Friday, September 30, 2011

TV stereotypes

Linda Holmes writes for NPR:
Tonight, CBS premieres How To Be A Gentleman, a brainless buddy comedy presenting a dichotomy in which men can be either delicate, ineffectual, sexless weaklings or ill-mannered but physically powerful meatheads. Says this show — over and over, in both its marketing and in its actual dialogue — there are gentlemen, and there are real men, and each might need to be a little more like the other.

Yes, yes, it's a sitcom, and caricatures are common, and on its own, this wouldn't make much of an impression. But this is not just any season. It's a season that also brings Tim Allen whining about what ever happened to "real men" in Last Man Standing, three guys lost in a universe of "pomegranate body wash" in Man Up, and — sometime in midseason, unless the universe blissfully swallows us all before then — two men in drag in Work It trying to overcome the entirely female-driven economy in which they literally cannot support themselves without dressing as women.

And in that environment, How To Be A Gentleman and its overt and unapologetic sexist stereotyping, in which only certain kinds of men are "real men," represents a kind of tipping point: Television right now — at least broadcast television — is even worse at managing its ideas about masculinity than about femininity.
Sounds like a variation on the Odd Couple, or Two and a Half Men. There is also a show called 2 Broke Girls that similarly contrast two stereotypes of women, a sassy waitress and a spoiled rich girl.

While there are lots of shows that put men in a bad light, there have also been lots of shows like Desperate Housewives that put women as very bad characters. So I am not sure about this criticism. Are there women who form opinions about men by watching TV sitcoms? I am pretty sure men do not take these sitcoms too seriously.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Planning a public protest

I got several good comments yesterday about planning a political protest against CPS and the family court.

This week, The Santa Cruz Sentinel had two stories about a silly Berkeley Republican diversity bake sale, on Tues. p.A8 and Wed. p.A3. It was not even an original idea, and only cost about $50 for the muffins. The event got a lot of publicity elsewhere also. It was a great PR success.

The newspaper has also been running stories all week on whether women have the right
to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. See the articles Sun., Tues., Wed., and Thurs. I guess some people see this as an important civil rights issue, but it is not. Saudi Arabia is a medieval backwater where no one has any rights except for the oil sheiks. And even California says that driving is only a privilege, not a right.

Meanwhile, yesterday was one of the most exciting days in the history of professional baseball. The Red Sox and Braves squanders huge leads in the last month in the competition for playoff spots, and the last day of the season was the most dramatic I've ever seen. The Red Sox and Braves were each one out away from winning their last games, and they each blew that also. But it just rated a few paragraphs on p.C3 of the sports section. (The online edition has a longer AP story.)

So if we are going to organize a protest, it should be carefully designed to get the publicity we want. I hate to say it, but I don't think that a few picket signs in Watsonville or on Emeline is going to do the trick. We need something like the diversity bake sale. It should be outrageous and legal at the same time. The act should speak for itself, so no one can distort our message. Other men's groups have created a scene while dressed as Batman. I am not sure how effective those protests were, but they did get some publicity. I will try to think of some ideas. If you have any, then please post them.

An Indoctrinated Law Student

A blog got this letter:
I am a third-year student at a major law school. Since family law is tested on the bar exam, I decided that it would be smart to take a family law course. The professor is a woman who is a Brigham Young University law school graduate (although I seriously doubt she is Mormon). She has published several articles on gender, sexuality, and family law.

She holds to the concept that marriage is always changing. Marriages are more like economic partnerships than some kind of spiritual union. Women’s health and careers are negatively burdened by marriage. Traditional marriage is oppressive to women. The nuclear family has almost never existed except during or subsequent to the industrial revolution. Gay marriage is just another subjective transition occurring in the social sphere. The ideal of traditional marriage and child rearing is a creation of class privilege that stigmatizes the poor. The tendency for the law to oppress women by upholding patriarchal marriage is a precursor to marital rape.
I am not even bothering to give my opinion of this. I am just pointing out that this is what the law schools teach. And not just the more liberal schools -- this is what BYU teaches.

This is the school that kicked off a basketball player for having premarital sex with his fiancee. No alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, drugs, gambling, or pornography, either. If the law professors there don't believe in marriage, then they don't elsewhere. In a generation, you will not be able to find a family law lawyer who even understands the traditional concept of marriage. Maybe that is true already.

The blogger recommends a 1910 G.K. Chesterton book on what's wrong with the world! I thought that our problems were newer than that. The copyright has expired, so you can now read it for free. So that is the good news for you optimists. If you wait a century, then you can at least read about what is wrong with the world for free.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NYT Global Protest Movement Article

A reader sends this NY Times article:
MADRID — Hundreds of thousands of disillusioned Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strike. Israel reels before the largest street demonstrations in its history. Enraged young people in Spain and Greece take over public squares across their countries.

Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.

They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.
He adds:
This is what's needed here in the US and that would include esp. the family law system. Republican, Democrat, what's the difference now? This is the sort of thing I was alluding to in all those comments I made about there's really only statism and we the people.
That is largely what the Tea Party movement is about. But it has not attacked the family court, CPS, and other such evils yet.

I just got an email from a local Santa Cruz woman who is writing a book about the evils of CPS. Maybe she will add my story, taken from this blog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How the Fraudulent Dr Fox Fooled The Shrinks

The Dr. Fox effect is about how easily shrinks are fooled by phony experts who pretend to speak authoritatively but who are babbling nonsense. Some video from the famous 1976 experiment has been uncovered:
You’re looking at footage at a somewhat infamous scam lecture an actor gave to a group of psychiatrists, about game theory. The actor was trained the day before — trained so that he wouldn’t say much that made sense. But he had such a convincing presence that toward the end, even after the fraud was exposed, some audience members asked where they could read more about the research.

Fox was trained to give this talk only the day before. He was given an article from Scientific American on game theory and worked up a lecture from it that was intentionally full of imprecise waffle, invented words and contradictory assertions. ...

