Michelle Malkin - DV immigration lottery program is a disaster; why is it still alive?

Capitol Hill's national security priorities are screwier than a Six Flags roller coaster.

Instead of immediately shutting down one of America's stupidest visa programs, which helped bring us yet another murder-minded jihadist this week, bipartisan Beltway politicians are pushing to preserve and expand the illegal immigration pipeline. Republicans and Democrats in Congress want a "fix" for the Obama administration's executive amnesty covering nearly 700,000 illegal immigrants — and they want it pronto.

Translation: Protecting border-hopping "DREAMers" is a more important priority in Washington than protecting Americans from infiltrators exploiting the diversity visa lottery.

You remember the hue and cry over the diversity visa lottery, right? It was just seven short weeks ago when America discovered that New York City truck jihadist Sayfullo Saipov, who ruthlessly mowed down eight people on a bike path, had entered our country from Uzbekistan in 2010 by pure, random luck through the DV lottery program. President Donald Trump called on Congress to end it.

Saipov followed in the footsteps of Hesham Hadayet, the Egyptian-born LAX jihadist who gunned down two people at Israel's El Al airlines counter in 2002 and gained entry through his lottery-winning wife; Imran Mandhai, the Pakistan-born jihadist who plotted National Guard armory bombings in Florida and gained entry through his parents' lottery luck; Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, another Uzbek jihadist and lottery winner convicted of supporting terrorism; Syed Ahmed, a Pakistan-born jihadist and DV recipient convicted of terrorism-related activities in the U.S. and abroad in 2009; and Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a Hamas leader deported for terrorism activities in 1997 who had snagged a green card thanks to the DV lottery program's original iteration.

Up to 55,000 lucky winners a year have secured permanent residency visas (green cards) through the diversity visa lottery since 1990, which put them on the path to American citizenship ahead of millions of other foreigners patiently waiting to come to this country. The green card lotto winners' spouses and unmarried children under 21 all get lottery passes into the country, too, no matter where they were born. Chain migration extends the families' winnings. And so on, and so on, and so on.

As I've reported tirelessly since 9/11, when counterterrorism experts and immigration watchdogs united against the fraud-riddled, ill-conceived DV lottery, applicants don't even need a high school education. No outstanding abilities, training or job skills are necessary. Illegal aliens are eligible if a legal family member wins the jackpot. Tens of thousands are pouring in from terrorism breeding grounds through the lottery unvetted, unmonitored and unassimilated.

Justice Department investigators recently discovered one Somali woman who won the DV lottery and subsequently recruited an entire fake family, including a phony husband and two fictitious adult children, all of whom came to the United States and later gained U.S. citizenship based on their false claims.

A U.N. probe found human traffickers forcing dozens of diversity visa lottery winners into listing young female sex slaves as their "family members" to gain entry in the U.S.

And a State Department official testified in 2011 that in Bangladesh, "one agent is reported to have enrolled an entire phone book so that he could then either extort money from winning applicants who had never entered the program to begin with or sell their winning slots to others."

As usual, however, Congress has done precisely nothing to stop the ruinous racket created by the late Teddy Kennedy and signed off by President George H.W. Bush as a social engineering experiment to admit more "underrepresented" immigrant minorities into the U.S. The latest bill containing an end to the DV lottery program, the "RAISE Act," sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, is gathering dust. Sen. Chuck Grassley's latest call to the State Department for a "full-scale" review has yielded no movement.

And now, here we are, with yet another DV lottery beneficiary in custody for yet another jihad attack. Bangladeshi Akayed Ullah arrived here with a golden ticket obtained through a relative who won the visa lottery. Before strapping on his failed suicide vest on Monday in an attempt to inflict "maximum destruction" on commuters at the New York Port Authority bus terminal, Ullah was the minor child of a sibling of the original ticket holder, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Seven weeks ago, Sen. Jeff Flake smugly tweeted to President Trump that the DV lottery program would have been killed if only the Gang of Eight illegal alien amnesty had been signed into law. In D.C., you see, stupid government programs will only die if hitched to even bigger, more reckless legislative abominations.

Washington priorities at work.

(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Froma Harrop - Obama deserves credit for today's strong economy

A president deserves partial credit for a strong economy. The current economic numbers are good, so to the extent that gratitude is due, let us offer it. Thank you, President Obama.

The economic gauges have been improving steadily for the eight years of the current recovery. Barack Obama was president for seven of them. As the first year of the Donald Trump presidency draws to a close, the economy's growth has continued — but it has not accelerated in a meaningful way.

In the world as presented by the tweetmaster himself, Trump has already delivered on the economy, and the only direction from here on is up, up, up. Savvy investors, however, are asking, "When do we get out?"

