Friday, June 27, 2014

Should America Pay Or Continue To Play?

Should America Pay or Continue To Play?
Affirmative Action or Reparations? Which?
I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle by former Speaker of the California Assembly and Former Mayor of San Francisco, the Honorable Willie Brown in which he compared the history of America's treatment of the African slaves and their descendents to a poker game between blacks and whites.
He said that for about 250 years America and her Black population have been engaged in a game of poker and the whites have been winning. They have won every hand and all of the chips are on their side of the table. After more than 250 years the Blacks finally found out that the whites have been cheating. Moreover, the whites admitted that they have cheated shamefully and they want to continue playing.
The Blacks agree but have no chips; all the chips are in the white folks' hands. So, the Blacks say we will continue to play if you stop cheating and if you give us back some of the chips that you have stolen by 250 years of cheating. The whites admit to cheating, but refuse to give back any of the chips. They say "we will continue to play but we will not under any circumstance give you back anything that we stole from you. We have enslaved you, ostracized you, discriminated against you, murdered you, and cheated you in every way possible. Now we have all of the capital, wealth, Stock Market, institutions of higher learning, college chairs and endowments, military power, police power, real estate, worldwide connections and influences. But we refuse to give you any of it, because "we stole it fair and square"".
Here is what we will do.We will stop cheating, that is, discriminating against you. We will call it a "color-blind society", where everyone will be treated equally from now on. But you will not get any chips from us, or any help of any sort. We will not give you anything to help you pull yourself up by your boot straps. We will give you no Affirmative Action, no Reparations, nothing. You are on your own. Now, let's play some more.
And such is life!
Affirmative Action allows America to make a partial down-payment on a debt owed to the children of the builders of America. To many it is a dirty word or two, but Reparations would not sound as sweet. Germany paid the Jews; America paid the Japanese; and America will have to pay the children of the African slaves who built America's wealth, if Affirmative Action is abandoned. How else will we make up for past discrimination against African Americans?

I was an Affirmative Action Baby. I was the beneficiary of a program designed to redress the effects of past discrimination. So were Jackie Robinson, Wilt Chamberlain, Constance Baker Motley, Spottswood Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Eric Holder, and President Barack Obama; and so are many Americans of African descent who were pioneers in their fields.
Many of Americas "Black Firsts" were allowed to become "Firsts" because of Affirmative Action. By any other name, it would be the same. Ability without opportunity is wasted. It is futile and unproductive to have a talent and never get the opportunity to use it for the benefit of humanity.
When many others are as qualified for a coveted position and a Black or other minority group person is chosen for the position, there is a strong possibility that Affirmative Action played a part in the selection. That is nothing to be ashamed of.
Some may take umbrage or offense at my use of the term because it has become so politically charged and may not be politically correct; however, Affirmative Action works. It is easier to implement than Reparations.

