Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gaddafi Is Now A Martyr.

Gaddafi died at the hands of an angry mob aided by a French air strike. It was a shameful spectacle. There is no law and no order in Libya. Shame on the NTC. It was a lynch mob. Gaddafi was captured alive. He deserved a trial. Such barbarism is ample evidence of how far man has progressed in his attempt to civilize himself. God help us.

Gaddafi was trying to flee the city in a convoy of cars when they came under attack from NATO jets. The French claimed responsibility for the airstrike. Charred remains of 15 pickup trucks lay burned out on a roadside where Gaddafi's convoy had attempted to punch through NTC lines. Inside the ruined vehicles sat the charred skeletons.

Unlike Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who was hanged, Gaddafi died on his feet, standing up and fighting back.

"While he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him," a senior source in the NTC told Reuters news agency. "He might have been resisting."

Officials said Gaddafi's son Mo'tassim, also seen bleeding but alive, had also died. Another son, heir-apparent Saif al-Islam, was variously reported to be surrounded, captured or killed as conflicting accounts of the day's events crackled around networks of NTC fighters rejoicing in Sirte.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, spearheaded the Franco-British move in NATO to back the revolt against Gaddafi.

Shortly before dawn prayers on Thursday, Gaddafi, surrounded by a few dozen loyal bodyguards and accompanied by the head of his now non-existent army Abu Bakr Younis Jabr, broke out of the two-month siege of Sirte and made a break for the west.

But they did not get far.

NATO said its warplanes fired on a convoy near Sirte about 8:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. ET), striking two military vehicles in the group, but could not confirm that Gaddafi had been a passenger. France later said its jets had halted the convoy, which was comprised of some 80 vehicles.

By averting a possible dispute in Libya and internationally about where to try him, and denying him a final platform for his trademark lengthy speeches, the summary killing on a desert road is very troubling and unworthy of great powers.

"Gaddafi is now a martyr and thus can become the rallying point for irredentist or tribal violence -- perhaps not in the immediate future but in the medium-to-long term," said George Joffe, a north Africa expert at Cambridge University.

"The fact that NATO can be blamed for his death is worrying, in terms of regional support, and may undermine the legitimacy of the National Transitional Council."

At the end his so-called friends and allies of convenience deserted him, like Jesus' disciples and friends before his crucifixion.

The death of Gaddafi is a setback to campaigners seeking the full truth about the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland of Pan Am flight 103 which claimed 270 lives, mainly Americans, and for which one of Gaddafi's agents was convicted.

Gaddafi loved his green stick.

In the end all of his friends deserted him. US President Barack Obama (R) and Libyan Leader Moamer Kadhafi shake hands during the Group of Eight (G8) summit in L'Aquila, central Italy, on July 9, 2009.

Group of Eight leaders grappled at a summit in Italy with reining in unprecedented government support for their economies as divergences emerged over whether their economies were ready. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images) AFP/Getty Images

Gaddafi at the G8-SUMMIT was with them but not of them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady

CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady
If the USA is one big book club then the American Corner and the Steverson Collection Book Club must have been hoping that this would be the week that everyone was talking about "CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady", Judge London Steverson's most recent revelation concerning the trial and conviction of the first Coast Guard Academy cadet in the history of this small military academy in New London, CT..(

This case really made news and generated a lot of changes in the way sexual assaults are reported and investigated in the military academies. Read in full, this book is a new American Tragedy. It has the virtues and limitations of Theodore Dreiser's original American Tragedy: contemporary, still unfolding history, shadows of power, teenage binge drinking, inter-racial sexual encounters of the worst kind, and immorality at the highest levels of the military. That means an all knowing, seemingly eyewitness, mind-reading author; an unbelievable dialogue of incrimination and recrimination, back and forth he-said, she-said. One is left with the unmistakable feeling that someone must be telling the truth, but who?

If the male cadet-accused is, then the female cadet-accuser is a woman of easy virtue times two. Also, she would have to be a pathological liar.

If the female cadet-accuser is telling the truth, then the accused male cadet is a Jim Dandy, smooth, athletic, lady's man, who finally gets hoisted on his own petard.

This book is non-fiction, and it is based on a true story. It is an analysis of the latest bomb to come out of the annals of inter-class, inter-racial, misconduct at the Coast Guard Academy.

Analysis, background, and exposition necessarily take a back seat to exaggeration. There is no need to inflate the facts; this truth is more fascinating than fiction.

After showing that the accused is not the sexual predator that he was alleged to have been by senior officials, the book demonstrates how the justice system was used to pervert justice in a case of few complicated facts. This case actually went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to exposing the trial for what it was; that is to say, a kangaroo court; the author actually paints a detailed and accurate description of the real Coast Guard Academy sexual predator.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Steverson Collection Book Club

The American Corner in Veszprém provides up-to-date, accurate, and tailor-made information on issues related to the U.S. Citizens of the region are welcome to visit the Corner to gain information about the the American educational system, arts, sciences, and economy. In addition to that, our aim is to create links and foster communication between Hungary and the U.S. The Corner focuses mainly on educational, cultural and business issues connecting the two nations. Besides providing basic services, we organize conferences, meetings, exhibitions, and performances.

