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[Below the orange whatever is my letter to my son.] But first, some context:

We came home tired, hungry, and a bit chilled after 8 hours of canvassing in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Ohio, together, this evening.  He wanted to stay longer to do a third, extra shift in response to the desperate call they sent out to all our cell phones to stay and keep working the streets ...

I'm 52.  He's 16.  

I looked into his eyes and tried to get my hurting bones to meet his enthusiasm and commitment, and I saw (for the first time) the kind recognition in his eyes that I simply was not up to it.  

We started to talk over each other in a kind of Maji gift moment kind of thing, and then, I let him win.  We came home.

So ended 8 years of canvassing, together.  We started when he was 8 with the Kerry campaign.  His first button was" "Ogres for Kerry" with the Disney Character on it.  During the first Obama campaign, our son fell fully in love with him.  Hey, kids REALLY like him!  He got to shake his hand in Dayton. (He crawled on his hands and knees between legs to get toward the front ... and then, people picked him up to bring him up to the front.)  Yeah, Democrats are nice.

During the 2008 campaign, our OFA handlers declared him their "secret weapon" in his basball cap and sincere pleas for votes ... with his procotious command of the issues.

In 4 more years, he'll be in college.  He'll be off and away ... an experienced, young field organizer.  I realized, today, as we were walking for EVERY VOTE TOGETHER, that this will probably be the last time we do so, together.  

My letter to my son.


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Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 06:18 AM PDT

LA Charter School Curriculum Lies

by bkamr

With just a week to go before school begins, I am busy getting my room ready, making copies of class materials, organizing lab supplies, and planning, plannning, planning.  I am particularly looking forward to using a number of new lesson series that I developed over the summer to teach geological time and evolution, this year.

While I've been busy doing this, it seems that quite a few LA new, charter schools have been doing the same, except they will be teaching lies.

According to Mother Jones,

Under Gov. Bobby Jindal's voucher program, considered the most sweeping in the country, Louisiana is poised to spend tens of millions of dollars to help ... 119 (mostly Christian) participating schools ...  teach or champion creationist nonscience and will rake in nearly $4 million in public funding from the initial round of voucher designations.

Many of these schools, Kopplin notes, rely on Pensacola-based A Beka Book curriculum or Bob Jones University Press textbooks to teach their pupils Bible-based "facts," such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience

Zach Kopplin is a college sophmore who has identified a number of the lies contained in these materials and has posted a petition on to try to Halt the implementation of Louisiana's creationist voucher program.  

Continue beyond the squiggle for some of the lies that will be taught to LA school children thanks to Bobbie Jindal, the GOP, and taxpayer money in public schools, this year.

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In January 2011,  I wrote a diary about my family's story that got handed down to me about how the Gilded Age/ Robber Baron Era killed my great grandfather and didn't even pay to bury him.

I posted it just after the disasterous 2010 election, after I saw how the meta and individual issues dispirited even folks at DKos, because I was really worried about what the 2010 election could mean.

We are still being standoffish and not being full in?  If so, what do you not get yet?  

The 1% are GLOBAL now, and just like they don't give a damn about people in Sri Lanka or where ever:

Many of you may not have had the benefit of having family stories about what the Guilded Age/ Robber Baron Era was like in real, human terms in the United States was like when the bastards like Romney and his ilk were in control.  

Well, here is a re-post of that diary (with newspaper reality from the time), because IMO we are doing the same god-awful thing we did before the dreadful 2010 election.  

Here's the repeat diary and story.  My plea comes after.


I took my mother her medication, today.  She's 87, so I fill up her plastic, daily medication boxes.  We almost lost her a year ago, due to getting just one pill wrong on a prescription it turned out she no longer needed, so I am very happy to do this small task for my beloved Mom.

