VA Reform: Another Obama ‘Success Story’

Twitter/Michelle Malkin

Eight months ago, President Obama put on a grand show for the troops. Surrounded by new Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, assorted politicians, military leaders, and a bevy of TV cameras, the commander in chief signed the “Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.” He’s good at inking things.

Obama condemned the “inexcusable conduct” at VA hospitals across the country (and under his own watch).

He vowed to “do right by all who served under our proud flag.” He promised America’s veterans new “reform,” “resources,” “timely care,” and an end to the disgraceful disability backlog.

The bill he signed, in case you’d forgotten, included $10 billion in emergency funding to pay for veterans to go outside the chronically dysfunctional VA system if they are facing long wait times or live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, plus another $6.3 billion to set up 27 new clinics and hire doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.

So, how’s it all working out? About as well as every other “success story” Obama has signed his name to: abysmally, ineffectually, and incompetently.

Take Obama’s hyped plan to expand health care access to those who live far from a VA facility. Obtuse federal bureaucrats interpreted “40 miles” in the narrowest way possible, applied an “as the crow flies” distance rule inconsistently, and excluded untold numbers of vets. It took more than a year — and concerted pressure from veterans groups and GOP lawmakers — for the administration to “clarify” its confused eligibility standards just two weeks ago.

What about “accountability”? Obama bragged last August that “we’ve already taken the first steps to change the way the VA does business. We’ve held people accountable for misconduct. … We should have zero tolerance for that.” Looks like the VA bosses in Shreveport, La., didn’t get the memo. As Tori Richards of Watchdog.org reported last month, a mental health services worker who exposed use of a secret appointment waiting list there was ignored for a year. Instead of accountability for the wrongdoers, the VA employee who blew the whistle, Army vet Shea Wilkes, became the subject of a criminal investigation.

And how’s that new facility construction campaign going? The VA’s atrocious complex has been a problem for decades under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Nothing’s changed under the era of hope and change.

Here in Colorado, the new Aurora VA hospital has become another in a long line of government spending cesspools. The $600-million 184-bed facility is now estimated to cost at least $1.7 billion after a reckless parade of design changes, cost overruns, and mismanagement — and may not be ready until 2017. “Accountability”? Pfffft. The head of the VA’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction responsible for the waste was allowed to resign with a full federal pension and retention of nearly $60,000 in bonuses earned during the fiasco.

In Colorado Springs, a sparkling new “cutting edge” VA outpatient clinic opened last year on the promise of reducing wait times. But according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, “11.5 percent of veteran appointments for care in Colorado Springs are delayed by 30 days or more,” which is “up from 7 percent” before the $10-million facility opened.

What’s next? You know the drill: more congressional hearings, more grandstanding, another “reform” campaign, more posturing in front of cameras, and more screwed-over vets.

Throwing more money and platitudes at the VA to cover up its deadly scandals is a bipartisan Beltway recipe for failure. Recently retired Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., one of the few to object to last year’s kabuki “VA reform,” was right. “The culture is one of looking good, protecting those in the VA and not protecting our veterans,” he said at the time. “You have to have a bill that fixes that. I don’t believe this is going to do it.”

Mission not accomplished.

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Green-Card Racket For Beltway Cronies

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Can we stop putting America up for sale to the most politically connected bidders yet? Where is our self-respect?

Since 2001, I’ve warned about the systemic and bipartisan corruption of America’s EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. The latest report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general — which outlines the meddling and pandering of No. 2 DHS official Alejandro Mayorkas, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, Democratic bagman Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, former Pennsylvania. Gov. Ed Rendell, and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, to name a few — provides yet more sordid evidence that the green cards-for-sale scheme should be completely scrapped.

Created under an obscure section of the expansionist 1990 Immigration Act, EB-5 promised bountiful economic development for the U.S. in exchange for granting permanent residency (and eventual American citizenship) to foreign investors. A few years later, Congress conjured up the idea of EB-5 “regional centers” — government-sanctioned business groups and corporate entities acting as middlemen to administer the immigrant investments and facilitate the visa peddling.

