Saturday, September 19, 2009

This time tomorrow



Sometimes, I feel as though I’m in a whirlwind. Don’t know what’s up, what’s down. Feeling a lot like that lately. Sheesh.

Before he became, well, uninspired, Ray Davies of the British band The Kinks wrote great songs. Among my favorites: “This Time Tomorrow,” which is about the road and feelings of confusion, isolation, and whirlwindery:

This time tomorrow, where will we be?
On a spaceship somewhere, sailing across an empty sea?
This time tomorrow, what will we know?
Will we still be here watching an in-flight movie show?

I’ll leave the sun behind me and
watch the clouds as they sadly pass me by
Seven miles below me
I can see the world and it ain’t so big at all

This time tomorrow, what will we see?
Fields full of houses, endless rows of crowded streets?

I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t want to see
I feel the world below me, looking up at me

Leave the sun behind me, and
watch the clouds as they sadly pass me by
And I’m in perpetual motion and
the world below doesn’t matter much to me

This time tomorrow, where will we be?
On a spaceship somewhere, sailing across an empty sea?

This time tomorrow, this time tomorrow….

Those are great lyrics, man. And don’t you love brother Dave’s harmonies? Dang!

Dave Davies was the band’s guitarist. He’s sometimes credited with inventing “heavy metal,” thanks to the tone he achieved—he cut his amplifier speaker with a razor blade—on 1964’s “You Really Got Me,” another classic, and other hard-rocking hits from '64-'65. (That song's "feel," though not its guitar sound, derived from the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie." Compare the guitar solos!)

I think Dave was a better singer than Ray, too. Check out Dave's "Death of a Clown" (Dave)



The two have never gotten along. They’ve split many times. And they've reuinited as often. (They seem terribly attached to their sister--several of their songs are about her.)

Ray and Dave and the other band members were pretty rowdy in the early days--often got into drunken fights on stage. In 1965, the Kinks had so offended the authorities in the U.S. that they were banned from touring here for several years.

That’s too bad. They made their best music during their “exile” (1965-1969). It was also the period in which they sold fewer and fewer records. By 1970, it looked like the end for the band, despite endless critical praise for their influential albums.

The album that includes “This Time Tomorrow”—Lola versus Powerman and the Money-go-round, Part One (1970)—changed all that. It had hits, including “Apeman”—and at least one enduring masterpiece, the great “Lola.”


The guy "singing" here was actually the drummer for the recording. His mom owned the rights to the "Kingsmen," and so he just took over vocals, causing the actual singer, Jack Ely, to quit
Evidently, Ray, taking his father's advice, very deliberately crafted Lola to be a hit. (It was not the kind of song he liked to write.) He needed a hit to save the band. Well, Lola was huge.

(Reminds me of a story about the Turtles, a great American band once produced by Ray. The label was frustrated that the band hadn't had a hit to equal "Happy Together." So the band's singer, Howard Kaylan, went to his hotel room and wrote what he took to be a mocking regurgitation of "Happy Together," namely, the hilarious and unique "Elenore." He thought it was crap. Elenore, of course, became a big hit. The thing is, it was a better song than "Happy Together"!)

"Lola" seemed to be the last gasp of greatness for the band. (Some identify their next album—Muswell Hillbillies—as the last of the great Kinks albums. Maybe.)

So, if you don’t know about the Kinks, check out their stuff up through about 1972. There’s some great music there. (Live early performance of "A Well Respected Man"; Last of the Steam-Powered Trains (1969); Waterloo Sunset; 1972 TV special; Victoria!; Dead End Street (Original Video); Berkley Mews.))

1966 ~ Face to Face
1967 ~ Something Else
1968 ~ The Village Green Preservation Society
1969 ~ Arthur
1970 ~ Lola
1971 ~ Muswell Hillbillies


Once again, brother Dave's harmonies are perfect.


Listen to the original recording with Dave on vocals. (It was written by Ray for the Animals, but they turned it down! Would have been perfect for 'em.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Borlaug: "two opposing forces"

In his Friday Newsletter (What’s New), physicist Bob Parks notes the passing of Norman Borlaug, a “brilliant scientist” whose “work in agronomy led to the Green Revolution and saved perhaps 1 billion lives.”

Park quotes from Borlaug’s 1970 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:
"We are dealing with two opposing forces, the scientific power of food production and the biologic power of human reproduction. . . Man also has acquired the means to reduce the rate of human reproduction, effectively and humanely . . . but has not yet used this potential adequately. There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until food production and population control unite in a common effort."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tom Fuentes, Caspers' "bagman"?


If you can't believe a Boy Scout, who can you believe?
Yesterday, I noted Gustavo Arellano’s description of a 1972 incident involving former OC Supervisor Ronald Caspers, who died mysteriously in a boating incident in 1974.

Included among Caspers’ employees was one Thomas Fuentes—the future Chair of the OC GOP (from 1984-2004) and SOCCCD trustee (2000-present).

Caspers’ curious death is the subject of rumors and theories and, according to Gustavo (I contacted him), no new light has been shed on it in recent years. One theory—I heard about it from a certain prominent OC political writer—is pretty hair-raising.

Given Mr. Fuentes’ Karl Rovian reputation, I have always wanted to learn more about his mentor, Mr. Caspers. Evidently, he was the sort who would call Mexican Americans "banditos." Tsk Tsk.

In the past, I have Googled Caspers’ name but have found little information about him. I briefly tried again today and did come across this obscure LA Times article from May 20, 1986:

It's Hoffman vs. Sumner, Badham vs. Rosenberg at TV Taping - KOCE's May 29 Election Special Is Highly Charged

The article, written by political writer Lanie Jones, describes a half-hour show on KOCE featuring a debate by candidates for a congressional seat then held by five-term incumbent Robert E. Badham (Newport Beach).


Badham’s challengers appearing on the program included fellow Republican Nathan Rosenberg.* Presumably, Rosenberg new his way around the OC Republican scene:

Early in the show there were angry exchanges between Badham and Rosenberg, with Rosenberg attacking Badham for allegedly missing votes and spending campaign funds improperly. Badham meanwhile defended his performance and his ties to President Reagan….

At one point, Rosenberg, 33, a former Young Republicans president making his first bid for elective office, also took a swipe at Orange County Republican Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes, calling him "a bagman" for former county Supervisor Ronald W. Caspers.

That remark came as KOCE host Jim Cooper asked Rosenberg about a Friday night incident that Fuentes had dubbed "Rosengate," in which a Rosenberg campaign worker, using a fictitious name, was discovered at a Badham campaign meeting.

Rosenberg said his campaign worker "went on his own" to Badham headquarters, but then added, referring to Fuentes' term "Rosengate": "Coming from Ron Caspers' bagman, I don't feel bad about Mr. Fuentes' comment."

(From 1970 to 1974, Fuentes served as executive assistant to former Supervisor Caspers, who was lost at sea in a boating accident.)

Asked later what he meant by "bagman," Rosenberg said. "I don't mean anything. It means exactly what it means. Look it up in Webster's dictionary. I said what I said."

Told of Rosenberg's comment, Fuentes laughed, "I guess as we get closer to June 3, the heat is turned up in campaigns and people get more and more excited." Fuentes, who has been angry at Rosenberg since March for challenging a Republican incumbent, also called Rosenberg's remark "unfortunate."

Well, OK, Nate. I looked up “bagman” on my Mac’s dictionary. Here’s what I got:

bagman |ˈbagˌman; -mən|
noun ( pl. -men)
1 informal ~ an agent who collects or distributes the proceeds of illicit activities : one million dollars cash paid to the general's bagman.

Hmmm. Again, presumably, Rosenberg was very familiar with the (c. 1986) players of the OC Republican Party. So he would have known Fuentes and his, um, style. (By 1986, when this incident occurred, Fuentes would have been party chair for perhaps two years.)

Caspers’ era would have ended a dozen years earlier, but, presumably, had Caspers been the sort who had use of a “bagman,” GOP players would be aware of that fact, especially if their new chairman was that very “bagman.”

Ain’t politics fun?

*NOTE: In 1988, Mr. Rosenberg opposed Chris Cox in the 40th Congressional district Republican primary. Nowadays, Rosenberg is Chairman of the Board for the Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America. (See.) He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.

On the other hand, Mr. Rosenberg is est founder Werner Erhard's brother! See.

