Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Living Like It’s Heaven on Earth

Dissent 58
May 16, 2001

Irvine Valley College: Living Like It’s Heaven on Earth: Yes, It’s National Friendship Week at that community college!

By Red Emma 

    Earlier this week—and on the very same day—Red Emma received both an email and a written solicitation, one purporting to celebrate “National Friendship Week” and the other inviting him to subscribe to “America’s Last Real Newspaper.” Wow!
    The email included the now annoyingly e-biquitous bit of intellectual sophistry reprinted below, the moral equivalent of two of Red Emma’s favorite (and by that I mean despised) old chestnut barbershop aphorisms: “I had no shoes and complained, until I met a man who had Raghu Mathur for an illegally appointed president” and “God grant me the serenity to accept the Republicans I cannot change, courage to change the Holocaust Revisionists, homophobes and nutty deans I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.”
    Yes, I’m confident that some well-meaning e-noodler has sent this special little memo to you too, but just in case you haven’t received it, here it is, in full:

    If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following:

    There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all
6 would be from the United States.
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth
1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
1 would own a computer

    Of course, your anarcho-socialist part-time reporter has no quarrel with the apparent rhetorical thrust so far (although I do count 635 people, above, not 100, yuk, yuk. And, for the record, I am confident that that one computer would be down). It’s what follows, posing as analysis—or something—that gets Red Emma, well, redder:

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent. The following is also something to ponder...If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation…you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death...you are more blessed than three billion people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep...you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. If your parents are still alive and still married ... you are very rare, even in the United States and Canada. If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.
    Double blessing! Wow, for little red me? I am “ahead of” other people?
    Here Emma had to restrain himself from jumping up, counting his spare change, and delivering it immediately to the Church of His Choice.
    But wait, there’s more:
Someone once said: What goes around comes around. Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. Sing like nobody's listening. Live like it's Heaven on Earth. It's National Friendship Week.
    Who, exactly, said that? And who decided NFW was this week? And has somebody alerted Raghu? And who, exactly, is this “someone” who is thinking of me? 
    My email ended as follows, though at least it ended.
Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND. (Their caps, not mine—I’m a writing instructor.) Pass this on, and brighten someone's day. Nothing will happen if you do not decide to pass it along. The only thing that will happen, if you DO pass it on, is that someone might smile because of you.
    You just gotta know that I’m passing this on to make YOU smile, dear Dissent reader, to brighten your goddamn day. This knuckleheaded homily is clearly meant to annihilate any critical thinking or political analysis that might in fact result from consideration of the otherwise helpful and groovy facts. Shrink the world, indeed. As I re-read this collection of hackneyed Hallmarkery, I am reminded now of those timeless inspirational posters hung by our college president in A100 (at considerable expense) and their thoughtful representations of “Courage,” “Teamwork,” “Trust,”  “Flatulence” and “Irritable Bowel.”
    No, of course, I’m not blessed. Neither are you. Sorry. We are privileged, the result of a sophisticated and chauvinistic system of class, ethnicity, and institutionalized violence. We happen to have been born, entirely by accident, into problematic citizenship in both the best and the worst nation to perhaps ever sit around and shit all over planet earth. This funny little empire recently elected an oil man to keep us “blessed” and the rest of the world pissed. President Shit-Fer-Brains, whose daddy’s counselors, high priests, gangster friends and other war criminals are now reinstated in Junior’s office, plan even now to blow up outer space, all in honor of the mission of that senile old fart who poses, smiling, with another president (all the while thinking “Who is the asshole, Nancy?”) in a photograph also hung proudly in A-100.
    But I digress.
    The other missive received that day at Casa de Emma Roja was a direct mail appeal to subscribe to, yes, The Spotlight, “The Voice of the American Majority.” You can’t make this stuff up. Attentive readers of this Pulitzer-bound journal will recall my dear editor’s long-running unsolicited and one-sided correspondence with a “writer” for that paper, a promoter of his bad self and the much-missed (not by me) Herr Frogue, now starring, I read, on Broadway in a popular Mel Brooks musical comedy.
    Dear readers: in what kind of strange life do people distribute happy talk about “blessings” even as Nazis propagandize and right-wing idiots continue to run public education—and by run I mean, of course, straight into the ground? It’s just everyday life in South Orange County, California. And everybody but the people who live here seems to know it.
    Example. Red listens occasionally to the generally silly and reductive Mr. Larry Mantle on KPCC’s “Air Talk,” mostly to argue with the host, whose stock in trade is clichés like “stock in trade” and paraphrasing his excellent guests inaccurately, to the complete detriment of their ideas and analysis.
    By the way: in the tradition of “Trekkies” and Grateful Dead fanatics, I like to call the host, myself, and other Air Talk faithful listeners, Airheads. The head Airhead’s guest last week was an academic whose unlikely opus of historical/political analysis argued, convincingly, that, yes, our very own li’l reactionary county was the starter yeast, as it were, for the whole sour loaf of right-wing Barry Goldwater-Reverend Schuller-Ronald Reagan-Accuracy in Media-Heritage Foundation-Moron Militia-Thomas Fuentes cabal.
    Here then: the Actual Transcript of Two Airheads on Public Radio…

