Monday, September 16, 2013

Navy Yard Shootings: Terrorist, Crazed Gunman, or Victim? Anything's Possible!

Navy Yard Shootings: Terrorist, Crazed Gunman, or Victim? Anything's Possible!

Having been the victim of whistleblower retaliation three times in the last 5 years, I would NOT be surprised if the Navy Yard shooting suspect was a victim of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation, what I call "Institutional Terrorism".

My core values are selflessness, loyalty, integrity, compassion, excellence, dignity, and respect, and I believe in DOING THE RIGHT THING, something that has caused me a great deal of personal and professional grief over the course of my life as many of you know. Telling the truth and feeling obligated to report wrongdoing are not qualities everyone appreciates as I have found out. Currently, neither I nor most of the world know what prompted the suspect in today's Washington DC shootings, Aaron Alexis, at the Navy Yard to lash out indiscriminately, killing a reported 12 souls and injuring at least as many. But I can speculate as I have in previous recent articles.

From reporting my bully of a boss at one of the country's largest general contractors to human resources in 2009 to filing a discrimination and retaliation complaint against a University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) associate dean in 2011 to reporting whistleblower retaliation by a government contractor and the Department of the Interior just this year, I had no choice but to act if I were to be able to look at myself in the mirror each morning.

Unfortunately, neither private business nor government institutions care about employees or customers (people) and do not hesitate to lash out at those they see as a threat. Why? Because they can!

They, the individuals and institutions that will not hesitate to ruin a person's life if we do not conform to their expectations or, God forbid, threaten their existence or livelihood in the case of the gross fraud, waste, and abuse I and many others have witnessed and reported, are not concerned about being held accountable for their actions or inaction. Discrimination and retaliation laws in this country, particularly whistleblower retaliation law and policy, have been degraded since the Bush (II) administration and are rarely if ever enforced because of the high costs involved with investigating or prosecuting cases and because attorneys will not touch a case unless there is a high probability of success and six to seven figure settlements. Pro bono you say? Yea ... right!

Lawyers will do nothing "for nothing" unless forced to or unless there is national media attention in the cards. Corporations and other large institutions know they can get away with attacking employees and customers because they know, in all probability, that they will get away with it.

Back to Alexis and the tragic massacre in Washington DC. I have no idea what compelled this man to lash out at coworkers, but based on my own experience, other mass shootings (aka "going postal"), and knowledge of human behavior, there is a chance that this man had been persecuted by a fellow employee or supervisor and was let down by a system (supposedly) designed to protect him. Having experienced the frustration that comes with that firsthand, I can tell you that retribution against attackers, at least the thought of such, is a distinct possibility. Add anxiety, depression, and loss of job, home or relationship to the thought of retaliating against our attackers and you have the making of a time bomb waiting to explode.

Most of us have the positive values and resilience to deal with such thoughts or temptations to act more humanely, more reasonably than others in those situations. But a small minority of the population, those overwhelmed by stress for example, do not.  Was Alexis one of them? Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure, Alexis, a Navy Reserve veteran, will undoubtedly be categorized and condemned, as are most Veterans, as being "aggressive" and "threatening", and has already been labeled as having "anger problems" in a Fox News (@FoxNews) report just hours after the attack. I have written extensively about false perceptions among the civilian sector about Veterans, lumping us all together and generalizing that Veterans are "all angry, aggressive, and threatening" because that is how we have been portrayed in the media for decades, if not centuries.

Murder has declined sharply over the last 20 years, but mass murders have increased significantly since 2002. On average, 14,000 Americans die by the hand of an other each year and mass murder (shootings) has spiked with dozens murdered each year in 6 of the 7 most recent years (Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Sandy Hook, Navy Yard). A total of 167 souls have died through mass murder in the last decade. Considering the fact that mass murders have become more prevalent recently, it appears to me that the stresses of war, the aftermath of 9/11 and threat of terrorism, a faltering economy, and degradation of whistleblower retaliation protections may play a critical role. The chances are astronomically AGAINST being the victim of mass murder, but proportionally MUCH HIGHER (when compared to murder in general) than just a decade ago.

