Monday, July 24, 2006

How to Route Over Stalinist Information-Handling

The title of this post will become apparent near the end. For now, Torgo needs to set the stage. Torgo believes that the mishandled alumni meetings are signs of a future information battle. It is apparent that just as Stalin was so deluded by paranoia to think Germany wasn't invading, so too are Monaghan yes-men so deluded as to think it is a good idea to move the school. Torgo believes that the alumni board should compile a list of letters from alumni for use later in ABA meetings detailing the facts as they occurred.

In a post below, Torgo mentions that the ABA welcomes alumni comments. Torgo would like to clarify this statement as being one not encouraging all manner of editorials to the ABA, but rather a consistent use of the alumni board.

Whatever else the alumni meetings with deans Reed and White were, they were not information gathering on the part of the feasibility study team. They are pretense. The content of the meetings were advertised as "question and answer" sessions and an opportunity to gather comments from the alumni. The reality was quite different. It was spin. One after another, alumni would comment or question and rather than recording, writing or taking in the comment, Reed, White or even O'Bierne immediately retorted, undermined, or dismissed the comment or concern. So much for q+a. There was no answer. The function of the alumni input sections was something other than input, because any input was immediately disregarded.

Torgo has a theory that these people are well intentioned, but misinformed. Think of who pays their paycheck.

There is no doubt, given what Torgo has read about the things Mr. Monaghan has said in his autobiography, Pizza Tiger, that he is a master at making things work out under pretenses. Torgo also remembers Mr. Monaghan being quite proud of his ability to stave off bankers. Not to mention the number of lawsuits franchisees had to file to make a level playing field. There is a history of thinking criticism is only made by ingrates.

The alumni meetings were therefore pretense -- spin doctoring. They are part of the current so-called feasibility study. If the study's stated purpose is as divergent from real purpose as were the alumni sessions, then it is all pretense. Whatever else the new and improved feasibility study is, it is not to make an objective finding to base an objective conclusion.

So why bring this up? If the process is being railroaded, then why make comment when a finger cannot be lifted to change what the study says?

The answer to these questions lies in two principles. First, the alumni have more power to comment than merely through the feasibility study. Second, some sort of external, non-spinnable information source is necessary to counteract the eventual spin that will used to make the alumni process look like it was a legitimate alumni input session.

Many will take umbrage at Torgo's assertions. Most notably, the information handlers will. Others will be those who are looking for a hand out, or think they will get a hand out for toting the line. Still yet others just think it's rebel-rousing and will be futile. Nonsense. Torgo believes we are fighting an information campaign. Not speaking will allow the railroaders to lay the track as if helping everyone. Not speaking allows the pretenses to be real.

You've already seen the people who criticize the move to Florida as being "against the mission" or worse "ingrates." Funny how language like that serves the paranoid. Torgo will now tie in the language and tactics of the Dean to Stalinist errors.

Stalin believed people trying to help him were actually hurting him and "against Russia." So self-convinced of paranoia, Stalin refused to believe that Hitler was invading Russia despite months of warnings. In Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From, Daniel Pipes explains that Stalin was still ordering troops to not fire on germans even eight hours after german invasion in 1941, because Stalin believed Hitler wasn't going to invade. For months, he was told germans were mounting the attack.

Stalin was oblivious. Blinded by his intentional attacks of people around him. Pipes says it is because Stalin was isolated from the real world and believed people around him were conspiracists. The isolation is the key -- Pipes says, "Living in morbid fear of a plot, Stalin restricted himself to the Kremlin and his country house, surrounded himself with guards and yes-men, and became disengaged from reality."

"In Stalin's mind, criticism of him amounted to a conspiracy against him," says Pipes.

Torgo believes the Dean is similarly disillusioned because he is doing what Monaghan has always done. Monaghan seems to surround himself with yes-men and probably believes people who criticize him are in a conspiracy against him. That's the basis of the new language "against the mission."

Disengaged from reality, Dobranski and Monaghan seem to have surrounded themselves with yeah-sayers. Indeed, generally calling alumni mindless automatons of others is a gross disillusionment. Some people have wondered if Monaghan has been engaged in reality ever since he caused his franchisees to sue him to wake up. A wealth-induced coma, perhaps.

This, then, is a battle for correct information. In the driver's seat, we have two people detached from reality who are attempting to keep all "people against them" from speaking. It's not a hard battle, however, because these people are predictable in their paranoia and methods of presentation.

It's all about pretenses for them.

In order to understand why the alumni meetings and the feasibility study were held, we only need to see how the information will be presented to the public and the ABA later. If history is replayed, it will be siphoned to the public that meetings were held to gather alumni sentiment. It will be made to appear as if the alumni wanted it. The whole process will look fair.

Torgo will now turn to what could be done to illuminate the murky underbelly of this mess. Torgo is not going to delve into other similar messes, nor even into other examples of how pretense has been used in the past of the law school. Torgo will simply hope the reader considers that it's not unreasonable to believe the reason that the alumni board cannot was not able to directly contact alumni using email is because information is being controlled and means of communication are throttled. It's not about conclusions -- this game is about silencing people who have ideas other than Monaghan's.

If this game is about silencing, then the communication to the public and outsiders, such as the ABA, cannot be silenced. They can be mislead, however. The external game is played by controlling the input and making a pretty scene once presentations are made to them concerning the move. Thus, a prepared and well thought out presentation by alumni detailing how the game was played is in order.

Preparation is simple. Alumni who were at various "information sessions" and question and answer meetings should send a letter to the President of the alumni board detailing their recollection of those events. Who was there, what they saw, and whether they felt as if there concerns were answered. Send a copy to the Dean if you like, just to be sure he cannot say later that these letters were made-up after the fact. The process is simple: record the facts so there is a record.

Presentation is simple also. The Alumni Board should compile the letters of recollection into a report about the alumni concerns and the impressions about the meetings. Save it for the Board meeting and for the eventual ABA process.

There are several more things Torgo will suggest in some more posts this week.

Torgo would recommend seeing at least one alum's impressions of the meeting here.

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