“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA – Chapter 2

I-CareAs bad as the last several months have been, I hate adding more bad news; but the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) keeps reporting, and I keep summating.  Due to the absolute overabundance of incredible bureaucratic insanity, today’s article format will necessarily shift to report more and comment less.  Don’t worry, I will still comment on the more egregious examples, for some of these VA-OIG reports are scarier than Joe Biden dressed as a mall Santa at a Fourth of July celebration feeling up little children!

  • 2020 Pre-award reviews of contracts totaled $81 million; guess what:
      • 24 of the 31 contracts awarded contained conflicts of interest.
      • 25 of the 31 contracts had problems with overcharges for hourly rates of services rendered.
      • 6 of the 31 price gouged Medicare.
      • 25 of the 31 contracts, if they had adequately followed the contract process, would have saved taxpayers $16 Million. – Would it shock anyone to hear this is just the “tip of the VA-OIG” report iceberg?

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  • Financial Efficiency Review of the Southeast Louisiana VAHCS in New Orleans; guess what:
      • The VAHCS in New Orleans scored 75% out of 90%. The VA does not try to get a 100% because they regularly fail financial audits as a fact.
      • Actual costs are difficult to relate in dollars and cents because the leaders intentionally hid costs from the VA-OIG, then blamed the new medical center director.
      • Avoidance costs, Purchase card abuse, prime vendor program abuse, and more were employed to avoid proper fiscal practices.
      • Audit, FAILED! No accountability, no person held responsible, and the taxpayer is left holding the bill!

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  • Followup to VAHCS Ozarks Pathology Failures From Dr. Levy Scandal; guess what:
        • Levy Scandal for those who do not remember. – Intentional misdiagnosing, VA coverup, refusal to discuss with patients affected. The report is ghastly!
        • 5% of the patients have now been contacted, and the VA-OIG considers this a “success.” I sure hope you are not part of the 24.5% patient population.
        • Here’s the rub in the 76.5% notification, “an absence of a clearly defined process for clinical providers to alert the Clinical Review Team if later changes in a patient’s health required reconsideration of institutional disclosure.” Does the VA-OIG still want to cheer about that notification rate?
        • Less than 5% of the severely sick patients have been notified of the scandal and the problems created by Dr. Levy. Is this how the VA admits culpability, waiting for the patient to pass?
        • Now, here’s the real kick to the balls; “The VA-OIG determined facility processes related to disclosure of the pathology errors and amending patients electronic health records generally met Veterans Health Administration policy requirements, but opportunities for improvement existed.” – Are you KIDDING ME?

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  • Speaking of fiscal inefficiency and audit failures. The VA continues to overspend and under-deliver on prosthetic devices, especially for shoe inserts.
        • In the fiscal year 2019, such items—artificial limbs, shoes, shoe inserts, and compression garments—accounted for about $318.8 million, or about 9 percent of prosthetic spending.
        • Oversight of prosthetic spending was ineffective, resulting in medical facilities sometimes reimbursing vendors at unreasonable rates.
        • Medical facilities spent about $10 million more than reasonable rates in the six months from October 2019 through March 2020.
        • Rates and data in databases remain unreliable, no oversight, and those in charge of oversight are missing in action. Yet, the VA continues to spend pell-mell.  Does this sound like fiscal responsibility to you?

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  • VA-OIG double-speak lives, and is blatantly observable in the following report, the “Contracting Officer Warranting Program.”
        • For those unfamiliar, a simple explanation: “A warrant gives federal contracting officers the authority to obligate taxpayer dollars. VA’s contracting officers help serve our nation’s veterans by procuring the goods and services required for their care and support.”
        • Never forget – There have been long-standing concerns (Never Resolved) with VA’s contracting officer warrant program. Since 2015, the VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has issued multiple reports [describing how] warranted contracting officers exceeded their authority and made decisions that put veterans and VA facilities, resources, and information systems at risk.
        • Never forget – The VA-OIG has documented multiple times, and the VA has never resolved, that the VA’s acquisition management has been included on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO’s) high-risk list for fiscal impropriety and poor contractual adherence.

BUT…

        • The VA-OIG found that while VA’s contracting officer warrant program complied with Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements, opportunities exist to strengthen the program and that the VA lacked assurance that all contracting officer warrants were justified and necessary. – Essentially, this is bureaucrat double-speak for, continue to lie, cheat, steal. We like our job and want to continue, and since Congress doesn’t care, neither do we!

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  • The VHA continues to suffer from employee shortages. I have written about this shortage until I am blue in the face and my fingers ache.  I am fed up telling the VHA how to fix this problem.  If they want answers, call me!

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  • Nurse Bethann Kierczak of Southgate, Michigan, was charged with theft of government property and theft or embezzlement related to a healthcare benefit program. She allegedly stole authentic COVID-19 vaccination record cards from a VA hospital—along with vaccine lot numbers necessary to make the cards appear legitimate—and then resold those cards and information to individuals within the metro Detroit community. – Frankly, with the way the Federal Government is acting, this theft is almost understandable and acceptable.
          • No! I am not condoning an illegal action!  I am simply stating that Pelosi and her ilk do 10-times worse hourly by Congressional standards and get away with those crimes!

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  • Donald Peter Auzine of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Bonnie Jean Lawless Diaz of Slidell, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to misprision (or knowing concealment) of the commission of a felony. From March 2014 through October 2016, Auzine, the marketing manager at Prime Pharmacy Solutions, defrauded TRICARE and other benefit programs. Diaz concealed the fraud by knowingly submitting compounded medications for which there was no medical necessity. Both will be sentenced on January 4, 2022.

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  • Amanda Dawn Rains of Fayetteville, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire, and healthcare fraud, obtaining federal employees’ compensation fraudulently, and paying kickbacks. Rains, a former executive with a Rogers medical supply and billing company, participated in 2013 to 2017, defrauding the US government and private insurance companies.

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  • Robert Seifert of Utica, New York, was sentenced to two years in prison for making telephonic threats to Albany Stratton VA Medical Center employees. He admitted that on January 14, 2021, he made successive calls to three separate employees and left each of them threatening voicemails in which he used demeaning and offensive language. Seifert’s threats caused the employees to fear for their safety and property. He will also serve one year of post-imprisonment supervised release.

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  • Patsy Truglia of Parkland, Florida, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of making a false statement in a matter involving a healthcare benefit program. From January 2018 through April 2019, Truglia and other conspirators generated medically unnecessary physicians’ orders via their telemarketing operation for orthotic devices like knee, back, and wrist braces. Truglia, co-defendant Ruth Bianca Fernandez, and other conspirators caused approximately $25 million in fraudulent durable medical equipment claims to be submitted to Medicare, resulting in approximately $12 million in payments.