When will this madness stop? Most likely, never. Until Institutional terrorism is addressed and laws protecting citizens from the powers that be are given more than "lip-service", there will always be those who feel their only course of action is violence when their back is against the wall. Or maybe Alexis was just a nutcase. That is a distinct possibility and, as more information is released, appears to be a very likely "part" of the story.

God bless the dozens of men and women killed or wounded in this horrible tragedy and God bless the families left to deal with the resulting grief and loss from a life cut short or severely disrupted by such an event, including the Alexis family. My prayers are with each and every one of you.

Key Words: Aaron, Alexis, Navy, Yard, shooting, violence, Washington, DC, NavyYardShooting, killed, murder, mass, murderer, shooter, military, Veteran, reservist, wounded, dead, institutional, terrorism

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hey Anderson Cooper ... Stop Enabling Murderers and Rapists!

You have to murder, rape, or both to receive national media attention and, possibly, justice in this country. How many hundreds, thousands of hours do you and your peers waste every year providing prime nationwide television coverage to scumbags Anderson?

I recently lost my business, home, and most possessions BECAUSE I CHOSE TO DO THE RIGHT THING and report government fraud, waste, and abuse ... WASTE IN THE HUNDRED$ OF MILLION$!

I am just a retired military officer, disabled Veteran, and licensed professional counselor providing therapy to military and Vets (and their families) with PTSD. Do I have to kill someone, many, or myself to get attention and possibly justice in this country? Well, THAT DOG WON'T HUNT Anderson, ain't gonna happen because that is not the way I roll, NOT MY MO brother.

And we, American television viewers, citizens, wonder why middle-aged white men GO POSTAL? Many times it is because they were abused, bullied, discriminated or retaliated against, or otherwise harassed AND NOBODY GAVE A CRAP, NOBODY CARED BECAUSE STRAIGHT WHITE MEN HAVE NO RIGHTS. So the killer(s) feel as though they have no choice, other than taking extremely drastic measures, to receive (what they see as) JUSTICE.

As a middle-aged straight, white male who has experienced severe bullying, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation over the past 5 years and who has been completely ignored by my elected officials, government employees, lawyers, and the media, I can understand, intellectually, how some of those individuals felt. The only difference between me and them is that I have well defined personal values and the clarity of mind to know between right and wrong. Have I had fleeting thoughts of vigilante-type retribution? YOU BET! But I understand the difference between a short irrational thought and a course of action based on selflessness, loyalty, integrity, compassion, excellence, dignity and respect (my values). Those pushed to the brink of insanity cannot always make that distinction.

DO THE RIGHT THING ANDERSON! Stop prostituting yourself to Nielson Ratings and commercial advertisers, and tell the stories of real people, people struggling to serve their community, their country, leaving things better than they were before they arrived. Stop giving the narcissists, the sociopaths like Jodi Arias the attention they so desperately require and focus on telling the story of real Americans, those who deserve justice and cannot receive it unless something drastic happens ... DO SOMETHING DRASTIC ANDERSON ... TELL AMERICA HOW THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE RUINED A MAN'S LIVELIHOOD FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN WANTING TO DO THE RIGHT THING.

Key Words: Anderson Cooper, Anderson, Cooper, enabler, enabling, murder, murderer, rape, rapist, justice, go postal, going, postal, values, harassment, bully, bullying, whistleblower, retaliation

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Selfless or Narcissist ... That Is The Question!

Here's a great example of the difference between selfless people, those who go into the caring professions (veterinarians, nurses, social workers, etc.), and narcissists (the antonym of "selfless"), those who go into other professions, usually more prestigious and lucrative.  Can you say attorneys?  Sure you can!

