Does the past exist?

19 04 2010

Dear friends,

I have a question that I need some help with. Does the past exist in any tangible form? And for that manner does time itself exist at all. How long is the now? Is it something called Planck time? I must admit that I am ignorant in the ways of physics, mathematics or religion when it comes to this and many would argue other questions as well. For example as I write this, for all reading it, it was written in the past – do or did I ever exist. Similar to a new car that loses one-half its value the instant it is driven off the lot, where does time go once it leaves that moment we think of as now?

Does time exist now?

At this moment my nephew and his wonderful new bride on are their honeymoon after their wedding this weekend. She is now a part of our family, does it matter that prior to 1:32 pm pacific standard time Friday April 16th she wasn’t, she is now. After the wedding they had a wonderful reception overlooking the ocean down in Long Beach, CA. My wife and I sat at a table with another couple besides the bride and groom we discussed among other things welfare reform and the economic collapse that has ensued in some mountainous school districts here in Kern County.

I informed them that here in Kern County welfare reform has lead to the irrefutable changes in the culture of some of our rural and mountain communities.  Where as in the past many families with children were able to stay in their relative isolation because of the availability of food stamps and welfare; as their cash payments and other government subsidies ran out have now migrated out of the hills. With fewer kids in the district many of these rural school districts have seen declining enrollment which has in turn forced them to layoff teachers and other staff such as bus drivers, kitchen staff, and teachers’ aides etc which were among the best paying jobs in the area. Because of these changes a culture that had existed for generations is or will soon be gone.  We could debate the issue of how a couple thousand dollars a year per child on government aide kept an entire community intact for generations. Does it even matter? After all it’s all in the past now, school people have to deal with the realities of today.

This discussion will remain as one memory of my nephew and his wife’s wedding. However nobody else except my wife and I and the other couple will ever know these issues were even discussed. I’m certain there were at least three to four other discussions per the 30 or so other tables that evening I will never know about. But does it even matter.

In the past I’ve said good bye to friends I will never see again, some recently others 20, 30 plus years ago. Is there a difference between today or 30 years ago, does the infinity of time mean that for all practical purposes it doesn’t matter if these events occurred all at once or never at all. Is my memory of them just an illusion?

Diverging to politics our nation today has a Black (all be it one-half Black) President. This is a fact, which is the now; there is no turning back the clock. Yet some our country suffer from a delusion that prevent them from accept this as fact. They say they want “their” country back. What does this mean? To them I ask if Columbia Undergrad, Harvard Law, University of Chicago Constitutional Law Professor not good enough for you, than what is. On a recent trip to Arizona I visited a number of small towns along old Route 66 among the tourist shops of Route 66 T-shirts and postcards there was plenty of flag paraphernalia, unfortunately very little of it Stars and Stripes most were decorated with Stars and Bars. If that is the “their” country these people are talking about, if it’s ok with you I’ll just keep the one we have now thank you.

To these and others suffering from a collective psychosis that refuses to accept the reality of now, I say “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. In less than eight months national results from the currently being collected US Census will show a nation that is racially and ethnically dramatically different than could have been imagined (in the past). But that is a discussion for the future.

Patty is part of our family; rural school districts nationwide are laying off bus drivers, janitors, school lunch helpers; I’ve said good bye to friends I’ll never see again. The US has a Black President. The US Census being collected now will show a nation dramatically different than ever before, that is the now, I mean the recent past – oh you know what I mean.

On final note, as I was surfing the net on this topic I found a couple good website. One in particular was the blog of a Stacey Pollock. I found her article on April 11th, 2010 the following was posted on her site the day before. “10th April 2010 Update: At the moment I have had to stop with writing for personal reasons. Also my website has been closed down for this reason.”

As Max from Get Smart would say “Missed it by that much.”

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Taxes and Transparency

15 04 2010

Question Kevin, where were you the previous 8 years.