Caller: Hi, Larry. My question probably won’t be as smart as your terrific guest, but I was wondering: as an instructor in public higher education in Orange County, I got teased a lot by my friends and colleagues in LA County. But then I came to find that a member of my community college’s board of trustees was a Holocaust denier–
Mantle: Oh, you work at that community college—
     Caller: Yes, Larry, that’s right: South Orange County Community College District. And here’s the thing—and your guest might want to comment: the board member was actively supported by the chair of the county Republican Party. But here’s my real question...

—Yes, thanks Larry. That community college!

*     *     *



    As some of my fellow faculty members accept lunch invitations from deans, even as adjunct faculty members are being harassed, threatened with firing or discipline or, as in the case of Philosophy instructor Ken Brown, are in fact fired, you gotta wonder: with friends like these, who needs Raghu?
    Yes, FRIENDS, it is, apparently, National Friendship Week! In the spirit of same, Red Emma announces his own slogany week of concurrent actions, modestly titled: Resist Fucking Anything Week. Please! Anything at all. Send back a memo. Decline lunch invitations from management. Do some interesting photocopying. Post an unapproved flier. Think a naughty thought to yourself. Wonder thoughtfully: "My god, how much worse does it have to get before I object?"
    Out of acts of modest resistance come, yes, consequences. It’s like Professor Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you. Then, they crack down. Then, you win.” Well, we’re a long way from winning, comrades. And, even then, victory is bittersweet. The small win resulting from Red Emma challenging the district, for instance, after its blatant discrimination against this Adjunct Faculty member, only forced him, ironically, to endure more time in these people’s company. Talk about mixed blessings! Double blessings!
    Reminds me of the Shalom Aleichem joke about a proper blessing for the Czar. Sure, says the rebbi, here’s a proper blessing for the Czar: “God bless and keep the Czar...far away from us.”
    Red’s modest victory manifested itself in the further sadomasochism required of union activists, in my case actually dressing up and enduring a hiring committee interview for a fulltime tenure track teaching job he had not a snowball’s chance of getting. All just to insist that these clowns follow the contract! Warned for years about the weirdness down at Saddleback, I proceeded with my usual humor, enjoying a high-colonic and methamphetamines in the car and, upon arrival at the sprawling Frank Lloyd Wright-designed campus, inserting small pins deep in my head. Ouch, those smart, I thought to myself. Good thing I put ‘em near my brain.
    My favorite moments of the nearly three-hour “contractually required” interview process:

    A. Offered a bagel snack, I took the baked goodie back to my soundproofed private pre-interview cubicle and, after taking a single bite, observed green mold growing on it. I alerted the cheerful secretary person: “There’s mold on this bagel,” I said. Showing a truly patriotic and cheerful lack of concern for my health and the state of District bagels, she said: “Oh, I hope not. I just ate one myself.”
    B. Once inside the actual interview chamber, a guy on The Committee, sporting a mental institution issue haircut, explained to me the new procedure. Although, he said, you have been given a question to which you’ve no doubt prepared in response a teaching demonstration, that question is not the actual question of this committee. I will now read to you the actual question, as I am required to do. After I’m done reading the question, you can proceed to answer the original question, for which you prepared your teaching demonstration.
    Like everybody else in the room, I ignored him.
    C. The affirmative action officer said not a word, her singular job apparently to hold a cardboard sign reading “10”—neither my score nor my beauty rating, I surmised. So pleased was she with the homemade signage that, when I asked her whether it meant ten minutes for the question or ten minutes remaining in the interview, she simply wiggled it further and smiled.
    D. Left afterwards in the office of an absent faculty member with, to put it delicately, elaborate taste in furnishings (and, to put it less delicately, weirdo Renaissance Faire dress-up decorating tendencies), Red Emma found himself stuck with a computer screen absent editing icons. A self-admitted technological imbecile, Red called “Help!” and within minutes found himself surrounded by secretarial staff, none of whom knew how to use the damn thing and would not summon the committee chair or anybody else for assistance.
    Bagels, anyone?
    E. At this point, a fellow union member who, upon seeing me there, asked if I was interviewing for the position, wondered why I’d want to work at the college. I don’t, I thought to myself, but I am certainly enjoying my morning of activism and lower gastrointestinal cleansing on behalf of adjunct faculty.