I have seen literally hundreds of clients (I am a licensed psychotherapist) free of charge, "pro bono", hundreds, over the last 22 years, yet I have not and will not brag about it and would never think of mentioning it publicly except to highlight a poignant example, as I am here.

This particular lawyer, who I am sure is not an evil person and in-fact helped my wife get her attorney in her recent successful lawsuit, bragged about HIMSELF on Facebook yesterday (see referenced post below) about how he "waived" an amputees expenses "AND" ONLY CHARGED HIM HALF OF HIS NORMAL FEE ... ONLY HALF OF WHAT, $250 AN HOUR?  This poor man with only one leg had to pay just $125 an hour!

Here is his post:
"I am so humbled by the faith people put in me. I am also overwhelmed by the perspective my clients have despite facing the worst tragedies. I just settled a case today for a man who suffered a leg amputation when a car pulled in front of his motorcycle. Over the time I have been his lawyer, I never heard him complain ONCE about how he felt or how his entire life has been re-written. He was surely in pain, scared, frustrated -- but his attitude was always shockingly positive and upbeat. This client trusted me sight-unseen on the recommendation of a mutual friend. He lives half a country away, and could have picked any of the lawyers knocking on his door. But he chose me. His attitude and spirit prompted me--after our very first conversation--to waive his case expenses AND more than half of my usual attorney fee. So I am thankful to know this client, and I extend boundless appreciation to him  and our mutual friend who put us on the other's path."

When I think of pro bono, I think of the legal profession.  We always hear about attorneys who take pro bono cases for the poor or disabled right?  The problem with that is those cases are usually high-profile cases, the ones that make it on television, shows like 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, or one of other well known programs.  The others are usually during highly publicized trials like Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias, or Robert Zimmerman to name a few recent examples.  Why is it that only these people get “pro bono” defense?  PUBLICITY, that is the reason, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in FREE PUBLICITY … how altruistic those lawyers are!

This particular lawyer sees himself as a hero because he reduced his fee by half and ate the expenses, which normally do not add up to much or are highly inflated in the first place.  Here is a poor guy who lost his leg and probably cannot work, and the lawyer likely ended up with between $60,000 and $140,000 of the man’s money!  They probably settled out of court too, saving the attorney a hundred or more hours of work while raking in the same (or more) than he would have if it had gone to trial.

Let me tell you a brief, "hypothetical", story.  A law firm takes on a case for national origin discrimination.  The big cheese, the guy the firm is named after makes only rare appearances, during the first meeting and when they go to mediation.  The rest of the time his “staff” works on the case only when they have time, rarely returning phone calls or emails from the victim because they are focused on bigger issues, other cases.  The entire firm spends minimal time, all the while telling the victim “you have a great case, we’re going to get you close to $500,000!”, which is a pittance compared to what she should have received for having her reputation ruined and losing her 20-year career as a teacher.

As the trial date approaches, the lawyers realized that they had not done enough work, also called due diligence, and dropped the ball, so they asked for a five month extension from the court and it was granted.  Five additional months of stress for the victim and her family, needless stress because the law firm had higher priorities elsewhere.  Only then did the depositions begin, depositions that should have been started months ago in July of 2012, two months before the original court date.  They had not even contacted the victim’s top witness and did not do so until the plaintiff insisted.  That was just a week before the mediation, which came out of nowhere to the victim ... only a month before rescheduled trial date!

In the interim, the big honcho (he even wears a cowboy hat) was taking care of other cases and not even thinking about the victim’s case.  Then, finally, in the few months directly before the mediation and trial, his cronies (low-wage lawyers – compared to the honcho anyway) finally spent some time on the case.  He and his staff probably spent no more than  50 to 60 hours total, and that is likely a stretch, on the case before the surprise mediation (an event the victim was told nothing about until last minute).

