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OH YES THEY DID: Email Shows Federal Immigration Bosses in Overtime Push to Swear in New Citizens ‘Due to Election’ 

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Parts of the email were redacted before it was disclosed, but it was sent by the branch chief of the Houston Field Office District 17.

 reports: An internal Obama administration email shows immigration officials may be literally working overtime to swear in as many new “citizen voters” as possible before the Nov. 8 presidential election, a powerful lawmaker charged Thursday.

“The Field Office due to the election year needs to process as many of their N-400 cases as possible between now and FY 2016.”

The email, from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office chief and part of a chain of correspondence within the agency, urges the unnamed recipient to swear in as many citizens as possible “due to the election year.”

“If you have cases in this category or other pending, you are encouraged to take advantage of the OT if you can.”

“The Field Office due to the election year needs to process as many of their N-400 cases as possible between now and FY 2016,” reads the email, which was disclosed to FoxNews.com by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who chairs the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

“If you have cases in this category or other pending, you are encouraged to take advantage of the OT if you can,” the email continues. “This will be an opportunity to move your pending naturalization cases. If you have not volunteered for OT, please consider and let me know if you are interested.”

Parts of the email were redacted before it was disclosed to FoxNews.com, but it was sent by the branch chief of the Houston Field Office District 17. It was not clear to whom it was addressed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Despite Gun Control Rhetoric, Obama Arms Federal Civilian Agencies More than Ever 

Obama Big brother

According to a recent report from openthebooks.com, non-military spending on guns, ammo and military-style equipment soared from $119.3 million in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last year in office, to a high of $224.7 million dollars in 2012, the year Obama won re-election.

Kellan Howell report: The U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service doesn’t seem like a Wild West sort of federal agency since its biologists mostly check on the human health impact of animal and plant species.

“Much of this spending on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment is redundant, inefficient and unnecessary.”

But it reported buying $4.7 million in high-powered weapons, ammunition and military gear during the last decade, including shotguns, night vision goggles, and propane cannons, according to federal purchasing records reviewed by the nonpartisan government spending watchdog openthebooks.com.

About $1.7 million of that spending occurred in 2014 alone.

The agency says it needs the equipment to protect its workers in the wild from feral swine, more commonly known as wild hogs.  But spending critics like openthebooks.com see such purchases as part of a much larger trend toward militarizing federal civilian agencies and local police at taxpayer expense.

paintball

“Beyond automatic rifles, armored cars and hollow-round bullets, some agencies seemed to have expanded their purchases to the more sublime, even booking hundreds of thousands of dollars of paint ball equipment, the report showed.”

And the irony is such purchases have massively expanded over the last decade, even as President Obama has repeatedly pushed to limit access to high-powered gun and weapons in America, most recently after the Orlando terror attack last month.

“This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub,” the president said after the most recent mass shooting.

Laws are for the little people

But on his watch, government agencies are arming themselves more than ever before.

According to a recent report from openthebooks.com, non-military spending on guns, ammo and military-style equipment soared from $119.3 million in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last year in office, to a high of $224.7 million dollars in 2012, the year Obama won re-election.

In 2014, the latest year for which there are complete records, total militarized spending by civilian federal agencies dropped to $150 million, still much higher than the end of the Bush years.

policemilitaryequipment_720

The Department of Homeland Security was the biggest spender on guns and ammo, requesting to purchase 1.7 billion bullets alone since 2004. Read the rest of this entry »


BUSTED: State Dept. Admits Intentionally Altering Video of Iran Press Conference 

When it was revealed that the video had been edited to remove those comments, the State Department quickly restored the entire video, and blamed the missing video on a ‘glitch.’

Pete Kasperowicz reports: The State Department admitted Wednesday that a 2013 press briefing video was purposefully altered to remove a portion of a discussion about the Iran nuclear talks, after an unknown State Department official asked that it be edited out.

“James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.”

— Psaki to Fox News reporter James Rosen

Spokesman John Kirby’s announcement contradicted the position held by the department for the last three weeks, during which officials said the video was missing because of a “glitch.”