    Which reminded me of another of my favorite jokes: how long have you been working here? Ever since they threatened to fire me.
    By now the drugs were wearing off. The whole miserable affair reminded me again of Mr. Gandhi and his famous remark about British civilization. Here it is, mutatis mutandis:

“What do you think of professional behavior at Saddleback?”
“I think it would be a good idea.”

    Sour grapes? Maybe. Although with a couple of Old Guard knuckle-draggers on the hiring committee, even Gandhi wouldn’t have been forwarded for a fulltime position.

*    *    *

Dear Friend:
            If we could shrink the earth's population to a college in South Orange County containing precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

1 illegally appointed president.
1 unqualified dean
5 board members opposed in principal to public education
1 HR administrator who blackmailed above board members into a job
400 plus adjunct faculty underpaid, undervalued, and unrepresented
1 extra electric cart for Raghu

Well, you get the idea, FRIEND. Have a happy week! Bless you! Salud! Gesundheit! —RE

It's Heaven On Earth, by Red Emma

From Dissent 58, 5/16/01
Originally entitled:

Irvine Valley College: Living Like It’s Heaven on Earth:

Yes, It’s National Friendship Week at that community college!


By Red Emma

Earlier this week—and on the very same day—Red Emma received both an email and a written solicitation, one purporting to celebrate “National Friendship Week” and the other inviting him to subscribe to “America’s Last Real Newspaper.” Wow!

The email included the now annoyingly e-biquitous bit of intellectual sophistry reprinted below, the moral equivalent of two of Red Emma’s favorite (and by that I mean despised) old chestnut barbershop aphorisms: “I had no shoes and complained, until I met a man who had Raghu Mathur for an illegally appointed president” and “God grant me the serenity to accept the Republicans I cannot change, courage to change the Holocaust Revisionists, homophobes and nutty deans I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.”

Yes, I’m confident that some well-meaning e-noodler has sent this special little memo to you too, but just in case you haven’t received it, here it is, in full:

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following:

There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all
6 would be from the United States.
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth
1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
1 would own a computer


Of course, your anarcho-socialist part-time reporter has no quarrel with the apparent rhetorical thrust so far (although I do count 635 people, above, not 100, yuk, yuk. And, for the record, I am confident that that one computer would be down). It’s what follows, posing as analysis—or something—that gets Red Emma, well, redder:

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent. The following is also something to ponder...If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation…you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death...you are more blessed than three billion people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep...you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. If your parents are still alive and still married ... you are very rare, even in the United States and Canada. If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

Double blessing! Wow, for little red me? I am “ahead of” other people?

Here Emma had to restrain himself from jumping up, counting his spare change, and delivering it immediately to the Church of His Choice.

But wait, there’s more:

Someone once said: What goes around comes around. Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. Sing like nobody's listening. Live like it's Heaven on Earth. It's National Friendship Week.

Who, exactly, said that? And who decided NFW was this week? And has somebody alerted Raghu? And who, exactly, is this “someone” who is thinking of me?

My email ended as follows, though at least it ended.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND. (Their caps, not mine—I’m a writing instructor.) Pass this on, and brighten someone's day. Nothing will happen if you do not decide to pass it along. The only thing that will happen, if you DO pass it on, is that someone might smile because of you.

You just gotta know that I’m passing this on to make YOU smile, dear Dissent reader, to brighten your goddamn day. This knuckleheaded homily is clearly meant to annihilate any critical thinking or political analysis that might in fact result from consideration of the otherwise helpful and groovy facts. Shrink the world, indeed. As I re-read this collection of hackneyed Hallmarkery, I am reminded now of those timeless inspirational posters hung by our college president in A100 (at considerable expense) and their thoughtful representations of “Courage,” “Teamwork,” “Trust,” “Flatulence” and “Irritable Bowel.”

No, of course, I’m not blessed. Neither are you. Sorry. We are privileged, the result of a sophisticated and chauvinistic system of class, ethnicity, and institutionalized violence. We happen to have been born, entirely by accident, into problematic citizenship in both the best and the worst nation to perhaps ever sit around and shit all over planet earth. This funny little empire recently elected an oil man to keep us “blessed” and the rest of the world pissed. President Shit-Fer-Brains, whose daddy’s counselors, high priests, gangster friends and other war criminals are now reinstated in Junior’s office, plan even now to blow up outer space, all in honor of the mission of that senile old fart who poses, smiling, with another president (all the while thinking “Who is the asshole, Nancy?”) in a photograph also hung proudly in A-100.