Detailed Info Website:
Company Overview:The American Corners (AC) program is a United States Department of State-sponsored initiative inaugurated worldwide more than 10 years ago.
American Corner Debrecen is a cultural and information center supported by the Embassy of the United States, the City Council of Debrecen and the University of Debrecen.
Mission:The basic function of the American Corner is to make information about the United States available by providing access to current and reliable information about the U. S. via book, video, and DVD collections, the Internet, and through a wide range of local programs.
We hope to bring the American culture closer to the Hungarian people and therefore foster international cooperation.
Products:Knowledge, cheerfulness, friendship... ALL FOR FREE :)

After the Opening Ceremony of the Steverson Collection on 23 April, 2009 the
American Corner Veszprem was excited to announce the start of the
Steverson Collection Book Club. The Club's aim is to give the reading public a chance to get
acquainted with the vast collection of books in the generous donation from Judge London
Steverson and his family. This Book Club is be run by booklovers, for booklovers.
The members are at the heart of all the club does.

Variety is at the heart of our Club. The Steverson Collection contains thousands of used and rare English language books on a variety of subjects of interest; such as, History, Humor, Satire, Myths & Legends, Philosophy, Poetry, Shakespeare, Religion, Reference,
Travel & Leisure, Exploration (The Silk Road, The Spice Route, The
Northwest Passage, Antarctica, The North Pole, and more..)

Steverson Collection Book Club ( meets every Tuesday in the American Corner.
Do you like reading? Join the unique Steverson Collection Book Club. Meet new friends. Memberhip is free, the language English. win a valuable English language book every month. Date and time: 16:30-17:30, September 27, 2011. Venue: American Corner, Eötvös Károly County Library and Cultural Institute, Veszprém, Komakút tér 3.

Join The Steverson Collection Book Club and meet new friends from 16:30-17:30 every Tuesday at the American Corner. Do you like reading? Are you interested in English language books? Memberhip is free, the language of the program is English. Date: August 30, 2011. Venue: American Corner, Eötvös Károly County Library and Cultural Institute, Veszprém, Komakút tér 3.

(Részletek) Steverson gyűjtemény könyvklub (Steverson Collection Book Club)
Minden kedden 16:30-17:30-ig az Amerikai Kuckóban.

Szeretsz olvasni? Érdekelnek az angol nyelvű könyvek? Csatlakozz az
egyedülálló Steverson-gyűjtemény könyvklubjához, és ismerkedj meg új
könyvekkel és új barátokkal! A részvétel ingyenes, a program nyelve

Időpont: 2011. Augusztus 30. 16:30-17:30.
Helyszín: Amerikai Kuckó, Eötvös Károly Megyei

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wikipedia deleted page Re: London Steverson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

London Eugene Livingston Steverson (born March 13, 1947) was one of the first two African Americans to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1968. Later, as chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), he was charged with desegregating the Coast Guard Academy by recruiting minority candidates. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1988 and in 1990 was appointed to the bench as a Federal Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration.

1 Early life and education
2 USCG Assignments
3 USCG Minority Recruiting
4 Law
5 Awards
6 See also
7 References
8 External links

Early life and education

Steverson was born and raised in Millington, Tennessee, the oldest of three children of Jerome and Ruby Steverson. At the age of 5 he was enrolled in the E. A. Harrold elementary school in a segregated school system. He later attended the all black Woodstock High School in Memphis, Tennessee, graduating valedictorian.

A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948,[1] but the service academies were lagging in officer recruiting. President Kennedy specifically challenged the United States Coast Guard Academy to tender appointments to Black high school students. London Steverson was one of the Black student to be offered such an appointment, and when he accepted the opportunity to be part of the class of 1968, he became the second African American to enter the previously all-white military academy. On June 4, 1968 Steverson graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a BS degree in Engineering and a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.

In 1974, while still a member of the Coast Guard, Steverson entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University and graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.
USCG Assignments

Steverson's first duty assignment out of the Academy was in Antarctic research logistical support. In July 1968 he reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Glacier [2] (WAGB-4), an icebreaker operating under the control of the U.S. Navy, and served as a deck watch officer and head of the Marine Science Department. He traveled to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, supporting the research operations of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station. During the 1969 patrol the CGC Glacier responded to an international distress call from the Argentine icebreaker General SanMartin, which they freed.

He received another military assignment from 1970 to 1972 in Juneau, Alaska as a Search and Rescue Officer. Before being certified as an Operations Duty Officer, it was necessary to become thoroughly familiar with the geography and topography of the Alaskan remote sites. Along with his office mate, Ltjg Herbert Claiborne "Bertie" Pell, the son of Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, Steverson was sent on a familiarization tour of Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force bases. The bases visited were Base Kodiak, Base Adak Island, and Attu Island, in the Aleutian Islands.[3]

Steverson was the Duty Officer on September 4, 1971 when an emergency call was received that an Alaskan Airlines Boeing 727 airline passenger plane was overdue at Juneau airport. This was a Saturday and the weather was foggy with drizzling rain. Visibility was less than one-quarter mile. The 727 was en route to Seattle, Washington from Anchorage, Alaska with a scheduled stop in Juneau. There were 109 people on board and there were no survivors. Steverson received the initial alert message and began the coordination of the search and rescue effort. In a matter of hours the wreckage from the plane, with no survivors, was located on the side of a mountain about five miles from the airport. For several weeks the body parts were collected and reassembled in a staging area in the National Guard Armory only a few blocks from the Search and Rescue Center where Steverson first received the distress broadcast.[4]. Later a full investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause of the accident was equipment failure.[5]

Another noteworthy item is Steverson's involvement as an Operations Officer during the seizure of two Russian fishing vessels, the Kolevan and the Lamut for violating an international agreement prohibiting foreign vessels from fishing in United States territorial waters. The initial attempts at seizing the Russian vessels almost precipitated an international incident when the Russian vessels refused to proceed to a U. S. port, and instead sailed toward the Kamchatka Peninsula. Russian MIG fighter planes were scrambled, as well as American fighter planes from Elmendorf Air Force Base before the Russian vessels changed course and steamed back to Anchorage, where a U.S. Attorney was waiting to prosecute the vessels for the violations of fishing treaties.