US-UKRAINE-DIPLOMACY-PSAKI

“The missing video clip was revealed more than three weeks ago, and it involves then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who was asked in 2013 whether officials ever lie to the public to protect national security interests.”

But Kirby said officials didn’t know who asked for the video to be edited, and said the department is unlikely to investigate further into who wanted the video to be edited.

Kirby said he asked the Office of the Legal Adviser to look into the issue, and that officials “learned that a specific request was made to excise that portion of the briefing. We do not know who made the request to edit the video, or why it was made.”

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Kirby insisted that the person who made the edit only remembers that he or she got a call from someone at the State Department, who was passing on a request from the departments’ Public Affairs Bureau. But he said the person who received the call didn’t remember who the caller was, and doesn’t know who in that bureau made the request. Read the rest of this entry »


Legitimacy Problems: Obama Effort to Eliminate Red Tape Adds $16 Billion in Costs

obama-podium

Adds 6.5 million hours of paperwork needed to comply with federal rules. This is not a bug, it’s a feature.

 reports: The Obama administration’s effort to eliminate red tape added $16 billion in regulatory costs, according to a new report by the American Action Forum obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“Too often for this administration, regulations are regularly expanded and rarely repealed or modified.”

“President Obama signed executive orders (13,563 and 13,610) as part of an effort to ‘eliminate red tape.’ Federal agencies were told to ‘modify, streamline expand, or repeal’ existing regulations,” according to the report released by AAF, a center-right nonprofit led by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office.

“Once again, HHS is the runaway leader by imposing $16 billion in net costs and more than 25 million paperwork burden hours. The agency is, amazingly, responsible for 101 percent of the net cost increase, due to cost-cutting measures from other agencies.”

The American Action Forum has found the reviews consist mostly of recycled regulations by federal agencies that have actually increased regulatory costs.

Joker-billionaire-burning-money

“The American Action Forum concluded the retrospective review initiative is ‘little more than an attempt to promote additional regulation under the veil of ‘eliminating red tape.’”

“The recent ‘retrospective reports’ from the administration reveal that executive agencies have added more than $16 billion in regulatory costs, up from $14.7 billion in the previous update, and 6.5 million paperwork hours,” the report said.

[Read the full story here, at freebeacon.com]

The agency reviews are a result of President Barack Obama’s initiative for a “government-wide review of rules on the books,” which the White House claims to have led to $28 billion in net five-year savings since 2011.

However, the American Action Forum has found retrospective reviews often add additional costs to the economy. A review in 2014 added $23 billion in costs and 8.9 million paperwork burden hours.

joker-nurse

“Too often for this administration, regulations are regularly expanded and rarely repealed or modified,” the organization said.

The most recent review listed 409 rules, up from last year, with agencies averaging 20 regulations apiece. The rules increased net costs by over $16.4 billion, with only two agencies reducing costs. One silver lining of the report was the Department of Transportation, which eliminated $847 million in costs and more than 21 million hours of paperwork. Read the rest of this entry »


307,000 Veterans Died Awaiting Veterans Affairs Health Care, Report Says

Eric Shinseki

Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday.

“In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in ‘pending’ status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.”

The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past.

“The inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.”

In a response to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ request to investigate a whistleblower’s allegations of mismanagement at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, the inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.

“The report adds that an internal VA investigation in 2010 found staffers had hidden veterans’ applications in their desks so they could process them at a later time, but human resources later recommended the staffers responsible not be disciplined.”

In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in “pending” status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.

For more than a year, CNN investigated and reported on veterans’ deaths and delays at VA facilities across the country, including detailed investigations in November and January 2013 examining deaths at two VA facilities in South Carolina and Georgia. Read the rest of this entry »


Bled Dry by the New Class: 18,709 VA Employees Make $180,000 or More

VA AP file photo

(CNSNews.com) — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has 59,297 employees – 17.3 percent out of 342,089 workers total — that make $100,000 or more in yearly salary, according todata from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Among those employees, 18,709 of them earn a salary of $180,000 or more.

