Friday, October 04, 2013
Wow: Government Erecting Barricades Around WWII Memorial to Deny Vets Access -- for the second day running
Shutdown? What shutdown? No expense spared to shaft America's heroes!
In my item last evening, I noted that a group of World War II veterans pushed aside "government shutdown" barriers and visited the open-air war memorial on the National Mall. I chalked it up as an isolated act of ignoring one of the administration's heavy-handed "shutdown" ploys -- one that would be overlooked by the powers-that-be for obvious reasons. Wrong. America's Big Government overlords were apparently quite displeased that these war heroes were permitted to survey a public monument to their brothers in arms who paid the ultimate price in the fight against Imperial Japan and the Nazis. Parks workers were dispatched to erect additional fencing to prevent today's crop of 'Honor Flight' vets from accessing the memorial:
Amazingly, one of the park workers told reporters that she was specifically exempted from shutdown-induced furlough in order to guard the memorial against the scourge of octogenarian visitors. Surreal. As Carol wrote last night, this officious absurdity was explicitly orchestrated by the White House:
"The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo’s office to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, the Mississippi Republican told The Daily Caller Tuesday. Palazzo helped the veterans commit an act of civil disobedience against the Park Service Tuesday, when the heroes stormed through barricades around the closed memorial."
Indeed, sending staffers to block access to this location actually takes more effort, and costs more money, than
simply leaving it open:
"Remember, WWII memorial is regularly open when it is unstaffed. An astonishing act from Obama administration."
The White House has promised to veto House Republicans' bill that would re-open national parks, fully fund the VA, and restore the flow of money to DC's local government. The GOP is also weighing NIH funding, to neutralize this talking point. Will Democrats block that, too? So far, our president says he won't sign a bill designed to re-open this memorial, but he will release park service workers from their mandatory furlough status to go and inhibit senior citizens' access to said memorial. What lessons might Americans draw from this posture? Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) decries the whole situation as "cynical." Not the act of turning an unstaffed, open-air war memorial into a fortress, mind you -- the attempt to re-open it:
UPDATE - Just like yesterday, the veterans -- and throngs of applauding supporters -- defied the government and entered the memorial:
NOTE: "A group of honor veterans from Iowa said that their congressman - Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) - assisted in removing the barricades, telling MRCTV's Dan Joseph they thought King's actions were "wonderful."
National Park Service Closes Only Private National Park in the Country
Claude Moore Colonial Farm is a living history, family-friendly site that, according to 1771.org, “authentically portrays the life of an 18th Century American family building a life on the nearer edges of civilized society.” It is also the only National Park in the country run by a non-profit organization. Yet, even this privately funded space, which has not received a penny from the Federal government since 1980, was not safe from Monday's shutdown.
Anna Eberly, the Managing Director of Claude Moore Colonial Farm, told supporters via email today what she thought about the closure,
"For the first time in 40 years, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally succeeded in closing the Farm down to the public. In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm. We weren't even informed of this until mid-day Monday in spite of their managers having our email addresses and cell numbers.
The first casualty of this arbitrary action was the McLean Chamber of Commerce who were having a large annual event at the Pavilions on Tuesday evening. The NPS sent the Park Police over to remove the Pavilions staff and Chamber volunteers from the property while they were trying to set up for their event. Fortunately, the Chamber has friends and they were able to move to another location and salvage what was left of their party. You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don't have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money."
In The Washington Post, NPS spokeswoman Carol Bradley Johnson claimed the agency is concerned about the security of the memorials and the safety of visitors at unstaffed sites. "It is not something we enjoy doing," Johnson said. "But it's important that we protect and preserve our monuments for future generations."
"What utter crap. We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing.
… In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service, first as a volunteer for 6 years in Richmond where I grew up, then as an NPS employee at the for 8 very long years and now enjoyably as managing director for the last 32 years - I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS."
Eberly goes on to say that the NPS has denied each appeal they’ve made to reopen the farm, making her wonder if it’s really all about control.
I can’t help but wonder the same thing. Does the government really feel threatened by a farm that allows parents and children to experience the “struggle that balances the hopes, harrows and hard work of a colonial family with the dynamic character and rich diversity of the surrounding community?”
Perhaps the NPS is uncomfortable with the farm’s independence, which has allowed the latter to excel despite the federal government halting its funding over 30 years ago. The recent closure perhaps just confirms how much of a nuisance the park is to the NPS -- and that’s not a bad thing.
Families may have to find “dynamic character” and “rich diversity” elsewhere for a few weeks, but the Claude Moore Colonial Farm’s bold, independent spirit suggests they won’t be grounded for long.
You've got a history of fraud and corruption? Welcome to a job with Obamacare!
