Hubris Ante Nemesis – Flash from the Eternal Semaphore

Bobblehead DollAs a kid, I read a lot of Greek and Roman Mythology.  I learned some great lessons from the fates, the fabled battles, and the historical interweaving with the fictional.  One of the lessons keeps recircling, “Those whom the gods would destroy first they make proud.”  Except, the gods/God do not make men proud; men choose pride, then comes vanity, all feeding ego, until that penultimate moment when “Hubris Ante Nemesis” occurs and the bottom is pulled out from under you.

The fates are three goddesses by the name of Clotho (the spinner), Lachesis (the allotter), and Atropos (the inflexible), possibly the children of Ananke (Necessity); these fates spun out the woven lives of men and women on the tapestry of a grand design.  Out of necessity, the fates weave, and what is woven cannot be undone.  I can understand the mental comfort people might take from thinking that these weavers hold men’s destiny; thus, all success or failure is the fault of the weavers of fate.The Fates Picture, The Fates Image

Hubris, in Greek Mythology, is the god of arrogance.  Full of wanton violence, insolence, arrogance, and who actively chooses never to exercise restraint.  Hubris remains a classic example of extremes.  Nemesis is the goddess of fate and revenge.  Roughly translating Latin Hubris brings Nemesis to balance the scales.  Nemesis is the humbler of men who Hubris have enticed into taking their lives to extremes.

In Judaism, the saying goes, “Pride goeth before the fall.”  Or put another way, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  In all cultures of men, this same semaphore is flashing across the minds of philosophers and religious leaders, beware the tides of extremes, choose humility, and caution against arrogance, pride, sloth, vanity, lust, gluttony, and ego.  When did we stop heeding this call?  Why have these calls been classified as religious and minimized in all societies?Nemesis | Myth Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Consider the political leaders of the day, those who think they are beyond the reach of law merely because they think they are the keystone in a democracy and deserve to live better than those who elected them to power.  Recent examples of this pride are witnessed in Speaker Pelosi’s husband making stock choices when the company is about to get a massive windfall from the US Government.  Al Gore compared climate deniers to the police in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting while jet-setting around the globe.  He is preaching moderation and reduced lifestyles while he lives in excess.  The list is never-ending, where extreme lifestyles are flashed wantonly, and suffering continues to expand exponentially.

Marie Antoinette was made famous for the starving and suffering by losing her head after supposedly claiming, “Let them eat cake.”  Hubris snuffed out by Nemesis in a well-deserved act of humiliation.  Yet, one of the things that set Greek and Roman mythology apart from Judaism and Christianity was the ability to repent, achieve forgiveness, and change one’s life being in the hands of the individual, not the destiny of the Fate’s.

Being called to repentance is primarily the realm of religious leaders, and I would not want anyone to think I am making a call for others to repent.  Not my job, no authority, no power.  Merely, I hope to help raise the perception of those suffering from the hubris of others.  I also want to improve how I live.  I am not the example to hold up to anyone, except as a warning, but I strive to improve.  The poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley rings ever truer, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”Invictus Games Foundation - YouTube

Our world, right now, is suffering greatly.  Crime is skyrocketing; theft is out of control; violence, aggression, murder, rape, and so much more are occurring at levels not ever recorded and growing.  Yet, Thomas S. Monson authored a book based on a concept of power, “The future is only as bright as your faith.”  Consider this for a moment; we can have hope and happiness in whatever circumstances we face as a choice reflecting our personal religious beliefs.  Yes, the consequences of crime hurt physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, etc., but the hubris of others can be healed.  Victor E. Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” signals the same semaphore, your choices can heal the hubristic consequences suffered, and the future is bright!

Those who have indulged in hubristic actions can find peace, joy, happiness, and forgiveness.  Those hurt by the hubris of others do not have to stay hurt, or hurt others, to find the same joy, peace, happiness, and forgiveness.  Want to know an exciting thought?  I am not preaching religion!  Your religious choices are your own, and I respect your religious preferences, provided they do not infringe upon anyone else’s rights to freedom of religion.25 Best Hope Quotes That Build Your Confidence Again - Picss Mine

I am talking about living without extremes, not religion.  How big of a house do you need?  Due to my violent sleeping and crazy sleep patterns, my wife and I sleep in different rooms.  Because I am a proud person who, after cleaning latrines and heads for the US Army and Navy, hates cleaning bathrooms, we also have separate bathrooms.  As a married couple, these changes to the “traditional” style of a man living with a woman have led us to live in a slightly larger home, but this fits our needs.  Please note that my bathroom is not a filthy mess, but it is not the surgical clean of a military bathroom either.  Nor is my bathroom one step higher in cleanliness above the military than my spouse’s.

How many cars and vehicles does a person need?  I don’t know.  I have friends who have four-wheelers, tractors, motorcycles, and a host of other vehicular conveyances.  I am not here to tell anyone how much of anything they need.  I merely postulate that you can make better choices and exercise less hubris through careful consideration and thoughtful discussion.  The same goes for food, clothing, entertainment, and every other vice humans invent to fall into.  I am not condemning anyone!  I suggest that we can live well without the extremes and expect our political leaders and bureaucrats to do similarly.

Question 3How expensive is the government because those who claim to be public servants practice hubris with our tax dollars?  How complicated a process does a government become when government becomes a jobs program instead of a government?  How big does a government become when hubris is practiced against the citizens?

As free-thinking humans, we do not need to be ruled with a brick stick to make better living choices.  We do need a moral code to live by, and how you choose your moral code is your business.  The moral code should include things like living within our means, not being violent to others, promoting good where we see it, and disdaining socially what should be kept privately, among other things.  I cannot stress this enough choosing what you believe is your business.  However, hubris hurts others to make oneself inflated, and that is everyone’s business!

Consider for a moment the store clerk who had to take a life to defend himself in a bodega in NYC.  That man will be forever haunted by the violence perpetrated upon him, leading to the perpetrator’s death.  The hubris of the attacker led to his humiliation but had consequences for society at large.  The thieves in San Francisco, Chicago, and other places do not hurt just the business and local communities, they hurt everyone in American society, and their hubris is morally, ethically, and legally wrong!Hubris Quotes. QuotesGram

The murderer’s hubris affects society just as wholly as the hubris of a political leader who lives in excess; I see no difference between the two.  Some may complain that murder and living in excess are two different moral choices, but those hurt do not differentiate the wound, so why should I?  Is not a life lost in murder?  Is not a life lost when the excesses of others lead them to use the power of government to steal, cheat, and lie in the name of government business?

Consider illegal immigration as the theft it is, and we can see how hubris negatively influences the originating country, pushing the poor out and the host country where the poor want to reside illegally.  Does this mean immigration is wrong; absolutely not!  Immigration includes assimilation, illegal immigration does not, and those practicing illegal immigration, promoting, and facilitating are all practicing hubris for personal power, wealth, and gain.  Are there those in the illegal immigration classes who are the “Sons of Mary;” indeed.  But the majority are merely perpetuating hubris with the resulting consequences in increased drug trafficking, sex trafficking, disease spread, and a host of other social ills.

I admit the murders of millions in Nazi Germany under Hitler were terrible, but how is this any different from Mao using government powers to kill millions by withholding food, clothing, and housing from those who disagreed politically, religiously, or personally?  Or any different than Xi Jinping doing similarly to the Uyghur populations?  What is different between Marie Antoinette and Marx or Stalin?  How are these actions any other than what the government has done under the excuse of Covid?  Did not millions die while political leaders lived in excess, flaunted their hubris, and stole from those who put them in power?️ Oedipus hubris. Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King Essay. 2019-01-31

Under communism in the USSR, the people lived in abject misery, while those who considered themselves elite grew fat and lazy, all in the name of helping, providing, caring, and progress.  Communist Cuba and the disaster called Venezuela are additional examples of what occurs when hubris corrupts governments and society is left to suffer while the leaders live lives of excess.  America used to be a capitalistic country but is now a mix of socialism and communism under the guise of capitalism.  The hubristic lifestyles of those in power, their lackeys, flunkeys, and bureaucrats, are all at the taxpayers’ expense.  What is the difference between hubris in the communist USSR and America?

I am not claiming that anyone is doing anything inherently wrong.  Our choices to live an extreme lifestyle breed pride, vanity, ego, narcissism, and a host of other social ills; these social ills breed expanses to government, creating red tape, tax increases, and socialism/communism as measures to improve equality.  What happens when the hubris grows too big, war, revolutionary governments, and destruction.  The mythological Greeks would call this the coming of Nemesis to cull the acts of Hubris.  Judaism and Christianity would discuss balancing the scales of justice with mercy.  Other religions would discuss balance, choice, and compounding accountability for choices.  All truths flashed from an eternal semaphore, where man tries to explain the loss, putting morales to the stories and trying to pass along a truth grasped at, that men make choices, and when those choices include extremes, the consequence is death.

Knowledge Check!Is the future really as bright as our faith; YES!  What we choose to believe in, how we choose to exercise belief, and the need for freedom of religion to keep men on equal grounds, are all pillars to helping man live life without extremes.  Extremes breed death; living without extremes creates life; can we at least learn this lesson?  I hope so.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Leadership Series:  Juran’s Rule and the Call Center

We have a problem, speaking plainly and simply; this problem is that a truth has been bent to escape responsibility.  Tribus (n.d.) was plain and stated:

WARNING: In presenting the reasons for change, the leader should accept the responsibility for whatever is wrong.  Remember Juran’s rule:
WHENEVER THERE IS A PROBLEM 85% OF THE TIME, IT IS IN THE SYSTEM, ONLY 15% OF THE TIME WILL IT BE THE WORKER [emphasis in original].”

Please allow me to note that I have regularly advocated that Juran underestimated and personally have found that 90-95% of the time, the problem is the process, not the workers.  This is my opinion, and I am not here to convince you but merely to help clarify Juran’s rule and provide some clarity on the writings of Tribus (n.d.) as well as build foundational understanding.

The Situation

A client company has a problem where managers are not holding their people to productivity standards.  Deep diving into the situation, we find several fundamental issues, in no particular order:

    • Human Resources tells operations what production goals can be.
    • No production goal can be set where 75% of the workers cannot easily meet the goals set.
    • Goals cannot be changed without HR approval, a lengthy research process, and a legal team review.
    • No productivity goal is published. Feeder metrics, KPIs, and so forth are not communicated or standardized.
    • No standard work crosses from one geographic location to another.
    • Facility leaders might receive training in other facilities, but the training is broken and disjointed, and the regional managers charged with holding leaders to a standard lack standards and feeder metrics to hold facility leadership accountable across regional areas.
    • Currently, no region or facility is meeting any goal regularly or uses a process that can be replicated.

Interestingly, this situation has existed for more than 15 years, and none in higher management remember a time when this situation was different.  But, every manager will quote a version of Juran’s rule to explain why they are hunting for operational processes to review and change.

Conflict vs. Contention

At its most fundamental level, conflict is about helping spur growth and development and bringing about change in an organized and logical manner.  However, I cannot stress this enough; conflict is NOT contention.  Conflict is not born of pride and a desire to feel better about yourself through violence.  Conflict can be observed in a disagreement or difference in opinion, but conflict does not include emotional hyperbole (pride).  Conflict should be about mental disturbances spurred by people seeking greater ideas and ideals, personal growth, or team development.  Does conflict lead to contention?  Yes, but only because pride entered into the disagreement, emotions were injected, and desires to be right at any cost dictated, it is time for violence.

Let me be perfectly frank, contention and conflict are not the same.  While the terms are close, they are distinct and tell different sides of the same story.  First, contention is an act of striving or an assertion.  Contention is a violent effort to obtain or protect something vehemently!  There is effort, struggle, and exertion in contention; there are violent efforts, and the core of contention is pride.  Pride breeds animosity, animosity breeds struggle, and struggle is contention, where pride demands that violence is acceptable to achieve the desired end goal.  When contending, “The ends justify the means.”

Contention is animosity personified into action, effort, and desires become evident as contention unfolds.  We cannot forget these facts about contention.  Consider the following; I went to work in a hostile atmosphere; due to a contract signed, I could not quit and find a new job, and reassignment was not going to happen.  Jealousy and pride entered because I was very good at my job, and violence followed like the sun rising after a moonless night.  Contention was born and festered, violence was perpetrated against me, and the violence was acceptable to the organizational leaders as it gave them feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

The violence was justified because I was “too good” at my job, made “decisions above my paygrade,” and “I needed to be taught humility.”  The result was four disastrous years of struggle, incredible stress levels, and mental torture, with physical acts of violence thrown in to spice up the environment.  I am not bemoaning my fate nor holding myself up as an example of anything, merely hoping to convey that contention stunted organizational growth in everyone unlucky enough to experience this organization during this period.  Contention is pride expressed through violence and justified to fit the individual’s desires.

Conflict is a tool; like all tools, it can build, enhance, strengthen, and create when used appropriately.  If the tool is improperly used, destruction, damage, and chaos are spawned.  Conflict happens; what a person chooses to do with that conflict and how that person considers conflicting occurrences is how the labels “good,” “bad,” “valuable,” “beneficial,” etc., are applied.  McShane and Von Gilnow (2004, p. 390) postulated, “conflict as beneficial [when] intergroup conflict improves team dynamics, increase cohesiveness, and task orientation.  [C]onditions of moderate conflict, motivates team members to work more efficiently toward goals increasing productivity.”  The sentiment regarding conflict as a tool and beneficial is echoed throughout the research of Jehn (1995).  Jehn (1995) reflected that the groups researched labeled the conflict as beneficial, good, bad, etc.  Based on the group’s dynamics and the conflicts faced and settled, the groups formed an integrated model for organizational conflict.  Essentially, how the conflict is approached and used by the team members individually and collectively dictates how beneficial the conflict is for the team and the organization.

Rao (2017) built upon previous researchers’ shoulders, perceiving conflict being a tool, and provided vital strategies for leaders to employ conflict.  Rao (2017) provided that conflict builds character, whereas crisis defines character” [p. 93].  Rao (2017) recognized that conflict labels are an individual choice.  In organizational conflict, one team could label the conflict as valuable and beneficial, while another department could label that same conflict as damaging and horrible.  When the conflict in an organization has disparate labels, understanding why conflict is disparately evaluated remains more important than changing the label.  Important to note, conflict is not competition, although occasionally used synonymously, there are important and distinct differences, important enough for a different article.

Thompson (2008) raised significant points regarding conflict, beginning with a real-life example of how conflict spurred organizational change and growth for the H. J. Heinz Co.  Thompson (2008) calls those who actively work to avoid conflict as those taking “trips to Abilene;” included in those making trips to Abilene are those who take conflict personally and choose to become offended, as well as those who choose not to see conflict as a method of ignoring conflict.  Thomas (1992) again captured how individual choices about the valuation of conflict open or close the door to the productive use of conflict.  Ignoring conflict, avoiding conflict, and other strategies of not facing conflict form the most dangerous people to be around, for when conflict grows beyond a point where it can no longer be ignored or avoided, that conflict that can destroy people, places, and things.

Thomas (1992) echoes Jehn (1995), Lencioni (2002), and Thompson (2008) in declaring the distinction between conflict as a process and the structure in which the conflict process occurred is critical to how beneficial the conflict will be for the team, business, or society.  Consider, for a moment the structure of the organizational environment.  Conflict is the mental thinking, adherence to operating procedures, and individuals working who become the instigating factor, which threatens what is known or done at the current time.  Hence, Thomas (1992) provided a keen insight into conflict as a tool, purposeful initiation of a process (conflict) to improve a structure (organizational environment).

When people recognize the power of conflict and purposefully employ conflict, everyone receives the potential to improve through conflict (Lencioni, 2002).  Thus, conflict continues to be a tool, nothing more and nothing less.  The disparities between organizational conflict labels are critical to understanding the chasm between teams evaluating conflict as the process and business structure.  The gap in understanding conflict’s results can create inhibitions to future organizational conflict and create unnecessary additional conflict processes, all while undermining the organizational structure.

Tribus – Changing the Corporate Culture

Juran’s rule is prescient but based on several foundational situations underpinning their understanding; the following applies regardless of whether the organization is building a learning society or merely keeping the money tap flowing.

    1. Operations, and by extension, operational goals, productivity standards, and processes for producing a product or service, are the sole domain of operations personnel. Does this preclude Human Resources from having a seat at the operations table; NO!  Having HR dictate operational goals to operations is akin to having a bullet tell a shooter how to aim.
    2. Training is a process. Training requires standards to judge performance as a means to declare training exceeded.  However, the quality of training, and the proof of trained personnel, is not an HR function, nor is the trainer the sole person involved in judging the efficacy of producing trained personnel.
    3. Organizational hierarchies are a process, the business culture is a process, learning is not training, and both learning and training are processes but have two different controlling entities; accountability and responsibility are a cultural extension of the process of organizing people into a functioning business organization.

Consider the fibers of an interwoven rope.  Each fiber is twisted with other fibers, then these twists of fibers are turned into more twists, repeated until eventually building a finished rope.  The same goes for these preceding foundational aspects.  Operational principles make, like many fibers twist, into a rope that can secure a multiple hundred-ton ship to a pier.  How the ropes are used is an operational process, but the core of the ropes are these essential aspects.Cut Rope with Rope - The Prepared Page

Some have argued, to their demise, that too many companies with this mindset are suffering from silo-mentality; when the obverse is true.  Each department of a functioning business organization relies upon processes similar to these foundational fibers.  Operations managers should not go into another business unit and expect to use the same tools from successful operations in those different business units.

For example, while I have been a successful operations manager, the tools I use in leading software teams are decidedly not the same tools I would employ on a production floor, even though both business units are expected to produce a product.  The people are different, their approaches to problems are different, and the environments conducive to product delivery are dynamically opposed.  Similarly, the tools HR would use to solve production issues are not opposed but definitely not employed similarly to those used in troubleshooting a problem in legal or accounting.

Juran understood these foundational situations, Tribus understood these foundational situations, and the best corporate leaders understand these foundational situations.  However, Tribus made clear something dynamic, leadership is not management, and management never achieves anything.  The dichotomies between leadership and management could not be more explicit in today’s business operations.Leadership versus Management - Entrepreneur Caribbean

Tribus (n.d.) calls upon the words of Homer Sarasohn, stating [emphasis in original]:

“THE LEADER MUST, HIMSELF, BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHARACTERISTICS HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN HIS FOLLOWERS.”

“Managers must practice what they preach.”

“DON’T SAY, “FOLLOW ME; I’M BEHIND YOU ALL THE WAY”
(IT MAKES EVERYONE GO IN CIRCLES).”

Application

What do we find in my client; managers who first do not know the work their operational employees do.  Managers who are disconnected by good jobs to the point they never engage in the better and best jobs their positions of trust demand.  The managers are not led but are managed and never were trained for their current positions.  These three items are why the client company is a dumpster fire of potential (blue money), where the bottom line evaporates, and nobody can explain why.  However, like in the Shakespearian play, “Much Ado About Nothing,” a lot of noise is made but goes nowhere fast!

Unfortunately, the much ado about nothing is worsened, not improved, by Kaizen, Six Sigma, Agile, and Lean efforts at process improvement.  The core problems are considered “untouchable,” “too dynamic,” or “too extensive” ever to be improved upon, and the new manager settles to change an operational process instead of core problems.  Essentially proclaiming, “Follow me, I’m behind you all the way,” the operational employees keep circling the drain.

What is the solution?

Solution generation for my client company begins with understanding the compelling evidence there is a problem.  Right now, the client thinks, “We are big enough to absorb these insignificant issues in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”  This is where every business begins its failure; no business can long survive dumpster fires of potential (blue money).  People leave, and this has a high replacement cost.  People work slowly or below their potential, which is a tremendous cost in green (cash) money and potential (blue money).  Operational costs increase, increasing customer costs and the loss of customers is a dynamic cost to the business.Estimating Startup Costs

After admitting a problem, the next step is envisioning an end state.  Since I began to lead men and women, I have advocated a lesson I learned as a teenager, “Never take your body where your brain has not already traveled.”  If you cannot envision the result, do not start trying to make changes until you have envisioned an end state.  I sliced my fingers badly with a knife while cutting onions.  Why did I slice my fingers and not the onion?  I did not understand the end state and assumed I could start cutting and reach an acceptable end state (diced onion).  I should never have started cutting; between the loss of the onion and the damage to my fingers, the lesson was not “Never cut onions again,” but “never begin something without a clear end state (goal) in mind.”

The third preparatory step to building a solution is START!  The client has this problem of always wanting clear instructions, plans, and supplies on hand before beginning.  The speed of business requires action, not plans and instructions.  Take the first logical step and begin!  Tribus (n.d.) makes this clear with the assurance, “There is a sensible first step,” take that step!  I will reiterate a point Tribus (n.d.) makes, employees work IN a system of processes, and the manager should work ON the system of processes, with the employee’s help.  A manager should be analogous to a mentor, who, like a leader, after understanding the vision, looks sideways and builds people to meet their level before taking that next logical step into the darkness.

Conclusion

The simple truth is that Juran’s rule has been used as an excuse to dodge responsibility in too many operations, businesses, and organizations.  Like my client, the good news is that change is possible with the people you have right now.  My client is not a bad company; your company is not inherently bad.  People are intrinsically good, and when we better understand the fibers that help tie Juran’s rule to reality, we can employ reframing to shut down the noise and move from much ado about nothing to effective management and leadership.  How do we reframe:

    1. Establish legitimacy and shift from passive to active.
    2. Bring outsiders into the discussion, but do not shift responsibility for developing the solution or owning the goals.
    3. Get the stakeholder’s definitions in writing – Common words, AREN’T. Common understanding; is a goal to strive towards.
    4. Ask what is missing
    5. Consider multiple categories, seek out those subject matter experts, and add them to the discussion as equals
    6. Analyze positive and negative data equally without bias
    7. Question the objectives, focus on the future and keep moving forward.

As we, the leaders of call centers, strive to change our understanding, realize our roles, and build people, we will build people, not processes, to meet the future.  The first step is committing to the decision framed in the question, “Is your company a money tap or a service to the greater good of society?”

References:

The references are included if you want to further research conflict as beneficial.

Amason, A. C. (1996).  Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: Resolving a paradox for top management teams.  Academy of Management Journal, 39(1), 123-148.  doi:http://dx.doi.org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.2307/256633

Baron, R. A. (1991).  Positive Effects of Conflict: A Cognitive Perspective.  Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 4(1), 25-36.

Brazzel, M. (2003).  Chapter XIII: Diversity conflict and diversity conflict management.  In D. L. Plummer (Ed.), Handbook of diversity management: Beyond awareness to competency based learning (pp. 363-406).  Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.

Du, F., Erkens, D. H., & Xu, K. (2018).  How trust in subordinates affects service quality: Evidence from a large property management firm.  Business.Illinois.edu. Retrieved from https://business.illinois.edu/accountancy/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/03/Managerial-Symposium-2018-Session-IV-Du-Erkens-and-Xu.pdf

Jehn, K. A. (1995).  A multi-method exanimation of the benefits and detriments of intragroup conflict.  Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 256-282.

Lencioni, P. (2002).  The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable.  Hoboken, NJ.  John Wiley & Sons.

Lumineau, F., Eckerd, S., & Handley, S. (2015).  Inter-organizational conflicts.  Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, 1(1), 42-64.  doi:10.1177/2055563614568493

McShane, S. L., & Von Gilnow, M. A. (2004). Organizational Behavior, Third Edition.  Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies.

Moeller, C., & Kwantes, C. T. (2015).  Too Much of a Good Thing?  Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Conflict Behaviors.  Journal of Social Psychology, 155(4), 314-324.  doi:10.1080/00224545.2015.1007029

Rao, M. (2017).  Tools and techniques to resolve organizational conflicts amicably.  Industrial and Commercial Training, 49(2), 93-97.  doi:10.1108/ict-05-2016-0030

Thomas, K. W. (1992).  Conflict and conflict management: Reflections and update.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3), 265-274.

Thompson, L. L. (2008).  Chapter 8: Conflict in teams – Leveraging differences to create opportunity.  In Making the team: A guide for managers (3rd ed., pp. 201-220).  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

VISN 17 – Letter of Customer Complaint

Attention:  Some information has been removed to maintain privacy or merely to protect the names of those involved.

08 July 2022

Director VISN 17
Department of Veterans Affairs
2301 E Lamar Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, TX
76006

Subject: Customer/Patient Complaint – The Failing Customer/Patient Experience in EL Paso, TX

Greetings,

It has been my misfortune to have been a patient in the VAOPC El Paso for a year.  In that time, my primary care provider changed three times without my consent or knowledge.  With the current PCP, I have had consults waiting for over a year, and in the latest example of disastrous service, my ability to communicate with the PCP has been closed for “abuse of secure messaging.”  Please allow me to elaborate with some specific examples and questions:

  1. I suffer from involuntary movements; these movements affect my voice. The pain in my neck dictates the severity and the frequency of involuntary movements, verbal stuttering, and loss of voice entirely.  The pain in my neck also dictates the volume of tinnitus in my ears and my ability to tolerate light.  The PCP, Neurologist, and every other PACT team provider have witnessed these issues.  These are facts and are recorded in the EHR.
  1. On 06 July 2022, an ER Doctor at Three Crosses Regional Hospital, Las Cruces, referred to these involuntary movements as dystonic tremors. 09 May 2022, Fort Bliss, Community Consult, called these same involuntary movements Tourette’s.  Why is this pertinent; from 2010, when intermittent bouts of wild mood swings and involuntary movements became 24/7/365 and present, none of the VA providers would venture an opinion about what these movements were or how to treat them.  Bringing me to my first question, aren’t all those who attain a capstone degree supposed to be lifelong learners?  If so, why are providers not held to a standard of continual learning and access to research libraries?  For my alma mater, I have access to medical libraries and spend an inordinate amount of time researching the test results and imaging reports to ensure I am an informed customer when I enter a doctor’s appointment.  Why is my provider not held to the same standard of professional courtesy?
  1. Regarding available learning opportunities and research resources, my neurologist related that research is discouraged, access denied, and funds never available to provide access to a research library. Funding, I see the Community Care amounts the VA Pays out, and because I have external insurance, I know what my insurance company pays the VA.  There is a significant disparity between what a provider is paid and what the VA receives from third-party insurance providers.  Why are funds not available to access research libraries for the providers?  Why can my PCP relate to my face that she cannot answer questions and can only prescribe drugs and send me to someone else to answer questions?  Even when I provide peer-reviewed research, the question is simply, “Does this research apply to me?” and I cannot obtain an answer.  Does this sound to you like an engaged and professional learner?
  1. Speaking only of treatment from 15 May 2021 to the present, at the EL Paso VA-OPC. The PCP has shown nothing but passive-aggressiveness, raw hostility, and a refusal to act or listen from day 1!  Until 22 March 2022, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the PCP, I filed a complaint with the Patient Advocate, and a claim/problem was lodged.  A senior medical person called me, and I was to expect action.  The result, I got lied to by the provider, no follow-up from those responsible, and the Patient Advocate could not find the claim/complaint.
  1. Why was the Patient Advocate’s complaint closed without contacting me, the patient? Are you aware of the OIG inspection into this fallacious and diabolical process found at other VISNs, VAMCs, and clinics?  If so, why is this occurring at the El Paso VAOPC?  If you are unaware of this problem from the OIG or that this is ongoing at the El Paso VAOPC, I have to wonder.
  1. When reporting my ER visit to my provider to ask a series of questions, I discovered that access to Secure Messaging from myhealh.va.gov had been removed. I called my PCP and left a message asking for a call with the call center, no answer.  I called the Patient Advocate and waited on hold for 30-minutes on 07 July 2022 and 30-minutes on 08 July 2022.  Then an additional 15-minutes on 08 July 2022 to finally reach a person, who constantly interrupted me, and eventually transferred me to a party I had already spoken to.  Tell me, is this acceptable phone etiquette and the highest level of customer experience a patient can expect in VISN 17?  Better still, what is the expectation for the customer experience?
  1. 07 July 2022, the PCP’s nurse, called me and began to harangue me. Then she claimed she was not haranguing and had been “trying” to contact me.  Tell me, if you have a cell phone number on file, and the EL Paso VAOPC is regularly calling that number to conduct business, would you call a spouse’s number and leave a voicemail if you are trying to reach someone?  Wouldn’t you use secure messaging to conduct business if you know that patient struggles with verbalizing?  When I finished work (01 July 2022), I work from home; my spouse brought me her phone, complaining of a missed call and voicemail and asking me why anyone would be calling her phone to reach me, especially on a Friday before a long holiday weekend.  I call this behavior designed incompetence.  By calling my spouse, the nurse can claim, “I tried to reach the patient and left a voicemail.”  In reality, the nurse intentionally called a non-primary contact number for the patient and put the onus on the patient for the nurse’s inability to do her job promptly and efficiently.  Tell me, is this acceptable behavior in VISN 17 because this is the level of incompetence I have struggled with from day 1, and I would like to know what to expect moving forward.

Sidenote: the nurse, when she finally reached me, calling my cell phone number on 07 July 2022, blamed me for not getting ahold of me.  Not happy, not impressed, but this is the level of designed incompetence it has been my displeasure to expect from this PACT team, leading me to ask, “What is the path forward?”  The PCP blatantly and profusely refuses to answer this question.  The senior doctor claiming responsibility has declined to answer this question by changing the topic.  The nurse cannot answer this question.  The patient advocate refuses to attempt to answer this question.

  1. During the call on 07 July 2022, the nurse related that my secure messaging “privileges” had been suspended for 90-days due to “abuse of secure messaging.” Really, I have a known vocal problem, from spinal injuries to my neck, and secure messaging is the only reliable means of communicating with the clinic.  How is “secure messaging” a privilege?  How else can a patient who struggles vocally communicate with the clinic?  I am reminded on EVERY SINGLE SECURE MESSAGE that there is a 72-hour response to be expected.  I have proven my ability and willingness to wait; how long should I wait?  Since my PCP and the majority of specialty clinics at the El Paso VAOPC never respond, let alone within 72 hours, what is a patient supposed to do?  We cannot call the clinic.  We cannot get messages to the clinic verbally without going through the call center, which adds a new level of human error to the red tape of communicating with a provider.  Hence I ask, what is a patient to do to communicate with the clinic?  Of course, the follow-up question remains, when should a patient expect a response?  72-calendar hours (3-days), 72 business hours (9 business days which is the better part of two work weeks), or something else entirely?
  1. In my inbox, I have messages that have never been responded to by the patient advocates, the neurological clinic, and the PCP, to name a few. Speaking of expectations, in November 2021, my PCP and I discussed a nerve conductivity test for my hands.  As of 07 July 2022, I am still reminding the nurse to ask the doctor when I can expect a nerve conductivity test.  This is not the most egregious or the only example of the lack of response to patient experienced, but this example remains a sign of what I have been dealing with.  What is the standard expectation for turnover a provider at the VA should complete a consult within?  On the topic of expectations, after a medical appointment, how long does a provider have to enter clinical notes into the EHR and sign them?  A regular feature on the OIG reports is that unsigned EHR notes are a root cause of a veteran’s death or permanent injury.  At VISN 17, what is the written and published guideline for a provider to enter and sign notes after a clinical visit?  I have sat with providers who use Dragon speech-to-type software to capture the clinical notes and handle the consults while I sat in their offices.  Why is this not standard operating procedure?
  1. Finally, dystonic tremors and Tourette’s are movement disorders where driving is either closely monitored by the state or refused. Several times, the PCP has needed to hold a video appointment and has actively chosen not to use VA-approved and secure tools to conduct these appointments or has blown off these appointments using the weakest and most paper-thin excuses.  Are VISN 17 providers allowed to choose the technology for video appointments, or are they mandated to use VA-approved technology?  Several times, the PCP has called me, using speaker phone, to conduct a phone appointment.  I have asked about the security problems in having the provider’s side of the call on speaker phone, and the PCP dodges, ducks, and evades answering these questions.  HIPAA is a really interesting law, and the technology employed to pass HIPAA-protected information is regulated and reported annually in OIG reports, where the VA is always negligent in honoring HIPAA law.  I have some serious concerns about the behavior of the PCP, who continues to refuse to answer direct questions about why and the privacy and security of my HIPAA information.  On 08 July 2022, what did the PCP order a face-to-face appointment that requires me to drive into El Paso?  What should I expect from this careless PCP moving forward?  Why wasn’t I assigned a PCP in Las Cruces?

I am an I/O Psychologist, I study the VA as a hobby, so I can more fully write about the OIG reports and summate them on my blog.  This letter and any future communications will be posted there to maintain transparency in communications following the pattern established long ago.  As a published leadership development, adult education, and customer service professional with considerable experience, I can help identify the root causes and help design solutions for the El Paso VAOPC and VISN 17, or I can continue to be a customer/patient who documents and asks tough questions.  Either way, I am not some low-level functionary to sweep under the rug.

The immediate solution I desire is to reinstate my secure messaging abilities ASAP.  Then, since the El Paso VAOPC was able to change my provider quickly three times in succession last year, it is past time for the PCP to be removed from my PACT Team and investigated for dereliction of duties.  I offer my services to improve VISN 17, repair the damage, and ensure this insanity never transpires again.

I await your timely response!

Sincerely,

Dave Salisbury Ph.D./MBA
Dual Service Veteran
Industrial and Organizational Psychologist

CC:  Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA (Ch 9)

I-CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) regularly crows about reducing the backlog, improving the veteran experience, and making changes to deliver on the promise.  Every so often, another article is spread, mainly by the VA Public Relations department (PR), about how they meet the legislated obligations.  Then, unsurprisingly the truth is revealed, the curtain thrown back, and the lie exposed.  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) is helping pull the curtain back, and the truth should infuriate every American.  In an investigative report dated 22 June 2022 and linked, we find the following:

“… The VBA disregarded privacy procedures so it could use a workload tracking system more quickly without receiving the appropriate security authorization.  The Mission Accountability Support Tracker (MAST) helps quantify the work VBA’s support services staff perform in response to employee requests for facility, equipment, and vehicle management; reasonable accommodation; and identification card issuance and renewal.  Because staff use personally identifiable information (PII) in their work, the information could be compromised in an unauthorized, unsecured application.  The VA-OIG found that VBA and the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) did not correctly follow privacy and security procedures.  VBA’s privacy threshold analysis was inaccurate, and OIT did not conduct a privacy impact assessment.  OIT’s misclassification of MAST as an asset resulted in insufficient security controls.  Further, VBA lacked the authority to operate MAST before using it in regional offices.”

Lacking authority equates to a leadership failure to follow their standard operating procedures (SOP).  PII being inappropriately released, nothing new at the VBA, or the VHA for that matter.  Losing veterans’ identities and taking advantage of systems for personal gain, regardless of the cost, is nothing new or surprising.  This should be where the VA organizational leadership should be focused; yet, what are they doing?  Where is Congressional oversight and scrutiny?VA 3

FY 2017, the VBA leaders devised a scheme to have third-party vendors conduct compensation and pension exams to deliver on the promise to clear the backlog on veterans’ claims.  Since FY 2017, the VBA has paid over $6.5 Billion on this scheme, and the VA-OIG found in a report dated 08 June 2022, “Some of the exams produced by vendors have not met contractual accuracy requirements.  As a result, claims processors may have used inaccurate or insufficient medical evidence to decide veterans’ claims.”  Is anyone surprised this is the result?  The compensation and pension exam is the key to accuracy in claim completion; yet, inaccurate claims are still being adjudicated wrongly, which is significantly damaging veterans and their families!

From the report, we find the following:

VBA’s governance of and accountability for the exam program needs to improve.  The identified deficiencies appear to have persisted, at least partly because of limitations with VBA’s management and oversight of the program at the time of the review.”VA 3

The VBA’s leaders designed this scheme, shackled the program with ineptitude, and hindered the improvement of the program.  Designed incompetence cannot get any better than this, and the leadership must be held accountable!  Fraud, waste, and abuse remain pillars in Federal Government governance, so why are these leaders not being held liable?

