Monday, March 31, 2014

Anonymous anti-dad judge unmasked

Fellow Angry Dad Dan Brewington posts:
Indiana Appellate Judge John G. Baker: "It was Judge Ezra H. Friedlander who filed the Anonymous Decision in Brewington Divorce Appeal."
Dan is out of prison now, and I hope he is not risking himself again.

I dobn't understand how any judge could have ever issued an anonymous opinion in his case. They routinely hand down signed opinions against murderers, gangsters, terrorists, drug dealers, and others. Dan has never hurt anyone. His only crime is that he wants to see his kids, and he explains his saga on his blog.

Here is my guess for what the judge is thinking: Murderers and other criminals know that they have done something wrong, and that they deserves to get punished. No one can explain what Dan has done wrong.

Deep down, the judge probably realizes that he is doing a horrible thing to punish a good dad and his kid, and he is ashamed of himself. So ashamed that he did not want his name on his opinion.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Impossible to detect liars

I often blame courts for entertaining cases dependent on some accuser telling the truth. Often the accuser has a personal financial gain if t he lie is believed, and there is corroborating evidence.

Scientific studies have consistently shown that it is extremely difficult to figure out who is telling the truth by watching or listening to the witnesses. The NY Times reports:
Like the rest of us, airport security screeners like to think they can read body language. The Transportation Security Administration has spent some $1 billion training thousands of “behavior detection officers” to look for facial expressions and other nonverbal clues that would identify terrorists.

But critics say there’s no evidence that these efforts have stopped a single terrorist or accomplished much beyond inconveniencing tens of thousands of passengers a year. The T.S.A. seems to have fallen for a classic form of self-deception: the belief that you can read liars’ minds by watching their bodies.

Most people think liars give themselves away by averting their eyes or making nervous gestures, and many law-enforcement officers have been trained to look for specific tics, like gazing upward in a certain manner. But in scientific experiments, people do a lousy job of spotting liars. Law-enforcement officers and other presumed experts are not consistently better at it than ordinary people even though they’re more confident in their abilities.
Sometimes a wife will show up in family court with some story of abuse, even tho the events are long past with no witnesses, objective evidence, police reports, medical treatment, or other corroboration. She wants increased financial support. There is no practical way of determining whether she is telling the truth or not.

The TV show Lie To Me exaggerated and popularized the idea that psychological research has discovered people who can detect liars with 100% accuracy. If such abilities really existed, they would solve a lot of problems in court, TSA, and elsewhere. They do not exist.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Judge sides with CPS, kicks the can

I reported before on the case of Justina Pelletier, and Mass. CPS has continued to gets its way:
A judge in Massachusetts has sided with a state agency that just a day earlier was accused of contempt of court for not following a judicially approved plan for treatment for a 15-year-old girl.

According to a report from officials with Liberty Counsel, Judge Joseph Johnston in Boston ruled on Tuesday that custody of Justina Pelletier will remain with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families “until a future hearing.”

That, according to Liberty Counsel officials, could not be any earlier than May 20.

“Once again, the court is kicking the can down the road. This is unacceptable,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “DCF has no right to hold Justina like a prisoner. We will pursue every legal means to end this tragedy.”
Now we have a decision:
A long-running child custody case took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when a Massachusetts juvenile court judge awarded permanent custody of teenager Justina Pelletier to the state Department of Children and Families.

The ruling by Judge Joseph Johnston means the 15-year-old will probably stay in state custody until her 18th birthday unless her parents can prove they are fit to care for their child.

The judge’s four-page decision, which was provided to the Globe, was remarkable for its detail and forcefulness. Johnston faulted Connecticut’s child protection agency for its failure to get involved in a case involving a child from its state, and faulted Pelletier’s parents for their verbally abusive manner and haphazard decision-making that he says has sabotaged plans to move their daughter closer to home.

Johnston wrote that the parents called Boston Children’s Hospital personnel Nazis “and claimed the hospital was punishing and killing Justina. Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere.”
This is weird. There seems to be some sort of turf war between Massachusetts and Connecticut, and between one hospital and another.

The judge said the parents accused hospital personnel of being "Nazis" for seizing their daughter and holding her for 7 months, while her health deterioates under a bad diagnosis. I thought that calling people Nazis was an American right. The judge also accused: "the parents use profanity directed at the MA DCF [CPS] personnel" [para.12].
In his ruling, Johnston, for the first time publicly, stated his belief that Pelletier suffers from “a persistent and severe Somatic Symptom Disorder,” a psychiatric diagnosis that doctors at Children’s reached in early 2013 when the girl was brought there because she had difficulty walking and eating. The parents objected to that diagnosis, leading to accusations of medical child abuse and setting off a monthslong battle over her care.
This is the weirdest thing. The term Somatic symptom disorder is a DSM-IV psychiatric disorder. It essentially means that the child is showing physical symptoms with no apparent physical cause, so they decide that the problem is all in the head. If that is true, then I would expect the symptoms to disappear after being under proper care for a couple of months. It has now been over a year.

Imagine if your 15yo daughter was being treated for serious medical problems, but then CPS seized her because some other shrink said that the problems were all in her head. Might you use profanity and call them Nazis?

This is a strange decision for a high profile case.

It concedes that CT has jurisdiction, but refuses to turn the case over to CT because of uncertainty about what CT would do.

It claims "neglect", but that seems to be just a difference of professional medical opinions.

It claims that the girl's physical problems are psychosomatic, but fails to report any improvement while 1 year in state custody.

It claims "best interest", but I thought that was not the standard unless the parents are divided.

The opinion against the parents seems largely based on the judge not likely the parents' attitude, and CPS not liking the publicity.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

No guns after misdemeanor conviction

In the USA, nearly all crimes like murder, theft, and domestic violence are under state laws, while the feds are more concerned with things like income tax collection.

You have a constitutional right to have a gun, unless you are convicted of a felony. In a horrible federal feminist overreach, Congress made it illegal to have a gun after a mere misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Complications from this stupid law keep going to the high courts.

NPR Radio reports:
The justices ruled unanimously that people convicted of minor domestic violence offenses are barred under federal law from possessing a gun, even though some states do not require proof of physical force for conviction on domestic violence charges.

James Alvin Castleman challenged his federal indictment for illegal gun possession. Backed by gun rights groups, he contended that his previous Tennessee conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence was not serious enough to disqualify him from possessing a gun because state law did not require proof of physical force.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument. Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged that minor uses of force may not constitute "violence" in the generic sense. But, she said, context is everything in domestic violence cases. Thus, a squeeze that causes a bruise to the arm may not normally be described as violence but "an act of this nature is easy to describe as 'domestic violence' when the accumulation of such acts over time can subject one's intimate partner to the other's control."

And if a "seemingly minor act like this draws the attention of authorities and leads to a successful prosecution for a misdemeanor offense," she continued, it qualifies as a crime of domestic violence.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with the ruling in Castleman's case, but took issue with Sotomayor's broader definition of physical force.