Because of his icebreaker experience, Steverson was later made the Seventeenth District's first Ice Operations Officer. With the increased activity at Point Barrow and on the North Slope of Alaska brought on by the discovery of the vast oil reserves, more Coast Guard icebreakers were making patrols North of the Bering Sea, where icebreaking is necessary.

The Coast Guard did not have a separate Judge Advocate General's Corp (JAG). Coast Guard lawyers were called "legal specialists". These law specialists were line officers and could rotate out of the regular legal billets. Frequently these tours of duty out of specialty were in law related areas. Steverson served one such four year tour of duty as the Chief Marine Investigating Officer for the Marine Inspection Office in Battery Park, New York from 1982 to 1986. This job was similar to that of a city prosecutor. With a staff of ten investigating officers, he would investigate marine disasters for negligence and causes of action. Any marine personnel found to have violated a marine safety law would be charged and tried before a Coast Guard administrative law judge at the World Trade Center. In the case of a major marine disaster with multiple loss of life, a formal Board of Inquiry would be convened under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). These Inquiries often would result in promulgation of new marine safety regulations under Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). One such incident was the Case of The Joan LaRie III, a charter fishing vessel that sank of the coast of New Jersey on October 24, 1982. [6][7][8]
USCG Minority Recruiting
Lt. Steverson with the 20 new Black cadets in the Class of 1978, sworn in July 1974 on the steps of Chase Hall.

In July 1972 Steverson was reassigned from Alaska to Washington, D.C. to become the Chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the USCG, and was charged with working toward desegregating the nearly all-white USCG, starting with the United States Coast Guard Academy.

From 1876 until 1962 the Academy had not admitted any African-American cadets. One graduated in 1966, two graduated in 1968 (including Steverson) and one graduated in 1970. After that none were admitted until Steverson was placed in charge of the national recruiting effort. As the second minority cadet to enter and graduate from this institution, Steverson had obvious expertise in this endeavor.

He traveled the country looking for qualified minority high school students who could compete for admission. Since the Coast Guard Academy is the only one of the United States military academies that does not require a Congressional appointment, and admission is strictly on the basis of the Scholastic Aptitude Test with additional consideration of extra-curricular involvement, minority applicants stood a better chance of being admitted to the Coast Guard Academy than to Annapolis, West Point or the Air Force Academy.

His efforts were rewarded in 1973 when 28 Black cadets were sworn into the Class of 1977, and again in 1974 when 20 Black cadets were admitted as part of the Class of 1978. It was from these cadets that the Coast Guard's first African-American officers of flag rank were to come in the 1990s; officers such as Admiral Joseph Jones, Admiral Errol Brown and Admiral Manson K. Brown.

While Lieutenant Steverson was charged first and foremost with recruiting cadets for the Academy (because that is where the bulk of the career officers would come from), he was also requested to find minority college graduates who were willing receive direct commissions as lawyers and as aviators. These officers were already college graduates and had no need to attend the four year Academy, instead received a three month orientation at the Coast Guard Officer Training Center. He recruited several people from the Vanderbilt University Law School.

After serving two years in this position, he was replaced by the Academy's first graduate from Guam, Juan Tudela Salas.[9]

He next worked as a Law Specialist in the 12th Coast Guard District Office, San Francisco, California and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney for the collection of Civil Penalties under the Federal Boating Safety Act from 1979 to 1982. An Assistant District Legal Officer, he was required to defend as well as prosecute military members who had been charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Occasionally he was asked to represent other officers in administrative actions involving sexual harassment and discrimination. One such case was the Case of Christine D. Balboni against the Department of Transportation and the United States Coast Guard (DOT Case No. 82-177). Ensign Balboni was one of the first female graduates of the Coast Guard Academy. She graduated in the Class of 1981 and was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter RUSH, a high endurance law enforcement vessel stationed in Alameda, California. She filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment against three senior officers on board the RUSH. She alleged that false special fitness reports had been written concerning her and that the captain of the ship had requested her immediate transfer off the ship long before her normal rotation date. After no other lawyer would take her case, Commander Ronald Mathews, Chief of The 12th District Legal Office, assigned Lieutenant Commander Steverson to represent Ensign Balboni in a formal departmental administrative hearing before a federal administrative law judge. The charges made by Ensign Balboni were determined to be valid. The relief granted was to have the false special fitness reports removed from her service record and destroyed. She was promoted to the next higher rank. Her career was saved. No disciplinary action was taken against the offending officers.[10][11]

He became the Chief of the Investigating Division at the Marine Inspection Office New York City. In 1986 he was detailed to the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System under the Office of Vice President at the time, George H. W. Bush.

When he retired in June 1988 he became the first African-American Coast Guard Academy graduate to retire as a regular line office from the service, and held the rank of Lieutenant-Commander during his last 10 years of service.