Michael Bowman, Director of IT and Security Audits, in recent Congressional Testimony, made the following claim:

Secure IT systems and networks are essential to VA’s fundamental mission of providing eligible veterans and their families with benefits and services.  VA’s information security program and its practices must protect the confidentiality, integrity, and access to VA systems and data.”

The audacity of this director to claim “confidentiality, integrity, and access” as being secure would be laughable if it weren’t so inept!  How would a non-VA Employee know the IT system is fraught with problems?  VA-OIG report regarding FISMA compliance, Dallas, Texas.  The Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA).  FISMA is a United States federal law that defines a comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations, and assets against natural and manmade threats.  FISMA OIG inspections are focused on four security control areas that apply to local facilities.  They have been selected based on their level of risk: configuration management controls, contingency planning controls, security management controls, and access controls.VA 3

What did the VA-OIG find?  “Without effective configuration management, users do not have adequate assurance that the system and network will perform as intended and to the extent needed to support the CMOP’s missions.  The access control deficiencies create risks of unauthorized access to critical network resources, inability to respond effectively to incidents, loss of personally identifiable information, or loss of life.”  All political speak for inept leaders and deplorable leadership actions.  IT/IS systems continue to fail, and the director claims the system has integrity; despicable and detestable!

Worse, the same FISMA inspection occurred at the same outpatient pharmacy mail facility in Tuscon, Arizona.  The same problems were found, in the same systems, manned by the same inept people and led by the same poor leadership.  Integrity, only if the word means sharing ineptitude between different facilities.  Access to systems and data protection, can anyone honestly trust that the IT system at the VBA or VHA is providing the fundamental tools to meet the mission?VA 3

On the topic of IT system integrity, can anyone forget the continuing problems in delivering a functional electronic health record system to the VHA?  How many billions of dollars must be wasted before Congress stops paying for this albatross?  The VA-OIG has substantiated that “… many quality, patient safety, and organizational performance metrics were unavailable, including metrics needed for hospital accreditation.  Additionally, the VA-OIG found that access metrics were largely unavailable.  The VA-OIG remains concerned that deficits in new EHR metrics may negatively affect organizational performance, quality and patient safety, and access to care.”  How’s that integrity doing?  Is it trustworthy?

05 May 2022, failures were discovered in a joint DoD and VHA review of the new electronic health record system.  The new EHR has no plan to create interoperability, yet interoperability was the main selling point for spending billions of dollars on a new EHR.  Would you believe the VA-OIG recommends the DoD and VHA review federal laws and direct the offices overseeing the EHR program to begin complying?  Would Congress please ask, why haven’t the program managers for the HER already been complying with Federal Law?  How about demanding action to recompense the taxpayers who have been defrauded?VA 3

In April 2022, VA-OIG Michael J. Missal addressed Congress in a statement entitled, “At What Cost? – Ensuring Quality Representation in the Veteran Benefit Claims Process.”  The VA-OIG’s mission is “preventing and addressing fraud and other crimes, waste, and abuse in VA programs and operations.”  General Missal then discussed the integrity of VA processes to “help ensure that veterans receive the benefits, health care, and services they have earned through their service to our country.”  Would Congress please ask how the VA-OIG is fulfilling its mission to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse?

The VA-OIG operates a hotline that receives approximately 30,000 complaints annually from veterans, family members, VA employees, and the public.”  If the 30,000 complaints are presumed to be stable, across just the years I have documented the VA’s abuses, then the VA-OIG has received upwards of 360,000 complaints over the last 12 years.  Would Congress please ask about the success in promoting change, reducing fraud, waste, and abuse, and curbing the veterans being actively harmed by the VA, the VHA, and VBA?VA 3

Congress receives these VA-OIG reports first; what is Congress doing to scrutinize the executive branch?  Where is the progress?  The VA-OIG reports annually to Congress, but improvement never occurs.  Permanent change never occurs.  The same people are making the same excuses, using the same flowery language, and nothing ever happens to improve things.  Worse, the same people maintain the same jobs, who pays, the veterans and their families, and the American taxpayer through the nose as the VA loses more and more money!

I do not know about any Congressional elected leader, but I am through buying the Kool-Aid the VA-OIG is selling:

The VA-OIG’s work is focused on protecting VA programs and operations from waste, fraud, and abuse as well as improving their efficiency and effectiveness.”

On a single topic that the VA-OIG has reported on multiple times and remains critically important to all veterans and their families, it is reporting needs for improvement in VHA and VBA suicide prevention.  From the report, we find the following:

“… Suicide prevention coordinators at VA medical facilities are required to reach out to veterans referred from the Veterans Crisis Line.  Coordinators provide access to assessment, intervention, and effective care; encourage veterans to seek care, benefits, or services with the VA system or in the community; and follow up to connect veterans with appropriate care and services after the call.”

The findings from the VA-OIG report are almost criminal in the negligence of leadership to perform the jobs they hold:

The VA-OIG found that coordinators mistakenly closed some veteran referrals because coordinators lacked the proper training, guidance, and oversight necessary to maximize chances of reaching at-risk veterans referred by the crisis line.  VHA lacked comprehensive performance metrics to assess coordinators’ management of crisis line referrals, and coordinators lacked clear guidance on managing crisis line referrals.  Until VHA provides appropriate training, issues adequate guidance, and improves performance metrics, coordinators could miss opportunities to reach and assist at-risk veterans.”VA 3

Why did the media bury this report?  Suicide prevention continues to be a significant military and veteran issue, but this program’s designed incompetence should be a major story on all media networks.  More, this VA-OIG report should be a talking point for every congressional representative seeking re-election.  Why is this not the case?  Integrity requires honesty, honesty and integrity requires action.  When will Congress take action?

How many dead veterans will it take before Congress takes action?  31 May 2022 VA-OIG report:

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inspection to review the care of an unresponsive patient by Emergency Department staff and the subsequent response of leaders at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center (facility) after the patient’s death at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital (Shands).  The OIG determined that facility Emergency Department nurses failed to provide emergency care to an unresponsive patient who arrived by ambulance.  Despite emergency medical services (EMS) personnel having relayed, while en route to the facility, the criticality of the patient’s condition and the limited patient identifying information available, Emergency Department nurses and an Administrative Officer of the Day wasted critical time concentrating efforts on whether the patient was a veteran (which the patient was, but not so identified by the nurses) versus patient care.  As a result, EMS personnel reloaded the patient into the ambulance for transport to Shands.”VA 3

The staff failed to follow EMTALA, and a veteran died due to the inaction and inappropriate focus of the medical providers.  This is not the first or second breach of EMTALA, the federal law requiring any patient presenting at an emergency department receiving federal funds to be treated; yet, what will it take to get Congress off their thumbs?

12 May 2022, deficiencies in care led to a patient dying at the Charlie Norwood VAMC, Augusta, Georgia.  The VA-OIG substantiated that:

medical-surgical unit nursing leaders did not have adequate quality controls or training to ensure the provision of safe and effective alcohol withdrawal nursing care.”  “Primary care staff failed to provide sufficient care coordination and treatment.  A provider failed to address the patient’s abnormal chest images and poor nutrition and failed to communicate test results to the patient as required.  A primary care nurse failed to respond to the patient’s secure message request for assistance two days before surgery.

Additionally, a barium swallow test was not scheduled.  The surgical team completed a preoperative assessment but failed to detect the patient’s overall poor health.  During the patient’s hospital stay after surgery, medical-surgical nurses did not consistently assess alcohol withdrawal symptoms or administer medications as required.”VA 3

My wife is fond of saying, these oversights and failures occur in non-Government hospitals, and this incident should not be considered indicative of the whole system lacking similarly.  Yet, civilian hospitals have lawyers by the dozen looking for a reason to sue providers for malpractice, and the government hospitals protect against accountability and responsibility.  Worse, you will never know the problems unless you track these incidents.

Do you know why I keep declaring there is a problem with designed incompetence; several veterans suffered T-12 burst fractures and multiple rib fractures, all because of poor documentation and even worse communication.  This is a life-changing injury, and the VA-OIG found the VA providers to have culpability but no responsibility due to a lack of documentation.  Delays in provider documenting in the electronic health record the provider’s notes delayed care for another veteran who also suffered life-changing spinal injuries after receiving non-care at a VA facility.  The VA-OIG cannot conclusively document the tie between poor care being received and the injuries sustained by the veteran, all because of delays in the provider documenting treatment.VA 3

Tell me, does anything discussed above reflect the words of Inspector General Michael J. Missal, who claimed the following in Congressional Testimony:

VHA continues to face enormous challenges in providing high-quality care to the millions of veterans it serves.  Despite these challenges, the VA-OIG has witnessed countless examples of veterans receiving the care they need and deserve—delivered by a committed, compassionate, and highly skilled workforce [emphasis mine].”VA 3

Does a provider killing a veteran reflect a committed, compassionate, or highly skilled workforce?  How many veterans must be permanently injured by the VHA providers to reflect a committed, compassionate, and highly skilled workforce?  How often will the electronic health record fail before highly skilled workers are displayed?

Plato 2Unfortunately, the VA-OIG reports discussed are not even the tip of the iceberg of what is happening.  My apologies, dear readers; I have been remiss in my reporting duties.  Why have I been remiss, because my health went sideways since April when I had a medical procedure completed that was advised but not appropriate.  The VHA and VBA are sick organizations and desperately need scrutiny and standards, new leadership, and written organizational policies.  Help me force these nefarious characters into the sunshine for a good dose of sunshine disinfectant, and let’s change the world for the better.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

The Coffin Where Comedy Goes to Die – More VA Chronicles

I-CareConsider something with me: if you need to proactively reach out to a customer using a phone, would you call that customer’s or his spouse’s phone?  Customer service is all about the customer experience; in an effort to provide customer support, do you call a customer’s or their spouse’s phone?  The answer is obvious, yet the EL Paso VA Outpatient Clinic did the exact opposite of common sense, even though the customer had, within two previous hours, called the EL Paso VA OPC using his phone number on record.

Earlier in the week, a face-to-face patient appointment had to be changed to a VA Video Connect (VVC) appointment, and the provider never showed up.  Later blaming the patient for not showing up to their appointment, even though the patient was online 15 minutes early to the VVC and every 30-minutes logged back into the VVC as the provider never showed.  They are eventually blaming the patient for failing to communicate with the clinic.  Facts essential to know, at 0200 of the morning of the appointment which the provider’s nurse had responded to.  At 0900, the call center changed the in-person appointment to a VVC after contacting the provider for permission to change the appointment to VVC.VA 3

Irony remains critical to comedic gold; the irony of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the issues discussed above are how veterans are abused daily, and the bureaucrats running the VA do not realize how ironic the designed incompetence has become.  Unfortunately, irony died, and comedy is being sealed into its coffin at the VA.  Veterans are being abused to death, and I can no longer laugh at this ineptitude!

Atlanta VA, as reported by Military.com, 73-year-old Vietnam veteran Phillip Webb is filmed receiving hits and kicks from a VA Employee.  The VA Employee, Lawrence Gaillard Jr., a patient advocate at the VA outpatient clinic in downtown Atlanta, was arrested and charged on April 28 for allegedly assaulting and suspended without pay.  There is nothing to laugh at with this event.  While this event remains under criminal investigation, the abuse at the VA towards veterans from the bureaucrats has not scratched the surface!  Where are the Congressional leaders in demanding change at the VA?VA 3

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has spent another month reporting on investigations of more malfeasance, misfeasance, and designed incompetence masquerading as bureaucratic inertia.  If your job included the safe handling and storing of medicines, would you be motivated to properly refrigerate the medication, especially if it meant keeping your job?  In January 2019, the VA reported a loss of over $1 million due to improperly stored medication, e.g., refrigerated.  In 2019, the VA was told to improve their safe handling and storing of medicines to prevent additional losses.  2021 more than $1.5 million was lost for the same reason, improperly refrigerated medication.  2022 the VA-OIG has concluded that the VA has done nothing to improve the medication losses.

If we use the annual loss, rounding down to $1 Million, and then presume this has been going on since 2000, we have the potential for a loss of around $20 million.  The Federal Government is always going on about Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, curbing these losses and reporting them.  Will some congressional elected leader please tell me why Congress refuses to act to stop fraud, waste, and abuse?  The full report is nothing but fraud, waste, and abuse, and while the VA-OIG suggests the VA has taken “some steps” to improve the potential of losses, more needs to be done; yet, where is Congress?  Where is the VA Leadership in fixing the problem?

Regarding medication, let’s talk about how prescriptions continue to be delayed and shipped in wrong doses forcing the patient to cut and presume how much meets their needs and prescription level.  Let’s discuss how the providers continue to play games with medications, especially the pain management medications, using the erroneous excuse, “Fighting the opioid crisis.”  I know the political talking points; what I do not know is how these blatant excuses continue to possess traction.VA 3

The Albuquerque VAMC is back in the news due to the continued failure of leadership; why you ask is the Albuquerque VAMC in the VA-OIG reports, they are failing to help in the opioid crisis by delaying the delivery of medication.  From the report, we find the following:

The OIG substantiated that pharmacists declined early refills of buprenorphine despite prescribing providers’ documented clinical rationales, which increased patients’ risk for adverse clinical outcomes associated with interruption of buprenorphine treatment.  The OIG substantiated that justification for declining early refills was incorrectly based on a facility policy that was not applicable to the use of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder [emphasis mine].”

Did you get the why?  Leadership at the VAMC is beyond subpar, has been failing the veterans of Albuquerque, and is protected by the ridiculously inept leaders at VISN 22, as documented multiple times over the last five years.  Yet, still, nothing is done to remove the leaders, stop the abuse, and fix the problems; thus, I ask again, why?  Where are the elected leaders in scrutinizing the executive branch?  Even the VA-OIG has reported, “actions taken by leaders did not fully address the reported concerns.”  If this is not a perfect definition of designing incompetence, I’ll eat my hat!VA 3

The VA-OIG’s recommendations reflect the inadequacy of the VA-OIG to demand change and then enforce corrective action effectively.  More designed incompetence and the crosshairs are clearly on the executive and legislative branches to act.  This means that you, the voter, have the power to demand change!

Dare you think the Albuquerque VAMC is the only VA having problems?  The VA-OIG reports the VAMC in Hampton, Virginia is also back in the news.  Consider the patient and the family in the following, “… multiple providers’ failure[d] to communicate, act on, and document abnormal test results from July 2019 until April 2021, when the patient was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.”  More failure of VA leaders to act, and “… facility leaders did not initiate peer reviews within three days, and facility staff did not submit patient safety reports as required.”  Where is the outrage that another veteran is needlessly suffering, the family is needlessly struggling, and the VA Leaders keep their jobs?VA 3

We began this chronicle with a Vietnam Veteran being beaten and kicked by a VA employee who was employed to defend patients, where leaders did not act upon the incident for two months, leading to questions and concerns about the potential cover-up, hushing of witnesses, or manipulation of evidence to hide, what for all intents and purposes appears to be, employee criminal activity.  While the attacker retains their constitutional right to innocence until proven guilty, significant questions need immediate redress, and the VAMC leadership needs to answer these questions.

Continuing on the failure of leadership, the Tuscaloosa VAMC in Alabama shows more leadership failure to address patients’ safety and security in long-term care.  The VA-OIG identified that the administration could not fill critical staff positions, possibly due to the toxic nature of the leadership.  One of the more critical failures of leadership deals with the elopement of patients from the care facility, and the leaders appear to remain inadequate to improve the facility and patient safety.  Why are these leaders still in positions of power in this facility?VA 3

As an organizational psychologist, the continued failure of leadership represents a real and present danger.  The VA-OIG appears to be aiding and abetting the absence of leadership at the VA.  If you think I am exaggerating, consider the continued failure to comply with the payment integrity information act (PIIA).  The VA was failing to comply before PIIA, and the following from the VA-OIG report is telling:

In FY 2021, VA reported improper and unknown payment estimates totaling $5.12 billion for seven programs and activities.  Of that amount, about $1.97 billion (around 39 percent) represented a monetary loss.  The remaining approximately $3.14 billion (about 61 percent) was considered either a nonmonetary loss or unknown payment that cannot be recovered.  Though VA had an overall decrease in total improper payments and unknown payments, the overall monetary loss more than doubled from $892 million in FY 2020 to $1.97 billion [emphasis mine].”

PIIA was legislated and put into effect in March 2020, FY 2021 is the first year, and the investigative reports represent the VA’s inaugural failure to comply.  All facts are desperately pertinent in this report and necessary to understand just how ridiculously inept the VA leadership continues to act.  10% of $5.12 Billion is $512 Million; the VA leadership from the VA-OIG is “encouraged” to become compliant and lose less than $512 Million in FY 2022.  Tell me how “encouraging” your leadership will be losing that much money?

From the VA-OIG Report,  “VA satisfied nine of the 10 requirements; however, it is not considered to be compliant because it failed to report an improper and unknown payment rate of less than 10 percent.”  PIIA was legislated to reduce improper payments to less than 10%; tell me, if you improperly paid someone $512 Million, would you keep your job?  Never forget, every Federal Government facility must have posted a poster discussing how to Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse; what do you call losing $512 Million?  Would someone please explain why losing less than $512 Million is an improvement?  How is losing less than 10% acceptable and not Fraud, Waste, and Abuse or credible accounting?VA 3

Finally, we conclude with additional reports of criminal enterprises by VA employees, as if anyone is surprised:

  • Bethann Kierczak of Southgate, Michigan, a registered nurse at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, pleaded guilty to charges related to COVID-19 vaccination record cards fraud. According to court records, Kierczak admitted to stealing or embezzling authentic COVID-19 vaccination record cards from the VA hospital—along with vaccine lot numbers necessary to make the cards appear legitimate—and then reselling those cards and information to individuals within the metro Detroit community.  Kierczak began the scheme as early as May 2021 and continued through September 2021, selling the cards for $150 to $200 each.  The VA OIG investigated this case with the VA Police and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a partnership among the Criminal Division, US Attorney’s Offices, and the US Health and Human Services OIG.”
  • Melissa Flores was sentenced to two years in prison and $110,000 in restitution for her role in a scheme to defraud VA. Flores and a codefendant allegedly created aliases and obtained or created fraudulent documents to make it appear they were the heirs of various individuals who had died.  Between 2013 and 2019, the two codefendants defrauded VA out of more than $430,000 and the Michigan Department of Treasury out of more than $40,000 in unclaimed property.  Flores pleaded guilty to two counts of false pretenses last May and one count of forgery.”
  • Bruce Minor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in connection with his scheme to embezzle money from his former employer, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. In April 2022, Minor was charged with theft of government funds stemming from his theft of more than $487,000 in VA travel reimbursement funds, which he helped administer as part of his official duties as a travel clerk.  To perpetuate the theft, Minor created fraudulent travel reimbursement claims in the names of at least three other VA employees and then diverted the fraudulently obtained funds into bank accounts he controlled.  According to court documents, in an email to medical center management, Minor admitted to stealing approximately $13,000 in travel funds.  However, a subsequent investigation showed that he stole upwards of $487,000 between December 2015 and September 2019.  The VA OIG conducted this investigation.”

PatriotismWhat connects all three of these criminals; the failures of VA leadership to scrutinize their employees.  Does this remind you of additional leaders, maybe those in Congress who continue to refuse to scrutinize the executive branch?  The US Constitution established three co-equal branches, the judicial protects the Constitution, the Executive operates the government, and the Legislative has two jobs write laws for the executive branch to operate and scrutinize the executive branch as it operates.  Each branch answers to the other, and all branches must operate inside the US Constitution.  America needs the legislative branch to begin doing its job, and we, the voters, are the only way to begin demanding the change we need!?u=https1.bp.blogspot.com-aqaqk18MHoEWRHHsCi_TyIAAAAAAAAAXc7hY4JQuyylIQHYudoR8sbezGZntic4SSwCLcBs640Betrayal2BSayings2Band2BQuotes2Bwww.mostphrases.blogspot.be.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

If comedy is dead, and it is, the VA is the coffin where comedy went to die.  Let’s stop laughing and start acting!  Join me?

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Courtesy: The Key to Civil Society

Not to state the obvious, Roe v. Wade has been rescinded, and the political left has become the antithesis of civil society.  Acting in a manner that is rude, boorish, and bloody awful.  I know sugar-hyped, caffeine-strung-out, two-years-old who behave better than the supposed adults rioting, looting, and threatening violence.  Frankly, after the summer of rage (2020), I am fed up with the media cheerleading criminal behavior in the name of expressing themselves; let us now affirm and cherish as sacred courtesy as the preeminent civil virtue needed in society.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints (October 1976), addressed the topic of courtesy while discussing self-management.  Quoting Elder Ashton, “Courtesy and self-respect are necessary ingredients” in properly being a member of any society, business, family, etc.  In a previous article, the discourteous behavior of the political left was discussed, especially those who choose to join the LGBTQ+ communities.  Why has courtesy dropped so precipitously in American society and too other cultures across the globe?  Elder Ashton discusses the answer:

Seeing men and women who think, speak, and act with propriety in any community or personal situation is refreshing and uplifting.  Good manners are necessary for the decency and peace of community living.  [Good Manners] should be a matter of grave concern to all, yet we hear and read less about their cultivation than we do about dieting and “daily dozens” to enhance our personal acceptance and development.”

Stemming from self-discipline, courtesy is an outward expression of inner strength, and our manners precede us into new situations.  As a kid, one of the deadliest sins we could commit was being late to an appointment, meeting, or scheduled event.  You could lose your temper, drop the worst language, but if you were late, you were in big trouble!  Sure, foul language was a punishment multiplier but was a punishment reducer if you were not late.  In the US Army, we were taught if you are not 15-minutes early, you are late.  15-minutes early was on time, building the mental toughness to understand the military requirement of “Hurry up and wait.”Common Courtesy Quotes Quotations. QuotesGram

Yet, what do we see too often since 2000, less and less is society expecting a person to be “on time,” let alone early to a scheduled appointment.  Worse, recently, I had a doctor’s appointment, and the staff in the office were grateful I had shown up, let alone was 15-minutes early to my appointment.  When further discussed, the conversation drifted to how people do not call to cancel, show up hours late, and still expect to be seen, and how the staff was forced to work overtime when people showed up late.  The provider felt compelled to see these patients, even though doing so meant staying late.  Importantly, sourced from Elder Ashton, serenity and poise are the companions of those who practice courtesy and judgment to always be on time.

As self-discipline has been reduced, social interactions have also declined as people feel attacked when courtesy is absent.  Worse, if I do not believe the same as you, social norms state I deserve to be attacked, even physically attacked, and this atrocious behavior is my fault for not having the courtesy to believe the same as you.  No!  This is not courtesy, self-discipline, or proper self-management, and I refuse to spend another microsecond being abused!

What is courtesy?

Jim Butcher is correct, “If you can’t manage courtesy, try silence.”  In defining courtesy, the dictionary refers to courtesy as “polite behavior” and “indulgence.”  Yet, I feel this is barely scratching the surface on defining courtesy, especially since indulgence is not a strong suit of mine.  Courtesy is a willingness, and ability, to properly relate to others.  Courtesy requires humility or a humble approach to social interactions.  Elder Ashton was clear, “Proper self-management will permit us to be a team member first, a coach, captain, or superstar second.”  Do we understand, and will we willingly accept, the role of a team member, participant, or active and engaged audience?Quotes On Consideration And Courtesy. QuotesGram

Early in life, I had some lessons forcibly taught me.  Elder Ashton sums up the lessons:

Good health habits, integrity, bearing, mannerisms, conversation, and self-control can be powerful assets in one’s balance sheet.  These traits outwardly reflect the views of the management.  Integrity within oneself makes it possible for honesty with God, family, and all other daily associates.  A person with integrity within himself will also have it in his relationship with others.”

At my current stage of life, I lack a “cherub-like demeanor” with anyone who tries to steal, infringe upon, or impugn my integrity.  This is wrong, and I struggle daily with the slings and arrows of our discourteous society.  Yet, still, we find a need to define courtesy, and while healthy eating, exercise, and patience help me in my struggles, these other aspects of courtesy remain invaluable.Erastus Wiman Quote: "Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the ...

Courtesy, as an extension of self-respect and self-discipline, generates improved mental and physical health, further promoting courteous living and mental peace needed to suffer the fools slinging mud and practicing violence.  Do we understand the connection being discussed; Elder Ashton affirms, “our self-image and general conduct [observed through] dress, grooming, and hair standards, moderation of voice, use of worthy language, good manners, respect for other’s rights.”  However, does this define courtesy; not really, but they form the core of actions witnessed by those with self-respect and self-discipline.

Consider the recent media coverage of the two camps prominent in the Roe v. Wade protests since late February/early March.  The dress, language, general conduct, manners, and moderation of voice distinctly identified which camp one woman belonged to or another.  The distinction was easily observed long before either camp opened their mouths.  More to the point, look at the Republican and Democrat audiences at their respective national conventions.  The media coverage never ceases to amaze me, the camera operators and producers work tirelessly to not fuel stereotypes, but even then, the audiences are clearly distinct.Courtesy Quotes | Courtesy Sayings | Courtesy Picture Quotes

Elder Ashton states and I affirm in the strongest language, “In any community or personal situation, it is refreshing and uplifting to see men and women who think, speak, and act with propriety.”  Having traveled amongst incredibly diverse global cultures, it does not matter where you are or the culture you originate from; it is mentally and physically refreshing to be among people who act with propriety and courtesy and live with self-respect and self-discipline.  Clearly, courtesy is at its best when it is least obvious, and the least apparent; the greater self-respect shines through the actions and speech of courteous people.  Courtesy is a manner of living; it is a lifestyle choice and is not merely a religious thing stemming from a Judeo-Christian moral code (the Ten Commandments).  Aristotle is quoted saying, “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.”  Consider these two quotes for a moment; courtesy is an action displaying excellence, and courtesy is courage.  To Jacques Maritain goes the final word on defining courtesy, “Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.”

How do you practice grace and courtesy with your children? | Montessori ...Thus, gratitude, excellence, and gratitude are mere pieces of courteous behavior.  Interestingly, I find the best lessons on courteous behavior have arrived from the most disgustingly discourteous people.  In the US Army, I was called out by an incredibly courteous person for my language.  In the US Navy, I learned why courteous language was required through observing the consequences of the discourteous around me.  Several department members used horrific language, acted in manners revealing their lack of self-respect, and then cursed the gods for their predicament with women and money.

I am not saying that courteous living makes people rich or loved.  I merely relate that life is better the more I struggle to keep my cherub-like demeanor when stressed by those with manners more closely resembling pigs in rut than men with the potential to become God.  William Wordsworth stated in his writing, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality:”

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.  The soul that rises with us, our life’s star, hath had elsewhere its setting, and cometh from afar: not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home.”

Disregarding religion for a moment, man has a tremendous imagination, but no religion yet has a discourteous god at its center.  Let us so live, with courtesy, self-respect, and self-discipline, that when we return to the God who made us, we trail clouds of glory as a mark of gratitude and courtesy.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Honest Questions! Spurring Forthright Discussion.

Bobblehead DollThis is not my first rodeo where family members have chosen alternative lifestyles.  One family member was not hostile, quietly adopted a different lifestyle, and lives without bullying anyone.  One family member has just come of age, has chosen to live as a different gender, is passive-aggressive, and is hostile to everyone who refuses to participate in their mental disease.  The first person is an abnormality in the homosexual community where bullying, bullishness, and boorishness are the standard, not the exception.  The second family member has used their unhinged emotional wrecking ball to injure family and friends for the privilege of getting their way.  A wholly childish and selfish spectacle deserving of nothing more than abject derision and scorn.

Several friends have embraced different genders and lifestyles, moving from friendly to bully in a relatively short time, and have remained boorish and behaviorally reprehensible ever since.  One colleague was at a party, slipped a mickey, and woke up having been raped while drugged.  In any other community, this would have been a legal offense; in the homosexual community, this was not even worth mentioning.  A sad commentary in and of itself!  Unfortunately, this incident has left my friend degraded and feeling worthless, and unfortunately, we have lost touch over the years and miles since this incident.Question

Many questions remain after having worked around the LGBTQ+ community for more years than I would care to admit.  The number one question remaining is the following: If what you are doing is making you happy and more whole as a person, why the anger, resentment, bitterness, bullying, and boorish behaviors?  To me, this is a simple question; to my friends and family in the LGBTQ+ community, this is a complicated, complex, and nuanced question, where the person asked becomes more boorish, bullish, and obstinate.  So, please answer this question and tell me why this is such a complex and convoluted question.

Dear reader, I now pose the question to you.  I do not care how you choose to identify, the gender you prefer, your sexual preferences, or your religious lifestyle.  I do not care about race at birth or the race you choose to live.  Frankly, all I care about is what you bring to the table regarding talents, skills, abilities, and the attitude you choose.  Essentially, I have onboarded Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream; I judge solely by your character.  I am not racist, homophobic, sexist, ageist, or any other slur you wish to dream of; respect is often offered to resounding silence or aggressive vocal opposition and hatred, yet respect remains.Content of their Character

Religionists, including traditional and non-traditional, I realize the issues you are facing, and I agree with a lot of your concerns.  This does not mean you can be as boorish, bullish, and obstinate in your comments.  My agreement with your concerns does not reduce my respect for both parties.  Anyone abusing the comment section will have their comments moderated.  With that said, any person choosing to abuse the comments section will face the same moderation.  I do not tolerate emotionally charged bloviations.  Be logical, be respectful, and explain your ideas clearly.

Exclamation MarkBear with me for a moment.  I speak for myself.  I do not speak for all homo sapiens; I do not speak for anyone else but me — I research law, science, history, anthropology, psychology, and much more to form my opinions.  Agree or disagree, your choice.  Feel free to express your opinion, just understand I might disagree with your opinion, but I love to discuss topics with people.  Do not bring emotional hyperbole and try to pass it off as fact!  As I have told my wife, I do not care how you feel.

Currently, confusion has set in in global history, and I feel it is time to be truthful and specific.  Women have two XX chromosomes, men have an X and a Y chromosome, and this is the entire amount of genders and sexes in mammalian human science.  While some abnormalities and diseases will produce various (rare) chromosomal variations outside these two genders and sexes, there are absolutely no more than two sexes and two genders.  Recently I was told I was wrong and was informed there are 83 different gender categories, not including those who consider themselves part animal.  I continue to disagree pointedly!Dr. Duke on making good decisions in politics and life - David Duke.com

One of the misnomers in the gender/transgender discussion is that of human choice, which is more easily understood as agency.  The human, as an agent, chooses (exercising agency), and they have the right to choose, but in choosing, their consequences are not anyone else’s problem.  We need this point well understood.  Sexually transmitted diseases are not society’s problem; pregnancy is still not society’s problem; rape, drug addiction, depression, anxiety, etc., are not society’s problem.  How you choose to live your life is your choice; like I have said multiple times in these articles and elsewhere, keep those lifestyle choices in your bedroom and home, and leave the rest of society to live as they choose.

Some of those consequences break a person’s social trust with their chosen society; we call these laws, and breaking laws has additional consequences the agent must bear for exercising agency.  Breaking laws is black and white; how society’s agents apply those laws for enforcing those laws (judges, law enforcement officers, lawyers, etc.) is another topic; however, your lifestyle choices do not allow you to break society’s laws with impunity merely because you do not like a law or because that law interferes with your lifestyle.  It is against the law to picket, rally, or riot in front of a judge’s home to sway that judge’s opinion!  Blocking traffic is not an acceptable or legal method to air your grievances, and there is no such thing as a peaceful protest.  You can either legally protest or riot, media talking heads notwithstanding!

Your lifestyle choices do NOT permit you to groom children, become boorish, bullish, or abrasive in public, nor do your lifestyle choices enable you to change laws and social norms to fit your pleasure.  Everyone sacrifices to belong to society; not getting your way does not mean you have fewer rights than anyone else.  Are we clear on this issue?Founding Fathers Quotes on Justice and Equal Treatment Under the Law

Equal treatment under the law means you do not get a pass on sexual predation merely because your lifestyle is different from someone else’s.  Morals and values a society selects do not twist, morph, or get simply deleted because your lifestyle choices are out of sync with the rest of society.  Frankly, there is nothing new in your lifestyle preferences, so start being a member of society, act responsibly, and cease your incessant whining.  Finally, keep your lifestyle choices in your home; you are not allowed to teach children your lifestyle, you are not allowed to take over city streets for parades and displays, and whether you are hetero or homosexual when in public, act respectfully of others.REPEAL PRWORA PROJECT - GRANT EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER LAW - Bhavanajagat

Let me elaborate on that final statement.  I have been married for 25+ years; in public, I choose not to kiss, hold hands, or do any other action that could cause an observer to be discomfited.  I make these choices from the moral obligation I owe to our country’s social fabric and the respect I have for my partner.  I expect other couples to adhere to a similar standard of public behavior.  Nothing is so disgusting than to be forced to watch two immature people abuse the public square by disrespecting themselves and each other through inappropriate actions in public.  Are we clear, or do you want more specifications?

Having said all of this, why have you decided now is a good time to multiply sexes and genders?  Why now are you demanding “rights” when you already have equal protection under the law?  Why all of a sudden is the push on to change society in a warped image of your lifestyle?  Please answer these questions, and let’s have a discussion.

Knowledge Check!It is time for honest and forthright discussions on these topics.  Argumentative wrangling is not allowed.  Insulting, calling names, and political (emotional) drivel will only end the conversation, for I refuse to put up with sniveling and whining.  You seem to have a point; what is your point?  You want respect, fine, you have respect; please remember respect is earned and is a two-way street.  I will not participate in your mental illness, but I am always willing to discuss real issues honestly, openly, and transparently.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 8

I-CareI fully admit I got behind in April.  Dear reader, my apology.  I have been whipsawed between emergency room visits, depression, extreme pain, and other issues.  Not offering an excuse but a tiny peek into my world as a disabled veteran.  Luckily, I have maintained employment because my employer allows me to work from home.  My driving privileges are threatened again with removal due to the neurological issues I suffer, and this will dynamically change my life, but this article is not about me, but the continued catastrophe called the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports published.

We begin with a financial efficiency review reported from the inspection of the Durham VAHCS of North Carolina.  I know the jokes write themselves when we discuss any government agency and financial efficiency, but I digress.  This is a head exploding report of leadership failure in the observation and governance of employees who did not perform the functions they were hired to perform.  The VA-OIG found the following from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021:

    • The healthcare system had 309 inactive obligations totaling $81.7 million.
    • Of these 309 obligations, 200 (totaling over $74 million) had no activity for 181 days or more.
    • In a subsample of 20 obligations, VA staff had not reviewed 17, as required.
    • Contrary to VA policy, healthcare system staff used purchase cards instead of contracts for 21 of 40 sampled transactions (53 percent), totaling approximately $328,000. These 21 transactions were missing required supporting documentation to verify that the transactions were approved and payments were accurate, resulting in $308,000 in questioned costs.
    • 105 more administrative full-time equivalent staff than the expected number, all not doing their jobs as required under Federal Law!

While not all of the findings, those mentioned are the most egregious and in need of corrective action.  Would the citizens of Durham, North Carolina, please tell me, has this been reported in the local news?  Has anyone lost their jobs as the VAHCS right-sizes the financial department?  I can find no additional information that this problem has been corrected, and I am really curious!VA 3

Oh, the irony is thick; consider the following:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2021 would help ensure that VA employees continue to be empowered to assist the OIG in improving VA’s operations and using taxpayer dollars to the greatest effect; helping protect patients and improving their care; and ensuring veterans and others receive services and benefits for which they are eligible.”

The above-quoted material originates from Chris Wilber, who testified to Congress’s HVAC Subcommittee on oversight and investigations.  What is the number one failure on every comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIP); the lack of staff training, the inadequacy of staff training, or adequately trained staff.  Yet, the statement by the VA-OIG indicates that training has met a threshold for providing adequate training.  Let’s talk about a specific action, “the VA secretary signed a directive in September 2021 mandating that all employees complete a one-time training within one year—an important step in improving VA’s culture of accountability.”  It is now May 2022; the VA-OIG is pushing for training directives to be legislated, not dependent upon any single VA Secretary.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Where is the congressional oversight and scrutiny that allows VA training to continue to be subpar and threaten the lives of veterans?