The court's ruling Wednesday is considered important because many states, like Tennessee, have domestic violence misdemeanor laws that make it a crime to threaten or cause bodily injury, without proof of physical violence. Sotomayor noted that "domestic violence often escalates in severity over time, and the presence of a firearm increases the likelihood that it will escalate to homicide. That was the rationale for Congress passing the law making it a crime for anyone convicted of domestic violence to possess a gun.
This case turned on the definition of "physical force", and did not address the bigger issues.

Meanwhile a California Democrat Chinese-American anti-gun child psychologist state senator was arrested:
A longtime California politician who was praised for his efforts to make government more transparent and authored gun control legislation was arrested Wednesday, accused of conspiracy to deal firearms and wire fraud.

The allegations against State Sen. Leland Yee were outlined in an FBI affidavit in support of a criminal complaint against him and 25 other people. The affidavit was unsealed on Wednesday, as Yee was scheduled to appear in court.

Yee performed "official acts" in exchange for donations from undercover FBI agents, as he sought to dig himself out of a $70,000 debt incurred during a failed San Francisco mayoral bid, according to court documents.

Yee is also accused of accepting $10,000 in January 2013 from an undercover agent in exchange for his making a call to the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract under consideration with the agency.
I don't know what to make of this. It confirms some of my prejudices about hypocritical corrupt politicians and child psychologists.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lazy kids blamed on lazy moms

I am a big believer in following scientific evidence, which is why I am especially critical of experts who do not. But there is remarkably little evidence that any childrearing strategies are any better than any others. Here is a widely reported story saying moms should get more exercise to set a good example for their kids:
Parents who are physically active are more likely to have children who are physically active, but a new Cambridge-led study is the first to indicate a direct link between the activity level of a mother and that of her child.

The study analyzed the physical activity levels of 554 mothers and pre-schoolers, using activity monitors that were attached to participants and worn continuously to ensure accurate data. The mothers and children were monitored all day for up to seven days.

Research found that how active the mother was each day was closely linked to the activity level of the child. Yet the activity level of the mothers overall was quite low, with only 53% of mothers performing at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least once a week.

The study shows that children aren't "just naturally active" and take cues from their parents in regards to physical activity and other measures that make up a healthy lifestyle.

"We saw a direct, positive association between physical activity in children and their mothers -- the more activity a mother did, the more active her child. Although it is not possible to tell from this study whether active children were making their mothers run around after them, it is likely that activity in one of the pair influences activity in the other," said study leader Kathryn Hesketh (formerly of Cambridge and now UCL).
Here is the actual study:
METHODS: In the UK Southampton Women’s Survey, physical activity levels of 554 4-year-olds and their mothers were measured concurrently by using accelerometry for ≤7 days. ...

CONCLUSIONS: Physical activity levels in mothers and their 4-year-old children are directly associated, with associations at different activity intensities influenced by temporal and demographic factors. Influences on maternal physical activity levels also differ by activity intensity. Providing targeted interventions for mothers of young children may increase both groups’ activity.
This is just a correlation, so they cannot tell whether the moms are influencing the kids or the kids are influencing the moms. Or maybe the moms and kids are both mimicking the dads.

The more obvious explanation is that it is all in the genes. Many, and possibly all, human behaviors are heritable. That is, the genetic parents' behaviors are correlated with the kids' behaviors, even if the kids are adopted out and never meet their parents.

These research papers are cited cited as evidence-based advice for parents, with this one saying that moms should be more active in order to encourage more active kids. But the study does not show that at all. They could have randomly asked half the moms to increase their activity level, and then tested for an increase in the kids, but they did not do that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Update on Kansas lesbian welfare moms

This is an update on Welfare lesbian fingers sperm donor and Kansas sperm donor is legal father. The Topeka Kansas newspaper reports:
Just before the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday, the attorney representing a Topeka man who provided sperm to a same-sex couple to become pregnant filed an appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court asking justices to direct a district court judge to block genetic testing of the man.

The order sought, called a writ of mandamus, also would instruct Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi to conduct a Ross hearing to determine whether genetic testing would be in the best interests of the 4-year-old girl born as a result of the sperm provided to the couple.

A mandamus orders a public agency to perform an act required by law when it has neglected or refused to do so.

Topeka attorney Benoit Swinnen represents William Marotta, who gave the sperm to the couple.

"The state's claim that this action is merely a collection action for child support belies the reality that the child's emotional and physical well-being is being ignored," Swinnen wrote in the motion."The state is shopping for a person that can afford to pay and is hanging on the storefront a sign saying 'Males Only' that is reminiscent of discrimination patterns that society no longer tolerates."
This is all about finding a man and bleeding him for case, when the lesbians go on welfare.

When a gay male couple figures out a way to have a kid, at least they take responsibility for him. The lesbians appear to be much more likely to freeload off the welfare system or the sperm donor.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mandatory vaccination debate

The NY Times has this debate:
An outbreak of measles in Manhattan showed that even doctors had overlooked the disease as childhood vaccination became widespread. But over the last decade more people have objected to immunization. Along with the religious exemptions that almost all states allow, 19 states allow exemptions for philosophical reasons.

But are broader outbreaks like those in Britain evidence that parents should no longer be allowed to get any exemption from having their children immunized?
An argument in favor:
Personal and religious belief exemptions should be curtailed because some people, whether because of age or compromised immune systems, cannot receive vaccines. They depend on those around them to be protected. Vaccines aren’t the only situation in which we are asked to care about our neighbors. Following traffic laws, drug tests at work, paying taxes -- these may go against our beliefs and make us bristle, but we ascribe to them because without this shared responsibility, civil society doesn’t work.

Public health is no different.
Is the concern here about people with AIDS?

One problem with this argument is that if the public health is so important, why is it only applied to kids? Most of the whooping cough cases come from teenagers and adults, and all of the measles cases come from foreigners. Not kids.

I agree more with the argument against:
This January lawmakers in the United Arab Emirates mandated that women breastfeed for two years, announcing that breastfeeding is a “duty, not an option.”

Officials should encourage childhood vaccinations, but they shouldn't have the right to force parents to vaccinate their children.

Should public health officials do everything they can to encourage, inform and facilitate breastfeeding? Yes. Do they have the right to force women to breastfeed? Not in a country that believes in freedom of choice.

There is tremendous evidence showing vaccinations prevent childhood diseases. Should public health officials do everything they can to encourage, inform and facilitate childhood vaccinations? Yes. Do they have the right to force parents to vaccinate their children? Absolutely not.
American compliance rates for childhood vaccination is about 98%, altho some parents do not get them on schedule. If we want to have a free society, we have to accept that 2% of the population may not do what it is told. About 30% of American moms do not breastfeed, in spite of all the official encouragement.

The same newspaper has a long article on The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists:
But in the eyes of many Americans, bisexuality — despite occasional and exaggerated media reports of its chicness — remains a bewildering and potentially invented orientation favored by men in denial about their homosexuality and by women who will inevitably settle down with men. Studies have found that straight-identified people have more negative attitudes about bisexuals (especially bisexual men) than they do about gays and lesbians, but A.I.B.’s board members insist that some of the worst discrimination and minimization comes from the gay community.

“It’s exhausting trying to keep up with all the ignorance that people spew about bisexuality,” Lawrence told me.
It was TL;DR, and I am assuming that the proof does not exist yet.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lesbians arrested for child abuse

The worst parents are the psychotherapists, lesbians, and adoptive parents. This story has the combination, along with bankruptcy and welfare.