Dear Friend:

Last time I wrote to you, Democratic leaders in Congress were on the verge of passing their government takeover of health care. Today, that job-killing health care bill is law and American small businesses and families will now be paying an additional $570 billion in new taxes over the next ten years at a time when our state and nation are facing devastating unemployment levels. Now I am sure this is not the kind of news you want to hear on “Tax Day,” but, if you are like me, this makes me wonder: “how will this affect my taxes in 2010, 2011, 2012, and beyond?”

Consider this: the water you use is taxed, the food you eat is taxed, the gas you buy is taxed, the cable you watch is taxed, and the money you earn is taxed. Need more? Well, with the recent government takeover of heath care, your health benefits will now be taxed too. Unfortunately, while Washington finds it very easy to collect our taxes, it does not inform the taxpayer on a consistent and transparent basis how much money it will be spending. Americans deserve to know how Washington is spending their hard-earned money.

Did you know that in 2009, the Federal Government collected $2.1 trillion in taxes, but managed to spend $3.5 trillion? This means the federal government borrowed and spent $1.4 trillion more than it had. That’s an additional $1.4 trillion that you, the taxpayer will have to pay back. And it is this same routine of borrowing and spending that has created our current record deficits, and left us with an unsustainable $11.8 trillion debt. These kinds of sums are unimaginable and their effects unsustainable. Just based on current figures today, each American household’s share of the national debt is now roughly $143,000 dollars – a sum that is well above our current national median family household income.

Americans deserve better from Washington, yet the President and this Congress don’t seem to think so, as they continue to tax and spend their way to the bottom of every American’s pocket. Remember when Congress passed the $1 trillion stimulus bill? Wasn’t it supposed to create jobs? Wasn’t it supposed to keep unemployment – which has been 9.7% since January – below 8%? I ask you to remember, because it seems the leaders in Washington have forgotten, and you deserve better than that.

I believe the American taxpayer deserves to know where their tax dollars are going and what they are being spent on and that this information should be easily and readily provided. As President Reagan said, “[i]nformation is the oxygen of the modern age,” and today, Americans are not getting enough oxygen. There needs to be more transparency and openness in government.

That is why I introduced legislation (H.R. 4943) that would require the IRS to publish the current and projected Federal tax revenue, spending levels, deficits, and public debt not only on their website, but in the materials they provide for us to use when filing our taxes each April. Just as a publicly-owned business provides its shareholders annual reports, I believe the U.S. government ought not to be exempt from these important transparency and reporting practices and requirements. The American taxpayer deserves better; be assured I will continue to fight for more accountability and transparency when it comes to all aspects of government, especially when it comes to spending.

Sincerely,

Kevin McCarthy

PS-my bill was highlighted on the Fox Business channel last week; you can view that video clip here.





Latinos need to push for political redistricting

12 04 2010

By: Jesus Garcia, Special to MÁS

Mandated by Article I of the Constitution; 1872 Reapportionment Act and 1964 Voter Rights Act, states are required to conduct the once a decade process of realigning political boundaries known as redistricting.

Under the principle of “One Person, One Vote,” states utilize Decennial Census data to create new Congressional districts that are supposed to be “contiguous and compact” and have “as practicable an equal number of inhabitants.” Similarly, many state and local governments also use this time to revise legislative and other special district boundaries.

Since most redistricting is done by those in power, the odds are against new districts being a fair representation of the population. This process known as “Gerrymandering” has been particularly effective at preventing an expanded Latino political presence at all levels. At the national level, two examples are glaring.

In Texas, the Republican-controlled state legislature in 2003 initiated a redistricting of congressional districts that yielded an additional six Republican districts. Despite gaining two congressional seats through reapportionment, and Latinos representing 32 percent the state’s population at the time, no additional Latino congressional district was created.

In California, Gov. Gray Davis and the Democrat-controlled legislature used the redistricting process to create congressional districts that assured the re-election of the existing congress, while excluding enough Latinos from at least four districts to prevent them from being competitive, even for a Latino Democratic candidate.