Long have I wondered how the VA could frustrate VA-OIG actions, investigations, inspections, etc.  Guess what; the answer has become available:

“… there have been instances in which the OIG has been informed that staff have been told that they cannot share information with OIG investigators without first clearing it through supervisors or leaders—contrary to the Inspector General Act of 1978 (the IG Act), as amended.  Under that authority, VA employees at all levels have a duty to cooperate with OIG personnel, including providing information and assistance in a timely manner.”

Employees have been caught lying to the VA-OIG regularly, and what action is taken to remove those employees promptly and efficiently from government service?  From direct observation and employee conversations, it is clear that plans are carefully laid before a scheduled VA-OIG visit to present what the VA-OIG wants, but to gloss over the problems, and nothing ever happened to the managers, supervisors, and employees who lied and misdirected the VA-OIG.  All contrary to established Federal Law!VA 3

Want a specific example of employees intentionally misrepresenting information to the VA-OIG?  Look no further than the statement by Chris Wilber, and this incident was covered as a failure of leadership in a previous article.

Hospital staff at a VA facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas, had concerns about potential substance abuse by the chief of pathology that were not heard and promptly acted on by local management, which allowed him to work while impaired for years.  He misdiagnosed about 3,000 patients with errors resulting in death or serious harm and is currently imprisoned.  The OIG found a culture in which staff did not report serious concerns about the chief pathologist, in part because they assumed that others had reported him, or they were concerned about reprisal.”

From personal experience, I reported problems to the VA-OIG concerning patient abuse, fraud, waste, and other issues.  Never were my concerns acted upon promptly, and I was removed from employment for being a whistleblower.  The culture of corruption at the VA is incredible.  The examples mentioned by the VA-OIG only further sustain the problem with leadership and how sick the VA truly is as an organization!VA 3

We next turn our attention to the VA-OIG report on the inspection of information technology security at the VA Financial Services Center, another head exploding example of leadership failure bordering on criminal!  The findings include:

    • component inventory
    • vulnerability management
    • flaw remediation
    • Identifying 252 vulnerabilities, of which 228 the local IT team could not identify.
    • the VA-OIG team identified access control deficiencies, as 107 of the 278 FSC systems failed to generate or forward audit logs for analysis.
    • the video surveillance system was not fully functional. Ineffective monitoring and recording facility activities supporting information systems minimize the FSC’s incident response capabilities.

How do you spell failure; these findings spell failure to me rather pointedly and dramatically!  Want to laugh; staff training remains a concern, but not a finding, of the VA-OIG inspection team.  Frankly, with this level of incompetence, staff training should have been a finding.VA 3

To be concise and illustrate further the poor leadership, convoluted processes, and brazen noncompliance of VA officials, the following discussion is about two different VA-OIG reports that reached similar conclusions.  First, we have the VA-OIG report on “Noncompliant and Deficient Processes and Oversight of State Licensing Board and National Practitioner Data Bank Reporting Policies by VA Medical Facilities.”  Second is the VA-OIG report on “Concerns with Consistency and Transparency in the Calculation and Disclosure of Patient Wait Time Data.”  Nothing says convoluted processes more than having two written policies, both originating from Washington DC.  The superseded policy does not have an expiration date.  This means that employees have a designed incompetence excuse ready for not adhering to the most current and applicable policy.  Don’t believe me; one of the key findings was, “VHA has presented wait times to the public without clearly and consistently disclosing the basis for their calculations.”  Designed incompetence does not come more blatant than this, and who suffers, the veteran.  Worse, wait time correction and policy clarification has been stalled by COVID-19, the neverending excuse paying dividends to bureaucrats everywhere!Timelines for Wait Time Calculations

However, both reports are substantially summated by the VA-OIG; thus, “The lack of programmatic oversight contributed to the failure of VHA leaders to detect and intervene upon facility noncompliance.”  Meaning that due to COVID-19, the VHA has refused to do their jobs in deference to the pandemic, and since this is a good enough excuse, the VA-OIG has bought the designed incompetence, lock, stock, and barrel.  The VHA leadership is failing; doctors or dentists let go for poor performance were not reported to state and federal boards, so these providers lacking can continue to harm patients.  It is a federal law (42 US Code § 11151, US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Workforce, NPDB Guidebook, October 2018, chap. A., 8 USC ⸹ 7462(a), 38 USC ⸹ 7401(1), among others) that providers let go for cause must be reported within 7-days to the regulatory boards at the state and federal levels.  Wait times are hidden because they are so bad; the VHA is embarrassed, so the leaders fall back on designed incompetence to shield themselves while looking for another excuse for poor performance!  In both reports, the ramifications of noncompliance are putting people at risk for sentinel events (death, injury, disability, etc.), and the leadership is at best lackadaisical in the performance of their duties.  VA 3

Where are the congressional overseers in ending the abuse?  When will this insanity and bureaucratic inertia end?  How many “sentinel events,” including deaths and permanent injuries, will it take until those tasked with scrutinizing the executive branch finally take committed action and hold people accountable?  When will the elected representatives stop throwing good taxpayer money at problems that money cannot fix?  If these questions are too difficult to answer, please stop running for elected office, for the citizenry is not happy!

We conclude with two related reports so astoundingly obtuse they defy logic and sanity.  The first is the annual CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) audit of the VA’s information security for 2021.  The second is the continuing failure of the new electronic health record modernization (EHRM) program.  The VA has failed the CLA audit for more than a decade, with many of the hits repeated year-over-year.  In fact, the CLA audit is so bad this year; it has taken my mental breath away and stunned me into a gibbering idiot!  Reading this report was infuriating; describing it as my head exploding is akin to comparing an M-80 to a nuclear bomb.  How in Dante’s Inferno can this level of incompetence be allowed to remain employed?  But, as bad as the CLA audit is, the continued failure of the new electronic health record system pales in comparison.  The new EHRM continues to suffer from reliability weaknesses, which is polite speak from the VA-OIG for the new system fails to do the job.  We are three years from the new extended deadline, we are already past the original deadline, and the system is worthless today than it was a year ago.  With this success rate, the new EHRM will be utterly bereft of value and need replacement before the year’s end.  How many millions (billions, or trillions) of good dollars must chase this ineptitude before the plug is pulled and those involved held accountable?VA 3

Join me in having your head explode:

Additional deficiencies included known tasks not being reflected on schedules, no risk analysis, lack of longer-term actions scheduled, and no complete baseline schedule or overall schedule that fully integrated individual project schedules. VA also did not comply with federal regulations when it paid its contractor for deliverables before accepting them (reviewing compliance with contract requirements).”

Consider this other gem from the VA-OIG report, “$1.95 billion in cost overruns per year” are estimated, meaning the final tab will be significantly higher and compounded year-over-year.  In plain speak, the contractor is being paid for products delivered that fail, the products offered are not usable, there is no schedule of completion, there is no schedule for deliverables, many of the products paid for have never been delivered, and costs are overrunning like a plugged toilet. Worse, no one is being held personally liable for these problems, which were apparent in the last EHRM update from the VA-OIG a year ago!  Like the CLA Audit, I am thrilled the VA agrees with the VA-OIG findings, but what are they DOING to fix the problems?

FYI: the image below is a year old, and comes from the last major update to the EHRM.EHR-VA-OIG

?u=https1.bp.blogspot.com-aqaqk18MHoEWRHHsCi_TyIAAAAAAAAAXc7hY4JQuyylIQHYudoR8sbezGZntic4SSwCLcBs640Betrayal2BSayings2Band2BQuotes2Bwww.mostphrases.blogspot.be.jpg&f=1&nofb=1There is no excuse for behaving like the VA’s bureaucratic legions behave.  Bureaucrats, from the city government (including the school board) to the Federal Government, you hold a sacred trust to act better than you are currently performing.  I refuse you any leeway for acting like pompous overlords when you are paid through forced taxation!  You have trespassed upon my patience and kindness long enough, and the day of reckoning has arrived.  You work for me; you work for every taxpayer and citizen in this country, and you have violated our trust, charged us too much and too often, and if you do not begin to show yourself worthy of the sacred trust, we will force you from your cushy jobs and hold you liable for the monies you have squandered!  The law is on our side; you need to begin showing you honor our trust and investment forthwith!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 7

Oh, how I wish and long for, and am working for, the day when the VA is cleaned up, cleaned out, and corrected completely!  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has been busy reporting more on the failures of the VA to act.  Yet, where is Congressional action in scrutinizing the executive branch’s actions?  Honest question, repeated only for emphasis; we elected you to do two jobs, write fair and equal legislation for all citizens, and scrutinize the executive branch; when are you going to do your jobs?

Let’s begin with some softball issues repeated from previous VA-OIG comprehensive healthcare inspections (CHIPs), specifically how employees report feeling morally distressed while working at the VA.  Moral distress is a leadership failure and is widespread enough to reflect the problem is not limited to a single VAMC/VAHCS.  From Virginia to California, Maine to Florida, and Montana to Arizona, too many VA facilities are poorly led, poorly administered, and poorly executed.  The VA is actively abusing the veterans for political gain; some have asked why I consider the VA is actively abusing veterans; let me see if additional disclosure can explain the problem.

VHA Directive 1004.08.  VHA defines an institutional disclosure as “a formal process by which VA medical facility leader(s), together with clinicians and others as appropriate, inform the patient or personal representative that an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care that resulted in, or is reasonably expected to result in, death or serious injury, and provide specific information about the patient’s rights and recourse.”

The above quote is from the regulations governing VA care.  The VA-OIG quotes this directive, which has been published and is openly available, yet repeatedly the VA-OIG finds directors.  Hospital administrators who are informed and able to repeat this directive.  Who repeatedly refuse to follow this directive or train their staff to follow this directive.  When sentinel events occur (death, permanent injury, non-permanent injury, disability, etc.), the families report having no idea what to do because the disclosures were never provided to the veteran or designated caregiver.  Is this not abuse of the patient?  Is this abuse not driven by ideologues who gain from the harm they cause others?  Should this abuse not be scrutinized until it is eliminated?  Please feel free to read some of these comprehensive healthcare inspection reports from the VA-OIG, see the resulting injuries and problems caused by the failures of government medical providers, and then tell me whether these atrocious actions need more or less scrutiny and qualify for the title abuse.

North Carolinian veterans, VISN 6 is all yours, and would you be shocked to learn that even with newer leadership, moral distress remains a persistent problem in the VA employees throughout VISN 6, which just happens to include Durham, Asheville, Fayetteville, Hampton, Richmond, Salem, and Salisbury North Carolina?  Probably this is not unfamiliar as the patient experience survey scores remain persistently below VA averages, reflecting that new leadership is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.  Interestingly, medical staff credentialing remains a significant concern in North Carolina.

Western New York veterans, especially those receiving patient services in the Buffalo VAHCS, do you agree with the VA-OIG report?  The Buffalo VAHCS includes Buffalo, Batavia, Jamestown, Dunkirk, Niagra Falls, Lockport, West Seneca, and Olean, and the comprehensive report is mystifying to me.  For example, the VA-OIG reports that “Patients generally appeared satisfied with their care.”   At the same time, “Employee survey data revealed opportunities for leaders to improve workplace satisfaction and reduce feelings of moral distress.”  This is a combination not generally found in these CHIP inspection reports.  Something is definitely off, and I would love to know what, especially since the leadership needs significant improvement in identifying and reporting sentinel events.  Do you agree with the VA-OIG findings?  Please let me know your firsthand experiences, for the double-talk in this CHIP report is above what I usually observe.

With almost identical findings and recommendations in the Syracuse NY VAMC’s comprehensive healthcare inspection, covering communities of Syracuse, Auburn, Freeville, Potsdam, Rome, Binghampton, Watertown, and Oswego, NY., I am concerned that the veterans in New York are in as bad or worse shape than Phoenix’s veteran community.  Hence, I have to ask the VA-OIG, has something changed in your measurement and analysis tools to report such disparate findings as “Employee survey data revealed opportunities for leaders to improve servant leadership and decrease employees’ feelings of moral distress.  Patients generally appeared satisfied with the care provided?”  The double-talk level is higher in these CHIPs from NY, which is rarely observed outside of Phoenix and VISN 22.  Two final thoughts on the CHIPs, staff training, continues to be a high-risk finding, and this continues to be a leadership failure for every VAMC/VAHCS/VISN in the VA; why has progress not occurred?  Training is a system, and leadership and organizational risk, system redesign, and improvement is a quality, safety, and value problem of the highest importance; why is action never taken by leadership or the congressional representatives who are expected to scrutinize the executive branch?

28 March 2022, the VA-OIG released their long-awaited annual “Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection Summary Report: Evaluation of Medical Staff Privileging in Veterans Health Administration Facilities, Fiscal Year 2020.”  I have been interested to see what, if anything, the VA had accomplished in improving their medical staff privileging.  If I were a congressional representative, knowing that medical staff continues to harm and kill veterans, I would have been anxiously awaiting to see if the repeated hits from past years had finally been rectified.  Unfortunately, the VA continues to live down to expectations (digging the hole ever deeper), suffers from failed leadership, and the veterans continue to die or suffer abuse.

What did the VA-OIG discover?  Understand, “The OIG conducted detailed inspections at 36 VHA medical facilities to ensure leaders implemented medical staff privileging processes in compliance with requirements.  The OIG subsequently issued six recommendations for improvement to the Under Secretary for Health, in conjunction with Veterans Integrated Service Network directors and facility senior leaders.  The intent is for VHA leaders to use these recommendations to help guide improvements in operations and clinical care at the facility level.  The recommendations address findings that may eventually interfere with the delivery of quality health care.”  The OIG identified deficiencies with focused and ongoing professional practice evaluation, provider exit review, and state licensing board reporting processes.  Specifically:

    • use of minimum criteria for selected specialty licensed independent practitioners’ focused professional practice evaluations
    • inclusion of service-specific criteria in ongoing professional practice evaluations
    • completion of ongoing professional practice evaluations by other providers with similar training and privileges
    • recommendation by executive committees to continue licensed independent practitioners’ privileges based on professional practice evaluation results
    • completion of provider exit review forms within seven business days of licensed independent practitioners’ departure from a medical facility
    • the signing of exit review forms by service chiefs, chiefs of staff, and medical facility directors if licensed healthcare professionals failed to meet generally accepted standards of care
    • initiation of state licensing board reporting within seven business days of supervisors’ signatures on exit review forms to indicate licensed healthcare professionals failed to meet generally accepted standards of care.

The OIG found ongoing issues from the fiscal year 2019 CHIP summary report that warranted repeat recommendations for improvement.  The OIG issued three repeat recommendations related to the following:

    • inclusion of minimum specialty criteria for focused professional practice
      evaluations
    • inclusion of service-specific criteria in ongoing professional practice evaluations
    • recommendation by executive committees of the medical staff in continuing licensed independent practitioners’ privileges based on professional practice evaluation results.

Boiling the findings of the VA-OIG down, essentially, the administrators and leadership are not weeding out poor and horrible practitioners, reporting these underperforming practitioners, and not acting in the best interests of the veterans seeking care at VAMCs and VAHCSs across the country.  I repeat, only for emphasis: Is this not abuse of the patient?  Is this abuse not driven by ideologues who gain from the harm they cause others?  Should this abuse not be scrutinized until it is eliminated?  Please feel free to read some of these comprehensive healthcare inspection reports from the VA-OIG, see the resulting injuries and problems caused by the failures of government medical providers, and then tell me whether these atrocious actions need more or less scrutiny and qualify for the title abuse.  The link to the full report is available; please feel free to make your conclusions and post your thoughts in the comments section.

On a final note for today, consider with me the problems of the Atlanta VAHCS with pallets of unopened mail containing patient health information, community care provider claims needing payment, and a plethora of other unopened mail.  Understand that when community care providers cannot obtain compensation from the VA, they go to the veterans, who then send in correspondence, which is unopened, thus causing more problems, concerns, and issues for an already abused veteran community!  Want your head to explode?  Look at the pictures the VA-OIG helpfully sent along with this VA-OIG report, and ask yourself if any other business or organization could get away with this type of abuse of the customer.

What did the VA-OIG find?  Well, prepare for your head to explode, again:

    • VA Leadership should have established a formal agreement explicitly detailing each office’s responsibilities.
    • VA HCS leaders did not include responsible managers in decision-making discussions and lacked a clear understanding of the volume of mail processing work they were accepting.
    • Atlanta VA HCS did not ensure mailroom staff was adequately prepared or trained to handle or sort the influx of mail. POM (Payment Operations Management) officials were later reluctant to help, citing the verbal agreement.

Buried in the report is this tidbit, “POM is implementing similar transitions at sites across the country; POM and medical facilities need to ensure adequate staff with sufficient training to handle the mail processing workload.  VA concurred with the OIG’s five recommendations.”  Meaning that in a VAMC/VAHCS near you, unopened mail due to verbal agreements will soon add more distress and disgust to the veteran experience.

I have documented in these articles how verbal agreements, verbal standards of work performance, and verbal processes and procedures are the problem and way of life in too many CHIPs and observed practices at the VA.  Yet, these verbal shenanigans are more apparent than in the dilemma Atlanta faces due to unopened mail.  Payment operations to community care providers are on a controlled and fixed timeline.  Failure to process these payments according to the required timeline leaves providers unpaid, which diminishes the community care provider pool of providers.  Talk to a community care provider, and they will discuss the risks of doing business with the VA and the real possibility of not being paid timely enough or being caught in sufficient red tape never to receive payment.

I know of a provider who called me three years after receiving care and was still trying to appeal and correct the paperwork to receive payment.  A provider recently contacted me who wanted to ruin my credit for failing to pay the balance due from care received, and they are charging interest.  Correcting this problem cost me 48 business hours, 20 calls, and frustrations galore.  By the way, the problem still has not been rectified, an appeal is in process, and we have to wait for the VA to make a decision; this incident was caused by the VA changing the process and the paperwork.  The provider told me they are not accepting any more veterans seeking care, the risk is too significant, the timeline to receive payment is too long, and the VA never pays what is charged.  For example, I recently received a declaration declaring payment to a community care provider.  The VA sent me to this provider, which means they knew the prices beforehand and agreed to the fees.  The declaration declared the VA was charged $2,000 and paid $120, not actual amounts, but close enough to communicate the problem.  With inflation, or without inflation, if you were paid less than 1/10th of what you billed (invoiced), would you continue to conduct business with that company or organization?  Now add the unopened mail problem to the mix.  Would you continue to conduct business with this entity?

America, the Department of Veterans Affairs is sick.  All of the other alphabet agencies in the Federal Government are sick.  We continue to elect people who actively refuse to care enough to act according to their mandated duties.  We cannot afford the government we currently have, which is part and parcel of the problem with inflation in America right now!  Debt is entered into to pay for this bloated feckbeast called government; from the city to the federal government, the bloat is too great to be sustained!  Why is the VA able to skirt responsibility, accountability, and improvement?  They can hide behind the size of their convoluted and twisted organizational shield.  Why can the Post Office and the IRS get away with deplorable, at best, customer service?  They are protected by the congress refusing to scrutinize and hold people accountable.  When your head is done exploding, please remember and act in the ballot box to hire better representatives!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Serial Betrayal – More Government Attacks Against Citizens

Angry Wet ChickenGovernment laws, rules, regulations, and the tyrannical thumb of bureaucrats upon the scale of justice mean citizens lose, not gain, freedoms.  Consider the oppression created by the European Union to “protect” wine industries but, in so doing, eradicated competition and locked-in prices to which the government takes through taxes, tariffs, and trade.  The cost, though, is to stop the majority of innovation, the role of technology, and the promotion of class warfare.

For example, in reviewing the history of wine, there are several events where a member of the royalty got into a particular product, and the upper classes adopted the same tastes, regardless of costs, and to the detriment of all citizens.  Tea, Port wine, Champagne, and so many other products through history repeat this process, and the government is used to protect the product, to the detriment and cost of all citizens.  Consider this for a moment; similar tactics would be considered protectionist, monopolistic, and highly illegal in any other industry.  Yet, because the government takes these actions, they are allowed to bend the rules, act in a manner disrupting all citizens, and worse, betray the foundational anchors of a society to trust their government.  When trust in government is destroyed, the government has no moral standing to represent its citizens.  Few understand this is a precious commodity, and even fewer, especially in government, will admit to honoring it.This we'll defend. | Defender, Army mom, American flag

A few examples are required to help drive home this truth; please note those specifically named politicians represent the problem, not the only people betraying and using government jargon and bureaucrats to hide and obfuscate the citizenry.  Ridding the body politic of these examples is a small step in the right direction, but the bureaucrats are the primary source of power; thus, reducing the size of government is the answer, not merely replacing the elected heads abusing their office for personal gain and political power.

Senator Mitt Romney finds himself on top of this list of characters not deserving of his office, and who, with his family, should be as investigated as Biden and Clinton.  Sen. Romney recently changed his mind about SCOTUS Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.  Because of a supposedly in-depth discussion, the senator now considers the nominee “mainstream.”  Senator, what does “mainstream” mean?  Why should a judge be “mainstream?”  Finally, which stream is “mainstream?”

I have made my mind up on this disastrous nominee based solely upon her non-qualification for a judicial appointment, let alone the ability to sit on the “Court of last resort.”  Her judicial activism, her refusal to use logic and common sense in her decisions, her flaccid legal mind, and her disastrous leaning toward pro-child pornography are just a few reasons she should NEVER sit on the Supreme Court of this the United States of America.  Good senator, your Yahoo! News article fluff piece does nothing to explain why you changed your mind.  If Judge Jackson was not qualified for a district judgeship, what has changed in the last few weeks to change your mind?  I smell serial betrayal of the citizenry and more mealy-mouthed yellow spinelessness that cost you the US Presidency!

Three state governors also help to elucidate the principle of serial betrayal and deserve removal (in shame) from public office and a transparent investigation.  New Mexico, Utah, and Michigan, your governors Michelle Lujan Grisham, Spencer J. Cox, and Gretchen Whitmer, respectively, are serial betrayers worthy of Benedict Arnold, Doña Marina, or Brutus.  Consider their actions, not their words, and you will find innumerable betrayals made for personal power, political gain, and the demonization of the citizens for the promotion of those who consider themselves elite.  From mask-wearing, mask mandates, government brutality against citizens, and the passing of laws to the destruction of the citizenry, these governors do not deserve janitor’s office, let alone commander-in-chief.

Under the rule of Grisham and through a disastrous legislature, New Mexico became what is termed an“Adult-use Cannabis” state, which means that for recreational use, cannabis can be sold and consumed by adults.  In a state teeming with homelessness, poverty, and already suffering from drug and alcohol abuse problems rampant in the citizenry, the legislature, cheered on by the governor, began to sell cannabis.  The excuse sold to the people, “The state needs to expand its revenue base.”  How does selling an addictive substance to a citizenry already near collapse from the weight of homelessness, illegal immigration, and government regulation improve the tax base?  Simple question, never asked by the cheering media nor answered by the betraying elected leaders proposing another sale of an addictive and harmful substance.Ziad K. Abdelnour Quote: "Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated ...

Governor Cox ruled that when the Utah Jazz began awarding scholarships based on race qualifications, as not racist, his colors were evident as a betrayer in deed, not merely by word.  Worse, look to the wording of his first action as governor, what is known as the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: A Declaration on Five Principles and Actions to Create Equal Opportunity.  First, we need to clarify that nothing in this declaration was needed as existing laws are regularly enforced already on the books.  Yet, this new declaration adds some pretty ambiguous wording that is not clarified and will make judicial activism worse, not better.  Leading to the first question, why was this signed into law by the governor who is expected to lead a state?

What does “economic inclusion” mean, and why should all Utahns or any citizens in a direct representative government agree this wording is essential?  What is a “racially equitable state?”  Utah and every other state in America’s union are already racially equitable, only made inequitable by the bureaucrats enforcing the government’s wishes.  Consider the housing projects created by the federal government, supported by state governments, where race is inequitable by design.  Tell me why the government doesn’t just end the housing programs and the racial division they created to have a class of people always ready to riot?25 Quotes on Friendship, Trust, Love and Betrayal

What are “cultures of inclusion?”  The US Constitution already declares in words of soberness, “All men are created equal.”  The Utah State Constitution declares in Section 1 the following:

All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess, and protect property; to worship according to the dictates of their consciences; to assemble peaceably, protest against wrongs, and petition for redress of grievances; to communicate freely their thoughts and opinions, being responsible for the abuse of that right.”

As a point of fact, Section four of the Utah State Constitution remains an even more powerful declaration, more easily understood, supporting equal rights, where equal rights promote a society of inclusion, where cultures of inclusion are grown and sustained.

Further in the declaration on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion, we find another phrase with no meaning and lots of availability for abuse, “… equal opportunity and access to education, employment, housing, and healthcare.”  The recent COVID-Farrago saw healthcare limited based upon race, and Governor Cox did nothing!  The recent COVID-Government sponsored pandemic also saw employment and housing decisions influenced unequally, opportunities to pursue life, liberty, and happiness were restricted, and Governors Cox, Grisham, and Whitmer were leading the pack in cheering and advancing unequal treatment under the law.  Why?  Why is equality something to be turned on and off based upon skin color, obeisance to government mandates, and the cudgel of government used against citizens who have the right to be left alone?Betrayal Sayings and Quotes ~ Best Quotes and Sayings

In reading the five actions you have committed Utahans to follow, Governor Cox, I am left in a mental swamp equivalent to the Okefenokee Swamp.  Racism in America, especially in Utah, only exists because the government is building a disgruntled class of people who can be depended upon to riot explosively anytime their government benefits are threatened.  This is not equality and does not promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but you have insisted that all Utahans are racist by default.  I OBJECT!

Action item two declares the need to invest more in creating the perpetually aggrieved class.  More welfare, not less, breeds more discouragement, anger, and racial inequity.  Since the government has created racial problems and supports racial inequality through government action, why do we not reduce government to improve racial justice and inclusion?  The remaining action items do nothing to advance anything but more government top-down actions, which further promote racism as a government action!10 True Quotes About Being Betrayed

30 April 2020, the Michigan State Supreme Court stripped Governor Whitmer of her legal basis of powers for violating the citizen’s rights to representative government.  Yet, Gov. Whitmer was able to continue to abuse, despise, and detest through government actions the rights, liberties, and lives of Michigan’s electorate for the entirety of the government-mandated COVID-Pandemic.  Is there any more glaring example of treason and betrayal by an elected official, let alone a sitting governor, on a massive power grab?  Newsom and Cuomo cannot pale the hubris of this governor, Gov. Whitmer; you deserve to be named beside Benedict Arnold, Doña Marina, or Brutus as the greatest betrayers and traitors in history.

Serial betrayal of the electorate appears to be a game; how much can a politician get away with, remain in power, and be considered honorable?  Hollywood got something right in the Pirates of the Caribbean” movies when Captain Jack Sparrow said, “The deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers and mutineers.”  I believe in the rule of law and so wish you your day in court, in front of a jury of your peers, where justice may be served.  I am not your judge, juror, or executioner.  I am a concerned citizen who is fed up with the gamesmanship of politics!

Knowledge Check!America is a Constitutional Republic, a democracy, and a direct representative style of government; thus, I ask, who are you representing?  The demographics of Utah reflect that the governor is not representing the majority of his constituents.  The demographics of New Mexico and Michigan are similar but also reflect that the constituents are not being represented by the governments and governors currently executing the offices held.  On the mayoral level, too many mayors are learning how to deceive, mimic despicableness, and manipulate the media to play the games and achieve elected offices beyond their maximum level of incompetence.  Why is this happening, the gamesmanship of politicians?  The bureaucrats consider themselves to possess lifelong employment in a cushy and “influential” office; they have lists of media heads to call and whisper to and lists of donors and influential people schmooze.

The answer to solving these problems is a more informed electorate and smaller government!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Economic Warfare – Your Liberty, Rights, Freedoms are at Risk!

Bobblehead DollMany pundits have made the following statement, in one form or another, driving a car is the ultimate expression of freedom in America.  Yet, your freedom to drive a vehicle is endangered by the political left and the neo-socialists who want to steal and destroy your freedoms.  Mention economics, and most people’s eyes gloss over, brains disconnect, and they hope the pain will end shortly.  Please, fight this impulse.  I will attempt to make a highly complex topic simple and easily understood.  While I might not get all the specific details correct, I aim to communicate economics to a general audience that is free and empowered to further research the topics for themselves.  My links are reflected in the article for more information.

What is Money?

Money was discussed in a previous article and found here.  In simple terms, money is the tool used to transfer goods from one entity to another, showing a legal purchase was made to change ownership, hence opening the first crucial role of money, legally transferring ownership of goods and services from one person to another.  Unfortunately, legal ownership transference is where the government exercises its first controls, regulating cross-border commerce.  When the government went on a growth spurt in the 1930s, ballooning into the behemoth, we have right now, the government used the excuse of maintaining cross-border commerce to steal products grown by farmers, regulate prices, and set up means and methods to ensure the government was the only winner.TOP 25 QUOTES BY JOAN ROBINSON (of 54) | A-Z Quotes

The 1930 legal battles that wound up in the United States Supreme Court over price controls saw the citizen’s first attempt to reign in the government and failed miserably.  Worse, these first moves by the citizen were the first exchanges in an economic war that has raged ever since—money stores value.  Think of the money found when you do laundry.  You have no idea how long that money was lost, but the value of the money has not changed, you presume, and you celebrate finding the money.  Except, the value of that money has changed through inflation, and the government’s hidden tax (inflation) has robbed you of value.

Let’s say you found $20 in the laundry.  When you first lost that $20 bill, it had more value, e.g., you could purchase more with that money than you can now.  Sure, the value printed on the money still has $20 worth of goods or services, but the cost of those goods and services went up, restricting your ability to purchase.  Hence the economic warfare being waged by your government.  The government essentially said we would not worry about inflation.  Meaning they will devalue the money you hold for their own political purposes.Steve Keen Quote: "Economics is too important to leave to the economists." (12 wallpapers ...

An idea was floated by an economically challenged person to print a $5 trillion bill and use this to pay off the Chinese debt.  The problem is the devaluation of the money printed will capsize American citizens due to the hidden taxes of inflation.  Making that $5 trillion bill or bills would devalue the dollar and crash the American economy.  The stored value in the printed bill would not stand up to and be accepted, as a medium of stored value sufficient to pay the debts incurred.  Is the problem more clear; when money is printed, each dollar, pound, euro, etc., devalues the stored purchasing power of the money you currently hold in hand.Economics Funny Quotes. QuotesGram

Stored value is the second tool for waging economic warfare by the government against its citizens.  Consider all the money printed to pay for the supposed Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments the world’s governments made to their citizens.  If you had $100,000 in savings when these monies were printed, your savings were devalued by the inflation rate, which is currently at a 40-year high in America.  The government is reporting inflation at 7.9%, so your $100,000 in savings lost the equivalent of $7900.  But, the government does not ever report inflation at the actual level, and the actual level of inflation is ranged between 8% and 45% depending upon the purpose or product you are trying to purchase.  Meaning your $100,000 could have a value of $92,000 to $55,000 in real value.  A hefty tax indeed!

Stored value, the number printed on different bill faces of currency, is static.  The actual value, e.g., the number of goods and services purchasable, is not fixed, and the government allows an annual inflation rate of 2% as “normal and acceptable.”  Thus, your $1 will have a purchasing power of $0.98, which is compounded year-over-year.  Thus, over a decade, that 2% inflation rate is now reducing your $1 to $0.80.  Multiply that for the $100,000 and a decade of saving, receiving interest that does not equal inflation to compensate means your money in your savings account has lost $20,000, just from the government allowing inflation at 2% annual growth.  Let’s say your bank is generous for savings account holders and provides a published interest rate of 3%, subtract the inflation taxes of 2%, and you are only earning 1% interest on your money.  Is this the bank’s fault or the government’s?Amartya Sen quote: Economic growth without investment in human development is unsustainable...

Do you see how the government is robbing you through economics?  Your 5% raise is only 3% once the inflation devaluation has been factored into your budget.  Play the lottery; the taxes alone might kill you, but the devaluation of the money reduces the actual purchasing power of your winnings.  If you do not understand the economic warfare being waged against you by your government, you will lose more than you ever gained in winning the lottery.  Yet another reason why lotteries are a tax on stupid people, for even when you win, you lose!

Cash has another problem beyond inflation, money supply.  The money supply is the technical term for ensuring banks can replace worn-out, ripped, and damaged money.  Money supply plays a role in how much money your local store has on hand to provide change and cashback to customers.  For employers who pay employees in cash, the money supply is a significant problem with extremely high costs.  The government regulates those costs and passes them onto consumers through banks and lending institutions.  Are you struggling to get a loan; this is another by-product of money supply woes.  Paying higher fees to change money to another currency for your trip is another money supply product.  Money supply remains another weapon of the government to affect economic warfare, and many people do not understand this principle, making the government’s policies more effective.Mahatma Gandhi quote: Economics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or...

Have you noticed the decline in the availability of $10 dollar bills?  I asked for two $10.00 bills when I broke a $20.00 at a Walmart recently, I was denied because Walmart has instituted a policy to only accept $10.00 bills, not give them.  Albertson’s, Staples, the in-store bank in Walmart, and the local credit union, all have a similar policy.  What is the government doing forcing a reduction in $10.00 bills in circulation?  In researching this single policy, I can find no written information on this issue; yet the evidence is clear, there is a manual currency reduction in process and the government needs to explain why.

Before 1980, the basic money supply was measured as the sum of currency in circulation, e.g., cash, traveler’s checks, and checkable deposits.  Currency serves the medium-of-exchange function but denies people any interest earnings.  However, as discussed, interest earnings are not all they are cracked up to be due to inflation.  Cash under a mattress, lost in pockets of clothes, stuck in a book in your library is black money; it is as dead as yesterday’s fish and constantly devalued by inflation.  The money supply tries to regulate the cash on hand to lend as a tool to protect your money from inflation.  Except, the government constantly allows a 2% inflation rate, negating a lot of savings accounts and other interest-earning propositions.

Want a new car, consolidate your credit card debt, or try to buy a house; all of these loan products are an extension of the money supply and the regulation of money supply by the government.  Important to note that your credit cards and bank-issued or employer-issued debit cards are not affected by the money supply, and this is another reason why credit cards and debit cards are so dangerous.  These tools are agreements between you and the issuer, where money is transferred when the tool is used, and the consumer is responsible for all the fees the government insists upon to help pay for the money supply.Economy has frequently nothing whatever to... - Quote

Conclusion

In waging economic warfare, it remains imperative to know about economics, identifying what money is, its role, and the fiduciary controls the government exerts to attack its citizens.  Some may call my language inflammatory, but tell me, do the inflationary costs right now not feel like your taxes have skyrocketed?  Inflation is a hidden tax, a tax fully controlled by the government, and the value of your money decreases yearly because the government says 2% inflation is acceptable.  Who made this decision, an unconstitutional entity called the Federal Reserve Bank.  Since its inception, Congress has tried to obtain transparency and accountability from the Federal Reserve Bank to no avail.  Do you understand why I take umbrage with the Federal Reserve Bank?LIC

The governors of the Federal Reserve Bank decided your money could be taxed at 2% inflation annually as a normal condition of doing business.  These people set the interest rates you pay for your credit cards and are not paid for your savings accounts.  Looking into the history of interest rates since 1900, there is always volatility; the Federal Reserve’s actions have since the 1980s to not allow savings rates over 5%.  When adjusted for inflation, that’s a 3% interest rate for those trying to save money.  What does this mean; fewer people are saving money.  Look where those trying to beat the 3% have invested their money, the stock market, where volatility is a minute-to-minute occurrence, higher risks against less interest, where your money remains subject to taxes, fees hiding other taxes, government fingers, and inflation.