But I digress.

The other missive received that day at Casa de Emma Roja was a direct mail appeal to subscribe to, yes, The Spotlight, “The Voice of the American Majority.” You can’t make this stuff up. Attentive readers of this Pulitzer-bound journal will recall my dear editor’s long-running unsolicited and one-sided correspondence with a “writer” for that paper, a promoter of his bad self and the much-missed (not by me) Herr Frogue, now starring, I read, on Broadway in a popular Mel Brooks musical comedy.

Dear readers: in what kind of strange life do people distribute happy talk about “blessings” even as Nazis propagandize and right-wing idiots continue to run public education—and by run I mean, of course, straight into the ground? It’s just everyday life in South Orange County, California. And everybody but the people who live here seems to know it.

Example. Red listens occasionally to the generally silly and reductive Mr. Larry Mantle on KPCC’s “Air Talk,” mostly to argue with the host, whose stock in trade is clichés like “stock in trade” and paraphrasing his excellent guests inaccurately, to the complete detriment of their ideas and analysis.

By the way: in the tradition of “Trekkies” and Grateful Dead fanatics, I like to call the host, myself, and other Air Talk faithful listeners, Airheads. The head Airhead’s guest last week was an academic whose unlikely opus of historical/political analysis argued, convincingly, that, yes, our very own li’l reactionary county was the starter yeast, as it were, for the whole sour loaf of right-wing Barry Goldwater-Reverend Schuller-Ronald Reagan-Accuracy in Media-Heritage Foundation-Moron Militia-Thomas Fuentes cabal.

Here then: the Actual Transcript of Two Airheads on Public Radio…

Caller: Hi, Larry. My question probably won’t be as smart as your terrific guest, but I was wondering: as an instructor in public higher education in Orange County, I got teased a lot by my friends and colleagues in LA County. But then I came to find that a member of my community college’s board of trustees was a Holocaust denier–

Mantle: Oh, you work at that community college—

Caller: Yes, Larry, that’s right: South Orange County Community College District. And here’s the thing—and your guest might want to comment: the board member was actively supported by the chair of the county Republican Party. But here’s my real question...

—Yes, thanks Larry. That community college!

* * *

As some of my fellow faculty members accept lunch invitations from deans, even as adjunct faculty members are being harassed, threatened with firing or discipline or, as in the case of Philosophy instructor Ken Brown, are in fact fired, you gotta wonder: with friends like these, who needs Raghu?

Yes, FRIENDS, it is, apparently, National Friendship Week! In the spirit of same, Red Emma announces his own slogany week of concurrent actions, modestly titled: Resist Fucking Anything Week. Please! Anything at all. Send back a memo. Decline lunch invitations from management. Do some interesting photocopying. Post an unapproved flier. Think a naughty thought to yourself. Wonder thoughtfully: "My god, how much worse does it have to get before I object?"

Out of acts of modest resistance come, yes, consequences. It’s like Professor Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you. Then, they crack down. Then, you win.” Well, we’re a long way from winning, comrades. And, even then, victory is bittersweet. The small win resulting from Red Emma challenging the district, for instance, after its blatant discrimination against this Adjunct Faculty member, only forced him, ironically, to endure more time in these people’s company. Talk about mixed blessings! Double blessings!

Reminds me of the Shalom Aleichem joke about a proper blessing for the Czar. Sure, says the rebbi, here’s a proper blessing for the Czar: “God bless and keep the Czar...far away from us.”

Red’s modest victory manifested itself in the further sadomasochism required of union activists, in my case actually dressing up and enduring a hiring committee interview for a fulltime tenure track teaching job he had not a snowball’s chance of getting. All just to insist that these clowns follow the contract! Warned for years about the weirdness down at Saddleback, I proceeded with my usual humor, enjoying a high-colonic and methamphetamines in the car and, upon arrival at the sprawling Frank Lloyd Wright-designed campus, inserting small pins deep in my head. Ouch, those smart, I thought to myself. Good thing I put ‘em near my brain.

My favorite moments of the nearly three-hour “contractually required” interview process:

A. Offered a bagel snack, I took the baked goodie back to my soundproofed private pre-interview cubicle and, after taking a single bite, observed green mold growing on it. I alerted the cheerful secretary person: “There’s mold on this bagel,” I said. Showing a truly patriotic and cheerful lack of concern for my health and the state of District bagels, she said: “Oh, I hope not. I just ate one myself.”

