Sunday, August 7, 2016

No Time Like the Present





It's time for a new adventure. I flipped a coin between this clip and one of Forrest Gump announcing his long run was over. Hard to go against Peter Jackson. Until we meet again.

Slainte'

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Can We Just Cut the B.S. and Drop the Charges, for Starters?



So two of five Riverside teachers who were put on leave last June have had their charges thrown out and are now cleared to return to work. Three teachers remain on leave and charged with insubordination. BPS Superintendent Kriner Cash believes they should all be terminated because they were told what to do but they didn't do it. Ironically and hypocritically at the same time Cash says they should have followed yet another folksy maxim he pulled out of thin air that says "work now, grieve later."
Well maybe "work now grieve later" is a good rule of thumb in a sane world and a reasonable working climate, say Bethlehem Steel's coke ovens in the 1970's. Even in some very specific educational situations it might even hold water. When the admins deliberately flooded our 15:1 Special Ed cluster in the late 80's and early 90's until we had close to 20 kids in some of them --all with significant learning and behavior issues mind you-- a simpatico A.P. advised us off the record that City Hall said overload them and let them grieve it, there won't be any new classes opening to accommodate these kids. When there's nothing you can do and an admin is at least forthright enough to tell you it's out of his hands you pretty much have to teach now and grieve for another day.

But Kriner Cash knows better than anyone that this Riverside debacle is no simple overage claim. Overages disregard the student's I.E.P.'s and are essentially illegal but they happen when someone decides they aren't willing to spend the money to follow the law. NYSED doesn't get involved.  Teachers are mollified some years down the road when their grievance results in a check that calculates a certain figure based on the number of kids in the class and the teacher's salary. It actually pays better if you have 6 kids in your class and barely pays if you have 15. So I know. 

Teachers at Riverside were essentially put on administrative leave for refusing to break State Ed Department Law. Nowhere down the line were they in a position to benefit from either correcting against the law or following the law and not correcting. There was no financial or professional incentive either way but a funereal disincentive for either option. Kriner Cash, coming from the belly of the high stakes testing and ed reform beast as he does, is part of the entrenched faction who seeks to both sanctify and weaponize these kinds of tests. On one hand he treats them like the Dead Sea Scrolls with all of the attendant deference while seeking to use them as proof of teacher malfeasance should they come back with less than gritty and excellent scores.  Bad scores mean teaching firings after all in the great ed reform manifesto. Cash and his ed reform enabler from Florida, State Ed Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia, who foisted Cash on BPS, are not inclined to take violations of test protocol lightly. 

What the Assistant Principal of Riverside told these teachers to do -- start correcting exams when close to 100 exams were still in the hands of students-- is illegal and violates the test protocols of NYSED. Any teacher dumb enough or careless enough to engage in such an act faces certain consequences, termination being chief among them. As a point of reference, a guy from another district in the program where I teach last June read exams to kids who did not have that test modification as part of their I.E.P. The day after he did this and it was discovered he was escorted out of the building, placed on leave and from what I have been able to deduce was terminated some time before this January. In less than 6 months he was toast for reading to kids who weren't supposed to have exams read. Yet Kriner Cash tucks his tongue firmly in his cheek and calls for the Riverside teachers to be fired because they didn't ask how how high when an administrator told them to jump. Told them to jump into breaking State Ed law no less. 

The fact that Riverside Assistant Principal Patrick J. Doyle ordered these teachers to break the law seems to have escaped Kriner Cash. He's got some kind of retro "Papa Knows Best" fixation on the 1950's concept that no matter what an authority figure tells you to do, you shut up and do it and ask questions later. Much later. Makes you wonder what Cash would've said to MLK in Birmingham Jail or Frederick Douglas when Edward Covey wound up to crack him with his bullwhip or to Harriet Tubman when she was rescuing runaway slaves from lives of brutality and desperation. Work now, grieve later? Do what you're told? Don't defy a direct order? I don't think so. I hope not.  As one deeply indebted to the test fetishists of American Ed Reform, Kriner Cash has to be kidding when he says these teachers should have knowingly begun to correct state exams when nearly 100 other students were still taking them. It's a case of fired if you do and damned if you don't and he knows it. Yet he plays the doe eyed ingenue and you can almost hear him in a chicken fried Blanche Dubois drawl, sighing "Why they defied a duh-reckt oadaaahhh... and theh's naught fuh them but term-in-aaay-shun!" He might as well have said Damnation while he was at it. 

