I Hate Being Lied To – Follow-Up on Diabetes and Dieting

Angry Grizzly BearEarlier this week, I went to a doctor’s appointment that included diabetes boot camp and was instructed by Dr. T., a clinical pharmacist for the El Paso VAMC.  At the time, I thought the only liars were the Food and Drug Administration and the food pyramid I have been living for 40+ years.  After some additional research, I have to add Dr. T. to the list of liars using peer-reviewed sources.  Well, at least he is in good company.  The list of liars includes a neurologist who claimed all calories are the same and reducing caloric intake and caloric burn will help a person lose weight.  The advice I have been following for the better part of six years to no avail.

Cave Man Foods

The “Cave Man Foods” pitched by Dr. T. were sourced from Keto-Diets, not “14-years of research at the VA.”  The problem with the Keto-Diets is Ketosis, and if you have a liver problem, which I do, you can do serious damage to the liver by eating eggs.  Eggs are a staple of the Keto-Diets; do you see the problem here?Gravy Train 2

I have a friend, and he and his spouse went Keto about 16 months ago.  Earlier this year, his wife had liver failure, and the Keto-diet helped create a liver problem for someone who has never had liver problems in their life.  The correlational relationship between consuming eggs and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NFLD) is pretty solid based on my research.  However, as I am not a dietician, a medical doctor, or a food researcher, I can only rely upon medical advice and encourage you to seek medical opinions (plural) before starting any diet regimen!

Calories are not the same!

Let us establish a base of information.  A calorie is a unit of energy defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a quantity of water by one degree.  In Junior High School, we used peanuts, sugar cubes, and other home ingredients to explore calories in chemistry class.  I still remember setting foods on fire and measuring water temperature correctly to get the caloric burns right.  However, dieticians never discussed then and not discussed now that one calorie is not the same as another calorie.  Just like rocks are not all the same size, have the same value, or can be used in the same manner.

RocksFor example, calories from sugar are not the same calories from kidney beans, even though both are units of energy, and 2000 calories of chocolate are not the same as 2000 calories of carrots.  If we are clear on this, let’s discuss why this is important.  2015, a neurologist told me all my problems with my nerves lay in how much fat I was carrying around.  He claimed that if I reduced the amount of calories I consumed and increased the number of calories burned, I would quickly lose weight.  Losing weight never happened, nor could I keep any weight lost off for any length of time.

Three years after this meeting, I was told I had developed diabetes and a non-alcoholic fatty liver, as well as gallstones, and my GERD was out of control.  This was when I was first introduced to the notion that not all calories are equal, even though all calories are units of energy.  I did not understand this discussion totally then; after Dr. T.’s discussion, I still do not fully understand the entire argument.

Lemmings 3I am sure that energy sources are not equal, even though calories are simple units of energy, per the laws and rules of physics.  However, I am not a chemist, a physicist, nor exceptionally well versed in diet and health.  I am not a dietician and am left to try and figure out the best advice and live that advice.  As a foodie, I have yet to find any diet, as the first part of a diet is “die” dying of hunger!  Before you ask, yes, Garfield is a hero of mine and has been my whole life.

Complications to Weight Loss

2017 thru 2019, I had been more active and had lost a little weight.  July through December 2020 come along, and all the weight lost is back in spades; why, the injuries sustained at the hands of the VA Police in arresting me for not wearing a mask at the VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ.  According to research conducted on people with spinal cord injuries, the following are key variables in weight loss:

      • Age
      • Race
      • Marital Status
      • Employment Status
      • Family history of overweight/obesity
      • Level and duration of injury
      • Cholesterol level at baseline.

Thus, it is only logical that since my fallacious arrests and injuries at the hands of the VA Police at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC in Phoenix, AZ., exercise and weight loss would be impeded, acting as complicating factors in improving my health.  Why is this important; because, my new primary care provider does not think I have any problems and refuses to renew medication until other specialists claim the medicines are needed.  I find it interesting that the doctors would vary so significantly between VISN 17 and VISN 22.Lemmings 4

Mask Policies

While the following is not a variable in weight loss, it is part and parcel of the lies and problems I have experienced since Feb 2020.  The Las Cruces, NM., VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) had no problems accepting my doctor’s note regarding my inability to wear a mask.  When I arrived at the El Paso VAMC, the VA Police had no problem with my doctor’s letter regarding my inability to wear a mask, handed me a face shield, and then provided protection for me with other bureaucrats who took umbrage that I was not wearing a mask.

cropped-bird-of-prey.jpgMeaning that what I have been declaring about the mask policy, the mask mandates, and the hypocrisy of zealot VA Police Officers at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC is 100% true, and my treatment was not in accordance with the mask policy (emailed directive) from Washington DC.  I hate being lied to, detest being arrested and injured when I am right and refuse to be silent about how poorly the VA is treating veterans!  Does anyone know a lawyer who is willing and hungry enough to take on the VA?

