When a Nation Is Elated……(With Alan Shepard, Jr.)

After feeling humiliated by the Soviet Union in the early months of rocket research and orbiting the earth America needed a boost to the national ‘can do’ spirit.  They found it with Alan Shepard, Jr. who blasted into space on a Redstone rocket.

The entire nation was glued to broadcasts of the event.

So much so that an Indianapolis judge declared a recess so everyone in the courthouse could watch a television set—-which the police had seized as part of a burglar’s booty.

Just a fun snippet from The Glory And The Dream by William Manchester.

Technology And Congress

This is just too wonderful not to share.  Prepare for a smile.

It is February 29, 1956 and after some doubts about the health of President Eisenhower and his ability to seek a second term the decision has been made to run again.    The radio networks ran the bulletin at 10:52 A.M.    This was the same time the House Armed Services Committee was holding a hearing and a witness was listing some statistics that were as sexy as only stats can be.

Chairman Ed Hebert of Louisiana all of a sudden beat his gavel and announced the news to the room of reporters and other members of the committee.  After the clamor of the news had quieted a member of the committee asked how Herbert had known.    After all no phones had rung and no notes had passed, and no had entered the room.

It was then that Herbert admitted that rather than listen to the witness he had been tuned to one of the new transistor radios that had been tucked into his pocket of his coat and the earpiece looked like a hearing aid–hey why not?



My Letter To The Editor Regarding Free Trade

Last week Professor Emeritus of Economics Terry Liska from UW-Platteville wrote a most compelling Letter to the Editor about the need for the Trans Pacific Partnership.  I followed up this week with additional comments with my letter to The Waushara Argus.

I heartily applaud the views of Professor Terry Liska’s Letter to the Editor (Sept 7th) regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership. As a strong proponent of free trade, I have been dismayed with the tone and lack of facts from the major presidential candidates on this issue. What we need at this time are leaders who also know they must be educators.

The anti-trade rhetoric was so loud from various campaigns during the primaries that facts were supplanted with emotional populism run amok. I would like to see candidates who wish to show leadership qualities make the election as much an education on the issues as hunting for votes.

The fast track authority granted by Congress, along with the supportive voices for the TPP from members on both sides of the aisle heartens me, given the usual rancor and dysfunction in Congress. I know trade is a common area where the nation can find a way forward. 

The United States’ biggest and fastest-growing commercial partners are in Asia, accounting for $1.5 trillion worth of trade in goods in 2012 and $242 billion worth of services in 2011. They’re responsible for 40% of the world’s GDP and 26% of the world’s trade. It is only logical to seek a common bridge and create stronger market power for our goods while also creating more jobs. The facts show other trade deals over the years have created those same positive results.

But it takes political leaders to step up as educators on the topic of trade and turn back the many falsehoods. I love reading history and enjoy telling the following about such needed leadership.

In 1947 Congressman Richard Nixon took a poll of his district and found that 75% of his constituents were opposed to the Marshall Plan.  But that did not deter Nixon from voting his conscience on the bill.   He then worked over-time to educate and convince those who were opposed.  In fact, he spent almost a month in California selling the Marshall Plan.  In the face of just plain wrong information that voters thought to be true Nixon repeated over and over the need for the plan.  Many have argued that this was Nixon’s finest hour in politics as he soared over partisanship and dealt with a needed national policy. He also turned his constituents around on the matter. History of course proves the policy was a most correct one for all the nations involved.

As an internationalist, I do see hope on the horizon with trade in the long term based on the events of the past months. Populists were openly challenging some Democratic members of Congress with primaries for supporting trade-promotion authority. But it turns out that all 28 who cast such a vote won their primary.

I am now hoping that the reasoned and experienced mind of Hillary Clinton will turn away from her retreat toward protectionism and again be a free trade advocate. This country—indeed the world—needs her to be a free trader.

Chelsea Manning, A Relative, To Have Gender Reassignment Surgery In April

My second cousin, Chelsea Manning, a transgender soldier imprisoned for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, has ended her hunger strike after the U.S. Army agreed to allow her to get medical treatment for her gender dysphoria.  She began the hunger strike last week to protest her treatment at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., vowing to persist until she was treated better.

I will be the first to say I am not able to know how it must feel to be in a body that does not represent who I am.  I can read about it, and talk with others but at the end of the day all I can offer is empathy.   That is what I offer to Chelsea.

The medical treatment will begin with the surgery that was recommended by her psychologist in April 2017.  This is a most important decision as no transgender individual has received gender-affirming surgical treatment in prison despite medical recommendations for such care in prisons across the country.

As I write this post Army officials have not commented.

Manning however has released a statement which reads  “I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted — for them to let me be me. But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long. Also, why were such drastic measures needed?”

It has been a long and tortured road for Manning and so I am hoping for some peace to land her way soon.