He retired to Dumont, New Jersey and practiced law in New York, with a focus on family law and defending Coast Guardsmen accused of federal crimes. He is a member of the New York State, New York City, and Tennessee Bar Associations.

In July 1990 he was appointed a federal administrative law judge by President George W. Bush. He was assigned to the Ninth Region of the Social Security Office of Hearings and Appeals in California. [12]

In April 2009 he retired from his United States Administrative Law Judge Appointment. He devoted himself to philanthropic endeavors. The Steverson Collection at and the Steverson Collection Book Club were his major attempts to improve literacy and to spread American culture in the non-English speaking countries of Europe.

The Cultural Diplomacy Award was given to Judge Steverson in April 2009 by the United States Ambassador to Hungary for helping create "a foundation of trust" with the people, which can be built on to reach political, economic, and military agreements; and that combats the notion that Americans are shallow, violent, and godless. He helped to affirm that Americans have such values as family, faith, and the desire for education in common with others; he helped to create a relationship with the people, which will endure beyond changes in government; he helped to reach influential members of the society, who could not be reached through traditional diplomatic functions; and, he donated a large collection of new, used, and rare English books to the American Corners of Hungary.

The State Department Cultural Diplomacy Award is designed to honor distinguished representatives of American culture whose efforts and artistry advance America's goals of mutual understanding and the deepening of friendship between the United States and others.

Since his appointment by President George H. W. Bush in 1990 as federal administrative judge to the Ninth Region of the Social Security Office of Hearings and Appeals, Judge Steverson and family have resided in Downey City, CA, where he was president of the Downey Sister City Association for seven years, and an International Peace Ambassador.
See also

Black Cadets at the Coast Guard Academy


^ Truman Library - Executive Order 9981
^ Attu Homepage
^ DCA72AZ003
^ Aviation Disasters Crashes
^ Missing Body Is Found In Jersey Boat Sinking - New York Times
^ Info about Juan Tudela Salas
^ Transitions - The Mason Spirit - George Mason University
^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)

External links

Integration of the Armed Forces 1940-1965, chapter 20 Limited Response to Discrimination - includes info about President John F. Kennedy's personal involvement with the first attempts to desegregate the USCG Academy, which was a direct cause of London Steverson's admission into the Academy.
USCG history page - See of this page starting with caption for picture of the Lamut (about 2/3 the way down the page).
Photo of the judge in robes on the bench

Categories: 1947 births | George Washington University alumni | Living people | United States Coast Guard Academy alumni

Related links
Up to date as of November 16, 2009
[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Photo of the judge in robes on the bench

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Integration of the Armed Forces 1940-1965, chapter 20 - CHAPTER 20: Limited Response to Discrimination

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Truman Library - Executive Order 9981

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Info about Juan Tudela Salas - Salas -

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Attu Homepage

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] DCA72AZ003

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Aviation Disaters Crashes

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Homeport: Investigations

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] MISSING BODY IS FOUND IN JERSEY BOAT SINKING - New York Times

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Transitions - The Mason Spirit -- George Mason University

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Comcast

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 100% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] Cite/Cite.php - Meta

[This page is marked authoritative because it has been included for 75% of the life of the Wikipedia article.] link title - Example Web Page

Related topics
Up to date as of August 19, 2010

United States Coast Guard
United States Naval Academy
United States Military Academy
United States Navy
Black Cadets at the Coast Guard Academy
United States Air Force Academy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

High Paid Social Security Judges Cost Taxpayers $2 Billion A Year

Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue said judges (Administrative Law Judges, ALJs) in his agency who award disability benefits more than 85% of the time cost taxpayers roughly $1 billion a year. (See )That is not true. If he is referring to Social Security Disability Insured (SSDI) Benefits, the claimants have paid into a fund that insures them against disability. Those benefits do not come from the General Fund. They are not taxpayers' money. Also, ALJs do not award $1 Billion a year in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI is welfare and does come from taxpayer's funds.

Conversely, ALJs who do not pay legitimate benefits to claimants who qualify for benefits are not saving the taxpayers any money. Commissioner Astrue also said judges who deny benefits in 80% or more of their cases end up saving taxpayers $200 million each year. That is not true either.

Though he said that he wasn't suggesting that was a practice he condoned, he is trying to have his cake and eat it too.

Commissioner Astrue's testimony has not changed much, if at all, since he appeared before Congress in May 2007 and April 2008. (His statements and testimony are recorded in detail in my book, socialNsecurity, beginning at page 443. Available at He is still blaming the judges, asking for more money, more judges, and more time to reduce the backlog. Since 2007 the number of judges has gone from 1200 to 1500 and the backlog continues to grow. And Mr. Astrue continues to make excuses.

Mr. Astrue wants to have it both ways. "I find it interesting that there is so much wringing of the hands about a judge who pays almost 100% of his cases, as if the agency didn't know about it, as if the agency wasn't complicit in it, as if the agency didn't encourage it," said Marilyn Zahm, a Social Security judge in Buffalo who is an executive vice president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ), the judges' union.
Judge Zahm had a lot more to say in an interview in October 2009. (Read the entire interview starting at page 430 in my book, socialNsecurity, available at or

It is a bit surprising that Judge Zahm would be so out-spoken, considering the minimum amount of work she does and the astranomical amount of money she is paid. According to Social Security records Judge Zahm issued only 26 decisions for the 9 months between September 2010 and June 2011. At a salary of $167,000.00 per year, she earned $6,423.00 per decision. An average hearing lasts about 30 minutes; so, her hourly wage for that period was about $12,846.00. That is a nice salary for so little work.