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  • Larry Ray Bon, 62, was sentenced to over 16 years in prison for shooting a firearm inside the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Florida. Bon brought the firearm to the emergency room, and after becoming frustrated with medical staff, he retrieved it from his wheelchair and fired several shots. In March 2020, he pleaded guilty to three counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding federal employees and one count of possession of a firearm in a federal facility with the intent to commit a crime. At that time, Bon was committed to the custody of the US Attorney General for 25 years of mental health care and treatment at a suitable medical facility. However, Bon was determined to no longer need psychiatric hospitalization and was recently sentenced accordingly.

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Finally, if you want a really good reading, you can visit the VA-OIG page and see the lowlights of the VA-OIG’s reports for yourself by visiting the page here.  Excluded from this list are the usual reports of malfeasance and misfeasance captured in the comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIp) reports, where we find the exact carbon-copied hits from report to report.  We find moral distress, problems in staffing, continued refusals by leadership to train staff, and the ever-present refusal to attend disruptive committee meetings.  Also omitted from this summation were the inspection of veteran centers and the myriad of failures, bureaucratic ineptitudes, and abysmal behaviors.  Frankly, I could not stand being depressed more by writing and analyzing another moment’s detestable and criminal behavior.Angry Grizzly Bear

What curdles the food in my stomach, this is just the VA.  What about all the other official and unofficial government agencies in the alphabet of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of what we collectively call “the government.”  To all the freedom-loving people in America, please awake and arise; we need you!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

It IS ALL About Leadership – More Shameful VA Chronicles

I-CareRecently, guardianships have been in the news, and I doubt this story will make the lawyers very happy.  The department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports that an Albuquerque couple has been sentenced for defrauding guardians, which included veterans.  The criminal report claims:

Susan Harris acted as president and was the 95-percent owner of Ayudando, while Moore acted as chief financial officer and was a five-percent owner. They engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct from November 2006 to July 2017 that included unlawfully transferring money from client accounts to a comingled account without any client-based justification.  They wrote and endorsed numerous checks, often of more than $10,000, from these comingled accounts to themselves, family members, cash, and other parties where payment would benefit their families.”

For the better part of 11 years, this couple has spent money not their own, abused their charges, and defrauded vulnerable clientele.  While the federal attorneys and investigators crow about catching this couple and ending this situation; what about all the rest of the guardianships where abuse is occurring?  I have read horrific stories about victims of guardianship abuse and hope more will be done on this topic very shortly!VA 3

For 11 years, where were the VA and the Social Security Administration?  Where were the local hospital leadership, social workers, and other federal employees who had to have known something fishy was going on?  Where are these Federal Employees now?  Where are the politicians scrutinizing this incident to ensure that protection for vulnerable citizens never happens again through legal guardianships?

Now traveling to Eastern Oklahoma VAHCS in Muskogee where an audiologist provided poor care and billed for unrendered services.  Pay close attention to the VA-OIG report; the leadership failures on this report alone are voluminous and unforgivable!

A facility fact-finding review revealed the audiologist provided poor care to eight of 43 patients reviewed, including misinforming patients who needed hearing aids that hearing aids were not needed. Although the audiology leaders reported the fact-finding results to the OIG, they failed to evaluate whether patients needed clinical follow-up; determine whether additional patients were affected by the audiologist’s poor care; evaluate whether clinical disclosures were required for the affected patients; and communicate the fact-finding results to the Facility Director, who was, therefore, unable to initiate the process to determine the necessity of a large scale disclosure. The instances of poor care were also not reported to the Patient Safety Manager, who was, as a result, unable to assess the adverse events to determine if patient safety interventions were indicated. The VA-OIG also found that performance monitoring of facility audiologists was not conducted as required. Annual competency assessments and annual performance appraisals were not consistently completed and did not contain adequate performance standards. Audiology leaders failed to consider whether the audiologist’s actions warranted a report to the state licensing board due to a lack of understanding of the requirements for reporting and, therefore, the Facility Director was not informed of the need to initiate a state licensing board review” [emphasis mine].

Will, someone please tell me, were the audiology leaders who failed to perform their jobs removed from Federal Employment?  What about the audiologists causing the problems?  Are they removed from Federal Employment?  Were their licensing practices curbed to protect other populations of patients?  The leadership failures here read like a Steven King horror story but do not have the satisfaction of finishing the story.VA 3

Yet, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) will continue to market that they are “defining quality in healthcare.”  The jokes write themselves but cannot be fired from Federal Employment!  Politicians, why can these jokers not be fired from Federal employment for such egregious abuse of their positions and failures to do their jobs?

I-CareTraveling further to North Carolina, we find that the perpetrator of this fraud has pled guilty, but again responsibility, accountability, and correction of the VA is being skirted.

John Paul Cook, 57, of Alexander, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to defrauding the VA. After enlisting in the Army in 1985, Cook sustained an accidental injury and complained the injury worsened a preexisting eye condition. In 1987, Cook was discharged, and he began receiving benefits that would increase over the next 30 years due to Cook’s repeated false claims of increased visual impairment and unemployability. In 2005, the VA declared Cook legally blind, and he began receiving disability-based compensation at the maximum rate despite repeatedly passing vision screening tests to obtain or renew his driver’s license and purchasing vehicles that he routinely drove.”

1987 to 2020, we will be generous in counting the years here; regardless, we are looking at 30+ years this fraud continued.  Where were the verification protocols?  I have had to produce a valid driver’s license at the VA to obtain and keep current my VA identification card.  How did this fraud go on for so long?  What is the VA doing to stop, or at least hinder, those who would defraud the government before the problem becomes 10 years old, let alone 30?!?!  I cannot fathom how this fraud went on for so long without a routine checkup, a routine exam, a follow-up exam, etc.VA 3

Going north from South Carolina, we find more fraud, this time in New Jersey, where a man did not report his mother had deceased and continued to claim her benefits for a total of over $200K.

Melvin Greenspan, 72, of Perrineville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to defrauding VA of over $200,000 in survivor’s pension benefits. After the death of his mother in 2006, who had received survivor’s pension due to his father’s prior military service, Greenspan failed to notify the VA about his mother’s death and made withdrawals of the benefits through 2018.”

Where was the leadership?  Where are the leaders now?  Another fraud case, older than a decade, and still the VA cannot be held accountable for facilitating the fraud.  I am stunned!  How did this one continue for so long?  Doesn’t the VA check local newspapers, the Social Security Administration, other Federal Agencies?  Since the culprit was not held on defrauding SSA, one can only presume the mother’s death was reported there.  Why did the VA not get notified to ask the family questions?VA 3

On the topic of guardians and leadership, the following story makes me angry!  However, I will withhold further elaboration since those accused remain innocent until proven guilty by a trial of their peers.