Beltway cronyism was embedded in EB-5’s DNA from the get-go. The original Democratic House sponsor and his spokesman went on to establish for-profit companies that marketed the program and provided consulting services. Former federal immigration officials from the George H.W. Bush administration formed lucrative limited partnerships to cash in on their access and EB-5 expertise. An entire side industry of economic book-cookers arose to supply analyses of the “job creation” benefits of EB-5 projects and to gerrymander Census employment data to fit the program’s definition of “targeted employment areas” in order to qualify for lower investment thresholds (as was done in New York City’s Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park EB-5 deal).

Think Solyndra and federal stimulus math on steroids.

Since the program’s inception, rank-and-file adjudicators have tried to enforce the investment standards. But senior managers leaned on them to reverse EB-5 rejections when wealthy donors, law firm pals, and political hacks complained.

Fast-forward to 2015. The blood pressure-spiking DHS IG report released last week confirmed what whistleblowers have been telling Capitol Hill for years.

Behind the scenes, the IG found, Dirty Harry Reid pressured Deputy DHS Secretary Mayorkas to overturn his agency’s rejection of expedited EB-5 visa applications for Chinese investors in a Las Vegas casino hotel, which just happened to be represented by Reid’s lawyer son, Rory. Adjudicators balked at the preferential treatment. Mayorkas steamrolled the dissenters, who reported on shouting matches over the cases. Reid’s staffers received special briefings from Mayorkas to update them on the project’s progress.

One underling called it “a whole new phase of yuck.”

Meanwhile, in the words of one DHS official at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, Mayorkas “absolutely gave special treatment” to electric car racket GreenTech, which zealously sought EB-5 visas for another group of deep-pocketed Chinese investors. McAuliffe helmed the company after it was spun off from a Chinese venture. He plugged in Rodham as president of Gulf Coast Funds Management, which won designation as an EB-5 regional center certified to invest foreign capital in federally approved commercial ventures in Louisiana and Mississippi, including GreenTech. Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Mississippi GOP Gov. Haley Barbour both signed letters urging DHS to approve Gulf Coast as a regional center.

After adjudicators dismissed the company’s job claims as “ridiculous,” “flawed,” and “not approvable,” McAuliffe personally leaned on then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, “complaining about the denial of the Gulf Coast amendment and requesting her assistance to get the amendment approved and to expedite more than 200 investor petitions.”

In violation of recordkeeping and disclosure rules, Mayorkas met with McAuliffe in February 2011 after USCIS denied GreenTech’s requests. Mayorkas mysteriously took no notes and could not recall just exactly how many phone calls he took from McAuliffe and what exactly they discussed (though he did remember the “caustic” Democrat yelling “expletives at high volume.” Mayorkas met personally with senior staff to urge the agency to reverse its denials and give McAuliffe and company what they wanted, and even offered to write the reversals himself.

On a third front, Mayorkas intervened on behalf of EB-5 petitioners seeking green cards by investing in Hollywood studios such as Sony Pictures and Time Warner. He had received pressure from the L.A. mayor’s office, where an aide helpfully mentioned she knew a mutual acquaintance of his from his old law firm, O’Melveny and Myers, and from Rendell, a paid consultant to the EB-5 regional center representing the foreign investors. Mayorkas reversed his staff’s rejections of more than 200 suspect EB-5 applications and set up a special “deference review board” to bow to Hollywood.

Two decades ago, when the program’s failures were first exposed, Rep. John W. Bryant, a Texas Democrat, protested on the House floor: “This provision is an unbelievable departure from our tradition of cherishing our most precious birthright as Americans.”

How much more evidence do you need that this foreign investor pay-for-play swindle makes an irremediable mockery of the American Dream? The only effective way to “reform” this abomination is to kill it.

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The NAACP’s Fomenters Of Fear

Twitter/HuffPost BlackVoices

They just can’t help themselves — and their agenda-driven media enablers never, ever learn.

