of the things I am about to say are conjecture about this particular teacher – they were not brought up in the interview, so if they are incorrect about her personally, I apologize in advance, but just apply the situation to classrooms and teachers and kids in general.

First, she stated that she did not tell the kids that she was carrying a gun. This is amazing to me on its face. Does she really believe the kids in her class don’t know? If so – she is either incredibly naive, or just plain stupid. No matter the age of the students, they do know. Kids are incredibly observant. Those little eyes see everything, they are watching everything. When you think they aren’t anywhere around, they are. And if one of them knows anything – they all do.

So, one of these days, one of those kids is going to ask her flat out if she is carrying a gun. What is she going to say? If she lies and says no, she has then damaged her credibility beyond repair in the eyes of her students. And not only the students in this class, but the students in the entire student body for the rest of time. Because the word will go out. What this means is that her effectiveness as a teacher is destroyed because the students now know that she is a liar first and foremost. They will not trust in or believe anything she says after that.

If she says yes, her effectiveness as a teacher is also destroyed as well. I don’t know what grade level she teaches, but the effects are bad no matter what. In lower elementary grades, the children will be afraid of her. They will see themselves as the “target” – that she is going to use the gun to shoot them. Young children do not understand some amorphous ‘other’ who may show up to harm them – they take things upon themselves. No amount of explanation will serve to dissuade them that they are not the ‘target’ or to blame. After all, we all know young children in the middle of divorce squabbles who are firmly convinced that they are solely to blame for their parents’ problems and cannot be convinced otherwise.

For older children and younger teens, the gun becomes a challenge. Who can get it, a game of dare, curiosity. They want to see it, touch it, examine it, experiment with it, see how it works. In other words – do what kids do. One of them will steal it, and one of them will shoot it. If they are very lucky, no one will get hurt. But with todays zero-tolerance laws – that one will go to jail, regardless. And whose fault is that? In the meantime, all the focus of the children is on the gun, not on their lessons. The teacher has, again, rendered herself irrelevant.

Now, this teacher has also stated that she saw no need to inform the parents of the fact that she is carrying a loaded gun in the classroom. I find this to be astounding. In a local school district where I live, parents sued successfully and had a teacher reprimanded and suspended simply for showing the movie “The Story of Stuff”. This is a movie about our consumer-driven economy and attempts to raise awareness of recycling, reusing and responsible purchasing. But the parents involved decided it was ‘liberal brainwashing’ and now if anyone wants to show this movie to students, they must have signed permission slips from every parent or the student is not allowed to watch. And yet this teacher thinks that carrying a loaded gun in the classroom is okay and not necessary to inform the parents? Well, as a parent myself, I would be outraged at the thought of a teacher of my child doing such a thing. I want my child’s teacher focused on teaching – not on worrying about a loaded gun!


Why “Conscience” Clauses are Unconstitutional and Dangerous for Women

By: lokywoky Saturday November 17, 2012 12:22 am
GOP Aspirin Birth Control

GOP Aspirin Birth Control

First, let me say that I am not a constitutional lawyer, nor a lawyer of any stripe at all. What follows is just my lay opinion on the subject. But I surely cannot be any more foolish than some of the supposed experts on Constitutional law if you include the likes of Justice Antonin Scalia (‘no where in the Constitution does it say that just because a person is innocent that we have to let them out of jail’).

We have all been reading with horror this week about the young woman who died in Ireland because the Catholic hospital where she was refused to perform an abortion on an unviable fetus to save her life. Of course everyone keeps saying – oh, that’s Ireland. That could never happen here. Well, think again. Not only could it happen, IT IS happening here. And it is happening right now as we speak.

But I digress.

Many health care workers have lobbied for and received what are called “conscience clauses” in their work contracts. What this essentially does is allows these workers to refuse to perform procedures or participate in procedures or practices they deem objectionable according to their religious beliefs. These conscience clauses have also extended to cover entire medical institutions such as hospitals and clinics if they are operated by religious entities such as the Catholic Church. And of course don’t forget the pharmacists.

These health care people and organizations claim that forcing them to provide certain types of health care – mainly reproductive care for women – is a violation of their religious freedom. This argument is how they convinced the PTB to grant them the ability to refuse treatment for what otherwise are standard, legal, medical issues.