The Monterey Herald reports:
One of two women accused of starving, chaining and abusing three children in Monterey County is a former correctional officer, while the other was a businesswoman and counselor at clinics in California and New Mexico, according to their online professional profiles and court filings.

Sheriff's deputies rescued three children from the couple's residence on Russell Road north of Salinas on March 14, citing horrific conditions and an "emaciated" 8-year-old girl who looked like "a concentration camp" victim, said Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller.

Also taken from the home were two boys, ages 3 and 5.

Miller said Eraca Dawn Craig, 31, and Christian Jessica Deanda, 44, are accused of felony child cruelty, false imprisonment and other charges.

Deputies conducted a wel­fare check at the house after the children didn’t show up for an unspecified appoint­ment, detectives said.

They found the children, who were home-schooled, living in squalid conditions and “fairly dire straits,” Miller said.

The girl was the most abused, deputies said, though all three had bruises and other marks and ap­peared to be malnourished.

Officers said they found signs the girl had been chained to the wall about four feet above the floor, and said she may also have been held in a closet.

Investigators believe she had been shackled at times at the ankle and at other times by a collar around her neck.

One deputy reported the girl was chained “to keep her from obtaining food.”

Miller said it appeared she had “hardly eaten for months.”

The girl and the 5-year ­old boy were legally adopted children, he said, while the 3-year-old boy is the biolog­ical son of one of the women, who are domestic partners.

The rescued 8-year-old girl was immediately hospi­talized for around five days, Miller said, and appeared to be “very traumatized.”

“It seems that the little girl was the major target of this abuse,” he said. “It was a particularly heinous case.”

He said there were in­dications the women were preparing to leave the area very soon.

Detectives said moving boxes were already packed and the women told them they were planning to move to the Fresno area.

Miller said when children are rescued from terrifying conditions, they’re not usu­ally “jumping up and down in joy. They may have for­gotten what joy is like.”

Profiles leave no clue

Law enforcement’s de­scription of the grim sce­nario stands inmarked con­trast to the women’s online business profiles.

Posting as Cristian De­anda- Craig on LinkedIn. Com, Deanda wrote about her cactus nursery in New Mexico: “I am currently in a place that makes me happy both personally and profes­sionally. I left me (sic) job to be home with my kids. I loved gardening and soon found myself selling flowers to neighbors. So my partner and I started our business — the best decision ever! I enjoy watching my kids grow and my flowers!”

Under previous jobs, she lists work as an HIV pre­vention case manager at John XXIII AIDS Ministry in Salinas from 2001-2004, and later as a psychosocial therapy manager at Valen­cia Counseling Services in Estancia, New Mexico.

Deanda was also a pro­gram manager at a transi­tional housing facility for men in Gallup, New Mex­ico, according to the profile.

Public records show she has lived in Castroville and Salinas as well as New Mex­ico.

Deanda and Craig were scheduled to be married March 29, according to an online gift registry.

Craig, whose profile is listed under Eraca Craig-Deanda, earned a bachelor’s degree in auto mechanics management from Hartnell College in 2013, according to the site.

Before that, she was a de­tention officer at the Navajo County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Of­fice in 2005-2006 and a cor­rections officer at a New Mexico corrections facility from Dec. 2006 to May 2010. More recently, her occupa­tion was listed as auto me­chanic.

Records show she left New Mexico in May 2010, moving to the Russell Road address in unincorporated Monterey County.

Soon after moving back to Salinas, Craig filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Almost immediately, she began defaulting on agreed­ upon monthly payments, federal court records show. The case was ultimately thrown out for failure to pay, just two days before her arrest.

Craig earned around $36,000 a year as a New Mexico correctional officer, according to her filing, but was receiving unemploy­ment assistance and food stamps in Salinas at the time of her bankruptcy pe­tition.

The three children were listed as her dependent sons and daughter in the filing, which was made when her youngest son was 6 months old.

Neither woman appears to have a criminal record in Monterey County, accord­ing to court records.

Asked why his office took so long to announce the arrests, Miller said of­ficials were still investigat­ing the case and wanted to wait until after the women were charged by the Dis­trict Attorney’s Office and arraigned in court.

They were arraigned in Monterey County Court on Tuesday and are being held at Monterey County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail each, al­though Miller said late Fri­day officers were in court asking for the bail amounts to be raised.

Deanda and Craig are scheduled for a preliminary hearing March 28.
Not too long ago, these unstable lesbians would not have been able to adopt kids because they would not have been considered fit parents.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Illinois recording ban struck down

Illinois has a law against audio recording similar to California's, and it was just struck down:
Under Illinois law, any person who “knowingly and intentionally uses an eavesdropping device for the purpose of hearing or recording all or any part of any conversation” is committing a crime “unless he does so … with the consent of all of the parties to such conversation or electronic communication.” This isn’t limited to conversations that the parties reasonably intend to be private: “conversation” is defined as as “any oral communication between 2 or more persons regardless of whether one or more of the parties intended their communication to be of a private nature under circumstances justifying that expectation.”

DeForest Clark was indicted for violating this law; here’s how the ACLU of Illinois amicus brief describes the facts:
[The] charges arose from a September 17, 2010 child support hearing before Judge Robert Janes in Kane County Circuit Court. Mr. Clark represented himself pro se at the hearing. The hearing was conducted in open court and no court reporter was present. Mr. Clark recorded the hearing in order to preserve a true and accurate record of public proceedings in which he was representing himself without the assistance of counsel and without the benefit of a court reporter. For the same reason, Mr. Clark also allegedly recorded a conversation between himself and opposing counsel, Colleen Thomas, prior to the hearing in a public hallway in the Kane County Judicial Center.
Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the statute violates the First Amendment (People v. Clark (Ill. Mar. 20, 2014)).
It is appalling that anyone could think that there was anything wrong with a dad wanting to keep a record of a court proceeding against him.

I do not know whether California has this exception:
Note, by the way, that the Illinois statute does have one narrow but important exception: “Recording of a conversation made by or at the request of a person … who is a party to the conversation, under reasonable suspicion that another party to the conversation is committing, is about to commit, or has committed a criminal offense against the person or a member of his or her immediate household, and there is reason to believe that evidence of the criminal offense may be obtained by the recording.” That at least helps people gather evidence that they need to protect themselves against extortion, threats, false accusations, and other crime — a very valuable exception, it seems to me.
That is another case where recording should be obviously justified.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hitler misquote

Adolf Hitler did not say:
The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.
A reader sent another version:
"As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
I have seen this misquote a few times, and I wanted to use it myself to show the evil of this sort of thinking. The family court is probably the biggest curtailment of liberty in our society, and the worst parts get justified by saying that it is for the benefit of children.

He was known as a master at manipulating the masses for evil purposes, so the quote sounds plausible and profound.

For the closest quote I could find, he did say:
“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future. ” Along with, ”All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people. ”

"It must proclaim the truth that the child is the most valuable possession a people can have."
These don't quite make the same point.

