Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ferguson, Janay Rice, Judgment

Hopefully people will read this and think, not just glance at the words, find something to get riled up over and start an uproar. Let's start with Ferguson. An unarmed black person was shot by an officer. No he didn't deserve to be shot because of the robbery at the store. We really don't know the whole story, forensics and objective evidence. Is it impossible to think everybody could wait until the Grand Jury hands down the decision? Will it bring back the dead man? Back when I was growing up in Phila. and surrounding suburbs it was common knowledge that you went to the hospital prior to being booked at the station. It didn't matter if you were black, white, green, or blue. I personally had a recent experience with an officer. Apparently I ignored a "no U turn" sign. While apologizing for not seeing the sign I was threatened with losing my license and being required to be re-certified (no I'm not 80 yrs. old.) I also accidentally touched the officers hand which was on the door of his car. He was on one side, I was on the other. I was threatened with being charged with assault on an officer. I'm not black or a person of color. I can certainly get behind any movement which is trying to put a stop to aggressive police practices, etc. By making it a racial thing, you muddy up the issue and lose many supporters. I see what protesters are doing. Maybe they aren't the majority. Then again, I didn't own any slaves and most people today have no close ties to slavery to be using that as justification for bad behavior. My children were fairly typical. One son received a speeding ticket on his way to school. As he walked back to his car he called the cop a "Pompous ass." Not a wise choice. He received four additional tickets for completely bogus reasons. Since he isn't a person of color, nobody came rushing out to claim racism. In fact, I explained to him he should learn not to be confrontational with an officer since they have the power to ruin and or kill you. Make a choice. Is you building your ego worth the possible consequences? The first point is, wrong is wrong and people of all races have to deal with this stuff daily. Next, why are parents teaching their children to have a chip on their shoulder when dealing with authority? Such guidance will probably lead to more trouble then its worth. Why give people ammunition to use against you? Act right, be courteous. You may still have issues but you maintain your personal integrity. In the end, that's all you can be sure of. Eventually others will realize YOU are not the problem and be willing to support you. Now Janay Rice and domestic violence. As much as the media claim they are not blaming her for what happened, they are. They are questioning her judgement and ability to make her own decisions. Janay says it was the first time she has been hit by her husband. Why won't people believe her? Have they seen her bloodied, bruised? No people should not hit other people because they are angry. Men and women should both be expected to keep that in mind. The NFL is full of super aggressive, super macho, hard hitting men. That is their culture. Now, let's say, as Janay told the commissioner, she spat on her husband during the argument. Then in the elevator she lunges toward him. Maybe it was reflex that he raised his fist and hit her. I'm not sure if the punch or her hitting her head on the rail knocked her out. Again, its not right for people to act that way toward people they love. Alcohol and emotion are a dangerous mix. He should not have hit her. He's obviously a strong man. But what if it was the first time and the alcohol reduced his judgement enough so reflex took over and ....boom. Now the media is saying Janay is brainwashed, doesn't know she's a victim, is protecting her abuser and coming to all sorts of unfounded conclusions and giving her unwanted advice. Let her know she has public support if she needs it and butt the hell out. By using her experience to advance your cause (which may be a good cause) is wrong. She didn't sign up for that and people should respect her decisions. Neither the public or the government should be minding your personal business to this degree. If any of my twitter followers read this I hope you have a better understanding of who I am and what I stand for. People make judgments daily about all types of things and people. They often base these judgments on incomplete information. We all have a responsibility to become informed about all things and people. As individuals we can only show by our actions what kind of people we are.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Is Racial Equality for You?

First, I have to say, if I had been a slave back in the day I would be annoyed at the people today who are trying to get ahead using my hard work and life experience as an excuse for them getting something for nothing. Slavery was not invented by the Europeans who took natives back to America. Tribes within Africa sold there enemies (also black) to the Europeans. From back in Roman times and before, slaves were the norm. They built the pyramids, served the kings and nobility, entertained the masses in fights to the death, etc. Black people have no lock on slavery. Stop acting like because things were done wrong in the past you are entitled to a free pass for bad behavior because its your culture. This should be a a strategy, wrong is wrong no matter what your color, sexual orientation, religion, gender. If one group stopped acting like they were the only people being mistreated the country may find a way to unite and actually affect change. As long as one group feels they are they only people being mistreated there will be divisions in our country. That makes us all weaker and more vulnerable to any sector that can unite behind a common cause. If police are using force excessively they are not just doing it with black people. Trust me, I've seen it with all people. What is happening though is some want the retroactive compensation for all the wrongs committed against them at the cost of others rights. It doesn't seem to matter to some that many people are struggling. It only matter that one group gets what they want, no matter if innocent people pay for their advances. That causes resentment and the cycle repeats. To all the protesters is Ferguson I ask "What does racial equality mean to you?" What do you need to see or feel before you feel you are not being persecuted? Do you have any responsibility for spreading the negative image of Ferguson? Michael Jackson said, I'm starting with the man in the mirror. Maybe, just maybe we should all be looking at ways we, as individuals, can adjust our actions to make the world better for everyone. Don't be so self absorbed. In unity there is strength. At the rate things are going, we are doomed to destroy ourselves while fighting for personal victories.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Another Killing More Finger Pointing

