Saturday, June 17, 2017

When Governments Oppress

I have become a fretter. Actually I have been that way for many years now. I quite often wake up at night and fret about my situation for a few hours. Specifically, I fret about the fact I am required to work for the rest of my life to pay people as a reward for criminal actions. In many cases, unquestionably criminal actions.

You might assume that I am most angry with my es-wife Spring but, oddly, that is not the case. In fact, I barely think about her. Sure she committed perjury, fraud and financially abandoned her kids. Worse, actually, she uses them as pawns to get money from me. If she was single she would be in jail for child abandonment. But she is who she is. She has never had much of a moral compass and I obviously failed in all my attempts to steer her onto a better path.

You may also think that what I fret over are the outdated, unfair and, ironically, demeaning to women, alimony laws. I do a bit but not as much as you think. Clearly the laws need to change and I have expended no small amount of effort on trying to get them changed. But in the end, there is a legislative process, albeit a frustratingly slow process, which can get the laws changed.

But what I fret over most is government corruption. Nelly Wince, an officer of the court, was able to unquestionably commit very serious crimes and get away with them. Judge Mearly, The Lawyers Professionally Responsibility Board (LPRB) and the country attorney's office all conspired to protect her. And clearly their actions are not unusual - this is the way the system works. It is blatantly and deeply corrupt.

Such corruption has a wide ranging effect. It isn't like judges, the LPRB and the county attorney limit their corruption to family court. Furthermore, everyone who sees such corruption loses respect for the law.  When the government is corrupt it encourages people to commit crimes. And not just the direct victims of corruption but everyone who sees it. It is truly a threat to our country and society. Just laws and the just enforcement of those laws are the foundation of our society. When that foundation is shaken through government corruption, society suffers.

When governments become the oppressors, it can be opposed via violence or non-violent methods.

Violence can take many forms. The United States was founded by people who took up arms against their government. Others decide to take direct action against the wrongdoers. Other still, commit violence agaisnt themselves.

An example of the latter is the recent suicide of Dr. Jan Nemec, a well know cardiologist and professor who was ordered by a judge from Minnesota to pay nearly half his salary to his ex-wife. In his daughter's words, "he saw an injustice that he could not tolerate".

Then there is the non-violent path. The path I align with.

Non-violent protest can take many forms. Divorce Corp is probably the most well know organization fighting corruption within the divorce system.

Individuals can also contribute to fighting corruption and crime on their own. This is the path I follow. I write this blog, I write the media, I write legislators and government officials. I've written the FBI. Sadly nothing has seemed to work very well. The forces of evil are strong.

But there is another option. One that has been used successfully in situations analogous to mine. A hunger strike. In the early days of the suffragette movement, many women in both the United Kingdom and the Unites States went on huger strikes. Many died. In the Indian independence movement hunger strikes were widely used. Ireland has a long history of using huger strike to protest injustice.

A hunger strike is powerful because it takes away the weapons of the oppressor. After all, what can they do to the victim that could be worse? Oppression always has an element of power. A hunger striker takes that power away. However, it should be noted that anyone going on a hunger strike must be willing to die on it. Idle threats will only backfire.

I'll comment more on hunger strikes in the future.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Modest Progress in Massachusetts

Massachusetts was the leader in alimony reform when it passed comprehensive Alimony Reform Action of 2011 however there has been a series of attempt to misinterpret legislative intent and subvert the law since then.  A new bill is now going through the legislative process to fix the this.

On recent bright spot is a recent Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that durational limits to certain alimony agreements that predate The Act is not unconstitutional. A sorely needed ray of hope on what is in Minnesota a gloomy day both on the weather front as well as the reform front.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why We Lie

The current issue of national Geographic's cover story is Why We Lie, which given how many people have lied to me during Spring's divorce suit against me is quite interesting.

I suspect that in many, if not most divorces, lying is rampant. Normally the person lying is one of the litigants (petitioner or defendant) and is often done at the encouragement of their lawyer. I am pretty sure Nelly Wince encouraged Spring to commit perjury and certainly Jon Wurst  encouraged me to, although  I declined to do so.

What is a bit usual with my situation is that Nelly Wince unquestionably lied in court. Normally lawyers are a bit more careful than that. Furthermore, the county attorney's office directly lied to me as well, telling me there is no law in the state against lawyers lying in court and stating that the term "Fraud Upon the Court" is not found in Minnesota statues.  Unbelievably sloppy. But probably both Nelly Wince and the county attorney's office knew that in the end it did not really matter as no one was going to take action against them.