BACK IN 1985:

I came across this fascinating old Times article from January 07, 1985. Fuentes was about to start his gig as OC GOP chair:

Changing of the Guard for Orange County GOP - Incoming Chairman Sees Party's Role as 'Anchor to the Right' for State
[BELLY DANCERS?]
…Fuentes, occasionally dubbed the Prince of Orange for his exotic gourmet excursions that offer belly dancers and Broadway production numbers for dessert, is as much a part of the Orange County Republican Party as the familiar red, white and blue elephant on the party's letterhead.

[“I WORRY ABOUT HIM”]
"I admire Tom very, very much. Obviously I wish him well--and I worry about him," [four-term OC GOP Chair Lois] Lundberg said. "I don't mean this the way it sounds, but I think even my enemies would have to say that I did not lean, or let any segment take over or become dominant. I've had a 20-year history of politics in Orange County, where I've seen the right wing fight the left wing, and the moderates fight each of them, and they all fight each other, and the party go down the drain."

[OC: “ANCHOR TO THE RIGHT”]
[Fuentes:] "I see Orange County as an anchor to the right for the California ship of state, and winds gust from the left from West Los Angeles and San Francisco, and in our role as that anchor to the right, we have to be very vigilant about maintaining that [OC GOP] registration edge."

[FUENTES AND CASPERS]
Fuentes credits former Supervisor Ronald Caspers for much of his political rearing. He worked as an aide to Caspers for four years in the 1970s. Caspers' boat was lost at sea with 10 aboard--including Caspers --in 1974. (Fuentes would have been aboard the Shooting Star himself on the voyage to celebrate Caspers' reelection to a second term but decided against going at the last moment.) None of the 10 aboard was found.

Fuentes had hoped that he would be appointed to replace Caspers. When he discovered that there was a one-year residency requirement that he did not meet, he decided to carry out an earlier plan to enter a seminary and study for the priesthood.

A year later, Fuentes was back. "I found that the pace of seminary life and that monastic setting was just all too slow for me. I could never turn the motors off to slow down to that pace which is required to serve in the capacity of priesthood."

[FUENTES ♡ NIXON]
Memorabilia from Nixon's visit to the county in 1982 line the entire hallway outside his office. "I had the honor of being his host and master of ceremonies," he said. "He was so very gracious. I'll just read you this because it's my most treasured note. It says, 'Dear Tom, In the many years during which I have attended literally thousands of such affairs, I have never heard an emcee handle the occasion better. You were crisp, in charge, and inspirational. The party is fortunate to have your leadership, and I am greatful for your friendship. With warmest regards, R.N.'

The Morning Matinee: a preview of "Community"

Community college: "A place where anyone can begin again."

Check it out - community college hits primetime tomorrow night. Not since "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has there been an attempt to portray our workplace on the little screen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The day Fuentes’ boss called Mexican-Americans “banditos”

Tom's no "wab," y'know

As you know, DtB has noted Tom Fuentes’ time as an assistant to now forgotten OC Supervisor Ronald Caspers. In 1974, Republican Caspers and nine others disappeared at sea somewhere off the Baja California coast. Very mysterious. (See Even Beelzebub had a mentor.)

Gustavo Arellano just posted about the fellow:

Mexican-Bashing OC Politicians of Days Past: Ronald Caspers

Gustavo relates a story from 1972:
Caspers, annoyed that a Mexican-American group of county employees were demanding affirmative action (he had accused one of the leaders of not being an American citizen), called them "bandidos" during a board meeting, then asked county counsel to explore moving the county seat from SanTana to whiter environs because "we are in an area which does not have a normal ethnic balance."

…Caspers ended up apologizing for his gaffe during a board meeting, and the other supervisors reprimanded him publicly. Caspers claimed he didn't know bandido was an offensive term to Mexicans, a bullshit excuse considering Chicanos had just successfully axed the Frito Bandito the year before.
Gustavo notes that, at the time, one of Caspers staffers was Tom Fuentes, “who would eventually become the longtime chair of the GOP and has always proudly stated he has Spanish blood in him, not wab.”

Tom certainly made that point at a board meeting four years ago, when he described his people leaving from Spain on a boat, yadda yadda.

Really. Check it out:



The notorious "Frito Bandito"(1969)

Street: up Sh*t Creek

$7,000 in double-billings for a laptop computer?

A week or so ago, I noted that trustee “Tom Fuentes, former OC GOP chair, and his pals have worked hard over the years to place their corrupt friends in office. County Sheriff Mike Corona was one of those friends. He’s headed to the pokey.
Chriss W. Street, OC Treasurer-Tax Collector, is another.”

Well, this just in at the OC Reg:

Fraud trial set for O.C. Treasurer Chriss Street

Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Chriss Street will face trial early next year in a $7 million fraud lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Street milked Fruehauf to enrich himself and to build a trucking empire, rather than repay Fruehauf's thousands of creditors. Street has said he successfully managed Fruehauf and that [his successor, Daniel] Harrow is pursuing a political vendetta.

[Street] has had to give extensive testimony twice. Both times, the transcripts became public. The transcripts revealed that Street had billed Fruehauf for lavish trips and meals as well as $7,000 in double-billings for a laptop computer, $6,000 for a personal trainer and $1,100 for an overnight trip to a luxury hotel in New York.
...
The transcripts came on top of official controversies, including an extensive remodel of his office and his purchase of a $80 million structured investment vehicle that later defaulted.
Naturally, Street was on hand to give a special report to our board of trustees at its last meeting.

He had nothing new or important to say.

Corbett wins one

Remember those "Jesus glasses"?
Teacher not financially liable for disparaging Christians in class (OC Reg)

A federal judge has ruled that high school history teacher James Corbett is not financially liable for disparaging Christians in class, in violation of a former student's First Amendment rights.

"Corbett is shielded from liability – not because he did not violate the Constitution, but because of the balance which must be struck to allow public officials to perform their duties," [U.S. District Judge James] Selna said in a 33-page decision issued from his Santa Ana courtroom.

In May, Selna determined that Corbett, 62, violated the First Amendment's establishment clause when he referred to Creationism as "religious, superstitious nonsense" during a fall 2007 lecture at Mission Viejo's Capistrano Valley High School.

But the judge on Tuesday shielded Corbett from financial liability under a "qualified immunity" defense, a form of federal protection available to government employees who have violated an individual's constitutional rights.

[17-year-old Chad] Farnan's attorneys, who were working on the case on a pro-bono basis through a nonprofit Christian legal group, vowed to appeal the judge's decision.

"We feel the judge erred in his ruling," said attorney Jennifer Monk of Murrietta-based Advocates for Faith & Freedom. "At the same time, we are happy with the May 1 ruling and it doesn't not take away from the fact that Dr. Corbett violated the establishment clause."

In his lawsuit, Farnan did not seek monetary damages, but he asked that his former Advanced Placement European history teacher be fired or that the court issue an injunction barring Corbett from disparaging religion in class.

Selna ruled against issuing such an injunction; Corbett remains in his teaching position at Capistrano Valley High….

Doobie, doobie, doo


Pot users with chronic ailments lobby City Council (OC Reg)


Medical pot proponents called their peaceful rally tonight at Lake Forest's City Council meeting a success, saying the turnout brought awareness to the many patients helped through the use of medicinal marijuana.

The group – about 150 strong, filling the council chambers to capacity – vowed to return for the next City Council meeting to work toward keeping city dispensaries going by collaborating with city officials on how to regulate them.

"The solution is to regulate them," said Ryan Michaels, 27, who works with several of the Lake Forest dispensaries, to assure they are in compliance. "I don't think the problem is the city of Lake Forest. They are being pushed by their attorneys. The solution is regulating them and mitigating them through patient fundraisers. Potentially, we can come to a compromise."

The group – made up of representatives for patients with cancer, AIDS, chronic pain and nerve issues also includes advocacy groups like Medical Marijuana Inc. and OC NORML, the local chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws. The group is hopeful of changing the city's direction in the wake of its recent legal efforts to remove at least 10 pot dispensaries operating in some of the city's strip malls.

On Sept. 1, the Lake Forest City Council announced that it had filed civil complaints against 35 people associated with 14 medical marijuana dispensaries in the city and called on immediate prosecution and abatement of the storefronts

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yeah, but wait till the voters really take a gander at Peeve Boy

Wagnerian drama: a pact with the Devil


Yesterday, we learned that  former OC GOP chair Tom Fuentes is endorsing Don Wagner for the 70th Assembly District race. (Both are on the SOCCCD board of trustees.)

Today, Matt Cunningham of the OC Red County blog notes that, last night, the Orange County Young Republicans (OCYR) also endorsed Wagner.