References

Chen, Y., Henson, S., Jackson, A. et al. Obesity intervention in persons with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 44, 82–91 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.sc.3101818

Gundry, S. R. (2017). The plant paradox: The hidden dangers in “Healthy” Foods that cause disease and weight gain. HarperCollins.

Joshi, S., Ostfeld, R. J., & McMacken, M. (2019). The ketogenic diet for obesity and diabetes—enthusiasm outpaces evidence. JAMA internal medicine, 179(9), 1163-1164.

Mokhtari, Z., Poustchi, H., Eslamparast, T., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2017). Egg consumption and risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. World journal of hepatology, 9(10), 503.

Taubes, G. (2008). Good calories, bad calories: Fats, carbs, and the controversial science of diet and health. Anchor.

Taubes, G. (2011). Why we get fat and what to do about it. Anchor.

© 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.

Abominable Enabling – More VA Chronicles of Shame!

Knowledge Check!Before I begin, please allow me to emphasize a key idea, “This is your government!”  Your tax dollars are paying for these shenanigans, and the bureaucrats do not fear you.  I have written some odious critiques in my time about the VA and other government agencies.  My cataloging these incidents does no good unless everyone in America becomes full of righteous indignation and DEMANDS Action through their elected officials!

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has been super busy this week, and my email box has been chock full of reports.  The VA-OIG reports begin in New Mexico, Albuquerque, where finally the VA-OIG has investigated some of the many complaints and is finally stating what the veterans and active-duty military have been saying for a long time, the NMVAMC leadership stinks!Raymmond G. Murphy

As a patient in Albuquerque VAMC, during the June 2018 window of investigation, I can affirm the integrity of the problem but seriously doubt the VA-OIG conclusions.  I was an employee of the Albuquerque VAMC in June 2018, so I know the leadership involved personally, and I guarantee the problem goes deeper than a lack of training.  The Albuquerque VAMC is fraught with leadership dysfunction, misfeasance, malfeasance, and intentional systemic problems.  Yes, the VISN 22 leaders were advised, and no, the VISN 22 leaders did nothing! There’s no surprise there; VISN 22 is one dead veteran from a major scandal that will make the death list scandals look like a minor nuisance.

From the VA-OIG report, we find the following:

The VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) conducted a healthcare inspection to evaluate allegations that Community Care consults were completed in June 2018 without scanning and attaching available clinical results to patients’ Veterans Health Administration (VHA) electronic health records (EHR).”  “The VA-OIG substantiated that in June 2018, Community Care nurses were completing consults without scanning and attaching clinical documentation to patients’ EHRs.”  “The VA-OIG determined that Community Care nurses lacked a comprehensive orientation and training program. The Chief of Community Care did not verify adherence to consult-related VHA requirements or conduct regular reviews and improvements for departmental performance deficiencies. Additionally, Community Care performance monitoring addressed consult processes before patients receiving care but did not address the consult completion process or identify non-compliance with VHA policy before 2019.”VA 3

Let me break this down; primary care providers sent orders for community care, community care would be delayed, then to clear the backlog, the nurses doing the ordering would pencil-whip the documents claiming that care had been received, canceling the orders of the primary care provider.  Then the patient and the primary care provider would have to start the process for community care all over again.  Wasting time, money, and other resources, the facility leaders and VISN leaders refused to address the deficiencies and correct the problem.  The problems with community care existed before I arrived in Albuquerque in 2016 and continue without stop after this VA-OIG inspection.  I met with providers who had not been paid for years because the community care program was poorly managed and led.  Thus, the leadership enables people to break the trust, break the law, commit fraud, waste, and abuse, then collectively blame the problem on a lack of training, which is designed into the processes as incompetence.

QuestionI keep asking for the politicians and Washington VA Leaders to rip the scab off VISN 22, expose the wound to sunshine disinfectant, and drain the pus for the good of the VA body.  Yet, nothing ever happens, and the leadership continues to get away with abusing veterans, killing veterans, and destroying veterans.  Shame on you, political and administrative leaders!