Other entities such as Judge Mearly and the Lawyers Office of Professional Responsibility rather than lying just ignored reality and failed to do their job. They were more careful.

The National Geographic article has a nice graphic on why people lie:


Certainly Spring lied for economic advantage and power over me. And probably for malicious reasons as well. Nor would I discount pathological reasons given her history of lying often for no discernible reason.

Nelly Wince lied for economic and personal advantage. She believes that "winning" in court even if through criminal means will be good for her career. Sadly she is probably correct.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Troublemaker

This week I read Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini. This is not a book I would have naturally picked up but it was selected by my book club, albeit without my vote. I had never heard of Leah Remini nor the sitcoms she had been in and although I knew a bit about the cult-religion of Scientology I did not have a huge interest in it. Nor was I impressed with the book once it arrived with its glossy photo of the author on the cover and, in a picture section, a photo or her at the Colosseum in Rome which she describes as "boring".

One of the things I love about my book club is that I read books I would not normally choose to read. Despite my initial impression, Troublemaker turned out to be an incredible compelling work.

Remini was raised in Scientology which is probably the most mis-named religion in the world. "Science" is just a Latin work for "knowledge" yet Scientology eschews education of all types.

Troublemaker is a memoir of Remini's life growing up in the world of Scientology and Hollywood with her ascendance in both. Eventfully, however, she was able to see Scientology for the controlling cult and criminal organization it is and break free. With Troublemaker she became an advocate against Scientology. She currently hosts A&E's Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath which is in its second season.

The book itself is self-deprecating almost to the point of being self-glamorizing. It is funny and often poignant. It is a world completely different from mine. But maybe not so different. Remini was in a controlling cult, I was married to a controlling person. Each time I wondered why Remini put up with Scientology I imaged others wondering why I put up with Spring. Scientology was Remini's religion and it was hard for her to leave. Spring was my wife and I had no interest in leaving her. To her credit, Remini was able to leave. I, of course, was not. Spring left me only because it allowed her to become even more controlling.

Some of the phrases used by Scientology officials were identical to ones that Spring and her lawyer used against me. That was bit unnerving.

Remini had the courage to go public for what she believes in. I have an incredible amount of respect for that. For my part,  I have hedged. I write this blog, I write legislators and the media, I post on the internet and I advocate for alimony reform. But my name is not public. I tell myself it is to protect my children but in truth that is only part of it. I fear that if I go public, I will be punished by a legal system where truth is no protection from people willing to hurt you. I fear I will end up in a worse position. Yet, my thoughts are changing on this. At some point they will no longer be able to hurt me because I will have nothing left they can take away. And even if they find a way to further hurt me, is it right that I allow such injustices to continue? Do I not owe society and my children my best effort in making the world a better place?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Not Just Me

As I have stated before, people have a hard time believing the situation I am in. Many are surprised that lifetime alimony or even any alimony still exists. When I tell them that I am required to pay Spring alimony until the day I die despite the fact that the custody evaluator ruled she was not the primary parent, a vocational evaluation that determined she could earn just as much money as me, the fact that she left me, good evidence of crime on her part and absolute evidence of crime by her lawyer not to mention all the assets and money she took as part of the divorce as well as the fact that she has never provided a dime for the kids and, despite joint custody, that they spend most most of their time with me, the response I get is typically, "how is that possible?"

The next false assumption is that my case is somehow unique. It isn't. Unfortunately, no one really knows how many people are in similar situations because there simply are no good statistics.

The Minnesota Alimony Reform site has a nightmare stories section where people can post their experiences. A recent posting by a woman demonstrates pretty clearly that I am not alone.
My husband had a stroke in November 2015 and was paying $13,000 a month to his ex-wife from his divorce in 2002. A year before his stroke (2014) the judge clearly saw the injustice from the divorce and reduced his ex-wife’s alimony to $5800 a month. She quit her $100,000+/year job a few months before the divorce so she could get a substantial amount of alimony for life. Finally, after paying well over $1,000,000 to her since 2002, the reduction to $5800 a month was a great relief, but after years of working many more hours than he would have, had he not needed to pay $13,000 a month in alimony, he suffered a stroke in November of 2015. Believe it or not, his ex-wife has now appealed the reduction in support, even after he suffered a stroke less than a year after the reduction in spousal maintenance. Now we have to not only go back and fight the appeal, but we have to go through the legal process of an additional reduction based on his inability to work any longer. He is 65 years old and unable to work, but she still wants $13,000 a month, which was never intended to be a lifetime amount. She has hardly worked a day since the divorce and basically became entitled and chose to remain unemployed even after the children graduated from high school in 2008. It is as though she still expects the alimony to be paid to her forever and has chosen to live as though it is welfare. My husband did not miss a payment in over 15 years of alimony and now, after having a stroke, we have to fight this for our own survival. It is truly unbelievable.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Resilience