Johnny Ray Gasca, 51, was arrested for allegedly abducting a 68-year-old woman with dementia from the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center in California. A witness recognized Gasca and reported he might have previously taken money from the woman’s bank and retirement accounts. Following his arrest, Gasca described the victim as his girlfriend and told agents that they stopped at a bank where the victim made a $15,000 withdrawal after leaving the medical center.”

In the first report from the VA-OIG discussed, we found guardianship rules being violated to the Nth degree.  In this story, we have no information of an assigned guardian, and we have a dementia patient being abused.  The dementia patient was traveling with a friend; who is the legal guardian for a dementia patient?  Where are the family or friends legally bonded to render aid for this patient and monitor finances to protect them from abuse?  How can the VA operate one way in one locale and 180-degrees differently in another locale and the leadership not held accountable?VA 3

Speaking of missing leadership, the following VA-OIG report is a beauty!  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has a program to help homeless veterans, where contractors are used, and the VHA uses case management documentation to verify the veteran is receiving the assistance being paid for, the program is called the contracted residential services (CRS) program.

The VA-OIG found facility staff did not consistently document case management and monitor the progress of veterans in the program.  Further, four of the 14 CRS contracts reviewed had performance deficiencies, with one resulting in improper payments of $592,000. These deficiencies may affect the health and safety of veterans living in transitional settings. Moreover, VA lacks assurance that veterans received required services. There were also contract administration problems in 13 of 14 reviewed contracts. Contracting officers did not always properly delegate responsibilities to staff functioning as contracting officer’s representatives. Further, one facility’s representative did not ensure contractors provided meals or the means to purchase them, as required, and another lacked invoice supporting documentation for approval. The VA-OIG audit team estimated that 107 of 119 contracts had monitoring and administration deficiencies. Furthermore, the team estimated that VHA made $35.3 million in improper payments, of which approximately $21.6 million was technically improper because the individuals authorizing payment were not delegated authority to serve as contracting officer’s representatives.”

If your accomplishment rate in your employment was 48%, would you retain your job for very long?  If 90% of your documentation claiming how well you do your job was missing or fabricated, how long would you maintain employment?  If you delegated people to complete your work who were unauthorized and you were contractually culpable, how long do you think you would stay out of prison?  How long would your boss stay out of jail?  How long would your company exist?  Now, answer me this riddler, why does the government get a pass on these questions?VA 3

Finally, we have Deputy Inspector General David Case’s testimony regarding the failure of VA leadership where the implementation of a new electronic health record (EHR) is being stalled.  If you care, the VA leadership and the VHA leadership are failing the EHR initiative.  Not that this was not expected, and not that this is not surprising, the IT and IS departments of the VA and VHA are so hopelessly lost it amazes me the VA is even using computers and not written records!  But, do not take my word for it, Case himself claims,

“Detailed in this statement, we have repeatedly found unreliable and incomplete estimates for upgrades and costs, inadequate reporting affecting transparency to Congress, and stove-piped governance with decision making that does not appropriately engage Veterans Health Administration (VHA) personnel who are the end-users of the new EHR system.”VA 3

Knowledge Check!Get that; the leadership failures are obstructing Congress and hindering the EHR progress!  What can we conclude from this batch of VA-OIG reports:

        1. The VA, VHA, VBA, and National Cemetery leadership are actively missing, like the Democrats from the Texas Legislature.
        2. If the leaders are present, the leaders are the problems in progressing.
        3. The leaders have created a system where fraud and abuse of the veterans and taxpayers can be achieved with ease.
        4. Nobody in the US House of Representatives or US Senate scrutinizes the legislative branch sufficiently to effect changes.
        5. When in doubt about where your leaders fall, check to see if they are in their offices. Oh, wait, that won’t help, their offices have locks on the doors!

If this is how the VA defines quality healthcare. In that case, the veterans are screwed, the taxpayer is sunk, and the leaders will enjoy their magnanimous federally approved retirement packages, ad nauseam ad infinitum!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

Weep America! – The VA Leadership is Becoming Worse! – Part 3

I-CareIn the less than 10-days since I last wrote on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has dumped more than ten inspection results over the last three days into my inbox.  Not a record, but the recorded actions are certainly hitting record lows.  Worse, the culture of the VA remains unchanged, even through all the recorded crimes and indignities the veterans suffer under.  Recording and summating the crimes of the VA is so depressing, mainly because of the failure to reform.  But, a little depression will not slow or halt the reporting of these detestable actions of the VA!

The first VA-OIG investigation is more of a report on criminal proceedings concluding with sentencing.  A total of five people, including one VA Employee, have been stung in this investigation.  How thrilling to see accountability and justice served cold!

Francis Engles of Bowie, Maryland, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution for defrauding a VA program dedicated to rehabilitating military veterans with disabilities. As the owner of Engles Security Training School, Engles falsely represented to the VA that his company was providing veterans with months-long courses when, in fact, the school offered veterans far less.”

February 2019, four other individuals were sentenced in related cases following their guilty pleas. First, James King, a former VA employee, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for committing bribery, defrauding the VA, and obstructing justice. Second, Albert Poawui, the owner of Atius Technology Institute, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for committing bribery. Third, Sombo Kanneh, Poawui’s employee, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery. Finally, Michelle Stevens, the owner of Eelon Training School, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for committing bribery.”VA 3

Apparently, bilking the GI Bill is a regular fraud opportunity, and the VA employees need to be held more accountable for the loss of these funds!  The GI Bill is a precious commodity and sometimes the only lifeline for a soldier for retraining while awaiting the VBA’s decisions. Therefore, stealing these funds should come with more substantial sentences, more accountability for the employees in the know of fraud, and scrutiny from elected officials!

For the next story, we have several crimes co-occurring; the most egregious is reporting to have been a veteran, fraudulently obtaining benefits, and then trying to use veteran status for preferential contract awarding.  The VA-OIG reports:

Robert S. Stewart, the former owner of Federal Government Experts LLC in Arlington, Virginia, was sentenced to 21 months in prison with three years of supervised release for making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits.”VA 3

I know the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has declared that lying about military service is a freedom of speech issue and not a crime.  However, stolen valor continues to make me sick, and the liars should lose all US Constitutional Rights, as well as be sentenced to punishment most vile!  Having served twice (US Army and US Navy), having been deployed to S. Korea (US Army) and the Persian Gulf (US Navy Multiple Times), stealing valor infuriates me into a raging juggernaut!  I hate liars and thieves, but to steal valor from those deserving goes above and beyond being just a liar and thief, and the conduct deserves punishment most vile!  No, I am not apologetic in taking this stance either!  Burn the American Flag; I disagree with SCOTUS again and becoming a raging juggernaut!  There are lines you do not cross with impunity, and if you cannot scream fire in a crowded theater as “Free Speech,” then acts of stealing valor or burning the American Flag are reasonable restrictions!