Speaking of wounds needing sunshine disinfectant, the VA-OIG reports that “Mende Leone, 37, pleaded guilty to misappropriation of a federal benefit by a fiduciary.  As her uncle’s appointed fiduciary, Leone stole at least $151,000 of VA benefits intended for him.”  Continuing to prove that after the VA, families are the second most dangerous entity to the health and support of veterans.  Despicable crime indeed!Plato 2

Unfortunately, the third most dangerous entity to a veteran is the state government where they reside.  California moved very quickly to scoop up money after a veteran died.  At the same time, the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) was foot-dragging on deciding on awarding fiduciary control for the veteran in a long-term care facility.  Proving once again, if you want to see government in action, waive money in their faces, and watch them kill each other to obtain someone else’s funds.

The clowns at any circus in the world would make better administrators of the VA than those currently in power positions!  For the second time in as many months, the VA-OIG reports that unreliable information (the politically correct way to say they lied) was blamed for billions in cost overruns on IT infrastructure costs to the VA.  “… the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM) estimated information technology (IT) infrastructure upgrade costs [but was not] in accordance with established VA standards and Government Accountability Office guidance.  The two $4.3 billion infrastructure upgrade estimates reported to Congress were not reliable and, because of incomplete documentation, determining the accuracy of the estimates was not possible. The VA-OIG also found VA did not report to Congress other IT upgrade costs of about $2.5 billion because OEHRM did not include costs other VA agencies would bear. OEHRM also did not update the cost estimates it provided to Congress.”VA 3

Yet, the US President continues to push to throw more trillions of dollars at the VA when they cannot correctly handle the billions already appropriated to upgrade their IT infrastructure.  The VA-OIG report, just for this farrago, is estimated at $11.1 Billion.  Einstein is famous for claiming that doing something over and over again and expecting different results is the epitome of insanity.  Maybe, it might be time to scrutinize the VA, fire some people, and get actual private-sector employees to fix the bureaucracy and obscene malfeasance in government!Apathy

The following investigation remains ongoing, and those indicted remain innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a jury of their peers.  However, the investigation needs to be reported for the criminal activity and the lack of leadership that enabled the crimes accused.

Lisa M. Hoffman, 48, of Orange, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with one count each of conspiracy, theft of government property, and theft of medical products.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From October 2015 through November 2019, Hoffman was a procurement officer at the VAMC. She used her authority to order large quantities of HIV prescription medications to steal the excess. After the medications arrived, Hoffman waited until co-workers were out of sight and removed them from the VAMC.

Once Hoffman stole the medications, she met her associate, Wagner Checonolasco, aka “Wanny,” generally at Hoffman’s residence so that Hoffman could provide the stolen HIV medications to Checonolasco in exchange for cash. Hoffman and Checonolasco used an encrypted messaging application to plan and execute their thefts and sales of the stolen HIV medications, including arranging for the medications-for-cash exchanges. After obtaining the stolen HIV medications from Hoffman, Checonolasco sold them. During the conspiracy, Hoffman and Checonolasco stole approximately $10 million worth of HIV medications belonging to the VAMC” [emphasis mine].

Where were the other employees and the hospital leadership during this crime?  When I received US Government property, I had to account for every penny, show the receipts, and held to general inspections verifying my veracity.  The supply officer lost $20.00, claimed I had spent the money, and I had to prove my innocence using documentation and a full property audit before I was cleared of the missing money.  You cannot tell me that the leadership and other employees magically are not culpable for their complicity and failure to perform their jobs.VA 3

For example, upon receipt of property, there is an inspection to verify everything purchased arrived.  Then when delivered to different stations, another audit is conducted to ensure nothing disappeared enroute.  If something comes up missing, there is another audit and inspection, as well as a host of paperwork involved in correcting deficiencies and proving where the property went.  Prescription drugs are held to a higher standard with greater penalties for those involved in missing drugs.  Thus, I ask again, where was the leadership who enabled this criminal behavior?  Where were the nurses who noticed missing drugs on inventory lists?  Where were the fellow employees in this scheme?