This week, the NAACP made national front-page headlines with a local press release demanding that the feds investigate the hanging death of a local man in Port Gibson, Miss. Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, immediately invoked the specter of a “hate crime.” In response, the Obama Justice Department flooded the zone with a whopping 30 federal agents.

News outlets grabbed the bait. USA Today asked ominously, “Was it a lynching?” The discovery of ex-con Otis Byrd’s body swinging from a tree by a bed sheet “brought back unpleasant memories of America’s violent, racially charged past,” the paper’s video reporter asserted. Voice of America similarly intoned, “Mississippi hanging death raises lynching specter.” The Los Angeles Times leaped into the fray with, “Why this story haunts the nation.”

Whoa there, teeth-gnashing Nellies. Didn’t we just recently witness the implosion of an NAACP-incited non-hate crime with the same exact narrative? Why, yes. Yes, we did.

As I reported in January, the group was here in my adopted hometown of Colorado Springs hyping a so-called “bombing” at the city’s chapter office. Local, state, and federal NAACP leaders, amplified by political and media sympathizers, claimed the alleged hate crime “remind(ed) me of another period” (Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis); “undermines years of progress” (Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee); “harkens to bad old days” (MSNBC); and “evokes memories of civil rights strife” (Time Magazine).

But the allegedly racist perpetrator of the “NAACP bombing” turned out to be a disgruntled client of a now-deceased tax accountant who once worked in the same office complex. The financially troubled suspect had unsuccessfully tried to contact the tax preparer for years to obtain past tax returns. But unbeknownst to the “bomber,” who set off a pathetic improvised explosive device on the opposite side of the NAACP office, the accountant had been sent to prison for bilking other clients — and had passed away several years ago.

Confirming what only a few of us in the media dared to theorize out loud, race had absolutely nothing to do with the wildly inflated and cynically exploited incident in Colorado Springs. Zip, zero, nada.

None of this appears to have chastened the journalists who reflexively empower the NAACP agitators who reflexively cry racism. Just weeks after the not-NAACP bombing, here they are stoking fears of a probably-not-racist-not-lynching. Despite law enforcement reports that Byrd’s hands were unbound, despite warnings from the local sheriff (who happens to be black) not to jump to conclusions, and despite the very real possibility that Byrd committed suicide, the papers and airwaves disseminated Blame Whitey and Blame Righty talking points without thinking twice.

The incident indeed “brought back memories” for me — memories of the embarrassing 1996 media malpractice of former USA Today reporter Gary Fields, who manufactured a purported epidemic of racist church-burnings in the South with 61 hysterical stories. A typical and familiar headline: “Arson at Black Church Echoes Bigotry of the Past.” The NAACP jumped onboard and demanded that then-Attorney General Janet Reno investigate. President Clinton fanned the flames; panels were formed; federal spending programs were passed. But a year later, Fields’ own paper was forced to admit that “analysis of the 64 fires since 1995 shows only four can be conclusively shown to be racially motivated.”

Several of the crimes had been committed by black suspects; a significant number of the black churches were in fact white churches; and the Chicken Littles had obscured numerous complex motives including mental illness, vandalism, and concealment of theft.

Same old, same old. Then, as now, for publicity and profit, the race hustlers stoke the very societal divisiveness they claim to abhor — and knee-jerk journalists suffering institutional amnesia aid and abet them.

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Big, Fat ‘American Worker Recruitment First’ Lie of H-1B

Flickr/astrid westvang

You’ve heard it from Big Government lobbyists. You’ve heard it from Big Business lackeys in both political parties. And you’ve heard it from journalists, pundits, and think-tankers ad nauseam:

The H-1B foreign guest worker program, they claim, requires American employers to first show that they searched for and tried to recruit American workers before tapping an ever-growing government-rigged pipeline of cheap foreign workers.