Fox was convinced he’d be rumbled during the lecture. But the audience hung on his every word and, when the 20-minutes-long talk was over, bombarded him with questions, which he displayed such virtuosity in not answering that nobody noticed.

On the feedback form that was handed round, all ten people who attended the lecture said that it had given them food for thought, while nine of them also reckoned that Fox had presented the material in a clear manner, put it across in an interesting way and incorporated plenty of good illustrative examples into his talk.
I don't know how anyone can take psychiatrists and psychologists seriously when even the experts cannot tell the difference when they are listening to a charlatan who is just stringing together buzzwords.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Psychiatrists want power to force drugs

A forensic psychiatrist blogger writes:
Jared Loughner shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people, ...

He was found not competent to stand trial. This means his trial is postponed until his mental illness resolves enough for him to: understand the charges against him; participate meaningfully in his own defense; control his behavior in court; etc. See that last "etc?" That's the part that allows courts to do anything they want to you.

Loughner, however is refusing to take antipsychotic medication to get better. ...

Practically, this means that if the court wants to medicate Loughner against his will, they can. There is a legal process to follow, but it is simple and straightforward and completely not in any kind of dispute.

There should be no issue.

So I was surprised to read that the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, through Paul Appelbaum, filed an amicus curiae brief in support of forced medication. Why? Isn't this a non-issue?

In fact, there are two reasons you can forcibly medicate (only) prisoners. The first is Sell v. US: you can force antipsychotics for the purpose of restoring the defendant to competency to stand trial.

The second reason is Washington V. Harper, which allows forced medication of psychotic prisoners in the situation where they were dangerous to themselves or others.

So, again, I was confused. What's the debate?
The second key issue the brief addressed was the importance of permitting authorities who have custody of a defendant to make decisions of forcible medication without having to go through a time-consuming judicial hearing on the matter. ...

In addition, we believe psychiatrists working in correctional facilities need the flexibility to deal with dangerous persons without the delay involved in lengthy court proceedings.
The feds will not let Loughner see the light of day, whether he is tried or not. They can give him the death penalty for all I care.

But the psychiatrists want to use him as a precedent for forced psychiatric medication without court process.

These drugs not even very effective. They have nasty side effects. Loughner has not been convicted of anything, so the law should treat him as innocent until proven guilty. I think that this shows how horrible psychiatrists are, that they would want the power to drug unconvicted defendants without any due process.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Father Knows Best -- no more

A reader sends this:
Dads Through the Decades: Thirty Years of TV Fathers

By Mark Crispin Miller
At first, Dad seemed to reign supreme in sitcom country -- or at least in its better neighborhoods

On the bulk of those shows set in the suburbs, Dad's authority around the house appeared to be the whole point of the spectacle. It was this implied paternalism that made most of those "comedies" so unamusing: Dad's status was, back then, no laughing matter. Despite their laugh tracks and bouncy themes the real , spirit of those shows was expressed in their daunting titles: Make Room for Daddy and Father Knows Best were pure and simple threats.

As the apparent ruler of the world, Dad, pushed around by no one, somehow deflated all of his inferiors -- and all were his inferiors. Since we almost never saw him working, we had no sense that there was any class above his own: and he had no competition from below.
He also sends me the list of Communist goals from the 1958 book, The Naked Communist. Glenn Beck says that the book changed his life. The list of 45 goals includes:
1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war. ...

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks. ...

38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity, masturbation and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
A couple of commenters are unconvinced about the political connection to the family court. Obviously the commies are not running the court, but I think that there are political motives.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Allowing recorders in court

New Jersey now allows people to record in court:
The New Jersey Supreme Court's Bench-Bar-Media Committee is pitching new rules that would establish a presumption of permissibility for using electronic devices in court, albeit with prior approval.

The subcommittee report, approved by the full committee and forwarded to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on July 14, proposes a consistent procedural framework for allowing such devices in the courts, including the Superior Court, the Appellate Division, the Supreme Court, the Tax Court, and the municipal courts.

The proposed revisions recognize that the general right to use devices with recording capabilities is "no longer a right limited to the media," says subcommittee chairman Thomas Cafferty, a partner at Gibbons in Newark and general counsel for the New Jersey Press Association.
This is inevitable. In a few years, people will think that it is bizarre that recorders were ever banned in court.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Local protester arrested

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:
SANTA CRUZ - A homeless activist who appears to have been instrumental in last year's Santa Cruz camping ban protests was arrested Thursday for allegedly hacking Santa Cruz County computers in December, federal authorities allege.

A federal grand jury's indictment of Mountain View resident Christopher Doyon, 47, appears to be part of a nationwide crackdown on the hacker community. A second man also has been implicated in the attack, which authorities say was planned as retribution for the breakup of a lengthy protest over the city's controversial camping ban. ...

Both Doyon and Covelli were charged with conspiracy to cause intentional damage to a protected computer, which carried a maximum of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, causing intentional damage to a protected computer and aiding and abetting, which can carry a sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
This is fishy. How much damage can a homeless guy do to a public web site? What was he doing, browsing from the local library? For that he can get 10 years?

The city considers homeless people a big nuisance of course, but it seems ridiculous to me that computer trespass is punished so much more severely than physicall trespass.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rebel Without a Cause

I posted yesterday about The Strict Father Model, and got a bunch of good comments. Last night, the TCM channel showed the 1955 James Dean movie Rebel Without a Cause. It was the great teen angst movie of the 1950s. It is about troubled teenagers, and the root of all the problems is the weak or absent fathers. James Dean, Natalie Wood, and the others look to the their fathers for strength and moral authority, and they do not get it. The moms try to fill the gap, but they cannot. They can help, nurture, approve, and encourage, but they cannot do what the teenagers desperately need from the fathers.

The movie seems to be saying that the strict father model is essential for normal development to adulthood.