I do agree with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ statement:

The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”Angry Grizzly Bear

But stealing valor and burning the American Flag is not “free trade in ideas,” and I support social shaming as part of the punishment most vile for these lepers of society!  Before you burn the Flag or steal valor, serve in uniform, watch a military funeral as a dependent, and then let’s talk about reasonable and valid restrictions upon “free speech!”

Another case, another criminal act, only this time, I am left asking, “How long has this individual been doing business with the VA?”  Regardless, as this is an ongoing case, the following firstly applies: “The charges in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”  From the VA-OIG report:

Muhammad Z. Aabdin of Bronx, New York, was indicted for offering bribes to a VA contracting officer in exchange for the award of VA contracts for personal protective equipment.”VA 3

It will be interesting to watch this case and future (potential) investigations occur.  However, I have several questions needing to be answered, and the report does nothing to aid in answering the questions raised in the defendant’s arrest and the grand jury indictment.  More to come as the VA-OIG and the US Attorney produce information.  May the US Attorney NOT allow a plea deal!

The VA-OIG has often investigated improper fiscal practices at several VA sites for the VBA, the VHA, and the National Cemeteries.  I could almost quote the following investigation results, only differing on how much money is involved.

The VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) conducted a review to examine whether VA’s Maryland Health Care System appropriately managed purchases and payments for medical equipment and supplies. Fiscal oversight of purchase cards and internal controls governing the use of overtime were also reviewed. The VA-OIG found ineffective processes, internal control weaknesses, and inadequate oversight in five areas: 1. The healthcare system and the Enterprise Equipment Request (EER) portal need improved controls for approving equipment purchases. 2. Healthcare system staff and the prime vendor should prepare timely and accurate planning information to ensure adequate supplies are on hand to fill orders. 3. Even though no inaccurate inventory payments were identified, VA’s inventory system needs controls to ensure correct recording of supply units and costs. 4. The healthcare system purchase card program requires closer monitoring to ensure purchases are authorized and supported by documentation. 5. The healthcare system should strengthen its overtime payment controls to ensure supervisors verify overtime hours were completed before approving timecards for payment.  The VA-OIG team also identified more than $5 million in questioned costs related to identified issues such as undocumented or unapproved purchases” [emphasis mine].VA 3

I have heard the term “Criminal Stupidity” and often wonder when “Criminally Designed Incompetence” will become adopted into common vernacular.  I am so fed up with the excuses, the missing money, and the abuse of taxpayer forbearance by bureaucrats; I could rip my hair out and scream until my voice gives out! But, unfortunately, both actions do absolutely nothing to correct the problem and would make me miserable.  The VA has problems with criminals without and stupidity masked as “designed incompetence” within, and the solution continues to be leadership!

Gravy Train 2What adds fire to my mental processes on criminally designed incompetence, the VA-OIG has two other investigations in my inbox on the need to strengthen fiscal controls, , and more correctly track accounting practices.  Under current legislation, if a private business accounted for their money like the VA, they would be shuttered, and criminal charges levied!  Yet, somehow, the elected representatives cannot apply the same accounting behavior standard to a government agency, as they mandate for private companies!  Anyone else thinks we need stronger demands for scrutiny of government agencies?

Plato 2Adding more fuel to the fire for the IT/IS Departments of the VA, the VA-OIG discovered that the VA still cannot regularly and appropriately log records into its own electronic health record systems!  Are you surprised; as a patient, I know I am not surprised at all.  Worse, the lack of medical records being properly handled influences (negatively, of course) how the VBA makes decisions on claims!

The Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) evaluated whether VA’s community care staff accurately uploaded records for non-VA medical care to veterans’ electronic health records. Veterans receive non-VA care based on certain criteria, such as the distance from the veteran to the nearest VA facility or the wait time for a VA facility appointment. Records for non-VA care enable Veterans Health Administration (VHA) providers continuity of care and inform treatment decisions. The audit team found that staff at six of the seven VA medical facilities reviewed did not always index, or categorize, these records accurately. Inaccurate indexing of medical records poses a risk to veteran care. It increases the burden on the VHA staff who locate and correct the errors, reducing their time for other tasks. The team reviewed 209 veterans’ mental health medical records that VHA community care staff indexed between April 1, 2019, and September 30, 2019, and found 108 indexing errors for 92 veterans. (Some veterans’ records had more than one error.) Errors included using ambiguous or incorrect document titles, indexing records for non-VA care to the wrong referral or veteran, and entering duplicate records. These errors occurred, in part, due to inadequate procedures, training, quality checks, and quality assurance monitoring and a lack of local facility-level policies.”VA 3

Of course, training and local policies were blamed for the failure to log records properly!  These are automatic designed incompetence excuses that appear every single time the VHA fails, the VBA fails, or they both make significant life-altering decisions for veterans, and the VA-OIG investigates!  The VBA claims it is my duty to ensure outside providers send records to the VA in a timely manner.  The VHA claims they have the documents the VBA wants, and they should read the file.  Who is inconvenienced, not the VHA and the VBA, the veteran?  The person who cannot even look at his digital file without a “Freedom of Information Act” (FOIA) request and 30-45 days of waiting, and even then, the document is heavily redacted for privacy!  Whose privacy, I wonder, the providers, the employees, or the veterans?  Because I guarantee the VA is conducting serious CYA on the records produced!  Let alone IT’s continued failure to protect the veteran from identity theft or IS to protect the files from being accessed without reason by employees.Apathy

May 2021 was a tumultuous month for the VA and the VA-OIG.  If you would like to review how tumultuous or think you might have missed an article or two reporting the VA’s designed incompetence, feel free to review using the following link.  Frankly, I want to see action taken based upon the investigations to clean house, more fully scrutinize the VA, and improve the veteran experience at the VA.  But, I do not tell you how to think or feel about an issue. Instead, I report and summate and leave the rest to you!VA 3

As always, I report and summate upon the good and bad.  If you are a citizen of Indiana or receive your care from either Fort Wayne, Marion, or through the Northern Indiana Health Care System, please count yourself lucky, and pass on the praise to the VAHCS employees.  The VA-OIG conducted a comprehensive Healthcare Inspection and found, “The VA-OIG’s review of the system’s accreditation findings, sentinel events, and disclosures did not identify any substantial organizational risk factors” [emphasis mine].  While improvements can still be made, this is HUGE news, and the Northern Indiana VAHCS leadership team needs to be back-slapping and congratulating their employees.