Here is my counter-argument. This conscience clause is unconstitutional on the grounds that it forces the religious beliefs of these health care workers and/or their institutions on the patients against their will and with the power and blessing of the government – in direct violation of the First Amendment.

Point 1. Health care workers have choices. When they begin their medical education, they knowingly choose specialties and practices that have the potential to bring them into contact with women of childbearing age. If they knowingly make the choice to do this, I submit they give up the right to then refuse treatment of any kind. If they are so opposed to various treatments and procedures, then they should choose another specialty where they are not likely to come into contact with women of childbearing age, such as geriatrics, or podiatry.

Polls, Schmolls, They’re All Wrong and Here’s Why

By: lokywoky Wednesday October 31, 2012 2:01 pm

He’s up, He’s down, He’s up and down at the same time! WTF? What is going on here?

Apart from the usual idiocy of the horse-race instead of actually focusing on the issues (and I don’t believe Benghazi-gate is actually an ISSUE!) but that is fodder for another discussion, the polling for the horse-race in this election has been even more a comedy of errors than usual. It will only get worse.

The first problem is that the Gallup organization chose to change its methodology in the middle of the campaign for some reason. Usually it is not a good idea to do that. It seems to have been a particularly egregious decision when the results of the change now put their results about 6 points to the far right of even the far right leaning discredited Rasmussen polling organization.

The second problem is one we have heard about before – cellphone users vs landline users. In 2008, the percentage of cell-only users was just above 31%. Currently that number hovers around 38%. So the problem has gotten worse. Robo-calling of cellphones is prohibited, so the only way polling organizations can get cellphone numbers is by acquiring them through some voluntary way by the user. I recently read an article by Andy Kroll at Mother Jones Pollster: Undercounted Cellphone Users Hide Obama’s Lead. There is an excellent graph at the original piece showing how cell users favor Obama by an up to 11 point margin, while landline only users favor Romney by about a 14 point margin. Dual users are tilted somewhat toward Romney by 3 points but of the dual users who use their landlines more than their cells, Obama comes out on top by 3.

The point is, polling that is done on landline users only – no matter the leanings of the polling organization will be tilted toward the right, and will hide any voters leaning left due to non-polling of the cell-only crowd who are mostly younger, and mostly voting Democrat. This has ramifications not only for the Obama campaign but for a lot of down-ticket races as well.

The third problem is sheer under-response that is not reported by the polling organizations. According to an article by Salvatore Babones at Truthout, Political Polling Is No Longer Meaningful, The Pew Research Center recently did a survey looking at response rates to calling and got a 9% response rate. Pew is a first-rate non-profit and this rate is probably higher than what an impatient, for-profit political polling organization gets for a response rate. In the words of Babones,

When response rates fall this low, polls tell us less about public opinion than about who answers the phone


This problem of lack of responders has been with us since the beginning of public polling, and has also provided us with such huge failures of public polling as the headlines “Dewey Wins over Truman” and the like. The fact that not one of the polling organizations tell us what the percentage of non-responders is becomes quite telling. That margin of error of 3-5% is a joke when the percentage of non-responders is probably higher than 91%. It is hardly a representative sample of the country when most people refuse to answer the phone for an unknown private number or and 800 number they are unfamiliar with. Even if they do answer the phone when they find out it is a political survey they refuse and hang up, it also doesn’t improve the situation. Or in some cases, the polling organization isn’t even using humans to call but robo-calls where the person on the other end is far more likely to just hang up!

All these polling organizations keep assuring us that the people surveyed have been scientifically chosen according to some algorithm to be a representative sample. Given these obstacles I would think it is highly doubtful that algorithm would stand up to the pragmatic realities of today’s population and their relationship to their phones and who is calling.

The fourth problem is under-representation of non-English-speaking persons in the samples. I believe someone here at the Lake wrote a diary on this very subject recently although I didn’t have time while it was still up to read it I would be really appreciative if someone would link it in the comments please? While these pollsters may have assumed these individuals were not citizens – in many cases they are. These people may be naturalized citizens who are registered voters, but who may be far more comfortable speaking their native languages in their homes and on the phone with persons who usually call them. But the pollsters, hearing a “foreign” hello, just hang-up, and then do not include this population in their survey at all. This group includes not just Latino voters but new citizens from all parts of the world.