Multiple reports are circulating that the head of the viral, fungal meningitis outbreak from 2012, Barry Cadden, is being resentenced with stiffer penalties.  As a reminder, “In 2012, 753 patients in 20 states were diagnosed with a fungal infection after receiving injections of MPA manufactured by NECC, and more than 100 patients died as a result.”  Cadden was resentenced to 174 months in prison, forfeiture of $1.4 million, and restitution of $82 million.  Frankly, I still think the sentence is too light; but nobody asked my opinion on sentencing!Gavel

Finally, in our discussion on obscene enabling by VA Leadership, the following VA-OIG reports on COVID preparedness, lessons learned, and the preparation for a pandemic.  Under the heading, “Identified Trends Among VISN 19 Respondents’ Comments on Facility Readiness and Response,” we find “All need to practice infection control protocols (wearing masks and washing hands).”  Are you kidding me?!?!  You are a hospital; hand washing should be second nature and the first line of defense, not the patient wearing a mask.  The VA-OIG gathered this data from VISN 19, which includes the following VAMC’s:

        • Aurora, CO
        • Cheyenne, WY
        • Fort Harrison, MT
        • Grand Junction, CO
        • Muskogee, OK
        • Oklahoma City, OK
        • Salt Lake City, UT
        • Sheridan WY

Having been a patient in three of these VAMC’s I find it highly distressing that hand washing and wearing masks in a hospital setting is a “trend” of “readiness and response to a pandemic.”  How were you delivering care previously?  Why is handwashing suddenly a new activity?  How many patients were endangered by a lack of handwashing?VA 3

I have been a patient in two different VA Hospitals where the nurse routinely pulled off the finger of their glove or did not glove at all, to remove blood, use sharps to give shots, and a host of other activities.  I reported these behaviors as “concerns for patient safety,” and my concerns fell on deaf ears of the leadership.  Now, I see a VA-OIG inspection relating that hand washing is suddenly vital to delivering care, and I have to ask these questions.  Of the eight collated responses from local hospitals, proper hygiene protocols are mentioned in 6.  So, how were you delivering care before the pandemic?

Pigeon RevengeStill, the VA-OIG refuses to investigate the lack of written operational procedures, policies, and mandates for enforced mask-wearing, especially when the mask prohibits or makes unsafe the patient’s breathing.  Why was there no acceptable workaround to see patients with shortness of breath without a forced mask?  Why were patients refused care under EMTALA?  Why are VA Police Officers allowed access to private patient HIPAA-protected information? Fundamental questions about the rights and protections of patients who continue to be violated by the VA Leaders enabling harassment and harming patients, and the VA-OIG remains MIA.  I find this very glaring!

© 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.

Rights, Liberties, Freedoms, Responsibilities, Privileges: A Definitive Declaration!

Knowledge Check!In a previous post, I wrote about the principle of self-control and liberty in law; I did not realize the turmoil caused by not understanding the difference between a right, liberty, freedom, where responsibility enters, and how these principles work together.  My apologies; I learned these differences as a child and never considered that others might not be able to detail, define, describe, and delineate between these fundamental principles.  My plan originally with this article was not to provide a definitive declaration; then, I researched some of the claptrap online being passed off as learned scholarly discussion and was disgusted!  Thus, my aims and intents changed; I would see this article be referenced and used to aid in clearing up the confusion generated by word plasticity and modular language tyranny.

Along the way, I will include both links and resources for further study for your ability to grow and feel confident in defending rights, liberties, freedoms with responsibility and dedication.  Only through learning can we, the owners of representative governments, begin to change government direction and regain our liberties and freedoms!

RightsApathy

The founding fathers of America understood rights and called them inalienable.  There is a reason for this; rights cannot be taken away.  An individual can give rights away, but because a right is inalienable, it means a power greater than the government has distributed these rights, and all are equal in their possession of these rights.  Inalienable specifically refers to rights that cannot be surrendered, transferred, or removed permanently from a person.

How does a person give away an inalienable right; they refuse to accept that a right is inalienable.  Consider the US Bill of Rights, a document full of those inalienable rights or rights that cannot be surrendered, transferred, or removed permanently from an individual.  Consider one of the first inalienable rights discussed in the US Bill of Rights, religion.  What you believe is your choice; nobody can, or should, have the power to tell you what you believe.  Belief transcends thought into a unique place inside your brain; some would call it a soul.  Depending upon your flavor of religion, a soul could or could not exist.  I am not writing a definitive declaration about religion, I am writing about rights, and your personal belief where religion is concerned is fundamental to you expressing yourself.

Plato 2Is the distinction clear?  A right cannot be stripped from you by anyone, ever unless you choose to deny your inalienable rights to that particular right.  For example, the US Bill of Rights declares your ability to defend yourself is an inalienable right.  You choose how to protect yourself, e.g., guns, fists, sticks, knives, alarms, police, etc.  How you choose to defend yourself is your inalienable right, and you deserve to be protected in your rights to self-defense.  If a person attacks you, you have the inalienable right to self-protection.  This is established through case laws.  How many women have been physically, sexually, and mentally abused by a spouse or partner, who then took action to defend themselves and were acquitted at trial; too many to mention in a declaration on rights.  Just know, you have a right to self-defense, and this right can never be stripped from you by anyone but you.

