Texas Domestic Justice

November 3, 2011 – 10:49 am

I couldn’t sleep this morning. A new viral video kept playing in my head.

Watch this. Warning, this is going to be disturbing.

I watched this video in mouth-covered horror. At the end, my first calm thought was: damn I wish I had had a video camera when I was young. And that’s what’s so striking about this video to someone who lived through that sort of violence. It’s SO commonplace. A scene like that could have been recorded any day–though not every day–of my childhood. The swirling feeling of incipient violence and helplessness. The awareness that your life is under the control of a man who can turn into a beast.

Yeah my specifics are different. My mom didn’t play that weird game of semi-protective, semi-enforcer participation. She played a game of ‘get as far away from it as possible and maybe be able to pretend it wasn’t so bad’. Dad’s favorite weapon wasn’t a belt, it was a hammer handle or a length of PVC pipe. By the time we were 16 the physical violence had more or less stopped. Age 15 was the last time he attacked me in a rage. Our Dad didn’t use the word “Fuck”.

But so many of the other fragments are so heart-rendingly familiar. The blaming of the victim by both parents. (It was always my fault that he hit me. Everyone in the family told me so. If I didn’t make him so angry none of this would have had to happen.) The unpredictability of the man’s rage-fueled violence, spiking and subsiding as he channels it. The first time I watched that video, it’s terrifying because you just don’t know how far it’s going to go. You think it’s over then it’s not. You keep wondering if it could get worse. The fact that the girl knew to tape it tells you how regular this was. The way she recovered from sobbing so quickly tells you how used to it she was. I know, because I recovered that fast too. There’s no doubt in my mind that this was not the most severe beating she ever took from him.

Yes, so familar. If you see his statements yesterday, he’s still blaming her, just as when I was 23 Dad was still blaming me for why he hit me so much. Her mother left after 22 years of marriage, as my mother did, and sacrifices the “family secret” of his “addiction” being the source and cause of this rage. The daughter expresses some regret for exposing him. She wants people NOT to blame her mother. She says she didn’t show this video for 7 years because he still controlled her life, and she was afraid of being hurt in his inevitable backlash. All of those statements could have been made by me at the age of 23, and the reason I waited until then to cut Dad out of my own life.

Because my father was a fine upstanding community pillar who clearly loved his children, no one would believe the “spankings” I reported were abuse. Because no one saw it, no one heard his raging or our screaming, any teacher or coach I tried to tell thought I was exaggerating and told me that my father loved me. If anything, I didn’t have the bravery or language or distance to express anything close to what it was. And it was before the laws that require reporting.

So yeah. I wish I had had a video camera. And the fact that this girl did have one, and published this, is so empowering to all of us abused kids who had no voice, no proof that the Dr. Jekyl they called Dad was a Mr. Hyde when the doors were shut. Though my memory is playing scary clips from my own childhood today, I am pleased to feel no resonating personal anger. Affirmation to myself that while the truth is not forgotten, it does not swing me like a belt anymore.

And a long overdue conversation about real, volatile child abuse–not the predictably paced domestic violence that Hollywood serves up–will have its 15 minutes in the 24-hr news cycle.

Defenseless against the Crazies

October 23, 2010 – 2:43 pm

Crazies, by definition, aren’t very careful about the facts.

What makes the Republicans unable to keep their crazies at arms length is that the non-crazy Republicans have abandoned adherence to the strong American pragmatic value of evidence.

“I believe it if I see it” is a deep strain of Americanism found in country and city,
homemaker, hamburger flipper, and humorist.

The Republican party is now dominated by two sets of folks. Those from the evangelical Christianist faith tradition in which a lot of preposterous myths are unquestionable, and the Straussian Neocons who practice the leadership model that any lie is acceptable if it gets the people to move towards the desired outcome.

Republicans who have given up the core American value of evidence, have no defense against their crazies.

Prompted by Steve Benen.


October 23, 2010 – 2:21 pm

Give people someone to hate.

Right now public sector employees are being served up on a platter for

… the savage meal of social jealousy and exploitation of hardtimes anger.

Encouraging that evil demon of the human heart who councils

… “if she has it and I don’t have it then I want her NOT to have it.”

You know the devil that sits on a shoulder and plots against our better angels?

We’ve all heard him.

… “My neighbor’s gain is my loss.”

He’s lying.

Game Theory for the American Tribe

October 23, 2010 – 12:57 pm

America’s Best Interests

the Plutocrats do not have America’s best interests at heart.
They have their own personal best interests at heart.

What else do you think globalization means?
Since globalization refers to the mult-nation structures of businesses and business relations,
 … and the plutucrats own the corporations,
   …   yes our plutocrats do not have only America’s best interests at heart

Because a multinational corporation that did only have America’s best interests at heart
   …  would be at a strategic disadvantage
      … to any MNC who didn’t.

our Plutocrats are less American than most Americans.
In a quite technical sense
… out of time spent living
the Plutocrats have simply spent more of their lifetimes outside of America
… than nearly anyone
      … inside America.
Unlike the military
   …  who you could also say this about,
they don’t live on little outposts of America when they are abroad.
our Plutocrats are quite technically less American than most Americans. 