B. Once inside the actual interview chamber, a guy on The Committee, sporting a mental institution issue haircut, explained to me the new procedure. Although, he said, you have been given a question to which you’ve no doubt prepared in response a teaching demonstration, that question is not the actual question of this committee. I will now read to you the actual question, as I am required to do. After I’m done reading the question, you can proceed to answer the original question, for which you prepared your teaching demonstration.

Like everybody else in the room, I ignored him.

C. The affirmative action officer said not a word, her singular job apparently to hold a cardboard sign reading “10”—neither my score nor my beauty rating, I surmised. So pleased was she with the homemade signage that, when I asked her whether it meant ten minutes for the question or ten minutes remaining in the interview, she simply wiggled it further and smiled.

D. Left afterwards in the office of an absent faculty member with, to put it delicately, elaborate taste in furnishings (and, to put it less delicately, weirdo Renaissance Faire dress-up decorating tendencies), Red Emma found himself stuck with a computer screen absent editing icons. A self-admitted technological imbecile, Red called “Help!” and within minutes found himself surrounded by secretarial staff, none of whom knew how to use the damn thing and would not summon the committee chair or anybody else for assistance.

Bagels, anyone?

E. At this point, a fellow union member who, upon seeing me there, asked if I was interviewing for the position, wondered why I’d want to work at the college. I don’t, I thought to myself, but I am certainly enjoying my morning of activism and lower gastrointestinal cleansing on behalf of adjunct faculty.

Which reminded me of another of my favorite jokes: how long have you been working here? Ever since they threatened to fire me.

By now the drugs were wearing off. The whole miserable affair reminded me again of Mr. Gandhi and his famous remark about British civilization. Here it is, mutatis mutandis:

“What do you think of professional behavior at Saddleback?”

“I think it would be a good idea.”


Sour grapes? Maybe. Although with a couple of Old Guard knuckle-draggers on the hiring committee, even Gandhi wouldn’t have been forwarded for a fulltime position.

* * *

Dear Friend:

If we could shrink the earth's population to a college in South Orange County containing precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

1 illegally appointed president.
1 unqualified dean
5 board members opposed in principal to public education
1 HR administrator who blackmailed above board members into a job
400 plus adjunct faculty underpaid, undervalued, and unrepresented
1 extra electric cart for Raghu


Well, you get the idea, FRIEND. Have a happy week! Bless you! Salud! Gesundheit!

—RE

The Old Guard's not-so-sweet charity

From Dissent 58, 5/16/01 Originally entitled: 
NOT-SO-SWEET CHARITY: Puerta de Escándalo

By Chunk Wheeler [Roy]
Prof Robert Kopfstein called to say "thank you" to all who so generously donated goods, cash and time for the children of La Puerta de Fe orphanage in Baja. It was the most successful fund-raiser ever and the group was able to buy lots of fresh produce, meat and dairy items at the mercado in Tijuana. Dr. Kopfstein and others will be making a special trip to the orphanage on 12/5 to deliver Christmas stockings stuffed with toiletries and other small goodies. —
11/19/98
As everyone knows, a while back, the faculty union replaced its infamous “leadership,” thereby thrusting itself headlong into a brave new world of competence and decency. Yes, the Reformers now dominate the Association, and the “Old Guard”—those ruthless schemers who brought us the “Board Majority” (1996), President Raghu P. Mathur (1997), Wagner/Padberg (1998), and even Tom Fuentes (2000)—have faded largely into the background, unionwise.

So gone are the days of quorum-less meetings, homophobic fliers, Neanderthal union board allies, missing bylaws, unexplained political spending, mysterious bank accounts, and illiterate and vituperative union newsletters. Of course, we continue to suffer under the Old Guard’s chief legacy: an odious board (worse than ever, and turning its sights now on a reduction of salaries and benefits) and a clueless/evil administration. But, down at the meeting hall at least, aside from occasional Old Guard moonings and brayings, things are pretty damn quiet.

Our extraordinarily galootinous past is fading from memory.

—OK, OK: the CTA is still pursuing an audit of the Old Guard’s books, so the past lingers. Unfortunately, Sherry and the gang consistently refuse to surrender crucial records to auditors. Plus the Polyestered One won’t let the new leadership or the CTA into some PAC bank accounts. But Lee Haggerty, the current Association president, has no love of controversy: once in a while, he even blathers about the need for “healing” and loveliness. So, mostly, with Lee in charge, the era of internal union discord is over, and, like Van the Man says, the healing has begun.