Come on Dr. Cash. Cut with the coy theatrics and stand tall for a change. You know and we know any teacher who'd correct those papers before the rest of them were all turned in would be fired in the time it takes Lars Quinn to run out his jib sail. You and your reformy pals would have your Salem's Lot moment running around in a circle chanting about the sanctity of test protocol and let this be a lesson and this aggression will not stand, ad nauseam. And if the wind caught your flames just right you could all end up on MSNBC and CNN, you and Larry Quinn and Mary Ellen Elia and maybe John King his own little diabolical self would toss you a tweet or a video clip congratulating you for protecting the maidenhead of the test from those mongol teacher hordes with their coffee breath and lustfully sensible loafers. You'd have milked it for all you're worth and who knows but it might even catch the eye of a larger district looking for their Superman. I hear Pittsburgh's honeymoon with a hero is on the rocks... 

But perish the luck some teachers forced into a bad situation had the wherewithal and the stones to refuse to be bullied into breaking the law and for that they were forced to twist in the wind for an entire school year wondering if their teaching career was finished. You need to end this farce and send these teachers a personal apology. And then you need to have a short but extremely focused meeting with Patrick J. Doyle, his supervising Principal on the day in question, their union rep and the H.R. chief. We'll trust you to do the right thing. Just don't take a year to do it. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Badly Lynched Yet Well Hung.

From the Benefit of the Doubt to Doubting the Benefits


Was it last week that Carl Paladino's twitter account farted out that tweet about lynching Loretta Lynch then deleted it and came along with the rookie tweeter excuse for an explanation? Yeah I think it was last week. See it's hard to keep up with this guy. Between his damned Asians outburst aimed at the kids studying at UB and his plans to teach hygiene to inner city minorities in his boarding schools you get turned around and dis-oriented if you'll overlook the pun or better yet pretend it was unintentional.

Well Carl has now turned his attentions to his own party and is on record as telling Utah Republican convention delegate Stefani Williams in an email: 

"You should be hung [sic] for treason Stefani. There will not be a Republican Party if you attempt to replace Trump. I'll be in your face in Cleveland," Paladino allegedly wrote, according to an email that Williams shared with The Hill. 

So this time it's a Carlfecta: suggestions of violence, follow up threat and a SIC to indicate that Carl has failed to follow the rules of English grammar.

When the lynch  Lynch tweet was deleted and carlsplained as the mistake of an underling there was no shortage of eye rolling and skepticism. Most who doubted the veracity of the rookie tweeter excuse pointed to Paladino's extensive history of inflammatory remarks on various topics. Carl likes to dismiss all of that as the politically correct nattering of screaming liberal meemies who can't handle his brand of the non p.c. "truth." 

Shouldn't a guy who's just wiped the remnants of the latest dogpile from his Florsheims --or at least tried to-- maybe try to avoid more talk of hanging or lynching women he doesn't like until the odor of his most recent misstep has had some time to dissipate? Yeah, you and I might think that but Carl doesn't see it that way. This is nothing more than the latest shining example of why CEO's fail so miserably when they endeavor to work within a system -- say one running the schools or one attached to a political party. Guys like Carl have said and done exactly as they pleased and been rewarded financially for doing so pretty much all of their lives. If someone pisses him off he can fire them. If someone writes something he doesn't like he can eviscerate them on the sidewalk outside Dinosaur BBQ. If a reporter asks a question Carl doesn't want to answer on the way into a Board of Ed meeting, Carl unloads on him with a stream of obscenities. In CEO land this kind of behavior is seen as bold and fearless, as some kind of alpha dog privilege and a sure sign of strong leadership. But in the larger world where the rest of us have to mind our manners as we fill in the gap between birth and eternity that kind of talk has consequences. It gets you fined and fired; it puts letters in your personnel file and it comes back to bite you in the ass when the County Executive tries to slide you into a sweet gig.