Or so said Republican crony Adam Probolsky on his FaceBook page (he’s one of my “friends”).

I checked the OCYR site and, sure enough, the youthful goosessteppers (check out their pics!) held an event last night (at the “Club House” in South Coast Plaza). Their guest speaker was OC DA and corrupt rat bastard from Hades Tony Rackaucas, a close associate of Tom Fuentes. The Tonester has occasionally visited SOCCCD events over the years. Photo ops, you know.

Probolsky, you’ll recall, was Tom Fuentes’ busy little helper during the period of the latter’s curiously scripted appointment to the SOCCCD board of trustees in the summer of 2000, when Steve Frogue resigned. Since then, he has also been close to IVC’s Foundation (his bro has been close to Saddleback’s), and he has been very involved—ubiquitous, one might say—in Irvine and OC politics.

Mathur, Christina Shea, Anthony Kuo

As IVC President, Raghu Mathur, following the example set by his mentor Tom “let’s go to the spa” Fuentes (curiously, the two had met months before Frogue's resignation!), courted Republican youth (Mathur has served as advisor to campus Republicans), one of whom was the IVC ASG President Anthony Kuo. (It was during young Kuo’s tenure that Mathur’s boy Rodney Poindexter was inexplicably selected as ASG’s “Administrator of the Year”—at about the time that Rod went apeshit and had to be escorted off campus for the safety of all concerned.)

Later, as I recall, Kuo was a fixture in the county GOP scene as a member (and leader, I think) of the OCYR. More recently, he has worked for Christina Shea and other prominent Repubs. He's also been on the IVC Foundation board, natch.

It’s Fuentesland, Jake.


Fuentes and Wagner: very staunch

Tom's friends are just what you'd expect.

Whatever happened to humility?

Oil fire, Orange County, 1909

From David Brooks’ column this morning: High-Five Nation.

On V-J Day, Frank Sinatra appeared [on the show “Command Performance,” broadcast on the radio], along with Marlene Dietrich, Jimmy Durante, Dinah Shore, Bette Davis, Lionel Barrymore, Cary Grant and many others. But the most striking feature of the show was its tone of self-effacement and humility. The allies had, on that very day, completed one of the noblest military victories in the history of humanity. And yet there was no chest-beating. Nobody was erecting triumphal arches.

“All anybody can do is thank God it’s over,” Bing Crosby, the show’s host, said. “Today our deep down feeling is one of humility,” he added.

Today, immodesty is as ubiquitous as advertising, and for the same reasons. To scoop up just a few examples of self-indulgent expression from the past few days, there is Joe Wilson using the House floor as his own private “Crossfire”; there is Kanye West grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards to give us his opinion that the wrong person won; there is Michael Jordan’s egomaniacal and self-indulgent Hall of Fame speech. Baseball and football games are now so routinely interrupted by self-celebration, you don’t even notice it anymore.

This isn’t the death of civilization. It’s just the culture in which we live. And from this vantage point, a display of mass modesty, like the kind represented on the V-J Day “Command Performance,” comes as something of a refreshing shock, a glimpse into another world. It’s funny how the nation’s mood was at its most humble when its actual achievements were at their most extraordinary.
On the bright side, here's a fine discussion of UFOs (that's full of scientific humility):



Logicians talk about the "appeal to ignorance" fallacy. It works like this:
Nobody's disproved the existence of Bigfoot. That's evidence that Bigfoot exists!
OR
Nobody's proved the existence of Bigfoot. That's evidence that Bigfoot does not exist!
Wrong on both counts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sleeping under a bush at the Old County Courthouse

The home of the old "Fullerton News" (a century ago)

UH-OH, TOM 'N' DON ARE PALS! 

First, former OC GOP Chair Tom Fuentes has endorsed fellow trustee Don Wagner for Assembly.

Actually, that sucks. It means that Tom and Don are pals again. And that means they’ve buried the hatchet--in our heads--and so Raghu Mathur won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. (But what do I know.)

This news is in today’s OC/Red County blog, where contributor Allan Bartlett explains that he received the following press release from the “Don Wagner for Assembly campaign”:
Fuentes Endorses Wagner For 70th Assembly District
Longtime GOP Leader's Support A Strong Boost Among Conservatives 
...South Orange County Community College District President, and candidate for Assembly, Donald Wagner has announced the endorsement of Tom Fuentes, Chairman Emeritus of the Republican Party of Orange County.



"Don Wagner has been a tireless advocate for conservative causes and candidates and his professional credentials are tailor-made for him to be an effective advocate for Orange County and Republicans in the State Assembly," said Fuentes. "He will be a champion for our values and Republicans will be proud to have elected him." 



"Tom Fuentes is one of the most principled conservatives I have known and I have been fortunate to serve with him--and learn from him--on the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees," said Wagner.
"Tom is a respected voice and I am proud to have his support for my campaign for Assembly."



Tom Fuentes is a conservative activist and former Chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County (1990-2004). Fuentes oversaw the Orange County GOP as it became America's most Republican County. He is currently a Trustee for the South Orange County Community College District....
Trolley in Tustin, c. 1890

TOM 'N' CHRIS ARE PALS TOO

Meanwhile, over at the moribund LA Times, Steve Lopez (a thief! he stole my nickname for Mike Duvall, “Spanky”!) blathers about, well, Mr. Mike “eye-patch underwear” Duvall, yet another staunch conservative (who, as it happens, was endorsed by our very own John "Incompetent Civil Servant" Williams):

'Spanky' Duvall's conduct is grounds for a good thrashing

After a few humorous observations, Lopez commences discussing Duvall’s replacement:

Potential replacement candidates were popping up so quickly, you had to wonder if one of them was involved [in releasing the infamous video to the media].
My personal favorite replacement would be Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, 59, who in July married a woman in her early 30s.

Of course he did!

Norby is one of Fuentes’ pals, a real right-winger. Perhaps you’ll recall the slick maneuver that Fuentes and pals attempted when “Dot” Fortune resigned from our board (gosh, she remained trustee even though, some alleged, she lived elsewhere in the state!), opening up a trustee spot between elections. At first, Tom and his GOP pals grabbed Norby’s brother Eric (who works at Claremont McKenna College, which has close ties to the Claremont Institute, on whose Board sits Tom Fuentes) for the gig. But then the faculty union figured out that they could challenge this thing, and, anyway, Eric smelled a rat (i.e., yet another lowlife Fuentean machination), and so he bolted, cheese or no cheese. In the end, the union managed to get their man, Bill “Poppin’” Jay on the board.

Whew!

Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach (c. 1905?)

Surely you know how the rest of this is gonna go. Naturally, if Fuentes cozies up to a politician, that politician will be all staunch and conservative, prayin’ and pledging, kicking illegal orphans, and preachin' the "sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman." Meanwhile, in reality, some very impure stuff is bangin’ around in his closet:
As the Orange County Register reported:
"It is the fourth marriage for [Norby,] the 4th District supervisor, who last year came under fire for claiming $340 for a weeklong stay at a hotel during the summer of 2007, when his previous marriage was on the rocks. That same week he was also found sleeping under a bush at the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana."



Look, nobody's perfect.
That’s for sure. Especially not one of Tom’s Republican pals. Dang!

Rebel Girl's Poetry Corner: "Meanwhile the world goes on"

Vice president Joe Biden visited the World Trade Center at Ground Zero last Friday marking the eighth anniversary commemoration of the 9/11 attacks.

Biden read Mary Oliver's poem, "Wild Geese."

Oliver won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for her collection American Primitive (1983) and the 1992 National Book Award for New and Selected Poems (1992). For her 40th birthday, one of Rebel Girl's colleagues gave her a copy of the Oliver book, The Leaf and Cloud - she cherishes it.

Here's the poem.


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Elitist prattle

Recently, a member of the English department acknowledged that I do have a “passing knowledge” of English and grammar and such. Boy did I feel special.

I do love all those wonderful controversies concerning grammar and syntax—you know, whether to noticeably split infinitives, whether to start a sentence with a big “but,” etc.

Here’s one of my pet peeves. Logicians know that “begging the question” is the fallacy committed when one assumes what one is supposed to be establishing. But some illiterate doodle-head decided to use “begging the question” to mean “forces the question upon us” a while back, and the world hasn’t been right since.

I’ll leave it to Jack Lynch, author of an online Guide to Grammar and Style, to explain:

Begging the Question.