The history of redistricting in Kern County for Latinos is equally discouraging. In the early 1990s, only after threat of lawsuits by the Kern County Latino Redistricting Committee, were the majority Latino Fifth District Kern County Supervisorial and 30th Assembly districts created. They remain the only major competitive districts in the county to a Latino candidate. State Senate seat District 16 is also now competitive for a Latino candidate. Despite being 42 percent of the population of the city of Bakersfield, a Latino has never been elected to our city council.

Lastly, since most school boards and other special districts in the county elect trustees on an at large basis, Latino representation on these boards, with very few exceptions, is non-existent.

So what to do?

First, it is crucial that all Kern County residents be counted in the 2010 Census. Latinos also need to be vigilant of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Since Latinos are projected to account for 88 percent of Kern County’s estimated growth between 2000 to 2010, an increase in the local population could be used as leverage to assure that the new Assembly and Senate districts enhance the political interests of Latinos.

Latinos need to push, so the redistricting of the Bakersfield City Council and Kern County Supervisors is conducted in an open and public process, one that allows for public review and comment.

Finally, a review of the practice of at-large elections in school boards and special districts needs to be proposed. At-large elections, especially where two or more trustees are elected at one time, allow 50 percent of voters to control 100 percent of seats. With multiple votes cast, Latino candidates in at-large elections are placed at a significant disadvantage.

— Jesus Garcia is a Bakersfield resident who previously worked as a statistician demographer at the U.S. Census headquarters in Washington, DC, assigned to the Ethnic and Hispanic Statistics Branch.





Second letter regarding proposed budgetary cuts in the CSUB academic programs.

26 10 2009

October 25, 2009

Dr. Horace Mitchell, President
California State University Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA 93312

email:  hmitchell@csub.edu

(click here for letter)

Dear Dr. Mitchell,

This is my second letter which I write to you regarding discussions currently being held regarding proposed budgetary cuts in the CSUB academic programs.  After I sent you my initial letter last week,  I have been observing a continuing growth in the number of letters and overall correspondence directed to your office and to CSUB.  It is because of the severity and enormous consequences that I write a second letter to you.

First, I realize that all campuses of the CSU system are facing difficult decisions.  No one wants to see programs or departments cut or eliminated from a campus, and to see campuses across the state debate and argue as what programs and or departments to cut or eliminate. It is widely recognized of the severity of the budgetary situation state-wide.  But at the same time, it is hoped that whatever actions are taken that they have the least negative impact and the most minimal effect  on the university and the community which is served by the university in question.  It has come to the attention  of the academic community at CSUB, and the community in Kern County and Bakersfield,  that the Department of  Modern Languages and Literatures (Foreign Language) and other academic connected classes like Chicano Studies are being considered to be eliminated as a result of deliberations now taking place now with the ultimate decision to be made by you in  December, as President, based on the advice and recommendations of your administrative staff.  Based on the information that has circulated throughout the campus, the “moratorium” being considered would effectively result in the elimination of the undergraduate language programs as well as the graduate level programs.  It is my understanding that based on a letter by one of your professors that the Dean of the Humanities & Social Sciences Division met with the Chair of the Modern Languages Department and informed him that he would recommend a moratorium on majors in their program – effectively killing the program.

As many other professors and scholars have written to you, the possibility of this action occurring would go contrary to the idea that CSUB has a comprehensive mission supporting diversity and excellence  in its curriculum and students.  It has been asked already, how can a modern California university with a huge Latino population where being bilingual and bi-literate is an asset and a sign of an educated society even consider such an outrageous proposal?  I am sure you already are aware that your Latino student population already constitutes 45%, that the Bakersfield City School District has a 76% majority of Latino students, the Kern High School District has reached 87,042 which is 50% of the total while the under 18 age group of Latino students is 35,683 or 61.9% according to the California State enrollments figures for 2000. The  total public Latino enrollments  in Kern County already constitute a majority of students at 56 % in 2006-2007.