I have heard people trash the Commies or the Nazis as being so evil that they created societies where ordinary citizens secretly turn in their neighbors to the state for petty offenses, thereby turning much of the population into spies. Sounds like what CPS has done in the USA to me.

Update: A comment below adds more info, with a link to Hitler's book and the source of the fictional quote.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feminst child custody editorial

I found this 2004 editorial in the Journal of Child Custody:
A child’s need for safety should trump any and all other considerations in family law. Child-service agencies cannot be expected to both promote reunification and child protection simultaneously. The author asserts that legislatures need to change the laws such that it is clear to the court that children come first and that safety is paramount. Although visitation between child and parent is considered to be a fundamental right, this right can and should be abrogated when initial evidence shows that such contact poses a risk of danger to the emotional or physical health and safety of the child. A new and specially trained court dealing only with issues of family violence and abuse may need to be considered.
You would think that an academic journal would give facts based on objective studies. This just opinion written by some feminist lawyer. Her arguments are to favor the mom, presume the dad is guilty until proven innocent, and end parental rights.

There is court for issues of family violence and abuse. In California, it is called the juvenile dependency court. That is where CPS can prove a parent to be unfit. But she wants some other court where dads will have lost their rights before they walk in the door.

The author, Toby G. Kleinman, runs a Center for Protection of Children with someone named Rachel Kleinman. A sister? Lesbian partner? I don't know.

I post this to show the poor state of academic work in the area of child custody. It is mostly feminist opinion, without social science to back up what they say.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Framing of Joe Paterno

I thought that I was the only one defending Jerry Sandusky and Penn State officials. I think that he trial and the Penn State litigation is the modern equivalent of the Salem Witch trials.

The NBC TV Today show reports:
Dottie Sandusky, Jerry Sandusky’s wife of 37 years, maintains that her husband is innocent of the charges of child sex abuse that resulted in his imprisonment.

“Do I believe him?’’ she told Matt Lauer. “I definitely believe him. Because if I didn't believe him, when I testified at trial, I could have not said what I said. I would have had to tell the truth.”

She believes the victims' financial gain was at play.

“I think it was, they were manipulated, and they saw money,’’ she said. “Once lawyers came into the case, they said there was money.”

Sandusky spoke with Lauer on TODAY in her first TV interview since her husband was convicted on 45 of 48 charges of sexual abuse of young boys in June 2012. She was joined by filmmaker John Ziegler in her State College, Penn. home.

Lauer asked Dottie if she believed her husband was guilty of inappropriate behavior with some of the young boys who have accused him.

“I don't believe that,’’ she said. “I believe he showered with kids. That’s the generation that Jerry grew up in....There were always people coming in and out no matter what time that was.” ...

Ziegler, who runs a website called, has frequently spoken out about his belief that Paterno, the late Penn State coach who was fired in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, and other school officials did nothing wrong.

“I presumed, like a lot of people, that Dottie has to be delusional or not understand the case,’’ Ziegler said. “I'm certain of one thing above everything else after two years of investigating this case, and that is that Dottie Sandusky is not delusional. She knows the case better than the vast majority of media members, and she is positive that Jerry Sandusky is innocent.”
I am mainly skeptical of the alleged crimes because the story has all the signs of a false accusation:
Lack of objective evidence
Complaints only made years later
Inconsistencies explained by recovered memories
Complainers suing for big bucks
An implausible conspiracy covered up the crime
I am happy to see that Ziegler has made a documentary about this. Someday people will wonder how the public went so nuts on such flimsy evidence.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rare 1987 child support formula report

All of the states adopted child support formulas in the last 30 years or so. The origin of these formulas is obscure, and they are poorly understood. It seems unlikely that legislators knew what they were doing.

A 1989 DC court decision referred to a 1987 report:
The statutory scheme indicates that Congress sought to promote fairness in the District of Columbia by providing resolution of child support conflicts on an expedited basis through an intermediate tier of hearing commissioners who have ready formulae for calculating support orders. See, e.g., D.C.Code §§ 16-924(a), (f), 30-506(a) (1981, 1988 Repl.). In addition, Congress thought that the uniformity of awards would contribute to their overall fairness and encourage settlements through their predictability.[11]

[11] The recommendations to Congress by the national Advisory Panel on Child Support Guidelines suggest that Congress intended three improvements over the existing method of determining child support: 1) a higher level in support orders, 2) greater fairness through uniformity, and 3) improved efficiency (including expediting cases and encouraging settlements). Development of Guidelines for Child Support Orders: Advisory Panel Recommendations and Final Report II-2 (1987) ("Panel Recommendations"). This interpretation sheds little light on actual Congressional intent, however, since the report was issued after the 1984 Amendments were enacted. In November 1983, the House Ways and Means Committee requested the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement to establish this panel and produce a project report. Panel Recommendations at I-3.
Surprisingly, this 1987 report is not on the web anywhere.

A reader has sent me a copy of the report. (pdf, 14M download)

He also sent me Fudging Failure: The Economic Analysis Used to Construct Child Support Guidelines, by Ira Mark Ellman, Report on the Disincentives to the Protection of Marriage, Military Personnel Retention and Recruitment, Resulting from Abuses by the States of the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act (CSPIA), and essay on doing child support plans. I found these on the web.

I am not sure what to make of this stuff yet. I wanted to make the 1987 report publicly available so others can better analyze how we got into the current mess. My hunch is that some ideological consultants bamboozled everyone. Lawmakers debate the tax code, but not child support formulas.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Govt role stops at adequate treatment

This comment is worth repeating:
The government needs to get out of the business of entertaining the best interest of the child, and start looking at the simple principle of [what] are the minimum requirements being provided for the child. No I don't want my children to have the worst things, but I do think that the governments role stops at the point of saying yes they are being ADEQUATELY taken care of. If this were the standard in custody cases, most would go away very quickly. It doesn't matter if mom or dad are better. If they both want an active role in the kid's life, then they should get an equal guaranteed share in the kids life.
That is exactly right.

Free speech rights are justified in terms of allowing noble speech, such as great literature, advances in knowledge, politically correct advocacy, etc. But we don't require all speech to meet such standards. Free speech means that you are free to say whatever you please, with only certain exceptions such criminally harmful speech.

Likewise parental rights must be the freedom to rear your kids the way you want, without having to meet lofty standards of meeting someone's opinion of the best possible parenting. We have laws requiring adequate care, and no abuse or neglect. As long as you are meeting those minimal requirements, your parenting practices are none of anyone's business.

Imagine if the law said that you have the free speech to say whatever you want as long as some judge had the opinion that it was in the best interest of the state? You would complain that only Communist China would accept that.

But that is what we have in the family court, with the doctrine of the Best Interest Of The Child (BIOTCh).

Almost no one, outside this blog, questions the BIOTCh. Both Republicans and Democrats accept it, as it is self-evident that kids deserve the best. But if some judge or psychologist gets to decide what is best, then parents have no rights and kids are ruled by strangers.

I believe that BIOTCh is the worst ideas in the history of law.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Book on Parentology

The NY Times reviews:
His name is Dalton Conley, and he’s a sociologist at New York University who’s taken his own fatherhood, put it in the blender with his professional interest in scientific inquiry, and produced “Parentology.” He characterizes his technique as the opposite of everything uptight, including “old-world parenting; traditional parenting; textbook parenting; tiger mothering; bringing up bébé.” He’s not into that ponderous, prescriptive stuff. His brand, he says, is more like “jazz parenting,” an “improvisational approach.”