There were a lot of 1950s movies that took dubious psychology theories way too seriously, so I never took this weak father theme too seriously. But now I am reevaluating the political angle to this.

Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that the welfare system destroyed the American black family by encouraging women to raise their children without fathers. Many conservatives thought that he was saying the obvious, but it is hard to discuss the subject without sounding racist.

Now Judge Morse says we ought to let a therapist decide whether I can take my kid surfing. That would be even more contrary to the strict father model than the James Dean movie. Is it possible that she attended some sort of seminar where some goofy psychologist explained that she must try to break down the strict father model? What do today's psychology textbooks say, and do they differ from what the 1950s textbooks said? This will take further research. It sounds paranoid to suggest that there might be some right-left politics underlying a family court judge's opinion on surfing, but it is tough to find other rational explanations for her wacky actions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Strict Father Model

Liberal Berkeley professor George Lakoff wants to educate his fellow liberals on Why Conservatives Have Left Liberals In the Dust. He tries to explain conservatives in this 1995 essay as if they were a tribe in Borneo with completely alien practices and values. In particular, he argues that their unreasonable political views stem from their unusual family life, which he describes:
The Strict Father Model. A traditional nuclear family with the father having primary responsibility for the well-being of the household. The mother has day-to-day responsibility for the care of the house and details of raising the children. But the father has primary responsibility for setting overall family policy, and the mother's job is to be supportive of the father and to help carry out the father's views on what should be done. Ideally, she respects his views and supports them.

Life is seen as fundamentally difficult and the world as fundamentally dangerous. Evil is conceptualized as a force in the world, and it is the father's job to support his family and protect it from evils -- both external and internal. External evils incLude enemies, hardships, and temptations. Internal evils come in the form of uncontrolled desires and are as threatening as external ones. The father embodies the values needed to make one's way in the world and to support a family: he is morally strong, self-disciplined, frugal, temperate, and restrained. He sets an example by holding himself to high standards. He insists on his moral authority, commands obedience, and when he doesn't get it, metes out retribution as fairly and justly as he knows how. It is his job to protect and support his family, and he believes that safety comes out of strength.

In addition to support and protection, the father's primary duty is tell his children what is right and wrong, punish them when they do wrong, and to bring them up to be self-disciplined and self-reliant. Through self-denial, the children can build strength against internal evils. In this way, he teaches his children to be self-disciplined, industrious, polite, trustworthy, and respectful of authority.

The strict father provides nurturance and expresses his devotion to his family by supporting and protecting them, but just as importantly by setting and enforcing strict moral bounds and by inculcating self-discipline and self-reliance through hard work and self-denial. This builds character. For the strict father, strictness is a form of nurturance and love -- tough love.

The strict father is restrained in showing affection and emotion overtly, and prefers the appearance of strength and calm. He gives to charity as an expression of compassion for those less fortunate than he and as an expression of gratitude for his own good fortune.

Once his children are grown -- once they have become self-disciplined and self-reliant -- they are on their own and must succeed or fail by themselves; he does not meddle in their lives, just as he doesn't want any external authority meddling in his life.
A reader suggests that maybe liberal shrinks and social workers have pegged me as being from a conservative family, and therefore I have an incorrigibly retro view of family life.

Here is an article following Lakoff's ideas:
In my article on November 12, 2008, I discussed the need to build a progressive empathetic foundation to at least match if not surpass the well developed and obesely funded conservative single-party foundation that brought us torture, preemptive war and now an economic disaster to compare with no less than The Great Depression. In my article on November 25, 2008, I discussed replacing the “you’re on your own,” “empathy deficit,” conservative cognitive policy with an empathic progressive cognitive policy. In this posting, I will try to describe the two individual worldviews behind these policies.

We are a country with basically a two party system. These two parties have come to represent two worldviews: conservative and progressive. We are also a country where our brains have two modes of thought which coincide with these two worldviews. These worldview are impacted by our capacity, or lack there of, for empathy, which can easily be killed by fear. ...

In The Conservative Worldview section of The Nation as a Family, the strong Strict Father model results in the conservative worldview:
“The world is, and always will be, a dangerous and difficult place.”
“It is a competitive world and there will always be winners and losers.”
“Children are naturally bad since they want to do what feels good, not what is moral, so they have to be made good by being taught discipline.”
“There is tangible evil in the world and to stand up to evil, one must be morally strong, or ‘disciplined.’”
In The Progressive Worldview section of The Nation as a Family, the strong Nurturant Parent model results in the progressive worldview:
“It is assumed that the world is basically good.”
“… however dangerous and difficult the world may be at present, it can be made better, and it is your responsibility to help make it better.”
“… children are born good, and parents can make them better, and it is their responsibility to do so.”
“Both parents (if there are two) are responsible for running the household and raising the children, although they may divide their activities. “
“The parents’ job is to be responsive to their children, nurture them, and raise their children to nurture others.”
“Nurturance requires empathy and responsibility.”
I think that Lakoff is a nut living in a liberal academic bubble. But Santa Cruz is also a liberal bubble. I don't know what to make of this strict father model. Do the textbooks really teach it as some sort of anachronism that ought to be eliminated? Is there a left-wing anti-paternalism conspiracy to attack conservative family values and promote more spending on social programs? Is empathy a political codeword? This will take some further research.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Study claims recession caused abuse

A reader sends this story as an axample of a junk child abuse study:
AP) CHICAGO — An increase in child abuse, mostly in infants, is linked with the recent recession in new research that raises fresh concerns about the impact of the nation's economic woes.
The results are in a study of 422 abused children from mostly lower-income families, known to face greater risks for being abused, and the research involved just 74 counties in four states.

But lead author Dr. Rachel Berger of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh said the results confirm anecdotal reports from many pediatricians who've seen increasing numbers of shaken baby cases and other forms of brain-injuring abuse. ...

He said pediatricians could help with prevention by asking families about difficulties paying for food or shelter and referring those in need to social service agencies. Sometimes just asking parents about stresses in their lives and acknowledging their struggles can help, he said.

