SCOTUS – The Abortion Decision: Awake Society!

Exclamation MarkI have written about abortion previously.  I have discussed the problems with legislating from the bench and the societal issues when judges take powers unto themselves.  Today, the media is in shock and awe over the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) making an abortion decision not to strike down a law in Texas.  Would it shock and dismay anyone if I explained that SCOTUS still got the decision wrong?  From the pen of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, we find why the current SCOTUS got the latest decision wrong.

The law is the witness and external deposit of our moral life. Its history is the history of the moral development of the race.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas [and] the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The history of abortion on demand is fraught with legislative attempts that were superseded by judicial activism.  By judges acting to legislate from the bench and cram new moral authority into American law, without the consent of the governed, problems in governance arose.  The most egregious problem is the dependence upon judges to solve legitimate legislative issues, and therein lay both the destruction and the solution to the current dilemmas of American society.

What are moral issues?

A person smoking is a moral issue, not a legal issue.  Abortion is a moral issue, not a legal issue.  Moral issues deal solely with how a person chooses to live their lives, regardless of how another person thinks they should live their lives.  Drunk driving is a legal issue as it places other members of society in danger when an intoxicated person operates a vehicle impaired.  But, drinking is a moral issue, provided that person is of social/legal age to drink.  Is the distinction clear?  Provided the exercise of a person’s moral choices does not interfere with another person’s ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  The moral decisions of the first individual do not become legal issues of the second person.The Duty of Americans

The feminists of the day wanted to control women’s bodies and control how often men had sex with women.  This was part of a larger social trend to see women gain more rights and privileges in society, a moral issue.  The feminists used friendly judges to chip away at the social fabric until they obtained a legal decision that allowed for abortion on demand.  Fundamentally, the decisions of the feminists to exert control of mass populations of females was a violation of those females’ moral agency as many of them did not join the feminists’ associations before becoming influenced by the consequences of the decisions made in the name of females everywhere.

Social Change Needed

The separation of moral agency and legal rights is thin but distinct; unfortunately, the line has become blurred through social influencing, social media, and judicial activism.  Society has fallen into helicopter parenting, and the courtroom has become both the parent and the potential gold mine.  Find the right case, find a friendly judge, and take the current case to the media to inflame a population and try the case socially before the case is conducted legally.  The other side barely stands a chance anymore.  Even if you lose the case in court, you win socially, which changes minds and hearts, leading to more changes to laws, just a smaller payday.Gavel

As a kid, if you took a decision to a parent and the first one told you no.  Then you went to another parent for a second opinion; how much trouble were you in?  In my family, you got punished by both parents, twice the beating for the same decision.  My buddy, his parents were getting a divorce; he used this tactic to the fullest all the time as a weapon against his parents, as his parents used him (only child) as a weapon against each other.  Only later did I fully appreciate the horror and tragedy my buddy was in during this time in his life.  Worse, it has only been in the last couple of decades that I have realized how terrible this lesson has been for all of American society and what it has done to our courts and legal system.

The Opportunity

Freedom means being responsible for our own actions and their consequences.  Our moral agency allows us the power to act and puts us in the driver’s seat to control our choices in our lives.  But, we do not get to pick the consequences, when the consequences land, or the severity of the consequences.  We can only control what we do with our choices.  I prefer to have unfettered freedom than nanny-state control.  Who controls the government in a nanny-state?  Honestly, look to Cuba, China, Venezuela, the USSR, and ask who controls the nanny-state, as they strive to control every aspect of you?Behavior-Change

In representative governments, we, the people, are responsible and control the government.  We cannot abdicate this responsibility, and the government cannot seize power without our consent.  Herein lays our golden ticket to the chocolate factory; their bounds are set, ours are not!  The government can only go as far as we declare they can.  After leaving American citizens to the ravages of the Taliban in Afghanistan, polluting our shores with an unsecured southern border, and all the other crises we are dealing with, it is time we started restricting the government of consent.

SCOTUS’ decision was still wrong because they should never have issued a decision in the first place.  The decision SCOTUS should have given should have been a single sentence, “Abortion is a moral issue, not a legal issue, and we are removing the courts from this issue and returning it to the legislative bodies of the United States for further decisioning.”  With that single sentence, all legal proceedings, legal determinations, and laws on abortion would have been halted, awaiting a legislative determination.  Then, and only then, would a great injustice have been legally righted in America and the 50 individual states’ legislative bodies being empowered to choose as their citizens saw fit.

Knowledge Check!SCOTUS could then do the same for same-sex marriage and every other moral issue they have legislated from the bench over the last 200 years.  This leads to a dramatic change in and correction of the judicial branch and honoring the legislative and executive branches of government.  When judicial activism ends, people understand that liberty is more precious than gold and silver and then live their lives according to the dictates of their own consciousness, leaving others to do likewise.  Our opportunity is to return to this manner of legal system, seize this golden ticket and return to sanity in freedom!

© 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.