Though the U.S. stock indexes have been hitting highs, stock markets around the world have been doing as well as ours, some better. The economies of Japan and Germany are performing at higher levels (a reason the dollar has been falling against the yen and euro).

The latest unemployment rate, 4.1 percent, is definitely positive. But Obama left the White House with a still-strong unemployment rate of 4.7 percent. That was down from a high of 10.2 percent in 2009.

Candidate Trump dismissed Obama's falling unemployment rates as "phony." Trump kept citing the labor participation rate — the percentage of American adults working or actively seeking jobs — which he said was low. Thing is, that number factors in not only people who've given up looking for work but retirees, whose ranks are growing.

In any case, the labor participation rate when Obama left office was 62.7 percent. After almost a year of Trump in office, the labor participation rate is ... 62.7 percent.

As for America's working stiffs, Trump's contribution to their economic well-being is likely to be zilch — or, actually, less than zilch.

Wages are inching up under Trump, but they were inching up under Obama. Workers may be asking why that is, with the unemployment rate so low. The reasons are complex. The more pressing question is: What will the Republican tax package do for them?

Trump keeps tweeting that slashing corporate tax rates will enable companies to use their soaring profits to build, hire and give workers raises. But profits have been soaring for years, and little of the wealth has trickled down to workers. It's been kept by the executives and investors.

Nothing in the tax bills would change that. What they would do, however, is raise taxes on many working- and middle-class folk to cover huge tax cuts for the richest. Amazing but true, the legislation would tax wages earned by the sweat of one's brow at a higher rate than the income earned by the proprietor.

Trump and his Republican allies are taking it out of the workers' hides in other ways, as well. They are creating deficits that are already being used as excuses to go after Medicare and Social Security. And they're dismantling the Affordable Care Act piece by piece.

Obama inherited a smoking economic ruin. Tax cuts paired with sloppy deregulation had set off monster deficits and fueled a Wall Street orgy mired in recklessness and fraud. Trump and his Republican allies are doing a repeat performance.

There's long been a need for tax reform, including lower corporate rates. The new version, however, is little more than a money grab by Trump personally and the Republican donor class.

When things go south, Trump will tweet that things are going north. His 30 percent will believe him — or say they do. Imagine how worse it would be had Obama not led us from the abyss and left an orderly economy on the mend.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Alan Vervaeke - Isims

“Not that I condone fascism; or any ism for that matter. Isms, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself.” — Ferris Bueller

I have opinions, and that’s no surprise to anyone. I’ve a right to opinions per the 1st Amendment, but I don’t have a right to have it agreed with. If I attempt to force or coerce you to agree with me, that’s fascism. Fascism runs in the face of data, facts, and logical persuasion. I write to be heard and (occasionally) agreed with — not feared. Fascism is resurgent lately with powerful individuals wanting to bend others to their will. To fine them. To fire them. To punish them. The NFL and the press are examples. Isms are bad things, especially when they are coming from our leaders. It is up to us to prevent this abomination in our country. We’ve fought against it in too many others not to.

When Black Lives Matter started in the aftermath of Ferguson, there were many angry people. Persons of color had things to say and —many times — those things occurred with anger and frustration. As a white person, I have opinions about racism, Ferguson, #BLM, and Baltimore. But as a white person, I was frequently told to simply shut up since I wasn’t black, I enjoyed “white privilege,” and I lived out in “CrackerLand.” What could I possibly add to improve the dialogue? Racism is a double-edged sword when it’s employed to shut down discussions about race. Who better to talk to whites about racism than other whites? When has any conversation about racism that starts with shouting down another about their own perceived racism made a difference? Never — that’s when.

In the past year, we’ve seen a tremendous upheaval between men and women. We heard substantial chatter during Hillary Clinton’s campaign about the capabilities of women. I saw women brutalizing other women for not voting for Hillary. When I’d enter into a discussion to remind everyone that feminism was a movement to support and strengthen women in the face of male dominance, I’d be invited to exit the conversation because as a man I had no right to speak on the topic. Feminism begets sexism when you lose track of the equality you are supposedly fighting for. And it needs to be said that while men have indeed been the pigs in this particular poke, how can there not be any associated culpability when women in positions of responsibility protected and turned a blind eye to men like Charlie Rose or Matt Lauer? Can’t we be frustrated with victims who sat silently for decades only to suddenly come out of the shadows after someone with sufficient courage finally did? Time Magazine just made these women into their “Persons of the Year.” Not for 1986. Not for 1993. Not for 2006. No — they are the Person of the Year for 2017 for coming out now for things that happened years and even decades ago. Some of it is well-deserved comeuppance for years of coercion, abuse, and degradation, but if it was kept in the dark so that a career could be made or a cash cow maintained? There is indeed a sense that women are “piling on” now, and while that doesn’t erase the original sin of those who perpetrated the offense it also doesn’t absolve those who benefited from their own silence.