Most parents who abuse young children aren't "ill-intentioned," he said. "Most of it is kind of just snapping...maybe being sleep-deprived and just losing it. It's something that can happen to anyone. Economics is just another stress" that can increase the risks, Sherman said.
Here is the study. It is not really a scientific study, but a pediatrician study in a pediatrician journal.

The increase is probably just a result of over-diagnosis. If unemployment really caused infant child abuse, then you would expect abuse rates to go back down after a recession, and higher abuse rates in counties with higher unemployment. But this study found none of that.

The article admits:
Federal government data suggest that the recession did not affect child abuse rates. But the study authors said tho numbers are based on reports from child protective services, not medical diagnoses, and did not address brain injuries specifically.
So the federal numbers are different because CPS ignores the medical diagnoses?

I would not trust the medical diagnoses either, as there is consider doubt about Shaken baby syndrome. It appears to be just a big fad, with very little science to back it up. There have been many false prosecutions. It happens when a baby dies from disease or trauma, the parent shakes the baby in an attempt to revive him, and then overzealous authorities prosecute when the parent admits to shaking.

Just ask yourself, were a lot of babies shaken to death during the Great Depression? I doubt it. It sounds to me like a scheme for social workers to get some money out of the next Obama stimulus bill.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Keep it messy for the kids

The WSJ had an article on
The Child-Focused Divorce,
and it drew
this Sept. 10 letter:

In "the Child-Focused Divorce" (Personal Journal, Sept. 6) you imagine a world where divorced parents cooperate with an abundance of civility, mutual respect and charity, and you offer advice from experts who liken raising children of divorce to a kind of "business venture." You encourage attention to details, planning, coordination and even a kind of professional respect between the parents.

As a child of divorce, I found this almost laughable. If divorced parents were capable of cooperating like this, they would still be married. Living in a post-divorce atmosphere of civility would send a clear message to the children, not that they are loved, but that their reasonable and accommodating parents apparently couldn't be bothered to put as much hard work into saving their family.

This is, in some ways, a more painful message than the one my siblings and I got in the 1970 s after the divorce of our thoroughly unreasonable and uncooperative parents. Amid all the hardship and conflict, we kids were clear on one thing: Our family was too important, too elemental to be negotiated into some other arrangement by nice people with professionalism and tact. It could only be blown up, utterly rent asunder with great sound and fury by forces that our parents were powerless to resist.

If that isn't what happened,if it wasn't a disaster, then maybe our family wasn't much of a family after all. Maybe we kids were just another detail to be discussed, with inside voices, over bad coffee in some beige conference room. As it is, our parents don't want to be in the same room with each other even 40 years later and, honestly, that feels about right to me these days. It's a kind of silent tribute to what's been lost.

So, please, if we have to have divorce (and I'm not saying we do), let's keep it messy -- for the children.
John Mucahy
The letter is a refreshing response to the silly psychobabble advice on how to do a divorce.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Defining the BIOTCh

The American Bar Association defines:
What "Best Interests of the Child" Means

1. The notion of special protections for children began to come into American law in the late 19th century. Prior to that time, there were no children’s rights in family law, no protections against abuse, no juvenile justice system.

2. The term “best interests of the child” dates from that era and has over a century of use in American jurisprudence.
In the 19th century, it was presumed that the parents defined the best interests of the children. The term was used to justify and explain parental authority, not to undermine it.

The term has lost almost all meaning:
6. There has always been concern about the vagueness and breadth of this term, as well as the potential arbitrariness in how it may be applied. The “best interests” standard does not provide specific guidance. It is a subjective standard.

7. And there are often disagreements over what actions truly are in the best interests of children in a given case. For example, how does the standard apply in disputes between parents and grandparents or between biological parents and prospective adoptive parents?
Often disagreements? There is never any agreement about how the term should justify a court intervention.
9. “Best interests of the child” embodies an aspiration against which legal policy and its implementation must be measured. As the law grapples with specific child and family dilemmas, it must integrate knowledge of the needs of growing children in different circumstances. The term reminds us that we must never lose sight of the viewpoint of the most defenseless member of the human family: the child.
So it is just an aspiration to remind us that children are important.

I object to considering it a standard against which policies and actions can be measured, because it is not that and cannot be that. I have never even heard of a family court taking the phrase seriously. No one ever measures anything against any standard. The California statute says “best interest of the child”, not “best interests of the child”, and no one even notices the difference. It is just a meaningless buzz phrase that judges use to do whatever they please.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Judge approves surfing

Before the contempt trial on Friday, Judge Heather D. Morse asked about the child visitation. She told me that she understood that I have had at least two visits with my kids since the last court appearance. I said that is correct, and I had even seen one of them the previous day.

I still cannot figure out how the judge knew this. It was not mentioned in any of the paperwork, and I did not mention it. The supervisor has not written any reports yet. I do not know who would have told the judge, and I thought that it was improper for her to collect info about a case outside of court.

We then discussed a visitation issue. One of my kids wanted to go surfing with me, but my ex-wife Julie told the supervisor that court orders prohibit it. In court, Julie told the judge that the supervisor objected to it as being impermissible. That is not true, of course. The supervisor just did not want to get in the water. She is happy to collect her $50 per hour sitting on the beach, if everyone else is happy with that.

So I asked the judge whether any court orders forbade me to take my kid surfing, if Julie approves. I explained that I do not want to be in contempt of court, and I am following court orders as best as I can.

Judge Morse answered that the surfing decision "ought to be up to the child's therapist."

I was stunned. First, my kids are not in any physical or psychological or any other kind of therapy, and they never have been. No report or witness said that they need therapy. This is a judge who sat thru hours of testimony about our kids, and made a couple of child custody decisions, and yet she thinks that our kids are in some sort of therapy? How could she make a custody decision without knowing this most basic fact?