It doesn't mean what you think it means. Begging the question — from the Latin petitio principii — is a logical fallacy; it means assuming your conclusion in the course of your argument. If you say "Everything in the Bible must be true, because it's the word of God," you're taking your conclusion for granted. If you say "The defendant must be guilty because he's a criminal," you're doing the same. It's a kind of circular logic. The conclusion may be true or false, but you can't prove something by assuming it's true.

This is very different from raising the question, though people are increasingly using the phrase that way. It's sloppy, and should be avoided. Here, for instance, is a piece from The Times (London), 30 Nov. 2004:

The behaviour of ministers is a matter for prime ministers, who appoint and dismiss them. But this begs the question of who should find out what has gone wrong on behalf of a prime minister.

No it doesn't. It raises the question; it prompts the question; perhaps it forces us to ask the question; maybe this question begs for an answer. But it doesn't beg the question.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"What are 'studies'?"—Register readers do not disappoint!

Dana Cove, 1960

Life among idjits: according to OC Reg readers, English, history and philosophy are just "empty bling"!

EARLIER TODAY, I noted Gary Robbins’ post about the UCI faculty who have signed a petition calling for a “walkout” on the first day of class. (See 73 professors join call for faculty walkout at UCI)

Robbins oddly notes that 50 of the signers are from the “soft” sciences, which he takes to be “the humanities and social sciences.” (Um, no.) Included among the latter areas are history, English, philosophy, and some fields that, in some circles, are associated with liberal or progressive agendas: Chicano studies and Women’s studies, etc.

I thought it might be interesting to read the Register readership’s response to Robbins’ post.

—Yes, I know. Entering into the Reg’s comment zone is a bit like entering a sleazy bar in a crummy part of town late at night. You don’t do that expecting to run into brainiacs.

I fully expected Reg readers to bash the so-called “soft sciences,” as Robbins oddly defines them. (It seems to me that the fields within the Humanities do not claim to be “sciences,” except in an archaic sense of that word.) Using that term was like waving a red piece-o-meat.

Sure enough, the right-wingers did not disappoint:

anonymous says:

yeah. They [i.e., petition signers] are angry that, “…The entire Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Division which houses American Studies, Asian Studies, Cognitive Science, Development Studies, Environmental Sciences, Latin American Studies, Media Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Religious Studies, and six other hugely popular major and minor programs is facing likely closure….” [who’s he quoting?] along with other grievances.
I strongly agree that our US Citizens should be open to other cultures and peoples. But I am not against closing down these departments. There will always be Liberal Arts Colleges that will offer these majors, but let’s not try to do everything at our universities. we [sic] simply cannot afford it. Maybe encourage foreign study abroad a little more aggressively for that sort of exposure.

Bob says:

…do we need any more graduates whose employment will mostly include saying ‘and do you want fries with that’?
It’s time to shut down un-necessary, especially ’soft’ Departments, like any well-managed business would do - and not just in tight financial times.

Marc960 says:

What are “studies”?
Women’s Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, African American Studies,
—These can all be combined into “Racists, Bigots and Chauvinist Studies”.
I still don’t get why there are no “What is an American” studies. It seems to me someone [sic] best start teaching that before it is just another chapter of a History book.

Major Variola (ret) says:

About 50 of the signers are from the humanities and social sciences, the so-called ’soft sciences.” They include faculty from such programs as sociology, history, English, comparative literature, Chicano studies, Women’s studies, philosophy and languages.
These are not sciences, they are sinecure jobs for useless “scholars” that Calif. can no longer afford. Empty bling is out.

History, English, and Philosophy are "empty bling"? Guess so!

Evidently, that last one was too much even for Gary Robbins, who responded:
Sociology is a field of science. W. E. B. Du Bois was a sociologist. So was H.G. Wells. And Alexis de Tocqueville. And Alvin Toffler. And Margaret Mead. Michelle Obama majored in sociolgy, among other subjects.

My God, doesn’t Robbins realize that his list of sociological heroes are likely on the Major's list of Unamerican commie homo atheistic rat bastards?

(Wells and Toffler are sociologists? Well, sort of. M. Mead was an anthropologist; was she ipso facto a sociologist? Don't think so. Robbins is a knucklehead.)

There’ve been a few classic Register rude right-wing rants:

debaser [!] says:

Overpaid leftist punks want to stage a walkout. Cretins are lucky to have a job. Not a damn speck of sympathy for any of them. Ivory tower morons.

Yeah! (I've got to admit: I do enjoy this fellow's no-nonsense, stogie-chompin' writing style!)

Naturally, some commenters seem to be reading from the Fuentes/Wagner/Williams Bible of Fiscal Staunchitude, which advises that a college should be run like a business:

ocdisgust says:

Hmmm, 30 [sic] professors, UCI needs to cut classes, staff furloughs…Maybe these 30 should be the first to go. That should alleviate some of the budget mess. I believe in freedom of speech/expression, but when you are an “Employee”, you have an obligation to the employer and when you choose to neglect your responsibilities to that employer (ie. [sic] being in the class providing the education they pay you for), you should face the consequences. Any employee in any other company would face consequences for skipping work; so should they.

I don't know about you, but I'm really gonna miss the OC Reg.

But not its readers.

Still pissed off

On dissenters and unsung heroesand all those damned **** ******!
This morning, the Reg’s Gary Robbins informs us that 73 UCI faculty have signed a petition calling for a walkout on the first day of the fall quarter, Sept. 24. (73 professors join call for faculty walkout at UCI.) Good for them!

Robbins notes that
The uproar comes as the UC Board of Regents is about to consider action that could infuriate students — raising fees up to 30 percent, with half of the hike coming in January.…
There’s little that’s new in Robbins' post (see Sham Shared Governance?). But Robbins does say something odd that caught my eye. He writes:
And the professors who’ve signed the online petition do not broadly and deeply represent UCI and its hospital, suggesting that the walkout might be little more than rhetoric. About 50 of the signers are from the humanities and social sciences, the so-called ’soft sciences.” They include faculty from such programs as sociology, history, English, comparative literature, Chicano studies, Women’s studies, philosophy and languages. There are few signers from such fields as biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering and medicine. And only a couple of Irvine’s elite professors have signed on.

This word “soft sciences”—an informal term whose unfortunate connotations Robbins exploits in this perfectly Neanderthal Registerian moment—really pisses me off. The nature of faculty representation (among signatories) reflects, not “soft” vs. “hard,” whatever that is supposed to mean, but the sad fact that, for the most part, those so-called academic softies are more politically aware and more willing to participate in politics than their “hard” brethren.

Naturally, there are plenty of exceptions.

MY MAIN GRIPE, anyway, is with the convenient and popular choice not to fight for what is right but instead to watch others do the fighting and to take the hits too—a sin that befalls the majority of any group you care to name, not just some supposed silly subset of scientists.

I don’t want to condemn anybody. I suppose I've made such choices myself. I know how easy that is.

Still....

E.g., WHEN IVC'S SCHOOL OF "HUMANITIES & LANGUAGES" REALLY DROPPED THE BALL

I recall an incident 8 or 9 years ago during a meeting of my division, the School of Humanities and Languages (at IVC). H&L had been prominent in the struggle against Mathur and Co. During this tense meeting, an adjunct, Ken, bravely and politely stated his opposition to an idiotic adjunct hiring policy that had been adopted by our then-dean. The policy, he said, was arbitrary and unacceptable; its vagueness made it impossible to challenge.

This dean, an incompetent and troubled fellow who had been hand-picked by Mathur to "administer" his most vocal opponents, had earlier fired a long-time writing instructor—Andrew T (aka "Red Emma")—after the latter had published a piece in a local paper lampooning Mathur's request for a security stipend. Hence the discussion of adjunct hiring policies.

Few tenured faculty were willing to call a spade a spade. But Ken, like Andrew, is a man of principle. I was (and am) very proud of him (and of Andrew too, natch—though it's not like I'm his dad or anything).

I recall trying to reassure Ken after the meeting. Tenured faculty, I said, would do their best to protect him. “Don’t worry,” I said.

But I was worried.

Predictably, the dean retaliated by firing Ken—for "rudeness," he said—despite Ken's having been unfailingly decorous (that means "polite," Walter) and, as it happens, the best philosophy instructor we had.

I organized a meeting of tenured faculty to combat and protest this action.

Only one faculty member showed up.

That still pisses me off.

I’m considering asking Ken, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at one of our State Universities, to come speak to us, explaining what it was like standing up to Mathur and his stooges, and then finding himself out of a job.

And what was it like to do that and to then discover that tenured faculty evidently have better things to do than to fight for a part-time instructor.