As I filled the boxes, she chatted with me ... before the holiday, she'd had a lovely phone conversation with her only cousin still left alive ... and look what she'd sent in her Christmas card:

   The dead man leaves a wife and two children.
It was a copy of a micro fiche page from a Philadelphia newspaper from May 2, 1894.  The page contained the story about how my great grandfather died, at work, as an engineer for the Southern Electric Light Company.
   At 7:45, he noticed that the large eight inch pipe that supplies the big 500 horse power dynamo was vibrating.  Thinking he could remedy the trouble, he climbed to the top of the pipe,
For those who think we can still afford the luxury of meta-play on this electronic playground, I'd like to share some personal family history and what I'm looking at on this one newspaper page from 1894.
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Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM PDT

Black Lung is Back

by bkamr

One of my great grandfathers died from complications of Black Lung. He was a Pennsylvania coal miner, and he was born and lived most of his life during the 19th century.

Well, it's the 21st century, and in an article on MSNBC:

Throughout the coalfields of Appalachia, in small community clinics and in government labs, it has become clear: Black lung is back.
In case you are not familiar with Black Lung, it develops when miners breathe in coal dust in poorly ventilated mines. The result is grotesque. According to Dr. Edward Petsonk who works with NIOSH,  “No human being should have to go through the misery that dying of [black lung] entaills ... it is like a screw being slowly tightened across your throat. Day and night towards the end, the miner struggles to get enough oxygen. It is really almost a diabolical torture.”

Why and how can this still be happening?

The disease's resurgence represents a failure to deliver on a 40-year-old pledge to miners in which few are blameless, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and NPR has found. The system for monitoring dust levels is tailor-made for cheating, and mining companies haven’t been shy about doing so. Meanwhile, regulators often have neglected to enforce even these porous rules. Again and again, attempts at reform have failed.

I know, I know so what else is new about workers getting screwed, right?  However, there are 2 things that are new in this same old crappy story.   Over the squiggle for more ...

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Yesterday, I had a discussion with a friend who was very upset and angry about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).  After a minute or so of listening to her rant, it was amply clear that she had no idea what the law actually included.  

Not wanting to go through summer listening to histrionic tirades about things that aren't even real -- e.g. Death Panels, I decided to respond instead of just letting it go.  

To my amazement, the approach I used worked!

I posted my best effort to capture the exchange as a comment, and per requests, here's a diary on it.

As she started in on how rotten Obamacare is ...  looked at her and said:

Well, I like it.  I am damn tired of subsidizing and paying for the free loaders who don't pay for insurance and just go to the ER when they get sick or hurt.  I say it's about time someone made those damn freeloaders pay their fair share instead of us paying higher premiums and higher taxes to cover their care.
That got a slack jawed look of confusion, so I followed it up with a list of the good stuff along the lines of:
Yeah, you and I won't be affected at all ... oh, except for maybe getting a rebate check each August if the insurance company doesn't spend at least 80% of what we pay'em actually paying for medical care for us ... oh, and your son will get to stay on your coverage until he's 26, no pre-existing condition shit anymore, we can't get dumped anymore either if we get sick, no lifetime caps anymore ... good stuff like that.  It's just the damn freeloaders who can afford to pay but don't are finally going to have some personal responsibility.
As long as I kept using the phrase, "damn free-loaders being made to pay their fairshare,"  I was able to explain the real,main parts of the law!

We even got to the "death panels," and I explained that:

some idiot ... I think it was Palin ... started calling having living will discussion with your own doctor.  Originally, the law was trying to give us this kind of doctor's visit as a new benefit that would get covered (Iit isn't now - you have to pay for that kind of visit completely out-of-pocket) ... But NOOOO, that idiot started making out that it was some sort of crazy gov conspiracy Death Panel - scaring people with bizarre shit like the government is out to kill all our grandparents ...  So, unfortunately that benefit got left out.
On and on we went actually discussing the REAL aspects of the law.  Being able to change jobs without fear about losing your insurance, and we even covered that SHE would not be taxed to provide the subsidies ... It turned out to be a very nice conversation.  My friend went from being confused to flumoxed to nodding to angry, once again.  

Only, by the time we were done she wasn't angry at Obamacare; she was angry at Fox News, now, for being so misleading.  (I'm going to send her the research about how watching partisan news outlets alone can really mess with your head -- best to stay with a strong dose of NPR and The Daily Show.)

As Radiowalla  (HT) pointed out, Healthcare Freeloaders = welfare queens  ... I had just kind of desperately wanted to find some way into my friend's way of thinking and the damn healthcare freeloader phrase was like a key in a fraudulent lock that got forged long ago.