However, Judge Zahm is only the Vice President of the AALJ. Perhaps, the President, Judge Randy Frye, sets a better example. According to Social Security records Judge Frye issued only 37 decisions for the 9 months between September 2010 and June 2011. At a salary of $167,000.00 per year, he earned $4,513.50 per decision. An average hearing lasts about 30 minutes; so, his hourly wage for that period was about $9,027.00. That is also a nice salary for so little work.

Judges Zahm and Frye are not unique. During the same period Judge Mark Anderson issued only 3 decisions; Judge JoAnn Andersen issued only 5 decisions; Judge William King held only 4 hearings and issued 1 decision. He was busy traveling between California and Hawaii to conduct the hearings.

These statistics came from an SSA report which contains raw data from SSA's Case Processing and Management System without regard to the amount of time Administrative Law Judges devote to actual adjudication. In other words, factors which would affect the number of dispositions (e.g., management and administrative responsibilities, special assignments, part-time status, union representational duties, retirements, deaths or extended leave, etc.) have not been taken into account.

Here is what Commissioner Astrue is failing to say. The 1500 SSA ALJs earn approximately $167,000 a year each. The salaries of those ALJs is $2 billion 505 million a year. That figure does not include the about $3 billion a year which pays the salaries of the ALJs support staff and Commissioner Astrue's salary and that of his support staff. Also 20% of the ALJs do not hold any hearings.

Some ALJs decide 200 cases per month without holding hearings. They award benefits in 100% of their cases, trying to "pay down the backlog" like the judge in Huntington, W.Va., who awarded benefits in every case he saw in the first six months of fiscal 2011.

A GS-9 lawyer could perform the same function at a fraction of the cost. A GS-9 lawyer earns about $40,000 a year. The cost to the taxpayer of 1500 such lawyers would be only $60 million a year. That is much less than the $2 and a half billion in salaries to 1500 ALJs. That is where the cuts should begin, not with benefits to claimants.

Just 4 years ago in the middle of the economic downturn there were 1200 ALJs. Today there are upwards to 1500 according to Commissioner Astrue. The backlog of cases waiting to be heard has not decreased, despite pressure from Mr. Astrue to force the ALJs to "pay down the backlog". Yet, Mr. Astrue keeps hiring more judges at $167 thousand a year. It appears that Commissioner Astrue is trying to lower the unemployment rate by hiring more judges while President Obama is having difficulty creating jobs for mainstream America.

Commissioner Astrue can be vague in his testimony before Congress. We can be specific as to who the ALJs are and how many cases they decide each month and their reversal rates. See

A court-by-court analysis of close to two million Social Security Administration (SSA) claims has documented extensive and hard-to-explain disparities in the way the administrative law judges (ALJs) within the agency's separate hearing offices decide whether individuals will be granted or denied disability benefits.

The organization analyzed about 2 million claims heard between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2011, the report says.

"Even within the individual offices there is not a clear consensus among the judges about which claims should be awarded versus which should be denied," the report says.

( It is no secret that approval and denial rates vary from one administrative law judge to another in the Social Security Administration (SSA). Not too long ago there was commotion involving an administrative law judge who had a recent approval rate of nearly 100 percent. There are, however, situations in which an administrative law judge leans towards the other end of the spectrum with extremely high denial rates, as is the case with one administrative law judge hearing Social Security Disability cases in Richmond, Virginia. Drew A. Swank, an administrative law judge who works for the SSA and hears claims in Richmond, Virginia, heard more than 1,100 disability cases last year alone. According to recent reports, the ALJ denied nearly 80 percent of the cases he heard. That does not, however, mean that he awarded benefits in 20 percent of the cases heard. In fact, in all 1,100+ cases that Drew A. Swank heard, only 6 percent of them received a fully favorable decision for the disability applicant. According to individuals who have had to encounter hearings with Administrative Law Judge Swank, the ALJ is anything but fair. Some have reported that he refuses to allow vocational experts to testify in support of the disability applicants while others say he ignores the rules of the SSA hearing guidelines entirely. Apparently Judge Swank is “distrustful” of disability applicants, hence his high denial rating, and seems to think he is above the laws of the SSA. The question is, why has there been no investigation into Swank’s approval ratios when the SSA is quick to investigate any ALJ who seems to have approval ratios that are too high? The SSA must realize that judges who lean too far on either side of the disability hearing fence are a detriment to the SSA and must be dealt with equally. Just because denials do not result in the payment of unnecessary disability benefits does not make it okay to deny benefits to applicants who rightfully deserve them. If the SSA is to treat all applicants fairly and ensure that all administrative law judges adhere to the SSA’s rules and guidelines, then the SSA should be just as quick to investigate why Judge Swank is denying so many disability claims as they would be if he were to be deciding an unusually high number of cases in favor of disability applicants. It is situations such as these that lead many people to believe that the Social Security system is biased against applicants and that the agency makes it harder for applicants who rightfully deserve disability benefits to get the benefits they are entitled to. In order to send a different message, ALJs such as Judge Swank should be dealt with appropriately, just as the judges who award “too many” benefits are.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Social Security Judges Under Fire