The fifth problem is the group of people who use VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phones. I have no idea how big a group that is, I have seen no data on this group and as far as I know – no one is looking at it. This group may be negligible, or it may be large, no idea.

The sixth problem is the group of people who are hearing impaired and who may or may not use special TDD equipment or not depending on the extend of their hearing loss. Again, I have no idea how large this group is, or whether anyone is looking at this one either.

All of this stuff convinces me that watching the polls before the election does nothing to tell me one way or the other what the outcome of the election is going to be. Whoever your candidate is – you need to get out there and work. Get out the vote, get to the polls, get others to the polls. And Vote! And after the election, get active and stay active. Get your county and/or state election boards to get rid of these electronic voting machines and get the vote counting back in the hands of your public officials and out of the hands of Diebold and ESS and these private companies. Prosecute the voter officials who commit election fraud (that’s different from voter fraud). And make the position of Secretary of State (the person responsible for elections) a non-partisan position.

And finally, on the subject of Exit Polling Most of the polling organizations and the media have begun to say that exit polling is unreliable and that they are going to start to phase it out. WRONG WRONG WRONG!! Exit polling is the only kind of polling that is actually still mostly accurate. And it is the only way we really have to have some kind of a check on all these hinky electronic voting machines and the behind the scenes rigged counting and all the rest of the election fraud that is running rampant in our so-called democratic process. After all, as a wise man once said – it doesn’t matter if you vote, it matters who counts the votes!

I Built My Lemonade Stand All By Myself With No Help From Anyone!

By: lokywoky Wednesday July 25, 2012 6:56 pm

Neil Cavuto had a couple of very young girls on his show on Faux Noise to punch home the meme that President Obama is un-American and doesn’t understand how businesses work or something. He asked these darling kids if they built their lemonade stand all by themselves. First they said yes, and then after a little bit, the older one admitted that her dad had helped quite a bit.

And right there Cavuto missed the whole point. He went off on a rant about how the girls had built this “business” all by themselves with no help from the government or anyone else – completely missing dear old dad. But that’s not all he missed. The dreaded guv’mint was in there as well. Let me count the ways….

One little lemonade stand. Two little girls. How much help did they have?

A sidewalk to sit the lemonade stand on. (government supplied)

A street for cars to drive by to bring customers. (governmnent supplied)

Water to make lemonade. (Probably from a municipal water source – government supplied)

Lemons. (A farmer. Some migrant workers to pick the lemon. Some government inspectors to check the lemons to make sure they aren’t contaminated with bad stuff. A truck driver to bring them to the store. A store clerk or two to put them on the shelf, check-out the purchase, etc., mom or dad to help make the lemonade)

Sugar. (A farmer to grow the sugar cane or beets, copy the whole list for the lemons again.)

Ice. Copy the water list.

Add a miner digging up ore to make metal. A factory worker building a refrigerator. Another truck driver bringing it to a store, and then to their home.

A sign. Cardboard – start with trees. Loggers cut the trees down. Truck drivers carry the trees to a sawmill or chipping operation. Workers in a paper mill. More workers in another factory making crayons or markers. Yet more workers making tape or tacks or whatever is used to hold the sign in place.

Workers making glasses to put the lemonade in.

Workers making a pitcher to put the lemonade in.

Workers making a table to sit everything on.

More workers making chairs to sit in while they wait for customers to arrive.

Yet more workers making an umbrella for shade.

Oh, I almost forgot. Money. (government supplied of course.)

But Cavuto and all the rest of the TEAGOP and Faux Noise and Mittens and the rest are absolutely correct. All the businesses out there did build their businesses all by themselves with absolutely NO HELP FROM ANYONE ELSE AT ALL!!!

Yeah. Riiiiiiight.

Moncef Marzouki Refuses to Meet With US Official Because Of Torture

By: lokywoky Thursday May 10, 2012 1:19 am

In a recent interview with Julian Assange, newly elected Tunisian President and human rights activist Moncef Marzouki recounted that four years ago he was invited to visit the White House by an unnamed official.  Marzouki and Assange had been discussing the issue of torture, in particular the issue of solitary confinement as a form of torture.  Mr. Marzouki had been in prison, and in solitary confinement for a number of months and feels that solitary confinement is torture, as do most of the human rights groups that he works with.

