Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Celebrated Boiling Frogs of Orange County, California

Red Emma

     Recall the classic tale of Jim Smiley, celebrated con man of Calaveras County, real or mythical, but outsmarted, or out-conned, by an even more clever and duplicitous flimflammer. Now substitute, for the stranger-feller who came to town the slickest civic grifter we reckon has come up in these-here parts, our very own 3rd district Orange County Supervisor. He’s that local elected official whose bait and switch – Wagnerian, you might call it – makes celebrated boiling frogs of us all, his unconstituents.
     Now that I’ve commenced to a-doin’ some first-rate bowdlerizin’ aimed in the direction of the great Mark Twain, why not introduce this nearly unbelievable updating of his famous ole yarn by reminding all who read this tall tale that, yes, reports of the demise of Super-dupervisor Donald Wagner’s OC Republican party are indeed greatly exaggerated. This, friends, neighbors, and fellow frogs a’boilin’, is easily evidenced in the local GOP’s impressive contribution to the rising temperature in the pan-demic (read: boiling frog contest) administered by Chef Don, who never held an elected position where he could accomplish either a whole lot of colorful nothin’ or, as of late, worse than nothin’.
     Yup, Don and his pardner Michelle Steel are doin’ what they do best: turnin’ up the heat. Not just on the big kettle o’ COVID, which the miserable and pitiful Democrats and the Blacks and the gays and teachers and pointy-headed intellectuals and them scientist-types say is a darn-tootin’ real life-and-death public health crisis but, in what you might call further ironing, on the whole idee of governification itself! Why, it’s a sure-fired GOP two-fer: Holler out to the Trumpy, Q-Anon, anti-vax, anti-tax, Boogaloo, Tea Party and John Birch crowd, feedin’ ‘em what them Sunday morning jawers call “red meat,” then sit back and watch while they go a protestin’ agin Doc Nichole Quick, the county’s public health boss, about how she’s takin’ away their bidness, flags and guns.
     Never you mind that two months ago most of these good folks couldn’t have picked out Don Wagner in a crowd, not even a line-up of B-1 Bob Dornan, Bill Dannemeyer, Surfin’ Dana Rohrabacher, John Briggs (look ‘em up!) or even Ronald Reagan, who had trouble sayin’ the letters “AIDS” and “HIV” aloud so long that somebody had to write it down for him on a cue card and give him time to practice.
     And why’s that, you wonder, with us all cookin’ together, the virus spikin’ higher? It’s on account of what them newspaper and internet scribblers call a “down-ballot race.” Which leads to frog hoppin’, frog boilin’ and the mystifyin’ Mr. Wagner. See, friends, it begins when the ambitious founder of an outfit called the OC Federalist Society, so right-wing it flies in circles, gets to runnin’ for a community college race, of all things.
     Sure enough, after winnin’ a seat at South Orange County Community College District, he’s elected president, by golly, then commences to tantalizin’ voters with attacks on a suspect crew called the American Association of University Women and cancelling the district subscriptions supportin’ another unlikely gang callin’ themselves the American Library Association or some-such, all while gettin’ endorsements and lucre aplenty from a rival bunch called the Education Alliance, funded by a crazy millionaire. 
     Then it was on to the California Assembly, advocatin’ with considerable uselessness but plenty of hoopla and no-cost mailers, to the folks back home pro-gun, anti-immigrant, anti-same sex marriage and LGBTQ rights laws, and, just for the heck of it, speechified agin’ birthin’ control for women-folk and those gosh-darned uppity teachers’ unions.
Why, the next thing you know, Don W. is on the Irvine City Council, then mayor. His amazin’ trajectory is blessed all along with complete unscrutinization by the press, voters, auditors or investigative-type journalists, with his curriculum vitae – Spanish for resume – just listing all them other positions where he’d showed up only to vote for whatever that feller Shawn Steel – yup, Michelle’s hubby – or Devin Nunes, Mitchell McConnell or them good old boys at the NRA told him to until Irviners got sick and tired of him but then got a job where he could, with a straight face, tell good Judge Carter it’d be a winning idea to erect a homeless shelter in the canyons, havin’ forgot to check via the Googlizer that there was already a public library there, far from bus stops, provisions, health services or other accoutrements of civilization. 
     Here’s what you might call the funny part, if you didn’t know better, and plenty voters don’t. With the legislature and Congressional reps gone blue, the real power in this county – funding, policy and infrastructurin’ – still falls to the red side. All that historical ballot-casting for Sacramento and D.C.? Why, those same voters plum forgot to vote for judges, water district officials, community college board members and Supes. I swear, most of the good people I talk with can’t tell you what them Supervisors even do until they hear on the national news that one of them is acting like the biggest con man of all, a feller named Trump. 
     That’s the tale of Don Wagner, a real character. He’s a-fixin’ to reopen the County, cuz he don’t like masks and what you call social distancing. Why, he’s just like that stranger who forced buckshot down the gullet of a famous frog, and won the bet. Ceptin’ for that amphibious critter lived, and the stranger-feller weren’t never seen again. Meanwhile, you and I set and figger how much longer Don Wagner’s gonna turn up the flame, murderize more of our kinfolk and then get hisself re-elected! —RE


Anonymous said...

Pretty hard boiled.

Anonymous said...

Hard to imagine that Don won’t try to find another job before his term ends. If he does run for re-election, I can’t see him winning. The light is shining much too bright on him now, and not in the way he wanted.

Now, more than in a long time, the public expects public servants to work in their service. Don’s not in it for that. He’s gonna take his toys and go home.

Mr. Bib said...

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