Second, what kind of parent would leave it up to a therapist to decide whether a child could go surfing? In my opinion, a parent is unfit if she cannot make such a decision by herself. Does this family court judge really think that a good way to rear kids is to put them in psychotherapy, and let the therapist decide whether a kid can go surfing?

I should have realized then that this judge could not be reasoned with.

Julie then said that our kids do not have a therapist, and the judge was puzzled. She looked as if she had no idea how a surfing decision could be made if there was no therapist.

I had to explain, "Your honor, I am not asking for your child rearing opinions. I am just asking for a clarification about the orders that have been already issued by this court."

After some discussion, Judge Morse conceded that there no orders restricting surfing. She said that visitation is currently at Julie's discretion, and that there is no court requirement that visitation be supervised, or that visits take place on dry land. Judge Morse said that the only reason that there is supervision is because Julie wants to prevent me from telling my kids about what has happened in court.

On this last point, the judge is correct, but I was very surprised to hear her say it in open court. Usually visitation is justified in terms of some sort of claim of danger to the kids, or something like that. Usually the danger claim is a smokescreen to hide the mom's vindictiveness, and the judge plays along with the scam. In my case, there is no alleged danger, and no reason for the supervision has ever been given except to prevent my kids from learning the truth that their dad is good man who loves them. But preventing a child from learning the truth from a parent has never been considered a legitimate reason for a family court intervention, and I was surprised to hear the judge condone such outrageous reasoning.

At any rate, at least it was made clear that there is no court requirement that a supervisor be present when I visit my kids. My visits are supervised solely because of the vindictiveness of my bitter ex-wife, Julie Travers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Debtors prison in America

MSNBC reports:
It may not be a crime to be poor, but it can land you behind bars if you also are behind on your child-support payments.

Thousands of so-called “deadbeat” parents are jailed each year in the U.S. after failing to pay court-ordered child support — the vast majority of them for withholding or hiding money out of spite or a feeling that they’ve been unfairly gouged by the courts.

But in what might seem like an un-American plot twist from a Charles Dickens’ novel, advocates for the poor say, some parents are wrongly being locked away without any regard for their ability to pay — sometimes without the benefit of legal representation.
The article drew thousands of comments, such as these:
The whole child support system stinks, as does family court, in general. You look at rich people ordered to pay $50,000/month to support a kid. That should be a criminal order as no kid requires that much to live on in a year.

Then you have the cases like these, where the parents truly can't pay, especially ones with a long track record of paying, and they are sent to jail. ...

What all of you fail to see is that CS is a fallback for irresponsible women who do not know how to keep their legs closed. Yes, the male is part of the problem, but the female 'allows' this man to 'insert' something in her. So for the most part, she is truly responsible for the decision of intercourse. You want to reduce welfare, abolish child support, convert custody into a 50/50 by default system.

Also, this notion that CS has to increase because the NON gets a pay raise is rubbish. Why doesn't the custodial get a better position? Also, do the necessities somehow go up in price when people get pay raises... obviously no. So why does support have to go up? Prices for things for the most part stay static. And let's also include this biasness that women are defaulted as the custodial... which in it self is sexist beyond belief.

CS is a sham... gay marriage doesn't destroy families... CS and the family court system does.
The article says Georgia officials claim that "state's judges use incarceration sparingly," which is not true. There was a Georgia guy named Hatley in the news a couple of years ago for being wrongly imprisoned for child support. The local newspaper said Hatley was one of 32 men and 13 women being held in the county jail for child support (in a county with a population of 13,400 -- do the math).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Judge tries to diagnose teeth

In the hearing before Judge Heather D. Morse last Friday, one of the charges was that I was in contempt of court for not paying an orthodontist bill. My ex-wife, Julie Travers, had brought a motion for such payment in Summer 2010, and the minute order said that the judge ordered me to pay half of the necessary dental bills, but deferred the orthodontics issue to a hearing in Fall 2010.

Julie argued that she got the impression that I would have to pay any orthodontic bill if it were "reasonable", and therefore the burden of proof shifted to me to prove that the bill was unreasonable. When I never proved that at the Fall 2010 hearings, she said that I owed the money.

The judge agreed with me that I was never ordered to pay the orthodontics bill, but that she was prepared to order it that day if Julie could produce proof that the orthodontic treatment was necessary. The judge said Julie could go home during the lunch break and find such documentation, and it would be considered in the afternoon. The judge also said that I would be allowed to submit evidence in the afternoon that the treatment was unreasonable.

After lunch, Julie produced a meaningless orthodontist checklist and a poor copy of some dental xrays. I had no way of producing evidence, of course, but I pointed out that her papers said nothing about the treatment being necessary or even desirable. The judge looked at the dental xrays and said, "I can tell from looking at these pictures that she has too many teeth."

What? I said, "Your honor, are you saying that you have the personal dental expertise to look at some xrays and determine that teeth need to be pulled?" No, she would not go that far. It was a crazy thing to say. While sometimes orthodontists pull teeth because the mouth is too crowded, that does not apply to my child and it is not being done.

I asked Julie for evidence that the orthodontic treatment was necessary, and she said that it was necessary to prevent cavities because kids who don't get braces usually get more cavities.

I felt as if I was dealing with morons. The average person with an IQ of 90 has a better understanding of teeth than either of them.

At the end of the day, the judge found me in contempt of court for not having paid the orthodontics bill. I really do not see how that can be right, when I did not even owe the money until the judge made her own personal diagnosis of the xrays two hours earlier.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Advice to get the dad cut out

Here is the latest Dear Margo newspaper advice:
Dear Margo: My ex and I had a daughter 10 and a half years ago. He was verbally abusive and extremely controlling, and I ended the relationship during my pregnancy. ... The outcome was that her father is able to take her for a few weeks during the summer and has visitation every other weekend ... he has continued to be inconsistent and does not follow the order. ... I feel completely shaken and angry each time he sends me a message. ...