Your government did that to wage economic warfare against you, to empower them to steal your rights, freedoms, and liberties.  There is no other way to describe what is happening globally in all governments.  China plays games with the value of its currency to power trade deficits.  This, in turn, changes prices and increases costs.  These actions are taken to “compete,” when in reality, the activities cover massive debt problems in China.  If the CCP cannot keep the tap turned wide open on trade deficits, their money supply drys up, and debts come due in a bankrupting tsunami!Milton Friedman: The Most Quotable Economist - Capitalism.com - Create the Change

The European Union has never been fiscally sound because the various members of the European Union are taking advantage of the productive members to cover the costs of the fiscally useless members.  France cannot survive as a country without the European Union’s largesse; Greece, Portugal, and several other countries are all in the same boat.  Their governments did this intentionally as political games to stay in power.  When these countries run out of other people’s money, they will be forced to change socially, and the tsunami of debt to the World Bank and other nations will not be pretty.

Knowledge Check!Economics drives these problems mainly due to the lack of knowledge of the lines of congruence between economics and the psychology of governing.  The enemies of freedom understand economics, and this is why these tools have been so successful in waging war and stealing freedom, rights, and liberties through monetary policy.  Until we, the rightful owners of government, understand what is happening, we will all be at the whims of our enemies.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Things Learned About Animals: Lesson 1

MumbleAs a teenager, I worked on a dairy farm in Morrill, Maine, and later as a hired hand on a sheep ranch in Bluebell, Utah.  Often growing up, my family had chickens, ducks, geese, goats, pigs, cats, and dogs.  There are several lessons I feel we could learn from the animals.  In discussing the animals, you are left to choose whether the lesson applies to you or not.  I am not here to convince anyone, I merely relate what I have observed and the lessons I learned.  If you can use the lesson to improve your life, I have achieved my goal.  If you choose not to like the lesson for any reason, happily know you are not the audience intended, and move on smartly.

Animal Gender

Let me be perfectly clear, gender is an eternal construct, is established in the first building blocks of a body, and cannot be changed.  Consider for a moment with me the steps in the gestation process of any animal.  The egg is fertilized, and the fertilization process is self-explanatory, needing no additional discussion from me.  After the egg is fertilized by sperm from a male, the egg from the female becomes a zygote.  This clump of cells shortly gender is known, and the biological differences between a male and a female begin.Egg fertilization and development | Download Scientific Diagram

Males develop larger lungs, denser bones, and other chemical and biological differences.  Females develop smaller lung capacity, less dense bones, and other chemical and biological differences.  We had a female goat who liked to mount other female goats.  While this was highly uncomfortable for the mounted female goat and generally produced fights between the females, we never worried about the goats becoming pregnant.  Interestingly, after this female goat had been impregnated, this female stopped mounting other female goats and was a great mother of kids.  Not speaking goat, I never understood why she mounted other females in what could have been considered her teenage years; one thing was sure, gender did not change because the goat was confused.

It never ceased to amaze me that one could reliably tell the males from the females almost immediately from birth.  Due to their birth size, their growth, and their respective attitudes.  In observing a group of kittens, the males would dominate the females for momma’s attention, the best places to nurse, and innately knew they were male.  The females were smaller, leaner, and sometimes just as feisty and stubborn as the males; they knew they were different from the males.

Baby Cows and CalvesLater while tending sheep, another interesting lesson was learned regarding gender.  Ewes, female sheep, who had lost their lambs, knew somehow if a misgendered animal was placed before them and drove that animal away.  That ewe knew she had birthed a male or female lamb, and any orphan trying to feed would not do; only orphans of the same gender, wearing the skins of their original lamb, were allowed to become a stepchild and be accepted if the ewe permitted them.

Another lesson learned watching a shepherd was the decisions of the ewes.  I saw ewes stand next to a stillborn lamb until the shepherd collected that lamb for disposal.  Crying, mourning, and sometimes choosing to end their life by not eating instead of adopting a motherless lamb.  I am not anthropomorphizing an animal here, that mother losing her lamb cried, mourned, and entered a depression where the ewe chose to join her lamb in death, and regrettably it did not happen only once or twice.  I do not know if the same happens for goats, cows, or other animals.  I know it happens for mother cats and sheep as I have observed these animals and witnessed this event for myself.Cotswold Sheep. Bottle feeding orphan lambs, by Tim Macmillan | Sheep, Animals, Lamb

On the topic of orphaned lambs, I noticed something important, lambs with mothers, even adopted mothers, were less daring, got into less hazardous situations, and generally were calmer socially.  Orphan lambs were wild, got into trouble, did not come to eat without insistence, and several times did not learn from past mistakes, injured, and sometimes died.  I do not know why orphaned lambs acted this way, and without anthropomorphizing, an animal cannot dictate well what I sense is the answer.  I know for certain that ewes impart information to lambs, which is an essential aspect of the health and safety of the herd.

A mother goat, sheep, horse, cat, etc., knows their children, numbers their children, and looks after them.  I witnessed a mother goat kicking the head of a kid who belonged to another goat but who was hungry and wanted food.  Driving that kid off to find their mother relentlessly, and learned something of note.  At first, I thought this was just an ornery goat thing, but then I saw a horse, a mother pig, a mother cat, and other animal mothers repeat the lesson learned about mothers knowing and numbering their children.  A rare mother indeed will accept an animal orphan, and there is order in the animal kingdom!

Order in the Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species - Várias ClassesConsider with me a process all herd managers perform, the castration process.  A bull castrated does not grow the female reproductive organs and becomes a cow.  A castrated lamb does not change gender after castration; even if that lamb is provided hormones from female animals, that lamb is male.  A neutered cat does not regrow new reproductive organs or change genders; from birth to death, the gender of that animal is cast, they do not change, and their instincts remain embedded in that animal.

Order is created and not disordered merely due to the loss of a few reproductive organs.  Mothers choose to allow orphans to replace their children or become their children.  Some animal fathers are part of their children’s lives; others grow merely with the input of their mothers.  Regardless, great order is found and maintained in the animal kingdom over roles assigned by gender at birth.

Allow me to elaborate with some observations.  A ewe whom the shepherd relied upon to adopt lambs refused to adopt a lamb.  The shepherd tried everything, including rubbing the lamb in the still wet lamb’s skin, skinning the dead lamb and securing the dead lamb’s skin on the orphaned lamb, and even placing the mother into a pen with her head secured to give the lamb a chance to suckle.  Nothing worked, and all of the methods had worked previously.  Several days later, the ewe died unexpectedly, and the veterinarian determined that the mother ewe had had a disease and probably sensed this when refusing that orphan to suckle.  Order is maintained in the herd, and the condition this ewe had contracted was not passed along to a new lamb.Sheep herd is walking. Animals on grassland. Good conditions for breeding livestock. Pasture in ...

Our gander had taken a spouse, and when the goose died sitting on a nest, the gander was exceedingly heartbroken—calling day and night for his spouse, all to no avail.  After a time, the gander took to liking the ducks whose drake had flown the coop unexpectedly.  Seeing as there was no drake and no female goose, the gander took to mourning his spouse but sleeping with the female ducks.  But, the gander was violently opposed to any duck sitting on a nest, and my parents could not understand why.  My parents captured some eggs that had not been smashed to pieces and tried to incubate the eggs.  The animals born were not ducks or geese, and none survived long.  There is order maintained in the animal kingdom, and the animals themselves know how to keep that order.

It never ceases to amaze me the order and respect animals have for order in the animal kingdom.  In raising goats and cows, the information gained through smell was always interesting to me that allowed animals to act how and why they did.  I could not smell the difference between herds, but the animals knew, and when herds of the same animals mingled, the order was still maintained, and herd integrity was sustained.What to Consider When Raising Sheep and Goats Together

A goat and sheep hered we knew raised the sheep and the goats together; even though both species ate the grass differently and had to be moved more often, raising them together helped protect the herd.  One day another herd was being driven through the area, and a couple of animals got into the pens.  But, the goats and sheep raised together knew the outsider was not orderly and helped keep those animals away from their young and isolated from the whole herd.  The smell is the only answer I have as the foreign herd was smelled by our herd and shunned.  Even when new animals were introduced for the herd to grow, it took several days and several smelling sessions before those new animals were trusted by the rest of the herd.

In one Herculean effort, I heard a goat herder who tried to introduce a foreign billy into the goatherd due to the death of the former billy.  The nanny goats would have nothing to do with the new billy, even when draped in the skin of the old billy goat.  The goat herder tried everything, but until that billy had spent sufficient time with the nannies and smelled correctly, the billy was powerless to lead the herd and perform the duties he had been purchased to complete.  Interestingly, a similar problem occurred for a cattle farmer when introducing a foreign bull.  The cows refused his bull-like advances until the bull had spent time with the herd.  While I do not know if these are isolated incidents, I merely know that order is essential in the animal kingdom.

Lessons for Humans to Consider:Bobblehead Doll

    1. Gender does not change merely because a person wants it. The disorder caused by trying to be a different gender has repercussions and consequences beyond that individual’s choice.
    2. Humans and animals have will and agency, but order remains an essential characteristic of the world. I have heard that scientists have found great order when the observed chaos is understood.  Through magnification, scientists have moved closer to how things move, and I find it incredible the order found that once was described as chaos.
    3. Parents have a duty and role to play. However, their children also play a role, and the order found in families is a prerequisite to good societies.  An animal analogy, the herd of sheep I moved and cared for as a hired hand was a collective society.  They had rules, expectations, and those not choosing to follow the herd society regularly found themselves in danger when the weather changed, when a threat was near, and generally were the ones you could count on to be injured or die unexpectedly.
    4. Diary cows, after milking, will run to the farthest fence in a field; if they find the fence strong, the whole herd will congregate, graze, and chew their cud knowing strong fences protect them. In a storm, trusting the fences, the dairy cows will huddle together and move as a unit to protect younger cows and warm each other.  Dairy cows are not terribly different from humans, we push at barriers (laws), and if we find them sufficiently strong, we band together for protection into social circles and groups.  Failure of laws finds society broken and easily conquered by external and internal threats.
    5. Order in human societies remains an essential element in protecting, promoting, and providing social growth and development. Herds of animals, gaggles of geese, flocks of ducks, murder of ravens, etc., all depend upon the order in their society, or that society falls apart and, like iron filings to a magnet, has to reform into new organizations.

Knowledge Check!Are humans really so different from animals?  Are human societies much different from the societies of animals?  I ponder these questions regularly and am not surprised when social problems in humans are resolved by watching animal herds.  Covering a bull in the skin of a horse does not make a bull into a horse.  Castrating a bull does not morph the bull into a cow.  We must understand better the order, the laws, and the social requirements for society.  Animals and humans choose which society (country, town, city, etc.) they prefer.  If they choose to belong to that society, they must obey or onboard that society’s rules and social expectations.Taking Advantage of the 80/20 Rule | People First

Rarely does the 80% of the herd get into trouble, but the 20% of the herd does not sway or influence into danger the other 80%.  Right now, in human societies, there is a vocal 20% who insist that their reality must become the reality of the entire community.  Do we sacrifice the safety and security of the 80% for the choices and lifestyles of the 20%?  This is the question before us, and animal societies have provided the answer if we are willing to act accordingly.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 6

I-CareI promised a follow-up article after Chapter 5; it took me the better part of 48 hours to cool down sufficiently to write coherently to effect an update.  On 18 March 2002, I wrote about an appointment with my Primary Care Provider (PCP) being tardy, unprepared, and bureaucratese in supposedly holding a phone appointment with me.  01 April 2022, not an “April Fools Joke,” at 0731 hours, lasting 9 minutes, my PCP called me to get my approval to have me changed from her PACT team to another provider’s team.  Apparently, in the highly red taped world of PCPs at the El Paso VAHCS, there must be an hour-long handoff call when a provider initiates a change of PACT team.  I have my doubts and smell designed incompetence!

Let me pause here for a moment.  I generally need two hours to write an article after conducting research.  18 March 2002, it took a bit longer to draft that one due to the need to blow off steam with some choice words and choke down the urge to beat a few brick walls with my fists.  I am generally a very controlled person, and the fact that this PCP was so stunningly incompetent, rude, and HIPAA clueless, I admit I lost my cherub-like demeanor!  That the patient advocate was able to get my secure message, upload the comments into the electronic medical record, and contact the provider before the provider had even logged the patient notes, speaks volumes about the ineptitude of the PCP.  Worse, in the call on 01 April, the PCP was still on speakerphone, still disregarding HIPAA security, and quoted lines out of context from my message to the patient advocate.  Speaking volumes about the processes and procedures of the patient advocate’s office to investigate patient claims without breaching confidentiality.  Another topic for another day entirely!PACT_model

28 March 2022, I received the following from the patient advocates office, quoted completely:

We have received your secure message addressing your concerns.  I will be sending a Patient Advocate Tracking notification with your concerns to our Primacy Care Service for review.  They will be contacting you via telephone to discuss your concerns.”

I never heard anything from this mysterious “Primary Care Service” group/team.  01 April 2022 was the first response, and that was from the PCP.  Sourcing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), the PCP is the second most important member of the Patient-Aligned Care Teams (PACT) at the VA; the patient is the essential member and an actively engaged and knowledgeable patient is preferred.  I promise the VA-OIG has not even scratched the surface of the problems with recalcitrant, snowflake, and bureaucratic PCPs endangering patient health with the VA.  Not my first run-in with an inept PCP; I sincerely hope it is my last!PACT 3

In returning to the 01 April call, we find another interesting piece of data.  The PCP affirmed that abdominal pain could radiate from, say a hernia, to other parts of the abdomen, but this is for a specialist to diagnose, not a Family Practitioner.  Get that; the PCP is directly reversing all the published documentation by the VA and the VA-OIG by declaring that a specialist is the only person who can adequately decipher and detail why pain is occurring—putting all the PCPs in the VA Health Administration under the bus as merely button pushers and drug dealers.  Then the PCP has the temerity, nay the chutzpah, to suggest a trust deficiency existing between myself and the PCP.  Is it any wonder that people are detested, forlorn, melancholy, madder than a wet chicken with a raging case of hemorrhoids with the care they receive from VA healthcare providers?

Again, I repeat, only for emphasis, when any updates arrive on this issue, I will publish them in their entirety to allow the VA the opportunity to rebut, refute, or explain.  Like the ongoing saga with VISN 22, the Phoenix VAMC, and being arrested and injured three times by the VA Police, I am not holding my breath and awaiting a logical response.  If this were the only problem in the two weeks since the PCP shenanigans, the VA would be in pretty good shape.  Alas, we know, dear readers, that the VA is in dire condition, and the elected leaders need to be scrutinizing the VA a LOT more closely than they are.VA 3

We begin the latest chapter of VA-OIG reports with yet another physician bilking the government:

Robert Clay Smith, a Louisiana physician, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, wire fraud, and illegal remunerations (taking kickbacks).  According to court documents, the scheme, which ran from 2013 until 2017, involved individuals associated with a medical supply and billing company recruiting Smith to dispense pain creams and patches to his workers’ compensation patients by offering him a split of the profits.  The company acted as the billing agent for Smith, handling all the paperwork and submitting the allegedly fraudulent claims to the US Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and private insurers.  In exchange, the company paid Smith 50 to 55 percent of the profits collected from successfully billing insurers, at markups of 15 to 20 times what the medications cost.”

Plus the following:

Robert Schneiderman of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, admitted to participating in a massive compounded-medication kickback scheme that he and others ran out of a pharmacy in Clifton, New Jersey.  Schneiderman pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.  From 2014 through 2016, Schneiderman and his coconspirators used Main Avenue Pharmacy, a mail-order pharmacy with a storefront in New Jersey, to run a fraud and kickback scheme involving compounded drugs like scar creams, pain creams, migraine mediation, and vitamins.  Schneiderman was the president of Main Avenue Pharmacy and was a founder and CEO of its corporate parent.  Main Avenue Pharmacy received over $34 million in reimbursements from healthcare benefit programs on compounded medications alone.  Approximately $8 million of that total was paid by federal payers.  Schneiderman himself earned over $400,000 through the course of the scheme.  This case was investigated by the VA OIG, FBI, Department of Defense OIG, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Department of Health and Human Services OIG.”

Don’t forget this one:

Dr. Harry Doyle, a psychiatrist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and his wife, Sonya Doyle, have agreed to pay $3 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act.  The alleged violations include submitting false billing to the US Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) for psychiatric services that were not provided and upcoding and double-billing patient claims.  The Doyles have also agreed to be voluntarily excluded from federal healthcare programs for 25 years as part of the settlement.  This is the largest recovery against a single psychiatrist in the history of the OWCP.  A multiagency investigation of Dr. Doyle’s practice revealed that from January 2013 through April 2021, the Doyles allegedly billed for services not rendered, some of which occurred when they were not physically present in the United States.  This case was investigated by the VA OIG, the Department of Labor OIG, and the United States Postal Service OIG.”

More is coming on this one:

Ten Texas doctors and a healthcare executive have agreed to pay more than $1.68 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations involving illegal remuneration in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law.  According to a multiagency investigation, from 2015 to 2018, the doctors allegedly received thousands of dollars in illegal remuneration from eight management service organizations (MSOs) in exchange for ordering laboratory tests from Rockdale Hospital doing business as Little River Healthcare, True Health Diagnostics LLC, and Boston Heart Diagnostics Corporation.  Little River funded the illegal remuneration to the doctors in the form of volume-based commissions paid to independent contractor recruiters, who used the MSOs to pay numerous doctors for their referrals.  The MSO payments to the doctors were disguised as investment returns but were based on and offered in exchange for the doctors’ referrals.  As part of their settlements, the defendants have agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice’s investigations of other parties involved in the alleged law violations.  To date, 17 doctors and two healthcare executives involved in this scheme have agreed on settlements totaling more than $2.7 million.  The civil settlements resulted from a coordinated effort between the VA OIG, Department of Health and Human Services OIG, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas [emphasis mine].”

Elected officials, the next time you are asked about the incredible amounts of fraud in government-provided healthcare and insurance, do not buy the media talking points that the fraud is minimal, contained, or anything but designed incompetence on the part of the bureaucrats to act as a jobs program for investigators!  The same investigators who are refused sufficient tools to investigate shenanigans by employees in the Federal Government adequately.?u=http2.bp.blogspot.com-fGEUjJsJ2h4VcJgswaisnIAAAAAAAABcsoFqEewPF_E4s1600quote-if-the-freedom-of-speech-is-taken-away-then-dumb-and-silent-we-may-be-led-like-sheep-to-the-george-washington-193690.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

Frankly, all of these cases need the government workers to be held accountable, and the myriad of red tape loopholes CLOSED!  I remember an election; I forget who and the exact when, but a significant election plank in the platform was healthcare reform, promising to clean up the swamp and bring accountability to Washington and the government.  The public is still waiting, and I know enough of you have run on this topic from both parties to repaper the walls (inside and outside) of the White House.

Yet, even if only outside providers and executives were scheming, the VA might not be in too bad a condition.  Except for the employees of the VA, VHA, and VBA, which continue to be caught up in ethics violations at a minimum:

The VA-OIG conducted an administrative investigation that included a congressional request to look into allegations that Charmain Bogue, former executive director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service, committed ethical violations arising from her spouse’s consulting work for Veterans Education Success (VES).  VES is a nonprofit advocacy group that regularly had business before the Education Service.  The allegations also pointed to possible incomplete financial disclosures by Ms. Bogue concerning her spouse’s consulting business.  In their work, investigators uncovered evidence of other potential conflicts of interest and related misconduct by Ms. Bogue [emphasis mine].”

VA-OIG finding:

    1. Bogue participated in Education Service matters involving VES without considering whether it raised an apparent conflict of interest and acted contrary to the ethics guidance she received from her supervisors.
    2. Bogue sought résumé feedback from the president of VES to aid in her search for career advancement without considering whether this raised apparent conflict of interest concerns in subsequent VES matters. VES also endorsed Ms. Bogue for presidential nominee positions.
    3. Bogue provided insufficient detail about her spouse’s business in 2019 and 2020 public financial disclosures; VA ethics attorneys had found them compliant. She remedied the subsequently identified deficiency in her 2021 disclosure.
    4. The OIG found that Ms. Bogue refused to cooperate fully in the OIG’s investigation by refusing to complete her follow-up interview. Her husband and VES president also refused to participate in OIG interviews, and the OIG lacks testimonial subpoena authority over individuals who are not VA employees.   Bogue resigned from VA in January 2022.VA 3

UPDATE: 14 April 2022Sen. Grassley was hoodwinked by the VA on this issue and The Daily Signal (linked) has more of this report.  I covered this before, I repeat only for emphasis, when you are discharged from the VA, you lose your ability to be a “whistle-blower.”  As a point of fact, this is how the VA is able to hide a lot of their shenanigans, get rid of the person rocking the boat, invent the paperwork, cover the whole incident over as a “bad-apple” and keep you collective heads down and mouths shut until the VA-OIG investigation concludes.  The VA’s ability to abuse whistle-blowers is further compounded by Federal Attorneys who cherry-pick the cases they know they can win.  Which further protects the VA’s shenanigans and disheartens and mystifies those who have been wrongly terminated.  The Daily Signal reflects this pattern of corruption perfectly citing the records obtained by Empower Oversight.

Some commentators have claimed that blaming elected officials for not scrutinizing or not providing tools to investigate entirely is unduly unfair to the congressional representatives.  Really?!?!?!  The VA-OIG conducts an investigation, the people being investigated refuse to comply, and the VA-OIG is toothless to enforce a full and complete investigation to initiate Attorney General and FBI investigations and actions to recompense the defrauded taxpayer.  Ms. Bogue and the VES have invalidated any trust the taxpayer should have in their respective activities, but this, like so many other investigations into VA employees, will die of apathy before anyone is held accountable.  Even though a congressional representative demanded an investigation, nobody is being held liable.  Nobody is forced to compensate the defrauded taxpayer, yet the taxpayer is still expected to elect the same old representatives to their jobs.  Blaming the congressional representatives (legislative branch) for not scrutinizing the executive branch, one of only two jobs these people have, is somehow unfair?  NO!Exclamation Mark

Remarkably, between the 18 March disaster with the PCP and 01 April’s compounding idiocy, the VA-OIG published an ironically titled investigation report.

Improved Governance Would Help Patient Advocates Better Manage Veterans’ Healthcare Complaints.”

Imagine that, more designed incompetence negatively impacting the veterans seeking care at a VA medical facility, stating the obvious by the investigators.  Who on earth would be responsible for seeing that regulatory agencies had the tools needed to scrutinize and demand corrective action?  Calling all elected officials, did you notice that one of the prima facia tools a veteran has to report problems, conveniently called “patient advocates,” does not have the sufficient authority, adequate oversight, and tools to execute their jobs?  The VA-OIG reports the following:

The Patient Advocacy Program helps advance the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) efforts to improve customer service, support veterans’ access to quality care, and provide a mechanism to resolve healthcare issues.  Patient advocates document veterans’ concerns, communicate the resolution, provide follow-up and feedback, and identify trends for potential opportunities to improve medical facilities.  In FY 2020, VHA tracked about 162,000 serious complaints in its patient advocate tracking systems.”

Angry Wet ChickenOn a side topic, VA-OIG, how do you define a “significant complaint” and separate it from other types of complaints?  Honest question, the information was, to quote my PCP, “remarkably” missing from your investigation report!  Would the VA-OIG like to know why so many veterans’ complaints have risen to a “serious” level?  You reported the exact problem:

A complaint is considered resolved when the complainant communicates the outcome, and the record is closed in the tracking system.”

Maybe, the VA-OIG merely overlooked the logic problem, but complaints increase when the solution pushed down the throats of the veterans does not fix the actual situation.  Honest question, no sarcasm involved.  Is a “serious” complaint one where significant harm or death to the patient has occurred?  Is a serious complaint one that breaks federal laws, EMTALA, comes readily to mind??u=https3.bp.blogspot.com-fYRTNk48SCwT8ua0IRDWPIAAAAAAAAFZUpexSmJsN2Kos1600overcoming-adversity-help-yourself-believe-cubby-motivational-1289878102.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

Having had “solutions” forced down my throat, speaking only for myself, I am thoroughly sick of having the patient advocates bureaucratize my complaint, then fail to act, and then compound the problem by quoting policy to me as a reason to close the complaint, when the VHA never have written policies and procedures!  Maybe, you might want to look into the root causes of some of those “closed” complaints and ask root causation questions!

What did the VA-OIG find when they investigated the patient advocates?

    • VHA lacked adequate governance of the Patient Advocacy Program.
    • VHA did not effectively issue and implement adequate policy, monitor complaint practices, and provide guidance to medical facility directors responsible for local program management.
    • Patient advocates did not always enter complaints into the system.
    • Even though complaint records generally appeared to be closed on time, patient advocates did not always document the communication of the outcomes to the complainants.
    • The VA-OIG substantiated an inadequate program policy to identify clear expectations and responsibilities.
    • The VA-OIG found that they (patient advocates) did not always adhere to the documentation requirements to show full complaint resolution.
    • At the local and VISN levels, responsible personnel did not consistently analyze patient advocate tracking system complaints about trends.

Feel free to read the complete abomination of designed incompetence for yourself.  Essentially the VA-OIG concluded that the VHA has been burning taxpayer money in a patient advocacy program, and the designed incompetence is so apparent it can be tracked from L2, where the James Webb telescope is located!  Worse, you won’t need the James Webb telescope to see the designed incompetence!James Webb Space Telescope

Unfortunately, I could have guessed the first three findings without looking.  Every VA program is designed so ineptly, reprehensibly led, criminally incompetent, and with such dastardly deceptive doings that fiction writers’ storylines have to be written better to sell books.  You cannot make this stupidity up and make a profit.  Hollywood would run screaming into the night if they made a true story about the ineptitude found at the VA!

Knowledge Check!Elected officials, where are you?  The VA-OIG presents copies of their findings to you, and I have yet to witness a single one of you holding the VA Leadership criminally responsible for the failures at the VA.  Even when the VA is killing hundreds of veterans, the US Congress refuses even to act upset, let alone scrutinize for a change!  Remember how many veterans were intentionally killed in Phoenix waiting for treatment?  How many VA employees lost their jobs and pensions or were forced in front of a judge for murder?  It is a fair question, where are the elected officials in the legislative branch working to end the criminal “fraud, waste, abuse,” and designed incompetence in the executive branch?

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? – The Role of the Citizen in Government

Public Service NoteThe links in this article are essential to review.  If you know better resources, please let me know in the comments.  Thank you!

QuestionIn The Satires, VI, Juvenal poses a question of great importance, “Who will watch the watchmen?”  As more and more dirt on a host of politicians comes to the fore, as China expands its heinous reach in the Pacific Ocean, threatening trade and disrupting lives, as the Russia/Ukraine crisis grows, we, the citizens, are left asking this question.  There is only one answer, we, the citizens of representative governments, are charged with watching the watchmen.  A more critical and cogent point has not presented itself in these writings.

Regularly I write about the findings of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG).  As a disabled veteran, a person falsely arrested, injured by VA Police Officers, and flagged fallaciously as a “behavioral problem,” I am a watcher of the watchmen and report on the findings.  Unfortunately, the VA has turned both a blind eye and a deaf ear to the VA-OIG and my summarizations of the VA-OIG’s conclusions.  You, the taxpayer, need to know what the government is doing in your name and with your tax dollars.  We, are the watchmen tasked with watching the watcher (elected political officials), who were hired (elected) to scrutinize the government.  Is our role in the direct representative government of this constitutional republic clear?Apathy

Did you know your neighbors sued the Baltimore Public School system for breach of public trust?  For more than 40 years, the Baltimore Public School system has intellectually abused children and misappropriated public funds through forced taxation.  The unelected school district has done this while tax revenues drop precipitously, students cannot read (yet still pass high school graduation), and the neighborhoods in Baltimore become more unsafe.  Illiteracy is directly tied to crime rates, poverty, and helplessness; yet, the school board in Baltimore cannot even be bothered to allow parents the right of school choice.  What is the role of citizens in Baltimore, the same as it is everywhere else; protect children, scrutinize government, elect different leaders, and watch more closely those elected to protect the rights of all citizens.  “Who will watch the watchmen;” you are the watchers of the watchmen, and you are being lulled to sleep!

In our constitutional republic, we have three co-equal branches of government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial.  President Biden is reported to be in full swing of destroying the power of the judicial.  Recently the world watched aghast while a wholly unqualified person was measured for a position with the Supreme Court, the court of last resort in American Jurisprudence.  President Biden is on record claiming he would nominate the first black woman to the supreme court; after ensuring that two other more qualified women of color were refused nomination earlier in his career.  Do you sense a hypocrite, liar, and charlatan?  The judge nominated cannot tell the difference between a man and a woman, allows sexual predators to have lighter sentences as she legislated from the bench.  Yet, we, the watchers, are expected to believe she is remarkably qualified and uniquely capable of sitting on the Supreme Court.  I have serious reservations, not because she is a woman or a person of color.  My reservations rest solely upon her record as a judge, which I find detestable at best.Patriotism

Everyone is aware, COVID-19 has plagued the world since late 2019, originating in China, and the costs have been exorbitant and extreme.  Only until the Russia/Ukraine crisis came along did the global media find a new story for wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage like feckless beasts fighting for a bone.  Repeating only for emphasis, “Where has the opposition party been during COVID-19?”  The watchers, every single one, from the mayor to the US House and Senate, went to sleep and allowed bureaucrats to overcome law and common sense to the detriment of every single citizen.  Where did the watchers go, and why did they leave the citizenry to the incautious, ineffectual, inefficacious, and abortive bureaucrats who fired professionals, broke the law without regard, and still are running free?  Liberties, rights, freedoms, were stolen without consideration, and the opposition party was nowhere to be found.  Indeed, “Who will watch the watchmen?”

The Duty of AmericansOn the topic of China, why is Marco Rubio the only member of the US Congress willing to say aloud what the citizenry is wondering?  2020 closed with China owning $1.9 BILLION or roughly 192,000 acres of prime American farmland.  Want to know where those crops grown on American soil go; I bet you can guess they aren’t traveling to US Supermarkets.  China is still buying prime farmland, and nobody in the US House or Senate is willing to listen to farmers, ranchers, and dairymen about how their land is being purchased by China and they run out of business.  Rep. Dan Newhouse was quoted regarding farmland ownership by Chinese investors as a national security issue.  “The current trend in the United States is leading us toward the creation of a Chinese-owned agricultural land monopoly.  There are currently no federal safeguards against the creation of this monopoly.”  In response to Rep. Dan Newhouse, Rep Grace Meng proclaimed, “Can we honestly say that this Amendment, which singles out one country, won’t have repercussions on Asian-Americans across our country?  Let’s include all of our adversaries.”

Who will watch the watchmen?” An honest and fair question.  I agree that no enemy of America should be allowed to own land inside America.  Not that Saudi Arabia is an enemy to America, but it is important to note not just China is purchasing farms and ranchland in America.  Worse, fresh water in California is regularly purchased to grow alfalfa for shipping to the Saudi Kingdom.  California keeps declaring they are in a drought.  The water crisis continues with or without Saudi purchases through the government’s mismanagement of resources, the need for liquid capital to keep the debt wolves away from the door, and the silly environmental laws.  “Who will watch the watchmen; is apt and very important when discussing national security issues, the acquisitions of foreign entities inside America, and the need to meet citizen needs before foreign markets.quote-mans-inhumanity

On the topic of Biden, specifically the Hunter Biden laptop and the shady deals with China, one has to ask about the timing of China’s massive land purchases ramping up.  At the same time, Joey was Vice President, and Hunter was slipping the “Big Man” money.  The Hunter Biden laptop story has been closely followed since October 2020, and the revelations released in the various news outlets on this story leave me appalled, alarmed, and amazed.  I keep asking myself about the timing, why Joey was so valuable an investment, and the answer lies in his access to Obama.  One of the media pundits discussed how Obama and Clinton are tied into the sale of access by Joey, and not all of the financial analysis is completed even now.  Leaves me asking who got paid and why during the Obama presidency?  A careful records review shows China going on a land purchasing spree simultaneously, and more questions for Secretary of State Clinton need to be addressed immediately!  “Who will watch the watchmen?”Beware of Scam Phone Calls and Emails Disguised as Vendors : The New York City District Council ...

Detective 3The US Constitution, in the 10th Amendment, provides all the authority any citizen needs to demand the watchers scrutinize the government and, if required, replace the watchers.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

We, the citizens, own the direct representative government in America, and it is time for those elected to fear the citizenry.  Not because we have become violent, but because we are firing them, electing new representatives, and holding those removed from office accountable for their mismanagement while in elected office.  Our country is being sold out from under our feet by those elected to office, and it is time they are held accountable before the bar of justice.  Our national security is a hiss and an insult to them, all while they become enriched, and their children funnel money, and I am sick to death of seeing this nepotism.  We, the watchers of the watchmen, deserve answers from transparent and speedy investigations that conclude with people wearing distinctive clothing and permanently disgraced.

Knowledge Check!How have the watchmen become millionaires while holding public office?  This single question should be the watch cry of every single citizen in America until they are all held accountable and disgraced.  You deserve better watchers.  Our children deserve better watchers.  The world deserves better representatives of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Remember this in November!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Employers and Employees – The Battle is Waged: The Fight is Important

LookEmployers throughout the world, including Disney, American Express, Wells Fargo, and thousands more, have begun to battle their employees.  Unionized shops, the battle has been waged for 50 years and shows no sign of relenting.  Only recently have other employers joined the fray, not to help employees but to rid themselves of employees.  These businesses are fighting employees against their employees for the company’s culture and soul.  Couched in many a buzzword, political stance, and archaic practices, the employers want to rid their workforces of those they despise, and the battle is legal!

Make no mistake, what the employers are doing is immoral, unethical, and disastrous to those employees unfavored, but the actions remain perfectly legal, and this is the point we must understand.  Laws have been changed against the majority for the selectivization and advancement of the minority.  The fight is important because you might be next and never know your termination has been affected, but not enforced until it is too late.  This article intends to raise awareness, not cover every particle in the fight or catalog every avenue an employer might take to attack an employee.  Imperative to know and remember, as long as the actions are against individuals, no laws are being broken, and the employer wins when they can make the situation untenable, and the employee on the out quits or is forced out under a miasma of quasi-legal terms, so it appears that employee was treated fairly.Plato 2

Never forget, a lawyer’s job is to make the illegal appear legal, and the legal appear illegal, so a judge must decide.  Add in judicial activism and legislation from the judicial bench, and the trouble becomes apparent quickly.  Unfortunately, the lawyers’ training has shifted, and the legal mind’s quality has slipped under the weight of many of the topics discussed herein.  The vicious cycle can only be broken when the collective beliefs of the majority are re-established, not to the demise of the minority but the growth of the entire society.

Culture and Politics

As long as people have banded together into organizations, societies, governments, etc., there has been the push and pull of politics.  All of recorded history bears truth to this fact.  People have beliefs.  They express these beliefs through representatives who rise and fall in different leadership positions, and societies change according to the expressed beliefs through which a society is governed (law).  Pick a governing style (Communism, Socialism, Representative, Direct or Indirect Representation, Monarchy, Theocracy, etc.), and you will find the collective beliefs of the people expressed in how long a leader remains in power or the stability of the society so governed.  Politics happens and is best described as the push/pull of collective beliefs expressed by populations.  Economies rise and fall based upon the collective beliefs, expressed in the stability of the society and the government leader’s length of time as leader.Lemmings 1

History has shown when a governing leader is short-lived, it is generally because they refused to follow the collective beliefs of the population, giving rise to the credit ratings of stable governments and societies being higher than for those who are changing leadership every couple of weeks or months.  Those leaders who can tread the waters of public opinion maintain their jobs and, many times in history, their heads by following the collective beliefs in the morals of the people.  The US Dollar’s stability is one of the strongest reasons this currency is one of the world’s benchmark currencies.  Politics did that, and politics are the push/pull collective beliefs expressed by the citizens to their government leaders.  The process is messy and needs to be messy for a reason; only in the expression of two divergent points can a healthy middle ground be established, and society can grow.

