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A dirge for the dead ones

Dead Sons, “The Hollers and the Hymns”, off of their one and only 2013 album of that name. This short-lived UK band was only together for a couple of years, made one album, then broke up. Too bad, sounds like they had some interesting stuff.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Whenever you have an incident like, say, cops who beat suspects simply because they talked back, even when they had no plans to arrest them, or already had them restrained in handcuffs, apologists for what passes as modern policing say “well, that’s just a few bad apples, most cops aren’t like that.” Maybe not, but I’ve always suspected that one reason bad cops stayed on police forces was because if police forces fired all the bad cops, they wouldn’t have enough cops to do everything they’re tasked with doing.

So just how many bad cops are there? Well, the Seattle Police Department was investigated by the Department of Justice, which found a pattern of officers violating the Constitutional rights of citizens. In particular, the Seattle PD was in many cases judge, jury, and even occasionally executioner, going far beyond the minimal amount of force needed to do their job. The right to due process enshrined in the Constitution says only a judge and jury can punish a criminal — not a street cop. If a street cop goes beyond the minimal force needed to take a suspect into custody, he has violated the Constitution.

So the DoJ didn’t say how many bad cops were doing the bad stuff, but once this was found, the Seattle PD quickly arrived at a settlement with the Department of Justice which included new policies that set strict limitations on use of force. Police officers under the new policies can use only the minimal force necessary to take a suspect into custody, no more. Unless there is an immediate threat to public safety they are no longer allowed to respond immediately with force, they have a duty to go through the escalation of force pyramid starting with negotiation prior to using any physical force. And so on and so forth. None of which is particularly controversial — this is how use of force policies look in many police departments nationwide — so you’d think that Seattle’s cops would be okay with the new policy, right?

Well, the good cops were, anyhow. But 10% of Seattle’s police department sued the City claiming that they had a Constitutional right to violate the Constitutional rights of the citizens of Seattle.

So I guess we know part of the answer to the question, “what percentage of a big city police department is ‘bad apples’?”. The answer is 10% *minimum*. Because you know darn well that the smarter ‘bad apples’ didn’t put their name on this lawsuit, realizing that suing your employer for the right to violate the Constitutional rights of other people is a Career Limiting Move. How many of the smart ‘bad apples’ are there? No idea, but at least we now know that at least 10% of cops we encounter are bad cops. Which is not a fact that should be tolerated in a democracy… but I guess that boat sank long ago, sigh.

- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Slacker coffee fix

Australian slacker anthemist Courtney Barnett, “Depreston”. Not on any of her albums. Just more stream of consciousness, the modern day slacker talking blues. Coffee and the over-inflated housing market. Yep, depreston.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

And my ballots have arrived in my mailbox. So I’m now researching the candidates and propositions and figuring out who I’ll vote for.

I’m going to start local first of all. The most important — THE most important — race on your ballot this fall is your local school board. This is what determines how our children will be educated. If you elect a good school board, one that is supportive of your administrators and teachers and willing to listen and help them in any way in their power, you likely will have good schools. If you elect a toxic school board, one that accuses administrators and teachers of being incompetent rather than listening to them, and which believes they’re more capable of teaching than people who’ve spent their lives doing the job even though they’ve never spent an hour as a teacher, you’ll get toxic schools — schools where the best teachers and administrators flee to other districts, where morale is low and the teaching is passionless.

Okay, here’s my endorsements for the Santa Clara Unified School District races on my ballot, which are Trustee Area 2 and Trustee Area 3.

Trustee Area 2: There are two vacancies for this area. This area is currently represented by two toxic people who think they know how to teach better than teachers know how to teach, despite having never spent a single day in the classroom teaching, and who keep going into schools and classrooms and telling teachers and administrators how to do their jobs. The result has been dire — lawsuits, the best teachers and administrators fleeing to other districts, and one member of their clique even has not one, but *two* restraining orders keeping him from setting foot on school campuses where he has physically threatened administrators or teachers with violence.

For Trustee Area 2, vote for two wonderful people who have spent time in our classrooms and know what their job is supposed to be as school board members — i.e., help and support our teachers and set direction, not go in and tell teachers how to teach. Noelani Sallings and Jodi Muirhead will be a wonderful breath of fresh air after the two toxic people who currently hold those positions on the school board. They are people who have a long history of listening and helping, something that the two incumbents have never been accused of doing.

Trustee Area 3: This area is already represented by a wonderful man, Andrew Ratermann, who has a long history of listening to teachers and administrators and doing whatever is in his power to help them succeed with our students. Re-elect him, please.

So that’s who I recommend for the most important races on my ballot. Hopefully you do your homework for *your* ballot too. Because local races like this really do make a difference, and in most cases there are real choices with real consequences. If you decide to stay home instead, that means you basically voted for whoever wins — and have nobody to blame but yourself if that winner turns out to be a real dud. Just sayin’.

– Badtux the Electoral Penguin

Dire Straits, “Sultans of Swing”, off their 1978 self-titled album.

But they kept playing anyhow, even though almost nobody listened, because it was what they did.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Let them eat cake

Republican governors are taking food out of the mouths of children and calling it “tough love”. Because apparently the misery of poverty isn’t enough to motivate people to try to work their way out of poverty (and poverty is miserable, believe me, I’ve been there, done that, it wasn’t fun, nosiree, even back during the Carter Administration when we had an actual functioning social safety net). No sirree, we gotta make sure they’re starving, and homeless, and dying on the streets from exposure and lack of health care. It’s the only moral thing to do, to save them from those evil lie-berals and their evil “social programs” that way, yessiree.

– Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Growing up too fast

James McMurtry, “Childish Things”, off his 2005 album by the same name.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

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