Gosh, what if I bring this "speaker" idea to the senate? The IVC Academic Senate is pursuing a speaker series these days.

What timing! —RB

For Dissent coverage of the incident concerning the adjunct instructors, see Hum & Lang adjuncts speak out: and are fired (2002)
*SEE also Red Emma's infamous "open letter" to Raghu (OC Weekly) (1999)
Red Emma's infamous "press release" (2000) 
AND Red Emma's WEEKLY atrocity! (LA? No way!) (2001)

Not so fast! Rethinking fall opening

Today's report  — up again USC reverses robust fall reopening plans, asks students to stay home for online classes LA Times  ...

Invited to IVC—this time a notorious admitted HOMOPHOBE

—Conservative radio host, Michael Reagan


Here at IVC, natch, we have an Accounting Department. It happens to support something called the Guaranteed Accounting Program: GAP4+1.

According to the department website,

This unique pathway program — a partnership between Irvine Valley College (IVC) and Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) — will enable you to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years and a master’s degree with one more additional year (thus GAP4+1).

Among the Master's degrees available through the program, we're told, are "Accountancy and Finance; Taxation; or Accountancy."


We're also told that "The number of students accepted into this program in any one year is limited so be sure to apply early."


Great. The early bird gets the worm.


Evidently, the good people of the GAP4+1 program have recently seen fit to invite someone to speak at Irvine Valley College (in late April): Michael Reagan.




The Republican Party of OC just loves IVC (from their website)

That's right. They've invited Reagan family embarrassment Michael, a man of, let's face it, little or no distinction.


He was expelled from his High School and he washed-out of college. Eventually, he went into clothing sales.


In those early years, he made some curious friends:

In 1965, the FBI warned Ronald Reagan that in the course of an organized crime investigation it had discovered his son Michael was associating with the son of crime boss Joseph Bonanno, which would have become a campaign issue had it been publicly known. Reagan thanked the FBI and said he would phone his son to discreetly discontinue the association. (From Wikipedia's Michael Reagan.)

[“F.B.I. agents in Phoenix made an unexpected discovery: According to records, ‘the son of Ronald Reagan was associating with the son of Joe Bonnano [sic].’ That is, Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Reagan and Ms. Wyman, was consorting with Bonanno’s son, Joseph Jr. The teenagers had bonded over their shared love of fast cars and acting tough.” ... "Joseph Jr. was not involved in organized crime, but he was spending time at his father’s home... [I]n October 1964, he had been arrested in connection with the beating of a Scottsdale, Ariz., coffee shop manager. ... Following routine procedure, F.B.I. agents in Phoenix asked agents in Los Angeles to interview Ronald Reagan for any information he might have gleaned from his son. The investigation, after all, was a top priority. But Hoover blocked them from questioning Reagan, thus sparing him potentially unfavorable publicity. Declaring it 'unlikely that Ronald Reagan would have any information of significance,' Hoover instead ordered agents to warn him about his son’s worrisome friendship." - New York Times]

Later, there were legal problems:

In 1981 Reagan was accused, but later cleared of felony violations of California securities laws in court documents. The Los Angeles County District Attorney alleged that Reagan had baited investors into unlawful stock arrangements, and selling stocks despite the fact that he was not legally permitted to do so. The D.A.'s office investigated allegations that Reagan improperly spent money invested by others in a company, Agricultural Energy Resources, he operated out of his house in a venture to develop the potential of gasohol, a combination of alcohol and gasoline. Investigators said they were also checking whether he had spent up to $17,500 of investors' money for his living expenses. The district attorney's office cleared Reagan of both charges later that year. [“The investigators said they became interested in Michael Reagan after being informed that he had steered customers to Mr. Carey {Richard Francis Carey, who "was selling worthless stock,"} had accepted a $4,000 check from one investor, and that, in at least one meeting of potential investors, his relationship to Ronald Reagan had apparently been exploited as a promotional tool for the stock.” - New York Times]
On September 20, 2012, Reagan and two associates were sued by Elias Chavando, a fellow partner, for allegedly withholding Chavando's interest in an e-mail business built around the Reagan.com domain name. In 2015, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found Reagan liable for conversion and breach of fiduciary duty. Reagan and his business partners were ordered to pay $662,500 in damages.
(From Wikipedia's Michael Reagan.)

Michael tended to smash things (cars, etc.) in his youth. Well into his 40s, he tells us, he was full of "rage" (owing, he explains, to having been molested) and he treated his family badly.


Then, natch, he found the Lord.


Plus, owing to his relationship to his pop, President Ronald Reagan, Michael grabbed the brass ring and became a talk-show host on one or two right-wing radio networks. Blah, blah, blah, he said.


In his latter-day career as mediocre right-wing bloviater and Pious Christian, Michael Reagan has said some unfortunate things:

In April 2013, in a syndicated column, Reagan accused American churches of not fighting hard enough to block same-sex marriage. He wrote that, in regards to arguments supporting gay marriage, similar arguments could be used to support polygamy, bestiality, and murder.

. . . In June 2008, conspiracy theorist Mark Dice launched a campaign urging people to send letters and DVDs to troops stationed in Iraq which support the theory that the September 11 attacks were an "inside job". "Operation Inform the Soldiers", as Dice has called it, prompted Reagan to comment that Dice should be executed for treason. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a liberal/progressive media criticism organization, asked Radio America at the time to explain whether it permits "its hosts to call for murder on the air".

. . . He spoke out in support of profiling in October 2014. In a piece called Profile or Die, he wrote that it would be left to citizens to defend themselves if there were an attack against them by terrorists such as the Islamic State. (Wikipedia)

Golly. It's pretty clear that Michael Reagan is just another "former total fuck-up, now reborn and pious."


Intellectually, he's a low-rent Limbaugh, and that's pretty low.


I mean, when he gets here, just what is he gonna say? That liberals are evil? That his dad was a saint? That freedom and democracy are good? That you oughta put your life in the hands of the Lord? That you don't need to go to college? That homosexuality is a sin?


Only in Bizarro World would Michael Reagan be judged a good speaker to invite to a college.


* * *

Meanwhile, IVC's Guaranteed Accounting Program folks have only wonderful things to say about the fellow:


Michael Reagan

The eldest son of former President Ronald Reagan and one of the most dynamic and sought-after public speakers, Michael Reagan’s commitments to public service and the conservative vision his father championed are second to none, making him the natural heir to the Reagan conservative legacy. Michael serves as chairman and president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, which seeks to advance the causes President Reagan held dear and to memorialize the accomplishments of his presidency. Michael’s career includes hosting a national conservative radio talk show syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, championing his father’s values and principles in the public policy forum, commentating and appearing on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Good Day LA, CNN, and Fox News, and contributing to Newsmax Television. Also an accomplished author, Michael has many successful books including On the Outside Looking In, Twice Adopted, and his latest book, Lessons My Father Taught Me.

Well, sure. But he's also the worst kind of insubstantial, opportunistic "celebrity." And he's not an intellectual; he's a propagandist. He's a minor player in our sad era of noisy and loutish conservative anti-intellectualism and demagoguery.


—And he's a homophobe, among other things. Or so he says.


WAY TO GO, GLENN


IVC Prez Roquemore shares Reagan's enthusiasm for the Pussy-grabber-in-chief.

Recent columns by Michael Reagan


ALL IS FAIR IN THE WAR ON TRUMP (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, December 13, 2018

…Hillary continues to skate free, unbothered by the FBI or any federal agency for the dirty things she and the Obama administration’s injustice department did during the 2016 election to try to defeat Donald Trump.

But not General Flynn.

His life was ruined by the FBI bosses who set out to nail him – and did….

TRUMP VS THE CRAZIES (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, January 11, 2019

…Some of the country’s most desperate liberals in the media actually argued that the president’s televised pitch to the country for congressional funding for a stronger border fence should not be carried live by the networks.

Why? Because they said the president lies too much and they wanted to be able to fact-check his speech beforehand….

TRUMP SAYS ‘ADIOS’ TO BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, November 1, 2018

…Ending birthright citizenship, better known as dropping the anchor baby, is the most significant illegal immigration reform the President Trump has announced. With a single executive order, he unplugs a beacon that attracts scammers from the world over. He also attacks a visible manifestation of the “foreigners first” mindset that has infected the State Department, and the rest of the federal bureaucracy, since the 1960s….

THE PARTY OF EVIL (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, October 11, 2018

…Now, thanks to the Democrats’ ugly smear campaign against Judge Kavanaugh, Republican senators like Susan Collins and Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders need security guards 24/7.