Dear Want: I would document what you have told me about his being inconsistent, not following court orders, and being abusive and delinquent. Rather than gaining full custody, I suspect you might be able to get him cut back or possibly cut out.
... If you document the history, I believe you might even get an order that he not text you. Good luck. — Margo, proactively
Margo is Ann Lander's daughter, and has been married four times.

It used to be that a pregnant woman would not leave her man so lightly. My hunch is that she is the control freak, because she complains about him not following court orders, while she has no complaint about how he treats their daughter. The letter tells an obviously one-sided story.

At any rate, Marko's advice is extreme. She tells the mom to try to use the courts to have the dad "cut out" of their daughter's life, and to get a reatraining order against text messages.

I believe that if a couple shares a child, then no court should ever issue a restraining order against text messages. Not even if one of them is criminally insane. Nobody is making her read those messages.

I post this because I think that it is typical of the bad advice that women get today. Better advice would have been to tell the mom to not let her personal animosity get in the way of the dad having a good relationship with the daughter.

Meanwhile, in NY political gossip:
As the unexpectedly heated race for Anthony Weiner’s old seat draws to a close, POLITICO has obtained a 25-year old child custody ruling that paints Democratic candidate David Weprin in a searingly negative light. ...

“Both parties have exhibited the arrogance of sovereignty in asserting their claims to their child, as though the little boy is a thing at auction presided over by the court,” he wrote.

Wright ruled against Weprin, and added a specific instruction that he not wake the child up or end his feeding prematurely to take his time with his son -- though the case would be resolved, three years later, in the opposite direction.
All I get out of this is that the judge was a jerk. It was the judge who treated the boy as a thing at auction, and arrogantly asserted sovereignty over the boy. Changing custody after 3 years would indicate that the judge was probably incompetent.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Court is censoring this blog

As a result of a court order, I am redacting a quote from this blog post. My ex-wife, Julie Travers, brought a motion to hold me in contempt of court for it, and the judge threatened me with jail unless I removed it.

The quote was a brief account of how Julie lied to the court in order to gain sole legal custody of our two kids. She argued in court that the quote was personally embarrassing to her, even tho I had altered it to use a pseudonym instead of her real name.

You can still read the sworn testimony of Ken Perlmutter, where he describes Julie falsely claiming that she had sole legal custody, how he failed to get it right even after I showed him the court orders proving that Julie was lying, and how they both refused to correct their false statements even after being shown to them.

My custom has been to avoid using my ex-wife's name on this blog. However Julie Travers has
  • made a false and unfounded complaint of emotional abuse to CPS.
  • used that as a pretext for gaining temporary sole custody of our kids.
  • lied to the court psychologist about her custody situation.
  • used the court to extinguish my parental rights.
  • threatened me with jail in order to censor the proof of her lies.
All of this is well-documented in the court record.

There were not even any allegations of domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, child neglect, alcohol use, drug use, anger issues, or anything like that. The court psychologist who was appointed to investigate the emotional abuse allegation said that there was no such abuse and that I am just as good a parent as Julie. None of the many court evaluators and witnesses ever recommended any change to the court's final 2005 determination of 50-50 child custody, or ever gave any example of how I could have done anything better than what I did.

And yet I have no custody or visitation rights. Visitation is entirely at Julie's discretion. Judge Heather D. Morse said on Friday that Julie can restrict my visits to being supervised in order to prevent the possibility of me telling the kids what the court has done.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Contempt trial violates 3 1A clauses

Yesterday I was found in contempt of court. I don't know why I ever expected a fair hearing from this kangaroo court.

My ex-wife argued that this blog is embarrassing to her because I "use it to tell his story". She said that I use it to tell untruths, distortions, and misleading statements.

I asked her for her best example of an untruth, and she cites these two sentences from my complaint to the state psychology board:
Perlmutter was paid $27,900 for his evaluation, report, and testimony. He only made a temporary recommendation for the next 6-9 months, and suggested going back to him for an update to get instructions on what to do after that.
(Here are followups to that complaint.) She said that this made him look greedy, that his recommendation was not just for 6-9 months, and that an update with him was not required. She spent a lot of time attacking me for submitting this complaint, saying that it was harmful to the psychologist, embarrassing to her, and damaging to the system.

Here is the relevant paragraph from the May 2010 order that Ken Perlmutter wrote:
11. In the event father selects Plan 2 or 3 after the Plan has been in effect for at least nine months father may request that the Court expand his visitation appropriately. This expansion may include: unsupervised visits, longer visits, overnight visits. It will be up to the Court to make that determination. The Court may also determine that the parents shall have an updated child custody evaluation in order to receive input from an update to the current child custody evaluation with specific recommendations to address the parents' then current custodial requests.
Am I wrong here? You decide. It seems to me that my description was accurate, and that the judge could readily verify that it was accurate. I certainly could not have been misleading the state board because I also sent the order along with my complaint.

My ex-wife complained about many things from my blog, but said that she was only asking the court to order me to remove exact quotes because I use quotes to add credibility to what I say.

The First Amendment says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I pointed out that my ex-wife was asking to violate three clauses of this at once. She was acting against free speech, free press (of this blog), and my right to petition the Government (by complaining to a state agency about a licensed psychologist).

Update: A reader argues that Perlmutter might not have literally suggested an update, because he merely wrote a order that the court may decide to have an update done. I disagree.

The Webster's dictionary definition of suggest is:
sug·gest, transitive verb
1a: (obsolete)
b: to call forth : evoke
c: to mention or imply as a possibility
d: to propose as desirable or fitting
e: to offer for consideration or as a hypothesis
Maybe Perlmutter did not "call forth" an update, but he certainly mentioned and implied it as a possibility, he certainly proposed it as desirable and fitting, and he certainly offered it for consideration and as a hypothesis. He wrote it into a court order as the only specific thing to do after his 6-9 month recommendation expires. As I read this, he quite literally suggested an update, and I do not see any other way to read it.