Sure Anyone can wrap themselves in a flag as well as Anyone.
and Anyone can live their lives being true American leaders and citizens
   … as well as Anyone.
Class seems equally irrelevant to both those statements.
Any individual
   … can buck their generalizations.

the Plutocrats don’t rely on other people’s children
getting a good education
   … for quality of life.
That core tenet of the American belief system.
A solid, pragmatic education shall be provided to every child.
By the time an American is an adult they should be able
   … to read and write and calculate.
the Plutocrats livelihoods are
  … not reliant on the education of other Americans’ children
       … the way ours are.

our Plutocrats do not have Americans’ best interests at heart.
the Plutocrats’ strategy
   … is to keep the people divided among themselves.
Keep the people from seeing them truly
   … and rising up against them.

The way you keep a lid on the population of the United States today
   … is you do everything you can to discourage the whites from forming alliances
       … with any other group.
And piss off any other group too much to forgive it.

So teach people to hate each other
over pointless distinctions
   … Divide and conquer. 
        … Wedge away, issue by issue.
Just as the Romans did to the Empires they conquered
Except now it’s the American Plutocrats
   … Stealing the future built by the American people
      … from the American people
          … and our children.

It’s a Stage Coach Robbery

April 6, 2010 – 2:27 pm

Doesn’t it seem to you that banks think it’s their money more than they think it’s your money these days?

Online billpay these days offends me.  Maybe Im just getting cranky, but I have found online billpay a nice convenience over the years.  Instead of managing recurring or one-time payments manually, the bank does it for me.  A couple of years ago, I didn’t mind that the bank wasn’t super prompt.  I was forgiving of slow internet-aided business models.  I knew that behind the scenes, Wells Fargo was just scrambling to get it working anyway.

Today?  Not so forgiving.  Not when I notice that Wells Fargo is guaranteeing itself seven days between when it takes the money out of my bank account and when the recipient should receive a check.  Interesting.  Seven days to a Sacramento, CA address.  For a check that a recipient then has to go and deposit.    That’s a lot of float, Wells Fargo.

I know it doesn’t take 6 days to get a letter to an urban address in Sacramento or LA or NYC, but that’s what reported these days.  That’s longer than it took a couple of years ago.

I’m going to mail my own checks from now on.

Google’s Choice

April 6, 2010 – 2:12 pm

Google has chosen to close their mainland Chinese business and redirect Chinese-originating traffic to its Hong Kong servers.  These facts are not in debate.  The debate rages instead over why Google took this action, whether other companies or governments should support or mimic Google, and what benefits or damages will accrue to Google as a result.

Some point to public statements made on Google’s official blog and by their corporate legal officers.  Taken at face value, Google represents itself as acting upon a mixture of idealistic principles and reaction to being the victim of a coordinated security attack.  US business reporting has been divided between mockery of Google’s naiveté, predictions of dire impact on Google’s Chinese business, and cynicism at Google’s pointless PR ploy.  US tech industry reporting seems divided between applauding Google’s courage and disparaging Google for taking this action so lately.   This frames the business debate in the same horse-race noise that drowns policy out of our political discourse.

It should come as no surprise that editorialists rarely understand what Google does for a living and therefore leave Google’s product out of their stories.

Google’s search mission is to provide the fastest, most accurate, most relevant results for anyone who looks.  Imagine now how hard it would be as a company to reconcile this mission, which inspires your employees decisions, clarifies your value to your customers, and provides the basis for your search-advertising business model, with a requirement to deliberately damage your search results according to fluctuating, inconsistent, political demands by innumerable censors with variable authority and backed by legal threats of corporate fines and detention of personnel.  It is quite literally impossible for Google to ever be “in compliance” because the rules are ambiguous and constantly changing.  It sounds like a nightmare to manage.  A constant battle between acceding to demands promptly to show flexibility versus foot-dragging to stem the overwhelming tide of demands.  Not to mention that breaking with one hand the tool that you are building with the other is a stupid place to find yourself as a company.  So too, the costs to Google company morale of hiring employees to deliberately break the work of other employees are incalculable.

Less cognitive dissonance is probably generated by breaking Google’s individual account mission than by breaking its search mission.  The mission for the individual account product surely includes being the most reliable, accessible and secure, personal information repository possible.  Again this core product mission of would be directly at odds with Google taking political actions against their own account holders, whether the attack is demanded by a government or a corporation.  A company which tries to be both a model for integrity and a backdoor for secret police, is going to incur great costs from employee and customer disapproval when it gets found out.

Google’s good will remains remarkably high for such a powerful and successful juggernaut of a company.  Ignored in many of the business reflections I read discussing Google’s decision, is the economic impact to Google of damaging this consumer good will through behavior most of their customers and employees would consider “evil,” namely, handing over the accounts of anyone the Chinese government wished to spy on.

Google’s decision to withdraw from the Chinese mainland may look like it will lead to permanently lost revenue through exclusion from the Chinese market.  But from the Product point of view, the costs of remaining in China would have been vastly more expensive.