Like most parents I often repeat my words of wisdom to my kids. One of my favorite lines is, "I can only do three things for you - give you opportunity, give you advice, and be an example on how to act. The rest is up to you."  (I do like that line!)

I ran across an article on resilience that is kind of like that. Even though I have heard it before, it is good to hear it again as repetition reinforces.

Tips for Resilience:
Tip #1: Give yourself permission to feel lousy.
Tip #2: Trust that you control your fate, not the other way around.
Tip #3: If you don’t know what to do, look to your values
Tip #4: Recharge with some exercise.
Tip #5: Set realistic goals.
Tip #6: Tell your friends how you’re feeling.
I will admit I can often feel lousy (Tip #1) and depressed. Even hopeless. It just seems so unbelievable what has happened to me. How can a modern society treat people so unfairly?  To have to work the rest of your life to pay someone who so clearly acted unethically and criminally is just wrong. To have a government that not only permits but encourages and rewards criminals is disheartening to say the least. I want to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity but my dealings with the justice system make that very difficult.

The reason I write this blog and advocate for judicial and alimony reform is because it gives me some amount of control. (Tip #2) I have to do something that will, if not benefit me directly, help others and just maybe make the world a better place. I fear I would spiral down otherwise. And who knows, it could be that a post on this site or one of numerous letters I have written may have already prevented an injustice. I like to think that.

My values (Tip #3) are really what keep me going. I can hold my head high. I am better than those who have acted unethically and criminally to obtain power and money. If anything, I am even more cognizant of how my actions reflect my values than I was before. What those without a moral compass fail to understand is that there is great comfort in being true to your values.

Although I am not as active as I once was (at my peak I was running marathons and doing triathlons) I am far more active than most. (Tip #4)  I still run, although no longer as far nor as fast, and do ten pull-up every day I am home and 30 push-ups when traveling. People often overlook the value of physical exercise. Nor do I forget that the mind is part of the body and needs to to exercised as well. I read National Geographic, Scientific American and Discover cover to cover each month. I am also an avid book and web reader with wide ranging interests.

I am a goal orientated person by nature (Tip #5) but it is not easy when it comes to my struggles with the legal system. There are days I would rather do anything than think about what has happened and continues to happen to me and my children. My goals tend to be short term now such as sending letters to all the directors of the Lawyers Office of Professional Responsibility, or keeping this site updated.

Although I do not talk about the injustices I have received from the legal system much with my friends, I do occasionally, and am grateful for their support. (Tip #6) I am especially blessed that the the girl I have been with for over five years now has been there for me. I am not sure where I would be now without her but I am sure it would be a much worse place.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Moral Imagination

A new study from Harvard University finds that immoral actions are often viewed as impossible.

Rather than delving into the moral arguments on why you shouldn't steel the candy bar sitting on a coworkers desk, it is mentally more efficient to just view doing so as impossible.
“When people do something immoral, people tend to say things like, ‘No, that can’t be right,’ or ‘I can’t believe it,’” Phillips said. “There’s a sense that the brain treats these kind of things similarly to how it would react if someone told you it is possible to turn your hat into a candy bar, or something equally impossible.”
The authors conclude this is a good thing:
 “We think this might actually help people act morally in the real world,” he said. “Maybe it’s easier to do the right thing if your brain is designed to treat the wrong thing … as if it were impossible. Because if you admitted something was possible, it might start to feel pretty tempting.”
But I do wonder if this same mental construct also makes it more difficult to believe that people who actually have committed immoral acts really did so.  

In may case, do the immoral and/or criminal acts committed by Spring, Nelly Wince, Judge Meealy, The Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, Bernie Sonsang and others simply seem impossible because they are so bad? Does this perception blind people to the truth despite the evidence? Is this the reason my search for justice has, so far, been fruitless? It is an interesting, albeit disheartening, idea.