What is Affirmative Action? It is not a program of racial preference. It is a program designed to provide social justice for minority group members and the underprivileged of America.
As a Federal Policy, Affirmative Action was born on March 6, 1961 when President Kennedy promulgated Executive Order 10925 requiring racial fairness in employment funded by the Federal Government. The Executive Order prohibited discrimination in federal employment based on race, creed, color, or national origin because it is contrary to the Constitutional principles and policies of the United States.
Affirmative action refers to concrete steps that are taken not only to eliminate discrimination-whether in employment, education, or contracting-but also to attempt to redress the effects of past discrimination. The underlying motive for affirmative action is the Constitutional principle of equal opportunity, which holds that all persons have the right to equal access to self-development. In other words, persons with equal abilities should have equal opportunities.
Affirmative action policies vary. The following is an example of a university's Affirmative Action policy: "... is committed to ensuring that all educational programs and personnel actions including application, hiring, promotion, compensation, benefits, transfer, layoffs, training, tuition assistance, and social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, color, sex (except where sex is a bona fide occupational qualification), sexual orientation, religion, national or ethnic origin, age (except where age is a bona fide occupational qualification), disability, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam Era. The University's policy is applicable to faculty and other employees, applicants for faculty positions and other employment, and applicants to educational programs and activities. This policy is fundamental to the effective functioning of the University as an institution of teaching, scholarship, and public service.
Simple absence of discrimination is not sufficient. Our task is to work to eliminate all patterns of unequal treatment. The University's policies are dedicated to the full realization of equal opportunity for all through affirmative action predicated on the following tenets: (1) serious and imaginative recruitment methods; (2) ongoing administrative reviews of hiring practices; (3) frequent affirmative action analyses of faculty, staff, and student units to determine "challenge areas"; (4) direct and firm responses to units identified as having undesirable affirmative action practices; and (5) professional development training."
In 1997, however, California's Proposition 209 banned affirmative action in that state. In 2003 a group of affirmative action opponents began a campaign to challenge its use in Michigan. Ward Connerly, a California businessman and national leader in the campaign to end affirmative action, pushed for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which would bar the use of race and gender in government hiring, contracting, and university admissions.
The legal battles over affirmative action and how it may and may not be used continue. On a state-by-state basis, challenges to affirmative action programs are being made.
Affirmative Action has its roots in the civil rights movement. In March of 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925, which established the President's Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity. The order stated that contractors doing business with the government "will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during their employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin."
The order did not advocate preferential treatment of affected groups but rather sought to eliminate discrimination in the traditional sense.
The Civil Rights Act did not provide criminal penalties for employers that discriminated, nor did the civil remedies established by the act include compensation for pain and suffering or punitive damages. Rather, the Act sought to establish a conciliation process by which victims would be restored to the situation they would have had in the absence of discrimination.
A significant Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action came in a 1978 case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Under the University of California at Davis's admission policies, 16 of 100 places were set aside for minority applicants. Allan Bakke was a white applicant who was denied enrollment to Davis's medical school, even though his test scores were higher than the minority students who were admitted. Casting the deciding vote, Justice Lewis Powell held that Bakke should be admitted to the program since Davis's policies constituted a rigid quota, but that, nonetheless, Davis could continue to favor minorities in its admission practices and that it had a "compelling state interest" to attain a diversified educational environment.
The tide favoring affirmative action began to turn in the 1980s during the Reagan and Bush administrations. In his 1980 campaign, Reagan stated, "We must not allow the noble concept of equal opportunity to be distorted into federal guidelines or quotas which require race, ethnicity, or sex-rather than ability and qualifications-to be the principal factor in hiring or education." Through court appointments, hiring and firing decisions, and budget cuts, the Reagan administration sought to end Affirmative Action as it had evolved since the Johnson administration.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Coast Guard Headquarters at St. Elizabeths

New Coast Guard Headquarters, Almost Heaven

Coast Guard Headquarters is Striking, Surprising, and Sustainable

The new, state-of-the-art U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters on the site of historic St. Elizabeths Hospital is a dream come true. The U S Coast Guard has finally found itself a home worthy of its own lofty opinion of itself. It is not Heaven, but it is as close as one could possibly hope to get in this world.
Like Heaven, one has to pass through Hell to get there, daily. It is in Anacostia the worst, low rent, crime infested area of South East Washington, DC. A majority of the inhabitants of Anacostia appear to be over fed, under nourished, and unemployed. It is a crime infested area that most people would not be caught dead in after dark. Most D.C. metro area residents recoil in fear at the sound of infamous "Anacostia," known mostly for its extreme poverty, high homicide statistics, and the ever lurking danger of getting lost in its maze of streets.,_D.C./Anacostia
The building was designed to house the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component agencies. The U S Coast Guard was intended to be the lead agency. However, in the hearts and minds of most Coast Guard members, this is the Headquarters of the Department of the Coast Guard and DHS is a sub-agency, along with o ther agencies; such as, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Defense, Interior, and Health and Human Services have contributed components.
The U S Coast Guard is the World's preeminent International Law Enforcement Agency.
By law, the Coast Guard has 11 missions:
Today's U.S. Coast Guard, with nearly 42,000 men and women on active duty, is a unique force that carries out an array of civil and military responsibilities touching almost every facet of the U.S. maritime environment.
In 50 years the Coast Guard has reached its pinnacle among other Washington DC Federal Agencies. In the 1960s, it was located in the Volpe Building, at 7th and D street SW, as the lead Agency in the Department of Transportation.
I know from experience how much the Coast Gard has wanted its own building in Washington, DC. Having worked in the Volpe Building as a Coast Guard officer in the Legal Office and the Office of Personnel from 1972 to 1979, I am aware of the numerous times senior Coast Guard officers have lamented the fact that the Coast Guard did not have its own building.
The Coast Guard finally was able to move up among the hierarchy of Federal Agencies when it moved to the Buzzard Point location. The accommodations were not up to those of the Volpe Building, but it was not co-located with lesser Federal agencies. Because of the undesirable location, many saw this move as a sort of fall from grace. However, location was not as important as exclusivity.
Now, the Coast Guard has it all, location and exclusivity. And, on top of it all, the DHS appears to not be coming to share the new building due to a shortage of appropriated funds.
In one sense, the vassals have taken control of the castle, erected a moat, and the drawbridge is up. Next to the Pentagon, this new Headquarters is a paradise and it is the most expensive building in Washington,DC. It has a newly constructed physical plant with all of the latest high tech gadgetry. The exterior is ecological eye-candy; it is architecturally beautiful with large spacious recreational green areas for loitering and refreshing the spirit. There are deer and other natural wild life running through the trees and plants. This new building repairs and reflects the surrounding landscape.

The interior sports acoustically low noise in the common areas, and large individual cubicles for the support staff so that each can have their own space. The offices are large and comfortable. Getting an office with a window is no problem because the construction material of smoked glass and steel affords maximum visibility for even the clerical personnel. The style is reminiscent of the steel and glass construction found in Hamburg, Germany and some of the banks built in Hong Kong by I M Pei.
The conference rooms and auditorium are well equipped with high tech and high definition accessories. They rival the large screen instant replay monitors in the most modern sports arenas. There is no bad seat in the auditorium. Even the farthest removed spectator to any presentation or ceremony has instant and constant visual and acoustical access to the proceedings. The Coast Guard which is renowned for pinching pennies and trying to save the Government money, spared no expenses in designing and building this new state-of-the-art facility. But, that is usually what happens when one is spending someone else's money.

The co-educational workout rooms are top of the line. They include steam rooms and showers with large screen high definition televisions in front of the exercise machines. The facility is of the same caliber as one would expect to find in any Hilton or Ritz Carlton five-star luxury hotel.
Much of the credit for the relocation and the modern construction belongs to VADM Manson K. Brown. His last act of grace to the Coast Guard before retiring in May of 2014. It was only fitting and proper that he bequeath to the Coast Guard this new and perhaps final resting place, as a token of his appreciation for allowing him to write his name and story across a large page of American and Coast Guard history. VADM Brown did well and his performance of duty was above and beyond the call of duty, but he was deprived of writing one final large piece of History; he was denied the honor of going down in History as the first Black Commandant of the U S Coast Guard. Nevertheless, the milestones that he left along the road of History will not be surpassed in the near or distant future. He had a good ride and it was a mutually respectful and loving parting from active duty to a much deserved retirement for VADM Brown.

The physical address of Coast Guard Headquarters is 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. S.E. This address cannot be used for mailing or visiting the campus (if using GPS, this address takes you to Gate 1, which can only be used by Coast Guard personnel accessing the campus via bike, over-sized vehicle or walking).
The new Coast Guard Headquarters GPS address is 2699 Firth Street SE, Washington, DC, 20593.
Download a map of the St. Elizabeths campus.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Readers Make The Best Lovers

Reading really improves your personality and that's why avid readers make the best lovers. Readers are more passionate and more vocal and tend to like prolonged foreplay.

Readers are least likely to experience premature sputtering, because they just can't stop; they are so anxious to see what's next or what is on the next page. They cannot stand interruptions, but always mark their spot in order to resume where they let off.

Readers are a bit old fashioned and are least likely to engage with gadgets and battery operated toys; but, they have vivid imaginations and are more likely to experiment with new locations, positions, and techniques. Like any old fashioned page-turner, they are strictly hands-on, and will negotiate before taking "no" for an answer.

 Because it is their custom to engage as frequently as possible, readers tend to be more cuddly, but will sometimes fall asleep during or shortly after turning the last page.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

D-Day Tribute by Lorine Parks

By Lorine Parks
D day the deep sob

ici Londres London calling
invasion forces are massed but where will they land
rumors the German High Command
is told by a double agent embedded in London
expect near St.-Lo
but the Wehrmacht’s bet is Dunkerque the logical place
Rommel goes home for his wife’s birthday
von Runstedt turns his back on Falaise and looks north