As they went into mediation, the honcho was finally there with his crisp brown Stetson, along with his two cronies.  The mediator came in, a retired judge, and it was like “old times”, the honcho and mediator obviously having known each other rather well.  The mediator admitted that he knew very little, if anything, about the case because he “just received it”, so honcho started laying out the victim’s case, a very complex case with hundreds of pages of evidence, over a just a fifteen minute period.  Honcho even forgot several extremely critical points and it was not his cronies that chimed in to correct him, it was the victim’s husband!  And that was it, the judge says “got it” and scurried off to meet with the defense team across the hall.

The negotiations started off just below the figure mentioned above, but the numbers quickly dropped as the mediator went back and forth like a ping pong ball.  As time went on, even though he knew little about the case, the mediator was making judgments, saying “you don’t have a very strong case” and “only 38% of plaintiffs are successful in Missouri”, and all the while the victim’s attorney is agreeing with him!  What?  What happened to the great case the victim had?  Well, then it was time for lunch.

Honcho was gracious enough to offer to buy lunch for the victim and her husband at a French restaurant in the building.  While the victim’s husband used the restroom, Honcho and his male crony ordered Maker’s Mark whisky on the rocks, in a glass the size of the Hulk’s fist, filled to the brim.  Must have been at least a triple shot.  Honcho’s wife, the other crony, ordered a glass of wine, so when the husband returned, Honcho said “we’re having one, you might as well order one too”, so he order a glass of wine as well.  The victim does not drink and stuck with just water.  Less than half way into lunch, Honcho had already polished off his whisky, orders another, as did his male sidekick, and here come two more tumblers full of alcohol.  There must have been AT LEAST 6 ounces in each glass, for a total of 12 ounces EACH over lunch … all in less than an hour!

Things started heading downhill, to put it mildly, after lunch as the mediator became more negative and offensive and honcho getting more impatient and aggressive (with the client and her husband) with every minute, becoming hostile, raising his voice, and stomping out of the room at one point.

Looking back, it seems like a big production, a well rehearsed one at that, as honcho and his cronies started to insist the victim had a poor case and that she should think seriously about accepting an offer that was a fraction of the starting number.  They said “you’ll be lucky to get this much in court, if you can win at all”.  Wearing her and her husband down over several hours, which seemed to be the goal, honcho became enraged when the husband stated “I thought you said we had a good case, we were hoping that you would advocate for seeing this through to trial, we wanted to hear you say “let’s fight this and beat the bastards!’.”  At that point honcho stood up, cussed at the husband, saying “we’ll do whatever you want”, while his cronies kept pushing the victim harder and harder toward a settlement.

It all made sense, “good cop, bad cop”, wear the subject (his client in this case) down until they cannot take it any more, then go in for the kill!  Honcho and his cronies had everything to gain and nothing to lose by settling in mediation.  They would receive 40% of the agreed-upon amount and much more than their hourly rate based on the small amount of work they had obviously put in, saving themselves a great deal of work during the most intensive period, just before and during trial.  Win-win for the lawyers ... WHAT A SHOCK!

In the end, the victim received a VERY SMALL FRACTION of what she was told would be an equitable result, “making her whole”, an amount that would barely pay for a mid-priced car these days.  And that was supposed to "make her whole" after having lost a $65,000 a year job and a 20-year career?  The lawyers were the obvious victors here, coming out on top in this case, them and the mediator who charged thousands for a single days’ work.

I would tell you about my personal experience with lawyers, an experience even less positive than this, but I will save that for another article, a book maybe.  All in all, I think Shakespeare was right when he wrote:

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” William Shakespeare - Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, Scene 2
I do not mean that literally, but maybe the world would be a better place if there were not any in the first place.  Which brings me to the question: Selfless or narcissist?  Every lawyer I have ever met, with one exception out of hundreds were selfish, arrogant, narcissists.  Have you had a different experience?   I hope so.  If you have or have not, let me hear your opinion, about your experience with the legal profession.  