Social Security Judges are under fire from Congress which recently discovered how much they are paying out in benefits. In a recent series of articles in the Wall Street Journal and other media, judges are being focused on for approving every disability case that comes before them. (;;;;; ). Some in Congress are wondering why we need to pay a judge $167,000.00 a year to rubber-stamp every case that comes before him. A lawyer at the GS-9 level making $40,000.00 a year or less could do the same and save millions of dollars a year. The Law of Averages says that even a trained chimpanzee would be right about half the time, and he would work for peanuts.
Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits will often appeal to one of 1,500 administrative law judges (ALJ) who help administer the program. In the first half of 2011, 27 ALJs awarded social security benefits 95% of the time because of pressure from Commissioner M. Astrue. Nationwide over 100 ALJs are approving 9 out of every 10 cases that come before them. The cases they fail to approve are likely to be approved by the Appeals Council, which works for the Commissioner. Senate and House Committees are investigating the issue. Approving all cases without even reviewing the file is called “paying down the backlog”. Judges are under pressure to move cases quickly in order to clear a backlog of 730,000 pending cases. The pressure comes directly from the Commissioner of Social Security. This is one of the things that I discuss in detail in the book “socialNsecurity”, available at; and I put it in proper perspective. Having spent about 20 years observing the competing forces that produce a judge who reverses 100% of his cases, while another reverses less than 10%, I have a better handle on this issue than a reporter who writes a sensational article. Much of my insight and explanation of the competing forces is spelled out in my book “socialNsecurity, Confessions of a Social Security Judge”. Anyone looking for more historical and recent statistics on this subject along with an explanation of how the system works can find easy readable information in my book.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An American Tragedy, The Webster Smith Case Is An American Tragedy.

Why Was Webster Smith court-martialed?

The Webster Smith Story is an American tragedy. It is not just the story of a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet; it is the story of an American family. It is the story of his mother, Belinda; and his father, Cleon; his wife, Lindsey and their daughter; and of his sister and brothers. It is the story of the friends of Webster Smith. They have all been harmed by the violence directed at their son, brother, husband, father and friend.

At the Coast Guard Academy, Webster Smith was a member of the Eclipse, Track Team, Football team, Regimental Staff, and a Swab summer Staff. He represented the Coast Guard in Washington DC concerning fitness and nutrition programs. He received numerous silver stars and never received a demerit prior the incident and investigation in 2005 that led to his court-martial.

To his classmates, teachers, and coaches Webster Smith appeared to be a magnetic, charming and gifted man, who had risen above his circumstances. Yet, in a moment, as if in the twinkling of an eye, a swift series of events diminished his popularity, vilified his name, and assailed his honor. His image was converted by senior Coast Guard officers from a popular athlete and nice guy to that of a sexual predator and public enemy number one at the Coast Guard Academy.

Webster Smith had dared to dream some big dreams. Like Alex Haley he had dared to believe that he could rise in the USCG to the highest level to which his talents and initiative could take him.

His parents were middle class African Americans. His father, Cleon Smith, was a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy in the Class of 1978 along with Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown.

His mother, Belinda Ingram Smith, believed in God and a good education. After attending college at WSSU for four years she went on to become the first Black female Crime Scene Investigator in the history of the Winston-Salem police Department.

This unbelievable turn about in what had been a Black success story is a singularly American tragedy.

That a cadet so deeply respected and loved by his coaches and classmates could evoke such an outpouring of hate and anger from the senior officers at the Coast Guard Academy is a Coast Guard tragedy and an American tragedy.

All of the female cadets involved with and associated with Webster Smith escaped clean without any consequences for their actions or their behavior. Mother Nature was the only one who exacted a penalty. Natural Law resulted in a pregnancy for his girlfriend. An abortion followed.

If women are equal, they should be treated as equal. Not a single woman was disciplined under the UCMJ or the cadet regulations. All of the female cadets involved in the Webster Smith case graduated and were commissioned as Coast Guard officers. Their testimony at the court-martial painted a picture of female cadets who were untrustworthy, arrogant, and certainly not ladies. Their conduct was unbecoming an officer and a lady. (Read more at

These women were witnesses at a public trial yet they were accorded the equivalent of rape shield protection. This was not a rape case. Not one of the women had been raped. There was testimony of consensual sex acts. Some of the consensual sex acts were unlawful because, among other things, they occurred in Chase Hall, or at Academy functions. How could unlawful consensual sex acts result in charges against only one of the participants? It takes two to tango.

Is it wrong for Black people to ask if there is a double standard? Would that amount to paranoia on the part of Black people? Or would that be considered playing the race card simply to inquire? Is it absurd to believe that anything more than pure chance resulted in the court-martial of Webster Smith? The fact that he was court-martialed speaks to a social reality that African-Americans are acutely aware of in America. Race is not a card to be dealt, but it determines whom the dealer is and who gets dealt a losing hand.

According to a 2008 General Accounting Office Report, from 2003 to 2006 there were NO sexual-harassment complaints at the Coast Guard Academy, but there were 12 incidents of sexual assault reported to the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), with one incident in 2003, one in 2004, “NONE” in 2005 and 10 in 2006. It is hard to conceive of the facts relied upon by, Captain Douglas Wisniewski, the Commandant Of Cadets when he asserted in 2005 that there was a climate of fear of sexual assault in Chase Hall.

The 10 incidents reported in 2006 would appear to have occurred after the Webster Smith court-martial. Webster Smith was removed from Chase Hall in 2005. Who was doing all of the sexual assaulting in 2006? Why were none of these people brought to justice? They could have been tried along with Webster Smith.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Webster Smith. The justices declined to hear the case without comment. The decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) became the final decision in the case.

