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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

Dreamy friendship

Now Now, “School Friends” off their 2012 album Threads.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

I mean, it’s like that old saying about capitalism being where man exploits man, and communism being the other way around, da, comrade? Except in this case one party is for the rich by the rich, and the other party is the other way around.

Except, of course, it’s not. A look at the two party’s responses to the ebola issue should dissuade you from that.

Democrats: We need more funding for the CDC, and we need the Senate to quit blocking the appointment of a Surgeon General. We also need to fast track approval for the ebola vaccine once one is available. Meanwhile, to prevent catching ebola, do these common sense things: wash your hands regularly, avoid contact with the bodily fluids of other people, etc.

Republicans: OMG! Scary black people disease! Napalm the countries where there’s lots of ebola and kill all them darkies! Seal the borders! We’re all gonna diiiiiie! Oh, also, elect us Republicans as the party to take on ebola because those wishy washy Democrats won’t kill darkies like us!

I.e., one party is relatively sane. The other is batshit homicidal crazy.

That’s been the pattern for the past thirteen years, at least. The Republican Party lost its mind on 9/11/2001, and hasn’t gotten it back since.

So that’s my response when people say, “there’s no difference between the two parties.” Sure there is. One is party of filthy rich plutocrats looking out for other filthy rich plutocrats. And the other — the Republican Party — is batshit homicidal crazy. Either way we’re screwed. But at least there’s fewer dead bodies with the Democrats in charge. Just sayin’.

- Badtux the Differences Penguin

Hold on to time

Jason Molina / Songs Ohia, “Hold On Magnolia”, an acoustic version of the song on the 2003 album The Magnolia Electric Company.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

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