"Selfless or narcissist ... that is the question!" - CombatCounselor, June, 18th, 2013
Key Terms: arrogant, attorney, case, CombatActivist, court, defendant, defense, INSTITUTIONAL, InstitutionalTerrorism, judge, lawyer, legal, mediation, narcissist, plaintiff, selfless, TERRORISM, trial, victim, viral

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Best Buy or Big Lies ...You Decide

If you saw my video about Microsoft Windows, you know I was thinking about making a move to MAC ... I DID! That is through good news. Here is the bad ...
I had been researching Apple computers online when I decided to go to Best Buy to see them in person, u close and personal. As I approached the Apple display, a young salesman approached and asked if he could help. Almost immediately, another salesman approached with an Apple MacBook Pro 13 in his hands. That was the beginning of the end if my customer relationship with Best Buy.
I only started shopping at Best Buy again in 2008 after a 15-year hiatus for an "integrity" problem I had with a store in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After moving to Kansas City in 2008, I decided to give them another chance, spending several thousand dollars there over the last 5 years.
Back to the story. The salesman with this "new" computer told me it had a small blemish, but was a new computer and had been checked out internally, passing with flying colors.
Intrigued, I proceeded to ask specific questions about the computer. Remember, I only went to the store to look, not buy.  I ask hill specifically about the size of the hard-drive, telling him I needed a 500GB hard-drive for my business. He assured me that it was in-fact a "new" model with a 500GB hard-drive.
I have never purchased used or slightly used electronics before, except for deeply discounted floor models with a full warranty, which HE ASSURED ME WAS THE CASE with this particular computer. He added "it has a 1-year warranty, parts and labor. If you have a problem with it in the next 12 months, simply bring it back to the store".
I verified AT LEAST one more time with both salesmen present:
1. New computer? - "Yes!"
2. 500GB hard-drive? - "Absolutely, no doubt!"
3. Bring it BACK TO THE STORE if I have ANY PROBLEMS in the next year? - "Yes sir, bring it back and we'll take care of it!"
SOLD!  After all, these clean cut young men are not working on commission and have no reason to lie, so I left the store with my new Mac!
I noticed over the next several weeks that the battery did not seem to last as long as I had heard Apple batteries did, so I found the user manual online. The manual stated that this model's battery was supposed to last 10 hours, but mine was lasting only 2 hours or so.
As I was learning how to use this new operating system, I did some digging and found out that it only had a 250GB hard-drive (this as just a few weeks after I bought it), but because it seemed to be working well and still had plenty of space on the hard-drive, I decided to let the salesman's "little white lie" go ... BIG MISTAKE BECAUSE, AS I FOUND OUT TODAY, I WAS STILL WITHIN BEST BUY'S RETURN POLICY LIMITS AT THAT TIME.
A week or so ago, I unplugged the power charger, which was lit green at the time, meaning that the battery was fully charged, to use the computer while watching TV. When I unplugged the cord, the computer displayed a message saying something like "battery critically low - attach power". However, when I plugged the computer back in, the display indicated that the battery was "98%" charged!  I decided to check and see if the display was correct, so I unplugged the computer once more and IT WORKED ... 98% power, so I continued to use it remotely for an hour or so.
No problems until this morning, April 30th, 2013, only 50 days after my purchase AND WELL WITHIN THE ONE-YEAR "RETURN TO STORE" WARRANTY PERIOD. Again unplugged the (lit green ... battery fully charged) power cord, sat down, and tried to turn the computer on ... NOTHING, NADA, NIENTE!  I returned the computer to its power supply and after it finally came on, taking longer than usual, the battery indicator displayed only an "X", indicating that there was no charge in the battery. In-fact, when I checked the battery's status using one of the System Tools, the report indicated that the battery was 0% charged even though it had been plugged in overnight. The report also stated that there was "no battery detected" ... UH OH!
While I was digging through the system report, I saw the model number of the computer for the first time ... It read "MacBook Pro 13 - Model 2010 Mid-Year". WHAT? 2010? NOT 2012 OR 2013 AS I WAS TOLD?