Knowledge Check!Thus, my sincerest congratulations go to the Northern Indiana VAHCS, and heaps of shame and scorn remain served cold to the ineffective leadership and useless employees of the VA in general!  America, we should weep, for the VA is not alone in the government agencies in providing world-class detestable service, abuse of the customer (taxpayer), and skirting accountability and responsibility through designed incompetence!  But, when we are done weeping, it is time for action!  Changing the elected representatives, demanding higher scrutinization with actual penalties for failure, and insisting upon fiscal restraint equivalent to the private sector!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Come, Let us Reason Together

Knowledge Check!In physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  I am not a fan of the word reaction, for a reaction places all the control of the action into the control of the original actor, and nature does not work like that.  But, to reason, we sometimes must use language common to all to understand each other; thus, it is sufficient to my purposes to use the term reaction in this discussion.  A similar law applies to psychology; a human chooses to act, natural consequences follow.  The ability to as, agency, and the person being acted upon, the actor, play a significant role in how and why businesses succeed and fail.

Plato 2Societies, cultures, governments, and countries all rise and fall on the moral agency of the individuals in power, the common citizen, and the collective leaders of those groups of people.  I have always liked the movie “The Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye makes a statement about how without tradition, they would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.  Bringing a mental image of a fiddler, balancing upon a roof, and having two options, climb down and resume playing, or learn to balance on the roof while playing.  Both choices offer natural consequences that are easily understood, especially if you have ever worked on a roof.

Detective 4I have consistently written about VA Leadership failures for several weeks, rightly calling out the administrators at the local VAHCS and VAMC, the VISN, and the Federal levels.  Hospital leadership is not so different than leadership in any other industry, even though the VA has tried to make hospital leadership distinct.  Herein lay the problem, an employee, a nursing assistant, has just been sentenced to 7 consecutive life sentences for second-degree murder.

“Mays was employed as a nursing assistant at the VAMC, working the night shift during the same period of time that the veterans in her care died of hypoglycemia while being treated at the hospital. Nursing assistants at the VAMC are not qualified or authorized to administer any medication to patients, including insulin. Mays would sit one-on-one with patients. She admitted to administering insulin to several patients with the intent to cause their deaths” [emphasis mine].VA 3

We have an affect, but what was the cause?

“While responsibility for these heinous criminal acts lies with Reta Mays, an extensive healthcare inspection by our office found the facility had serious and pervasive clinical and administrative failures that contributed to them going undetected,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal” [emphasis mine].VA 3

Regardless of her intention, an employee was allowed to commit murder because of the “pervasive clinical and administrative failures” of the VAMC leadership.  Now, two days prior to receiving the results of Reta Mays’ court proceedings, I received the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General report on the clinical leadership failures.  I have not witnessed a more despicable and damnable report of leadership failures in the decade-plus; I have been following and writing about the Department of Veterans Affairs or any other government agency!

“In June 2018, facility leaders identified nine patients with profound and concerning hypoglycemic events dating from November 2017 to June 2018” [emphasis mine].VA 3

The scope of the administrative investigation is as follows.  Staff from the VA-OIG’s Office of Healthcare Inspections (OHI) assessed the following areas, in parentheses is who owns the problem raised in the investigation:

      • Mays’s hiring and performance (Human Resources)
      • Medication management and security (Pharmacy and Security)
      • Clinical evaluations of unexplained hypoglycemic events (Nursing and Doctoral Staff)
      • Reporting of and responding to the events (Facility Leadership)
      • Quality programs and oversight activities (Facility Leadership)
      • Facility, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN), and VHA leaders’ responses and corrective actions (Local and area-wide administrators)
      • During the course of this review (investigation), the OIG also noted areas of concern regarding hospice and palliative care practices and nursing policies and practices (Nursing, Patient Care and Safety, and Hospital Administrators)VA 3

Just as logic tells the fiddler on the roof that he has two choices to live a long and musically fruitful life, the investigation reveals that the VAMC leadership had choices and made both poor and potentially criminal choices in this investigation of Mays’ conduct.

Ultimately, quality health care is dependent on leaders who promote a culture of safety that reduces or eliminates those risks whenever possible. Providing high-quality health care to a diverse and complex patient population demands the support of, and adherence to, an organization-wide culture of safety. When this occurs, a patient-centric environment becomes the “norm.” Conversely, systemic weaknesses in a facility’s culture of safety can have devastating consequences. The OIG found that the facility had serious, pervasive, and deep-rooted clinical and administrative failures that contributed to Ms. Mays’s criminal actions not being identified and stopped earlier. The failures occurred in virtually all the critical functions and areas required to promote patient safety and prevent avoidable adverse events at the facility” (pg ii) [emphasis mine].VA 3

Before we go further into the report, it must be made clear; the investigation team found the leadership, the hospital administrators responsible for allowing Mays to kill seven patients.  Attack another patient with the intent to kill and a potential additional hypoglycemic patient who died under her care but could not be directly linked to Mays.  A question arises, how did Mays gain employment with the VA; the answer, a former HR employee, failed to do their job in conducting “… background investigation file and determining her suitability for employment!”  In a previous article, I wrote about the hazards the VA was purposefully opening themselves to by using “COVID” as an excuse to delay proper investigations into backgrounds when hiring.  Here is a classic case where “COVID” is not related, and failing to investigate a background led to people dying!Plato 3

The VA-OIG last year reported that hiring practices had been relaxed due to COVID and background checks delayed for employees being hired during a pandemic.  Yet, when will those background checks be completed?  If someone is found unfit due to background checks, will they be forced to return all their wages for lying on a government form?  If there is a testament to the need for comprehensive background checks on employees, the seven (7) dead patients who died at the hands of Reta Mays!  How many times will this story replicate because the hiring managers are not doing their jobs?VA 3

Let us reason together, is the VA administrators the problem with the VA?  Does the VA leadership require immediate and total removal?  How would you resolve the issues without breaking the system and further endangering the lives of veterans?  Please let me know in the comments section.

I-CareVA Secretary Denis McDonough signed onto the “I-Care” principles as core values in care for veterans in the VAHCS.  When can we, the veterans, see that these core principles have been onboarded and are correcting behavior?

“VA Core Values describe how VA will accomplish its mission and inform every interaction with our customers. These Core Values are Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence — better known as “I CARE.” VA’s Core Values will continue to serve as the right guide for all our interactions and remind us and others that “I CARE.”

          • I care about those who have served.
          • I care about my fellow VA employees.
          • I care about choosing “the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”
          • I care about performing my duties to the very best of my abilities.

Mr. Secretary…  The veterans are dying now!  We are waiting!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: The Role of Police in America – Chapter 2

ScalesAlmost a year ago, in June 2020, during the height of the George Floyd madness, terrorism, and policing issues in 2020, I wrote about the police’s role in America.  05 March 2021, another auto-email clogged my email inbox, from Rep. Deb Haaland (D) crowing about H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.  Rep. Haaland not only co-sponsored the legislation, but she also voted in favor of it passing.  True to form, the legislation is 100% unconstitutional as police operations are State and Local Government jobs, and bribery is a crime!