Another (HT) to Bensdad for his "good parts" of the bill list:

1. Insurance will be cheaper because everyone will be required to have it.
2. You can keep your current insurance if you like it.
3. No taxpayer dollars. You pay your share of the policy premiums just like now. But it will be lower.
4. In fact, if anyone who can afford insurance freeloads, they have to pay a tax.
5. If you can't afford insurance, you will get help, so you can.
6. Your adult kids can stay on the policy until 26, so they will be insured while in college or pursuing a career.
7.  Not government-run healthcare! It's free market! The government just requires you to have it. Your relationship with your doctor stays the same.
8. Don't like the insurance through your employment or want to change jobs but are afraid to lose your insurance? There will be affordable plans for you to choose from (created by demand). You can change jobs if you want.
9.Near retirement but too young for Medicare? The Feds give money to your employer to supplement your health care insurance in retirement, if they offer such a benefit to you already.
10. Got a preexisting condition? Insurance companies think we all do. It doesn't matter. They have to insure you.
11. If insurance companies charge too much in so-called administrative fees and other things not related to healh care, they have to refund it to you.
I know it's only a test sample of ONE, but it worked.  I like Obamacare because it's going to make the damn healthcare FREELOADERS finally pay their fair share.  

If it helps get us all talking about what is actually in the actual law, it's worth the try.

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MSNBC is carrying this:

According to Santorum ...

"One of the things that you don't know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing," Santorum began telling about 400 people here. "Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. That too is part of ObamaCare -- another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country."
Soooo, President Obama is purposely "culling" out less able fetuses with the intent to have them aborted in order to a) save money and b) because he's one of those elite folks who looks down on people less able than he is to the point where he thinks less abled folks should just be killed.

WTF?  Prenatal testing is being positioned against what -- the horrific murders of disabled children and adults in Nazi Germany?

I was never in favor of the Hillarity Op., but with the hateful crap spewing out of Santorum, I have to say he's scaring me more than Bachman or Palin ever did.  I do NOT want this delusional/ evil? man anywhere near the White House.  

Short diary, I know.  I'm frankly almost speechless about this.

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Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 02:43 PM PST

Comfort Food ... from leftovers.

by bkamr

It's the day after Christmas, and our refrigerator is full of the leftovers.  Our family company is gone, and there was no way we could eat it ... Unless, I got creative.  As I looked at the reminants, I began thinking about how not to waste anything and how much I already miss my sisters.  

So, I decided to use the leftovers to make some comfort food and store away the results for winter days when we all would be arriving home from work and school cold, and too tired cook.

Beneath the squiggle, you'll find a few of the things I'm putting our leftover holiday to good use in.   The fun part was trying to figure out things to make that didn't require going to the grocery and just involved raiding the frig and the pantry.

And, if you have any ideas or recipes to share, I'd love to hear about them.  Especially if anyone has any ideas what to do with cookies.

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Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 06:50 PM PST

Thank you, Subscription Donors!

by bkamr

I thought I was the one in charge of the surprises, this Christmas morning.  Sipping my coffee and waiting for everyone else to wake up and smell the coffee, so they could unwrap what I hoped were a number of delightful surprises ...

... I realized there was something a bit different about my dkos page.  

At first, it didn't fully register -- it's like looking at a dear friend who got a new hair cut and you know something is changed, but aren't exactly sure what it is.  Plus, I was still on my first cup of coffee.

Then, an incredible thought occurred to me -- there were no ads.  Could it be?  Naw, how could it be?  Me? My eyes flicked to the right: No messages ... But, clicking on my profile, YES! There it was -- a Lifer Badge on my profile!

wow. WOW.  I just blinked at it; rubbed my eyes.  I clicked off and then back onto my profile to see if it stayed there.  Yep, it did indeed seem to be there alright.

I don't mind sharing that I burst into sentimental tears.  Talk about being surprised and bewildered and humbled and touched and grateful, and did I mention surprised?  So much for ME being the one who was the keeper of the day's surprises.  I have never been as completely and delightfully surprised in my entire life, and it's left me nearly speechless.

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Here's an odd thing just in:

“In order to devote more time to my family, I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives,” he said in a statement. “It is an honor to have the trust and confidence of the citizens of Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District.”