That was the last straw! I backed-up my hard-drive, contacts, emails, and so on, gathered my receipts, and left for Best Buy to return my faulty, misrepresented computer that I had purchased less than 60 days prior. I should not have a problem, after all, I am well within the one-year Best Buy  warranty period ... right?  Wrong!
When I arrived at the store, I asked the man at the front door if I could please see a manager. After receiving the "third degree" as to why I needed to speak to a manager, Darnell Dixon, Customer Support Manager came strolling nonchalantly up, looking as if he was baffled as to why a customer would want to talk to a manager. It took all if the self-control I could muster, I calmly explained exactly what I just told you, every detail. I recorded the conversation as I do all conversations (telephone and otherwise) where there is a chance that the person on the other end could be confrontational or "less than totally honest". After all, Darnell's employees lied through their teeth to get me to buy this three year-old piece if junk, so why should I expect any less from him?  I was right, I should not have!
All Darnell could say is "you are outside of our return policy limits and need to deal with Apple". But Darnell, your employee lied to me, misrepresenting a product and your warranty limits, and you that is all you can do ... REALLY?  But all Darnell could say is "you are outside of our return policy limits and need to deal with Apple".  Come on Darnell, surely you have some authority to do the right thing and stand by your employees claims when he coerced me into buying this computer UNDER FALSE PRETENSES?  But all Darnell could say is "you are outside of our return policy limits and need to deal with Apple".
I asked Darnell Dixon, Customer Support Manager, fir his card and told him exactly what I thought of his integrity, or lack thereof, and that I would contact his corporate headquarters and, most likely, NEVER SPEND ANOTHER PENNY AT BEST BUY!  I probably threw a few other expletives in there as I walked out the door, BUT I WAS PISSED ... HOW DARE THEY LIE TO ME ... HOW DARE THEY!
When I returned home, I immediately called 888-BEST-BUY just as Darnell told me and was connected to Brittany in the Complaints Department. I explained the while story, very calmly, to Brittany, which seemed to be sympathetic and compassionate. After 15 minutes or so, Brittany said "let me call the store and see what I can do".  I told her "thank you Brittany" and waited ten minutes while she called Darnell Dixon, Customer Support Manager.
When Brittany came back in the line, she said "you are outside of our return policy limits and need to deal with Apple".
Should I have been surprised?  Probably not. After all, customer service has become a thing of the past even though businesses are closing daily because in an economy in turmoil. I have been harassed, abused, and discriminated and retaliated against more times than I can recall over the past 5, 10, 15 years, So much so that I started a website called, documenting story after horror story of large organizations treading on the rights, the emotions, the lives of innocent American citizens ... Verizon ... Century Link ... J.E. Dunn Construction ... Holiday Cruises ... Kmart ... Ryan Lawn and Tree ... Ace Tree Service ... Clean Green Lawn ... Kohl's ... Go Green ... University of Missouri - Kansas City ... Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ... Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt ... Missouri State Senator Rob Schaff ... Missouri Attorney General Koster ... the Missouri Department of Higher Education ... an "unnamed" school district that discriminated against a woman for being Italian ... the U.S. Department of Education ... the Greater Kansas City YMCA ... St. Therese Catholic Parish (Kansas City, MO) ... Kansas City's Catholic Bishop Finn (convicted protector of a child molester priest) ... TO NAME JUST A FEW!
Remember the movie NETWORK and the aging newscaster who wailed "I'm sick and tired and am not going to take it anymore! ... I'm sick and tired and am not going to take it anymore! ... I'm sick and tired and am not going to take it anymore!"?  Well, let me just say that I CAN RELATE ... I'm sick and tired and AM NITE GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!
If you are sick and tired, please let me know your story.  If nothing else, you can cathart a little, releasing some of that pent-up tension before you explode and do further damage to your body as stress does. Maybe we can even do something as a group that we as individuals cannot. These businesses, companies, organizations, bureaucracies, institutions DO NOT CARE ... THEY DO NOT HAVE TO!