It’s not the new Supreme Court Justice who’s evil.

It’s the Democrat Party and the nasty “progressives” who’ve taken it over and are willing to say or do anything or destroy anyone to bring down President Trump.

Maybe this is not something new. Maybe the Democrats have always been this evil….

About Michael Reagan:


A separate peace* (LA Times, August 31, 2004) – by Anne-Marie O'Connor

For years, Michael Reagan, the older son of Ronald Reagan, felt unloved and unwanted. His parents divorced when he was 3. Two years later he was packed off to a boarding school where, he says, he was so lonely he cried himself to sleep. Sexually abused at age 7, he felt shame and self-loathing, compounded by Bible passages that convinced him he would never go to heaven.

He grew up so angry he smashed a childhood bicycle and later took a sledgehammer to his new car. Well into his 40s, his "rage came to a full boil," and he often yelled at his wife and young son.

Then, he says, he found salvation through the love of his family and his "adoption" by God. He embraced conservative values and became a syndicated talk-radio host who today tells listeners: "I am homophobic."….

Roquemore and U of Phoenix

From Clueless IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore smiles as he makes nice with the enemy DtB, 8-26-14

Vice President, Western Region, Workforce Solutions/University of Phoenix, Chuck Parker, President, Irvine Valley College, Dr. Glenn R. Roquemore

Members of the Irvine Valley College community just received this gushing email from the President:

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

Irvine – Irvine Valley College (IVC) administration, faculty and staff held a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Phoenix, Inc. (University) on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.

Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “This partnership will expand the many transfer opportunities available to the IVC students and staff. One of the major benefits of the MOU is the tuition discount."

Irvine Valley College students transferring to University of Phoenix into an undergraduate baccalaureate degree program … will be considered as having satisfied the general education requirements for the breadth of the liberal arts degree program….

IVC students get 10% off Phoenix tuition, which is way pricey.

Evidently, President Roquemore is not aware that entities such as the U of Phoenix exist to make huge profits by taking advantage of students who typically receive federally insured loans, putting them in serious debt. Those students, upon graduating, typically fail to find the work they were expecting and often default on their loans, forcing the taxpayer to pay. (It's a massive bubble that, one day, will pop.)

You’re fine with all that, are you Glenn? You're a Republican, aren't you? Yeah. I see you smiling with those vets you claim to love!

Alas, the "predatory for-profits" problem is especially egregious in the case of Vets, who pay their way via the new GI Bill:


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

Over the last five years, more than $600 million in college assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been spent on California schools so substandard that they have failed to qualify for state financial aid.

As a result, the GI Bill — designed to help veterans live the American dream — is supporting for-profit companies that spend lavishly on marketing but can leave veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects, The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

. . .

Financial records analyzed by CIR show that California is the national epicenter of this problem, with nearly 2 out of every 3 GI Bill dollars going to for-profit colleges.

The University of Phoenix in San Diego outdistances its peers. Since 2009, the campus has received $95 million in GI Bill funds. That's more than any brick-and-mortar campus in America, more than the entire 10-campus University of California system and all UC extension programs combined.

. . .

The school's large share of GI Bill funding reflects more than just the number of veterans enrolling. The programs are expensive. An associate degree costs $395 a credit, for instance — nearly 10 times the cost at a public community college.

The University of Phoenix won't say how many of its veterans graduate or find jobs, but the overall graduation rate at its San Diego campus is less than 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students default on their loans within three years of leaving school.

Those figures fall short of the minimum standards set by the California Student Aid Commission, which dispenses state financial aid. The commission considers either a graduation rate lower than 30 percent or a loan default rate of more than 15.5 percent clear indicators of a substandard education.

No such restrictions govern GI Bill funds. And nearly 300 California schools that received GI Bill money either were barred from receiving state financial aid at least once in the past four years or operated without accreditation, CIR has found.

. . .

Of the $1.5 billion in GI Bill funds spent on tuition and fees in California since 2009, CIR found that more than 40 percent — $638 million —went to schools that have failed the state financial aid standard at least once in the past four years.

Four of those schools were University of Phoenix campuses, which together took in $225 million….

An Enemy In Common? The Case Against For-Profit Colleges

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

… As Americans, we should all be concerned that veterans are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous profiteers. As taxpayers, we should be aware that we are paying for this disservice. Approximately 85-95 percent of the for-profits’ revenue comes from taxpayer-supported benefits….

For-Profit College Investigation--Is the New GI Bill Working?: Questionable For-Profit Colleges Increasingly Dominate the Program

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

  • Most for-profit colleges charge much higher tuition than comparable programs at community colleges and flagship State public universities. The investigation found Associate degree and certificate programs averaged four times the cost of degree programs at comparable community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs averaged 20 percent more than the cost of analogous programs at flagship public universities despite the credits being largely non-transferrable.
  • Because 96 percent of students starting a for-profit college take federal student loans to attend a for-profit college (compared to 13 percent at community colleges), nearly all students who leave have student loan debt, even when they don't have a degree or diploma or increased earning power.
  • Students who attended a for-profit college accounted for 47 percent of all Federal student loan defaults in 2008 and 2009. More than 1 in 5 students enrolling in a for-profit college-22 percent-default within 3 years of entering repayment on their student loans....

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

Oldie but Goodie [2012]: See Senator Harkin’s For-Profit College Investigation: U of Phoenix

Glenn Roquemore, the Pacifica Institute & women's "primordial nature"

Glenn Roquemore, the Pacifica Institute & women's "primordial nature" May 21, 2013

Delivering factoids for

Turkish anti-feminists

Here’s a curious factoid. I came across the following press release, evidently dating back to April of 2008. It was posted by the “Pacifica Institute,” which has a dozen or so offices, including one in Orange County (Irvine):


Glenn R. Roquemore-Irvine Valley College President Speaks at PI - Orange County

Today Pacifica Institute hosted Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore. Before this luncheon forum in Irvine , New Zealand Consul General Rob Taylor and Irvine Mayor Beth Krom were the keynote speakers. Consul General Rob Taylor spoke about Welcoming Diversity as a Path to Peace and Mayor Beth Krom’s topic was How to Create a Balanced Community. Dr Glenn Roquemore’s topic is the Role of Community Colleges in Higher Education.

Dr. Glenn Roquemore is President of Irvine Valley College….

Dr Roquemore gave very important statistics of the Community Colleges in California….

You’ll recall that, in the past, we’ve kidded Roquemore over his tendency to approach speaking always as an occasion to dispense the merest of statistics as though they were astonishing jewels. "Two percent of our students," he'll say, "sport a vestigial tail." Huh?

What’s the matter with ‘im? Dunno.

But just who are these “Pacifica Institute” people?

According to PI’s website,

Pacifica Institute was established in 2003 as a non-profit organization by a group of Turkish-Americans. Pacifica Institute designs and executes projects covering social welfare, education, poverty, and conflict resolution issues in collaboration with scholars, activists, artists, politicians, and religious leaders-communities….

. . .

The Institute seeks to …[engage] in a variety of civic activities and [seeks to invite] others to generate and share insights, thereby removing barriers to confidence-building and trust….

Gosh, it sounds as though that illiterate pseudo-educator, Raghu Mathur, may have had a hand in writing this stuff.

Elsewhere, PI presents “Frequently Asked Questions about Pacifica Institute and Fethullah Gülen.”

One naturally assumes, then, that Mr. Fethullah Gülen and his ideas are important to PI. Sure enough, in the Q&A, Gülen and his movement are central:

Fethullah Gülen

Q: How is the Pacifica Institute involved with the Gülen movement?

A: Some of the founders and donors of Pacifica Institute are participants of the so-called Gülen, or Hizmet movement. Pacifica Institute was inspired by the movement’s philosophy and goals….

. . .

The Gülen/Hizmet movement is a values-driven social movement and following a philosophy that advances interfaith dialog, education and community service as tools to build a better and more harmonious society. The movement was inspired by the philosophy and teachings of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish scholar, author and advocate….

. . .

Q: Who is Fethullah Gülen?

A: Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish scholar, preacher, thinker, author, opinion leader, education activist, and peace advocate who is considered by many to be one of the world’s most influential religious thinkers. He is regarded as the initiator and inspirer of the worldwide civil society movement, the Gülen Movement, which is committed to education, dialogue, peace, social justice, and social harmony….

Well, I’ve done a little looking, and this Gülen fella is mighty controversial, in some circles at least.