Conley describes himself as a “freak” whose parenting decisions are based on “flexibility and fluidity, attention to (often counterintuitive, myth-busting) research. . . . Trial and error. Hypothesis revision and more experimentation about what works. In other words, the scientific method.” He lets his children curse at him; he tells them they’re in special education classes because of the better student-­teacher ratio; they camp out around a hot plate while their apartment is renovated. He is a wild and crazy guy.
There is also a podcast (mp3). The full title is Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Science of Raising Children but Were Too Exhausted to Ask.

There is a desperate need for books that objectively give evidence and advice about child-rearing. However this book is mainly a personal memoir along with unorthodox interpretations of research. For example, he reads a study saying that kids with unusual names do better, so he gives one kid a 1-letter name, and the other kid a 47-letter name. Somehow I think that he is reading too much into some dubious research. My hunch is that unusual names do not help a kid at all, but that the sort of parents who choose unusual names are also the sort to think for themselves, and perhaps the kids get some benefit from that.

My position has always been that parents should have the discretion to use their best judgment. So I think that it is great that a sociology professor writes a book that open disagrees with the parenting philosophers of other popular books. He also gives the argument that his advice is useless:
“If my kids’ chances in life are largely determined by the DNA that their mother and I have passed on, all my math drilling and insistence on reading may have been of little added value,” he writes, comforting himself by noting, “On the other hand, all the things I did to mess them up probably won’t actually matter all that much in the end either.”
There is a lot of research that parenting is irrelevant. See The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, by Judith Rich Harris.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Expanding domestic violence law

The London Daily Mail reports:
Forcing your spouse to wear particular clothes, deciding which friends they can see and ‘excessive jealousy’ could become crimes as part of changes to domestic violence laws, it emerged last night.

Ministers are considering whether to make forms of ‘psychological abuse’ which do not involve violence into criminal offences punishable by law.

It follows a campaign from women’s groups who say there is too much focus on specific incidents in which someone was hurt by their partner.

‘Before you know it you could be in a Police State where a little bit of aggro could lead to the police being involved and someone being carted off to the police station.’

The proposals were published yesterday by the Domestic Violence Law Reform Campaign, which said existing laws fail to take into account ‘power and control’ in relationships.

It is calling on ministers to criminalise ‘coercive control’ and behaviour which causes psychological harm. ...

A survey of abuse victims carried out by the campaign group found 94 per cent of those surveyed said mental cruelty could be worse than physical violence.

The Home Office’s own definition of domestic violence already includes ‘coercive control’ - but until there has been no move towards making them a criminal offence.

This coercion can include being excessively jealous, stopping someone from seeing family and friends or controlling what the victim wears.
So if you hear about someone with a domestic violence conviction, maybe he just gave his girlfriend a dirty look about the outfit whe was wearing.

Meanwhile, here is some domestic violence with a cat:
The Oregon owners of a 22-pound housecat that trapped them in their bedroom after attacking their baby say they’re not giving up on their pet and are getting it medical attention and therapy.

Two days after police arrived to subdue the 4-year-old part-Himalayan cat, owner Lee Palmer of Portland said he’s taking the feline to a veterinarian. A pet psychologist also is due at the house to see the cat, named Lux.

“We’re not getting rid of him right now,” Palmer said. “He’s been part of our family for a long time.”

Palmer says the animal attacked his 7-month-old child after the baby pulled its tail. The child suffered a few scratches on the forehead.

On the 911 call, Palmer tells the dispatcher he kicked the cat “in the rear” to protect his child. Palmer says the animal then “just went off over the edge” — leading Palmer and his girlfriend to barricade themselves, their baby and the family dog in the bedroom for safety.
Someday the cops will be required to arrest either the cat or its owners, and maybe get a restraining order.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Suing parents for college tuition

A flaw in the child support system is that fathers are required to pay, without having any corresponding authority over the child. See mass school killer Adam Lanza's father's story about how helpless he was to correct bad hehavior.

A related problem is parents who are expected to pay for college, when the kids are legally adults. One girl is suing to force payment:
A New Jersey Supreme Court judge dismissed her case for private school tuition and living expenses but there will be another trial regarding college tuition in April.

In New Jersey, emanicipation does not occur at 18 but instead when a young person obtains an "independent status on his or her own," such as getting married, a job, or graduating from college. The question being tried in court is if a person over 18 decides to move out of the house, do parents still have an obligation to support them financially?

Several states require parents to pay for their child's college education until legal emancipation. If you live in Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah or Washington you might be on the line.

"All of this is predicated on divorce law," says Lauren Young, money editor for Reuters. "When people get divorced and when they’re spelling out the future for their children, college is a big topic of conversation. In divorce law you decide who’s going to pay for college and it’s often based on the salaries and incomes of the parents. Here they’re using that law as the springboard for this to say, ‘should parents have to pay for college no matter what?’"
Here are some comments on the story:
While I think the lawsuit is bad, there is an issue that needs addressing and most people are not aware of it. This interview only slightly touches on it and should have gone into this further as it is a big part of this case and many people's situations. Until you are 24, your parents income and wealth is considered for financial aid. So, if your parents will not pay for you to go to college you can't get certain loans and certainly not grants even though you may be poor.

The feds consider students dependent on their parents, and require the parents' financial info for any financial aid, until the student turns 24. That has been the law since 1992. The only exceptions are students who are married, have a kid, are a veteran, have a Bachelor's degree, or were a ward of the state until 18. It doesn't matter if the student lives with the parents, or the parents claim the student on their taxes.

from where i grew up, 99% of the parents would do everything to send their kids to college. ours is a third world country and our belief is that good education will be a gateway for great opportunities. most of our grandparents barely had college degrees post world war 2 and wanted our parents to have one and in turn wanted the same thing for us. it's a common saying here by parents; "we don't have riches and wealth but we will strive hard to give you a good education. this is the only thing we can pass unto you."
The current system is unsustainable. College tuitions have risen beyond the ability of typical parents to pay. Loans have caused huge amounts of debt. Information has become dirt cheap in every other part of our society. The Democrats will probably want to absorb college into the welfare system, as they are currently doing with the medical system. Homeschooling has broken the K-12 school racket. There are lots of great free college courses online.

Update: Rachel Canning has returned to live with her parents. Her lawyer complains that her parents are pressuring her to drop the lawsuit.

Update: The WSJ has a debate:
Should Parents Pay for Their Children's College Education?

For many families, especially those relatively well-off, the idea of who will pay for college is a given: It is the parents' responsibility.

But should it be?

On one side, parents want to give their children the best chance for a happy, financially sound future. They don't want their kids starting out in life burdened with student debt—a burden that could be substantial given that the total cost of a four-year college education may approach a quarter-million dollars these days. ...