An OPM database, FedScope, contains historical data on the federal civilian workforce going back to 1998. The database holds information about civilian federal workers employed by most Executive Branch agencies (excluding intelligence agencies, the White House, and the Office of the Vice President) and some Legislative Branch agencies. It does not include employees of the Judiciary Branch or congressional staff.

VA Salaries

The database includes the numbers for federal workers at varying “salary levels,” set out in $10,000 increments, ranging from “less than 20,000” dollars to the highest level of “180,000 or more” dollars in annual salary. Read the rest of this entry »


Nurse: Veterans Administration Medical Staff Stole Morphine From Dying Patients

VA-flags

For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports on one of the more disturbing developments in the VA scandal. Read the whole thing here.

Vials of morphine were systemically stolen from a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and replaced with water and saline so that dying veterans got the wrong treatments, a longtime VA nurse told The Daily Caller.

“A nurse taking care of hospice patients over the past year had been diverting vials of morphine,” said Valerie Riviello, a 28-year veteran nurse at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, New York. “Those patients that were dying in hospice were not getting their intended pain medication.”

“We wanted to get her out of the restraints. It became apparent that she was in pain. She needed to go to the bathroom and be bathed.”

Management became aware of the recurring theft without reporting it to higher levels of governance within the VA system, said Riviello, a Florence Nightingale Award winner for nursing.

The nurse detailed visible abuse of a machine that dispenses medication. Hospital staff need to punch in a code to get medicine from the machine. Vials of morphine were being replaced with other ingredients, including saline and water. Records continued to show the accurate number of withdrawals from the machine, but morphine was not getting to the patients. The abuse was not noticed by management for about a year, according to Riviello. Read the rest of this entry »


The VA Scandal is Another Government Example of the Failure to Follow a Collective Mission

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki waves goodbye after addressing the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans on May 30 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee, Getty Images)

For USA TodayGlenn Harlan Reynolds writes: Government, we are sometimes told, is just another word for things we choose to do together. Like a lot of things politicians say, this sounds good. And, also like a lot of things politicians say, it isn’t the least bit true.

“…Whether the sign out front says “Department of Veterans Affairs” or “Ministry of Silly Walks,” their behavior will tend to favor those personally agreeable outcomes…”

Many of the things government does, we don’t choose. Many of the things we choose, government doesn’t new-schooldo. And whatever gets done, we’re not the ones doing it. And those who are doing it often interpret their mandates selfishly.

[Glenn Harlan Reynolds is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, check it out at Amazon.com]

Take, for example, the Veterans Administration. The American people — most of us, anyway — did “choose” to provide first-class medical care for our veterans. But we didn’t do it. We set up the Veterans Administration to do it. And the Veterans Administration — or, more accurately, some of the people who work for and run the Veterans Administration — had a stronger interest in other things. Things like fat bonuses, and low workloads in comfy offices. Read the rest of this entry »


CHAOS: Obama Admin Knew of Allegations of VA Secret Waiting Lists For Years

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki stands with President Obama during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington

For The Daily CallerPatrick Howley reports: The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, The Daily Caller has learned.

The current VA scandal involving secret waiting lists that led to preventable veteran deaths at the Phoenix VA Medical Center claimed the scalp of Obama-appointed former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned at the end of last month. Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama only found about the VA wait-list scandal from watching the news.

But the Obama administration knew that an internal VA investigation into secret “paper” waiting lists was conducted in 2010 under Shinseki. Read the rest of this entry »


The White House Is Exhausted

obama-exhaust

Memo to George E. Condon: if the president is ‘exhausted’, imagine how the rest of us feel?

For NationalJournal.com writes: Day 1,956 of his presidency was not too kind to President Obama. Having to announce within a four-hour span that he had lost both an embattled Cabinet secretary and his chief spokesman, Obama looked Friday like a man gamely trying to get a stalled administration back on track.

“Only three of Obama’s original 16 Cabinet officers remain—Eric Holder at Justice, Tom Vilsack at Agriculture, and Arne Duncan at Education.”

He entered the week still stuck with low approval ratings and facing fierce criticism of his policies both at home and abroad. On Wednesday, he tried to chart a new course internationally with a West Point speech setting out a new foreign policy. On Thursday, he dealt with widespread criticism of the speech.

At every turn, he is confronted by the irrationalities and inconveniences of his own health-care law

On Friday, he tried to dig himself out of a troubling Veterans Administration scandal by jettisoning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, a man he thought was being unfairly blamed for the problems. Then he accepted the resignation of press secretary Jay Carney, the longtime public face of his White House. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Hammer: VA Secretary Shinseki Resignation was ‘Elaborate Theater’

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“Elaborate theater, and all the scripts were written in advance.”

Charles Krauthammer discusses former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation on Special Report Friday evening.

“How can the president say that the VA’s problems had not reached the White House, when the president himself says he’s been working on this for six years?”

 National Review Online


Obama Accepts Shinseki’s Resignation

“A few minutes ago, Sec. Shinseki offered me his own resignation. With considerable regret, I accepted.”


[CHART] Eric Shinseki is in WAY worse shape than Kathleen Sebelius. Just look…

From The Fix, Philip Bump:

…We compiled calls for the resignation of each Cabinet secretary from news reports, plotting them in relation to the moment at which each secretary’s position reached a moment of crisis. For Sebelius, we put that at the day after the launch of Healthcare.gov, October 2, 2013. For Shinseki, we put it at CNN’s report on backups at VA hospitals on April 23 of this year.

Here’s the comparison…

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(read more)

Washingtonpost.com


[VIDEO] ABC’s Jon Karl: ‘Very simple yes or no question, does the president have confidence in Shinseki?’

Spoiler Alert: White House Repeatedly Refuses To Say If Obama Has Confidence In Shinseki

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[VIDEO] Senator McCain: ‘It’s Reached that Point Where Shinseki Should Resign’

“I haven’t said this before, but I think it’s time for General Shinseki to move on. It’s reached that point.”

 — Arizona Senator John McCain


[VIDEO] The Hammer: Obama Must Give Vouchers To Waiting Vets

Charles Krauthammer said that the Obama administration must use their authority to let veterans seek civilian healthcare.

“It turns out the VA has had the authority to issue out vouchers, to allow a vet who has been waiting forever to go out and get private care, they should have done that on day one when the scandal broke.”

Read the rest of this entry »


The Hammer: Obama’s Stonewall Playbook Won’t Work on VA Scandal

“To say, ‘We can’t know what happened unless there’s investigation or until it comes in,’ is simply untenable…”

While the Obama administration has largely been able to fend off criticism from many of its looming controversies, it won’t be able to do the same with the mismanagement at the Department of Veterans Affairs given the wide scope and various reports and anecdotes of the problem, Charles Krauthammer said on Friday’s Special Report. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Hammer: If VA Problems Are Systemic, Why Not Privatize?

“If you’re not ideological, and if you brought in some expert and asked how to attack the problem right now, you would decide to give everyone on the list a voucher to go anywhere they want, and they’ll get their care within days.”

 


[VIDEO] The Hammer: VA Mismanagement Evidence of Big Government’s Failures

“It can’t even run a decades-old, normal, absolutely mundane health-care system that are run everywhere in the world between here and Togo…”

Democratic outrage over the fatal mismanagement at the Department of Veterans Affairs is the “precisely the paradox” of the failures of an expansive government that they advocate for, Charles Krauthammer noted on Wednesday’s Special Report. The allegations that the widespread malpractice led to several deaths in facilities nationwide is proof of the perils and limitations of a large bureaucratic, centralized system.

“The idea that this is government that’s going to do great new things — universal pre-school, and all of these wonderful promises — is totally dissolved and it redounds against the party of government.”