Culture is not politics, but politics and politically minded people can influence it.  If politics is a society’s expressed beliefs, then culture is the expressed moral convictions as lived by a community.  For example, many institutions have been built on the law that coveting (envy) is wrong, but the practices of the people living build a culture that accepts graft, bribes, and other incentives that, while violating the law, are accepted.  Make sense?  The closer the culture is to following both the letter of the law and the living of the law provides for a stable and influential culture to invest resources into.?u=http2.bp.blogspot.com-BKwWSo412lIUngTRkmSYwIAAAAAAAARd8GqxDhvovmRgs1600salestaxcartoon.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

How does one change the collective beliefs of a society and the living practices of that society; first, you capture the children.  Bad ideas do not go away, they are either replaced with good ideas, or the bad ideas go into hiding, awaiting the time they can make a new appearance.  Everything modern society is facing has been faced previously, and the difference is that the seeds for the current dilemmas were planted more than 100-years ago, but the bad ideas first captured the children.  Why have these bad ideas advanced so rapidly?  The education of children in social customs, collectively shared beliefs, and individual duty, has been eroded and attacked mercilessly since “progressive education” (the refusal to teach children to read, write, and perform math) began in the late 1800s with Dewey, who called functional illiteracy “Progress!”

One of the first words plasticized, twisted, ripped apart, and then put together to fuel tyranny through modular language was the term progress.  Unfortunately, language has continued to suffer relentless attacks since the late 1800s, and more words have suffered the same fate in the modularization of language.  Consider with me the history of Tea.  Tea plantations in India were ruled by the iron fist of laws drafted in America and marketed with women in distress to the consuming nations geographically distant to where the crops were grown.  The tyranny of slavery is the same tyranny we face with modular language.  Nobody realizes this because to mention this connection is frowned upon by those making money off the tyranny of language.  The tyranny of modular language fueled the oppression of entire populations to fuel an empire.  The language led to actions (afternoon tea) and a host of other practices, words, and social customs to fuel the demand for Tea.  Unfortunately, the tyranny of modular language also fueled hot wars in China, more geographically distant suffering from the population consuming Tea.History of Tea | Dilmah School of Tea

Language – Plastic Terms

Diversity, what is it; what does it mean in practice versus meaning from a dictionary; what value does it have for a business?  Equity, same problem, fewer answers, more confusion.  Inclusion, same problem, confusion, chaos, and eventual destruction.  These are, but a small sample of current buzzwords strung together and causing problems in businesses.  There are entire word classes set apart for plasticization, which sound good to the ear, and that people love to rally behind, but these terms cover a hidden agenda.   They have been weaponized to destroy, not lift and build—tyranny through modular language, plastic words.Plastic Words: The Tyranny of a Modular Language By Uwe Poerksen

American Express is a perfect example of how DE&I efforts (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) have been weaponized to pick away, through politics, the non-politically affiliated, those who show up to their employment and merely want to work their job.  The University of Phoenix is another company long captured by, and suffering from, DE&I tyrants.  Both American Express and the University of Phoenix began their DE&I journeys with the best of intentions.  Still, the result remains the same, the minority classes bring politics anathema to good order and discipline into the company, initiating change cloaked in DE&I.  The result has been the discouragement and disenfranchisement of employees.  The DE&I champions crow and cheer for these people leaving as it injects more DE&I hiring, and the new employees realize that unless they are politically affiliated, read that as aligned to a militant tyrant in DE&I, they too will be out of work very shortly.

Language matters, and when terms are plasticized, the only result is destruction and tyranny.  Consider the teachers in the Albuquerque Public Schools System or the employees of the State of New Mexico; both populations stress DE&I initiatives under various names but with the same purpose.  Who are the enemies of DE&I; those who do not wear their politics on their sleeves, acting as emotionally charged smart bombs of the media.  Even if a person holds some of the DE&I beliefs, if they are not militant in their beliefs, they are ostracized by their language, judged, and removed from employment.Political Correctness = Language and Thought Control | Wake Up World

When the patients rule the asylum, the problems for all patients in the asylum double and triple, not improve.  The same result occurs when the vocal minorities of a population gain power that is not theirs, and they make no concerted efforts to rule fairly and justly.  One of the truths about any revolution is that those who initiated the revolution rarely (if ever) get to enjoy the fruits of their rebellion as they are so focused on fixing what they perceive as injustices, they miss that they have become worse in action than those they deposed.

80-20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule is known by many monikers, but always it is the same rule, in different wrapping – 80% of a population will be controlled by 20%.  In standard terms, the minority is setting the culture for the 80% to follow, and they hope you will never realize you are stronger without the vocal minority than with them.  Take the recent changes at Disney.  There is a vocal minority demanding change, couching the changes in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the Disney business model is about to self-destruct.  The same is true of American Express, where if you are male and white, you are not welcome.  But, if you are one of the members of any number of protected classes, you are welcome.  When politics interferes in professional pursuits, 80% will always suffer under the tyranny of the 20%.  What happens when the vocal minority becomes the majority, they fang themselves to death, and nobody is left to care because that 80% majority has left them to their own devices.Pareto Principle: understanding the 80/20 Rule

It should go without saying, but I will make plain, I am not against diversity.  I do believe that diversity for diversity’s sake is wrong, immoral, unethical, and anathema to good order in a society.  Diversity of thought should be preeminent as the diversity of thought transcends skin color and lifestyle choices.  Diversity of thinking includes the desire to see all succeed on merit, character, and individual action.  I abhor in the strongest terms picking a person solely based on their gender, skin color, religious preferences, disability status, culture, or any variable that supersedes accomplishment, education, and learned skill set.  The same is valid for inclusion and equity; when people cannot compete solely upon achievement, education, and intellectual skill sets, this creates an imbalance in the population.

Hence roadblocks to education must be removed, character-defining and building experiences should be shared and taught, and achievement recognized.  What is missing from schools from K-12 and up; is accomplishment, education, and learned skill sets.  What has replaced these; is DE&I, where the vocal minority is destroying with no thought for what replaces the institutions, societies, corporations, and more.  Iconoclasm in its most destructive form has taken over employers, and these companies are committing suicide to pacify, tranquilize, and placate a small population at the expense of all.Make the 80/20 Rule Work for Your Online Marketing Efforts | WillTan.com

Inherently, change is not bad but growing, productive, and useful change requires inputs from a diverse population.  Inclusion is not inherently a bad thing, but the current demands for inclusion, only for the sake of inclusion, make the activities of the vocal minority lethal to the entire social body.  Equity is a prerequisite for society to grow, develop, and be stable long-term.  This is why societies built on slavery, or those muzzling 50% of the population, are inherently ripe for hostile takeovers.

The actions of the vocal minority in employment right now are precarious at best, suicidal at worst, and permanently immoral and unethical.  The models they promote have no substance and enable unfair, unjust, and unequal systems.  Worse, companies that flout their customer base, which is the largest stakeholder in any business, will find smaller profit margins and higher expenses as employee churn increases.

Knowledge Check!One truth that should give hope to the employees affected is that when the minority becomes the majority in a body and does not have any substance, they destroy themselves.  C-Leaders, are you sure you want to take the company you have been placed in control over down this dangerous path?  On my first day at American Express, new hires were introduced to the rich, proud, and stable company history and core values.  How sad it is to witness how fast this company has fallen!  Who will replace these companies?  Will their replacements learn from the failures of the past?

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Sermo Datur Cunctis; Animi Sapientia Paucis – Remind you of Anyone?

Exclamation MarkDistichia Moralia provides with keen wisdom the following, “Speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”  After the European trip of US President Joe Biden, intelligence is in short supply in the White House, the staff, and of course, the US Media!  Would someone please tell me how so many can say so much, yo-yo’ing from one point to another, and still make no sense?  Honest question, the other day someone told me the patients were running the asylum, and I countered no, the clowns took over the circus.  Both sentiments are accurate, but I detest clowns, and mental patients can occasionally do something brilliant.

Now, to be perfectly fair, little Joey Biden has a mental cognition problem that is more than likely some form of senility or Alzheimer’s disease.  I am not entirely blaming little Joey; his spouse and handlers bear the full brunt of the blame and deserve their punishment for not allowing this senile old man to retreat to his beloved basement and finish the rest of his days in solitude and grandchildren.  May little Joey sniff hair and massage shoulders in a creepy fashion after retirement to his heart’s content.  But his handlers, the complicit media, and his spouse need to be hauled in front of a judge for elder person abuse!

From Australia’s Sky News, the BBC, Daily Mail, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and Jerusalem News, essentially covering the entire globe, every media channel worth a small moment is complaining about Biden’s European performance.  Not all media channels are created equal, but to have them all complaining about Biden in Europe is pretty phenomenal.  To have Biden walk back his handlers’ “clarification” and then renounce his previous sentiments in the same speech is nothing short of a full-blown communication failure.

To clarify, I do not care what you embrace for your political party.  Any person with half a brain cell can observe what is happening and know instinctively that the elected leaders have no clue and even less intelligence.  Worse, their intellectual ability for self-preservation is running on fumes and day-old flatulence.  Truly, “speech is given to many, and intelligence to few.”  Unfortunately, this is not the tip of the iceberg humanity is headed towards at full speed!If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all ...

Satire is truth wrapped in comic wit and presented for discussion.  Never taken seriously as supported by how many “shock” comedians?  Yet, the Babylon Bee is removed from Twitter because some Twitter employees think they have a special mission from their god CEO Parag Agrawal to silence any voice they deem “hostile.”  More people prove that “speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”  Would someone please tell me how Kathy Griffin can parody cutting off then President Trump’s head, and she can maintain a Twitter account, but the Babylon Bee has their account suspended.  Worse, Kathy Griffin, a fully non-humorous comedienne, got a Netflix special, but Dave Chapelle was hounded mercilessly for weeks because he told the truth and was actually funny.

Kathy Griffin, Dave Chapelle, Biden/Trump, Babylon Bee, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, and others are tied into a Gordian Knot over the topic of controlling speech unconstitutionally.  Whether as perpetrators, victims, or politics, every actor mentioned, especially those not mentioned, as this was NOT a definitive list, all share in the ongoing saga over the First Amendment.Abraham Joshua Heschel quote: Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out...

A reminder, the First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The perpetrators who are pulling the political strings to hinder and thwart the First Amendment hide, like evil thinking cowards, cower behind the shield, “Congress.” Claiming that since they are not Congress, they only prohibit speech on their private platforms conditional as part of the “User Agreement” or as private citizens or businesses.  Hence, limiting the speech of others is entirely legal, moral, and socially acceptable, intentionally muddying the lines between legal and illegal for entertainment or some other bloviated excuse.  Except, what these perpetrators are doing is stealing freedom from everyone for personal profit.TOP 6 QUOTES BY ZECHARIAH CHAFEE | A-Z Quotes

What is “Hate speech?”  Sure, the lawyers have concocted a definition for court, but in practice, “Hate Speech” is anything any person who thinks they possess a modicum of power deems it to be.  Any tool that limits speech will be used as a weapon to beat people out of their rights and freedoms and steal the same to enslave all.  The Supreme Court regularly hears cases on First Amendment issues, specifically speech.  Of the five freedoms protected and enshrined in the First Amendment (Speech, Religion, Press, Assembly, and Petition the government), speech is the one most often attacked.  The Supreme Court has wisely used the rule of thumb, “Screaming ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater,” as the basis for whether to rule speech as governed under the First Amendment or not.

Why is this a wise rule of thumb?  Because creating panic in a population enclosed in a building should not be protected “free” speech as the consequences are dire indeed.  But does this mean anything else goes; absolutely!  A simple rule exists to explain why, “When you limit the freedoms of a single person in a society, the entire society loses ALL of their freedoms, rights, and liberties.”  Democracy is messy!  A constitutional republic is doubly chaotic!  We, the citizens of either a democracy or a constitutional republic, accept this as a necessity to protect our individual rights, freedoms, and liberties.The Legal Lens: Why Free Speech Matters To You

This means when Twitter declares something as broaching their “User Agreement” and limiting one person’s speech, as a citizen of the United States, every citizen of the United States loses!  When Facebook or LinkedIn practice censorship in the name of “socially acceptable speech,” they are thwarting the US Constitution and decrying they are the wisest of us all and intelligent enough to declare what is and is not “acceptable” speech in a public environment.  When YouTube ends people’s livelihood because they do not like the content in a video, everyone loses their right to produce content free from burdensome oppression.

Chris Rock was free to make a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith as a point of reference.  Will Smith was perfectly in his right to first laugh at the joke and then choose to become offended.  But, Will Smith’s rights ended when he took action and hit Chris Rock.  Speech is a responsibility, and exercising speech properly means sometimes being held accountable for the speech made.  Unfortunately, modern society has allowed people to make offensive and degrading remarks without accountability for too long, which is a problem.  However, the solution is not to control speech by a business, company, government, non-governmental board/organization, etc.  The solution is to remind people of the accountability inherent in exercising their rights to speech.

Speech is never “Free.”  Free speech means no consequences to what you say, but the reverse is true, and speech has a significant cost!  Ask any disabled veteran about the cost of speech, and let me know if they claim their injuries are free.  Worse, ask any person jailed who made a speech if their speech was free, and tell me if their sufferings, depravations, and sacrifices were without cost.  Chris Rock was entirely in his right to make an offensive joke.  I did not find it funny.  But could Chris Rock have been held accountable for his poor sense of humor without being slapped on international television; absolutely.  But, name me another group of people who abuse the rights, freedoms, and liberties of others without care and concern than Hollywood.  I know of no other industry!

Yet, Hollywood has taken it upon themselves to be the lords and masters over everyone else when they cannot control themselves.  Solidifying the permanence in the principle, “Speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”  How many known victims of Harvey Weinstein?  How many unknown victims are living?  How many dead victims?  How long was Harvey Weinstein abusing his power to subjugate people to whet his appetites and passions?  How many others are currently copy-catting Harvey Weinstein’s example?Speech is power: speech is... | Inspirational Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The government has failed to police Hollywood, and Hollywood refuses to police itself, but how many in Hollywood are willing to insist that Hollywood needs a deep cleansing, an injection of values, morals, and law; not many, if any.  Name another industry so rampant and steeped in villainy, depravity, and disgust that it can escape basic law enforcement.  Hollywood spawned Bollywood and how many other incarnations in countries around the globe, all suffering from the same moral vacuum and creating the same social decay without consequence.  Spoilt children, parading as virtuous adults, demand their rights, liberties, and freedoms, all while denying others the same rights, liberties, and freedoms.  Demanding politicians, the same politicians fawning and feeding the Hollywood monster, to use the powers of government, and big business, to thwart laws for their own profit and gain.

Have you ever heard of a “Casting Couch?”  In business, the military, and government, a “casting couch” is sexual harassment, a crime worthy of jail, heavy fines, and social scorn for the perpetrator.  In Hollywood, the “Casting Couch” is regular business for those desiring to be in Hollywood, and the victims, if they speak out, are scorned and unemployable.  The horror stories about the “Casting Couch” are depraved, disgusting, and the victims’ ages run the gamut, all with little to no consequences for those soliciting sexual favors in return for employment in Hollywood.  The case of Harvey Weinstein ripped the scab off the festering wound of Hollywood, but Big Business and Government have helped keep the wound alive and infected, to the shame and horror of the victims.

Knowledge Check!Will Smith, enjoy the spotlight your actions created, and may the consequences fit the crime.  Chris Rock, you’re still not funny.  Wanda Sykes, you lost your funny.  The Oscar’s is not worth my time and energy to scorn, let alone watch.  But, Hollywood, your industry is sick, and the greatest crime is that your infection is spreading faster than a case of Chlamydia in the Playboy Mansion.  Hollywood, you have lost any and all claims to tell anyone else how to live and until you clean up your mess, I will continue to refuse you my money.  You might start by remembering, “Speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Magna Res Est Vocis Et Silentii Temperamentum – A Valuable Lesson Indeed!

Detective 4The proverbs of Seneca the younger provide the title and the lesson for consideration, “The great thing is to know when to speak and when to keep quiet.”  I make this statement and write on this lesson, not because I am good at knowing when to speak and when to stay silent, but in the hopes of learning more perfectly when to speak and when to talk.  In reviewing my K-12 report cards, the ones my parents had to sign, the most frequent comment is knowing when to shut up, closely followed by “Does not play well with others.”  The latter is a badge of honor; I have never played well with others!

But, knowing when to speak and when not to speak is a challenge, and in observing people, I find I might not be the only person afflicted with a lack of knowledge on this topic.  My wife is a perfect example of someone who knows when to speak and when to stay silent.  She has mastered the art of saying the exact word in season someone needs to hear and claims manners and discernment have honed her abilities.

Charles de Lint is quoted on educating children, saying in part, “Teach them to learn how to see and ask questions.”  The greatest teachers I can recall easily are those who taught me to either perceive differently or how to ask questions.  Long have I desired to return these lessons and remain enthusiastic about finding the opportunities to teach.  I often quote and consider the lessons taught by Henry Chester, who said, “Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world.  It beats money, power, and influence.  It is nothing more or less than faith in action.”  While appearing paradoxical, enthusiasm and learning when to speak and stay silent are anything but contradictory, and this is the point and the lesson for your consideration.Pin on Why Volkalize?

Why do we speak?

Of all the questions asked me in my K-12 journey, the number one question has to be an iteration of the following: “Why are you talking?”  I never could understand when to shut up.  Worse, there were plenty of times when my refusal to shut up would worsen the punishment, even though I considered the teacher’s actions immoral, unethical, or plain wrong.  For example, in 12th grade, Mr. Moro’s class, Camden-Rockport High School, Camden, Maine.  I had been a student of this school for a grand total of 1 day; this was the second class on my second day.  My first meeting with Mr. Moro, who, very clearly stated, “This is his classroom, his castle, and in his castle, he was king and demanded respect.  To which I firmly replied, NO!  He sent me to the principal’s office and said I would not return until he had a parent/teacher conference.  Being emancipated, I told him he would have to speak with me, and he could fax me!  I still have no idea what a senior class advisor is or what they do, but apparently, I had to appease Mr. Moro if I wanted to graduate.

Quotes About Listening And Speaking. QuotesGramWhy was I speaking in this incident; I was not going to be pushed or bullied by what I considered at the time a pompous moron.  I needed to change how I perceived Mr. Moro as a person.  I graduated high school, Mr. Moro never became a friend, but we did learn how to get along with each other.  Yes, I ate some crow and had to chip away at my ego.  After graduating and traveling to Advanced Individual Training for the US Army, I got a nice letter from Mr. Moro.  One of the reasons we speak is we feel put upon and do not know how to extricate ourselves, or in my case, extricate my foot from my mouth.Are you an active listener ….or do you just hear? | Psychoeducation in Psychotherapy ...

Another reason we speak is a desire to say something, but how often have we opened our mouths without forming the thought entirely, and our mouth is running way faster than our brains, common sense, and self-preservation?  In my case, way too often.  Several comedians call this an older person’s disease, not having the brain mouth filter, common sense, or good social skills to know when to say something and when to listen.  One of the reasons I love old people is explicitly derived from this truthfulness and lack of filter.

When my mother-in-law fell and had to be placed in a nursing home, long-term care facility, I made some great friends in her facility.  Not a single filter anywhere to be found.  One older lady, her name regrettably escapes me, had family who would come and tell her the filthiest jokes on the weekend.  During the week, I would visit my mother-in-law and slip her a couple of clean jokes, dad jokes, and just plain funny jokes.  One day I told her a joke about passing gas in church after a bean supper the night before.  She laughed so hard; I thought I had injured her.  I came back the next day and learned she had told the entire staff this joke, and she told me she had laughed so hard so peed herself.Raji Lukkoor Quote: "Respond; don't react. Listen; don't talk. Think; don't assume." (9 ...

I apologized to the nursing staff and armed them with a few choice dad jokes.  She did not want an apology, but she told me a story from her youth where the night before her church had hosted a community-wide bean supper, chili cookoff, raffle/silent auction, and how the next day’s sermon was cut short because the pastor could not stand the air in his church, which is when I began laughing hard enough to make me wonder if I was going to pee myself!  Worse, this was the day after serving baked beans for supper, and she and I listened to the chorus of frogs from the patients and kept falling out of our chairs laughing.Spalding, Laura - Kindergarten / Special Classes Schedule

Betty Eadie eloquently provides a caution for our words, “If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely.  If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.  In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.  Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts.  We can always replace negative with positive.”  The next lesson on why we speak is that our brains are too full of words and need an outlet.  Yet, how much better would the world be if we filtered our thoughts, slowed our thinking, and kept our mouths shut?

Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” – Buddha

The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts.” – Peter McWilliams

Listening Quotes | Listening Sayings | Listening Picture QuotesThree people from different periods of human history, all messaging a truth, thoughts do become things, and often the things our thoughts become are not what we wanted or desired.  More specifically, the thoughts became things because we expressed the thoughts that should have stayed silent in words.  In learning to control the post-traumatic stress disorder I suffer, the words of Peter McWilliams became the answer I needed and the balm in Gilead I sought.  I had to stop fighting my thoughts to be able to control the pernicious and repeated images, feelings, and constant reminiscing over a terrible incident from my service in the US Navy.  Every day remains a challenge to acknowledge the thoughts and let them go.  Every day it becomes easier to achieve.  There is hope!

Why do we listen?

Of all the questions I have never been asked, I hope to learn the lesson of controlling my thoughts so I may hear better.  I suffer from tinnitus, many times though the ability to listen does not reside in my ear where the tinnitus rings, but in my brain that is a ravaged wasteland of competing ideas, factions, and imaginations.  When the voices in my head go silent, I hear the birds in the trees, I hear voices of people around me, and I experience hearing.  The moment I begin speaking, I lose the ability to hear.Hearing Vs Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Ken Kesey is quoted as saying, “See with your ears and hear with your eyes.”  What a remarkable idea.  One of the most momentous times I can ever recall occurred while onboard my ship, deep dark of night.  You know how dark night can get if you have ever been beyond the hundred-fathom curve.  I was an engineer on the mid-watch (0000-0400) and was roaming around topside between rounds, something I should not have been doing, but I needed fresh air and wanted to see if the stars really were more brilliant at sea.  On a night with no moon, deep dark, I saw the ship passing through the water with my ears.  I heard the waves; I heard the wind whistling through the ship’s rigging; I saw with my ears the stumbling of smokers going to and from the smoke deck—an experience like no other.  Why do we listen; to learn, to experience, and if we choose, to marvel!

In the 1990’s I had a screen saver called psychedelic.  When music was played, it changed colors according to the beat, and you had user interfaces where you could pick specific interpretations to display on the screen in colors, lines, and contrasts.  This was the first time I can remember visualizing sounds.  I had previously turned the stereo speakers to maximum and watched sound interface with the water in a fish tank, but this screen saver was the first time I can remember seeing sound displayed by a computer.  Since this screensaver, I have watched sound played in flames (SUPER COOL), watched water falling display shapes as heard through a computer, and synthesized (unique experience indeed).  I have used several computer programs that took that old screensaver’s concept and improved the display and synthesization.  Yet, I am still want to hear with my eyes and see if I can improve how I listen.Hearing And Listening Quotes & Sayings | Hearing And Listening Picture Quotes

Something was pointed out to me, the word silent has precisely the same letters as listen, but in the arrangement of those letters, the ability of one is lost or found.  I have learned that a silent mouth precedes a silent mind, and you need both to listen.  Yet, it is a rare moment indeed when my brain is silent.  My brain runs lyrics to songs, words I think I should have said, words I am preparing to speak, responses to questions, responses to other people’s opinions, facts, figures, fights, and the list goes on ad nauseum ad infinitum!  A book by Stephen Covey mentioned, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand.  Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  Why do we listen; this is a valuable question to consider!

I have mentioned this previously and repeat myself only for emphasis; all the musical talent, knowledge, and skill I possess can be poured into a thimble and never moisten the bottom.  I mention this because Linda Ronstadt said, “Ninety-Nine present of singing is listening and hearing, and so then one percent of it is singing.”  A thought I had never previously considered.  I love music and have an eclectic taste in music, but I hear not listen to music.  Music has never been an escape from reality but has often been a balm to my world-weary soul.  Music has been a tool, a weapon, and a shield, in the battles for knowledge, learning, and protecting myself from the words of others.  In the US Army, Basic Training music was the key to getting me to relax and shoot the M-16A2 sufficiently to qualify and eventually graduate basic training.  But, only now, when considering Lind Ronstadt’s quote, I realized I hear music, not listen to music.Humorous Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Funny story, while my parents are hippies, my father is a professional musician but not a music teacher.  As a kid, music in our house was how food made it to the table, how my father retreated from the world’s cares, and often a weapon against my mother.  Yet, even coming from a home where music was a major part of daily life, I never learned to listen to music.  Have you ever heard reveille played on a tuba, French horn, clarinet, trombone, guitar, recorder, or flute?  If so, you know a little of what growing up in our house was like.  When 0400 came, whatever instrument my father was playing at the time became the instrument upon which reveille was played.

Knowledge Check!A song covered by a multitude of musicians originates with Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence.”  The second link is to Disturbed’s cover of the Paul Simon song; I think this is the best version.  What are the sounds of silence?  Are they different for each person?  Does the sound of silence change with the environment, the weather, or humanity’s influence?  I once read a research report regarding the negative impact of listening to the sounds of New York City and how the city’s sound shortened the lives of those who constantly heard the city.  As we consider the lesson on learning when to speak and to discern when to stay silent, may we consider how to improve listening, moving from hearing to listening, and find joy in seeing with our ears and hearing with our eyes.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Brevis Ipas Vita Est Sed Malis Fit Longior – Adversity

Father Mulcahy 3The title is Latin for “Life is short, but trouble makes it longer.”  Recently I was reminded of the power and blessing of adversity.  One of the comments that struck me was, “You will all experience your own Gethsemane’s.”  Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives and became famous in the New Testament for the place where Jesus went to pray and, according to the New Testament, completed the atonement.  Gethsemane remains a symbol of hope for people experiencing trouble, difficulty, or adversity.  However, the thought of us experiencing our own Gethsemane individually intrigues me as a concept.

One of the scriptures that holds a lot of hope for me comes from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 7-9:

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands
.

Nowhere is recorded how long Jesus spent in Gethsemane; one might presume the time was longer than an hour, but less than 8 hours.  Beyond that, I cannot guess and will not venture an opinion.  However, the thought that adversity will be but a small moment rings like an eternal truth in my mind.  Let me elaborate on this point, my wife and I spent 6-months homeless, living out of our car, showering at her mom’s apartment, and working as often as I could find work.  During this time, I was studying for a master’s in business administration and struggling with depression for feeling like an absolute failure for not being able to provide a home for my spouse.Adversity is an advantage to embrace, not an annoyance to avoid. | Art Coombs Art Coombs

Yet, as I look back on this homelessness period, it seems but a small moment.  While I know mentally that the timeframe was six excruciating months, the truth is that the adversity felt like a moment even during the adversity and the months following.  My friends found during this time were such an incredible solace; my wife’s family and even my studies became lifts to my spirit and a balm to my mental processes.  How grateful I am for the adversity that has shaped me since this event and the incredible people who supported my wife and me.

Interestingly, in M*A*S*H 4077, the final episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” the poignancy of Father Mulcahy’s predicament with losing his hearing has become more meaningful since this episode of homelessness.  Indeed life is lived forward and understood backward.  As Father Mulcahy said, “What good is a deaf priest?”  The value is found in learning and living, but the learning and living is the adversity shaping us physically, mentally, and spiritually.Grit - Defined

Long have I pondered what a piece of clay must think as it is placed on a potter’s wheel, and if it realizes that when the potter is done, the adversity on that wheel will make it something beautiful, useful, or both.  Whether you believe in god, God, or gods, what are the adversities in your life making out of you, and will you recognize yourself when the potter is done?  Will you care what the potter has made you?  Those two questions lay on my mind, not with weight, but nonetheless with power.  A final question struck me as Father Mulcahy was marrying Klinger and Sun Lee, will we respect the potter for the work invested in creating us through adversity?

30 Best Adversity Quotes To Regain The Courage | Brainy ReadersIt’s no secret to those who have known me that I did not like serving in the US Navy and the pressure cooker of the USS Barry (DDG 52) from 2000-2004.  I have often cursed and shook my fist at the sky over the experiences during the US Navy.  Yet, even now, the experiences in the US Navy are felt as a small moment, and time does help heal wounds.  Better still, time tends to soften the edges, and one of the other things I have found is that how we choose changes how we remember.  I loved being “haze grey and underway” in the navy.  Many things were better while sailing that worsened to the point of breaking while in port.  More to the point, being “haze grey and underway” was always an adventure, fun, and never dull, even while pulling five and dime watch standing, doing maintenance on a pitching deck, or even climbing the mast while underway to fix something broke.

Adversity QuotesMajor Winchester leaving M*A*S*H in a garbage truck reminds me of my time in the US Navy, very appropriate.  As soon as Major Winchester came to M*A*S*H 4077, I watched to see what pranks could be done to Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third.  I loved watching Charles become the butt of a joke.  Yet, even as I type, I cannot help but wonder, was a garbage truck appropriate; is it disrespectful of the potter to see another person struggle and heap more scorn upon them?  Charles’ life changed dramatically and horribly; his ways of thinking, the path of his life, and even his belief in his own self-worth were constantly challenged and scrutinized.  I can understand Charles’ experiences more now than at any time previously.

Having been homeless multiple times in my life, one of my greatest difficulties is seeing someone putting up their petition for help and not being able to help.  I know there are a lot of scams out there, but that has never mattered to me; not being able to help bothers me greatly.  The war in Ukraine, the orphans left after war and storms, the hunger and depravity in this world, those individual adversities we see all around us.  I always want to help.  Long have I thought if I could relieve an ounce, a dram, a smidge of suffering, I could sleep better at night or know I succeeded at something.  Life has taught me how to fight, then it taught me how to think, and then my body was injured, and I am left stuck somewhere in between—proving that adversity comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and types!Adversity Quotes

Please know, I am not maudlin or melancholy about my life.  I have some great stories, met some truly amazing people, and lived to tell those tales.  All I ever wanted out of life was to be “an interesting old person,” and if I can keep reading and thinking, and especially writing, I should be able to tell some of those stories.  If I died tomorrow, I could say I lived a rich, full life, with no regrets.  I have no complaints and look forward to learning a lot more.  Bringing up another exciting facet of adversity, the learning that comes through adversity.

For example, did you know you do not teach adults?  Anyone who tells you differently does not know what they are talking about.  Teaching only happens to children, and if those kids are like me, barely even then.  For adults, you help them see their life experiences in a new light, applying existing knowledge to current situations to improve how they think.  You do not teach adults; they teach themselves; as an adult educator, my job is to help them learn how to think.15 Quotes About Overcoming Adversity Never to Forget

I know a kid, now an adult, who had been molested, beaten, and suffered greatly.  Growing into a scrappy adult, this child had experienced the horrible and survived.  Sure, you might teach this kid how to reach a formulaic solution, but the core knowledge of life, this kid held a doctorate.  Adversity had trained this kid how to think, how to act, how to understand, and how to fight back.  While other kids learned how to wield a bat and hit a ball, this kid was learning how to throw punches, duck, dodge, and handle pain.  While some kids learned how to cook, this kid already knew how to cook and could make meals out of practically anything.  Adversity taught this kid, and the student was worthy of the master’s teachings how I have longed to be as apt a pupil to adversity’s teachings as this kid.A Layman's Blog: Pasternak on adversity.............

When considering the potter, as we are placed upon the wheel, then into a kiln, are we clay, easily molded, or a rock choosing to be chased off the potter’s wheel for refusing to change and be moldable?  A young adult uttered the saddest commentary on life I have ever heard.  My father did it this way; his father did it this way; his father did it this way; going back as far as family memory can relate, I am doing it this way.  When I saw the stubbornness of this person, I felt like weeping for the potential lost to generations who choose not to change.  Adversity gets us asking questions; for me, those questions are always about how I improve—improving myself, a process, an environment, the situation, anything that can be changed to drive improvements.John Wooden Quote: "Adversity often produces an unexpected opportunity. Look for it ! Appreciate ...

Another book referred to the “captivity of the fathers.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevia sings the song of “Tradition!”  Is adversity trying to tell us there is a better way, and tradition is trying to hold us back?  In previous articles, I discussed how a friend of mine related that he is the first generation of his family who could read, and his children and grandchildren are graduating college because as a child, he was forced onto a bus, driven to Oklahoma, and forced into school and off the Indian reservation.  He experienced traumatic adversity as a child of seven.  The blessing of that adversity has lived and made him every day since, but to make him, the traditions of his fathers had to be forced out of his mind by formal education hundreds of miles from his northern Arizona home.  I weep for that little boy but cheer for the man he became and cherish my friendship with a man who had to justify two worlds.  Beware the traditions of your fathers so they do not become captivity your children must suffer to escape.

Not for any other purpose than trying and making the adversarial moment something I do not have to repeat.  I have repeated too many adversarial moments; there must be a better way to live!  For example, I was forced into bankruptcy twice!  I hope to learn from my mistakes, and if anyone knows how to raise money, improve earnings, and live more fully within one’s means, I am all ears!  If you know how to monetize a website, I will trade for this knowledge and assistance.  Bringing up another powerful tool of adversity, placing us into situations where we can help and will choose to be helped.Adversity Opportunity Quotes. QuotesGram

One of the reasons why some adversarial incidents last as long as they do is because we are proud people, and giving help is easier than accepting help and multitudes of times easier than asking for help.  My first time homeless, I had to get off the streets as walking the streets all night was interfering with my ability to work a complete shift.  Plus, it was cold, and those nights in Auburn, Washington in October and November were miserable!  So, I asked for help from a church, and asking for help was one of the most challenging events in my life.  In fact, asking for help has never gotten easier with time or experience.  I would rather get beat with a brick stick than ask for help; is it any wonder that pride is one of the seven deadly sins?Adversity | Adversity, Lds quotes, Church quotes

To ask for help, I felt I needed to have a plan to repay the money.  I demanded that I stick with that repayment schedule, even after being told, very kindly, that I did not have to repay and that there was no debt to repay.  How often do we make the pains and problems of adversity worse because we struggle to ask for help or feel a need to repay debts when there are no debts?  The reality is that when adversity appears to drag on and on without end, being a relentless taskmaster, many times I am the problem making adversity worse.Adversity Quotes By Famous People. QuotesGram

Bring us back to that garden near the Mount of Olives and the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Leaving me with a final question, how do I know when enough is sufficient?  I do not know how to answer this question, nor am I sure I am asking the right question; I merely know that adversity is not occurring because the intelligence’s of the universe want to see me struggle, adversity is not happening because I committed a crime or deserved being punished.  Adversity is a tool that helps us gain strength and I am weak, and the only way to get my attention is to put me in situations where I can grow through the things I suffer.  But help is always available; this is another lesson adversity teaches.  Help, assistance, support, we are not left bereft of these in our times of need, and this is a comfort and a hope.

Knowledge Check!Let us choose to be more charitable, relieve suffering where we can, ask for help when we need, and choose to make today a little better than yesterday through our involvement in the world around us.  I am not asking anyone to go broke helping those putting up their petitions, and it does not matter where the money goes.  Be the hand reaching out, and you WILL always find a hand reaching out to you; this is the final lesson adversity teaches us.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Friday Funnies – I needed a Laugh… Shared a Laugh!

MumblePSA:  Please note, this article can be reviewed just for the writing, or for the humor, or both.  You decide.  If you know a good joke, leave it in the comments.  I am always looking for new materials.Best 32 Silly Jokes | Quotes and Humor

If careful calculation is correct, this is the third time I have written about humor, the power, the majesty, and the gut-splitting good times humor provides.  Oddly enough, I am a big fan of dad jokes, but not a dad.  I prefer humor that is funny for the fun, not the shocking or profane, merely a good laugh.  Of the funniest songs I have ever heard, Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown take the top billing with the song, “Make ‘em Laugh.”  Cole Porter also tickled my funny bone with a similar song, “Be a Clown.”  However, since I detest clowns, I cannot like this song very much.  Both songs are linked for your listening and watching pleasure.  Do you find clowns creepy in the Stephen King kind of creepy?