At the same time, college expenses are a burden that many parents can ill afford as well, especially for those whose nest eggs are falling short and don't have a lot of time to rebuild before they hope to retire. What's more, it isn't just a simple matter of who can better afford it. It's also about making sure that the money is spent wisely.
Saying yes is a college professor whose salary is increased by the parents' money. Saying no is a psychotherapist.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The whole thing needs a reboot

I mentioned the movie Divorce Corp, and now there is an extended YouTube interview about it.

The guy very clearly explains what is wrong with child support, the best interest of the child (BIOTCh), the lawyers, and the judges. He says:
Almost all of the incentives are upside down in family law. [at 21:00]

The whole thing needs a reboot. [at 38:30]
He mentions judges who try to shut down blogs, in violation of free speech. I guess I missed it in the movie theaters. It got good reviews on IMDB, and you can buy the DVD or the upcoming book that is promised to better document the supporting facts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sex with 15yo girl is not consensual

Here is news from S. Carolina, where a mom has to use a gun to protect her daughter when there is no man living in the house:
There was no way a Fort Mill mother of three was going to let the grown man – who sneaked into her daughter’s bedroom Sunday to have sex with her – leave the house the same way he came in.

Minutes after he finished having consensual sex with the 15-year-old, Addison Pittman tried to leave through the same bedroom window he used to get inside the house at 2 a.m., the girl’s mother said.

The mom wasn’t having it. Enraged, she instructed her oldest daughter, 29, to grab her gun. It was a BB gun, “but he didn’t know that,” she said.
No, the guy did not have "consensual sex with the 15-year-old". That is impossible, as the age of consent in S. Carolina is 16.
Authorities identified the suspect as 23-year-old Pittman. At gunpoint, Pittman told the girl’s mother he was 17. The daughter told deputies she and Pittman “had been in contact” for about five months, the report states. She knew he was 23, and he knew she was 15.

The mother, who is not being named to protect the identity of her daughter, told The Herald on Tuesday that she recently learned her daughter and Pittman met on Kik, an instant messenger found on smart phones. ...

The girl made a mistake, her mother said, and is being punished for it. For the next two months, she’s grounded.

Her cell phone has been confiscated and her computer is gone. Most of all, her bedroom window is securely shut: “Nobody will be getting in these windows,” the mother said.

“It’s not a light matter,” she said, adding that she wants stricter charges levied against online predators, even first-time offenders. Pittman, who lives in Charlotte, has no criminal history in North or South Carolina, records show.

If not for police intervention, Pittman “would’ve gotten beat up,” the girl’s mom said. “I think I would’ve beaten him to a pulp. ...I wanted to. I wanted five minutes with him. I asked the officer to please give me five minutes, that’s all I wanted. And, I would’ve put him in the hospital.”
No mention of the dad, but this mom appears to have more guts than most of the dads here in California.

A reader complains that I do not mention the Catholics in connection with child sex abuse, so here is the latest from the BBC:
In a rare interview with an Italian newspaper, the Pope said "no-one else has done more" to root out paedophilia.

He said the Church had acted with transparency and responsibility, yet it was the only institution to have been attacked.

Last month, the UN strongly criticised the Vatican for failing to stamp out child abuse and for allowing cover-ups. ...

A UN report into the abuse scandals published last month called on the Pope to "immediately remove" all clergy who were known or suspected child abusers.

It also accused the Vatican of systematically placing the "preservation of the reputation of the Church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims" - something it has strenuously denied.
I do not know who is right here, but there is a big difference between "known" and "suspected" child abusers. The Vatican should certainly remove all known child sex abusers, but I cannot agree with punishing those who are merely suspected.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Feminist utopia and potato heads

If you want the scoop on feminism, head to Scandinavia, a feminist utopia. Here is a report on a political movement:
In 2005, some Swedish feminists got together and decided it was time for a political party that held feminism as its guiding set of principles. The primary goal of the movement was to eliminate sexism, racism and class differences in society. The strand of feminism that this party represented was radical feminism, as the focus was on patriarchy, patriarchy and more patriarchy. Radical feminism has a hyper focus on blaming men for social ills, as opposed to liberal feminism, which is more targeted at legal “inequities.” The party was called the Feminist Initiative, or FI.

However, let’s step through creation of the party, it’s time in the spotlight and it’s ultimate demise at the polls. In 2004, there was some restless stirring on the feminist left about the abolition of marriage – replacing it with a gender-neutral, polyamorous institution. Essentially, this would be creating a government institution that allows for formal recognition of any two or more persons. Further, there was some anger at the fact Sweden hadn’t adopted Norway’s gender quotas for corporate boards. Norway, in 2003, had passed a law that mandated that 40% of publically owned companies must be filled with women. This feminist malcontent lead to an exploratory meeting to find out if a feminist party should be formed. ...

The major parties and the government began to change some of their positions. First, they allowed for free artificial insemination for lesbian couples, regardless of formal status. Second, was the upgrade of homosexual relations from registered partnerships to full marriage. Third, was pushing forced female participation on corporate boards. Even — in that spring — feminist outrage cancelled the Miss Sweden pageant.

However, the real impetus – being anti-male – began to seep through. What kicked off the public’s souring on the party started with the release of the movie “The Gender War.” This movie described in detail how radical and how anti-male shelters for women are in Sweden. A feminist activist in the movie stated that half of women in Sweden are victims of male violence, a clearly false claim. Further complicating matters was a positive reference to the SCUM Manifesto – most specifically the quote, “To call a man an animal is to flatter him: he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” The director of Sweden’s women’s shelther, Under Von Wachenfeldt, agreed with statement, saying: “Yes, man is an animal. Don’t you agree?”
If you cannot live in Scandinavia, then new research shows that you can more easily brainwash your little girl with potato-heads:
A new study at Oregon State University finds that girls between the ages of 4 and 7 are influenced by Barbie to believe a woman’s place is in the home. Mrs. Potato Head, however, and changes that perception.

The same 37 girls in the study whose career ambitions were shuttered by Barbie were bolstered to believe they could become whatever they wanted after spending as little as five minutes with Mrs. Potato Head, the Los Angeles Times reported.
I saw a girl in a restaurant yesterday who looked just like a Barbie doll. Usually I just see potato heads this time of year. If the feminist parties gain power, all kids will have to play with potato heads.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

French reject gender theory

The French may seem sexually liberated, but they like their men to be men, and their women to be women. The Boston Globe reports that American sexual nuttiness has not gone over well there:
A new specter was haunting France—the specter of gender theory.

In the United States, gender theory—embodied most notably, perhaps, by the work of Judith Butler at UC Berkeley — argues that gender is less a biological fact than a social fiction. Since the 1980s, gender studies has become a familiar part of the curriculum at liberal arts colleges. ...

Behind the February protest were several political groups, uniting both traditionalist voters and conservative religious ones, that had organized massive demonstrations last summer during a vitriolic debate in France over the legalization of gay marriage. In May 2013, the Socialist government passed the law nevertheless. The battleground then shifted to a new proposed measure: an update to France’s “family law” that, among other things, stood to offer protections for reproductive assistance for gay couples. This year, many of the same protesters turned out again, their brightly colored pink and blue banners emblazoned with a battle cry: “Un papa, une maman: there’s nothing more natural.”