Davis was a definite win, if he ran, and even this site has been peppered with his re-election ads ... until now.

The standard "devote more time to my family" line?  This is just downright weird.  I would have expected that what with the poll just out showing that the Republicans may be vulnerable in the House that McConnell would have been able to ensure that this secure, puppet-in-a seat would have stayed put.

Sorry about short diary.  I have to go to school.

Short diary, gotta run to school


Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 09:25 AM PST

Try teaching students without books ...

by bkamr

Last week, I posted a diary about trying to run a science classroom on $2.87 per student per year -- thank you for all who participated.  This week, I'd like to talk about how we don't give our children textbooks, anymore.

For the the last decade or so, we have answered the question -- "Butter or bullets?" -- with bullets.  But, I wonder how many parents and other educational supporters know that this choice means we chose taxcuts and bombs over text books for our children?

Back in the day, I was issued my own textbook for every class.  During the first days of school we went through the ritual of adding our names to the printed tables in the books checking to see who had "our" book before us.  Then, we went through the step by step process of covering each of text with grocery paper bag covers.  With colored pencils, we'd creatively write the topic on the front, and as we'd curiously preview what was inside each book getting a sense of what the year might hold, we were allowed to draw some pictures on the front to illustrate the course topics.  I still remember the smell and feel of those crisp coverings that became softer and a bit dog-earred over the course of the year. It would have been unthinkable for a student not to be given their own textbook.

As we folded and colored the brown paper into protective covers, the book-check-out form would wind its way though the classroom, and we'd add our names and our book number.  We'd also add our signature to indicate that we pledged to take good care of the book we were being trusted with for the year.  This was taken seriously, since we knew we could be charged for damages. LOL we always inspected our books carefully raising our hands to point out any tears to be mended ... and any bad words that needed to be erased.

The message was clear:  This is YOUR book. This is the content that YOU are expected to learn, this year.  YOU are being empowered to so.  YOU are expected to value and care for this collection of knowledge, this year.

The trend away from books for every student to "classroom sets" seems to have begun in the 1990's, but it really accelerated in the 2000's.  As far as I can tell talking with the many teachers I have contact with across the nation, classroom sets are now the norm.

As a teacher and a parent, I think this fundamental change has had a BIG effect on educational outcomes from a number of very important perspectives.  In fact, I think it just might be the single most important contributor (at least one of the top 3) in terms of educational losses and yet, I am not seeing many (if any) people even talking about -- let alone being outraged by it

Follow below the fold, for my thinking about the effects of the loss of textbooks for students has had on a generation of students ... parents and the current state of our civil society.


What do you think about our students not having textbooks, anymore?

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| 147 votes | Vote | Results

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We had a family friend over during the holiday who decided to go on a rant about "greedy teachers" and the SB5 vote in Ohio.  Given that I was his hostess and a teacher, I considered his behavior not only boorish, but also ridiculous and just plain wrong.  So, I decided to serve him a piece of my mind with his pie, this year.  

By the time I was done with his remediation lesson, he did have the grace to apologize.  However, I know that his previous perspective is probably still held by millions of Americans out there.  People who are seething with the myth that their lives are being made worse due to greedy teachers and their god awful unions.

Jump the squiggle for the gist of what I told him about "greedy teachers."

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Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 10:14 AM PST

"Touched" by Sandusky

by bkamr

The former Penn State coach called it "Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story." You couldn't make that up. If it were in a Hollywood movie, critics would call it not believable.

And, if the title itself doesn't have your jaw dropping, then some of the excerpts inside will certainly do so. But even with all that was seen by others, and even written by the man, himself, no one stopped this monster.  As a Penn State alum, I have really been struggling to comprehend how to remix my memories of Happy Valley with the evil realities that were allowed to just go on and on there.

I find myself filled with so many questions.

How could JoePA have done nothing?  Why did McCleary just abandon that child and run away?  What is evil? How could so many even beyond Penn State have endorsed this book by Sandusky and not have sensed something was wrong?  How could and The Penn State Bookstore still have been promoting it as of this weekend?  [Note: Amazon seems to have either taken off their inventory, or sold out, as of now.]

In his own words below:

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