For forty-plus years, I’ve done my best to treat women as equals and heroes ... only to find out that the truth is pretty murky. We’re seeing a rush to judgment on people before they have an opportunity to be investigated and have truths revealed — free of hearsay and innuendo. If a Hollywood director is thrown out on his ass for piggish and grotesque behavior, I couldn’t care less. When it’s a politician of EITHER PARTY I want to see the power of our institutions brought to bear; to investigate, to exonerate or censure, and expel them as needed. We DESERVE a solid example of our elected representatives doing the right things for the right reasons; for the government that is elected BY the People to act FOR those same people in policing their own. Roy Moore of Alabama should get judged. So should Donald Trump and Al Franken. If these men are found guilty of what they’ve been accused of, then there is no place for them in government. Period. No matter what good they may have done in office, the stain they brought to it must be cleansed. Politics is no reason for us to subvert our morals. Or common sense.

I’m only 57 — silver-haired, male, and white. Being called a “Stale Pale Male” is insulting. I was once in my 20s. I started a family. I went to college. The difference between a Millennial and myself is 30 to 35 years and how I was raised. Millennials think they’ve cornered the market on concerns for the future because “the future is theirs.” Guess what kids — the future is still mine AND yours. I’m still working and paying taxes. My generation is paying college loans for your brethren. You get all excited about Bernie Sanders and yet you think folks my age don’t have the same concerns you do? What a load of crap. It’s said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I’M THAT HISTORY! This is called ageism and one day it’ll happen to you.

Ferris is right. Isms affect us all. Every day. Extremism and fanaticism? Nihilism? Nativism? Even patriotism can be (and has been) perverted. If we allow these things to run amok in our lives and the lives of others, then the final ism is right around the corner — defeatism. One can only hope we never give in to that. This country and our very way of life depend on it.

(Alan Vervaeke is a veteran and father happily living in Gilford.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Pat Buchanan - What should we fight for?

"We will never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea," declaimed Rex Tillerson last week in Vienna. "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine."

Tillerson's principled rejection of the seizure of land by military force — "never accept" — came just one day after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and pledged to move our embassy there.

How did Israel gain title to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights? Invasion, occupation, colonization, annexation. Those lands are the spoils of victory from Israel's 1967 Six-Day War.

Is Israel being severely sanctioned like Russia? Not quite. Her yearly U.S. stipend is almost $4 billion, as she builds settlement after settlement on occupied land despite America's feeble protests

What Bibi Netanyahu just demonstrated is that, when dealing with the Americans and defending what is vital to Israel, perseverance pays off. Given time, the Americans will accept the new reality.

Like Bibi, Vladimir Putin is a nationalist. For him, the recapture of Crimea was the achievement of his presidency. For two centuries that peninsula had been home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet and critical to her security.

Putin is not going to return Crimea to Kiev, and, eventually, we will accept this new reality as well. For while whose flag flies over Crimea has never been crucial to us, it is to Putin. And like Israelis, Russians are resolute when it comes to taking and holding what they see as rightly theirs.

Both these conflicts reveal underlying realities that help explain America's 21st-Century long retreat. We face allies and antagonists who are more willing than are we to take risks, endure pain, persevere and fight to prevail.

This month, just days after North Korea tested a new ICBM, national security adviser H. R. McMaster declared that Trump "is committed to the total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

If so, we are committed to a goal we almost surely are not going to achieve. For, short of a war that could go nuclear, Kim Jong Un is not going to yield to our demands.

For Kim, nuclear weapons are not an option. He knows that Saddam Hussein, who had given up his WMD, was hanged after the Americans attacked. He knows the grisly fate of Moammar Gadhafi, after he invited the West into Libya to dismantle his nuclear program and disarm him of any WMD.

Kim knows that if he surrenders his nuclear weapons, he has nothing to deter the Americans should they choose to use their arsenal on his armed forces, his regime, and him. North Korea may enter talks, but Kim will never surrender the missiles and nukes that guarantee his survival. Look for the Americans to find a way to accommodate him.

Consider, too, China's proclaimed ownership of the South China Sea and her building on reefs and rocks in that sea, of artificial islands that are becoming air, missile and naval bases. Hawkish voices are being raised that this is intolerable and U.S. air and naval power must be used if necessary to force a rollback of China's annexation and militarization of the South China Sea.

Why is this not going to happen?