Assange then asked Marzouki how he felt about the US in the context of what was happening with Bradley Manning.  Mr. Marzouki replied that when you saw a dictatorship doing torture that it was kind of expected (I am paraphrasing here) but that when a democratically elected government did it that it was ridiculous (his words).  Marzouki went on to say that the US government’s torture activities were what led him to refuse to meet with the unnamed White House official because he did not want to have any discussion with someone representing a government that was carrying out torture and then presuming to talk to him about human rights.

The Obama administration may think that ‘looking forward and not back’ works for them but Guantanamo is still open.  Bradley Manning is still in prison and that happened on Obama’s watch.  People out there are watching what we do – not what we say.  So Obama may have said that we don’t torture people.  But actions speak louder than words.  Our actions speak otherwise.  Moncef Marzouki believes that solitary confinement is torture – and Bradley Manning is not the only prisoner who is or was in solitary confinement.  It is routine punishment in this country.

We howl in outrage over beatings of people in other countries.  But there is video on FDL right this minute of a mentally ill homeless man being beaten to death in the streets of the good ol’ USA.  How long did it take that young man to die?  Was that not torture?  The world is watching.

How Not to Read and Criticize a Post

By: lokywoky Saturday September 17, 2011 1:29 pm

I wrote a post on FDL recently.  It didn’t receive many comments but the ones it did receive were quite “instructive” shall we say.

The topic was timely – but there were several issues around the topic. 

Issue A, Issue B, Issue C, and Issue D.

Next, a research paper was quoted.  The research paper used data from a notable and supposedly trustworthy (?)government agency that is intimately involved with the topic. 

But the research paper happened to be hosted on the site of a certain non-profit organization NP.

And finally, I did make mention of all four Issues in my post. Including Issue D.

Here’s what happened.

I was criticized for using the study because NP (a “garbage” organization in their terms) was in any way involved with it.  Never mind that the data being used was directly quoted as being from the “trusted” government agency.

I was told that the issue I was discussing – which I had identified as Issue C in the title of my post – was completely incorrect and that I should not have been discussing it because the REAL issue was Issue D and I therefore could not even discuss Issue C because Issue D was the only appropriate discussion to be had of the whole thing.  Never mind that I actually HAD addressed Issue D in the final paragraph of my post.  And of course, if I had wanted to write a post about Issue D, I could have – but several other excellent writers on FDL already had done so.

I believe these kinds of comments/criticisms are what keep a lot of people lurking in the background.  The people here at FDL seem to do this a lot – when someone tries to write a post about something that doesn’t fit whatever the ‘established’ narrative is supposed to be - rather than thoughtful engagement, they are attacked in ways that immediately shut down the discussion.  The comments reveal that the commenter actually didn’t bother to even read the entire post.  Or that they cherry-pick stuff to then dismiss the entire rest of the content.

This has happened to me more than once – and I have seen it happen to others as well.  I used to enjoy coming here and participating in the threads.  I used to post far more frequently.  I don’t anymore because of the hostile environment. 

So you can write me off as a whiner.  You can comment that I’m just a baby and my feelings got hurt or whatever and I should just take myself off and shut up.  I probably will anyway.  Just remember that each time you do that to someone, you don’t know how many other silent lurkers also leave.  It’s no way to build a community – and it’s no way to get people to join together to work on the bigger problems we have in this country.

Let’s Get Past the Media Hysteria About Bachmann’s HPV Statements and Have Some Real Reporting On The Issue

By: lokywoky Thursday September 15, 2011 5:04 pm

The Background:  Gov. Rick Perry was forced to defend himself for mandating the HPV vaccine for young girls (also known as Gardasil) in Texas.  He previously had fought against this on social conservative anti-choice grounds as supposedly it would lead to these young girls thinking they could now become “promiscous” since they were “protected” from HPV and cervical cancer.  He was accused of being influenced by campaign contributions by Merck – the manufacturer of the vaccine.  Merck charges about $390 for the series of 3 inoculations so they stand to make some big bucks from this deal.

Ms. Bachmann later made a statement that a “woman she did not know came up to her and claimed that her daughter had taken the vaccine and had then become mentally retarded as a result”.  This claim has led to widespread vilification of Ms. Bachmann and equally widespread hysteria by the lamestream press about how safe the vaccine is and that it has been given to millions of people and nothing like this has ever happened and Bachmann should shut up and she should apologize and how dare she etc etc etc.