It wasn’t just the bill, however, that got the protesters out in force. The spark that rekindled the movement was, of all things, a grade school program called the “ABC of equality.” This experimental project, launched by the government in late 2013 in a handful of grade schools, encouraged children to consider that though some biological differences between the sexes exist, other differences are “constructed” by society, a product as much of stereotypes as of physical differences. According to its critics, the lesson plan was inspired in part by the work of American gender theorists like Butler.

As word got out about the program, rumors began to fly among conservative activists. One extreme right-wing website, Equality and Reconciliation, claimed that teachers were encouraging boys to be girls and girls to be boys, as well as inviting them to masturbate in class, none of which was actually part of the curriculum. Parents were urged to keep their children at home for a day in protest. As schools began to report significant levels of absenteeism, government officials scattered across the media to denounce the “folles rumeurs.”

It was to little avail: Enough people had become horrified by the new impact of “gender studies” that, in February, they turned out in droves. Nearly overnight, “la théorie du genre” was on everyone’s lips. Gender theory was the “obsession” of the Socialist government, one conservative news magazine declared. Activists contacted public libraries to demand that they pull texts tainted by American gender theory from the shelves.
This is embarrassing that we Americans have to depend on the French to point out that there are differences between boys and girls.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Florida congressman in nasty divorce

A Florida newspaper reports:
A judge has granted a temporary protective injunction against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson after his wife filed paperwork accusing the Orlando congressman of shoving and injuring her during an incident this past weekend.

Lolita Grayson's petition for the injunction, dated Monday, says her husband pushed her against a door, causing her to fall to the ground, during a confrontation Saturday at their home on Oak Park Road near Windermere.

In a statement, Alan Grayson's press secretary, Lauren Doney, wrote that the allegations "are absolutely false, completely unfounded, and clearly designed to vilify and harm Congressman Grayson."

"Congressman Grayson firmly denies Ms. Grayson's frivolous accusations," the statement said.

The incident comes just less than two months after Lolita Grayson filed a divorce petition stating that their marriage of nearly 24 years was "irretrievably broken."

Asked about the incident, Orange County Sheriff's Office Capt. Angelo Nieves said in a written response that the agency "is currently conducting a Domestic Violence investigation which is open and active at this point." ...

Her complaint alleges that "from time to time" in the past, her husband "has battered [her] and the parties' minor children," though she has not previously sought an injunction against him.

The petition says she now fears for her safety, citing the latest incident and his "history of physical violence toward" her.

In the statement released by his office, Alan Grayson said his wife initiated the violence.

"Sadly, it was Ms. Grayson who physically attacked the Congressman as he attempted to visit with his children. He did not respond to Ms. Grayson's violent assault," the statement said.

It added that Lolita Grayson has become "increasingly erratic" since filing for divorce, and her husband "is deeply concerned by her recent behavior and is profoundly pained by her accusations." ...

Lolita Grayson filed for divorce in January, seeking joint, but primary, custody of their four minor children. She was also seeking their marital home — where Saturday's incident occurred — distribution of assets, alimony and child support.

In response to her petition, an Orange County circuit judge signed an injunction granting Lolita Grayson temporary custody of their children and possession of the home, and barring contact by her husband. Judges typically grant temporary injunctions in domestic-violence cases until both parties appear in court.
You see stories like this in family court all the time. It is usually impossible to tell who is telling the truth. The wife can often use a story like this to get a temporary child custody advantage.

Here there were some witnesses, but it is not clear that there is any benefit to investigating the claims. Obviously there is some hostility. Maybe there is good reason for hostility. But they are getting divorced, so the problem should take care of itself.

Update: Apparently the charges were false:
The wife of Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson has voluntarily dropped a temporary restraining order against him following an allegation that he shoved her.

“Ms. Carson-Grayson has apparently dropped the petition for injunction that she levied against the Congressman last week, and will no longer pursue a restraining order against him. Ms. Carson-Grayson’s complaint was voluntarily dismissed today,” said Lauren Doney, a spokeswoman for the Florida Democrat, in a statement released by his office on Wednesday night.

“While this is certainly positive news, we want to emphasize that these baseless charges should never have been brought in the first place. Two eyewitness accounts, video evidence, a thorough police investigation, and Ms. Carson-Grayson’s own 911 call confirmed the Congressman’s innocence - and that Ms. Carson-Grayson was, in fact, the aggressor.”

Doney added: “For the sake of the all parties involved, we sincerely hope that this concludes Ms. Carson-Grayson’s efforts to misrepresent and exploit the family’s private affairs.
Remember, people are innocent until proven guilty.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

YouTube video from Supreme Court hearing

Legal Times reports:
The surreptitious videos taken inside the U.S. Supreme Court that popped up on YouTube in recent days were an embarrassment to the court—but not a violation of any law.

The court itself prohibits cameras and all electronic devices inside the courtroom, and its screening of people entering the courtroom would likely detect most conventional cameras or phones with cameras.

But while it is a crime to "harangue" or utter "loud threatening or abusive language” inside the courtroom—as occurred during oral argument on Wednesday—it is not a crime to possess or use a camera there.

That explains why the court’s official statement about the videos on Thursday mentioned no investigation of who took the images.
But if you did it, you might want to lie low, as a prosecutor says that you could be punished anyway.

It seems to me that the public has a free speech right to video of our courts in action. All courts should have video cameras, broadcasting to the web. What are the judges afraid of?

Update: In response to a comment that there is no First Amendment right here, a law professor explains:
The Supreme Court has rejected the view that there is a First Amendment right to attend all government proceedings — e.g., jury deliberations, grand jury hearings, executive agency meetings, and so on — or to view government documents. The federal Freedom of Information Act and many state public records acts give the public the right to access various government documents, but those statutes stem from legislative decision, not constitutional command.

Nonetheless, the Court has created a First Amendment right of access to certain judicial proceedings, especially criminal trials (Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia (1980)), jury selection in criminal trials (Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court (I) (1984)), certain preliminary hearings but not grand jury hearings (Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court (II) (1986)), and possibly also civil trials (Richmond Newspapers). To determine which proceedings qualify, the Court generally looks to whether “the place and process have historically been open to the press and general public” and “whether public access plays a significant positive role in the functioning of the particular process in question” (Press-Enterprise (II)). ...

In any event, this area of First Amendment law is something of a mess, as I learned when I was creating that portion of my textbook.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Why official opinions can be worthless

Parenting advice is notoriously subjective, and lacking in any scientific backing. Occasionally someone's bald opinion pretends to be irrefutable because it is "research-based", "evidence-based", or "endorsed by the AAP". But these opinions often still have no scientific backing.

A recent commentary explains:
Does applying the term 'research-based' to parental advice automatically provide a stamp of authority? A commentary paper published in the Journal of Children and Media suggests that parents and caregivers are frequently misled into an 'ignorance trap' by recommendations which are based on ill-informed research.

The risk of ambiguous parental advice is a hazard across health and education journalism, but seems to particularly affect the reporting on media and children. Parents are faced with making sense of increasingly intricate research findings and so are becoming ever-more reliant on advice provided by bloggers and reporters. Meanwhile, new ways for children to use digital media arrive every year, and so clear guidance and advice is imperative to support parents in their choices.