Thirteen female cadets and 11 males at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CGA) reported anonymously in an April 2008 survey that they experienced “unwanted sexual contact,” ranging from touching to forced sexual acts, during the 2007-08 school year.

More than three-quarters said that alcohol or drugs were involved and that the offender was a fellow cadet.
None of the women sought professional help and only 7 percent discussed the incident with authorities.

When Alexander Hamilton organized the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790 it was established in the Department of the Treasury. Later it became known as the Coast Guard. In 1966 it was placed in the Department of Transportation. Today it is the nucleus of the Department of Homeland Security. Webster Smith's case is currently being reviewed for clemency by the Secretary of the Department of Home Land Security, Janet Napolitano.

Webster Smith would have made an excellent military officer. It is Webster Smith and people like him that I want on the wall as our last line of defense for our American way of life protecting us from the great unwashed horde that is coming. Secretary Napolitano who do you want on that wall?
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CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and a Lady: A Case That Will Live In Infamy. The Conviction of Webster Smith.CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and a Lady: A Case That Will Live In Infamy. The Conviction of Webster Smith. by Judge London Steverson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Webster Smith Story is an American tragedy. It is not just the story of a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet; it is the story of an American family. To his classmates, teachers, and coaches at the Coast Guard Academy Webster Smith appeared to be a magnetic, charming and gifted man, who had risen above his circumstances. Yet, in a moment, as if in the twinkling of an eye, a swift series of events diminished his popularity, vilified his name, and assailed his honor. His image was converted by senior Coast Guard officers from a popular athlete and nice guy to that of a sexual predator and public enemy number one at the Coast Guard Academy.The Webster Smith case was a litmus test for justice in America. Every once in a while a case comes along that puts our humanity as a people on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial. I am ashamed of our justice system. This was a tragedy and a travesty.

I wanted to know why Webster Smith was court-martialed? Now I know. This book is the full story.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Social Security Changes In 2011.

The Social Security program will be tweaked in several important ways in 2011. Workers will get a temporary tax break on the amount they pay into the entitlement program, and several claiming options for retirees will be eliminated. Here's a look at how the Social Security program will change this year.
Lower Social Security taxes. The amount workers pay into the Social Security trust fund will temporarily drop from 6.2 percent of taxable wages up to $106,800 annually to 4.2 percent in 2011 only. For self-employed workers, the Social Security tax rate will drop from 12.4 percent to 10.4 percent next year, due to provisions of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, signed by President Obama on December 17. Employers will continue to pay 6.2 percent of wages into the entitlement program.
The Social Security system's finances are not expected to be harmed because the trust fund will be reimbursed for the full amount of the tax break from the general fund of the Treasury. However, this change also means that the Social Security trust fund will no longer be completely funded directly by citizen contributions. "This pretty much ends the claim that Social Security is self-financing or that it doesn't contribute to the budget deficit," says Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.
Free loan option eliminated. Retirees will no longer be able to get an interest-free loan from the Social Security trust fund this year. The Social Security Administration announced in December 2010 that individuals will not be able to begin payments at age 62, pay back all the benefits received at age 70 without interest, and then reclaim at a higher rate due to delayed claiming. Under the new rules, Social Security beneficiaries may withdraw an application for retirement benefits only within 12 months of their first Social Security payment and are limited to one withdrawal per lifetime. "This free loan costs the Social Security trust fund the use of money during the period the beneficiary is receiving benefits with the intent of later withdrawing the application and the interest earned on these funds," says the Social Security Administration in a statement about the rule change. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College calculated that mass utilization of this claiming strategy could cost the system between $5.5 billion and $11 billion, primarily going to high-income households with enough liquid assets to pay back the benefits.
Retroactive benefit suspensions discontinued. Retirees will still be allowed to temporarily suspend their benefits and restart them later, which can result in bigger Social Security checks to account for the months or years in which payment was not received. However, beneficiaries will not be able to retroactively suspend benefits and pay back money already received in exchange for higher payments going forward. Retirees will be allowed to voluntarily suspend benefits only for months in which they did not receive payments or future benefits beginning the month after the request is made.
Paper checks retired. Retirees who apply for Social Security benefits on or after May 1, 2011, will no longer have the option of receiving a paper check in the mail. Seniors can have their entitlement payments directly deposited into a bank or credit union account or loaded onto a prepaid Direct Express Debit MasterCard. "This important change will provide significant savings to American taxpayers who will no longer incur the annual $120 million price tag associated with paper checks and will save Social Security $1 billion over the next 10 years," says Richard Gregg, Treasury Fiscal Assistant Secretary. Retirees already receiving paper checks will need to switch to direct deposit or the prepaid debit card by March 1, 2013.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Judge John Roll Shot And Killed At Safeway In Tuscon, Arizona.

Chief Judge John M. Roll of the U.S. District Court of Arizona was shot and killed on January 8, 2011 in front of a Tucson, Arizona Safeway grocery store. He was 63.

The judge lived just a few blocks away from the supermarket. He had gone to mass and decided to stop at the store on his way home, according to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

The shooter has been identified as Jared Loughner, 22. He is in custody.

The gun used in the shooting was purchased legally at a Sportman's Warehouse.

FBI Director Robert Mueller is in Arizona to help coordinate the investigation, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced. “We will hold accountable anyone responsible for these heinous acts,” he said.