These figures are offered to demonstrate that the population figures already constitute the majority of students in the County, that they will continue to grow and that eliminating the proposed programs at CSUB can only be interpreted as an attack on the student population at CSUB at 45% and the rest of the Latino population in this region.  Think of the thousands of high school students currently taking language courses at their high school.  Word has reached them of this proposed action, and not only are they stunned and in shocked, but they are  angered and bewildered by the potential disastrous impact this could have on their lives.

Secondly, it should be noted, according to sociologists and other social scientists, that such an action that is being contemplated  is tantamount to an institutional act of cultural genocide.  I realize that these words might sound harsh, but the reality is that this action can be seen as a means in which the power structure, institutionally speaking, decides to eliminate a academic, curricular program and this action results in a rejection of the idea of language diversity.  Institutional cultural genocide can be defined as the elimination (i.e., extermination) of  cultural traits, practices, values, or a language of a particular group that generally is powerless to the destruction to occur.  Most informed people are aware of the U.S. policy of attempting to wipe out the use of the indigenous languages and to try to “kill the Indian” not by a physical extermination which failed, but by attempting to destroy their culture and language by forcibly removing children by their homes and placing them in homes of white English speaking Americans and to make these Indian children “white.”

At CSUB there is not the presence of a sufficient number of Latino / Hispanic administrators to effectively debate, oppose, and block this action.  Everyone knows that the lack of  Latino /Hispanic administrators on your staff is a fact which at the same time in incredible in light of the fact that your administration has grown 45% since 2000 according to CFA statistics.   It has obvious that faculty have not been listened to,  according to reports that have come from the campus. Students oppose this action.   This  action of a university which goes contrary to its mission of reflecting the diversity of its community and student body in the programs it develops, maintains, and protects is highly troubling.  Hence, the potential destruction of the curricular program of languages and their academic connections to other courses like in education and Chicano Studies  at an institution of higher education where its’ study contributes to the following points listed below can be seen as difficult to comprehend and academically impossible to fathom.

(1) the language program contributes to our national security, according to several U.S.             Presidential task groups;

(2)  These language programs contribute to an economic, political, and social  necessity          where a huge percentage of our state, regional, and national population engages and      communicates  in Spanish and with the additional realization that Latin America has             several hundred million people whose mother tongue is Spanish;

(3) the study of languages also contributes to an understanding  and usage of another             language that contributes to the life-long enrichment of our students and community.

Analysis of the size of department enrollments and the use these figures as a justification to drop these programs is a bogus argument.  There are departments that are smaller on campus, and no other CSU campus is contemplating this action.  So everyone is asking  “What is the rationale for this proposed decision?”  “It can not be an academic curricular  one,” many students, faculty, and community persons declare.  “It can not be enrollments”- state and university statistics counter this argument.  Many people have argued that  this proposed action is a direct attack against the Latino / Hispanic community.  I personally hope and pray that this is not the case, although I must inform you that since the proposal does not make sense that many people have reached certain conclusions.

In the twenty-first century in California where there are projections for the continued growth of the Latino / Hispanic population in communities and schools at all levels where we are indeed seeing the “browning of America” demographically speaking, the elimination of these programs is unfathomable that they could even be contemplated. It should also be noted that cuts and elimination of these programs would effectively cut the number of Latino / Hispanic faculty at CSUB.

Thirdly, how can a university claim that the destruction or elimination  of a program that took decades to develop keeps intact its mission philosophically speaking aligned with the need to meet the standards of “diversity and excellence?”

I believe that in addition to having a dialogue on campus regarding this issue between your administrative staff and your faculty, you would be wise to consider involving students and the community.  Then no one could charge you with not being transparent and engaging all parties concerned with this profound and important matter.  I am available to assist with this task if I am called upon.  I feel deeply about this matter.