As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. 

Vaccines are never without risk.  Gardasil is not without risk.  Mandating that every single girl get one of these vaccines is a risky proposition – unless the government is prepared to assume the liability when something goes wrong, and it WILL go wrong – inevitably.

Here is a report – and this report is  over a year and a half old.  I was not able to find a similar report that is any more recent.

Report Concerning Survey of Adverse Events Following Inoculations with Gardasil 
 2010 Emily Tarsell, LCPC and James Garrett, PhD   —   February 18, 2010 
 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that the rates of Adverse Events Following Injections (AEFIs) for the human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine (qHPV) Gardasil were not greater than background rates. They also acknowledge limitations in the re-porting system that could compromise this conclusion. On record as of 1/31/2010 were 15,829 AEFI reports including 49 deaths.
 The researchers listed a number of other major adverse effects including:  numbness, muscle pain, nausea and muscle weakness (reported by 60-70% of respondents), joint pain, chest pain, skin disorders and concentration problems, (more than 50%), menstrual problems (40%), Post-vaccine heart disorders (33%), and seizures (13-20%).   Now granted, none of these are mental retardation as claimed by Ms. Bachmann.  However, I think we can agree that this list does have some rather serious problems on it – especially as the age group we are talking about as 9-11 year olds.  And of course there are the 49 dead girls.

Another problem acknowledged in this report is the fact that the reporting system itself is so flawed that many minor problems do not get reported at all, and even many major ones do not since it is all completely voluntary on the part of doctors and other health care professionals.  In the case of Gardasil, it appears that the problems are dose-related and that each additional dose brings more problems so that the initial one may not be an issue, the second dose may begin to show some problems, and the third and final dose may be the one that tips over into a catastrophe but at that point it is much too late.

So, yes, Ms. Bachmann may be wrong to have made a claim or inference that Gardasil may cause or may have caused mental retardation in this unknown woman’s daughter.  But the media is just as wrong to be out there claiming that Gardasil is perfectly safe and that “noooothing like this has ever happened before” and so everyone should just rush out and get their kid a shot or three.  (By the way – Merck is now saying that boys should get it too!)

Vaccines are drugs.  All drugs have side effects.  Someone out there will get those side effects.  Yes, they are considered “rare and unusual”.  But someone still gets them in order for them to be listed side effects.   Some kids have pre-existing health problems including compromised immune systems and other issues.  That’s why the decision for a child to be vaccinated against anything should be left up to the parents and that kid’s doctor.  It should not be left up to a politician who has some drug company lobbyist’s hand in one of his pockets and his hand in the drug company lobbyist’s pocket as is the case here.



To All Olbermann Fans (Or Not), May I Recommend…

By: lokywoky Sunday January 23, 2011 10:06 pm

One of the things we have (or should have) learned from the precipitous departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC is that the voices of the left in the big media sphere is very very precarious.  Whatever you thought of KO, or whatever you think of the remaining hosts on that channel, those of us on the left have very few resources to go to other than spending endless hours surfing our favorite blogs (like this one!) for news that is reported accurately.

So, I think we really need to support our liberal voices that do exist, flawed though they may be, and wherever they currently may be found.

In all the conversations I have seen since Friday evening, I have not heard mentioned Thom Hartmann – a reliable liberal voice if ever there is one.

He currently has a daily TV show that you can find on RT TV (the Russian version of al-Jazeera) called “The Big Picture.  It airs at 9pm Eastern in the New York area live, but is available  on the web at http://www.thomhartmann.com/tv

So, go there, take a listen, bookmark the site and support him.  He used to be on Air America but as usual, the left chose not to support that effort.  The right wing in this country props up their media all the time – they claim it is the “free market” that keeps all their talk radio on the air.  Don’t believe it.  Those guys get their dollars from the likes of Carl Rove’s secret donor groups and have for decades.  They beat us pants down all the time – because it has been a long-term strategy.  We need to start supporting our media in order to preserve what little voice we have.

If you have liberal people on the airwaves, post them in the comments with links or station locations and call signs so we can all tune in and support them.  Power to the People!