How then has none of this expansive  disciplinary file affected the status of Carl Paladino as a member of the Buffalo Board of Education? What exactly does a board member have to say or do before anyone raises the question of his suitability to sit on a school board that makes decisions on what's best for children, especially a large population of minority children including a significant population of "Damned Asians?" At what point do we free Carl from the drudgery of budgeting and contract negotiations, of trying to put the screws to his business rival Ciminelli and of the humiliation of having to squeak out an election victory against an 18 year old kid in the belly of "Carl Country?" It's obvious Carl Paladino has bigger fish to fry. And with the incoming Board majority reducing his role and influence to that of a bit player who can strut and fret but won't accomplish anything more as a  minority block member than he did in the majority, I think it's only fair that we accept his resignation and allow him to go make America Great Again. It's only fair. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Good News Teachers, Hillary Clinton Has Your Back! No Really...

Well now that we've got all the platitudes and seats at the table Hillary could dig out of her AFT tote bag and fling off the back of the USS Pantsuit I feel my innate teacher cynicism approaching Diogenesian proportions. 

At NEApalooza Hill has publicly thrown down against those nasty money grubbing charter schools and all of the no goodniks who dare to profit on the backs of children unfortunate enough to be enrolled in these high stakes testing madrassas. But she's not against the good charters, you know those other ones that are nice to kids and pay teachers well and ummm, well, I mean, yeah -- those! Yeah she thinks those are swell! None of the teachers in the audience at NEA's farcical gala seemed to know what the hell she was talking about either but there were some teachers who booed her passive aggressive mention of "good charters." 

Color me amused too by the frantic tweets from BATs HQ desperately trying to distance themselves from anti Hillary chanting and cat calls. Word is they are looking into rebranding themselves PoliteAss Teachers. The one goddamned time these weenies should have raised holy hell with a mic check or an all out raucous call and response chant and what do they do? Squeak, squeak...

But I hope you all see how Hillary operates my dear pedagogues. It's the same exact bullshit she pulled here in New York when NYSUT handed her a mic and she promptly laid a big wet kiss on Andy Cuomo's arse. Here's how it works peasants: Your union "leadership" flings themselves at candidate Clinton with  premature nominations that were nothing more than some shadowy cabal of bootlickers and hangers on voting Aye! on Weingarten and Lily's command. Rank and file are completely shut out of the process but are welcome to come hear the unindicted one's half hearted promises of better pay and teacher input on policy in a Clinton administration. But make no mistake plebians you are going to have your noses rubbed in the dirt before Hillary Clinton drops the mic (how Mulgrewesque). She did it at the NYSUT RA with that Cuomo is a great guy crack, then tried to browbeat the grumblers in the crowd with an imperious shrug and a Heyyyyyy, c'mon... At NEA's hoedown she plants a bit wet one on the charter lobby's arse. Think that wasn't intentional? Think it was some kind of Freudian slip? It was Hillary's own version of the dog whistle the other guys use when they want to make racial slurs. Except in this case Hillary is signaling all the dozing dogs of DFER and their compadres to say don't think my slumming with these dopes means anything. You are still my boys! 

And forgive me again but I am going to commit a repeat blasphemy when I say I am really not losing any sleep chasing my fellows down to sign a petition that demands Hillary meet with Diane Ravitch. How can you not love Saint Diane? She can be a great asset and a powerful advocate. Problem is though she still thinks Randi Weingarten is a union firebrand while all of the sentient teachers I know who keep themselves informed know Wienie as a poser and an opportunist who could have taught General Dostum of Uzbekistan a few tricks about switching sides in the middle of a battle.  It's as if DR still believes in Santa Claus and we are either unable to break through her denial or afraid the truth would devastate her. I saw this tweet the other day and bless her heart cause I know it's in the right place. 