The Law and Ideas

Bird of PreySeveral days back, I came across some incredible quotes from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. that started me thinking on several topics.  I beg your attention as we discuss the fundamental truths of the following two quotes:

The law is the witness and external deposit of our moral life. Its history is the history of the moral development of the race.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas [and] the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

QuestionI am not here to debate the law.  However, in discussing these two quotes, predominantly since they originate from a Supreme Court Justice of the United States of America, we will discuss aspects of the law.  The same goes for religion and philosophy; it is necessary to discuss aspects of both religion and philosophy to discuss the law.  However, I am not here to debate either religion or philosophy.

The Law and Social Morals

2015, in a decision that shocked the American Nation, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges and same-sex marriage stopped being a state right’s issue and became a Federal issue, even though the Federal Government does not issue marriage licenses.  Using the two quotes above, we find the truth of both in the actions of the court.  The court decided that the Federal Government needed to “step into” a state’s right issue to prevent a kaleidoscope of legal decisions across the entire 50- and American Territories.Plato 2

What is wrong with 50-different states exerting their rights?  The SCOTUS decision states the following, “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”  Apparently, SCOTUS forgot to read and understand decisions from previous justices who faced a similar moral issue.

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy – I don’t disparage envy, but I don’t accept it as legitimately my master.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Same-sex marriage was all about envy, not rights, not liberties, not freedoms, envy!  Envy couched in the language of “equality.”  Love, devotion, sacrifice, family, all of it was smoke-screens and mirrors to hide envy.  Those who engage in bedroom practices that were not in the mainstream wanted their relationship to be a “marriage.”  With all the state and civil granted benefits involved.  The simple solution to this moral dilemma was to remove the government’s self-appointed authority to regulate marriage.  The day the state and local governments decided to regulate marriage was when citizens lost fundamental rights to keep the government out of their business.  One of the most significant privacy abuses in the world occurs every time the government forces a couple to register (license) a marriage.

ApathyWorse, the government forces you to pay a tax to get married.  By paying a licensing fee, the government taxes marriages, invades your privacy, and in doing so, provides you the ability to pay for the privilege of inviting the government into your bedroom.  The moral development of the law to govern society hinges upon justices not legislating from the bench, judges who refuse judicial activism because the elected representatives of the government are moving too slow on an issue, and judges who remain dedicated to the limits of the law.  Yet, the exact opposite has been allowed to occur by the elected representatives who abdicate their roles to the judicial branch, who refuse their duties as a co-equal branch of the government, and people who use the law for selfish ends and means.

Question 2What is more precious to you, government benefits, granted by the courts and purchased from taxpayers in another area, or privacy, freedom, and liberty?  How you answer this question should be revealing to you and a reminder of your obligations as a legal citizen of these United States of America, a free Republic (if we can keep it).  Freedom has a cost; the cost involves being involved in elections, voting smarter, watching and scrutinizing those elected, and monitoring the actions of judges and lawyers.

Privacy and Freedom – The Law and Ideas

From the US Bill of Rights and US Constitution as amended, we find that America’s founding fathers wanted an individual’s privacy held sacrosanct in American Law.  Unfortunately, what do we see in the laws of America the exact opposite?

        • Amendment I
          (Privacy of Beliefs)
          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.
        • Amendment III
          (Privacy of the Home)
          No Soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
        • Amendment IV
          (Privacy of the Person and Possessions)
          The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
        • Amendment IX
          (More General Protection for Privacy?)
          The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
        • Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
          No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Knowledge Check!One might ask, where is the marketplace for ideas.  The answer begins inside the walls of your own home.  Except, if you enter your thoughts on social media, the Department of Internal Revenue Service has empowered your employer to withhold employment to express your thoughts inside your own home or on your social media accounts.  Worse, the government calls this a privilege of employment and a cost of doing business in a technological age.  Hence the first two places where ideas are testing truth, and competing for market share, are social media and your home.

Where else would one expect to have the freedom to share ideas?  Employment and religion are two other places where the government regulates and restricts ideas.  How many churches faced IRS sanctions for allowing political speech inside their walls, every single one!  What about employers; they limit the sharing of ideas on a host of topics under the language of diversity, inclusion, and risk.  Due to fear from the potential of people to become violent, the insurance companies and IRS allow your liberties, privacy, and constitutional rights to be curtailed, culled, and clipped as an excuse to protect your safety at work.

As a final thought, consider the following:

For my part, I think it is a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Never Give Up!

Playing an ignoble part in the confiscation, curtail, and culling of rights, liberties, and freedoms, has been the improper role of government since President Wilson (D).  He was allowed to do what he did by a complicit Congress and the K-12 educations of the populace.  The reason functional illiteracy is so rampant, the government in the 1860s approved Dewey’s ideas to make students dumber, purposefully, to ensure the government could steal power unconstitutionally.  By the end of the 1940s, the coup was complete, and you became the property of government to be used and abused as the government desired.  Some Sunday thoughts to begin your next week with; unfortunately, the ideas must lead to action if America is to be saved!

© 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.