President Obama praised the judge for having "served America’s legal system for almost 40 years." Authorities do not yet know "what provoked this unspeakable act," the President said in remarks this afternoon.

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts said in a written statement that "Judge Roll’s death is a somber reminder of the importance of the rule of law and the sacrifices of those who work to secure it."

Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch remembered Judge Roll as "a kind man, a wise and fair jurist, and a friend to many within the legal community".

ABA President Stephen N. Zack called the shootings "a direct attack on our American way of life and the rule of law" and said Judge Roll was "a respected and admired jurist."

"This shocking and frightening event emphasizes the importance of protecting and respecting our civic life, and all those who participate in it," Zack said.

Judge Roll was nominated to the bench in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. He had served as chief judge since 2006.

Judge Roll received his J.D. from University of Arizona College of Law in 1972 and a LL.M. from University of Virginia School of Law in 1990. He had served as a prosecutor for Tucson, Pima County and the U.S. Department of Justice in Arizona. He was a judge on Arizona’s Court of Appeals from 1987 to 1991, including serving as its presiding judge from 1988 to 1991.

Roll himself had been the subject of death threats in 2009, when he presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher.

When Roll ruled the case could go forward, he received more than 200 calls from members of the public in a single afternoon, U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales said.

Roll and his wife were given protection for about a month. "It was unnerving and invasive...By its nature it has to be," Roll said at the time.

Law enforcement officials identified four individuals responsible for the threats, but recommended the judge not seek prosecution. The judge took the Marshals advice.

"I have a very strong belief that there is nothing wrong with criticizing a judicial decision," Roll said. "But when it comes to threats, that is an entirely different matter."

According to federal courts spokesman David Sellers, the last federal judge to have been assassinated while in office was U.S. District Judge Robert Smith Vance, who was killed on December 16, 1989 by a mail bomb at his home in Alabama. Last year, Judge Roll’s colleague Judge Susan Bolton was threatened both before and after she issued a ruling on Arizona's controversial new immigration measure. The threats prompted U.S. Marshals to increase security at federal courthouses in the state, reports Politics Daily columnist Andrew Cohen.

Previous coverage: reported in May 2009 that "Security Worries Spur Some Judges to Pack Heat, Use 24-Hour Guards"

John M. Roll, the chief federal judge in Arizona, was fatally wounded in the attack that killed five others and wounded at least 18 people.

“We’re all in kind of a state of shock here,” said Richard H. Weare, the clerk of the Federal District Court for Arizona, after hearing from the Federal Marshals Service, which confirmed the death.
President Obama praised Judge Roll as a jurist “who has served America’s legal system for almost 40 years.”

Judge Roll was appointed by the first President George Bush in 1991 and has been chief judge since 2006. His district is part of the sprawling Ninth Circuit, which covers federal courts throughout the West. He served as a state judge and as an assistant United States attorney for Arizona before he was appointed to the federal bench.

The chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Alex Kozinski, described Judge Roll as a tireless advocate for his district: “Of all the chief judges of the circuit, I must say he was always the hardest working — always looking out for his district. He’ll be a great loss to his family, but he’ll also be a great loss to the federal judiciary.”

He said Judge Roll was a good friend who sought increased federal resources for his district, which had seen a surge in felony cases related to drugs and crime along the border with Mexico.

Judge Roll was no stranger to the risks of public service. He and his wife were provided protection by the Federal Marshals Service in 2009 in connection with a case in which a group of Mexicans sued an Arizona rancher for $32 million. They accused the rancher of civil right abuses for stopping people at gunpoint as they crossed his land and then turning them over to the Border Patrol.

After Judge Roll ruled that the case could go forward, he received death threats. Judge Roll told The Arizona Republic that the situation was “unnerving and invasive.”

When several of those making the threats were identified, he declined to press charges at the recommendation of the Marshals Service.

“I have a very strong belief that there is nothing wrong with criticizing a judicial decision,” he said. “But when it comes to threats, that is an entirely different matter.”

John McCarthy Roll was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from the University of Arizona in 1969 and the university’s law school in 1972. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, three sons and five grandchildren.

Killings of federal judges are rare. The last to be murdered in office was Judge Robert Vance, who was killed by a mail bomb at his home in Mountain Brook, Ala., in 1989.

On Dec. 21, Judge Roll sent an e-mail to Judge Kozinski with an attached letter from Ms. Giffords and another member of Congress from Arizona, Ed Pastor, a Democrat. The two members of Congress encouraged the Ninth Circuit to “declare a judicial emergency” to help cope with the increased workload by extending deadlines under the speedy trial act. In the e-mail, Judge Roll wrote that the Congressional letter was “unsolicited but very much appreciated.”

Judge Kozinski speculated — “just a guess,” he said — that Judge Roll might have gone to the event on Saturday to thank Ms. Giffords for the letter. “And he gets killed for it.”

Judge Kozinski added, “If it can happen to him, it can happen to any of us.”

In a statement, John G. Roberts Jr., the chief justice of the United States, said: ”We in the judiciary have suffered the terrible loss of one of our own. Judge John Roll was a wise jurist who selflessly served Arizona and the nation with great distinction.”

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who lives in Arizona, said she was devastated by the news. “It is a horrible event, and heartbreaking,” she said. “The judge was just wonderful.”

“It sounds like something that might happen in some place like Afghanistan,” she said. “It shouldn’t happen in Tucson, Ariz., or anyplace else in the United States.”