Friday, September 09, 2011

65k phone calls

AP reports:
AMSTERDAM (AP) — Dutch prosecutors are charging a 42-year-old woman with stalking after she allegedly called her ex-boyfriend 65,000 times in the past year.

The 62-year-old victim from The Hague filed a police complaint in August due to the persistent phone calls. Police arrested the suspected stalker Monday, seizing several cell phones and computers from her home in Rotterdam.

Hague prosecution spokeswoman Nicolette Stoel said Thursday the woman argued to judges at a preliminary hearing she had a relationship with the man and the number of calls she placed to him wasn't excessive. The man denied they had a relationship.

The court ordered her not to contact him again.
This is obviously a clear-cut case of harassment by a crazy woman, and an example of a legitimate restraining order. Right? No.

The man should have been able to block her phone number after a few dozen calls. How did it ever get to 65k calls? That is over 100 calls a day. There must be more to the story.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Efficacy of counseling

If your wife or ex-wife goes to counseling, she might get this, from an advice column in today's newspaper:
Dear Annie: I hope you have room for one more letter about the efficacy of counseling.

After extricating myself from an abusive marriage, I sought help from a professional. But I found it confusing, frustrating and ineffective. My counselor insisted that I had done absolutely nothing wrong in our marriage and my husband was 100 percent responsible for the disaster. But, how could that be? I am far from perfect. It did not benefit me to think that way.

I know counselors should be supportive and affirming, but this was ridiculous. The counselor ended up having no credibility in my eyes. — Didn't Need It
Sometimes the shrinks just tell the customer what they think that she wants to hear.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Marriage and dating advice

A reader sends this intro to a new book on mistresses:
In today's North America, when most marriages are rooted in mutual love and compatibility, mistresses pose a different and often greater threat to marriages. This was not always so. In the days of arranged marriages, when parents selected their children's spouses for economic reasons or to cement family, business or political alliances, romantic love was considered an irrelevant, self-indulgent and even treacherous foundation for marriage. Husbands and wives were expected to cohabit and operate as an economic unit, and to produce and raise children. They were not expected to adore one another or to fulfill each other's emotional needs. Though some spouses developed romantic feelings for each other, usually respect and camaraderie were as much as anyone could hope for, and many marriages were desperately unhappy. This was the context that prompted all but the most puritanical societies to tolerate the tradition of mistresses who enabled men to satisfy their romantic and lustful urges.
Also in the Huffington Post, Juliet Jeske gives dating advice:
Since I left my husband I have been unable to do a number of things -- the most frustrating lost skill is the ability to date. After nine years in a committed relationship, I have extreme difficulty navigating the nuanced dance that is dating. I have learned I can't be too direct, eager, needy, desperate, clingy, emotional, commitment pressuring, or baby daddy seeking. I also have to avoid looking cold, aloof, bitchy, mean, shallow, negative or distant. And of course I can't even talk about my ex, even if the past nine years of my life was living and working with him! ...

I have a myriad of friends who complain all the time:

"I am not slutty enough for New York."

And I can relate. I have made failed attempts of hooking up with partners for something casual, but every time the results have been disastrous.
Yes, the rules for marriage and dating are changing. Maybe Jeske should have asked her friends about the NYC dating scene before leaving her husband. Then maybe she would have stayed married, and cheerfully found a mistress for her husband. A commenter on yesterday's post wants to warn men about marriage so that they know what they are getting into.

Monday, September 05, 2011

How Assange's mom was threatened

I commented before on the root of Assange's rage. On CBS 60 Minutes last night, the WikiLeaks leader was interviewed:
Kroft: You obviously have a mistrust of authority. Where does that come from?

Assange: I think it comes from experience with various types of authorities.

Assange gave us an example from his childhood, a story about him and his mother Christine, who was present at one of his recent court hearings. She was a political activist who helped scientists gather information about nuclear tests conducted by the British in the Australian outback. He remembers them being stopped late one night and questioned by authorities, one of whom said:

Assange: Look lady, you're out at two o'clock in the morning with this could be suggested that you're an unfit mother. I suggest you stay out of politics. And which she did for the next ten years in order to make sure nothing happened to me. So that's a very early abuse of power and the secrecy that I saw in my life.

His was an unconventional and sometimes tumultuous childhood in which he was frequently uprooted and moved around the countryside. He attended 37 different schools.
The interview was strangely silent about the massive new leak caused by the UK Guardian foolishly publishing a WikiLeaks password in a recent book.

Govt officials should not have the power to silence parents by threatening to take their kids away. We should have objective, fair, and due process criteria for declaring a parent unfit, so that this sort of thing does not happen. Otherwise, parents are second-class citizens.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Protection from legal threats to silence speech

A reader says that she has been threatened with a lawsuit for writing complaint letters about the family court and related legal matters.

Fortunately, California has a stiff law against the Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). The purpose of the law is precisely to protect those who exercise their First Amendment rights to speak out on matters of public concern. The law is so strong that there is an Oakland law firm specializing in SLAPP cases, because they can usually get attorney fees from the other side. That means that they will represent you if you have a good case, even if you have no money.

Here is how Wikipedia describes the California anti-SLAPP law:
It provides for a special motion that a defendant can file at the outset of a lawsuit to strike a complaint when it arises from conduct that falls within the rights of petition or free speech. The statute expressly applies to any writing or speech made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law, but there is no requirement that the writing or speech be promulgated directly to the official body. It also applies to speech in a public forum about an issue of public interest and to any other petition or speech conduct about an issue of public interest.

To win an anti-SLAPP motion, the defendant must first show that the lawsuit is based on constitutionally protected activity. Then, the burden shifts to the plaintiff, to affirmatively present evidence to show that they have a reasonable probability of prevailing on the action. The filing of an anti-SLAPP motion stays all discovery. This feature acts to greatly reduce the cost of litigation to the anti-SLAPP defendant, and can make beating the motion extremely difficult for the plaintiff, because they effectively must prove their case without the benefit of discovery.