The commentary names one particular example of a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which contained advice relating to children's use of social networking sites. The report contained reference to the phrase 'Facebook depression', an expression which was quickly picked up by the press and used with the cachet of a real medical term. Stories on this phenomenon appeared across newspapers and television channels worldwide, despite not being based on any real evidence. The commentary finds that the citations actually originated from a first person account in a school newspaper, and from two websites names Trend Hunter and Science a Go Go. None of the citations referred to any research showing that social media use causes depression. Yet, because of the reputation and authority of the AAP, the one small mention of 'Facebook depression' has had a large impact.

Guernsey suggests that both reporters and professional organizations have a responsibility to communicate clear and transparent advice to parents. Reporters need to gain an understanding of how research works and professional organisations need to be able to back up their statements with carefully reviewed research. To do so otherwise causes confusion, and undermines the credibility of professionals and the important research they conduct.
Yes, I have read several AAP recommendations and checked the supposed evidence, and found that the evidence does not support the recommendation at all. Often they are written by pediatricians with no scientific training or expertise, and they do not appear to even understand how social science analysis works.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Drug addict attempts murder, still gets child custody

I am an advocate of joint child custody, but there are some circumstances that make it impossible. Such as when one parent hire a hit man to murder the other parent.

So who gets custody in that case? The drug-addict mom who hired the hit man, of course! And the dad is left begging for supervised visitation.

Fox TV Connecticut reports:
Bloomfield mother, Tiffany Khalily Stevens, was arrested in 2012 for hiring a hit man to murder her ex-husband and admits to a history of drug use.

So how did this mother, awaiting trial for attempted murder, retain temporary custody of the couple’s daughter?

The following are excerpts from a never-before-heard audio tape that police used as evidence in their case against Tiffany Khalily Stevens.

Alleged Hit Man: “…You go to the electric chair when you’re hired to kill someone.”

Tiffany: “Let me just tell you something…. (indaudible)’

Man: “When you’re f***ing hired to murder somebody, you get the f***ing electric chair.”

Tiffany: “Just do it.”

Man: “Ok”

Tiffany: “Please… when?”

Man: “Soon.”

Tiffany: “Tell me when.”

Man: “Soon.”

Police say, that tape reveals that Tiffany Khalily Stevens, hired a local maintenance man to kill her ex-husband Eric Stevens. Khalily-Stevens was arrested in July 2012 when the hit man gave the audio tape to Eric, who turned it over to Simsbury Police. ...

Bloomfield mother, Tiffany Khalily Stevens, was arrested in 2012 for hiring a hit man to murder her ex-husband and admits to a history of drug use.

So how did this mother, awaiting trial for attempted murder, retain temporary custody of the couple’s daughter?

The following are excerpts from a never-before-heard audio tape that police used as evidence in their case against Tiffany Khalily Stevens.

Alleged Hit Man: “…You go to the electric chair when you’re hired to kill someone.”

Tiffany: “Let me just tell you something…. (indaudible)’

Man: “When you’re f***ing hired to murder somebody, you get the f***ing electric chair.”

Tiffany: “Just do it.”

Man: “Ok”

Tiffany: “Please… when?”

Man: “Soon.”

Tiffany: “Tell me when.”

Man: “Soon.”

Police say, that tape reveals that Tiffany Khalily Stevens, hired a local maintenance man to kill her ex-husband Eric Stevens. Khalily-Stevens was arrested in July 2012 when the hit man gave the audio tape to Eric, who turned it over to Simsbury Police. ...

Nearly two years after Tiffany’s arrest, Eric still can’t see his daughter. He’s only permitted one short phone call each night. He showed Fox CT letters from a counselor who recommended that Eric should be allowed supervised visits.

He’s also filed several motions for visitation with the court and says none were granted by the Judge. He questions whether Attorney Bergamini is truly operating in the best interest of his daughter.

“You have a woman: known drug addict, multiple suspended drivers licenses, has custody of our child, while out on a million dollar bond, awaiting a trial for 25 years to life,” said Stevens.

In a New York state police report, a semi-conscious Tiffany Khalily-Stevens told officers she was using cocaine and oxy condon, after they found her in her car after going missing for hours.
This sounds like a joke, but it is not.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

CPS branded them unaccepting parents

What happens when a teenaged boy tells a school guidance counselor that he might be gay? In a Massachusetts case, the school sent him out to a gay youth organization to turn him against his parents, and then got CPS (aka DCF) involved.

National Review reports:
The following Monday, a social worker from DCF visited the Joneses, and, although they had explained the background issues and emphasized how much they loved their son, the social worker branded them “unaccepting parents” in their son’s presence. She told them that Tom could not go home with them and instead took him back to stay with the friend with whom he had spent the weekend, despite well-founded protests from his parents that the environment was unhealthy. The social worker also manipulated Mrs. Jones into signing a form requesting counseling from DCF by insinuating that failure to sign would delay the return of her son. On the basis of this form, which was signed under duress and which indicates that counseling was the only service to which his parents agreed, DCF now claims that its intervention was a response to the family’s voluntary request.
No one ever voluntarily requests help from CPS. I guess one lesson here is not to sign anything with CPS that might be construed as voluntarily letting them intervene.

Unless there is some law against being an "unaccepting parent", CPS has no business getting involved.

Someone might say, "A lot of parents might not understand that homosexuality is inborn, and give the boy bad advice." First, the scientific community says that it is unknown whether it is inborn or not. Second, even if it is inborn, the boy may just be in a questioning phase, and may not be gay. Third, there is no reason to believe that CPS advice will be any better than parental advice. Fourth, giving bad advice is a privilege of parenthood.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Utah has divorce class mandate

There are politicians in Utah who still believe in marriage, and one has noticed that it is usually the wife who files. One thinks that a class might help:
Utah state Rep. Jim Nielson (R) says that he is sponsoring a bill to force divorcing couples to take classes because he says that men are often “surprised” when women want to end the marriage.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Nielson had filed a bill that would require couples to take part of mandatory divorces classes even sooner than the law required when Utah became the first state with the mandate in 1994. Nielson would like to see couples take at least half of the $55 two-hour classes at the beginning of divorce process.

While Nielson told The AP that he hoped the classes would reduce the divorce rate in Utah, he was even more specific about his goals earlier this month on an Internet show called

“The friends that I have that have gone through a divorce, most of the people that I know personally that have gone through that personally are men,” Nielson explained to host Matt Allen. “And my sense, at least from the men that I interact with, is that they’ve usually been surprised by the divorce request, by the filing.”

The lawmaker pointed out that most men were in “the position of the respondent, and the ones that I know generally have also been greatly distressed by it, wished that there had been an opportunity to reconcile and to find a way to reconcile.”

“So if I’m correct that more of the filers are women than men — and that’s based on just anecdotal information — then I think what this course does, which basically mandates that before you file, the filer… has to take this course,” he continued. “That individual — often a woman — will be aware of alternatives, will be aware of the impact, will be aware of the consequences and know what the process will be to his or her family.”

“There are going to be a few cases where that information will make a difference and may actually help a person have second thoughts about whether to pursue the course.”
Of course the liberals and feminists are outraged by this sort of thing, because it suggests that women need education to control their narcissistic impulses.