But C'mon Diane, who are you directing this at? Me? Jim Horn? Kevin Glynn? Or any of the other disillusioned and battle hardened chalkboard grunts who know what's really going on? Is it intended to convince the hundreds of thousands of teacher Berniecrats whose voices were drowned out by Weingarten's Hillary endorsement that Randi is kind of like Bernie but with a worse haircut? Seriously, who is the target audience for this rhetorical spitball? I am baffled. What I am clear on though is Diane Ravitch's message is the same. Randi's great and Hillary's going to be great too just as soon as she sits down for a latte' with Diane Ravitch. It feels  to this pedagogue like Diane Ravitch is trying to back door those of us who still haven't forgiven Weingarten for that phony endorsement by showing us Weingarten attempting to engage in some Bernie like anti-corporate  activism. Forgive me if I don't buy it. Ravitch pumping up Randi Weingarten as a friend of the working schlub and showing us what a mensch she can be is like your mom telling you she's buying you Roebucks instead of Levi's cause they're just as good plus she can put them on her Sear's card. Thanks Mom, Love you. No, really I am going to wear them just not today...

Monday, July 4, 2016

He Came from Martha's Vineyard with a Banjo on His Knee



While I am loathe to do so I've cut and pasted a scraplet of what passes for wit at The Buffalo News these days. The Off Main St. column plants its forked tongue firmly in cheek and doles out what laugh monitors at The News deem to be side splitting out takes from the lives of elected, appointed and generally wealthy and/or influential players. I smell the Sorority House slapstick of Tiffany Lankes' unfunny touch wafting off this one like a teen ager who's bathed himself in Drakar Noir to cover the scent of the 9 India Pale Ales he swiped from Dad's basement fridge...

Boardroom dueling banjos


Certain Buffalo School Board members are known for standing up for their pet issues – and spending copious amounts of time at meetings pontificating about them on their soap boxes.

It’s true for those on both sides of the divided board. And at last week’s meeting, Barbara Nevergold dominated the conversation with concerns about students who opted out of state standardized tests and were then, she argued, at a disadvantage in gaining admission to City Honors School. She has been raising the issue at board meetings for months.

Nevergold made her points early in the meeting and then wanted to raise the issue again when it came time for a vote on the consent agenda.

A perplexed Superintendent Kriner Cash reminded her she already addressed the issue. Nevergold responded by saying she was entitled to bring it up again.

“You are a one ... string ... banjo,” Cash told her.

Nevergold didn’t seem to mind the characterization. Instead, she owned it.

“And I play it well.”

What's particularly irksome about the exchange between Dr. Nevergold and Superintendent Cash in my estimation is the way Cash appears hellbent on ignoring the point Nevergold has made and made again and made at the beginning of the meeting then reiterated before the vote. You can hear Tiffany Lankes whining that Nevergold "dominated last week's meeting with conversation about concerns..." The point being that a kid's refusal to participate in state enforced high stakes testing should not be used to exclude that kid from a criterion school such as City Honors. The district and in several cases I've been shown, the Principal of City Honors, have summarily excluded kids by adding zeroes in the application where the state test scores are listed. Test refusal alone is enough to drop any kid's score on their entry rubric out of competition. And since it's a competitive process kids who refuse state testing, which is their legal right, need to have some recourse on the entrance rubric other than acepting zeroes on tests Governor Cuomo his own damned self assured New York residents are "meaningless." Seems if they're meaningless as the self declared lobbyist for students has declared then they sure as hell shouldn't be used to keep kids out of City Honors should they? 

But they are being used that way and they have been used that way and Nevergold is simply bringing up a topic a guy like Cash who's allied himself firmly with the so called ed reform movement does not want to hear. Remember how Cash got the job folks, he was foisted on us by NYSED Commissioner Elia another foot soldier and enforcer for the ed reform movement whose entire post teaching career has been a series of calculated moves within the tentacles of the so called reform network. These people live and die by high stakes testing. If it gets discredited and cast aside they lose their ability to engage in mass school closings and mass teacher firings. High stakes testing is to the ed reform crowd what a jack knife is to a boy scout. Without it all progress grinds to a halt. And here at a Board of Ed Meeting -- in the very place where a student advocate as Nevergold is attempting to advocate for students she is being blown off with a cornball phrase that sounds like it might have charmed them in Memphis and tickled their waspy sensibilities in Martha's Vineyard. Fact is Kriner Cash you're in Buffalo now, like the t shirt says, it's the City of No Illusions. And all of this just folksy "one string banjo" crap is not cutting it.  