Sticky residue:

An exception, however, to the absence of sticky Old Guard residue is the Association’s continued support of an orphanage in Baja named “Puerta de Fe.” Over the years (see, e.g., SC Online Newsletter, 11/19/98), and even now, we hear from the likes of Lee “Droopy” Walker or “Baño” Bob Kopfstein, who occasionally trumpet their journeys down south with a fistful of Association dollars. The Reformers inherited this tradition—though, generally, only Old Guard types actually make the trek to Mexico—and, naturally, they have been hesitant to raise any questions about it. Nobody wants to appear to be against helping orphans.

Late in ’99, however, as part of a larger Reform effort to introduce accountability to union operations, members suggested that, really, Kopfstein and the other orphanage regulars oughta secure receipts for the food they buy in Tijuana. That’s all. Receipts. “It’s just good practice,” we said.

The Old Guardsters reacted to this benign suggestion with defensiveness and hostility. Curt “ET” McClendon immediately spammed everyone with a memo that called Reformers “petty, vindictive, cold, [and] selfish….” Unlike the Reformers, he wrote, the Old Guard “are completely in favor of Bob Kopfstein helping needy orphans” (11/11/99).

–In truth, so was everyone else, though some of us wondered if Bob and Lee were the right people to show up at a home full of youngsters, what with the risk of pants droppage and all.

Mostly, though, we were concerned about accountability. It never occurred to any of us to question the charity itself. (Please note, however, that some members have expressed the notion that the Association should support more than just the orphanage.)

But, in recent days, disturbing facts about Puerta de Fe and its one-time director have come to light. Read for yourself. You’ll be amazed. 
 
* * *

Friday, May 4, 2001
Ending an 'Act of Revenge'
 
Ending an 'Act of Revenge' LA Times, 5/04/01
An O.C. man imprisoned in Mexico has been cleared of molestation charges. His accusers say they were coerced.  

By H.G. REZA, SCOTT MARTELLE, [LA] Times Staff Writers 

A Mission Viejo man who served as a liaison between St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Laguna Niguel and a rural Mexican orphanage it supported was cleared of child molestation charges Thursday after spending 6 1/2 years in prison.
David Cathcart, 59, was declared not guilty after four boys who had claimed he lured them into sexual acts recanted their accusations, saying they had been coerced into lying by the orphanage's director, Mexican authorities said.
Judge Marta Flores Trejo announced the ruling Thursday and asked government officials to conduct a formal investigation into the Puerta de Fe, or Door of Faith, orphanage and its director, Gabriel Diego Garcia.
"My bags are packed," Cathcart said in a jailhouse interview. "I'm ready to go."
Cathcart, however, was not immediately released. Prison officials three weeks ago charged him with drug possession after allegedly finding heroin in his cell in 1998, charges that Cathcart described as "trumped up."
"The drugs were planted in my cell," he said.
Cathcart, a Realtor, was convicted of sex crimes in 1994 based on the youths' statements. Cathcart maintained his innocence from the beginning and said Thursday he was accused after traveling to Ensenada to inspect the orphanage's financial books.
Flores said the coercion of the young witnesses appeared to be part of a pattern of abuse at the orphanage.
"All of these victims had [been abused], but each victim said that he had been previously raped by others, and not by Mr. Cathcart," the judge said. "Mr. Cathcart has said from the beginning that the allegations against him were an act of revenge. . . . The victims said they were coerced into making false allegations against Mr. Cathcart by Mr. Garcia."
In an interview, Garcia strongly denied that he asked the four boys to make false charges.
"I didn't make the accusations. The four boys made the accusations," said Garcia, who said his orphanage serves 82 youths. "I denounced Cathcart for what the boys said he did to them."
Flores said at least one of the witnesses, three of whom are now adults, recanted his story in her presence. The others retracted their accusations in affidavits…..
 
* * *
More:

In an article that appeared in the OC Register, Cathcart’s lawyer asserted that “Cathcart's defense at his original trial was inadequate….” According to Cathcart’s son, “evidence that would exonerate his father, such as plane-ticket stubs showing he was in New York at the time of the alleged molestations, was lost by Mexican law-enforcement officials.”

Another Times article explained that, when Cathcart first confronted Garcia back in ’94, Cathcart’s “suspicions were raised when [the] director…pulled up in a new Ford Bronco, while the orphanage seemed in need of repair.”