Unlike past scandals that Democrats have dismissed as manufactured Republican hysteria, Krauthammer said Democrats cannot simply ignore this problem…(read more)

National Review Online


[VIDEO] Responding to Pressure from Punditfromanotherplanet, White House Holds Press Conference, Responds to V.A. Scandal

THERE’S Bambi! Obama Press Conference: Any Misconduct at VA ‘Will Be Punished’

[Also see: Angry man not quite angry enough to hold anyone accountable for VA fiasco]

WASHINGTON (AP) —  Matthew Daly and Julie Pace report: Seeking to head off a growing furor over veterans’ health care, President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that allegations of misconduct at VA hospitals are “dishonorable” and will be not be tolerated by his administration.

[Also see: Where’s Bambi? Calls Mount for President Obama to Speak Out on VA Scandal]Obama-AP-hanky

“I will not stand for it — not as commander in chief but also not as an American,” Obama said following an Oval Office meeting with embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

“We are going to fix whatever is wrong and so long as I have the privilege of serving as commander in chief…”

His administration is under mounting pressure from Capitol Hill to address troubling allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals. The VA Inspector General’s office said late Tuesday that 26 facilities are being investigated nationwide — up from 10 just last week — including a Phoenix hospital where 40 veterans allegedly died while waiting for treatment and staff there kept a secret list of patients waiting for appointments to hide delays in care.

“…I’m going to keep on fighting to deliver the care and the benefits and the opportunities that you and your families deserve, now and for decades to come.”

Shinseki, a retired Army four-star general, is facing calls for his resignation from some lawmakers. Obama spoke warmly of Shinseki Wednesday, saying the secretary had poured his heart and soul into his job, but said there would be accountability if the allegations of misconduct are proven to be true. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Hammer: VA’s False Reports a Lesson About Government-Run Health Care

Charles Krauthammer thinks the Obama administration’s “cooking of the books” in the VA scandal is a “lesson about government-run health care.” …VA delays happened because it’s a completely government-run system. While private doctors have an incentive to see many patients because “if you have a stake in this, you’re going to work harder,” VA doctors are salaried and are thus less productive…(read more)

National Review Online


The Hammer: VA Internal Investigation Should Involve Justice Department

Charles Krauthammer said the Obama administration needs a “high-speed internal investigation” of the Veterans Affairs scandal. The investigation needs to involve the Justice Department “or it looks like another classic administration cover-up..”..(read more)

National Review Online


BREAKING: Top U.S. Veterans Health Care Official Resigns Amid Scandal

Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill in Washington

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill in Washington May 15, 2014. REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST

(Reuters) – The top health official at the Department of Veterans Affairs resigned on Friday amid a growing scandal about healthcare delays that has also seen calls for the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Shinseki, in a statement, said he accepted the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, the VA’s undersecretary for health who had already been expected to retire, and acknowledged the need to ensure more timely treatment of America’s military veterans.

“As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care,” Shinseki said.

He stopped short of blaming Petzel for delays, however, and did not explicitly say why Petzel resigned. In a statement last September, the VA said Petzel already had planned to retire in 2014 and it was taking steps to find candidates to replace him.

Read the rest of this entry »


Liberty Institute: Veterans Affairs Bans Christmas Cards to Troops over Religious Content

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According to the Liberty Institute, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is refusing to allow school children to give Christmas cards to veterans if those cards say “Merry Christmas” or “God bless you.” Religious liberty lawyers have sent the VA a letter demanding they immediately lift the ban.

Susan Chapman is a teacher at Grace Academy of North Texas and, at a parent’s suggestion, organized a project for students to take cards to wounded military veterans to thank them and cheer them up during the holidays. She attempted to deliver those cards to a VA hospital in Dallas on Dec. 22. However, VA staff reportedly stopped her when she entered the facility, telling her that gifts or messages with religious content were not permitted by VA policy.

“It is so sad that the VA is sending a message to our children that after all the veterans have done to fight for freedom across the world, the children have no freedom to say Merry Christmas to these honorable men and women,” Chapman said.

Texas-based Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to the VA, insisting they immediately drop this policy which allows a generic greeting but disallows references to Christmas, which is officially recognized as a national holiday under federal law.

Read the rest of this entry »