Until the district rectifies the illegal logjam they've created with using high stakes test scores as part of the golden ticket into City Honors, Kriner Cash should expect to hear nothing but this one banjo string over and over and over again. This isn't the Lions Club or the Kiwanis and you're not presiding over your college reunion pig roast with homespun charm and witticisms. You're fiddling while kids are being turned away from a unique learning experience they've earned a right to participate in. Don't the ed reformers love to crow about kids having "access to a great education?"  Well it's time to lay off the banjo comments and get your access in gear Dr. Cash.  I appreciate Dr. Nevergold's quick repartee but I seriously hope she isn't willing to settle for exchanging verbal thrusts and parries with this dude when bigger fish beg frying. Sooner or later someone's parents are going to go to court over this. Wouldn't it be a nice change if they didn't have to? 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Reform Majority's Season Finale of Failure -- Thar's Gold in them Thar City Halls



Not A Post About John King But It Could Be

I hate to be the I told ya so guy but as predicted the last failed act of the so called Reform Majority has fizzled like a damp firecracker on the Fifth of July. The wealthy white men's lobby with the help of their bar tender and barmaid thought they could reach inside a legally binding labor contract and pluck the cosmetic rider out as if they were playing a game of "Operation" and the rider were some Funnybone or Wrenched Ankle. State Supreme Court Justice Tracey A. Bannister issued a temporary restraining order on this ill advised last attempt to claim an accomplishment after all the time they pissed away huffing and puffing, cussing out camera men, force feeding us Superintendents and hiring lawyers. 

Speaking of ill advised, shouldn't Larry Quinn's young pal and campaign manager Eddie Betz have known with all of the legal acumen he's acquired in his vast law career that this dog wasn't gonna hunt? Maybe he should have advised Sir Lars, Carl and Sampson to just concentrate on throwing an ass kicking party when their term ended? After all Barrister Betz was annointed  errr I mean appointed after the majority was able to rally their 5 votes and shitcan General Counsel Rashondra M. Martin declaring her to be incompetent. Never mind that Betz had squat for experience in school board law and no experience as district counsel either. When compromised political hack Steve Pigeon bullied disgraced and recently unrobed Judge Michalek into hiring Betz as a "receiver" Betz, who only graduated from Law School in 2012  didn't meet any of the criteria for the gig but Michalek  said F it and gave him the job saying “We pushed it through anyway … have to give them a spec reason etc. will figure it out …" While this may seem silly to us lay folks the "receivership" gig can be pretty sweet: “Depending on the length and complexity of the litigation, a receivership can earn an attorney anywhere from a few thousand dollars to six figures,” one knowledgeable Buffalo attorney told The Buffalo News." 
A few thousand to SIX figures... nice work if you can get it handed to you...

Add to that the fact that Betz served as Lars Quinn's campaign manager in his run for the school board and that he also represented fellow "Reform Majority" mate McCarthy in another case and you have what some malingerers like to call a clear cut case of the Old Boy Network firing on all cylinders. As if all that wasn't enough of a bag over the head kick in the crotch already, consider the fact that B-Lo Superintendent Kriner Cash his own damned self weighed in and handed this connected white lawyer an extra $30K more than what the black woman whose job he took had been paid as district counsel. This coming from a guy who lived and died -- o.k. lets be honest, he lived high on the hog-- through merit pay bonuses as Superintendent of Schools in Martha's Vineyard. Maybe the fact that he evaluated himself for most of that time and go figure he never met a pay bonus he didn't earn if you asked him -- but that's another post. It's right here actually. 

So young Goodman Betz gets handed one sweet gig through the strings attached largesse of political cloak and daggerman Steve Pigeon and a judge whose robes are dragging in Pigeon shit and is handed yet another sweeter gig through the benevolence of the great Sabres dismantler Larry Quinn and his accomplices of the so called Reform Majority. 

Stop right there, take a little snapshot of all this corruption, connivance and fuckery and ask yourself if Larry Quinn should ever, repeat EVER let the word "Reform" escape his hyper Altoided piehole again.  