Never forget, Charles Reich (1964), a lawyer and brilliant legal mind, wrote an article about “New Property,” where he discussed how that from WWII the government has been considering its citizens as property, how the bureaucrat picks winners and losers, and how this process has affected law.  The premise that the government owns you is here to protect you and coddle you from the cradle-to-the-grave is the onerous millstone about America’s neck currently.  After WWII, the government’s size exploded and has done nothing but grow ever since, all because the bigger the government, the more the bureaucrat has disproportionate power to inflict harm and enact a reign of terror in the government’s name.

Scared Eyes!Bringing us to House Resolution (H.R.) 1280, “The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021,” and while much of the act is aimed at the Federal Policing operations, the Federal Government wants to continue to exert uncommon and unconstitutional pressure over local police operations, which is unconstitutional.  The power of money is how the Federal Government can control police operations unconstitutionally, mentioned in the bill, but outlaws selling military-grade equipment to police stations.  Unknown in the legislative language, how is “military-grade equipment” defined?

Someone help me understand the naming of this legislation.  George Floyd passed counterfeit money to a clerk, he was COVID positive, but that’s not listed as a cause of death.  Floyd, according to the coroner, Floyd had fentanyl, cannabinoids, and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, although the drugs are not listed as the cause.  A coroner stated that the level of fentanyl in Floyd’s body was 11ng/mL, and a lethal dose is 3ng/mL.  Yet, the coroner refuses to consider this was an overdose situation before the police ever touched Floyd.

LookMore to the point, prosecutors, in charging documents filed with the court, “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”  More specifically, the coroner’s report claims Floyd had heart disease where an artery was blocked 75%, hypertension, and a sickle cell trait.  Sickle cell is a mostly asymptomatic form of the more severe sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that primarily affects African Americans.  Why is police reform legislation being called after a person of dubious character who was actively breaking the law with his system full of drugs that make him crazy?

Honest question, we have a dubious character, walking around with a chemistry lab inside his body, with pre-existing health conditions, committing crimes, and the police are charged with his death.  Yet, a piece of legislation is now named in his honor.  How does this all add up?  Why?

Theres moreThe liberal-leftists continue to claim rifles are military equipment, shotguns, body armor, vehicles with supercharged engines, and specific construction to protect a number of personnel riding; all these and more are considered “military-grade equipment.”  Why is “military-grade equipment” under fire, again?  When machine guns are available for criminals, why can the police not protect themselves?  Louisiana recently had an ex-military member, in protective clothing, ambushing police; if the police are not similarly dressed and protected, are we not going to lose more police officer lives?

In the U.S. Army, I took a class on self-defense and one on security.  The security class taught me how to hold onto another person using different restraining holds until the Military Police or another authority could arrive to take an offender into custody.  We learned carotid holds, choke-holds, and other restraining holds to protect ourselves and keep us safe while patrolling for guard-duty.  Now, with these holds being banned, what will replace them, more tasering? More shootings? Non-lethal weapons like sandbag guns and rubber bullets?  When you have a criminal actively fighting and resisting arrest, what will an officer be allowed to do for their safety and the safety of the person in custody?

DetectiveLet’s discuss bribery for a moment.  H.R. 1280 “Mandate the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal officers and require state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras [emphasis mine].”  Bribery is the act of bribing, and bribing is the inducement of behavior through monetary benefits.  Why is legislation being used to control local and state law enforcement behavior using the taxpayer’s money?  How many times do we see the Federal Government hellbent on bribing the State’s and local governments through the use of taxpayer money to behave as the Federal Government demands?  Too bloody often!

One of the final aspects being cheered in H.R. 1280 is “the reform of qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights.”  I understand that qualified immunity allows for some abuses, but on the whole, the law protects more than it harms.  Already America has people actively baiting the police to win outrageous sums of money, thinking that the court is a gold mine just waiting to bestow gifts and riches.  How much more will litigation costs grow if qualified immunity is “reformed,” using a piece of legislation that is 100% unconstitutional?

Detective 4I understand police make mistakes.  But, as pointed out in the first article, police are tools of policy.  When errors occur, the police officer is not to blame, but the mayors and city councils who are directing the police officers’ actions in the name of “Law Enforcement.”  Laws are generated by the same legislative and executive branches that control what police operators are allowed to do in the name of “Law Enforcement.”  Blaming the police is useless, fruitless, and the height of shameful behavior.

Justice for police operations mistakes should not include the officers unless there is clear evidence they operated outside the allowed policies and dictated procedures of their elected policy setters.  Breonna Taylor’s case is a perfect example of how the elected representatives’ behavior created a problem that opened police operations to scrutiny.  Floyd’s case is not a good example of anything other than the politics found in the coroner’s office, a topic beyond this article’s scope.

For the record, I support the police!  I may not like how the VA Police have injured and harassed me; but as tools of hospital administration policy, the blame lies with the hospital administration, not the individual officers.  However, I consider several officers’ operations abusive, which is another issue to be addressed by the hospital administration that allows poor behavior and unprofessionalism in the police officer’s enforcing hospital policy at the VA Hospital in Phoenix.

Thin Blue LineIf your elected officials are “too soft” or “too hard” on crime, the blame lies with the politician enacting behavior-changing policy.  If the criminal justice system is not to your liking, you as a free individual have two choices, use the ballot box to change the elected leadership or move to an area with the same ideals you support.  Take informed action; leave the emotional tantrums to children!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: More Insanity from Elected Officials

LinkedIn ImageAnother day, another slew of insipid elected officials clogging my inbox with pet projects instead of doing their respective jobs.  To the elected representatives in the US House and US Senate, please remember you have only two jobs, write laws that make sense for the country and scrutinize the executive branch to protect the US Citizen from abuse at the hands of bureaucrats and yourselves, the elected officials.  Frankly, regardless of the political party affiliation, all of you need a firm reminder of the roles you were elected to fill.

Today’s poorly worded emotional bloviation comes from Rep. Deb Haaland (NM; D).  The same representative, who after being contacted multiple times, refused to take action when veterans in her district were actively being abused, insulted, denied service, and treated horribly by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  All because she was more interested in pandering to every left-leaning liberal group.

Today’s topic, “Gun Abuse.”  What does “Gun Abuse” mean?  Honest question; while reading the email from Rep. Haaland, we find “Gun Abuse” means “Black Americans and communities of color bear the brunt of this violence, with Black Americans experiencing 10 times the rate of gun homicides compared to their white counterparts. These numbers aren’t just statistics – they reflect the true scale of this public health crisis and its shattering impact on communities of color.”  “Gun Abuse” means a “Public health crisis” comparable to COVID-19, another government issue, blown out of proportion for personal and political gain.