Another sad time as we learn of the killings in Isla Vista. Anger and sadness precede the grieving of the loss. During that time many things will be said, lost of which will involve gun control and blaming the NRA. Let's stop and go back a few decades. Way back when I was a child we were first taught to treat others as we would like to be treated. There were no caveats about race or creed. Everybody was to follow the Golden Rule. Back then when things went wrong we were encouraged to look inward to find a resolution not at others to place blame. We learned, or many of us learned, life was about personal choices and their consequences. Today it seems the pattern is more to make excuses for bad decisions. While it is fine to sympathize with and look for understanding of a person's motivation after they have committed crimes against innocent people, we should not be making excuses thus somehow raising them to the level they sought in life only after having done the most heinous act against another. That sends the wrong message to others struggling with personal problems. It has often been pointed out you cannot legislate morality. What a waste of time, effort! In the latest instance involving Elliot Roger, the parents had asked police to check on him. They were alarmed by his videos and posts. They also knew of his continuing problems as he has been seeing a therapist. I wonder why the police were unable to do more. I recognize the 4th amendment. However, did the parents' concern along with the posts provide the necessary probable cause to do at least a cursory search? Couldn't the warning or pleas of the parents be enough to have him evaluated and maybe held for a brief period involuntarily. Why didn't one of the officers just ask "Hey dude is it OK if I just look around a bit to reassure your Mom and Dad you're OK?" I can't help but think there WAS something missed in this case. I certainly am not blaming police or joining the cry for gun control. To me, it is easy to second guess actions not taken and blame availability of lethal force for the deaths in Sandy Hook, Isla Vista and Colorado. Since we seem to be losing our right to privacy in many ways perhaps it would be more palatable if the invasion was used to actually help save lives. HIPAA laws started out to protect people's medical history from being public record. There is a line however. Most of the recent killing sprees were committed by people with clear mental health issues. Since police and government officials are protected from being sued why can't we protect mental health professional from suits brought on when they report concerns? I believe if we really wanted to solve the issue, tough choices will have to be made. I go back to starting with young children. Instill in them the principle of treating others as they want to be treated, regardless of any difference in appearance or beliefs. Also make it clear blaming others for choices you make is not acceptable. Many people have been bullied and become successful. Many people have been abused and risen to positions of power. Let young people know there are options out there and consequences to their actions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

VA Scandal Government Mismanagement Fraud

I have entirely too much personal experience with government fraud against citizens but it seems perhaps now is a good time to sound off again about the problems I've experienced. My Father is a 95 year old, disabled veteran. He finally was permitted into the VA system about 10 years ago for a claim filed in 1945. The excuse given for the delay and need to re-file in 2005 was "the fire in St. Louis" which destroyed records. He began with Primary Home Health Care through the VA. Their records listed him as having high blood pressure. Although the visiting nurse was aware and I called several supervisors to complain, his records were not corrected to state he actually has low blood pressure. This caused an entirely different problem to arise but I won't bother to detail. I do believe it has been corrected. Additionally, Medicare, his supplemental insurance and I have been billed for services provided through the VA. There was an annual visit from various departments, nutrition, PT, etc. Each year I requested a device to assist him with putting on his socks and an amplifier-type device (not a hearing aid) Each year I received a walker. I collected three or four. A psychiatrist (and I use the term loosely) came to the house one day, spent two minutes with a man who can't hear anything (he has 3% hearing in one ear only) and diagnosed him as being batshit crazy, unaware of his surroundings,etc. This was based on him not knowing what day of the week it was. As if he cares. I received a $300 bill from this idiot, Medicare and supplemental insurance also paid him. I thought the VA provided the service through his benefits since they add the dollar amount to the "Paid for by us on your behalf" category. Someone is getting paid twice. Numbers in several agencies are not accurate to say the least. He is now is a Veteran's Nursing home. These services are also being billed and paid for through Medicare and supplemental insurance even though its a VA facility. Apparently the State runs the VA clinic and the Federal government is in charge of the nursing home facility So far that has caused him to loose his primary care physician. After being in the facility for six months I was finally informed of this. I then went through the process of getting him back into the clinic. It remains to be seen if the records will be shared. I too am on Medicare. For the past year I have had problems with Humana and Right Source pharmacy. Right Source made a company decision not to mail controlled substances to Florida do to the problems Florida was having. They also will not reimburse me for the money I pay to acquire the medications from a pharmacy because Medicare wants to penalize people for not using the network pharmacy. They don't seem to care the network pharmacy won't fill them. I am left with over $700 per month in out of pocket expenses. The records provided by Humana and Medicare however state I am only out $5.65 per month. Again, the numbers don't add up. They reflect numbers that make it appear they are actually doing what they have been contracted to do when in fact they don't. Who do they show as paying the difference between the amount charged by the pharmacist and what they reimburse me for? The pharmacy will not accept insurance and is the only place I have found that has medication in stock. Don't believe Obama and Shenseki didn't know. These procedures and policies have been in place for years. It is SOP. To claim anything else is a lie.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Florida Highway Patrol