Computer HumorOne of the truths about humor is embedded in the lyrics of Make ‘em laugh:

Cosmo:
Though the world is so full of a number of things,
I know we should all be as happy as
But are we?
No, definitely no, positively no.
Decidedly no.  Mm mm.
Short people have long faces and
Long people have short faces.
Big people have little humor
And little people have no humor at all!
And in the words of that immortal buddy
Samuel J. Snodgrass, as he was about to be lead
To the guillotine:

Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh
Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?
(Ha ha!)
My dad said, “Be an actor, my son
But be a comical one
They’ll be standing in lines
For those old honky tonk monkeyshines.”

Now you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite
And you can charm the critics and have nothin’ to eat
Just slip on a banana peel
The world’s at your feet
Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh

Make ’em…
Make ’em laugh
Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh
My grandpa said go out and tell ’em a joke
But give it plenty of hoke

Make ’em roar
Make ’em scream
Take a fall
But a wall
Split a seam

You start off by pretending
You’re a dancer with grace
You wiggle ‘till they’re
Giggling all over the place
And then you get a great big custard pie in the face
Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh

Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh
Don’t you know… all the…wants..?
My dad…
They’ll be standing in lines
For those old honky tonk monkeyshines

Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh
Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?

Ah ha ha ha ha ha há
Ah ha ha ha ha ha
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Make ’em laugh, ah ah!
Make ’em laugh, ah ah!
Make ’em laugh, ah ah!

Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh!

10 Hilarious Toilet Humor Jokes That Will Make You Flush“Don’t you know that everyone wants to laugh?”  There is much truth in this line, but laughing is a choice.  We choose what to laugh at, decide when to laugh, and choose, with the resulting consequences, what is found humorous.  The first time I saw the movie “Singing in the Rain,” from whence the song “Make ‘em laugh” originated, I thought this song was ridiculous.  Recently I saw the movie again, and this song was hilariously funny and laughed so hard I cried.  What changed; certainly wasn’t the movie which was made in 1952; the acting had not changed, the actors are dead; I changed.  The first time I saw this movie, I was exhausted after prepping for a holiday meal, I was strung out from too much work, and nothing was funny.  This last time, I had changed mentally and physically, which made all the difference.Thanksgiving Humor - Chris Cannon

What is the lie in the song “Make ‘em Laugh?”  Simply put, nobody can make you emote if you choose not to, a powerful lesson indeed.  I grew up in a big family, and there are seven of us kids; my uncle brought his four and then had a couple more, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more if you took the Salisbury family, those still living could still essentially fill a couple of venues.  My older brother was always trying to “make you laugh.”  He failed for many reasons; the first was I never thought he was funny.Pin by Lilly Gonzalez on Halloween Humor | Funny halloween jokes, Halloween jokes, Halloween memes

My older brother could take a joke I laughed at and kill the joke in the retelling.  I never met another person so anxious to make people laugh and like him, who failed so completely and miserably.  Take the funniest joke you know, put that joke in my older brother’s mouth, and that joke will fall flat, and you will wonder why it was funnier previously.  It never ceases to amaze me how this person can kill a joke, especially when he is such a joke himself.No sense of humor Memes

Long have I maintained the following formula:

[(Dark Humor + Intelligent Humor + a Warped sense of Humor) (Shaken not stirred)] = Me laughing hysterically!

Abbott & Costello Coronavirus Humor : NationalsI like to laugh.  I need to laugh, or the depression and anxiety become too great and I am angry.  This last week has been no picnic with the continuing crush from the VA-OIG, add the IRS and several state departments of revenue, and I needed to find humor.  Combined with the ongoing dissertation pains and the need for a good chuckle was mandatory!  Without further ado, here are things that leave me laughing in the aisles.  If repeats are found from previous posts, you have my apologies!

May you choose to enjoy!

Dark humor jokes | Thug Life Meme

Funny Picture Clip: Funny humor bizarre crazy pictures

30 Minions Humor Quotes - Quotes and Humor© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Woman!

Detective 4The majority of this article was drafted before the controversy with the SCOTUS nominee.  The intent is to honor the role of women and woman.  Affirming again that how you choose to live is your business and is between you and whatever god, God, or gods you worship.  Provided you allow others the same rights to life, liberty, and pursue happiness, I do not care how you choose to live.

How you choose to live should not denigrate anyone, let alone biologically living males and females, men and women.  Leading this discussion to answer the simple question posed by US Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) to SCOTUS nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, “What is a woman?”  Again, affirming the role and embodiment of a woman is more than the sum of her sexual parts; the question does have merit and deserves answered.  What is a woman?

The Bible relates that all creation occurred in six days; on the sixth day, the woman was created as the supreme creation of God, and then God rested on the seventh day.  Not here to argue religion, but to herald that final glorious act of creation, the woman.  How grateful I am for the women in my life.  Various scriptures relate that woman was created so man would not be alone, so a helpmeet was found for Adam, and the woman would be equal to the man in all things.  An interesting dichotomy was found in creating the woman: Adam was created of the dust, but the woman was created from Adam’s side.  According to biblical accounts, no other female in the species created replicated this pattern.  Clearly, there is a lesson for us to understand, acknowledge, and support socially through laws and societal norms.

Male v. FemaleWhat a unique creation the woman is.  Paradoxical in all things, a woman is soft and strong, inflexible and flexile, independent, and a great team member.  What family is complete without a woman and a man?  One of the great truths in life is that man and woman were created separate and dependent, and gender is an eternal construct.  Each person is born male and female, with their creator’s traits, personalities, and intelligence.  Yet what do we see in all modern societies; the continued blurring of lines, roles, and dehumanization of the grandeur of man and woman, but of the two woman, has been taking the worst hits.

Consider fashion; since the feminist movement began, fashion for women has warped and destroyed the modesty, chastity, and glory of a woman.  Fashionistas are trying to make the woman into a young boy at best.  Always to be “fashionable,” the woman is made to squeeze, pinch, and be uncomfortable.  Women’s shoes are a contortion and torture exercise, a balancing act sacrificing function and comfort for some twisted idea of style.  Long have I looked upon the inequality in fashion between men and women and been abhorred, disgusted, and discomfited by the base and profane ideas accepted as “stylish” and “fashionable.”  Women, why do you allow yourself and your high and holy station to be demeaned in the name of “fashion?”

Consider make-up and all the chemicals a woman is “supposed” to use to “improve” her beauty.  The emoluments alone are sufficient to baffle and bewilder, then add the smells and paints, and the woman is taught from day one that being natural is insufficient to being attractive or whole.  Yet, I know differently, for I have seen strong and powerful women who never touch these things and remain effective, regnant, and influential.  Tell me honestly, what you put on your face, to make up, what value is there in this process?  Who told you you needed these chemicals to be a woman?Virtuous Woman 3

Human biology, and I would presume all biological sciences, defines a female as having two X chromosomes, whereas males have an X and a Y chromosome.  I passed biology with high marks but failed zoology as I did not attend enough to be scored.  If there is a biologist who would like to weigh in, please feel free to correct me.  The developing fetus develops as either a male or female as growth occurs in the germinal, embryonic, and fetal stages of life.  The physical characteristics separating males and females are coded into a person’s DNA, and fourth-grade science was apparent on these topics.

Psychology in recent years has declared that a person’s choices can change the gender of a person, but the sex of a person remains coded genetically.  Thus, woman, as a biologically separate class of animals, have different bone structures, hair, glands, skin, hormones, etc., coded from birth, regardless of how that person chooses how to live.  Please allow me to make a strong point, a woman, and for that matter, a man, are more than the sum of their sexual parts.  If this were not true, then those men having sexual reassignment surgery to obtain female genitalia would automatically adopt all the characteristics of a woman upon the conclusion of surgery.  VaccineEstrogen and testosterone, hormones, and chemicals would not need to be supplemented, and the mental processes separating a man and a woman would not need to be fought so assiduously by those having their sex surgically or chemically altered.  Again, supporting the fact that it is psychology and not biology, establishing the difference between biological men and women, and the sum of their sexual parts is a non-issue.

On the topic of psychology, look to the results of choosing to live in a manner opposite of birth sex.  We discover suicides, depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental diseases prevalent in this population, not witnessed to the same degree in different populations.  Why the LGBTQ+ populations have such prevalent and significant occurrences of these mental diseases is a question modern society refuses to research as this has been termed out of bounds as potentially anti-LGBTQ+.  Thus, research supports that the populations of those choosing to live life in this manner have these mental problems but refuses to ask why; do you see a problematic situation?  All this while attacking the role, lifestyles, and position of woman.

20 Inspirational Quotes for Women All Around the WorldUnder the role of woman, there is a title worthy of acknowledgment, and the title is lady.  Like gender, being a lady is a choice, a lifestyle, and contains social obligations, societal expectations, and requires significant effort on the part of the woman to obtain the title lady.  For example, Nancy Reagan was a lady, Hilary Clinton is merely a woman.  What separates these two women is class, respect, dignity, and more, not politics, not personality, and definitely not lifestyles and social circles.  Being a lady requires sacrifice, making choices over long periods of time, and it demands total commitment to achieve.  Females become women through growth, females become ladies by choice and sacrifice, and are granted this title by others.

In attempting to make this distinction clearer, allow me to draw a more specific example between women and ladies.  Gretchen Wilson sings a song, “Redneck Woman.”  The song lists qualities of a woman, specifically a class of woman “Redneck women.”  No aspersions cast, no denigration, and no offense offered.  Frankly, I have deep respect for several redneck women.  I am also proud to know and respect a lot of women who ride horses as cowgirls and rodeo stars, some really kick butt women from the US Military, and more.  But, a lady is phenomenally different by choice, and this is the point.18 Inspiring Independent Women Quotes By Famous & Powerful Women

Great ladies of history include amongst their ranks Katherine Hepburn, Doris Day, Nancy Reagan, Barbara “The Silver Fox” Bush, Abagail Adams, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Sarah and Esther of Old Testament fame, Mary of New Testament fame, these and more are ladies.  First and foremost, these females are women, strong and independent, then they choose to become ladies and are honored more than mere women or as the sum of their sexual parts.  Women honored, revered, and respected for their contributions to womanhood, society, and sacrifices, women who practiced gentleness, compassion, respect, and kindness as quintessential aspects of their core identity, not for worldly fame or personal gain.  Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th President, honored two women as mothers and called both ladies of influence.  Yet, Disney would have us believe that all stepmothers are horrible creatures.  A vast chasm exists between women and ladies, and this is but one of the separations or classifications between women; by the choices the woman makes, a lady is created.Strong Women Quotes, Powerful Independent Woman Quotes

In trying to make a point about not hitting women, President Biden accidentally created a problem.  President Biden remarked that nobody should punch a woman in the face.  Distinguishing multiple times in the same speech that hitting a woman in the face, specifically, is not allowed.  As a kid, I learned not to hit women at all; even if being attacked by a woman, a man merely defends themselves restraining a woman if necessary, not to cause additional injury to herself or someone else.  But, Biden implied that only hitting a woman in the face is problematic; what a detestable creature is the man who would hit a woman!  I am not condoning violence in any shape or against any person.  For thousands of years and across hundreds of societies, those who would enact violence, society, rightly, has dolled out steeper punishments to those committing violence against women.Quotes from some of the most Famous Women in History ! - TechStory

Social laws throughout recorded history have always treated women differently.  Sometimes in history, this has been to the detriment and unequal treatment of women, and recently in history, treating women as equals to men is a fact that should be cheered and heralded.  Yet, along comes transgenderism demanding equal treatment under the law, not as a separate but equal category, but supplanting women, representing more attacks on women and womanhood by conspiring men for personal gain.  Don’t believe me; look at the story of the NCAA and the recent swimmer making news and winning championships, and tell me that conspiring men are not attacking the equality of women.  A charade of disrespect is cast before us, slandering women and womanhood for some amorphous and ambiguous term for lifestyle choices and not sound science, or respectful dialogue about laws.

Knowledge Check!I conclude where I began, respecting women, honoring ladies, and decrying the attack on women and womanhood as the demented and twisted attack of conspiring men and women who would see women destroyed upon the altar of political correctness.  Ladies, you have my respect, admiration, and sword, for you are deserving.  Women, you have my respect for the roles you fill as opposites of men and your work as mothers, teachers, and the co-equal helpmeet of men.  May those conspiring to destroy you be found buried in the hole they have dug for your destruction.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Continued Inanity from the US Government – Where are the Elected Officials?

Angry Wet ChickenI made the mistake of ranking the various government agencies on how intractable, unintelligent, and irresponsible they are.  I ranked the IRS based upon previous experience more competent than the VA.  That is a mistake I will not repeat any time soon, as the VA and the IRS are in a neck and neck race to the bottom!  Consider how the IRS sends you paper mail notifications; if you have questions, you are referred to a website for answers and provided several customer service numbers.  Except, when the website fails, you call the notifications’ numbers and are told that you need to visit the website for faster service.  The website refers you back to customer service, whose phone queues are always so full you are automatically disconnected after being reminded to use the website for faster service.

As my mind experiences a total meltdown, I begin twitching, and my head eventually explodes; check out this cat picture:Funny Cat Backgrounds, Pictures, ImagesDignified Stray Cat Photos Celebrate Their Unique Beauty

Some will declare this is a one-off incident; surely, the IRS is not this dysfunctional.  Try it for yourself sometime.  I never ask anyone ever to, believe me, experience this for yourself.  Check out the IRS website https://irs.gov.  Try to get solid and reliable information, and see how fast your head wants to explode.  I have been trying to appeal a decision the IRS made arbitrarily since 21 March 2022 and gotten nowhere fast.  Best of all, I have a deadline of 20 May 2022 to register an appeal, yet the website cannot answer my questions and points me back to the phone number on my notification.  The phone number auto-answer assistant refers me back to the website shortly before disconnecting my call.

As a small business owner, I had trouble getting my Tax ID number; the website said to call customer support, the phone number referred me back to the website and then disconnected my call because the queues were too full.  Ad Nauseum Ad Infinitum, but the joke is undoubtedly on me; the IRS proclaims they respect my time and are anxious to resolve the concern.  Can’t you just feel the concern and anxiety emanating from the IRS?  Where are the elected officials who need to be scrutinizing the Executive Branch and demanding better returns on the taxpayer’s investment?

As my mind experiences another total meltdown, I begin twitching, and my head eventually explodes; check out this cat picture:Cats wallpaper - Cats Wallpaper (5194935) - FanpopJust say nope | Grumpy Cat | Know Your Meme

If you’re keeping count, this is the third recent article on the culture of corruption at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in as many weeks.  No, I am not behind; the rate of the frequency of VA – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports has legitimately been this overwhelming.  Never forget, an indictment is not a conviction, and perpetrators remain innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and the trial and sentencing have been completed.

Hunter Matthew Burroughs and Stephen Keith Andrews were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for their roles in three separate conspiracies to defraud the US government and private workers’ compensation insurers.  Their alleged crimes include a billing and kickback fraud scheme with multiple physicians and medical clinics and separate fraud schemes involving the shipment of medications from Arkansas to two Louisiana physicians, who then distributed those medications from their clinics in violation of Louisiana laws.  Additionally, Burroughs was charged with wire fraud for allegedly falsifying emails he provided in a civil lawsuit involving his sale of the company.”

Not to be outdone:

Robin Calef of Brockton, Massachusetts, was sentenced to one month in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of theft of public funds in November 2021.  She was also ordered to pay restitution of $102,289 to the VA.  In December 2006, Calef’s sister was receiving VA monthly benefits, passed away.  She failed to inform the VA of her sister’s death, and the VA continued to deposit monthly benefits into a joint bank account held by Calef and her sister until September 2017.  Bank records revealed that Calef made monthly withdrawals of approximately the exact amount of VA benefit funds deposited into the joint account.”

And:

Derrick Brewer of Enfield, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds.  In March 2018, Brewer submitted paperwork to the VA offices in Hartford as part of an application for service-connected disability benefits.  Specifically, he submitted form DD-214, which indicated that his discharge from his former service in the US Coast Guard was characterized as “Honorable.” However, the form had been altered before its submission.  According to official Coast Guard records, Brewer’s discharge was characterized as “Other Than Honorable Conditions” following his convictions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  There is no record of the discharge characterization ever being upgraded.  As a result of this submission, Brewer collected nearly $70,000 in VA benefits from March 2018 through September 2020.  Sentencing is scheduled for 27 May 2022.”

And:

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh of Warwick, Rhode Island, was arrested on charges of using forged or counterfeited military discharge certificates, wire fraud, and fraudulently holding herself out to be a medal recipient to obtain money and property or another tangible benefit, and aggravated identity theft.  It is alleged that Cavanaugh claimed to be a wounded US Marine Corps veteran and recipient of a Purple Heart and Bronze Star and schemed to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in veteran benefits and charitable contributions from organizations that provide monetary aid; to veterans in need.”

And:

From 2002 to 2019, Terrie Lynn Christian of Newaygo, Michigan, engaged in a fraudulent scheme that targeted children’s benefits programs administered by VA and the Social Security Administration (SSA).  This scheme, which involved obtaining benefits for two fictitious children, resulted in government losses of over $660,000, including approximately $110,000 for VA.  Christian was sentenced in US District Court to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and restitution of over $660,000.  The VA OIG and SSA OIG investigated this case.”

Do you notice anything odd in these stories of fraud; the documents did not stand up to scrutiny, but fraud was still perpetrated.  I have authentic documents proving service; I have had to present original documents several times and sign affidavits testifying these documents are my documents.  I am a veteran, and under the threat of severe penalties, I swore that I was not attempting to defraud the US Government.  Would someone please explain how these people, and so many others, can commit fraud so frequently?  Would someone please explain how the VHA and the VBA accepted clearly doctored documents and fraud executed?  Finally, where are the VBA and VA employees being held accountable for failing to do their jobs and allowing this fraud to be perpetrated with complicity?Mediocrity Joke

Time after time, I have been denied help, been given the bureaucratic runaround, and refused assistance until my documentation can be certified.  Then after my documents are approved, they are still rejected by bureaucrats who refuse to do their jobs.  Yet, crimes and fraud are perpetrated with the same bureaucratic inertia and complicit behavior.  Elected officials, do you understand why taxpayers are frustrated?

What reignites the explosion of my head is that these are only two of the multiplicity of government agencies.  Nobody knows how much fraud is perpetrated by employees and customers, and worse, even fewer care.  Elected officials, will you please explain why you are not more concerned and avidly involved in ending the fraud?

Let me cast your mind backward to 2005.  United States v. Alvarez, 567 US 709, is a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was unconstitutional.  The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was a federal law that criminalized false statements about having a military medal.  Elected officials, when the judges legislated from the bench, overstepping their authority, why didn’t you immediately go back to work and redraft legislation to end the theft of valor and penalize people committing fraud?  Instead, you rolled over like a dead, bloated, floating body, and valor theft has worsened!Plato 3

Elected officials, why have you not drafted new legislation to curb government theft?  Why have you consistently refused to act to curb the bureaucrats from abusing taxpayers?  Why do you remain silent on the shrinking morals in America that open the doors for more abuse of the law?  We elected you to the office to take action; what are you doing?  Yes, mayors, city councilors, judges, dog catchers, school board members, county commissioners, and every other single officer elected, you are included in this plea for action!

Dont Tread On MeAgain, I implore you, the voters, to scrutinize your elected officials for their continued employment.  Yes, start today.  I know the elections are months away, but it requires time to evaluate performance, become knowledgeable, and prepare to act on election day.  You deserve a better government, and those in office deserve to be unemployed!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Fed UP! – More Detestable Bureaucratism from the VA.

I-CareI hate being lied to!  More than I hate being lied to, I detest, with every fiber in my being bureaucrats and the inanity they promulgate to excuse their stupidity and throw a wrench into the works.  Today I suffered through yet another call with my VA-appointed primary care provider (PCP).  Not an online conference, but a phone call.  Who was in the office with the provider and why?  How can I guarantee my HIPAA information during a phone call on an unsecured line?  How do I know who I am talking to?  These concerns and more arise when you receive a phone call to discuss important medical information, and my PCP does not care!  My PCP refuses to use the VA’s tools to conduct patient appointments and instead creates workarounds; what an ingenious method for telling lies and spreading falsehoods as bureaucratic inertia; I’m so thrilled!

The PCP continuously claimed all my imaging is “normal” and “unremarkable.”  The pain experienced cannot be related, and the sources are questionable.  In polite speak, the PCP is trying to tell me it’s all in my head; a previous provider from the VA already used this as an excuse for not performing their job.  For more than 10-years, I have been fighting the VAHCS for help in reducing pain and in getting to root causes for the problems experienced.  Yet, today’s call was just more of the same BS wrapped in feel-good words, platitudes, and bureaucratic non-answers.  Honestly, after the third time the doctor related, the imaging was normal and unremarkable; I lost my cherub-like demeanor!  I did not swear until I got off the phone, but I am not anywhere close to a happy patient.

Honest question, does the VAHCS troll medical school for the bottom of the barrel, those people who can barely pass a class, let alone qualify for medical privileges?  I need competence, and I get useless lumps.  I ask questions, and the snowflakes pop out of the woodwork like ticks on a deer or fleas on a dog.  I am thoroughly sick of being treated like a know-nothing inconvenience.  The most important person in the VA marketed PACT Team is the patient who will be active, engaged, and informed.  The second most important member of the VA Marketed PACT team is the Primary Care Provider.VA 3

Since 2002 I have had a problem in my gastro-intestinal system; since 2010, the pain has been debilitating, and four years ago, I was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Today, 22 March 2022, the PCP reviewed the problems area on my electronic health record (EHR), which coincidentally resides at the top of the electronic health record and was mentioned four different times by myself, and noted that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is not listed.  Tell me, how would that make you feel?  The PCP ordered today’s call before the recent imaging appointment on my abdomen and pelvis, but the provider, who called me almost 30-minutes late, did not even look up my record before calling.  Had not studied the imaging results and formulated a plan of action to move forward, yet as the second most important member of the PACT team, I am supposed to trust this bureaucrat; I think NOT!

Through the miracle of modern technology, I had read and researched the imaging results more than 24 hours before the scheduled appointment to discuss the results.  I came prepared, but the provider could not be bothered to prepare for a call they demanded, then had the sheer effrontery to keep repeating that the imaging is “normal” and “unremarkable.”  Then the provider has the gall to tell me, repeatedly, that I was yelling, when in fact, she only did not like being spoken to with emphasis and insistence that she do her job!  Yes, I called her a bureaucrat and a snowflake, whereupon she threatened to hang up the call, but I disconnected first.  I miss those old rotary phones you leased from AT&T, they had heft, and when slammed, they made you feel better about disconnecting a call.PACT_model

From research, it is abundantly clear that pain from hernias can show up or be felt in areas far removed from the hernia site.  Constipation is both an indicator and a symptom of hernias.  Muscle weakness in the legs, burning sensations, and much more are all indicators of a hernia.  Yet, when I asked about all the other pains and problems experienced in my abdomen, I was told the hernia could not be the root cause, and the imaging is “normal and unremarkable,” but the PCP could not answer why these other symptoms are unrelated when asked.  Where is the research, seeing as “Dr. Google,” is discouraged; Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, plus I have access to the medical libraries at the University of Phoenix and Grand Canyon University.  With less than five minutes of research, I can locate and read data from reputable sources to form the basis of questions to ask a PCP, which is encouraged of patients by the VA.  Yet, the doctor cannot be trusted to provide any intelligent data, do any preparation, or knowledgeably speak to a symptom list; when will the VA answer why their PCP cannot do their job?PACT 1

If only I were the only person experiencing these problems and issues with the VA.

Former VA cardiologist John Giacomini of Atherton, California, pleaded guilty to one count of felony abusive sexual contact.  In the fall of 2017, Giacomini repeatedly subjected a subordinate electrophysiologist to unwanted and unwelcome sexual contact, including hugging, kissing, and intimate touching while on VA premises.  On 10 November 2017, the victim explicitly told Giacomini she was not interested in a romantic or sexual relationship with him.  Nevertheless, Giacomini continued to subject his subordinate to unwanted sexual advances and touching, culminating on 20 December 2017, when Giacomini turned out the lights in an office, pulled the victim out of her chair, and fondled her until a janitor opened the office door and interrupted the encounter.  The victim later resigned from her position at the VA, citing Giacomini’s behavior as her principal reason for leaving.  Sentencing is scheduled for 12 July 2022.VA 3

Will the VA-OIG troll through this former provider’s employment history seek out the other victims, or will this be swept under the rug not to tarnish the VA?  Having been an employee of the VA, will anyone, EVER, look at how employment law is abused by the leaders in the VA and correct the problems?  This incident should never have occurred, nor should it have taken years of abuse to end this despicable behavior.  Yet, what does the VA do, shut both eyes and pretend it does not occur in consequence of the designed culture at the VA.

Why did the victim have to tell another adult that their behavior was unwanted, and quit their job, before the VA took action?  Will there be an inquiry from congress?  Will any lawyers stand up and demand the VA correct this detestable hole that allows this behavior to promulgate?  I am not holding my breath!

Speaking of electronic medical health records, the VA-OIG has issued three separate reports on this topic, and none of them paint the VA with anything that shows competence.  In the report titled:

Medication Management Deficiencies after the New Electronic Health Record Go-Live at the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC in Spokane, Washington.”  The following findings were related:

Deficiencies in medication data migration and management resulted in patients having inaccurate or incomplete medications in their records or made filling prescriptions accurately more difficult—all of which can affect patient care and safety.  Areas of concern included:

(1) Data migration
(2) Medication formulary availability
(3) Medication order processing
(4) Provider notification and alerts
(5) Controlled substance tracking
(6) Prescription drug monitoring program documentation
(7) Medication reconciliation
(8) Medication list accuracy.”VA 3

As previously stated, I am not as nice and never politically correct.  VA-OIG, please allow me to correct your assertion, “Deficiencies in medication data migration and management resulted in patients having inaccurate or incomplete medications in their records or made filling prescriptions accurately more difficultall of which DO negatively affect patient care and safety.”  Trust is the first casualty in war and in dealing with the VA in ANY form, manner, or method.  When you cannot trust your data to remain confidential, the entire electronic medical record system can only be rated as UNACCEPTABLE!  The upgrading of the electronic medical records system at the VA is a 10-year, multi-billion-dollar fiasco, and as a taxpayer, I am done paying for this system!

Not to be outdone by the medication side of veteran care experiencing failures, the following VA-OIG report was issued:

Care Coordination Deficiencies after the New Electronic Health Record Go-Live at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.”

The EHR rollout caused problems in coordinating veterans’ care, ranging from the flags for patients at high risk for suicide not transferring to veterans and their care providers having trouble accessing video appointments and patient portal messaging.  Tracking outcomes were sometimes lost, and disappearing laboratory orders also resulted.  Although the OIG did not identify associated patient deaths, future deployment of the new EHR without resolving identified deficiencies could increase risks to patient safety.”VA 3

Again, the VA-OIG is practicing political correctness instead of being specific, and upfront, the entire EHR is a disaster, the cost is prohibitive, and any fool should see it is time to pull the plug, cut the losses, and hold the leadership accountable!  Yet, what do we see; the EHR is progressing into infinity and beyond at a snail’s pace!

The final nail in the VA’s EHR coffin should be that nobody involved can communicate with the IT helpdesk for the EHR as the IT ticketing system is unreliable!  Form the VA-OIG, we find the following:

Ticket Process Concerns and Underlying Factors after the New Electronic Health Record Go-Live at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.”

The failure to process and respond to VHA staff ticketing requests for help or report concerns resulted in reporting, tracking, and resolving problems.  These deficiencies made it difficult for clinicians and administrative staff to serve patients and impeded EHR fixes that can affect future sites.  The inspection team also identified five factors contributing to the deficiencies identified in the two companion reports above: usability, training, interoperability, needed fixes, and problem resolution.”VA 3

Imagine for a moment, you are responsible for a multi-billion-dollar IT project, and one of the first issues discovered by the users is the inability to reach out for IT help; how long would you remain employed?  Would you ever expect to ever work again if any of these problems were your legacy for leading the IT improvement on a multi-billion-dollar project?  As a consultant, I know how fast you would be fired and taken to court for business losses.  Why are these leaders exempt?  Where are the blue-ribbon panels and committees demanding people be held accountable for this fiasco?EHR-VA-OIG

When the VA-OIG casually mentions that PCPs are untrustworthy and not using the current tools correctly, should the providers be issued new tools; NO!  Yet, this is the opposite of what common sense declares.  Are you, dear reader, as a taxpayer, fed UP yet?  My wife reminds me, “These problems happen in civilian hospitals.”  No, in fact, they do not.  If data migrated from one patient’s EHR to another patient’s HER, that hospital would be sued and shut down so fast by congress at the federal and state level, all before the media firestorm would have barely begun.  If a patient were jeopardized because their provider could not track medications, that patient would sue for malpractice and possibly a class-action lawsuit.  If an IT project was occurring in the civilian world, and the users could not contact the IT helpdesk, the project would be overhauled so fast, and people fired, new records would have been set.

Knowledge Check!It is time we end this charade and money pit call the Department of Veterans Affairs, and every other agency of the Federal government bloat!  The government should be leading, not lagging, where operational efficiency and fiscal sanity are concerned.  I repeat, only for emphasis, are you fed UP yet?

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – The Power of, Reliability of, and Majesty in, the Law

Exclamation MarkFrank Crane begins our discussion with an absolute flash of brilliance from the Eternal Semaphore:

I am law.  I am Nature’s way.  By me comes order, unity.  In my hand, I hold three gifts: health, happiness, success.  I am more clever than the cleverest.  I am as old as God.  I am the secret of goodness; I am the horror of sin.  I am the eternal path, and besides me, there is none else.  Without me, men wander in the labyrinth of death.”

Do we understand what Frank Crane is trying to communicate?  Nature is ruled by law, God executes actions according to law, and justice and mercy can be served without compromising either.  Law is eternal, and nobody can escape the power and majesty of the law.  Consider another truth when understanding the majesty of law:

Give a man a chance, and you will often find him equal to the occasion.” – The Majesty of the Law (Short movie 1910).

What is the potential of a man; nobody but God knows for sure, but through obedience to the law, that man can become more than he ever thought possible.  I am listening to M*A*S*H 4077, episode 18, from season 9.  This is the episode where two buddies come in wounded, they enlisted together, they got injured, and the buddy discovers he has leukemia.  In the same episode, Father Mulcahey is expecting a visit from a Cardinal.  Two men were given a chance, faced with difficulty, who both rose to the magnitude of their stations.  What is Nature’s way; law.  R. W. Alger is quoted:

Laws are silent assessors of God.”

Father Mulcahy 2When the law is described, Leo J. Muir provides five words that are inseparably connected to describing what law is:

Eternal; Immortal; Immutable; Irrevocable; Inexorable!”

Looking back to Rome, how was Rome able to achieve greatness; they wrote their laws down and posted them above everyone’s head to symbolize that no one is above the law.  Writing down laws was nothing new, but holding everyone accountable to the law equally was unique in human history.  On this single principle, Rome rose in glory and failed ignominiously; everyone was accountable to the law equally.  Senator, pauper, soldier, general, no one could escape the equality under the law.  How did Rome lose their empire; Ceasar held themselves above the law.  At the second that law was to be applied unequally to the various classes of citizens in Rome, the fall of Rome was set in stone.

Flash forward a couple of thousand years, what do we find; the law is no longer the supreme entity governing civilized behavior.  For the cost of a lawyer, all laws become rubberized, twistable, and not applicable to those with enough money.  More than that, the tools of law, police officers, are not treated to the same laws they are enforcing, and the Monday morning quarterbacks strip them of their initiative, ability, and dignity.Gavel

The USA Today calls this Monday Morning Quarterbacking “transparency.”  As a point of fact, USA Today credits their actions to George Floyd’s death.  The officers involved in the George Floyd debacle followed standard and acceptable policing procedures.  George Floyd died from the drug combination in his system and his own stupidity.  Yet, the officers have been harassed into jail, their lives destroyed, their families ruined, all because the George Floyd inanity “looked bad” to the same media who hold themselves above the law.  The same laws that magically did not apply to Michael Jackson, politicians like Hillary Clinton, or even the Bidens and Romneys.  The media harps and complains when the rules are applied equally to them, and then harps and complain when the law equally applies to causes or people the media protects.  What destroyed Rome was the failure to equally apply the law to all citizens regardless of job, title, and friendliness with reporters.  H. W. Beecher sums the problem nicely:

Expedients are for the hour, principles for the ages.”

Laplace also pitches some additional power for consideration:

Truth and Justice are the immutable laws of social order.”

What is most often missing in modern society, any country globally; truth and justice are the laws of good social order.  Calling upon Frank Crane again, we find more consideration upholding the majesty of law:

Truth is the logic of the universe.  It is the reasoning of destiny; it is the mind of God.  And nothing that man can devise or discover can take its place.”The only constraints that you have on your income and advancement potential are those you place ...

What are the constraints upon a mans potential; look to the laws that man will obey.  Going back to Rome, Julius Caesar was but one of the more notable of Rome’s emperors; what moral laws did he obey; not many.  What social laws was he willing to follow; few to none.  Is it any wonder he was stabbed?  Modern society has the term “Arkancide,” it was invented to describe all the mysterious deaths, accidents, and happenstances that occur to people close to the Clinton political machine.  True, nothing has ever been proven, and neither President Clinton nor Hillary Clinton has ever faced justice, and I am not casting aspersions.  Merely noting there are a lot of incidents that need full and complete explanations, and transparency and accountability appear to be dodged by the Clintons at every turn.

Not that these two are the only politicians needing to face a judge and jury to explain and expound the whys and wherefores, merely noting they are definitely in the top ten of those needing to come clean about their actions while supposedly being “public servants.”  Hence the point of laws and the power in obeying the law.  When those who need to explain and expound come clean before the law, this concludes the speculation and truth and justice are meted to those needing it.

Image result for grace and truth came through jesus christ | Law quotes, Lovely quote, WordsThink of the great questions in modern society where truth and justice would solidly end speculation.  JFK’s murder, Epstein’s “suicide,” TWA Flight 800, Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, etc.  Yet, for all the world, the truth remains missing, and questions rightly remain.  What is the power of law; the ability to publish the truth.  Consider the wise words of Rousseau:

Truth is the most precious of all blessings; it is the eye of reason.”

Radcliffe detailed the same semaphore a little differently:

There is no progress in fundamental truth.  We may grow in [the] knowledge of its meaning, and in the modes of its application, but its great principles will forever be the same.”

Both authors are semaphoring the same message and provide clarity of reason to denounce the falsehood that the US Constitution is a “living breathing document.”  This constitutional republic’s foundational principles of the American experiment are not living or breathing but are alive only through our continuing growth of knowledge in how we apply the principles.  Only those who would destroy the law talk of the principles as “living and breathing,” easily changed,” or “plasticized” into any shape to justify the application of law to let the guilty free and punish the innocent.Law Cartoon # 6402 - ANDERTOONS

Cast your mind upon the first amendment to the US Constitution, also the first of the rights discussed in the US Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Why is this the first right in the US Bill of Rights; without this right being acknowledged by the government, the executors of government would have zero restraint before forcing people to believe what they choose them to believe.  Communism in China requires the CCP member to carry their “little red book” close to their hearts.  Mimicking and parroting the twisted ideals of Mao, who learned them from Marx.  Equally as important is the final phrase, the “right of the people to PEACEABLY assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances [emphasis mine].”  Tell me, how often have riots been “peaceful petitions for grievances to be redressed” in any of the recent years?  I repeat only for emphasis, when you block traffic, start fires, yell, scream, destroy property, etc., you are no longer “peaceably assembled” you are a terrorist group, and the total weight of the law should come down upon; you!Ravi Zacharias Quote: "Justice is the handmaiden of truth, and when truth dies, justice is ...

Consider all the “criminal justice reform,” “bail reform,” and other legislated and judicial chicanery foisted upon the American citizenry.  Surely Colton and Joseph Parker are semaphoring an urgent message:

Truth, like light, travels only in straight lines.”

Falsehood is in a hurry; it may be at any moment detected and punished.  Truth is calm, serene; its judgments on high; its king cometh out of the chambers of eternity.”