If the special motion is denied, the order denying the motion is immediately appealable. Defendants prevailing on an anti-SLAPP motion (including any subsequent appeal) are entitled to a mandatory award of reasonable attorney’s fees.
If you are threatened with a lawsuit, then I suggest reading the above carefully to make sure that it applies to make sure that it applies. If not, you might want to qualify what you say so that you will be protected.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Silly NYC DV scandal

A front page NY Times story reports about the New York City mayor:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s management style has its hallmarks: unwavering loyalty to aides and a deep distaste for exposing private lives to public scrutiny.

So when he described the resignation of a deputy mayor a few weeks ago, Mr. Bloomberg left out a crucial detail — the aide had just been arrested over a domestic violence complaint. ...

The deputy mayor, Stephen Goldsmith, who had overseen the city’s Police, Fire and Transportation Departments, was arrested on July 30 after an altercation with his wife at their home in Washington. His wife told officers that he had shoved her and smashed a telephone against the floor.
Is this really a scandal in New York? That the major chose not to publicize a petty domestic incident involving an aide who was resigning anyway? I guess so, because the feminist DV lobby is troubled by it.
Mr. Goldsmith’s arrest, made over his wife’s strenuous objections, first became public in The New York Post on Thursday. ...

Even domestic violence experts who have worked closely with the administration and spoke glowingly of its track record on the issue said they were unsettled by the situation.

“If we are going to hold the regular people of New York City accountable for not being violent in their relationships, we need to hold our senior leaders and officials, too,” said Liz Roberts, the chief program officer at Safe Horizon, a group that has worked with the mayor to pass laws protecting victims of domestic abuse.

“It’s troubling — absolutely,” she said.
Read on for details. The paper treats this as some sort of scandal, so I can only assume that it is spinning this to make the parties look as bad as possible. Here is the story.
Based on the police report, it appears that prosecutors did not want to charge Mr. Goldsmith, because his wife did not want to pursue the case.

His arrest, according to a report released Thursday by the Washington police, stemmed from a loud and at times violent argument starting around 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday in the couple’s red-brick town house in the wealthy Georgetown neighborhood.

“I should have put a bullet through you years ago,” Margaret Goldsmith, 59, screamed at her husband, according to the report. Mr. Goldsmith then shoved her into a kitchen counter, she told the police.

Mrs. Goldsmith threatened to call the police. According to the report, she told him, “You’re not going to do this to me again.”

At that, Mr. Goldsmith grabbed the telephone and threw it to the ground, breaking it, Mrs. Goldsmith told the police. He grabbed her and refused to let her go, the report said.

Mrs. Goldsmith said she yelled, “Let me go, let me go,” and dug her nails into her husband’s forearms; when he released her, she ran to another room and called the police, the report said.

Mr. Goldsmith was arrested around 10 p.m. on a charge of simple assault domestic violence.

The Goldsmiths, in a statement released Thursday morning, confirmed the arrest but denied that they had engaged in any violence and suggested that the police report had misrepresented their behavior.

The report, Mrs. Goldsmith said, “is a summary of what discussions occurred that evening in our home, and those comments have been misconstrued as well as taken out of context.”

Mrs. Goldsmith said the arrest, which was required under Washington’s domestic violence laws, “was made over my strong objections and numerous appeals to the officers.”
There are many things wrong with this story. First, it is none of anyone's business. Second, it appears that the wife is more guilty than the husband. Third, the cops should not being arresting anyone if no one is alleging a crime. Fourth, a man should not have to lose his job over a harmless incident in the privacy of his own home. Fifth, it is not up to the NYC major to explain a trivial DC incident. Sixth, it is impossible to appease the DV feminists.

Did I miss anything? I read these stories and I think that the world has gone mad. Don't they have any real problems? Shouldn't New Yorkers be concerned with Hurricane Irene cleanup or something like that?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Exposing law schools

Law professor Paul Campos writes the blog Inside the Law School Scam, where he slams law schools. Here is a typical rant:
That ethical dilemma arose, in Carrington's view, because these professors were "nihilists," who supposedly disbelieved in even the possibility of principled legal decision making, because they thought "law is a mere deception by which the powerful weaken the resistance of the powerless." People who hold such beliefs, Carrington argued, cannot inculcate the faith that law is something above and beyond mere politics by other means -- a faith which, according to Carrington, law students need to acquire in order to be competent and ethical attorneys. ...

What we have instead are dangerous amounts of boredom and cynicism, topped off with unhealthy doses of depression and despair. Here's a question: How many law graduates, especially recent law graduates, have a more positive view of law and the legal system than they did before they entered law school? I think it's fair to say that almost literally no one ever has this experience. If, as Carrington suggests, it's the law school's primary job to nurture rather than corrode faith in law and the legal system, then the law school is failing spectacularly.

Why does the law school fail? That is the question this blog has tried to explore. ...

They learn that most of their teachers know little or nothing about the practice of law.

They learn that as a consequence they are learning almost nothing about the practice of law.

They learn that most lawyers who have jobs as lawyers hate their jobs.
Some law grads are . Anyone considering a legal career should read this blog. For the rest of us, it is a partial explanation as to how the American legal profession got to be such a decadent cesspool.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Santa Cruz rumors

A reader asks:
I've heard that THANKFULLLY Judge Morse is leaving the bench after the first of the year. Can anyone tell me if she was asked to leave family court or if it was her choice to do so? I really need to find that out for personal reasons. Thanks anyone who can help!
I have no idea. The Santa Cruz court does announce the judicial assignments for the year, at the beginning of the year. If anyone has heard anything, please post in the comments.

Another reader tells me that he got confirmation that Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph was kicked out for incompetence, and has no chance of getting into family court in Santa Clara county because they only use full-tilt judges for that, not commissioners. Last I heard he was bragging about his family court background, but doing traffic court. We used to call him Junk Justice Joseph.