I was returning from vacation and stopped on Daniels Parkway to refuel and grab some breakfast.When getting back on the road I realized I missed the Northbound exit for 75. I went a bit further and made a U-turn. Neither my passenger or I saw a "No U Turn" sign. Well apparently one was there because as soon as I made the turn an FHP officer pulled me over. He approached the passenger side of the car and asked if I was "Mary" My heart sank for a moment because I thought something had happened to a family member while on vacation and they were looking for me. Fortunately, I thought, the officer just wanted to know why I made a U turn there. I stated I was sorry but I didn't see the sign. Well that set him off on a unnecessary tirade. He immediately threatened to suspend my license and make me get recertified. I apologized again but explained I had missed my exit and all that. He again said "Tell me why I shouldn't suspend your license?" I didn't know what to say. Apparently whatever I say was wrong. He asked where I lived, where I was coming from and when my passenger answered one of the question he shot out "Just the driver." After handing him my documentation he went to his car. I continued to try to see the sign and at one point took a bite of my breakfast. I saw him motion for me to come back to his car. I got on on the busy street and walked back. He said He wanted to discuss this away from my passenger. He didn't know who he was. REALLY???? He again asked why I made the turn. The answer was the same. He also made the statement that if he was going on a call and I did that what do I think would happen. I thought to myself, but refrained from saying, if you were on a call your lights should have been on. Just an aside, when I spoke to his superior and told him this his reply was well you don't pay attention to signs why would you pay attention to lights?" SERIOUSLY??? Do you guys do chest bumps and drink Red Bull before your shift just so you can be as arrogant as possible? Well to continue I asked him to show me where the sign was and went to put my hand on his door which was separating us. I must have touched him because he jumped back, place his hand to his side and accused me of assault and said "Are you frieking kidding me?" He again said he would suspend my license, told me I was a horrible person for coming back to his car while eating. Then he threw the warning and my license at me and shouted "Get out of here." I did. Now I realize police have a tough job, sometimes. I think I know why though. Why do they act like pompous asses when someone is not provoking them? Is this perhaps why many people have no respect for law enforcement? Its a real problem that they amplify with jerk-like behavior. I realize I should have let it go but being an elementary school teacher I try to make everything a teachable moment. I learned not to even bother to answer the officer just hand them my information. I will no longer open myself up for the abuse I took from a man trying to prove he has power. He can find someone else to pick on and I hope for his sake they don't take a shot at him. The reality is, he was trying to either provoke me or make me cry. I'm too old and experienced to fall for that however. I just wanted to apologize and get home to my father, son and dog. I really believe he needs to have this incident on his record however. The needs to be documentation of his prior bad acts. If he reacts this way when someone is trying to be nice I am afraid some day he will shoot an innocent person or even a dog because he is either paranoid or just psychotic. I did go on Google Earth and see the sign although it was behind a tree, turned sideways and partially blocked by the one way sign. I can honestly state this officer had no desire to be courteous, protect or serve. I wish him luck in the future but feel he will end up causing harm to someone with no justification. I did report it to his superior but he thought I was "reading too much into it." No sir, I just wanted to let you know at least one of your officers behaved inappropriately during routine traffic stops and needs to learn to be polite.