As the President of CSUB, you have two basic choices.  You can support the recommendations of your administrative staff which are flawed and contrary to the aims and mission of our local CSU campus..  Or you can make history and win the positive acclaim of the Latino academic and general community by rejecting these insane and ludicrous recommendations as dangerous and counter-productive to the aim and mission of a university.  If you choose to reject these academically corrupt ideas of contributing to an institutional cultural genocide you could be truly considered an enlightened and wise university president.  You have a choice.  Your decision will probably be the most important of your career.  How do you wish to be remembered?

Sincerely,

Dr. Jess G. Nieto

Executive Director

Heritage of America Educational & Cultural Foundation





CSUB – Modern Language Programs – Dr. Jess G. Nieto Executive Director Heritage of America Educational & Cultural Foundation

15 10 2009

Dear Mitchell,

I was shocked and  dismayed to learn about the proposal for certain programs (foreign language programs, Chicano Studies and other ethnic studies programs)  to be eliminated at CSUB due to the current financial crisis at the CSU system.  I cannot understand why something of this nature is even being considered.

I will attend the  meeting planned for tonight at CSUB to learn more about the crisis, to protest theses actions, and I will distribute this information to others in the community.  I strongly urge that you not give in as President of the University to those around you who may have been advising you to support this action.  I assure you that this potential action would create an enormous tsunami of political and social protest from many different segments  of the community.  The University would be harmed irreparably and would create deep and profound community and academic wounds that perhaps would never heal.

Once again, as President of the University, I believe strongly that you  must provide leadership to see that these types of programs are not jeopardized or negatively affected.

Respectfully,
Dr. Jess G. Nieto
Executive Director
Heritage of America Educational & Cultural Foundation





Save CSUB Modern Languages Program

15 10 2009

CSUB is facing a difficult budget situation.  Among one of the most striking proposed cuts is the complete dismantling of the Modern Languages Program.  The Modern Language program has been under fire for years by some Administrators on campus–and although, this program commands more majors than a few other programs on campus (100 majors–compared to others with only 20 to 60 majors)–this is the program they’re targeted for termination.  The Dean of HSS met with the Chair of the Modern Languages Dept. and said he would recommend a moratorium on majors in their program–effectively, killing the program.

I, like other colleagues and community members, am wondering how you can have a comprehensive university without a languages program?  If they implement plans to terminate Modern Languages at CSUB–our campus will be the ONLY CSU without a language program (all CSUs, with the exception of the specialized Maritime College, have substantial language programs).  In fact, even CSUs located in largely white, affluent communities have a strong commitment to language programs (CSU-Monterey Bay, CSU-Sonoma, CSU-Northridge…the list goes on and on).  Yet, at CSUB where Latino undergraduate students represent the largest plurality of students on campus, and the university is nestled within a sizeable Latino community, Administrators propose to eliminate a Spanish program that is so representative of our community?

This is in direct opposition to our University’s mission statement on “excellence and diversity.”  Perhaps this proposed cut of Modern Languages is in part due to our total lack of representation on the President’s cabinet–not one Hispanic on that Administrative board to speak on our community’s behalf (we’re down to zero representation of Mexican-Americans; notably the largest plurality on campus, in this region and in the state!; and this in light of CFA stats indicating a 45% increase in administrative positions at CSUB since 2000).  At a university where our community represents most of the student body (their enrollments in fact largely FUND this campus)–this proposed cut is outrageous.  The lack of representation given us is exponentially felt because if slated cuts occur Latino/a faculty (over the next years) could well be disproportionately hit by such Administrative actions (in Modern Languages and other programs as well).  This is very troubling.

The Modern Languages and Literatures program serves as an important entry point to higher education for a vital student demographic on campus, Latina students (who now represent the largest plurality in CSUB’s student body).   This student demographic has been historically underserved and if a moratorium on language majors is implemented this group will be most disenfranchised as a result of such an Administrative action.  It can’t be underscored enough that the Modern Languages and Literature program is unique in exemplifying through its curriculum, and more so than any other program on campus, the diversity of our student population and that of the local region (which remains the most significant contributor to campus enrollments).  It took decades to build this program within a community that has long struggled to secure access to curricular representation on this campus.