Liberties

Liberties are a little more complicated to define and detail.  Some applications of the word liberty include freedom from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.  Whereas liberty is also a power to act as one chooses, even if that action breaks a society’s accepted standards, i.e., laws.  Liberties can also include unwarranted risks, deviations from facts (lies), departing from compliance to the accepted and proper methods of prudence.

The Duty of AmericansIn most societies, you can purchase and legally become the owner of an item due to the purchase.  Thus, liberty allows you to become free to use that purchase however you desire.  Until the use of that purchase interferes with someone else’s inalienable rights.  For example purchase of a baseball bat is legal, mostly around the world.  Use that baseball bat for its intended purposes, i.e., to play baseball or softball, and the government does not infringe upon your liberties.  Use that baseball bat outside its intended purposes, to break windows, cause injuries or property damage, and you can lose your liberty and your property.

Imperative to understanding, liberty can be taken by force through the law, government action, and or improper use of liberty.  Perform an imprudent act, and someone is going to take your liberty away.  For example, in Hong Kong, China has ruled that freedom of speech has been curtailed.  While freedom of speech is an inalienable right, China refuses to honor free speech as an inalienable right, and Hong Kong peoples suffer.  The people of China and Hong Kong can still speak their minds exercising their inalienable rights, but taking these liberties to exercise their rights, has been strictly and violently enforced by a government refusing to believe people have inalienable rights.

PatriotismThus the confusion and complication in defining and detailing liberties.  Liberties can be taken and refused; liberties can be eliminated by government force and social changes.  Liberties are not inalienable rights or even a right.  You do not have a right to liberty.  You may pursue happiness, but achieving happiness is not a right, freedom, or liberty.

Consider the purpose of government as detailed in the US Constitution’s preamble:

“… In order to form a more perfect Union (Government), establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Consider also the purpose for the US Bill of Rights, as the first amendments to a brand new constitution:

“… Prevent misconstruction or abuse of its (US Government) powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

The government creates liberties, calls these rights, and then attempts to confuse the problem.  For example, welfare benefits as currently understood (2021) are significantly different from welfare benefits understood in (1920) America.  Today, people on welfare benefits consider their government-provided support a right when in actuality, it is barely a liberty.  Most importantly, those welfare benefits can be restricted, removed, curtailed, curbed, and denied based upon the whims of government.  This is why welfare is not a right and barely a liberty.  Welfare benefits are barely a liberty because someone else has to pay for the privilege of supporting another person through forced taxation (legalized theft).Life Valued

Freedoms

Freedoms are even more complicated, and freedoms have been made more challenging to understand purposefully by political design as a means to steal liberties and rights from individuals, under a myriad of different names, i.e., social justice, equality, freedom, and civil liberty, etc.  Let’s start with civil liberties, which are neither a right or a liberty, regardless of the politician pushing the name.

LookCivil liberties are freedoms you pay the government to enjoy.  For example, driving a car requires a license.  By issuing licenses, the government can control the population, even though driving is considered a privilege, a right, and is often confused with “freedom of the open road,” which is two lies for the price one.  Another example is marriageMarriage throughout human history has been a tug-of-war between religion and government.  As a point of reference, marriage ceremonies are unique in the human condition anthropologically speaking.  But, as a civil liberty, the government can restrict you from marrying your pets, marrying objects and can grant and deny marriage privileges as it deems appropriate to the political situation.

The state does not recognize some religious ceremonies for marriage, which means that marriage is null and void under the state’s control. Yet, under that religious belief, that marriage is binding.  Consider China again; China refuses to honor Christian marriage ceremonies as valid under the law and several other religions and religious traditions.  Thus, civil liberties are at best an approved and licensed government action, not freedoms, liberties, and rights.  As the saying goes, “The government giveth and the government taketh.”

quote-mans-inhumanityFreedoms are often defined as political independence, which is fine insofar as civil liberties are concerned.  Freedoms entail several other qualities that the government cannot give, take, invent, or delete.  True freedoms do not need legal support from case law to be enjoyed.  True freedoms include living without restraints, acting without control or interference, and not being bound by conventions, rules, and authorities.  It cannot be stressed enough, even though liberties and freedoms share some components, they are merely similar, not identical.  In trying to push liberty and freedom as equivalent, the tyranny of language is discovered to sunshine disinfectant.  A right, especially those inalienable rights, are not freedoms or liberties to be granted and removed at the power of authority, and the distinction should be clear.