While this area is regarded as vital to China, it is not to us. And while China, a littoral state that controls Hainan Island in that sea, is a legitimate claimant to many of its islets, we are claimants to none. Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan are the other claimants. But though their interests in the fishing grounds and seabed resources may be as great as China's, none has seen fit to challenge Beijing's hegemony.

Why should we risk war with China to validate the claims of Communist Vietnam or Rodrigo Duterte's ruthless regime in Manila? Why should their fight become our fight?

China's interests in the sea are as crucial to her as were U.S. interests in the Caribbean when, a rising power in 1823, we declared the Monroe Doctrine. Over time, the world's powers came to recognize and respect U.S. special interests in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Given the steady rise of Chinese military power, the proximity of the islets to mainland China, the relative weakness and reluctance to confront of the other claimants, China will likely become the controlling power in the South China Sea, as we came to be the predominant power in the Western Hemisphere.

What we are witnessing in Crimea, across the Middle East, in the South China Sea, on the Korean peninsula, are nations more willing than we to sacrifice and take risks, because their interests there are far greater than ours.

What America needs is a new national consensus on what is vital to us and what is not, what we are willing to fight to defend and what we are not.

For this generation of Americans is not going to risk war, indefinitely, to sustain some Beltway elite's idea of a "rules-based new world order." After the Cold War, we entered a new world — and we need new red lines to replace the old.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Jim Hightower - Why we need net neutrality

We're told by politicos, pundits and internet providers themselves that access to the net is crucial to our educational achievement, future prosperity and ability to be self-governing. Yet, while this digital highway is deemed vital to our nation's well-being, access to it is not offered as a public service — i.e., an investment in the common good. Instead, it is treated as just another profit center for a few corporations — so few that selling broadband access to the world wide web has become a very lucrative source of what economists call "monopoly rents," the ability of corporations in a non-competitive market to extract excess profits from customers.

Even with the monopoly rents, the great virtue of the internet is that no one controls its content. This digital communication technology has been so spectacularly successful and so socially valuable because it is a wide-open, democratic forum, accessible on equal terms to all who want to put information, images, opinions, etc. on it or to download any of the same from it. Since its invention, the guiding principle behind the use of this liberating technology has been that no corporation, government, religion or other controlling power should be its gatekeeper, impeding the free and equal flow of communication to and from those who use it (yes, there is some censorship around the world, as well as here at home, but clever users commonly find their way around it).

This open-access tenet is dubbed "net neutrality," meaning the system doesn't care if you're royalty or a commoner, an establishmentarian or a rebel, a brand-name corporation or an unknown start-up, a general or a grunt, a billionaire or a poverty-wage laborer — you are entitled to equal treatment in sending or getting information in the worldwide web-o-sphere. That's an important democratic virtue. As we've learned in other spheres, however, corporate executives are not ones to let virtue stand in the way of profit, and today's telecom tycoons are no different. For some time, they've been scheming to dump the idea of net neutrality, viewing its public benefit as an unwarranted obstacle to their desire to grab greater profits. Here's their scheme:

— Rather than having one big broadband "freeway" open for transporting everyone's internet content, the ISP giants intend to create a special system of lanes for high-speed traffic.

— This express lane will be made available to those who want to rush their information/viewpoints/programs/etc. to the public and to get greater visibility for their content by having it separated from the mass clutter of the freeway.

—The ISPs will charge a premium price to those who want their content transported via this special internet toll-lane system.

By creating this First Class fare, the providers elevate themselves from mere transporters of content to exalted robber barons. They would be empowered to decide (on the basis of cash), which individuals, companies and so forth will be allowed in the premium lane of what is supposed to be a democratic freeway. The "winners" will be the ISP giants that would reap billions from this artificial profit lane, and the powerful content providers (e.g., Disney, the Koch Brothers, Walmart, the Pentagon and Amazon) that can easily pay top dollar to ride in the privileged lane (and deduct the ticket price from their corporate taxes).

The losers, obviously, will be the vast majority of internet users: the dynamic cosmos of groups, small companies, and other content providers without the deep pockets needed to buy their way out of the slow lanes which ISP monopolists could intentionally make even slower; and the broad public that will have its access to the full range of internet offerings blocked by the neon glare of those flashing their purchased messages in the fast lanes, limiting what we're allowed to read, watch, listen to, and interact with on our computers, smartphones, and TV screens.

The biggest loser though, would be the internet itself, which would be made to surrender its determinedly democratic ethic to the plutocratic rule of corporate profiteers. Go to www.BattleForTheNet.com and see what you can do to sand up steps you can take to help put a stop to this corporate coup.

(Populist author, public speaker, and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Columns
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