Cutting this program is tantamount to cutting curriculum in Women Studies, African American Studies and Asian American studies—because it would in fact terminate Spanish language and literatures and Chicano Studies on this campus.  How is the goal of promoting excellence and diversity served if the educational needs of single largest plurality, Hispanic students, at CSUB are dismissed by Administrators?  The potential to irrevocably harm the educational interests of Hispanic students and the local Hispanic community demands serious considerations.

In this multicultural era, it is unimaginable that Hispanic educational needs (proposed cut of culturally meaningful curriculum–the Spanish program and Chicano Studies) are being challenged at CSUB—when no such challenge exists at other CSU campuses.  Even CSUs serving affluent white communities have attempted to better represent Hispanic population interests (particularly since they’re now the largest minority group in America), yet Administrators on this campus plan to terminate this language program?

The mission of “excellence and diversity” must be seen in actions—not words.  Diversity means action, not rhetoric.  And any actions taken by the present Administration to undercut the curriculum delivery needs of Hispanics on campus will have longstanding negative consequences for this ethnic minority and for all students that are left without access to language programs that prepare them for participation in a culturally diverse society (a point well recognized by other CSUs as evidenced by their commitment to comprehensive language programs).

Please express your solidarity with the Modern Languages Program by attending the “Informational Meeting” that Jose Reyna has scheduled on Thursday, October 15, 2009 @ 7:30pm–YES it’s on FURLOUGH DAY (this way the meeting will not interfere with class time for students in the ML program).  Invite others to join us as well–all are welcome to attend this informational discussion…our colleagues on and off campus.

And/or send an email message directly to Pres. Mitchell to express your concerns about this proposed cut and ask him to NOT APPROVE THE MORATORIUM ON MODERN LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES MAJORS that would terminate this program: hmitchell@csub.edu

CSU’s throughout the state are scheduling action days to challenge proposed budget cuts (www.calfac.org)…it’s correct to challenge our Administrators to find alternatives to such drastic measures that as history indicates, if implemented are irreversible.  To borrow a phrase being used by another CSU campus, “It took 40 years to build and 4 months to destroy.”  We can’t afford not to act in solidarity…we may not have much of a university left.

For more information on the problems we’re facing at CSUB, see the Californian’s recent article on Administrative Growth and Faculty Reductions: http://www.bakersfield.com/news/local/x544700063/CSUB-faculty-question-administrator-numbers

United We Stand,
Edna





What is the Mission of CSU Bakersfield?

13 10 2009

CSU_BakersfieldCSUB is planning the elimination of the Dept. of Modern Languages
which teaches courses in Spanish, as well as Latina American Literature; Latin American Studies:
Chicano Literature; etc. (The Dept. also teaches French).

CSUB is classified as a Regional COMPREHENSIVE UNIVERSITY, its CSU Mission is to
serving the Southern San Joaquin Valley and beyond.

QUESTIONS:
— Can one have a “comprehensive university” that does not teach languages?
— In today’s world, and  especially in CALIFORNIA and the San Joaquin Valley,
does the elimination of language instruction make sense?
— How does this reflect and advance the CSU Mission?

***************************

As many of you may already know, the CSU is in a serious financial crisis that is affecting many people and many programs throughout the system. At CSUB, major cuts to academic programs are being planned for the very near future. Some of you may have also heard that one of the most important programs to be put on the chopping block is our beloved Spanish program — both our Bachelor of Arts program and our Master of Arts program. This would, of course, deal a devastating blow not only to our students and to this university, but also to the entire Latino community.
In order to provide the latest and most accurate information on the status of our Spanish program, and especially on the future of the department, I have decided to schedule an “Informational Meeting.”

Date: Thursday October 15
Time: 7:30 P.M.
Place: Business Development Center (BDC) Rm. 153 (large lecture hall)

José R. Reyna, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor of Spanish
California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Hwy
Bakersfield, CA 93311-1099