Privilegesquote-mans-inhumanity-2

Privileges are easy to understand; privileges are permission granted at the request of an authority to grant limited power, responsibility, or situational control over something.  What is a driver’s license, the privilege to drive, which can be revoked at the whims of the government issuing the privilege (license).  Civil liberties are a privilege granted by an authority; ownership is not conveyed, legal responsibility extends only for the controlled use under strict supervision by the authority.  For example, while a state employee, I was granted the privilege of operating a state-owned vehicle, provided I followed all the rules set forth by the state issuing that privilege.  Ending state employment ended the privilege of operating that government vehicle.  Easy enough to understand, a privilege is not a liberty, freedom, right, or inalienable right.

A privilege also contains immunity from commonly imposed laws, standards, and social constraints.  Think of the police officer who makes a right turn across multiple lanes of traffic.  To conduct their job and fulfill their duties, police officers sometimes have to break laws to enforce a greater law or protect the safety of others and are immune from breaking those traffic laws that the rest of us must follow.  However, even in this instance, a privilege is not freedom, a right, or liberty, simply authority granted immunity when on the job to act in a manner that supports public safety and enforces the state’s authority over driving privileges.

The Role of ResponsibilityPresident Adams

Responsibility is a word that gets thrown around too often where the definition is muddied, and the intent is to harm and control someone else.  Responsibility is nothing more or less than the condition of being required to account for one’s actions, behaviors, and the consequences of the same.  For example, a defendant in a courtroom can be required to account for and make restitution for behaviors, actions, and consequences that were out of compliance with societal norms; we call this type of responsibility justice.

On a less extreme example, a child is out throwing rocks, the rock thrown breaks a window, who is responsible, the child or the parent?  The child should be held responsible and taught accountability; however, society is moving more and more towards holding that parent responsible.  Except, does this hurt or help the child stop throwing rocks?  Now, I have heard parents proclaim that throwing rocks is a right of passage for children, and the child should not be responsible for the consequences.  Therein lay the problem with freedoms, liberties, privileges, and rights, the role of responsibility.

Exclamation MarkIt has been said that my freedom of speech ends where your nose begins.  Thus, I cannot exercise my freedom of speech through physical violence, or I lose my right to speak and, more likely, some freedom and property as well.  Thus, the role of responsibility begins with knowing the extent of and limitations formed around rights, freedoms, liberties, and privileges, for ignorance of the law is not an excuse.  Our responsibility of living in society is to know the rules that form the laws and the social constraints of that society.

For example, the people of Germany have worked hard to make their country beautiful, and the principle of living in a Germanic society is In Ordnung.  If something is out of order, for example, litter, the person creating that situation outside of order is publicly shamed.  In America, the societal norms have been beaten and hindered, so that a person coming into America illegally has the rights, as granted by the government, not to learn the language, learn the culture, or even assimilate.  Whereas those coming legally into America are required to learn, adapt, and assimilate into America.  Thus, the role of responsibility can be used selectively to provide civil liberties to one group while withholding those same rights from others based upon political conditions.

Conclusion

Image - Eagle & FlagRights, especially inalienable rights, are yours as provided by a higher power than the government.  Liberties are the power to act without constraint, provided your exercise of liberty does not infringe upon the inalienable rights of another.  Freedoms rest upon political independence, something feared by every bureaucrat and power-mad politician in history.  Privileges are permissions granted by a higher authority to conduct business or fulfill a purpose.  Civil liberties are not liberties, but privileges can be taken away by authorities and social changes.  Regardless, the role of responsibility is inseparably connected to rights, liberties, freedoms, and privileges. One day, accountability will be demanded for the responsibilities connected to how a person used their liberties, freedoms, rights, and privileges.

References

Leadbeater, C. W. (1913). The hidden side of things. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House.

Lieberman, M. D. (2013). Social: Why our brains are wired to connect. NY: Oxford University Press, USA.

Poerksen, U. (2010). Plastic words: The tyranny of a modular language. NY: Penn State Press.

Paine, T. (2008). Rights of man, common sense, and other political writings. NY: Oxford University Press.

Tucker, W. (2014). Marriage and civilization: How monogamy made us human. NY: Simon & Schuster.

© 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
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