Leo J. Muir asks a question worthy of deep consideration, “Why this rigorous inflexibility of law?”  The answer should be apparent, especially when considering Rome and comparing America’s growth and current deterioration, “The immutability of law is the assurance of progress and the guaranty of justice upon the Earth.”  The US Constitution cannot be an easily plasticized document and still be a foundational bedrock of this constitutional republic.  A stone cannot be like silly putty, a non-Newtonian fluid.  Solid one moment, flexible another, shatterable, and resilient.  Laws cannot be a law and be shapeable and moldable to a situation, for then it is no longer a law, but a good suggestion applicable only to specific situations and people.  Is the point clear?truth : alcoholism

William Ernest Henley, in his immortal poem, “Invictus,” declares this immutable truth poignantly in the final stanza:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

The entire poem Invictus is a declaration of the majesty of law, the power of law, and the reliability of law.  Obedience of law does produce fruit or consequences for choices made, and in that choice and consequence cycle comes the justice and mercy of the law.  Once, I was asked, when I step before the bar of God, for a final judgment, do I want a lawyer or an advocate?  I do not want a lawyer, for a lawyer only plays with the law.  I want an advocate who knows the law, is aware of my good and ill choices, and can plead my case as if my fate was worth the universe’s weight.  How would you answer, and why?  Do you understand the role of law better?  What will you do right now to honor the law, even if in honoring the law you must loyally oppose those who are twisting the law for personal gain?

Knowledge Check!Let me be perfectly clear; I abhor the suffering the Ukrainian people are experiencing in the strongest language.  I denounce the actions of Russia in creating violence.  But, Zelensky is using the excuse of a Russian invasion to destroy the laws of Ukraine and create a dictatorship.  These actions are as reprehensible to me as the invasion of Ukraine!  Yet, if the American citizenry does not awake and arise, using the laws currently written, we too will see ourselves in a similar position.  Where the laws of America are twisted out of shape and then used as a cudgel to beat the American spirit out of her people, and destroy the last bastion of freedom on Earth.  The saving grace for America is her laws, and her citizenry needs to demand that all are equal under the law, for the innocent to escape and the guilty to be punished.

Let us now understand the role of law and thank “Whatever gods may be” for the immutable power of law!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Iconoclasts – Know the Enemy!

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1During the Summer of 2020, the world watched in horror as a group of people became unhinged.  They destroyed statues, wreaking images and ripping apart the social fabric of nations, destroying years of history all for purely political reasons and personal satisfaction.  These iconoclasts did not spring up suddenly; they were carefully groomed into existence.  The anger they expressed had been carefully tindered, fed, and fueled into the raging inferno observed on the nightly news.  Nothing is sacred to an iconoclast.  Any image, including statues, paintings, murals, buildings, everything man has ever created for social, religious, or political expression, was on the table of destruction, and these ignorant savages were going to destroy it.

Please, do not delude yourself.  The iconoclasts did not “suddenly come to themselves;” no, they are still out there, waiting for the next opportunity of convenience to become unhinged and destroy again.  But, you say, it is peaceful now; surely these people deserve dignity and should be offered the grace of justice.  No, a thousand times no, and a thousand times again, NO!GRE Word of the Day — Iconoclast. Today's GRE Word of the Day is… | by Team Bootcamp | Team ...

As a youth, I was told a story about an American Indian and a rattlesnake.  The rattlesnake had been captured by an eagle, flown high into the mountains, and was dropped.  The Indian was on a quest for enlightenment and happened upon the rattlesnake who begged for help and to be carried down to the desert so he would not die.  At first, the Indian said no.  He was wise.  He knew the snake would bite him and told the snake no.  But over time, the pitiful cries of the snake could be heard, and eventually, the Indian left his quest and carried the snake down to the desert below.  Always with the most solemn promises from the snake to not bite him.  As the boy removed the snake from his tunic upon arrival in the desert, the snake bit him in the chest.  As the boy lay dying, he asked the snake why; the snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

A snake does not become a toothless grass eater or honors his promises merely because he is begging for his life, and a terrorist does not become a law-abiding citizen by wishing and hoping.  The iconoclast is a terrorist, and a terrorist, at heart, has thrown off all compunction, all morals, all ties to society for the personal pleasure of watching it burn.  The terrorist wants to promote terror, is a political monster, and destroys for pleasure.  The iconoclast attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas and institutions.  Terrorists use violence.  The iconoclast uses violence—both delight in the mayhem they cause.The imposition of belief does not separate a terrorist and an iconoclast; in fact, the desire to force beliefs upon a population brings terrorists and iconoclasts more closely aligned.  The only significant difference between an iconoclast and a terrorist is the weapons of choice.  To a terrorist, the weapons are paid for through third parties who want to watch the destruction unfold (LIC).  The iconoclast will use whatever weapon is available.  Look at the toppling of statues, were they toppled using the proper equipment or whatever was available?  The iconoclast is an opportunist who takes advantage of situations, whereas the terrorist, a political monster, will create incidents, not take advantage of incidents.  Not that both are not committing acts of violence or spreading terror, but the terrorist wants to replace the system with one more their liking, and the iconoclast merely wants to see things destroyed.https://i.scdn.co/image/ab67616d0000b273af0aa6f49c0a4cf0ff28917a

The terrorist is different from an iconoclast in one other major way; the terrorist does not hide in society to pull down that society.  The iconoclast, as an opportunist, will wait, plot, scheme, and take advantage of every opportunity to create mayhem through the destruction of icons, symbols, images and has no problem becoming president, a teacher, a preacher, or any other job where they can act as a slow poison on a social body.  One of the best and most famous iconoclasts of the 19th century were Frances Fox Piven and Richard Andrew Cloward.  These two failed at being terrorists but have integrated themselves so thoroughly into American Society that they have been able to blind minds as iconoclasts and accomplish goals they could not achieve as terrorists with Weather Underground.

Frances Fox Piven’s book, “Challenging Authority” How Ordinary People Change America,” outlines the complete plan of this iconoclast, and yes, a line of congruence does exist between Mein Kampf and this book and author.  All tyrants will tell you their goals before they implement them.  As a freedom-loving person, I find this book to be incredibly difficult to read, and when compared with the history from the 1960s to today, I remain sickened by the success of these iconoclasts.  02 May 1966, the publication “The Nation” prints an article written by Cloward and Piven called “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.”  Don’t worry if you missed this article, “The Nation” celebrated the 50th anniversary of this garbage.  That the Cloward and Piven team were better iconoclasts than terrorists should not come as a surprise, frankly, nor should their drivel be published, but I digress.

Cloward and Piven’s iconoclastic theory was to force chaos on the body politic to keep impoverished people poor and angry, take advantage of their anger, and gain political power through riotings and disturbances.  The theory also begged for a massive expansion of the welfare rolls to build an ever-larger class of permanently aggrieved people.  Consider the elected officials who keep pushing for socialized medicine in America; they are iconoclasts, straight out of Cloward and Piven’s theories.  Recently the media has discussed the need for a guaranteed income, paid for by the government through the forced taxation of others.  This is another iconoclastic idea that finds roots in Cloward and Piven.  Look at every single political talking point from criminal justice reform to immigration, and you will find an iconoclast tearing away at the icons and fabric of America for personal profit and individual enjoyment.

Lots of media ink has been spilt on homosexual rights, privileges, and changing the nuclear family and marriage laws.  Would you be surprised to learn that those championing these talking points are iconoclasts taking their script from Cloward and Piven?  Would the “Woke Agenda” shock you to know that those who pitch this idea are iconoclasts and take their cues from Cloward and Piven’s theories and writings?  What about increasing the minimum wage; would you be interested in knowing that even a minimum wage is iconoclastic?  Forget about those pitching for an increased minimum wage to $15 an hour being iconoclastic.  The mere philosophy of having a minimum wage is iconoclastic and anathema to American history and the US Constitution.Plato 3

Iconoclasts are a secret society, but the secret is open and in full view.  The confusion these people generate helps them gain power, provides the fodder for their abhorrent behavior, and promotes them higher in power.  Why is the government so intransigent; the iconoclasts acting as “good bureaucrats” make the government intransigent and are held in control by other iconoclasts.  The iconoclasts tear down and destroy using plasticized terms like empathy, democracy, helping, support, dignity, and more.  Criminal justice reform punishes the victims of crime.  Welfare reform further strips those receiving welfare benefits of pride, honor, and the satisfaction that work provides, ever-widening the gulf between those who need and cannot obtain and those who receive welfare benefits.  Immigration reform is labeled as dignity, but in reality is nothing more than spitting in the eye of those who followed the rules, sacrificed, and acted appropriately.  The iconoclast always looks to how they can destroy something good and leave a void or replace it with something that perpetuates the further destruction of a society.

In a recent case, Pete Buttigieg took the money sent by Congress for roads and bridges, and designed plans to spend it on climate change and make roads less racist.  A road cannot be racist, but those in control are iconoclasts, and if they can further frustrate the road and bridges problem, they can sit back and watch the daily commute of millions of people and laugh hysterically.  The iconoclasts imposing this madness are called “innovators,” “innovation leaders,” and “forward-thinkers.”  All words plasticized to erode further and eventually destroy the American government, trust in government, and continue the eating away of the social glue holding America together.  Using laws to punish the innocent, protect the guilty, and make good and right evil, while evil is heralded as proper and transformative.President Adams

Iconoclasts did that, and we, the American people, need to know our enemy.  We need to understand what we are seeing.  You are not racist, homophobic, regressive, or any number of other names for asking questions or dissenting to the actions the iconoclasts are imposing.  You need to know who and what the enemy is and does to thwart the enemy properly.  It is good to stand for truth, justice, and the American way!  It is expected that the iconoclasts and terrorists in our Constitutional Republic would want to damage and destroy.  Not acceptable, but expected, because a Constitutional Republic, to ensure freedom for all, does not have natural freedom crushing antibodies in the system to rid the body politic of these types of people.Patriotism

Would you like some weapons in your arsenal to fight iconoclasts; ask for proof.  Remember, research does not provide proof of anything.  Looking at the fruits of the ideas and asking about the evidence that what they are proposing is beneficial.  For example, has the minimum wage been helpful; no, the minimum wage has not been beneficial.  People made more money, but the government increased inflation, borrowed more money, and charged more money for taxes, increasing the cost of living and then increasing the minimum wage to “assist the poor.”  Socialized medicine has this practice borne positive or negative results; the answer is resoundingly negative, and implementation of socialized medicine destroys too much!  Immigration reform has any immigration reform improved the plight of Americans ever; again, a resoundingly negative response occurs.  Crime went up, illegal immigration went up, social ills went up, moral decline, welfare rolls increased substantially, and much more happened.

Knowledge Check!Iconoclasts can only be fought when we:

                        1. Stand together
                        2. Learn
                        3. Act in unity
                        4. Never settle

What will you learn today that improves your tomorrow?  How will you use this information?  Does America die on your watch from the thousands of cuts the iconoclasts have made?  Today, let us resolve that America does not die on our watch.  No matter the difficulties, we must fight the iconoclasts!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – The Law of the Harvest

Exclamation MarkConsider a well-known truth that never appears to be fully understood, does a man sow thistles and reap strawberries?  Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” lists this as the fifth semaphore, and of the six semaphores, this one is probably my favorite to discuss.  Not because I am sowing rocks and reaping corn and beans, but because I often sow rancid vegetables and reap garbage, then wonder why I cannot improve my harvest.  As the writings on flash four stated, “Thy speech betrayeth thee,” I am a slow learned and generally only really grasp things after experiencing some consequences that would kill others.  As we discuss the Law of the Harvest, please note I am not here to convince or convert, merely to help myself.  If you find value in this topic, join me, teach me, that we may both then learn more perfectly.

The law of the harvest is straightforward; many farmers know this law cold, “You reap what you sow.”  If you sow lima beans, you do not raise grapes.  If you are sowing carrots, you cannot harvest apples.  No matter how many times you plant them, Cheerios do not sprout a doughnut tree; I know as I planted a LOT of Cheerios.  Bubble gum, when planted, never grows into a bubble gum tree; my mother lied!

Yet, with this mindset, many people, myself included, become depressed, disconnected from reality, and mentally unstable.  Thinking, oh, I can sow gossip and truth, and equity and justice will be shown to me.  I can tell lies, cheat, steal, then become rich, famous, and never have any negative consequences.  I can take and plant some cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, etc., in my body and remain healthy, strong, active, and never suffer mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  The law of the harvest doesn’t work like this, yet, this remains the greatest living lie.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

From the eternal semaphore comes the following:

Be NOT Deceived!  [emphasis mine]”

Now, consider how many people drink alcohol and expect not to suffer a hangover.  Consider the people consuming vast amounts of sugar, in all its various forms, who think they will never suffer diabetes, become overweight, or suffer any consequences from all that sugar.  My aunt is a great woman, fantastic artist, amazingly kind and generous person, and a chocoholic.  She never thought about the consequences of consuming chocolate because the research shows chocolate is healthy; she never could overcome the mental illness she suffered from that the chocolate was a comforting influence.  Her family mourns her passing!

The law of the harvest is a stern warning and an incredible promise.

He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

The pattern is evident for those struggling who sow goodness, kindness, and happiness.  Hold on; your harvest WILL come, and it will be glorious.  In the same breath, those sowing hate, envy, strife, malice, greed, and so much more, your harvest is also coming, and I feel awful for what your harvest will be.  For the law of the harvest comes with a profound sentiment:

God will not be mocked.”Frederick William Robertson Quote: "You reap what you sow - not something else, but that. An act ...

I promise, there is a God, an atonement IS available through His Son, and the Holy Ghost is real and powerful.  The enclosed sentiment in the Law of the Harvest remains my comfort when harvesting the bitter fruits my heart grows.  Yes, many times, I quake for the thought that I desperately need to find a way to raise a better crop on the stony ground of my heart.  Long have I prayed for a change of heart, for a line from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” rings forever in my mind:

The soil of a man’s heart is stony ground.  A man grows what he can, and he tends it.  ‘Cause, what you buy is what you own.  And what you own… always comes home to you.”

If you get nothing more out of this flash than the need to change fertilizers and seeds, all with an eye to improving your harvest, I have accomplished my goal.  Confucius is quoted as saying, “Our headstrong passions shut the doors of our souls against God.”  What great counsel, our passions are the seeds, the consequences are the fruit, and the law of the harvest governs whether we will have a harvest to enjoy or curse, and we choose how to value that harvest.

Bear with me a moment; I might have lost a few of you.  Let me explain.  As a kid, we often had gardens, and I was regularly on the working end of a hoe killing weeds.  I cursed those weeds; I despised every second I wielded that hoe in the garden.  My cherub-like demeanor was nowhere to be found working those garden rows!  Then came the endless days of harvesting, canning, storing, and eating that which could not be stored; I still was NOT a happy person.  Ever eat zucchini for weeks on end because that horrible stuff reproduces like rabbits in perpetual heat whose water is full of Viagra?You reap what you sow. #bible #liveBigly #life #affiliate #quote #inspiration #message #world # ...

That is the point; when the harvest comes, and a harvest always comes, we choose how we value that which is being harvested.  My father tried hard to teach me this lesson, but all I ever saw were the endless hours sweating in a kitchen preparing jars for canning, the blisters from hoeing the weeds, and the time spent doing that which we would eventually purchase in cans as winter dragged on and on.  I could not see any value in gardening, so the blessings of the harvest were lost on me.  Headstrong passions blinded my eyes to the blessings of the harvest, and I cursed the day I was conceived.  Confucius is correct, and I have witnessed the problems with headstrong passions interfering with the Law of the Harvest many times since.

I am also experiencing the truth from Cicero:

A youth of sensuality and intemperance delivers over to old age a worn-out body.”

I would add, an intemperate youth also yields a worn-out mind!  Having observed this as a youth, I thought I could escape the problems of being intemperate, and I can honestly proclaim, I was wrong!  Since my youth, I lifted objects heavier than practical; I gloried in the strength of my body and pushed it to the absolute limit many times.  What am I reaping; I was disabled by the time I was 30.  I am now older but not wiser.  I still want to push my boundaries without regard for consequences and wind up on the floor, in hospital, or mentally unable to think properly for weeks on end.  As a kid, when my parents were told of one of their kids being punished (a not infrequent occurrence), they regularly said, “Well, he brought that on himself.”  To quote Ray Stevens, “Yeah, I Did!”  I did bring on myself the harvest of intemperance and am delivering a worn-out body and mind to old-age.  There are lots of seeds we plant and many different types of harvests we reap.  When valuing the harvest, choose wisely how you evaluate the crop.#everything #you #do #say #choice #soon #later #quote #lessons #learned #life | Lessons learned ...

Pliny, more famously known as Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny, the Elder,” was a Roman author, naturalist, philosopher, and naval and army commander.  He is quoted as saying:

Lust is an enemy to the purse, a foe to the person, [a] canker to the mind, a corrosive to the conscience, a weakness of the wit, a besotter of the senses, and finally a mortal bane to all of the body.”

Lust is regularly only thought of as an intense sexual desire.  This type of lust definitely fits what Pliny is warning about; however, lust is also an overwhelming craving, unassailable desire, and intense eagerness or enthusiasm.  Yet, many might not fully grasp the semaphore Pliny is flashing; Henry Wordsworth Longfellow might be easier to understand:

The blossoms of passion, gay and luxuriant flowers, are bright and full of fragrance, but they beguile us and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly.”

Henry Giles and John Howe are both flashing the same message, trying to capture our attention and teach the same lesson:

The passions are at once tempters and chastisers.  As tempters, they come with garlands of flowers on brows of youth; as chastisers, they appear with wreaths of snakes on the forehead of deformity.  They are angels of light in their delusions; they are fiends of torment in their afflictions.”

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

What do you regret from your youth as the first tastes of passion’s deadly fruits?  Let me speak plainer; of course, you remember your first time in love, the rush of passions start, and the heartbreak of closure.  Do you see the seeds of passion and the harvested fruits as beneficial or deadly?  I know my answers to this question and understand more fully why modesty, chastity, and virtue are to be honored, respected, and cherished.  You choose how you evaluate your experiences.You reap what you sow | Everyday quotes, Peace quotes, One word inspiration

I currently work with a person who curses their ex-wife in the vilest language imaginable, yet, they praise their child in the same breath and bless the day they came into their life.  What seeds are being planted in the child, the co-workers, and society?  Will the bitter fruit be understood and evaluated as good?  Time will tell.  Byron summed this semaphore perfectly:

Vice digs her own voluptuous tomb.”

Of all the advice given, I wish I had observed the following more perfectly, and while I do not know the author, many have semaphored the following message in one form or another:

Shun the obscene!”

A long time back, exactly when escaped me, I watched a comedian who told some off-color stories for the audience’s amusement.  Those seeds bore some of the most pernicious weeds in my mind, choking out life and pleasure, goodness, and all things clean and kind.  Killing those weeds is a constant exercise, some would classify as futile.  But, I have chosen differently and fought those weeds desiring something better, and the fight continues.  I do not find swearing, debauchery, lewdness, immorality, perversion, and such amusing anymore.  When I came to myself, I cleaned out a LOT of entertainment, removing books, magazines, music, movies, and more in an effort to cling to the good and shun the obscene.  I had to re-learn lessons from childhood.

Now I look back on those mistakes, those seeds planted carelessly, and the bitter and thorny weeds I now fight and wish I could help others understand the same lesson I learned.  Not shunning the obscene leads to problems immeasurable.  In the US Navy, I had a good acquaintance who went to a party, was slipped a mickey, and woke up having been raped by another female.  I counseled my friend to report this event and get tested.  My friend declined because she “did not know if she liked it or not.”  I mourned my friend that day and many days after as she experienced what happened after not shunning the obscene.  Before she revealed her true self, her rapist was a person I respected and who was removed from military service for other actions.  But the crime of rape went unreported, a sad commentary indeed!  John Howe was absolutely correct:

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

Quotes You Reap What You SowMy friend’s experience in the US Navy always brings a poem to mind courtesy of Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
as to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace
.”

The truth of the matter remains permanently etched upon our souls or consciousness, “You reap what you sow.”  We inherently know this truth, and then become sidetracked by temptation, which comes in the forms of misery, depression, beauty, emotions, and more; wrapped in shiny foil, the fruit inside is always bitter, but the first bite is a temptation that over time becomes that which we would have died to avoid.  Robert Southey, the English poet, semaphored this message thusly:

They who engage in iniquitous designs deceive themselves into thinking that they will go so far and no farther.  One fault begets another; one crime makes another necessary.  Thus downward they go into the depths of guilt, which at the commencement of their career they would have died rather than incurred.”

QuestionCan you relate to your experiences with planting and harvesting?  What are you teaching and semaphoring?  Dr. Johnson adds a comment worth remembering: “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  While Dr. Johnson is correct, there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there are chain cutters available through repentance and a path back.  There is a reason to hope!  Not speaking religiously, nor am I here to convert anyone to any religious flavor, merely to alert those needing it that there is a way to clean your mind and heart, that your future may produce a better harvest.  Even if you might have to harvest garbage for a while as the ground cleans itself of the impurities dumped into it.  Mr. Muir quotes Simons, a reference unknown, regarding the path:

Impure thoughts awaken impure feelings, lead to impure expressions, and beget impure actions, and these lead to imbecility both of body and of mind, and to the ruin of all that is noble and pure in character.”

We who have survived youthful transgressions understand this path perfectly.  Note, we live in an age of severe iconoclasm, where every day, we are bombarded by attacks on established beliefs by institutions built for the sole purpose of tearing down others.  Who cannot replace their depravity and destruction with anything wholesome, good, pure, or worthwhile.  Where beliefs of religion, societal norms, and institutions representing the living and breathing were destroyed for the wanton pleasure of the iconoclasts.  The age of the iconoclasts began with the 1960s, and nothing built since is worth the pain and suffering we are experiencing now.  Worse, those iconoclasts from the 1960s are now teachers and professors, elected leaders, and their legacy of destruction stares them in the face while they laugh and take pleasure at your suffering.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

With each successive generation of iconoclastic behavior, the succeeding generations are a factor of 10 worse than their parents.  Think of how many generations have come and multiplied this abhorrent behavior into society.  Is it any wonder as a society we are in the mess we are in, where criminals get off, the victims are repeatedly punished, good is heralded as evil and evil for good.  But, I promise there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there is a path forward that leads back to life, growth, happiness, goodness, and a morally upright society.  Shunning the obscene is the first step!

Knowledge Check!We must be the generation that begins the repair job from the iconoclast’s destruction.  The ravages inflicted upon us will require re-learning, embracing hope, building faith, and acting charitably through faith and hope to act charitably first to ourselves, then to our families and friends, and then to the broader societies we all live in.  Whether you embrace a religious community or not, the imperative to “Shun the obscene:” the need to sow better crops to reap a more desirable harvest valued by others is universal.  Not to create fervor and fanaticism, but to create a people dedicated to improving ourselves and after improving ourselves to improve the world around us.

May we all enjoy a better harvest is my hope!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 5

I-CareI had originally planned on writing something else today, but my mental train was derailed, caught on fire, and I had to change my plans.  18 March 2022, I received an email signed from Sonja Brown of the Albuquerque VAMCS, who discussed how it takes 10-20 years for the VA to make a decision about which clinics to close, how to build new clinics, and the possibility of change (not) occurring in the New Mexico VA Medical System.  Doesn’t that warm your heart; two decades is a maximum timeframe for ending unprofitable clinics to save the taxpayer money.  Now multiply this problem by every government agency, and we find the reason for reducing the government bloat!VA 3

Luckily, I still have VA-OIG reports to discuss, not that I got behind, but February and March have been especially prolific.  In January, the pace set appears to be sustained, at least for the first quarter of 2022.  Some have commented that I do not write very often about the National Cemetery side of the VA’s voluminous bureaucracy.  Your wish is granted; a whistleblower reported that the Houston National Cemetery was not being operated properly.  The VA-OIG substantiated “some of the claims made by the whistleblower.”  However, the leadership at the Houston National Cemetery had, for the most part, already begun making changes before the VA-OIG arrived.

Thus, I congratulate the Houston National Cemetery leadership for being almost proactive and 100% more responsible than any leadership in the VHA and VBA.  My heartiest gratitude to you and your staff.  May you continue to show initiative, forward-thinking, and attention to detail, and may the rest of the VA’s hegemonically impotent leaders learn from your example.VA 3

A Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection (CHIP) was conducted at the James J. Peters VAMC in the Bronx, NY.  While a lot of the report is cookie-cutter, similar to all the other CHIPs that cross my inbox, I remain fascinated with a frequently used term from the report, “Servant Leadership.”  From the website linked, we find the following to define “servant leadership” at the VA:

We are all leaders, all of the time.
Servant Leadership is an approach for optimizing the delivery of client-centered services by strengthening employees to be an engaged and empowered workforce.  The philosophy and practice of Servant Leadership is one that emphasizes caring, authenticity, and putting clients and employees first, and ahead of personal goals or leadership aspirations.  Servant Leaders strive to meet both organizational objectives and the growth / development of their workforce.”

Please note ALL the grammar and punctuation errors are included in that quote.  Far be it for me to pass along any advice on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and proper communication techniques.  But, even this quoted material reflects the fact that there is a Grand Canyon-like chasm between DC leadership and the worm’s eye-view in a VA Hospital, VBA operations center, or the National Cemetery.  Be a leader at the VA, and you will NOT last your probationary period after hire; I have experienced this personally!VA 3

Worse, try and help the VA from the worm’s eye to see the problems and fix the issues, and the VA Leadership will chop you into little tiny pieces and feed your carcass to the fishes.  Yet, every single CHIP report mentions problems with “servant leadership” as opportunities for growth and development.  More bureaucratese for designed incompetence as an excuse, the VA-OIG will believe.  How sick to death I am of these shenanigans!  Don’t believe me; check out the full CHIP report, it’s linked above, read a few of the other CHIP reports from the VA-OIG, and discuss the actual problems you think the VA is experiencing.

Servant Leadership is officially defined, by Purdue University, quoting Robert Greenleaf from 1970, as:

The servant-leader is servant first.  It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first … a philosophy and set of practices that [enrich] the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.”

Notice a problem between the two definitions of servant leadership?  Recognize an issue yet with the entire concept of servant-leadership?  Let me give you a hint through a question, What does a “just and caring world” really define?  The whole concept of servant leadership is easily twisted, plasticized, and framed in a way that removes liberty, destroys justice, and wrecks havoc on a free society, all because the philosophy sounds good, but the practice leaves chaos and destruction in the name of creating a more just and caring world.Servant Leadership and Health Care: Critical Partners in Changing Times

I am not condemning anyone who wants to try and improve their leadership skills through learning servant leadership or applying some of the servant leadership philosophies in their leadership toolbox.  I am merely stating that care and caution should be used when trying to reshape the world on such ambiguous and amorphous terms as “just and caring.”  The VA is trying to force a leadership template for all leaders to follow.  This type of leadership philosophy warps the world and makes leaders into managers with excuses for failure, e.g., designed incompetence.

On a different topic, please read the following carefully:

The VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reviews nonpharmaceutical proposals submitted to the VA National Acquisition Center (NAC) for Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts valued annually at $10 million or more for high tech medical equipment, $3 million or more for all other FSS contracts, $100,000 or more based on manufacturer sales under dealers or resellers, or as requested by the NAC.”

Here is why the above is critical:

The VA-OIG determined commercial disclosures were accurate, complete, and current for only 24 of the 103 proposals reviewed.  This means 24 proposals were reliable for determining negotiation objectives and fair and reasonable pricing.  The remaining 79 could not reliably be used for negotiations until the noted deficiencies were corrected.  The OIG recommended lower prices than offered for 76 proposals.

If you, in your employment, had a 23% accuracy rate, and someone else had to come behind you, redoing all of your work, how long would you last in your job?  Note there are still 3 proposals that do not meet regulations and requirements out of 103 contract reviews.  Read the rest of this incredible report for yourself and know what your elected representatives are failing to curtail and control.  Then answer the following question: “Why should we re-elect ANY of the current elected officials?”VA 3

On the topic of designed incompetence of an almost criminal nature, we find the VBA still making headlines and breaking rules of ethics, morals, and logic with aplomb!  Before getting into the VA-OIG report, it is crucial to note that the VBA has exclusively gone to a third-party model for Compensation and Pension exams.  The most important part of the VBA’s operations, the comp and pen exam, is now conducted solely by third-party contracts companies.  A VA doctor sees a person trying to get their benefits from the VBA no longer but a third-party physician’s assistant at best, who is (supposedly) overseen by a medical doctor.  The lack of transparency and the complicated processes of the VBA are gordian, and transparency is hidden; read that as missing entirely.You know it's true - Imgflip

Here comes the VA-OIG, not to the rescue, but to rub salt into the wounds of veterans whose claims continue to be denied for lack of evidence.

“[The] VBA complied with the requirements of the law by reinstating 69 questionnaires on its public-facing website.  However, disability benefits questionnaires that were incomplete, inaccurate, or of questionable authenticity from non-VA medical providers were not always processed correctly when determining benefits entitlement—causing underpayments of about $13,900 and overpayments of $74,800 over the nine months studied.

Improper processing occurred because VBA lacked sufficient controls to ensure disability benefits questionnaires from non-VA medical providers were properly relied on when determining entitlement to benefits.”

Let’s let this sink in for a moment.  The VBA moved to a third-party model, then denied access to the VBA’s questionnaires to determine benefits, then had to be forced to reinstate the questionnaires.  Improper VBA processes and procedures led to over and underpayments of benefits, and claims processors still do not have the tools to make informed and logical decisions reliably.  Best of all, veracity (questionable authenticity) remains questioned in the process when the third-party contractor submits the forms for benefits.VA 3

You cannot make this stuff up; fiction writers can come nowhere close to creating a story this inane!  Is designed incompetence as a concept clear now?  The VBA developed a process using a more expensive model and then questioned the inputs for veracity from the contracted party, and the veteran suffered more!  Do you think the VBA intentionally designs its processes to help and create a more just and caring world (servant leadership)?  I think the VBA intentionally designed their processes to screw veterans in the hope they die before the government ever pays money on their claims.  Let me know what you think in the comment section, for this is a travesty of justice anyway I slice the data.

As a veteran who has been trying to get a compensation and pension decision corrected since leaving the service in 2004, having suffered both overpayments, which I had to repay, underpayments, and erroneous overpayments where the funds paid were (eventually) refunded, the news from the VBA designed incompetence is a particular form of hell for me to read and discuss.  I have had the third-party comp and pen exam doctors refuse to see me three times in the last two years.  Delaying a VBA decision repeatedly.  I have had the VBA reject the third-party data and a new comp and pen exam scheduled, rescheduled because I cannot wear a mask, and then conducted by a hostile and infuriating provider who refused to listen to the patient.Are you an Incompetent Developer? - Web Development & Web Design Blog

When veterans talk about fighting the VBA for a fair and honest decision, they mean a literal fight!  Don’t take my word for it; ask veterans how their comp and pen exam has gone; when you find those struggling with the VBA, listen carefully to their stories, and you will hear very similar stories.  The VBA represents government inefficiency, designed incompetence, and bureaucratic inertia to the Nth degree!

The following link might, or might not, work as intended; the link directs you to all testimony recorded from congressional hearings.  If it works, you will be able to read the statement of David Case, Deputy IG, who was testifying before the HVAC subcommittee on drafted legislation “Quality Education for Veterans Act of 2022”.  A brief synopsis from his testimony is included below:

This bill would significantly strengthen the OIG’s efforts to prevent fraud in VA’s education and training programs.  Given that more than $10 billion in taxpayer funds is expended on education and training programs each year and hundreds of thousands of veterans, service members, and family members receive these benefits, the OIG supports efforts to strengthen programmatic and beneficiary protections.  The statutory changes in the draft bill do not appear to be burdensome or costly to educational institutions or VA, and yet they have the potential to make a significant impact on the amount of education fraud that occurs.  The OIG agrees that these changes would work to lessen the harm suffered by veterans and beneficiaries and reduce losses to the government.”

Ever wonder how much a VA-OIG inspection costs or where and how the VA-OIG is funded; here is the answer and the problem.  Tell me, why is the VA-OIG not financed from the VA budget?  Simple question, not hard, and requires an explanation!  The explanation should be detailed, transparent, and I guarantee that the answer will reflect the designed incompetence and failure to scrutinize the executive branch adequately.  The VA is one of the few, if not the only, Federal Government Agency with a specialized inspectorate general, dedicated solely to independent oversight and continuous improvement of the VA.  I think the VA-OIG might be failing in its mission.VA 3

Fraud is rampant in the VA because the VA refuses to act, work, change, and improve.  How will throwing more money at VA programs alleviate the hurt, stop the fraud, and spur continuous improvement?  Almost every week, my inbox fills with accounts of fraud occurring, but the roots of the problems are never addressed, and people are not held accountable for failing to perform the work they were hired to complete.  Failing to hold people responsible promotes fraud, waste, and abuse.  Allowing whistleblowers to be fired promotes a discouraged whistleblowing culture, and the perpetrators are allowed to continue their nefarious misdeeds!  How is the VA-OIG going to tackle these systemic issues in the culture at the VA?  When will continuous improvement begin; I do not want to miss growth and development!

Knowledge Check!America, the VA is sick.  A symptom not a disease; the larger disease is a refusal to act morally upright.  The majority of those employed in the behemoth of government service have little to no moral compunction, are not servants of the taxpayer, and consider themselves “Too BIG to fail.”  We need a smaller government, and I hope this message helps enlighten and support shrinking the government!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – How is your quest for JOY coming?

Bobblehead DollLong before I read Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” I knew I wanted to find joy.  But, I was stuck; what is joy and how do I identify joy were my first two obstacles.  Yet, from many sources comes the following, in many different forms:

Man is that he might find joy.”

What is Joy?

An appeal to the dictionary confuses joy and happiness, forming part of the problem where understanding joy is concerned.  The closest definition for joy coming from the dictionary is to define joy as an ecstatic feeling, pleasure, or deep satisfaction.  But, if a person goes around chasing a euphoric feeling, they will be disappointed in pursuing joy.  If we consider joy as not an emotion but the result of an unexpected event that creates feelings of peace and contentment, then joy is more fully understood, but the quest for joy becomes more challenging to pursue.  How does one pursue an unexpected gift?

Christians, and some Jews, share a description of joy as a “good feeling in the soul, produced by a visit from the Holy Ghost (Spirit); thus, joy is felt as a consequence of a visit from another being.  However, unless you pursue education into those religions, you still might not fully grasp what joy is and why we seek joy so ardently.  One of the most straightforward descriptions for joy comes from the writings of Pope, an English author from the 16th century who wrote:

Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, lie in the three words –health, peace, and competence.”

Hence the pursuit of joy is gaining health, peace, and competence.  So we can conclude that joy is found in possessing health, peace, and competence, as a consequence or good feeling stemming from achieving these three items.  Now, I know someone will get bent out of shape here; what if I have poor health, how can I pursue joy?  The answer lies in understanding peace and competence as co-equal parts of health.50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Recently on YouTube, I watched an amputee discuss their amputation, health, peace, and display their competence.  One could argue that losing a foot is poor health, yet this person glows with good health for having joined health to peace and competence.  By the same token, I know several people who possess poor health, are depressed from not finding peace, and are not competent.  While working with mental health patients, I met a person in a wheelchair who cannot walk, can barely speak, and this person chooses to live on the street in misery.  This person has plenty of money for an apartment but chooses to live on the street eating from garbage cans in abject misery.  Thus, we can see the need for combining health, peace, and competence to obtain joy.  One might even define joy as a consequence of choices that build a life.  However, and this is critical, the feelings of joy are internal!

Imperative to understanding joy as a consequence is the need to grasp that joy is an internal feeling of ecstasy, delight, and wonder while dependent upon health, peace, and competence.  We cannot understate this importance nor overstate the criticality of joy to the combination of health, peace, and competence.  I have met very depressed people who possess competence but cannot find joy.  I have met people with great health and who are miserable.  Possessing one or two of these components does not disqualify you from obtaining joy or pursuing joy, but lacking all three will not produce joy in any quantity or with any staying power.  Joy is not an event in life but a collection of events from life, where “everything just clicked.”50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Finally, it must be expressly noted joy is not an emotion; thus, joy cannot be chosen from a list of emotions to fit circumstances.  Since joy is not an emotion, this is where happy and joy are most often confused.  If an external event occurs, and health, peace, and competence are not present, happiness, not joy, is being felt or experienced.  If health, peace, and competence are present, and the feeling of joy swells inside, independent of all other factors, then joy is being experienced.