I skimmed a couple of sites, which suggested that Gulen is, among other things, a conservative and a vocal opponent of feminism (although I ask that readers judge for themselves based on his writings--and the writings of his mouthpieces).

So I went to the Fethullah Gülen website. There, I searched the term “feminism” and that brought me to a page with links to various relevant essays, evidently by Mr. Gülen, including The Gülen Movement: Gender and Practice.

I clicked on that. That essay includes this passage:

Although he promotes equality between the sexes, Fethullah Gülen's views on gender can indeed be described as complementary. He sees women and men as having equal value but inheriting different roles and characteristics due to physical and psychological differences. He classifies men as "physically stronger and apt to bear hardship" and women as "more compassionate, more delicate, more self sacrificing" (Gülen 2006: 1). Although he does state that women can be involved in any field of work he idealizes the mother as the pure educator (Gülen 2006: 2) implicitly implying that the man should be the family provider. This may open up for critique on behalf of Western feminists or scholars of religion and gender. According to this relatively new academic discipline[,] gender is a social construction. Human beings are born with different sexes, but social roles and expectations of fulfillment of these are constructed and emphasized by the norms that prevail in society.

Another link takes one to an essay entitled Women Confined and Mistreated. Here are some excerpts:

As a reaction to all the injustice done to women … a movement to claim women's rights emerged, particularly in the West. Even though this movement is considered an awakening of women, it occurred as a reaction and was doomed to imbalance like all other reactionary movements and ended up in extremism. Although the starting point was to defend women, in time it deviated from the original aim to the degree of being full of hatred towards men and to feeling a grudge against them. The movement named feminism, which was born from the idea of protecting women and providing them with rights equal to those of men, has only left behind longing, sorrow, and wreckage as a movement of discontentment….

. . .

According to Islam, women's role in this world is not only restricted to doing the housework and raising children. In fact, as long as it does not conflict with her primordial nature or with observing religious requirements, she is responsible for carrying out the duties that befall her in every area of society and making up for shortcomings where men fall short in social life. However, this reality was ignored in time, even among Muslims; rough understandings and crude thinking upset this system based on women and men's mutual assistance. After this upset, both family life and the social order were also upset. Different peoples' perception of their own historical heritage as a part of Islam, their seeing and reflecting their folklore and traditions as essentials of religion, and making judgments pertaining to this issue at certain periods all resulted in the usurpation of women's rights; they were pushed into a more restricted area day by day, and in some places they were totally isolated from life without consideration of where this issue leads. However, the source of mistaken thoughts and deviations in this matter is not Islam whatsoever. The mistakes belong to those who misinterpret and misapply the religion. Such mistakes in practice must definitely be corrected.

On the other hand, while correcting these mistakes, approaching the issue from a feminist standpoint will upset the balance again and an opposite extremism will replace the former. For instance, just as it is very ugly to see women as merely child-bearing objects and is insolence towards them, it is equally unbecoming and unnatural to build a society where women are unable to bear and bring up the children they wish for, or for a woman to feel a need to rebel against marrying and to avoid bearing children in order to show that she is not a machine. As a woman is not a dirty dish, her place at home is not confined to the kitchen with the dirty dishes. However, a woman who claims to have no household responsibilities and thereby turns her home to a quarters for eating and sleeping is far from being a good mother, a good teacher, and a good spiritual guide to her children.

Besides all this, it is another form of oppression to make women work under difficult conditions, such as mining and road-building. It contradicts human nature to push women into heavy tasks like agricultural manual labor, or military field operations, and other harsh pursuits, just for the sake of proving their equality with men; it is nothing but cruel torture. It shows ignorance of women's qualities and conflicts with their primordial nature. Therefore, just as an understanding which imprisons women at home and takes them completely away from social life is absolutely incorrect according to Islam, likewise, depriving women of financial support, preventing them from bearing and raising children in security, and forcing women into the labor force to do uncongenial work is also oppressive. A woman, like a man, can have a certain job as far as her (and his) physiology and psychology are taken into consideration; but both women and men should know that a good life consists of sharing and division of labor. Each should assist the other by doing tasks in compliance with their nature.

Yikes.

I’m in no position to judge this “take” on feminism relative to the various Muslim communities (e.g., in Turkey) and the possibility of discourse within them. But it’s pretty plain that Gülen’s philosophy, as expressed here, is antithetical to some of the core tenets of Western feminism, broadly understood. It seems clear that Gülen is not likely to gain many adherents or followers among contemporary Westerners, with their commitment to the ideal of equality, as they understand it at least, between the sexes.

The Wikipedia article on Gülen is alarming—if, that is, it can be trusted. It asserts that

...Gülen's views are vulnerable to the charge of misogyny. As noted by Berna Turam, Gülen has argued:

"the man is used to more demanding jobs . . . but a woman must be excluded during certain days during the month. After giving birth, she sometimes cannot be active for two months. She cannot take part in different segments of the society all the time. She cannot travel without her husband, father, or brother . . . the superiority of men compared to women cannot be denied." [35]

Berna Turam, Northeastern

Wikipedia is quoting Berna Turam, a serious academic at Northeastern U. She herself seems to cite a work from 1996 entitled Fethullah Gulen Hocaefendi ile ufuk turu (Aktuel kitaplar dizisi). It is written in Turkish.

One should be careful to note that the superiority that Gülen is discussing is physical, not moral, or at least that's how I read it. Even so, his remarks are mighty offensive, at least to these Western ears.


Gosh Glenn, you really oughta be more careful who you hang out with. Philosophically, these Gülenites are a problem, at least relative to most of our community on these shores.

I'll see if I can shed more light on the Pacifica Institute and what it means for the likes of Glenn Roquemore and Beth Krom (a Democrat) to be hanging out with 'em.

Votes of "no confidence" - 1999

from the Dissenter's Dictionary, Dec. 3, 1999


MATHUR, RAGHU P.



In April of 1997, in an action later judged a violation of the Open Meetings law, the Board Majority appointed chemistry teacher and campus joke Raghu P. Mathur as Interim President of Irvine Valley College. At the time, Mathur had no experience as a full-time administrator. Five months later, through a process that violated board policy, and amid strong faculty opposition, the BM appointed Mathur permanent president. That action, too, was later voided owing to violations of the Brown Act. Two years later, despite his miserable record, which included a vote of no confidence and the palpable contempt of nearly all IVC faculty and staff, the board majority renewed Mathur's contract, giving him a raise and a $200 a month "security stipend."

Mathur was hired as an instructor in 1979, and he quickly established a reputation as a schemer and liar who would stoop to anything in order to secure an administrative position. Owing to his manifest unsavoriness, however, that ambition was consistently thwarted both inside and outside the district.

His intrigues soon gained him the hatred of Ed Hart, IVC's first president. In 1986, Hart retired, and the college adopted a "faculty chair" model, partly for fiscal reasons. Soon, Mathur "ruled" the tiny school of Physical Sciences as its chair. During the "chair" era, he was, without doubt, the chief abuser of that office, engaging in endless machinations while arranging a lucrative schedule that netted him a salary far in excess of the college president's ($124,000 in 1996-7).

During this period, Mathur continued to seek administrative positions. When he was passed over, he played the race card, charging everyone in sight with "discrimination," apparently on the sole grounds that he had not been selected.

Mathur's habit, as chair, of circumventing the governance process eventually yielded an official censure of him by IVC's "Instructional Council' in April of 1994. Earlier, the IC membership had all agreed not to go outside the process--particularly with regard to the selection of the IVC presidential search committee chair. During an IC meeting in March (of 94), Mathur was asked whether, despite the agreement, he had presented a petition, urging the selection of a particular faculty member, to the chancellor. He answered that he had "not forwarded" a petition to the chancellor or anyone. In fact, he had and, apparently on that basis, the chancellor did appoint the faculty member as (co)chair.

When this came to light in April, Mathur was censured. According to the minutes of the April 5 meeting, "Instructional Council had agreed that no one will work outside of the IVC governance structure and agreed-upon processes. They felt that Raghu had lied to the Council...[One member] made a motion to censur Raghu Mathur for lying to the Instructional Council regarding the petition and the presidential search process and for misrepresenting not only Instructional Council, but also the faculty...Raghu Mathur stated that he did not lie to the Instructional Council. He said that he was asked if he had forwarded the petition to the Chancellor and he said he had not. He did admit, however, that he had shown the petition to Chancellor Lombardi...Raghu felt that the members of Instructional Council were making too big of a deal out of the situation...The question was called and the motion passed with 8 ayes, 3 noes, and 4 abstentions."