A more recent Times article explained that, according to the Mexican judge, her independent investigation of the orphanage “found evidence of widespread sexual abuse, including allegations that American visitors took children to empty rooms to molest them.” Said she, "There are adults from the U.S. who live there at the orphanage who have nothing to do with the orphanage. Nobody, including the director, could tell me why they were there.”

(See also “I’m ready to go,” Register, 5/4/01; “Family worries as wrongly jailed man faces hearing,” Times, 5/5/01; “Family worries about jailed OC man’s safety,” Register, 5/5/01; “OC man wrongly held in Mexico may soon be free,” Times, 5/12/01; and “Need recognizes no border,” Irvine World News, 12/7/00) Well, friends, here’s another fine mess…..'


* * *

Another fine mess you've gotten me into

The Year of Living Stupidly: The Dissent’s Seriously Ersatz “Semester in Review” by the Scooby Gang

[From DISSENT 58, 5/16/01]

“Voulez-vous couchet avec moi, c’est soi?”

“Nope.”


L’affaire journaliste

Late last spring, two faculty members were called on the administrative carpet for alleged “professional misconduct.” Their crime? Criticizing a student-written editorial published in the school newspaper, The Voice. The complaining student scribbler, a fellow evidently wholly unfamiliar with the rights and responsibilities of the fourth estate (despite his role as a newspaper editor), charged that, in expressing their criticisms, the profs (neither of whom were instructors of his) interfered with his right to express his abject cluelessisms.

One dean wisely declined to pursue the complaint, citing the faculty members’ First Amendment rights while, across campus, another dean began to assemble a guillotine plus the machinery of an “official inquiry” where, he promised, “other charges would be brought.”

After the faculty member’s lawyer contacted the dean, once, twice, almost three times, the threatened inquiry silently died of neglect—though, as happy testament to his contrition or embarrassment—or maybe complete unprofessionalism—the dean has since spoken not a single word about the threatened tribunal or, indeed, the disposition of this supposedly epoch-shattering matter.

Perhaps his silence is linked to the sudden and mysterious disappearance of the student.

Je m’appelle “Mud”

“C’est plus qu’un crime, c’est une faute!”

—A French saying

Merd! Where has that fiery editor-in-chief and staunch defender of student rights gone to? While one might guess that he transferred to another college as do so many, reports have it that, in fact, he is living avec père et mère in Santa Ana. And was his disappearance linked to the roughly simultaneous disappearance of computer equipment and monies of the student newspaper? (You read right, mon amie!) We’ll never know because, sources explain, the Mathurian régime declined to pursue the theft, preferring sub-carpet sweepage to scrupulous super-carpet displayage. Voila!

Pourquoi?, you ask. We don’t really know. But please remember that the skedaddler was, during his inglorious tenure, an enthusiastic defender of the Mathurian junta and, indeed, a happy recipient of gratuitous Gooian perks. In fact, the very editorial that drew the criticism of the two profs attacked rebel faculty and praised administrative crack-downs on freedom of expression. Sacre bleu!

Meanwhile, the same dean who so passionately criticized the profs for “interfering” with the student newspaper has been spotted lately in The Voice’s newsroom, cavorting in an 800 pound gorilla suit, and haranguing the student advisor. C’est la guerre!

If it’s Brown, flush it

Tolerance is another word for indifference.

—Somerset Maugham

As you may know, Ken Brown, a long-time IVC philosophy part-timer and bonhomme, has established an enviable reputation as an instructor and colleague of the highest order. As was explained last year during a tense Humanities and Languages School meeting, he is in fact our best philosophy instructor, or so said the sole philosophy full-timer at that memorable gathering. Plus he has made numerous valuable contributions outside the classroom.

Even so, he has now been fired, evidently owing to alleged rudeness or something. He thus joins a growing list of proud firees who…

—Wait a minute. This episode concerns a part-timer. Who cares?

Evidently, not the full-time faculty, who have done virtually nothing about the situation. I guess they shot their wad (an unimpressive little package) a year ago, when the regime went after Andrew T, that noted raconteur, rabble-rouser, and similarly excellent fellow.

Faculty silence speaks volumes. No wonder the Dissent went into hibernation. It shall do so again, tout à l’heure.

That special litigation magnetism

Last week, the district was served with a spanking new lawsuit regarding Board Policy 8000, that remarkable testament to authoritarianism and illiteracy, alternatively known as the “Speech and Advocacy Policy.” As you may know, this sorry doctrine is the product of an equally sorry saga: back in ’98, IVC President Raghu P. Mathur, faced with irksomely decorous student protests, decided to crack down, à la the Gipper, by arbitrarily restricting student speech; this inspired a lawsuit. (The students had the nerve to suggest that our Accreditation was threatened by the actions of the Board and Mathur, its sycophantic lackey. Mr. Goo thus clamped down on student protests, using another administrator, who was later fired. Not long thereafter, the college was indeed placed on the Accrediting agency’s “warning” list.)