Welcome to ObamaWreck! Americans nationwide spent Tuesday struggling with the much-hyped "Affordable Care Act" health insurance exchanges. Server meltdowns, error messages and security glitches plagued the federal and state government websites as open enrollment began. But when taxpayers discover exactly who will be navigating them through the bureaucratic maze, they may be glad they didn't get through.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius controls a $54 million slush fund to hire thousands of "navigators," "in-person assisters" and counselors, who are now propagandizing and recruiting Obamacare recipients into the government-run exchanges. As I warned in May, the Nanny State navigator corps is a serious threat to Americans' privacy. Background checks and training requirements are minimal to nonexistent. A history of fraud is no barrier to entry.
Case in point: the seedy nonprofit Seedco. This community-organizing group snagged lucrative multimillion-dollar navigator contracts in Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee and New York. The New York Post reports this week that the outfit "is partnering with dozens of agencies, such as the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Food Bank for New York City and the Chinese American Planning Council, in each of (the Big Apple's) five boroughs." They'll have access to potential enrollees' income levels, birthdates, addresses, eligibility for government assistance, Social Security numbers and intensely personal medical information.
Given the enormous responsibility to handle sensitive data in a careful, neutral manner, combined with the overwhelming pressure to boost Obamacare enrollments, you'd think the feds would only choose navigators with the most impeccable records. Yet, less than a year ago, Seedco agreed to settle a civil fraud lawsuit "for faking at least 1,400 of 6,500 job placements under a $22.2 million federally funded contract with the city."
Seedco's corrupt behavior went far beyond defrauding taxpayers through abuse of New York City programs, federal Labor Department funding and federal stimulus dollars. Seedco (which stands for "Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation") tried to destroy and defame whistleblowing official Bill Harper, who discovered and reported the rampant falsification of data.
First, Seedco denied the charges; next, they trashed Harper's reputation in the pages of The New York Times. Only after the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan brought suit did the organization acknowledge systemic, repeated wrongdoing. Seedco forked over a $1.7 million settlement in December 2012. Mere months later, they were racking up federal Obamacare navigator work.
The feds and Seedco assure us that new management is in place. They rearranged some deck chairs, created a new "compliance program" and hired an independent reviewer. But an ethos of by-any-means-necessary book-cooking and a culture of intimidating whistleblowers don't disappear overnight. Seedco shredded documents for three years to phony up their job placement statistics; city government overseers knew about it. The Nonprofit Quarterly noted that Seedco's fraud was "kind of breathtaking" in its "creativity and illegal audacity," including:
--"Taking credit for a job candidate's prior employment as job placements;
--Reporting job placements when the job candidates remained unemployed;
--Falsifying dates of job placements;
--Using other Seedco programs to collect information on clients in order to falsely report job placements; and
--Reporting job placements for people who were not Seedco clients and had not been placed in their jobs by Seedco."
The feds detailed how Seedco managers would instruct clerical workers to troll Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com for resumes and then "report the employment of individuals sourced from those downloaded resumes as job placements." Other employees exploited their relationships with businesses to "gather information from the businesses' current employees. Seedco then used that information to falsely report that employment as a job placement obtained for the candidate by Seedco, although the individuals had no prior relationship with Seedco and had not been recruited into the job by Seedco."
This entire government-nonprofit alliance rests on dragooning as many people as possible into government programs, including food stamps, CHIP (the federal Children's Health Insurance Program) and now Obamacare. One of Seedco's officials actually said the fraud case "made us a stronger organization." Yes, they actually sold their deliberate number-fudging as an asset instead of a liability. And four states swallowed the pitch whole. The spirit of fraud-stained ACORN and its Nanny State progeny lives.
So, buyers, beware: Obamacare security "glitches" are not just a bug. They're a feature.
What if We Had a Government Shutdown and Nobody Noticed or Cared?
Daniel J. Mitchell
What’s the likely outcome of the government shutdown fight?
Well, in my libertarian fantasy world, we leave it closed. Or at least we never bother to reopen counterproductive bureaucracies such as the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation, etc, etc.
In my realistic/optimistic world, the federal Leviathan remains, but we get some sort of delay for parts of Obamacare.
In my realistic/pessimistic world, the media and the left work together to not only protect Obamacare, but they also get additional spending to circumvent the sequester.
For what it’s worth, I think the final outcome will be somewhere between optimism and pessimism. The government will be funded, including Obamacare, but at lest we protect the sequestration, which was the biggest victory for taxpayers this century.
I’d like to be more hopeful, but Republicans are probably too divided to prevail in this battle. Which is a shame, because when they had more unity during the 1995 shutdown fight, they won a very important victory. Here’s what I wrote about that battle.
"…they succeeded in dramatically reducing the growth of federal spending. They did not get everything they wanted, to be sure, but government spending grew by just 2.9 percent during the first four years of GOP control, helping to turn a $164 billion deficit in 1995 into a $126 billion surplus in 1999. And they enacted a big tax cut in 1997."
So let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best. But we’re relying on politicians, so prepare for the worst.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
Posted by JR at 1:57 AM