LookConveniently, not mentioned in the “statistics” offered by Rep. Haaland, are the number of black-on-black shootings or other minority-on-minority shootings.  Are these shootings not considered “Gun Abuse,” or maybe, they are not considered a “Public health crisis” even though toddlers and innocent bystanders regularly make up the dead in cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, etc.?  Better still, what about minority-on-majority shootings, stabbings, and other acts of violence, are these insufficient to raise the good representative’s attention because those are just crimes?

Next, “common-sense gun laws” are mentioned.  What are “common-sense gun laws?”  Are those the laws that further restrict the honest and law-abiding from having weapons to deter crime and avoid being a statistic?  Or, are these “common-sense” gun laws the same totalitarian laws the liberals all want because, as the University of Colorado claims, rape victims can pee and puke on their attacker to deter being raped, so these women do not need guns or other weapons of self-defense.

Boris & NatashaThe absolute best .50-caliber gunner I ever met was a female sergeant in the US Army.  She could handle that weapon like a pro, shot master level in all shooting qualifications offered her, M-16, 9mm, .50, and more.   I never saw anything like it; she advocated for all females to be armed and know how to use weapons to defend themselves.  But, the liberals would see her disarmed because criminals use guns to affect violence on unarmed populations.  Where exactly is the logic in this “common-sense” “Gun Abuse” topic?

The simple fact is that every time a person selects a weapon to cause harm to a population, they are already committing a crime.  Look at every school shooting in America, and you will find the perpetrator/s first crime was not shooting someone but removing a gun from the possession of a legal and lawful gun owner.  Hence, guns are not the problems; immoral, criminal, and nefarious people are the problem.  Giving mind-altering drugs to children in K-12 education is the problem in a majority of the school shootings that occur.  When will you, and your elected comrades in the US House and US Senate, outlaw teachers forcing Ritalin and other mind-altering substances on students in the name of reducing school shootings?

Detective 2Better still, when will you and your elected comrades in the US House and US Senate scrutinize the executive branch sufficiently to enforce the laws already on the books to reduce crime?  Where are the marketing tools bragging about work in committees on reducing crime through harsher sentencing, education requirements to increase literacy among criminals, and using time in prison productively to clean up cities through community service, in distinctive clothing, and reduce the “pleasures” of being in jail?  Free cable, weight-lifting, time, rent-free housing, free medical and dental care, free food including special diets desired, and so much more has turned the prison into anything but a deterrent for the criminal class.  All paid for by the taxpayer who can barely afford food, housing, and necessities.

The email concludes with an emotional plea to “honor the lives of those lost.”  Okay; let’s honor the lives of those lost.  Let’s adjust the criminal justice system to punish criminal offenders. Teaching criminal offenders literacy so they understand the freedoms and rights they have forever lost by choosing to take lives.  Let’s use criminals to clean streets, pull weeds, build shelters for homeless people, and other community service acts. Let’s honor those lives lost through scrutinizing the government to help the mentally diseased population, instead of criminalizing this population and filling up jail space with people who need psychiatric help.  Representative Haaland, do you know how many of the homeless population in Albuquerque, NM, are suffering mental disease and have zero resources?  Do you even know how big the homeless population is in your city?

The Duty of AmericansI agree; let’s honor lives lost.  But, let’s honor those lives with action, dedicated to fixing problems, not pandering to small populations that keep getting you re-elected!  Let’s honor the victims instead of coddling the criminals!  Let’s honor the taxpayer’s sacrifices by doing the two jobs we elected you to perform.  Write laws that work, and scrutinize government to end bureaucratic, and criminal abuse of taxpayers!

Do you think you could, you know, possibly do those two jobs you were elected to perform, instead of perverting the US Constitution?

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Honest Questions – Shifting the Political Paradigms by Asking Tougher Questions

Note:  The following article repeats a discussion had previously.  Asking questions and insisting upon better answers remains the key to shifting the good from the poor, where media and politicians reside.

Andragogy - Trainer FailureDuring my second attempt at fourth-grade in K-12 education, I asked an honest question in January, “Why should I celebrate Black Pride month? I am not black.”  My teachers were shocked, utterly speechless for several seconds, and then I got suspended from school for being racist and asking inappropriate questions.  My (Hippie) parents came unglued, and my life became immediately more complicated.  This does not mean I do not have people from history of black skin that I do not respect, admire, or would like to emulate.  The question posed meant then, and now, why should I have pride in all those with the specific melatonin in their skin if I disagree with their choices?  For example, I love pre-1990s Jazz and Rhythm and Blues (R&B) Aretha Franklin, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, Fats Domino, etc.  I hold in tremendous respect. I’m not too fond of the majority of R&B since 1980 or so, as it hurts my ears, doesn’t sound right to me, and the words to some of the songs have no meaning.  No disrespect offered, do not choose to be offended, I have eclectic tastes in people and music.

I celebrate many of the historical figures of all races for their accomplishments, shared cultural sacrifices, and their lives spent improving my life. Dr. Charles R. Drew, and Dr. Thomas Sowell,  are but two examples in this category.  Don’t worry; I have the same problems with Mexican Pride Month and several other month celebrations and holidays.  I am not racist; I am an American and would rather see some American Heritage months!  There are some excellent examples of American’s that should be celebrated, maybe not with Federal Holidays, but they deserve more attention than they have received to date.

Detective 4In the US Navy, an open secret that resulted from the Patriot Act of 2001 was being investigated as a terrorist.  I had been asked several questions regarding why certain people act the way they do, the religious motivation, and the tools most popular with terrorists.  As I had a reputation for being a trustworthy instructor, who didn’t laugh at questions or people asking for information, and as a person who investigated thoroughly the topics requested.  I answered the questions raised from my fellow shipmates.  The audience were a couple of Boatswain Mates, undesignated deck seamen, and some undesignated firemen.  My officer walked in, heard a small excerpt from the conversation, and the next day started an investigation into my links to terrorism through Navy Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI, and the CIA as he was “scared I was a terrorist.”  I am neither a terrorist nor a racist.  I am not a bigot, nor am I ignorantly asking questions to embarrass, denigrate, or deride.  I am a life-long learner and student of human behavior, and I like asking tough questions to facilitate improvement first for myself, then for others.

October 2020, Representative Deb Haaland (D) assaulted my email box with an email whose subject line read, “Pride v. Discrimination.”  In reading the email, several questions percolated.  Since Rep. Haaland (D) cannot answer the questions posed previously regarding veterans’ abuse in the local VA Hospital, I raise the following questions, looking for answers and honest dialogue.  I raise these questions as a measuring stick for your representatives in government; let’s ask tougher questions of those who desire to lead—holding in our hands the information to make more informed choices at the ballot box.

Pride has several standard definitions, and the following are sourced from my Webster’s Dictionary (Unabridged):

“A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”

“Consciousness of one’s dignity.”

“The best state or condition of something; the prime.”

“Confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, based on their shared identity, culture, and experience.”

Detective 2Leading to my honest questions: why would anyone in the House of Representatives be concerned with someone else’s pride, singling out a group or individual for recognition?  Would involving yourself in another person or group’s pride mean you are not serving your entire District equally, as we hired you to do?  Why is “LGBTQetc.,” pride acceptable, but White Pride unacceptable, as discovered in several Google searches?  Doesn’t discrimination mean to support one group or interest over another group or interest?  What happened that conflicts of interest are no longer criminal?  For example, suppose you are a member of a group, and that group receives preferential or prejudicial treatment from the government because of your actions as an elected government official. In that case, I am left to ask when was this decriminalized?  Are these actions not exemplifying racism, sexism, etc., abuse of power?

Dignity, primacy, doing something worthy of pride, confidence, self-respect, shared identity, shared culture, and shared experiences are attributes of people who accomplish something, not merely make a socially convenient choice.  Why does America not celebrate American Pride month?  America has done tremendous things to advance the cause of all people worldwide, but is not allowed a pride month; I don’t understand.

While I was living on the streets homeless, I met several people who were proud of being homeless and wore their homelessness as a badge of honor.  Yet, I wonder, what do they have to be proud of?  These people have no jobs, live from hand to mouth, game (defraud) the welfare system, prey upon other people for subsistence, and are proud to wallow in their own filth.  Now, I am not by any means classifying all homeless in this category, merely speaking of a distinct subset of people I have met.

Theres moreAs defined, pride requires actions, and other people herald those actions and show pride in those accomplishments.  Hence, in this instance, pride is not selfish but selfless and requires recognition by others who generally might not share the same ideals but recognize an accomplishment and glory with you in your success.

As a veteran of the US Military, I was taught service through sacrifice, and pride in accomplishment, pride in sharing a collective culture, identity, and experiences that stretch hundreds of years into the past.  I am not against having pride in people who share your melatonin level who have accomplished things worthy of admiration and respect.  I do have some concerns when pride is based upon false accomplishments, outright lies, or manipulating current social climates or historical facts.  For example, of what do the LGBTQ communities have to be proud?  They mainstreamed personal choices and forced their bedroom activities into the public conversation and not much else.

Why should I care that you are proud you created a dialogue, carved out exceptions to laws to support you being preferential, and are forcing your lifestyle and preferences upon society?  What have you done to elicit pride?  Why should anyone else share in the LGBTQ pride?  What selfless accomplishments have the LGBTQ community done that the non-LGBTQ community should reflect pride in the LGBTQ community?

LookHonestly, I could care less about your bedroom preferences, hetero/homo, etc. I do not care!  Keep your bedroom activities in your bedroom, and I have no problems.  Make your bedroom a public issue, and I now have a problem.  For example, at a movie theater, the action between couples detracted from the movie I paid to see.  Worse, it was witnessed by several children, who were way too young to see a pornographic display at a movie theater.  If you choose to bring your bedroom into the public square, you deserve to enjoy the consequences of public ridicule and suffer judicial action.

Another example, at various times, I have engaged multiple people about “Black Pride,” “Latino Pride,” and other forms of melanin based pride.  In this specific instance, the group was about 8-10 young black males urging everyone to have “Black Pride.”  They were employing the term, and I asked several questions, “What had they accomplished to have “Black Pride?”  “What did ‘Black Pride’ mean to them personally?”  “How do they show “Black Pride?”  I am not casting aspersions upon the entire black race, as I have had similar conversations with many other races and people and received extraordinary answers to these same questions.

Friends QuoteHowever, this group could not name a single black person of accomplishment outside of sports figures.  Not that some athletes deserve to be remembered for their actions on and off the fields of athletic achievement.  The group also disagreed whether someone was “Black Enough” to be considered in “Black Pride” refused black professionals as “Uncle Toms” such as Carla Harris, Susan Chapman, Clarence Thomas, Marshall Thurgood, Robert Smith, or Aliko Dangote.  Thus, I remain concerned when celebrating melanin-based pride as the ignorance of why we celebrate casts significant doubt on future generations’ willingness to perform to a level worthy of pride exemplified in previous generations who accomplished greatness.

Why does discriminating continue to get a bad name?  I discriminate every day when choosing between blue colored jeans and black colored jeans, between socks, and between foods.  Yet, recognizing and understanding the difference between one thing, person, event, etc., and another remains a natural action and central to discriminating as a term and a process.

Social Justice Warrior 3The legal definition for discrimination is as follows: “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.”  I unfairly discriminate against corn on the cob, refuse to eat that nasty stuff on a cob, and rarely eat corn when removed from the cob and frozen.  President George Bush hated broccoli, unfairly and prejudicially.  When individuals are subjugated to an other individual’s choices based upon melanin levels in their skin, religion, or birth sex (not gender choice), harm (physical, emotional, mental, financial) is done to another; isn’t that just part of life.  There are laws to protect one from another when real harm is committed.  Again, leading to the question, when an elected official chooses to support one group, over another, for preferential treatment, doesn’t this definition lead to charges of prejudicial treatment and break the law?

For example, Rep. Haaland’s email is promoting a social activity, a choice, and a lifestyle over others in her Congressional District; thus, promoting the idea that those selecting this lifestyle, or making this social choice, are preferential to all other lifestyle choices, and social activities in her Congressional District.  Since the representative appears to favor one lifestyle choice and social action over all the others, doesn’t this open the representative to charges of preferential treatment, unfair treatment, and being discriminatory?  What happens, and which takes preference when LGBTQ, Latino, and Black concerns all crash together asking for preferential treatment, but the resources demand none can have preferential treatment?  What about everyone else in her Congressional District?  Are they just out of luck for not belonging to the right melanin-based lifestyle, choice, or social activity to obtain preferential treatment?

Bob MarleyElected Officials, please heed and understand that lowering yourself and your office to select winners and losers means that everyone loses!  Elected Officials, do you understand this concept?  If so, why do you insist upon not living this concept as an elected official?  Why do so many of your peers in elected positions follow your example?  Why do so many government employees follow your standard in selecting based upon everything but fairness, honesty, integrity, and demean and degrade themselves while groveling to the current preferred community?

Conservatives, we need to recognize and respond more directly and more bluntly to the actions we witness in the behaviors of Elected Officials of all types, sizes, and levels of government.  Judges should not be getting a pass when they let off criminals because of melanin-based interpretations of the law.  The school board should not be designating funds based upon melatonin or automatically assuming that melanin dictates intelligence and potential.  What about the other populations, peoples, communities, etc., America is a melting-pot where all should be treated equally under one standard of law.  Except, since the 1960s, this has not been the case in America.  Let’s start asking tougher questions, demanding coherent and logical answers, and holding those elected to live a higher standard that supports the “Rule of Law” in America!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.