And forgive me cause I guess I am on a roll but who the hell appointed Kriner Cash the banker in this municipal game of Fuckopoly? He pushes for the hiring of young Betz who by all accounts is  still suffering bar exam night sweats then flips the dude an extra $30K as a baksheesh for simply not being Rashondra Martin? What other merits did Cash divine in Sir Lars's campaign manager that added up to $30K? And am I the only idiot who noticed that the pay went up by $30K after it was taken away from an African American woman and handed to a connected white dude with jack for experience but a long list of cronies? 

I hate to be that item in the punchbowl but it appears that Kriner Cash isn't the only one looking to fling bags of money at people who've proven underwhelming and unamazing in their performance. KC his own self was just awarded an extended contract and given some thousands to add to the famous FU money he told us he already had socked away when he got here. While The News tells us Nevergold and Belton Cottman said thumbs up publicly but blew Cash raspberries in private it didn't stop the Board from awarding Cash close to a Dean's list GPA and a 2.5% COLA on top of his quarter million plus $25K salary. Remember too my friends, when Kriner Cash was hired he too was handed an inexplicable $60K raise from what Pamela Brown was paid to do the same job. Do testicles somehow lead to pay raises in the administrative ranks of BPS? Is there something inherently low paying about having a uterus in this school district? In both cases Cash and Betz were handed an increase close to the salary of a 20 year teacher for no apparent reason other than an obvious Y chromosome, some facial hair and maybe a bow tie or two. Maybe Cash is treating people the way he likes to be treated. And hot damn if it isn't working. They call it the Golden Rule. And I can't think of too many people who dig gold better than Superintendent Kriner Cash. 


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Unbearable Lightness of Responsibility

Not My Semi Automatic


Teacher haters celebrate any time some clueless chalkboard grunt gets caught with their pants down or gets blown up for sending inappropriate messages over the internet. Any kind of teacher misstep where the person whose very career is predicated on being professional and appropriate from the minute he sets foot in his first classroom til the day the union prints his name in The Provocator and he hands the classroom keys off to some bright eyed pup who's going to change the world is cause for some ugly headlines. Our cut score is 100% professionalism at all times. It's expected. Society and the profession demand it. We kind of do too I think.

When I wrote about the Buffalo teacher who was put on administrative leave after a student received a nude pic of him showing his face and his junk a few posts back I didn't pull any punches. Either you're a slimebag -- who sends minors  entrusted to your care obscene pics of yourself or you're a total fucking moron. I will share that I was trolled in a comment I didn't publish by someone who asked how did I know the guy didn't leave his phone out and a student rifled through it and forwarded the offensive image without his knowledge? Nice try by a cheap seat Paul Cambria but I'm not buying it. If that's what happened-- and I seriously doubt it did-- I'll take total effing moron for $500, Alex.  

The experience of teaching alongside one of these scumbags left me pretty damned cynical I'll admit. PJ, yes his real initials, came to my school under a cloud and we were all a bit leery of him after reading that he'd been accused by a number of kids in his previous school of behaving inappropriately with them. But he was a black guy coming to a South Buffalo school and who wanted to be tarred with that old brush right? Typical South Buffalo Irish Catholic racist bastards mistreating this poor guy who'd already been run through the ringer by his own scheming lying students! You could imagine the outrage and the uproar. So the guy was given a fair shake from what I saw and he used his greasy smarmy sociopathic charm and self deprecating humor to allay everyone's anxieties about the type of man he was. He had us believing he'd been railroaded by a gruesome little girls club of vindictive middle schoolers. We believed that right up until the troubled girl he'd been working on for months ran screaming down the hallway to the office after he tried to wrap his arms around her and slip her a grown up kiss in his classroom where he'd somehow managed to get her all by herself.   

Now you wanna talk about the outrage and the uproar? We were kicking ourselves in shock and disgust at being duped by this creep. What a shitty feeling to get played for one yeah but the fact that a kid got hurt really, really stung. I recall how we all cringed to learn about the Superintendent a few years back who hired a known thief to work in the grants office even though he was explicitly told she had a history and could not be allowed to work anywhere funds were available to be filched. Her file had Keep 500 Feet Away from Funds scrawled across it in red lipstick but hey I guess she told him she'd changed. So, money went missing and girlfriend got hauled away and we were sadder but wiser but no kid got molested so it's a different type of regret, One you can almost live with on a relative scale. Just a case of stupid and some secondary gains on someone's part that most of us weren't privvy to. I mean he must have had his reasons right? 

None of us wants a convicted thief sniffing around City Hall with an empty money bag. None of us wants to share a profession with the kind of dirtbag that thinks students are theirs for sexual poaching and flirtation. That's not who we are and it's not who we want to think of as our colleagues. God knows my name has never come up in a discussion of Top Ten Most Uptight Teachers. Once when teaching the jr. high behavior class I raised my voice for effect. Two people stopped by to ask if that was me laughing that they never knew I yelled or that I knew how to yell. I took it as a compliment. My point being even the most Jerry Garcia-esque among us is going to draw their line in the chalkdust and say This I will not accept. Being laid back doesn't mean you put up with perverts and pederasts among your ranks. When it comes to this kind of bullshit I think 100% of us might agree on this alone if nothing else. 

Which brings me to my point, for lack of a better word. In the weeks since Orlando we've seen another uptick in the so called "gun debate" in this here U.S. of A. My camp-- who counts among its membership my high school classmate and former Army Ranger friend-- espouses the idea that AR-15s and their ilk were made for the explicit purpose of killing many people quickly and thus were created for the battlefield not the Cul de Sac or street corner. We are hearing quite a different refrain from that aggrieved and put upon demographic self described online and in the media as "responsible gun owners." This oppressed minority feels their very way of life is under attack by misguided liberals and sentimentalists. RGO's will insist that it could just have as easily have been a Ford Escort or a fertilizer packed Ryder truck that wiped out all those first graders in Newtown. Cause if you want to kill someone you will find a way. The very idea that restricting semi automatic rifles to keep them out of murderously insane hands of people who'd kill children strikes at the very core of the Ammosexual Manifesto. The fact that a twisted little nameless turd  was able to get his hands on that type of killing machine -- it belonged to his mommy, a "prepper" and the first of his victims that day -- and use it on someone's 5 year old 2 weeks before Christmas doesn't seem to sink in with the gun crowd the way creepy PJ trying to french kiss a 13 year old sunk in with me and my colleagues. Don't you gunnies want to think of yourselves as decent, responsible folk who care about your fellows? Isn't there some deep need among ya'll to distance yourselves at least perception wise from the guy at Virginia Tech or the Aurora movie house or Newtown? Don't you want to step aside and say that's not us man, we don't approve of this shit? But in so doing you'd have to relinquish your toys, the really fun noisy ones that get your motor running like nothing else in your world does. 

Or am I missing some deeper point here? Do so called RGO's honestly believe their right to possess a weapon designed for battlefield use where it can kill many people quickly is more important than the life of someone's 5 year old who went to school that day without a thought in the world of being ripped apart by semi automatic rounds in a classroom? How exactly does one say Hey I am sorry this weapon is being used on moviegoers and first graders who are defenseless victims but don't think for a second that I am going to step up and agree that maybe I will be ok with just my shotgun and my .38? How exactly does one justify the availability of these weapons in the wake of nearly 1000 mass shootings since Newtown without ever once wondering if maybe they don't want to be part of this group any longer? 

I wrack my brain to come up with a reasonable comparison of something in my own life that I could cling to with the blind, emotionless resolve I see the among the so called RGO crowd any time someone suggests civilians should not be walking around with these goddamned guns. I draw a blank. Take my 8 cylinder SUV, my coffee pot, my ipad and my baseball bats. Take all of it I can't see if any of them were used repeatedly to murder small and large groups of fellow Americans how I would be willing to say "Hey, wait a minute here folks, I have my rights..."

But they do exactly that. Shooting after shooting after shooting. Save your thought and prayers next time, cause we all know the next one is coming. Instead of thoughts and prayers go take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself whose loved one's life is less important than your right to own a battlefield weapon. Then send them a card with your thoughts and prayers on it. I'm sure they'll be touched.