Case in point, in the US Navy, I served in a toxic working environment as a highly competent sailor.  I possessed health and, through inner strength, enjoyed peace inside myself.  Frequently, I would experience joy, even though external elements and environments appeared expressly designed to “make me miserable.”  By choosing to disallow an external event to choose my emotions, peace was mine, and joy was a consequence.Joy Quotes 3 | QuoteReel

Another English author from the 16th century was Edward Young, who concluded the following:

On the soft bed of luxury, most kingdoms have expired.”

What is happiness?

The definition of happiness is as convoluted as the definition of joy.  Consider the following: “Any state of being, having considerable permanence, in which pleasure predominates over pain.”  Yeah, that’s going to help a person understand!  Sarcasm aside, the definitions of happiness also include some interesting aspects for consideration: fortuitous aptness or fitness, grace, beauty, and felicitousness.  Happiness is also the quality or state of being happy, as if that actually helps.

Happy, the root word of happiness, is defined as cheerful, willing, possessing good luck or fortunate, a marked pleasure satisfaction, or showing the same.  What the dictionary skips, and the elements needed for understanding happy and happiness, is that being happy relies upon external factors and is a choice.  We choose to emote happy or happiness based upon external forces, societies, people, events, and environments.Spread Happiness Quotes. QuotesGram

Steven Aitchison is quoted as saying, “Happiness begins with the decision to no longer feel sad.”  Is it clear that happiness, like all emotions, is a choice?  The importance of choosing our emotions cannot be understated, and many of life’s biggest problems would disappear if we chose better emotional responses to external stimuli.  Aristotle provides the final word on happiness:

True happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best possible self.  Otherwise, all you’re having is immediate gratification pleasure, which is fleeting and doesn’t grow you as a person.”

What is the difference between Joy and Happiness?

Of a truth for certain, confusing Joy and Happiness leads to despair, misery, and failure.  Please keep the following clearly in mind; happiness is external.  Happiness is based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts.  Happiness is connected to your hope.  Believe it or not, the following observation is not religious thinking, faith builds hope, hope builds charity, and charity is nothing but an outward action of an inner commitment (faith).  Happiness is faith and hope expressed for everyone to see.  Put the words in any order and use a thesaurus.  The result never varies; happiness is a consequence (resulting from) of faith and hope combined into action, and others might call that action charity.Quotes about happiness

If further questions arise about distinguishing between joy and happiness, please review the above definitions where I have attempted to clarify the delineation.  One essential factor in pursuing peace is time to reflect, which promotes peace and distills into competence.  Competence breeds from education (formal and informal) applied over time and understood through reflection.  Peace is stability, mental calm and derives from reflection and additional education (formal and informal).  Health can be physical, mental, and spiritual, but of these three, mental and spiritual are more important than physical health.  Again, when combined, independent of all external forces and environments, joy is the consequence, not happiness!

Please allow me to point out something truly obvious when a person wishes you joy, they generally also include happiness as an addition to their blessing.  For example, the Whitney Houston song whose lyrics claim:

I wish to you joy and happiness.  But above all this, I wish you love.”

Thus confirming that joy and happiness are two distinct and separate entities.  The US Constitution allows and encourages a person to pursue “Life, liberty, and happiness” as inalienable rights.”  Joy is not included!  Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:

The US Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch up with it yourself.”

The Quest for Joy

The quest for joy begins with education (formal and informal) as a building block for competence and to begin the process of finding peace.  While influenced by external factors (drugs, alcohol, disease, viruses, bacteria, etc.), health requires mental and spiritual inputs and is not content without peace.  Choosing to accept physical limitations is part of building mental and spiritual peace, and the human body cannot long survive without mental and spiritual health and peace, but the body can long endure physical health problems if mental and spiritual health remains.Meme Quotes » Happiness

Another truth becomes evident when questing for joy, “Joy dwells in the ordinary.”  Consider this for a moment; a person gives another person a flower.  Ordinary, simplistic, and yet this giving provides joy to the giver and receiver.  How swift and fleeting is the happiness of Christmas, where the gifts are generally more extravagant, costly, and luxurious, but a simple flower can spark a world of memories.

Why bees & biodiversity benefit from indigenous wildflowersMy granddaughter, a toddler at the time, and I took a walk.  She found a wildflower in the midst of thousands of other flowers on this walk which was important to her.  Upon our walk concluding, we pressed that flower into a book.  The time spent with her remains a cherished memory for me, and when I see wildflowers, the memories of this walk and flower pressing come back readily.  Truly, joy is found in the ordinary!

Elbert Hubbard reminds us that:

Ozone and friendship will be our stimulants – let the drugs, tobacco, and strong drink go forever.  Natural joy brings no headaches and no heartaches.”

Why; because natural joy combines health, peace, and competence into a powerful force.  No further stimulation is needed or wanted.  Bulwer Lytton provides the best flashing sign for contemplation:

We lose the peace of years when we hunt after the rapture of the moments.”

What will you sacrifice in the quest for joy, the peace of years, or the rapture of moments?  One of the most miserable people I have ever met chased rapture in the moments and could not understand why chasing momentous euphoria did not lead to anything other than the chase for more rapturous moments.  Like any drug, the mind and body build a resistance to the drug over time, and more and more of the drug is required to obtain a similar experience.  Be the drug sugar, chocolate, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, alcohol, etc., the pattern is the same, and the consequences are the same.  Depression, anxiety, addiction, destruction, call the consequences what you will, chasing the rapture of moments is death.

We conclude with the following from Robert Louis Stevenson, may his words ring out on our journey for joy as a beacon and a sounding board to base decisions upon:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauties, nor failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he has; whose life is an inspiration; whose memory, a benediction.”

May your quest for joy be fruitful!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 4

Last week, my primary care provider informed me that the VA is no longer responsible for providing my prescriptions as an outside provider that the VA Community Services team sent me to has increased my dosage.  My primary care provider pulled a Pontius Pilot and washed her hands, and I am swinging in the wind with more bureaucracy and less service.  The best part of the news delivered this last week, the fallacious, seditious, and felonious attack on my character, the behavior problem flag, is controlled by the primary care provider.  Boy, I am sick of the bureaucracy of the VA; if only this were the worst of the bureaucratic baloney, the VA is pushing out.

From many VA-OIG reports during COVID, the following, or something close, was a regular statement:

During COVID-19, VHA’s Office of Community Care (OCC) took steps to ensure veterans continued to have expanded access to health care in the community, as required by the VA MISSION Act of 2018.  OCC issued policies to VA facilities to postpone non-urgent appointments and offer alternatives to in-person care, such as telehealth.”

The VA-OIG inspected to see how closely this statement was adhered to during the height of the COVID pandemic.  What surprises no one is how badly the VA managed community care during the pandemic.

Findings:

    • The VA-OIG found that routine community care consults were unscheduled, averaging 42 days, not meeting VHA’s timeliness goal of 30 days.
    • Community care staff faced significant challenges beyond their control that contributed to the scheduling delays, such as the lack of availability of appointments in the community.
    • Some patients were hesitant to schedule appointments during the pandemic, failed to return phone calls, or declined care once it was offered. – While some of this is definitely patient-driven, what is not discussed is the abrupt shift, the lack of trust, and the confusion about the need to pay the community providers, among other things, faced by veterans forced into community care. As a reference point, it has been 24-months, and I am still facing requests to pay several community providers due to the VA not paying the bill due to a technicality.  The VA claims the provider has to “eat the costs,” but I keep getting statements and calls from collection agencies.  Guess the direction of my credit score, the direction of my insurance costs, and how happy I am with community care providers.
    • The VA-OIG found community care providers and staff did not consistently comply with requirements to manage routine consults, and leaders lacked tools to sufficiently monitor program operations that could have identified the problems.
    • Deficiencies emerged in documenting when patients were contacted about scheduling appointments, designating patients eligible for alternative care, and ensuring staff was trained in ways that would address those weaknesses. – Not to mention that pertinent medical records still haven’t been transmitted, received, and alerted the primary care provider. I had gallbladder removal surgery; no records ever made it to the VA.  I have MRIs, CT scans, and ER notes that, even after being hand-delivered, have not been added to my VA electronic health record and presented to the primary care provider to discuss, dating back to 2010.

How’s that community service program working for you?  In any other industry, this performance would represent an abysmal failure; but community care represents a healthy opportunity for improvement at the VA.  The findings listed are a mere drop in the conclusions discussed in the report.  I have a suggestion for the VA, stop overpromising and underdelivering.  How about you under-promise and then over-deliver?

The following VA-OIG inspection report focused on the Veteran Health Administration facility’s adherence to guidelines for medication management, and the following explanation is quoted from the report:

This report describes medication management findings from healthcare inspections initiated at 36 VHA medical facilities from November 4, 2019, through September 21, 2020.  Each inspection involved interviews with facility leaders and staff and clinical and administrative processes reviews.  The results in this report are a snapshot of VHA performance at the time of the fiscal year 2020 OIG reviews.”

Before we get into the findings, let me elaborate on that statement.  The VA-OIG cherry-picked/hand-selected call it what you will, the facilities to inspect.  No criteria discuss how these facilities were selected.  More, the processes chosen for review were also cherry-picked/hand-selected.  Appearing to represent that, the VA-OIG stacked the deck to obtain success, and the VHA still failed, or rather showed weaknesses.

Generally, the VA-OIG rated the VHA facilities as “compliant.”  But “weaknesses” were identified; read that as the VHA cannot follow established guidelines, protocols, and processes, even though they wrote and established these guidelines and medication protocols.  I call this designed incompetence of a criminal nature, but I am not half as lenient and politically astute as the VA-OIG!

Findings:

    • Aberrant behavior risk assessments
    • Concurrent benzodiazepine therapy
    • Urine drug testing
    • Informed consent
    • Patient follow-up
    • Quality measure oversight.

The following, also from the medication’s adherence inspection, remains significant:

“The OIG examined the following indicators of program
oversight and evaluation:

      • Performance of pain management committee activities
      • Monitoring of quality measures
      • Following the quality improvement process”

For the weaknesses represented in the findings to be prevalent, the “Pain Management Committee activities” represent a general failure of the committee to function!  For quality processes to be a finding, monitoring quality signifies that the bureaucrats are NOT doing the jobs they were hired to perform!  A quality process fails when the humans tasked with oversight refuse to engage, and the VA-OIG findings testify to the truth of humans actively refusing to do their jobs individually and collectively!

Having read and written about the VA-OIG reports for almost ten years, I swear sentences containing the following represent a majority stake in why the VA-OIG cannot be trusted.

VA-OIG inspections… underscored the value of independent oversight of care received in these settings to help VA make continuous improvements.”

Really?  Are you sure the VA-OIG inspections provide “independent oversight” and spur “continuous improvement” at the inspected VA facilities?  I have significant doubts the inspections do anything more than highlight the problems as the VA-OIG inspectors have no teeth, and lying has zero repercussions for the humans defrauding the taxpayer!  How do I know this; the VA-OIG reports generally go on to make a claim similar to the following:

The OIG’s findings show that immediate attention is needed in several critical areas….”

Do you, the dear reader, understand better the frustration of veterans and their families?  When the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) covering the National Cemeteries, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and Veterans Health Administration (VHA), can be deluded, distracted, and duped by conniving and conspiring people, what else can the veterans and their families do BUT become frustrated?  This is behavior unacceptable in every industry.  In fact, legislation overseeing non-government healthcare is strict in outlawing the conduct observed in government-provided healthcare, but somehow the VA is exempt.  Yet, the VA continues to make claims such as the following:

This is how the VA is delivering on its promise to care for the veteran who has borne the battle, his widow, and his children.”

But don’t take my word for it; the VA-OIG conducted several more Comprehensive Healthcare Inspections (CHIPs), resembling cookie-cutter inspections.  Staff training continues to be a major delinquency labeled as “High-Risk.”  Behavior Committee continues to be a central sticking point and inspection problem.  Cleanliness, tagged under “Quality, Safety, and Value,” continues to represent an area for growth and development.  Nurse-to-Nurse communications remain constant as a problem, and electronic medical records are not helping to improve on this problem.  Inter-facility transferring of patients, policy, and documentation also resemble a constant issue.  I feel like I could summarize a CHIPs report with my eyes closed; tell me, when does the “independent oversight” spur “continuous improvement?”

On the topic of “independent oversight” spurring “continuous improvement,” the VA-OIG conducted a VHA inspection of mental health activities for FY 2020.  Declaring:

This report describes mental health-related findings from healthcare inspections initiated at 36 Veterans Health Administration medical facilities from November 4, 2019, through September 21, 2020, and electronic health record review at five additional facilities.  Each inspection involved interviews with facility leaders and staff and clinical and administrative processes.”

Again, how the facilities were selected and the items reviewed appears to have stacked the deck in the VHA’s favor.  The VHA is still failing, showing weakness while generally being compliant.

Findings:

    • Completion of four follow-up visits within the required time frame
    • Appropriate follow-up of veterans with high-risk patient record flags who do not attend mental health appointments
    • Suicide prevention training
    • Completion of five monthly outreach activities.

Under these four categories, recommendations for improvement included:

    • Registered Nurse Credentialling – Source verification of licenses.
    • Staff training on Suicide Prevention
    • Care Coordination – Especially in transferring the patient, form completion, and evaluating transferred patients
    • Medication list transmission during transfers
    • Staff Training
    • Patient notification
    • Attending the Disruptive Behavior Committee

For anyone else keeping record, most of the list above is a repeat from the last several years the mental health inspection has occurred.  Color me shocked that the VA would still have issues remaining year-over-year, and if you cannot hear the sarcasm in that statement, I have some suggestions for you!

I am thoroughly sick to death of the VA failing in its mission, then bragging they are providing “Excellence in Healthcare.”  If the staff is not trained, they cannot perform their jobs, representing a leadership failure.  This is a truth for all industries, occupations, businesses, organizations, etc.  Nobody is exempt from this statement of fact, yet the VA-OIG keeps on swallowing this excuse year-over-year, and NO PROGRESS is EVER made!

America, are you aware of what the various government agencies are doing with your money, on your time, and with your consent?  If your neighbor took your checkbook and wrote checks you are legally responsible for paying, would you want better services rendered?  Elected officials (yes, I am including those at the city, county, state levels of government), why are you NOT scrutinizing the government more effectively and rigorously?  You, the elected officials, are the neighbor writing checks; why are YOU NOT doing the job we hired you to perform?

Elected officials, did you know that VA is not required to maintain records of returned bills, as a matter of policy, but those returned bills mailed to veterans are causing hardship for veterans.  I cannot recount how many times I have changed my address and my spouse’s address with the VA, on the VA-approved websites, and in-person with VA representatives, and still have had mail not delivered for months due to a wrong address in a legacy system.  Yet, the VA is not policy mandated to check returned mail, track that mail to a veteran, and check the different legacy and non-legacy systems for address veracity.

Elected officials, do you read the VA-OIG reports?  Honest question, as the following is directly from a VA-OIG report.

“[VHA primary care] providers did not consistently

        • Identify a surrogate should the patient lose decision-making capacity
        • Address previous advance directives, state-authorized portable orders, and/or life-sustaining treatment plans
        • Address the patient or surrogate’s understanding of the patient’s condition.”

The VA designed the PACT Team to improve care and deliver on the VA’s mission, yet the primary care provider has the following failures weaknesses showing.  The VA-OIG can do nothing to improve this glaring oversight, but you were elected to force change and spur “continuous improvement” in the executive branch officers and employees.  Well, where are you?  The VA-OIG substantiated that a failure in the PACT team led to a delay in a cancer diagnosis, causing increased pain, problems, and resource loss for a veteran; where are the elected officials, and the media for that matter, in raising a holy rhubarb on the PACT Team failing this veteran?

Elected officials, did you catch that statement in the VA-OIG report on the cancer diagnosis?

Facility leaders have an unwritten expectation that primary care providers conduct a thorough historical review of the patient’s electronic health record starting with the most recent annual note; however, the OIG found that not all of the patient’s providers conducted historical reviews, but instead focused on current issues and problems identified by the patient.”

Having transferred between PACT teams inside the VHA and state-to-state, I can affirm this is exactly what is transpiring in the PACT team; the second most important player, behind the patient, is the primary care provider.  When the primary care doctor fails in their job, like dominoes falling, the care of the patients rapidly cascades into a dynamic failure of healthcare in a VHA facility.  What are YOU doing to stop this madness and demand accountability?

The electronic health record has a section near the top of the record for “Problem List.”  Guess what; when providers fail to keep this section updated, current, and accurate, the healthcare of the patient borders on malpractice requiring only a slight push to arrive with a dead veteran.  The VA-OIG found providers and nursing staff failures to update the problems list accurately, keep the problems list current, and regularly discuss the problems list with the most critical member of the PACT team, the patient!  Providers failed to comply with sound science, good business practices, and act appropriately for the patient’s health; do you think this might be a slight problem in the PACT team?

I have offered the VA several suggestions for plotting a path forward.  Yet, the VA cannot and will not take advice without stern and reproachful measures taken by Congress.  Elected officials, it is time for you to act and groundswell the changes needed in every government agency, even if it means reducing the size of government!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – Conquering Self:  The Best and Last Victory

MumbleMarch 14th is National Pie Day!  I celebrate a lot of life with food.  We begin the second flash with Plato, “The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.”  In looking around, the worst things we see originate in failing to accept responsibility and refusing to conquer oneself.  Consider the alcoholic or the smoker; nobody had to pressure them into their vices, nobody poured drinks or cigarette smoke into their bodies, but psychologists declare alcoholism is a disease, and smoking is the fault of cigarette manufacturers.  Really, or are these addictions merely failure to conquer the enemy within.

I am not judging anyone; you are free to believe what you will.  I am making an observation, and the observation is founded upon both personal experiences and the sciences of addiction and addiction recovery.  The best addiction recovery programs teach one how to begin to conquer oneself.  No other changes to a person’s psychology occur, except becoming free from an addictive substance.  Take Da Vinci, who said, “You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself!”James Allen Quote: "Self-control is strength. Right ...

Suppose both Plato and Da Vinci are to be believed.  In that case, we can know for fact the truth behind addiction recovery and psychology and the lie behind addictions being a disease — the Hollywood myths being perpetrated against society, that conquering self is old-fashioned, unpopular, or trivial.  Consider your favorite movie or TV show, preferably one glamorizing drinking, smoking, or other behaviors anti-self-control.  Using an example, M*A*S*H 4077th often featured heavy drinking of what was supposed to be alcohol but was water.  One star from the show reported that had they drunk as much as the show reported them drinking, they would have died or been severely injured.

Moving from Hollywood, let us explore other areas where controlling oneself is necessary but is constantly refused.  James Thompson stated, “Real glory springs from the silent conquest of ourselves.”  Look at the capitals of your city, county, state, or nation; what do you find; little to no self-control and worse sarcasm when anyone who practices self-control is spotted.  Catch the latest rant from Biden?113 self control quotes to get you inspired (page 1 of 7)

Florida passed legislation asking teachers to restrain themselves where advanced topics of sex are concerned and teach the subjects they were hired to teach.  What did Governor DeSantis face; scorn, ridicule, and threats of violence.  Where did these bad behaviors originate; from those who practice the least amount of self-control in American society.  King Solomon states without equivocation, “Who then is freeThe wise man who can govern himself.”

Think about the most outrageous members of society, the pains they suffer mentally, physically, and emotionally for their lifestyle choices, which stems from their blatant refusal to practice self-control.  Never forget what Victor Hugo said, “People do not lack strength, they lack will.”  Mirabeau adds that “Nothing is impossible to the man who can will.”  Think of a two-year-old; why are the “Two’s” considered terrible; the child is beginning to exercise personality, and personality is 99% willpower.  The child has tons of will but not the intelligence to know what to do with that personality, thankfully, the child also lacks the size and strength to force their will, or the entire world would tremble.use your mind | Discipline quotes, Self control quotes, Control quotes

Napoleon reported, “A resolute determination is the truest wisdom.”  Olive Wendell Holmes Jr. is quoted as saying, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”  In these two pieces of wisdom hangs the test for responsible people and the aspirations of a person willing to learn and try.  More to the point, they form a measuring stick for society, especially the American culture.  Are we resolute and determined?  Are we seeking new experiences, even if the experience is nothing more than mastering a habit that has beguiled us for too long?  More, are we expecting resolution and determination from those who aspire to be elected to office?

Over the weekend, America witnessed the lack of determination and spinless lack of resolution in Vice President Kamala Harris, and the world weeps!  That cackling fool must have worn her feather panties for all the laughing she did, and this is NOT the appropriate message to be sending out right now.  The world needs leadership, and we get a clown and a doddering old fool who cheated an election.  We need a Winston Churchill, a Ronald Reagan, an Abraham Lincoln, and we got Biden and his clowns.  Is the distinction clear about who to select for elected leaders?Self Control Quotes (40 wallpapers) - Quotefancy

Is America worth fighting for?  That question is too big to answer and contains a thousand variables.  Let’s ask a fundamental question, are you worth fighting for?  In America, you can change yourself, and in changing, you realize a totally different future than the one your parents suffered.  In fighting for you, you change society in America.  Are you worth fighting for?

In answering this question, you reveal both your hopes and your wishes.  I believe you are worth fighting for; do you believe you are worth fighting for?  What will you do today that makes today different from yesterday, that will make tomorrow different from today?  The second flash is the most personal, reflecting the power inherent in each person to choose.  The freedom of agency is a priceless commodity.  When enshrined in law, the US Constitution, self-control or the lack of self-control will be reflected in society and national discussionsInspirational Quotes On Self Control. QuotesGram.

I cannot emphasize the following enough, the soul sickness America is suffering right now is directly tied to a lack, an absence, and a dearth of self-control.  Open any news program, and the headlines scream problems with the law, war, oppression, all of these social ills find their roots in a lack of self-control.  A woman stabbed her date because of the American Drone strike policy; lacking self-control, her date almost died.  Another woman was hit punched more than 125 times because her attacker lacked the self-control to keep his hands to himself.  Crime waves are sweeping the nation, all from a lack of self-control.  America is sick, and the disease stems from individuals who refuse to exercise self-control.Self-control is strength... | Words quotes, Wisdom quotes ...

War represents a national lack of self-control.  Russia invading Ukraine is nothing but self-control writ large.  What is the media doing; they are cheering a lack of self-control, “If it bleeds, it leads,” has been the axiom controlling the media’s interest, which is part of the problem.  Self-control does not sell newspapers, but it sure does brag and cheer for the dregs of society to act like two-year-olds in the candy aisle of Walmart.  Ever notice how if the child throwing a tantrum does not get the attention, they stop; guess what happens when public shaming occurs, and no attention is paid to the dregs acting like spoiled children?

Self-control is one of those principles that many will never understand until they are forced to learn self-control.  Others will never believe the problem could be resolved simply as a person exercising self-control to fix this national sickness.  Yet, I promise you the answer is this simple and elegant, plus it is effective.  When more people understand and cast derision and aspersions for those lacking self-control, a massive shift in liberty, rights, freedom will blossom like new dawn over the globe.

Knowledge Check!Try this as a guiding principle in your life, and watch it turn your world upside down for the better.  As a foodie, I will celebrate more responsibly National Pie Day.  I have a hunger to eat an entire pie right now.  But I will practice what I preach and introduce some self-control, for I want, and need, tomorrow to be better than today.  If celebrating National Pie Day, please enjoy responsibly.  All pie recipes are gladly shared.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – First World Nation Problems

Bobblehead DollSince Russia invaded Ukraine, no longer is the truth able to hide; America has been pursuing easy things, making America weak!  Several years ago, I was in a used book store and found “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore” by Leo J. Muir.  I count myself extremely blessed to have found and purchased this treasured book!  Mr. Muir explains that a semaphore is a means of using flags to send messages, and people have been using flags to send messages for a lot of the earth’s recorded history.  The author declared that regardless of religion, certain truths are timeless, ageless, and failure to learn and live these truths brings destruction to civilization.

The first flash/truth is that pursuing easy things makes people weak.  Consider for a moment a German proverb, “The hard is the good.”  Work is an eternal principle; it does not change if you believe, or do not believe in, God, god, or gods.  The need to work, to pursue difficult tasks makes boys into Men, girls into Women, and at the end of life reflects honor and dignity in a life well-lived.  Yet, what do we find daily as the life to pursue, playing games, rest, recreation, and all the waste this involves.Work Quotes With Pictures | Labor Day Quotes | Marketing Artfully

I know not the source, but as a kid, I heard someone complain that the hardest and most difficult job in the world is being a person of leisure.  As a kid, I had worked my fingers to the bone every day, going to bed bone-weary and mind tired.  To hear this man talk blew my mind, for I would have given anything to have less work to do.  Yet, during periods of unemployment, I have wept in frustration for not having a job that tasked my mind and body.  In employment right now, I often look around and ask what else is there to do, for I feel like I am cheating my employer.  Some call this a work ethic, I call is being responsible, professional, and honest in my dealings with my fellow-man.

A friend informed me that most people do not think similarly, and I wonder why.  My friend said it was a “First-World Nation Problem.”  He explained that in first-world nations, you have to go a long distance to find anyone who works like I do and thinks work is necessary.  Mr. Muir reminds us, “There is no immunity from the penalty of indolence and irresponsibility.”  Think of that, too much idleness, too many video games, not enough personal responsibility builds weak people, and there is no social or personal immunity, no vaccination, from the consequences.

40 Motivational & Inspirational Quotes About Hard WorkWhat’s worse, First-World nations are passing this malady around the globe.  We are sick from the disease of not working, akin to catching polio, leprosy, or a fatal case of pneumonia; the disease can be treated, but the effects are life-changing.  You cannot achieve for your ability is curtailed.  We have forgotten that “There is NO excellence WITHOUT labor” [emphasis added].  I remember assignments from K-12 that left me physically drained from the mental exertions, and I remember lazing my way through lessons; in both situations, the grade I earned was of my own creation!  Believe me, my parents were exercised to see my low grades, and I had my school and home work increased to new levels to achieve learning that one lesson, “There is NO excellence WITHOUT labor.”

What do we see today?  Students are allowed to graduate who cannot read, do simple math, and write their names.  We see lowering standards for scholastic performance in K-12, which produces a slug of a student who expects to graduate college.  Woefully unprepared people who were abused and allowed to abuse themselves during K-12 due to their skin color, economic situation, or English as a second language.  What teachers do you remember from school, those who allowed you to slide, or those who believed in you, challenged you, setting high standards, and then teaching you how to meet those high standards?

I told my friend, and dear reader, I am telling you, the principle of work should not be sacrificed to “Leave no child behind.”  If a person sets out to leave no one behind, they get to know their charges, work their charges, set high standards, teach how to reach those high standards, and then urge them on to new growth opportunities.  Why did the school boards lower standards; they believe in growing a class of citizenry that can be controlled!  Since the late 1800s, this has been the government’s intentional actions in America.  Some will use their weakened minds and claim this is the dastardly work of a single political party, but the reality is that both political parties are neck-deep in the responsibility they have shirked and promoted by lower standards, and they call this “helping.”50 Famous Quotes About Success And Hard Work - Dreams Quote

No, do not for one second believe that this is a “First-World nation problem,” it is a problem made by conspiring men (and women) for the overthrow and destruction of freedom.  They have been carefully creating a class of people who can be counted on to be controlled for personal political gain.  Independent people, strong-bodied and minded people, scare those who desire to be a ruling class.  Consider Putin in Russia; he wanted to rule, he has planned, crafted, killed, lied, and cajoled to rule, and he is a strong person ruling a weak people who have gotten sick on the pursuit of easy things.117 Best Hard Work Quotes That Everybody Must See

Look at Cuba and North Korea; the people have had to be beaten and starved to weaken them into submission and keep them dependent on a strong leader.  Yet, how quickly could those strong people throw off their oppressive governments if they had even 1/100th of the opportunities their poorest neighbors enjoy.  What happens in countries oppressed, the leaders become weak pursuing easy things, the people get stronger, and then the government is backed against a wall, and either the people overthrow the government, or the government is killed.  Then the cycle begins again until the population is consumed by a neighbor (Ukraine being consumed by Russia) or democracy and capitalism are tried and found to be valuable.  But democracy is only powerful if the law is held sacrosanct!  Capitalism is only useful and helpful when the society employing it has morals, values, and is educated.

26 WORK Quotes About Hardships And Cooperation At Workplace | Brainy ReadersWhat is weakening every oppressive regime around the globe; is a failure to honor the rule of law.  The leaders pursuing easy things become weak, and their choices inevitably lead them into problems with the law.  Think back a couple of years to the Chinese baby food or dog food scandals.  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) blamed mid-level leaders for their roles in the scandals, but were these people really to blame or merely useful tools to help deflect blame from the flagrant and profligate rule-breaking of someone higher?

Pursuing easy things makes people weak!  There is no escaping the damage pursuing easy things does to an individual and a society.  Yet, how big are the entertainment industries?  How expansive has the lure of taking it easy become?  How prevalent have games become?  An entire new technological industry sprung up to feed the appetites of those pursuing games?  For a truth, Muir quotes Franklin for the following flash, “Laziness travels slowly and is soon overtaken by poverty.”  How expensive have cellular phones become?  How soon do those phones wear out and need to be replaced?  Worse, how many politicians, Hollywood “influencers,” and hundreds of other sources exemplify not working, hide behind a “work-life balance,” or employ social media to display a life of plenty and ease without working?  The only way to keep the American dream alive is through hard work!

Knowledge Check!King Solomon provided the only instruction that offers a modicum of relief and is quoted as the final flash, “In all, they getting, get understanding.”  I know many people’s childhood was full of abusive relationships.  From parents to teachers, to peers and government officials, you have been robbed, plundered, and the abuse is real.  For all that, you remain an eternal being suffering a mortal existence.  Thus, you have the choice to get understanding.  You possess the power to throw off the abusers.  Learn to learn.  Learn to read.  Learn math.  Learn how to write.  You hold the power, choose to exercise that power, and you will bless your life and the lives of those around you!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.


Stupidity or Malice?

QuestionPoliticians have a choice; as a point of fact, the answers are provided to the question; all you have to do is choose between option A: Stupidity and option B: Malice.  Consider the questions facing you, dear reader.  How do I pay for fuel to get to work and back?  How do I pay for food?  How do I afford to pay my tax bill?  How do I make my bills this month since the prices of everything have skyrocketed?

With the US President, his staff, and his executive office vassals, flunkeys, and lackeys, all spouting lies, hyperbole, and horse manure, we must have these people choose their answer to the question, “Why are you creating these problems?”  The answer is either “I am stupid,” willfully making decisions through ignorance, which would mean they are woefully unqualified for the jobs they hold and need immediate replacement.  Or, the answer is, “I am full of malice, contempt, and possess an utter disregard for the pain and suffering I am causing,” which would mean they need to be charged, arrested, and held over in prison until their day in front of a judge.

There is no third option anymore.  From the mayor’s office to the president’s office, the politicians have decided they have rights, liberties, and powers that we, the voters, never gave them.  Under the US Constitution, we are the final arbiter of the politicians’ powers and authorities.  Thank whatever gods may be for the US Constitution, for without the US Constitution and various state constitutions, we would be in a spot worse than Canada!Canada Cuba Crossed Pin | Crossed Flag Pin | Friendship Pin

Speaking of Canada for a minute, do you remember the #FreedomConvoy from February?  You know, those hard-working truck drivers hailed as hero’s only as long as they toed Trudeau’s line.  The same truckers he arbitrarily threw in jail stole their money, ruining businesses and people using the law meant for terrorism against law-abiding citizens who were fit to be tied with the COVID-hysteria and COVID-Kabuki.  Canada is headed for living conditions and lifestyles more akin to Venezuela and Cuba than a first-world nation, all because their laws do not have a legal system in place for recalling a prime minister.  Tell me again how bad it is to live in the United States, the globe’s only constitutional republic.

Let’s ask Putin, and for the fun of it, Zelensky, was it stupidity or malice that began this Ukraine crisis?  What was Ukraine doing investing so much money in Biden’s family through Hunter?  How’s that investment working out for you?  Putin, with your entire economy in ruins, how’s that invasion working out for you?

Speaking of Putin, Biden, Pelosi, Clinton, and many others raises an interesting thought.  You all appear rich enough; have you forgotten that wealth is transitory, ephemeral, and quickly lost out of stupidity or malice?  I am betting it was stupidity!  No one maliciously acts in a way to chop off their legs, arms, and hands to spite the body’s need for these appendages.  This is precisely what you have done in denigrating, deriding, and abusing those who originally put you in power, allowing you to accumulate the riches you have.

Apparently, Putin forgot the lessons of the Czar’s that led to the birth and eventual death of the USSR.  Talk about history repeating itself!  The same reasons that killed the reign of the Czar and the USSR are the same that is threatening Russia right now.  Stupidity or malice!  America, will you please wake up to the problem you are facing?  The stupidity or malice in your political leaders is causing pain, suffering, and real-world ramifications for every single country on Earth!

Don’t take my word for it.  Do some research and look at how inflation in America is killing economies across Africa and Asia.  Do some research and look at the instability of the US Dollar as the world’s currency and see how this is destroying people’s dreams the world over.  Do a little research and look at how the US Dollar not being the currency for oil and gold will affect, and essentially destroy, these tradeable goods for the benefit of tyrants, thugs, and criminal organizations.  Would you like to know what having China’s Yuan or Renminbi as the currency for gold or oil look no further than the wasted lands of northern Mexico?  The gangs and criminal organizations have “disappeared” (murdered, killed, destroyed) hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom are innocent bystanders.215 bodies found in Mexico mass graves-488829

I heard an estimate of how many people have been disappeared by the cartel in northern Mexico; the number was based on how many mass graves have been found, how many there might be that need-finding, and the growing number of people per mass grave.  The numbers bandied are horrifying, but the numbers are barely even a hundredth part of the pain, suffering, and cost of America’s illegal alien and drug problem.  Then consider how Biden’s lackeys have been using the dead of night, the power of bureaucratic inertia, and a complicit media to hide how many aliens have been transported from the border and infiltrated into America’s communities.  Stupidity or malice never seems to stretch far enough on this single issue, especially when we add the prevalent human smuggling, the indentured servitude and slavery, the child abuse, and so much more into the equation.

Stupidity, willful or not, and malice are the terms we need to use.  Consider the wisdom of Cipolla, who wrote the “5-Rules of Stupidity.”  “Some stupid people usually cause only limited damages, but there’re others that cause terrible damage, not just to one or two individuals, but to communities or entire societies.  The ability of a stupid person to hurt others depends on the […] position of power or authority he occupies in the society.”  Clearly, we need to revisit the words of this Italian economist, for there are some truly stupid people in power.  If interested, Carlo M. Cipolla wrote “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity,” available in hardcover and Kindle from Amazon.

When I first read the works of Cipolla, I thought the following was merely restating the obvious.  “There are people who, with their unlikely actions, not only cause harm to other people but also to themselves.  These people belong to the superstupid genre.”  However, after experiencing the Biden administration, I fully appreciate a real need for superstupid people to possess their own genre.  Consider for a moment, Biden has spent his entire life in the political arena, he has failed due to his own duplicity and plagiarism to win the presidency, and the president he served under as vice president said he was inadequate to the office of president.  Should we not have placed him in his own genre of superstupid?

Knowledge Check!Nick Diamos is quoted as saying, “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”  Eric Hoffer is quoted as saying, “There is probably an element of malice in our readiness to overestimate people – we are, as it were, laying up for ourselves the pleasure of later cutting them down to size.”  When applied as operational principles to the political class currently in power, I cannot decide which might be more correct.  I do know that the politicians need to answer the question posed so we, the citizenry, can answer the questions we face.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.