Classified employees, too, have at times found it necessary to complain about of Mathur's conduct. For instance, in August of 1995, IVC administration received a letter from Leann Cribb, Executive Secretary (and formerly secretary for the School of Physical Sciences), in which she wrote: "Mr. Mathur routinely revises facts and manufactures innuendo to suit his objectives." During the January '98 Board meeting, classified employee Julie Ben-Yeoshua explained that Mathur was the reason she was seeking employment elsewhere: "Since you first appointed Raghu Mathur as the interim president, the atmosphere at IVC has changed drastically; morale is in the gutter...[Mathur's] inability to tell the truth is so natural that I have come to gauge everything he says and writes by believing the complete opposite...."

By the mid-90s, Mathur had come to regard Terry Burgess, then-VP of Instruction, as his nemesis, and, in 1996, he tried to discredit Burgess with the board. In the spring of '96, a student sought to enroll in a chemistry course without enrolling in the concurrent lab, and the matter came before the chair--Mathur. Though the student provided documentation proving that she had done the equivalent work at UCI, Mathur denied the request, whereupon the student asked for a review of the decision by the Office of Instruction. Mathur agreed to go along with the Office's decision.

Later, however, he accused Burgess of signing the student's admittance card despite non-approval by the instructor. Mathur convinced his school to send a resolution of complaint to the board (and also to the senate and the union), appending the student's transcripts, without her permission, an action that violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and district policies. When then-IVC president Dan Larios learned of this, he requested an opinion from the district's attorneys regarding the legality of Mathur's action. The opinion, dated March 18, 1996, indicates that Mathur acted improperly, violating FERPA and board policy 5619. Larios was fed up.

Realizing that Larios now planned to deny approval of him as chair of his school, Mathur, as per usual, scrambled to lobby board members for support. On March 29, Larios met with Mathur; he explained that he had lost confidence in Mathur and that Mathur had better "change." In the end, Larios wrote a memo (May 14) expressing his serious reservations about Mathur's leadership, owing to his repeated circumventing of established processes and his violations of board policy, and placed him on probation. If there were any further violations of process, wrote Larios, Mathur would be removed as chair.

In the meantime, Mathur asked the senate to censure Burgess. It declined to do so, citing Mathur's misdescription of crucial facts. Larios, troubled by Mathur's misrepresentations, sent out a memo explaining that Burgess had in no sense acted improperly.

In December of '96, the Board Majority era began, and Larios sensed that it was time to move on. Normally, the VP of Instruction—Terry Burgess--would serve as interim president, but the BM blocked his selection, and, in March, Lombardi was chosen as a sort of compromise. But in April, Frogue presented another one of Mathur's petitions--this time, an “anonymous” petition urging Mathur's selection as president. On that basis, Mathur became IVC president.

Mathur's outrages while president are too numerous to recount here. Suffice it to say that in the early months of 1998, the IVC academic senate instituted a Special Inquiry into “abuses of power.” By April, it became necessary to abandon the investigation, owing to the number and the complexity of the charges against Mathur. Said the committee’s chair: “It’s like bailing water out of the Titanic with a tea cup…Every time we put an allegation to bed, another one jumps up” (Voice, 5/7/98). Soon thereafter, Mathur received a 74% vote of no confidence by his faculty.

Mathur has sought to rule through intimidation, punishing his critics in every way available to him. In early November of 1999, the IVC academic senate released the results of a survey of full-time faculty (78% participated). 90% disagreed with the statement, "I can express my opinion about issues at the college without fear of retribution or retaliation." The 90% figure will likely go up soon, for Mathur intends to fire an untenured instructor--a critic--for his involvement in the act of naming the plot of dirt next to the Life Sciences greenhouse. It was named the "Terry Burgess garden."


Huge Vote Against College Chief (LA Times, May 18, 2004 | Jeff Gottlieb)

Faculty in the South Orange County Community College District overwhelmingly voted no confidence Monday in Chancellor Raghu Mathur.
Of the full-time professors at Irvine Valley and Saddleback colleges who cast ballots, 93.5% voted in favor of no confidence, and 6% were against the union-sponsored measure. One person abstained.
Out of 318 faculty eligible, 246 -- 77% -- voted, according to the district faculty association….

Clueless IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore smiles as he makes nice with the enemy - August 26, 2014

Vice President, Western Region, Workforce Solutions/University of Phoenix, Chuck Parker, President, Irvine Valley College, Dr. Glenn R. Roquemore

○ Members of the Irvine Valley College community just received this gushing email from the President:

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

Irvine – Irvine Valley College (IVC) administration, faculty and staff held a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Phoenix, Inc. (University) on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “This partnership will expand the many transfer opportunities available to the IVC students and staff. One of the major benefits of the MOU is the tuition discount."
Irvine Valley College students transferring to University of Phoenix into an undergraduate baccalaureate degree program … will be considered as having satisfied the general education requirements for the breadth of the liberal arts degree program….

○ IVC students get 10% off Phoenix tuition, which is way pricey.

○ Evidently, President Roquemore is not aware that entities such as the U of Phoenix exist to make huge profits by taking advantage of students who typically receive federally insured loans, putting them in serious debt. Those students, upon graduating, typically fail to find the work they were expecting and often default on their loans, forcing the taxpayer to pay. (It's a massive bubble that, one day, will pop.)

○ You’re fine with all that, are you Glenn? You're a Republican, aren't you? Yeah. I see you smiling with those vets you claim to love!

○ Alas, the "predatory for-profits" problem is especially egregious in the case of Vets, who pay their way via the new GI Bill:


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

Over the last five years, more than $600 million in college assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been spent on California schools so substandard that they have failed to qualify for state financial aid.
As a result, the GI Bill — designed to help veterans live the American dream — is supporting for-profit companies that spend lavishly on marketing but can leave veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects, The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

. . .

Financial records analyzed by CIR show that California is the national epicenter of this problem, with nearly 2 out of every 3 GI Bill dollars going to for-profit colleges.
The University of Phoenix in San Diego outdistances its peers. Since 2009, the campus has received $95 million in GI Bill funds. That's more than any brick-and-mortar campus in America, more than the entire 10-campus University of California system and all UC extension programs combined.

. . .

The school's large share of GI Bill funding reflects more than just the number of veterans enrolling. The programs are expensive. An associate degree costs $395 a credit, for instance — nearly 10 times the cost at a public community college.
The University of Phoenix won't say how many of its veterans graduate or find jobs, but the overall graduation rate at its San Diego campus is less than 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students default on their loans within three years of leaving school.
Those figures fall short of the minimum standards set by the California Student Aid Commission, which dispenses state financial aid. The commission considers either a graduation rate lower than 30 percent or a loan default rate of more than 15.5 percent clear indicators of a substandard education.
No such restrictions govern GI Bill funds. And nearly 300 California schools that received GI Bill money either were barred from receiving state financial aid at least once in the past four years or operated without accreditation, CIR has found.

. . .

Of the $1.5 billion in GI Bill funds spent on tuition and fees in California since 2009, CIR found that more than 40 percent — $638 million —went to schools that have failed the state financial aid standard at least once in the past four years.
Four of those schools were University of Phoenix campuses, which together took in $225 million….

An Enemy In Common? The Case Against For-Profit Colleges

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

… As Americans, we should all be concerned that veterans are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous profiteers. As taxpayers, we should be aware that we are paying for this disservice. Approximately 85-95 percent of the for-profits’ revenue comes from taxpayer-supported benefits….

For-Profit College Investigation--Is the New GI Bill Working?: Questionable For-Profit Colleges Increasingly Dominate the Program

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

  • Most for-profit colleges charge much higher tuition than comparable programs at community colleges and flagship State public universities. The investigation found Associate degree and certificate programs averaged four times the cost of degree programs at comparable community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs averaged 20 percent more than the cost of analogous programs at flagship public universities despite the credits being largely non-transferrable.
  • Because 96 percent of students starting a for-profit college take federal student loans to attend a for-profit college (compared to 13 percent at community colleges), nearly all students who leave have student loan debt, even when they don't have a degree or diploma or increased earning power.
  • Students who attended a for-profit college accounted for 47 percent of all Federal student loan defaults in 2008 and 2009. More than 1 in 5 students enrolling in a for-profit college-22 percent-default within 3 years of entering repayment on their student loans....

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

Oldie but Goodie [2012]: See Senator Harkin’s For-Profit College Investigation: U of Phoenix