That suit led to the adoption of a stupid Speech and Advocacy policy that was successfully challenged by students in Federal Court. The district responded by writing a new policy from scratch, a 30-page monstrosity that has simultaneously warmed the hearts of lawyers and stoked the indignation of disbelieving Times columnists, among others. But the Board Majority, led by the Education Alliance’ Nancy “Poo-pants” Padberg, took no notice. They happily adopted the thing and ran off to their Rush Limbaugh listening club.

Stay tuned.

Oh yeah. Last week, down at the district, I witnessed the serving of the papers for this suit. Minutes earlier, in BGS, we ran into an administrator who, referring to Raghu Mathur (who, these days, acts as a Vice Chancellor on the side), said, “At least we only have to live with the guy once a week.” We laughed.

When we went up to the 3rd floor of the Saddleback Library, lookin’ for the Chancellor, we found Raghu, hidden away in his closet. He looked like the goddam Maytag repairman, so lonely was he, contemplating his wash and dreaming of customers who never materialized. We made a sad face and left him there, heading for Chili’s for a brewsky.

The Dean’s List

While Santa is our favorite list maker, dispensing goodies to good girls ‘n’ boys and lumps of coal to naughty ones, lately we’ve become fascinated by another compiler of names, this one much closer to home and sans his own holiday. A dean, it appears, has been making a list—and we can only wish he had, like Santa, checked it twice before submitting it to the local press for review. An examination of the document (snagged by the Dissent editorial staff) suggests that the dean and/or his colleagues have submitted the material not only to the school newspaper but also the Times and the OC Register. The OC Weekly, much accursed for its coverage of all things Districtular, and the similarly accursed and celebrated SOCCCD Dissent, were inexplicably left off the fellow’s distribution list!

The listifying dean has, apparently, spent much time down at the Registrar of Voters Office, compiling a list of what he believes to be faculty and staff who were fiscally active in last year’s effort to elect Non-Neanderthal Trustees. A cursory Saint Nickular double-check of the list would have revealed discrepancies in numbers and names as well as other more disturbing disparities. A little thought might have also revealed some inherent problems with the very notion of a dean’s list of faculty and staff’s civic activity. Consider:

Problem One: Over 20 boys and girls on the list are under the dean’s direct supervision. One has to wonder (a few lawyers already are wondering) how their inclusion on the list has played and will play into faculty evaluations, which, as you know, are penned by the dean!

Problem Two: Some people listed are neither faculty nor staff. These few are—STUDENTS! While the public might express only mild disapproval of deans tracking the off-campus Constitutionally-protected political activities of faculty and staff, the tracking of student activities is another matter entirely. Indeed, this is the wrinkle that the local press usually finds most interesting—as do the students who made this dean’s list.

(The matter of the dean’s list was recently brought to the attention of the Acting Chancellor by the union Pres. The Chanc seemed unable to see the problem, and indicated simply that he was leaving for his vacation. Oh, good.)

Lawyers, Guns and Money

In graduate school, this intrepid future Dissent writer learned that a gun introduced in the first act must go off in the third. [Editor’s note: that was not a threat.] So offered Anton Chekhov, I believe. So far, no firearms have appeared in this issue of Dissent, but lawyers aplenty have and one wonders whether the self-declared fiscal conservatives who oversee our once-fine colleges have taken note. As recent SOCCCD history attests, a lawyer who appears in the first act merits fees in the third—and, so far, it’s the district that doin’ all the paying.

Of particular concern should be the behavior of one particular dean who has yet to read or perhaps needs to review the faculty contract, the district sexual harassment policy, and the fundamentals of Equal Employment. —No, the scandalous vulnerability attending part-time employment status does not trump state law nor collective bargaining, as any good labor attorney will tell you.

Lebow takes a bow; Sherry takes a powder

David Lebow, an official of the California Teachers Association, has for years helped shepherd the Faculty Association out of the valley of ludicrous Loutery and into the valley of decorous Decency. For his trouble, he was nominated for a CTA WHO award, which he won.

We’re told that, at the ceremony, when the time came to stick Lebow with his pin (or whatever), Sherry M-W walked out of the room, sticking out her tongue and seething humidly under her polyester pantsuit.

We don’t know if it’s true, but it oughta be.

What else? Dunno. Gotta go. —The SG

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary