- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Clinton executive order does 'nada' for Hispanics

With less than two months remaining in his administration, President Clinton has issued an executive order directing all federal agencies to increase the number of Hispanic workers ("Clinton orders increase in Hispanics, Oct. 20). On Oct. 18, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, made up of Hispanic leaders from across the country, endorsed this executive order at its 2000 Hispanic Policy Summit.

The Hispanic Leadership Agenda acted too quickly in endorsing this illusory action by the president at the end of his administration. It is obvious that this action is political and timed to win Hispanic votes for Vice President Al Gore. White House spokesman Elliot Diringer denied that the order was timed to win Hispanic voter support for Mr. Gore, saying "this has been a long-standing priority of the administration." If this is true, why didn't Mr. Clinton issue the order earlier in his administration, or when Reps. Lorreta Sanchez, Xavier Becerra, Solomon P. Ortiz and other Hispanic leaders gathered on the steps of the Capitol six years ago to request his support on behalf of Hispanic federal workers?

Instead of endorsing this obvious bit of pandering by the president, our Hispanic leaders should have given the administration the same grade D that our Hispanic members of Congress and advocates gave them six years ago. At that time, the number of Hispanic federal workers was 6 percent, the same that it is today. The Clinton administration did not do anything significant during its eight years to eliminate the underrepresentation of Hispanics in the federal work force. The administration ignored this important issue, and the president's recent action should be exposed for what it is nothing, nada.

Mr. Clinton's executive order does not include goals or enforceable provisions. Numerous policies and initiatives already exist that have been established for recruitment and career development of Hispanics. The order, as the president indicated, merely "affirms ongoing policies and recommends additional policies."

Many Hispanic federal employees feel that today's concept of affirmative action does not work for Hispanics because "affirmative action" has become synonymous with racial preferences and quotas, making it a divisive issue. As a social idea, quotas and preferences are not compatible with the Hispanic culture and traditions of hard work and education.

We Hispanic Americans need an original approach to our efforts to reach parity in the federal work force. Mr. Gore wants to continue the same affirmative-action program that has not worked for Hispanics. Texas Gov. George W. Bush wants to try a new approach, what he calls "affirmative access." Perhaps the timing of this election could be good for Hispanics. After all, there is nothing to lose.


Fairfax Station

U.S. ships did not abandon Asia Minor victims

This is in response to the letter from Stella L. Jatras about the events in Asia Minor, 1914-23 ("Greeks, as well as Armenians, suffered at hands of Turks," Letters to the Editor, Oct. 20). The writer is mistaken when she states that the U.S. Navy crews pushed those fleeing the Smyrna massacre off their ships. On the contrary, the U.S. Navy sent four destroyers to Smyrna in September 1922, after learning about the massacre. These ships were ordered to rescue the Christian refugees. The U.S. Navy destroyer Force rescued more than 262,000 Greeks and Armenians.

There are many thousands of pages of reports, log books and photographs documenting the humanitarian actions of the U.S. Navy in Asia Minor during this period available for researchers at the National Archives. These records include photographs of U.S. Navy sailors at Smyrna harbor reaching out to pull up the victims who were swimming out to their ships while the city burned.


Silver Spring

Officers may feel pressure to ape administration line

Col. David Hackworth indicts our senior military leadership for not admitting to the military's declining readiness and morale, and he uses the USS Cole disaster as a prime case in point ("Intelligence unheeded," Commentary, Oct. 20). The Cole probably never would have been refueling in Yemen if the Navy hadn't had to mothball many of its oilers, which can refuel ships at sea. One would think this is a critical vulnerability to our forces that deserved attention in a time of national prosperity. Most commentators attribute the four-star officers' reluctance to speak out to the loyalty of the generals and admirals to their commander in chief and civilian authority. That is very noble, indeed. However, there may be another contributing factor that is not widely appreciated.

Historically, the highest rank at which a military man could retire was two stars (regardless of active-duty rank) unless the president specifically sent a recommendation to the Senate that the officer should retire with his four stars. Presidents routinely made such recommendations, and the Senate approved them except in those rare cases when the retiree was involved in some sort of scandal or controversy. A few years ago, the law was changed to substitute a letter from the secretary of defense for the presidential recommendation. Therefore, every four-star officer is beholden to the secretary for his retirement in grade (and with honor, because a reduction in rank is a dishonor). Today, every-active duty four-star officer must consider potential revenge for any statement straying from the administration line.

Perhaps this is a bad law. Generals and admirals should retire in their active-duty grade unless the secretary takes specific action to recommend otherwise and the Senate approves it.


USAF (retired)


Virginia is cleaner, no thanks to environmental scare-mongers

I was happy to see Kenneth Smith's well-written Oct. 12 Op-Ed column on Becky Norton Dunlop's book "Clearing the Air" ("Clearing the Air," Oct. 12). Mr. Smith cuts through several years of pretension and moralizing by Vice President Al Gore and his protege, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) czar Carol Browner. The simple fact, as Mr. Smith notes, is that despite years of yelping and scare-mongering by Mr. Gore and Mrs. Browner and their activist allies, Virginia's air, water and soil were significantly cleaner when Mrs. Dunlop left her post in 1998 as Virginia's secretary of natural resources than in 1994, when she entered.

What do the critics of Mrs. Dunlop and her boss, then-Gov. George Allen, have to say about that? Well, not much. Having predicted ecological disaster when Mrs. Dunlop and Mr. Allen began to implement their policies, the green extremists are left to cavil about how to divide up the credit. What they don't do, because they can't, is point to many examples of how they have accomplished what they claim to have achieved.

I think this tells us a lot about the evolution of the environmental lobby in the United States. In their press releases, Op-Ed columns and commercials, such entities as the Sierra Club have very little to say about water and air quality. They criticize policies, of course, but they make revealingly little effort to link these to any environmental decline.

In all, their silence gives powerful corroborating testimony to a major theme of Mrs. Dunlop's books that for many environmentalists, air and water quality has ceased to be the main concern. Regulating companies and micromanaging individuals out of their automobiles, air conditioners and even hair dryers has become the real point.

Three cheers to Mr. Smith for reminding us of the fight Mrs. Dunlop and Mr. Allen waged to keep us out of six-hour-long emissions testing lines and government-designed battery cars. It's something I'm going to keep in mind as I drive to the voting booth.


Alexis de Tocqueville Institution


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