St.-Lo after four years of Nazi oppression France is hot
in cellars and small backyard sheds
pitchforks are stored and scythes honed
sledge hammers stand handle up on dirt floors which faintly suggest
cider and summer moths and burlap and twine
tonight bicyclettes upside down pedals spinning
generate just enough power to receive if it comes
the signal
ici Londres London calling

the weather turns sour bombardments of rain
armada moon lost in salvos of rain

waiting grizzled old men the rest have been shot
or conscripted or shipped to German prison camps
farm girls and grand’meres work the fields
and care for the brindled dairy cows
bossies with upthrust horns like crescent crowns
languorous beasts whose sweet and primrose-hued milk
chalky and thin in the pail dilute in the churn

on the granite cross in the small village place
see the family names chiseled in gold
husbands and sons morts pour la Patrie
Yves dead first a cadet at Saumur
Jean-Luc with the Free French in Afrique
Mich’ escaped for a while to the underground maquis
the second line of a poem when it comes is the signal
the line will follow the first one
given days ago the deep sobs les sanglots longs des violons sobbing violins
every school child for seventy years has been made to learn this poem
the second line when it comes blessent mon coeur
refer to a wound heart not a blessèd state of grace
the broken couplet made whole
in the vast night hear the deep sob grow

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why I Believe The Department Of Homeland Security Is Doomed

 Most American do not feel as secure today as they did on 9/10/2001, nor do they feel as free. We have sacrificed freedoms, but we have not gained security. We have spent millions of dollars to fight a so-called War on Terror and have few tangible results to show for it. Much of the money has gone to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Why do we do not need a Department of Homeland Security (DHS)? Most of its work is wasteful and duplicated by other government agencies.  Most of DHS's efforts appear to be oriented toward domestic law enforcement and not towards foreign terrorists. The activities being performed by DHS agents would not have prevented the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.
It appeared to be a good idea at the time President George Bush proposed forming it, because the public needed to be reassured that Government was doing something to protect us. Our national leaders assure us that Osama bin Laden is dead and Al-Qaeda is on the run. Today the DHS appears to be a bloated  and mismanaged bureaucracy of marginally qualified civil servants.
All of the various components should be broken up and sent back to the Government Agencies they came from.

The Coast Guard is and was the lead agency. Other agencies; such as, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),  Defense,  Interior, and Health and Human Services have contributed components. At last count there were an estimated 15 to 20 spy agencies in the DHS.
 Why I Believe the Department of Homeland Security is Doomed
Moreover, as of May 21, 2014 according to a Washington Post article by Jerry Markon, the DHS is homeless. The construction site in Southeast Washington, DC on the grounds of the old Saint Elizabeth's Hospital is over-budgeted by billions of dollars and may not be completed before 2016, if ever. The site is completely undeveloped except for the Coast Guard Headquarters building.
As events have unfolded, it seems to me that the underfunding of the project may not be entirely accidental. A great way to kill a project is to underfund it. That is just what Congress has done to DHS. Congress funded the Coast Guard Headquarters move from Buzzard Point to Saint Elizabeth's, but had not appropriated sufficient funds to move DHS. That means the Coast Guard was considered essential but DHS was not.
The Coast Guard has been around since 1790, but DHS came into existence in 2002. The Coast Guard has a proven track record and enjoys favorable public support.
Homeland security is not the top priority item with most Americans anymore. The DHS has succeeded in curtailing many civil liberties that American are not happy about. Privacy rights have been eroded. Air line security is cumbersome and intrusive. Immigration enforcement has not managed to curb the flood of illegal immigrants coming into the country. Phone calls and Emails are being monitored at an alarming rate. We are practically in a police state. Since the establishment of the DHS and the Patriot Act, Americans have given up freedoms and civil liberties for security, but most American do not feel any more secure than they did before 9/11/2001.
At the rate that Congress is approving funding to move DHS Headquarters to the new Saint Elizabeth site, some lawmakers are urging that plans for such an ambitious headquarters complex be scrapped.
“Sometimes you just have to drop back and punt,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), whose oversight subcommittee has criticized federal management of the project. “At what point in time does the government just cut its losses and look for a better way of doing things?”
Former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who had called a consolidated headquarters essential for his department’s mission to protect the homeland, acknowledges that the project has become a victim of Washington’s budget wars.
 Republicans are calling for a reevaluation of the project, suggesting for instance that private developers could build a more modest office complex and lease it to the government. The proposal to raise the kind of headquarters envisioned after Sept. 11 is now practically an orphan in Congress.
“It’s just not going to happen,” said a Republican congressional aide. “The money doesn’t exist.”
 ( Markon, J. and Crites, A.; Washington Post, May 21, 2014, p. A1)