The foot soldiers of the open-borders brigade are lying, deluded, ignorant, or bought-off.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee brought top independent academics and informed whistleblowers to Washington to expose the truth. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, hosted Howard University associate professor of public policy Ron Hira, Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman, Infosys whistleblower Jay Palmer, and former computer programmer-turned-lawyer John Miano, who brought much-needed reality checks on the systemic betrayal of American workers to the Beltway table.

Miano’s testimony was particularly important because he explained how the little-known “OPT” (Optical Training Program) for foreign students is being used to circumvent H-1B and supply large corporations with cheap foreign labor. President Obama has expanded this regulatory program by unfettered administrative fiat. As Miano noted, “OPT has no labor protections of any kind. Aliens on OPT do not even have to be paid at all. While DHS requires aliens to work in an area related to their major area of study, DHS has no ability to ensure that this happens. Under OPT, over 125,000 foreign workers a year are simply turned loose in America with no supervision or restrictions.”

Also on hand at the hearing: a few Big Tech shills toeing the Zuckerberg/Gates/Chamber of Commerce line that there’s a catastrophic American tech worker shortage, even as thousands upon thousands of American workers are being laid off in favor of underpaid, easily exploited H-1Bs. (Just use H-1B-promoter Google’s search engine and type in “Southern California Edison” and “layoffs.”)

Grassley put it plainly: “Most people believe that employers are supposed to recruit Americans before they petition for an H-1B worker. Yet, under the law, most employers are not required to prove to the Department of Labor that they tried to find an American to fill the job first.”

He added, “And, if there is an equally or even better qualified U.S. worker available, the company does not have to offer him or her the job. Over the years, the program has become a government-assisted way for employers to bring in cheaper foreign labor, and now it appears these foreign workers take over — rather than complement — the U.S. workforce.”

Hira affirmed: “It’s absolutely not true” that employers seeking H-1Bs must put American workers first, either by “law or regulations.”

How did this myth gain such traction? Many commentators and journalists confuse the labor certification process required for companies applying to obtain green cards (lawful permanent residency status) for H-1B workers with the Labor Condition Application (LCA) process for H-1Bs. Labor certification in the green card process “exists to protect U.S. workers and the U.S. labor market by ensuring that foreign workers seeking immigrant visa classifications are not displacing equally qualified U.S. workers.” Only in extremely narrow and exceptional circumstances do these nominal protections exist in the H-1B LCA process. (Companies must be classified as “H-1B dependent” for the requirements to apply. Big Tech giants like Facebook have been lobbying mightily to avoid the classification.) And even those narrow exceptions are easily and often circumvented by H-1B foreign worker traffickers.

Conservative journalist W. James Antle gets to the heart of the matter: “If the government has discretion in how it exercises its legitimate authority over who comes and who goes, a prerequisite for national sovereignty, then shouldn’t it exercise such discretion in a way that minimizes the impoverishment of Americans?”

For a very brief window, Grassley and, yes, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a small group of H-1B-employing banks, and other financial institutions that accepted federal bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) did have to demonstrate that they had taken “good-faith steps to recruit U.S. workers” and offer them wages “at least as high” as those offered to H-1B workers. In addition, the targeted employers had to show that they “must not have laid off, and will not lay off, any U.S. worker in a job essentially equivalent to the H-1B position in the area of intended employment of the H-1B worker” within a narrow time frame.

But this American worker-first provision, vociferously opposed by Big Business and Big Government, expired in 2011. The refusal of the vast majority of politicians and the White House to embrace these protections for all U.S. workers tells you everything you need to know about H-1B’s big, fat lies.

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Going Bananas: A Case Study In Media-Manufactured Racism

YouTube/HOTViralNews

Political correctness is a pathological disorder.

You can’t say “niggardly” or “black holes” or “chink in the armor” without provoking protests or risking your job. You can’t invoke the Constitution or call illegal behavior “illegal” without being accused of hatred. And now, you can’t goof around at a high school basketball game in silly costumes without the world accusing you of “racial insensitivity.”

