Former President Barack Obama was proud of his ability to keep calm, calling himself No-Drama Obama. During the VOA debate with me on the H-1B work visa, Rep. Ro Khanna lost his cool on several occasions, and yesterday he and blogger Alan Tonelson got into quite an exchange on Twitter, in which Khanna rather intemperately (and inaccurately) lambasted me.
After the term road rage (sadly) came into the vernacular some years ago, someone coined the term ‘Net rage, to describe people who are normally mild-mannered but get testy on the Internet. Now we are seeing Tweet rage. Apparently President Trump is not the only one with this affliction.
Mind you, I like this aspect of Khanna, as it means that at least to some extent he is not the typical canned-speech, blow-dried-hair politician. As I said before, Khanna is genuinely idealistic; good for him. So when that makes him lose his cool now and then, fine by me.
Khanna reacted to Tonelson’s blog post that took the San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group to task for not placing their video of the debate online. (More on the video below.)
Matloff made unsubstantiated claims and did not know the details of that [Durbin-Grassley H-1B reform] bill, or the issues of where the abuse was taking place.
I have no idea what he meant by “the issues of where the abuse was taking place,” which is a little bizarre considering I’ve been writing about this for nearly 25 years. But let’s look at the other two allegations he made.
First, Durbin-Grassley: During the debate, Khanna said that he supports the bill, and is a cosponsor to a House version. When I said I don’t support the bill, he asked, again rather testily, “Have you read it?” I answered yes, and he asked if I had read the latest version, and I said “Yes, unless it has changed in the last two weeks” (the latest version is dated January 20). I then added that I knew both the author of the bill, Francis Cissna, and Grassley’s main aide on the bill, Kathy Nuebel, and that in past years Kathy had occasionally consulted with me. I supported earlier versions of the bill in previous Congresses, but oppose the current one.
Of course, Kathy and Francis were not pleased by my criticism of the later version, but the point is, YES, I am highly familiar with this bill, both present and past. For Rep. Khanna to say I don’t know the details of the bill is patently false.
Now, what about those “unsubstantiated claims”? Khanna had brought this up during the debate, when I discussed a meeting between about a dozen of us researchers and two people at Google, one a senior engineering manager, and the other an HR person. The two Google people volunteered the information that they prefer to hire foreign workers, due to their de facto indentured servitude: Under green card sponsorship, the workers are essentially trapped, unable to change employers — a huge plus from Google’s point of view. I also noted that this problem was well-known, e.g. cited in the NRC report commissioned by Congress.
As I mentioned in my original report on the debate, Khanna became quite agitated when I brought up Google’s frank statements, amounting to admitting abuse. From my original report on the event:
Khanna reacted quite sharply to this, his voice rising. “This is a very serious charge! You have no proof! Who at Google said this? What are their names?” I replied that I had stated this publicly before without objection from Google, and then said, “I’ll give you the name of the HR person, who by the way is now at Facebook. You should call Google.” But of course he did not take me up on the offer.
Well, the offer is still open. Khanna is welcome to contact me at any time, and I will supply him with the name of the Google HR person. And as I said, there were about a dozen others at this meeting, who could presumably confirm. How about it, Mr. Khanna?
Now finally, concerning the video recording of the event, the editor of the paper made a reader comment on my blog site,
Nice of him to take the time to post this. It’s a little odd, because the Mercury reporter had indicated that a full video was in fact recorded, and the videographer seemed to be taping continuously. (She had the videocam on a high tripod, seemingly much for an occasional clip. The VOA, in interviewing me for 20 minutes after the debate, just used a handheld camera.) But the reporter may have misunderstood and maybe the taping wasn’t continuous. Maybe it wasn’t full because 17 minutes of tape were missing. 🙂
In any case, this should have been a newsworthy event, especially for the Mercury News. This was the only public debate ever held between a politician and a researcher on the H-1B issue. Since the Mercury considers H-1B to be a major topic, why no article about it????