Last week, thanks to hyperbolic grievance-mongers and irresponsible reporters, the students of Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, N.J., garnered international headlines and Internet infamy. “Shocking moment students at Catholic school dressed as monkeys and a banana and taunted black basketball players … and DIDN’T get punished,” the U.K. Daily Mail blared last week. “Students who taunted black players at New Jersey basketball game get warning, no punishment,” USA Today decried.

Bossip.com, “the premier destination for African-American pop culture and entertainment,” exclaimed: “Really?!? White High School Students Taunt Black Basketball Team in Monkey and Banana Costumes.”

No, not really.

If any of these media outlets had bothered breathing into paper bags before making abject fools of themselves, they might have actually committed journalism. Holy Spirit is a tight-knit community with a 50-year tradition of excellence in academics, sports, and character education. I know more than a little about the school and its student body because I am a proud alumna of H.S.H.S. and have stayed in touch with many of its dedicated teachers and administrators over the years.

Part of Holy Spirit’s half-century legacy includes a storied athletic rivalry with nearby Atlantic City High School. The competition between the Holy Spirit Spartans and the Atlantic City Vikings has always been fierce but friendly. At a basketball game two weeks ago, Holy Spirit students decided to show their team spirit by recreating Arizona State University’s famous “Curtain of Distraction” during their rivals’ foul shots.

Unlike the pot-stirrers who’ve turned an innocent prank into an international p.c. incident, Holy Spirit’s senior class president Pat Shober was actually in the stands on Feb. 18 during the game. He donned a green ballerina tutu for the foul shot skits. Other students scrounged up a bumblebee suit, monkey pajamas, costumes for Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz,” a jack-o’-lantern, and a banana.

“The fan section was louder than it had been all season long, and the fans, of both sides I may add, were thoroughly amused and actually complimented many of us on our actions numerous times both at the game itself and throughout the time since then,” Shober recounted in an open letter to the public. “Racism was not brought up once by a student, player or spectator that night. We intended no racist connotations during our performances that night.”

The Spartans had used the costumes at previous games without controversy. Ray Ellis, a black Holy Spirit alumnus and former football player, had dressed up as the banana at a sports match three years ago. The 19-year-old athlete tweeted a photo of himself in costume after the manufactured brouhaha, which he rightly called “ridiculous.” Ellis explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Phil Anastasia — one of the few responsible journalists who covered the story — that “we get creative at games, we dress up in costumes, we show a lot of enthusiasm. … Other people see what they want to see and try to make it into something it’s not.”

Indeed, race didn’t enter the picture until two error-riddled reports from the Press of Atlantic City appeared a week after the game occurred and snowballed into global tabloid hysteria. The paper extensively quoted an Atlantic City high school coach who wasn’t even there. The paper failed to mention that the vast majority of the Holy Spirit basketball team is black. The paper neglected to describe the full array of costumes involved. Nor did it quote any of the kids involved in the skits.

Anastasia, who was in attendance, noted, “I was there that night in Absecon. There were black kids along with white kids in that student section, yelling at Atlantic City’s players and cheering for Holy Spirit players. And for the record, there were times during that game when Atlantic City had more white players on the floor (two) than Holy Spirit.”

Stephen Brown, a Holy Spirit alumnus who graduated last year and has many friends at the school, told me, “It is a classic example of how the race card is so unfairly pulled, and in this case is being used to vilify innocent high school students.” Showing more maturity than the Chicken Little instigators in newsrooms around the world who defamed his fellow Spartans, Brown reflected, “This is not only a perfect example of poor journalism, but an example of how members of the biased media like to stir the racial pot.”

What we have here is a textbook case of media-manufactured racism. Knee-jerk race-baiters who see bigotry at every turn are an embarrassment to the profession. Shame on the smear merchants and their enablers who go bananas over every last imagined slight and recklessly monkey around with students’ lives and reputations.

The cage-rattlers don’t care about truth, honor, or integrity. Lesson learned: It’s a social justice jungle out there, kids. Be prepared.

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom