Mensches and the American Way

Often I write about how we are pieces of a movement that enriches the world.  It’s the ‘Merican way.  If you do your genealogy, you know that.  Many Americans have enriched the world through medical research, industrial research and computer research among other ways.  What do I mean?

Well, ours is the country large enough and free enough to conduct a medical business that has money left over, a surplus, with which to invent new medicines and machines that will help people get well.  Other countries have medical systems that are dominated by government.  Their government has taken away all incentives to produce new medicines and machines.  They rely on the United States.  When the US becomes like them, its incentives will evaporate.

My own background is in industry.  I cannot tell you because I do not remember how many of my inventions and methods were used to manufacture devices in a less costly manner so that poor people could afford them.  Most of these devices were useful in removing dirt and germs, so people lived better.   And they had jobs they could depend on.

Of course, the computer industry revitalized our economy in the 1980’s.  Not only did we get a useful product, the computer, but also we got a lot of jobs for people.  Wealth was created.  We were free enough to evolve an entirely new industry the rest of the world did not have.  So we all have benefited .

Who was the guy that invented the computer hard drive?  I don’t know.  But I know he was a piece of the pattern that produced fast, long-lasting computer machines.  And that is about all we can hope for—to be a piece of the pattern.  Just as our forefathers and mothers were part of the pattern, adding a nip here and a tuck there in the human quilt, voting for the kind of place they wanted their children to grow up in.

Yesterday, I got word that my brother-in-law died.  He had been a professor of some arcane subject in the mechanical engineering school of a large state university.  Using his knowledge he developed tomorrow’s inventors.   He also came up with some pretty good ideas, himself.  But he had another attribute.  He was a mensch.

Ordinarily, I do not like to use foreign words when I write.  I love the English language (which is about 59% Latin).  But we don’t have the word for everything.  A mensch, if you don’t know, is Yiddish for

“Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.”

(I found this definition on an interesting blog:   http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/02/how_to_be_a_men.html#ixzz0nNsQo1TS)

It was wonderful to have such a man in the family:  quiet, unassuming and brilliant.  He wasn’t a mensch because he was a professor.  He was a mensch because of  his life pattern of conduct.  The fact that he was interested in genealogy, the fact that he was a very good pianist and the fact that he was a fine Christian person had nothing to do with his mensch-ness.  That was because he chose to live a certain way and he stuck with it.

His name was David Shippy, PhD.  He was called professor but his real occupation was to contribute to society and his country in a positive way for as long as he could.   In that occupation he was successful.  His two children are contributors as well.  An attitude like Dave’s is contagious.  We’ll probably never know how large his contribution was, but you can bet it was big and red and fit extremely well in the fabric of  our social well-being.  And it will last for a long time.  But you have to stand back to see it.  The whole thing has been growing for over two hundred and thirty years.

Khrushchev Lied and an American Spied

As I was writing yesterday’s post to this blog, I wondered who would be upset when my book, The Insider comes out. This is the actual story of NASA’s man who spent nine years flying into and out of the USSR during the Space Race and the Cold War. He was a space medicine scientist who was successful at keeping Soviet cosmonauts alive. He was a physician, a scientist, an inventor, and a serious man. That is why I believed my friend Tad when he told me about his adventures.

Seriousness aside, I checked his story. He had told me that on his return trips he had to be debriefed by two US Intel agencies. I found that he was attached to the NSA and the CIA for those nine years, according to their own records. The Department of State had absolutely no information on Tad except for one small document it had forgotten to purge. NASA had piles of information on Tad about his medical work in micro-gravity conditions, but it had no information about his travels to the USSR.

Tad had been a guest of the USSR at the invitation of Premier Krushchev. I wrote to authors of various books and articles about the Space Race and about “inside” information on the NSA and CIA, and I also wrote to one descendant of Premier Krushchev who knew a great deal about the USSR in those days. To date no one has told me that I am nuts. Most have said, “I didn’t know. Give me more details.” A copy of a letter from the NSA usually convinced them.

So now, as I finish my book on Tad, I wonder about the people I am going to offend. At least two countries are involved, of course: the US and Russia. Let’s look at Russia first.

Apparently, the Russian people know almost nothing about any assistance from the West. It appears from what I have read that the Russian people do not know about America’s Lend Lease program of the early 1940’s. In that program America supplied the Russians with aircraft, guns, ammunition, food and other supplies with which to fight the Germans. The Russian people do not know they were assisted in “The Great Patriotic War,” even sixty or more years afterward. The Russian people were not told the name of their space program manager until about 1985, when he died. His face was never shown on any Soviet TV, his name was never mentioned. Certainly, the Russian people do not know they were assisted in their space program by their chief competitor, the United States. Once the Russian people find out we helped them, they might be angry at their own leaders.

What about America’s allies? They might be offended when they find out we helped the USSR and didn’t tell them. More than that—we lied to our allies about what we knew. I doubt that we have come clean because no one seems to know about Tad. Of course authors of books and magazines and news articles in other countries will feel duped.

And in America, itself, there may be problems. President John F. Kennedy began this program a few months before he was killed. President Johnson and President Nixon continued the program and did not tell Congress. Those presidents lied to the US press and to the Congress in order to keep funds flowing for the space program. It may not have been a space race after all. Congress consists of the biggest bunch of blabbermouths in the US. If Congress people had known about Tad the world would have known about Tad, right after the Congress people were sworn to secrecy. There is no reason to think that NASA ever knew that Tad, formerly one of their own, had been in the USSR.

Several, if not all US Intel agencies knew about Tad. People in those agencies are all retired now and many have died. Newer members of the agencies don’t care about something that happened forty years ago. They have enough trouble with today’s problems.

Well, US Intel agencies might care to this extent: Tad’s trips to the USSR during the Cold War era were an intelligence coup. When my story is printed and people realize what the Intel people have done while claiming they didn’t even know where the Soviet secret launch was, they should have more confidence in these shadowy agencies.

Of course, there are American authors and former Soviet people in this country who write articles and books—they are sure to be embarrassed when the truth comes out. They have already commented on President Kennedy’s offer to share information on space medicine and have said that the offer was refused. Too bad for them.

But the people who really care the most about this story probably are those who make up the US president’s office. I suspect (but do not know) that President Kennedy promised Premier Khrushchev that the US Government would never tell the Soviet people that we helped them in the Space Race. There is, according to the CIA, a file on TAD that has a presidential seal on it. That means the file is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act laws.

Also, it may be that the US President does not want the US Congress to know that a previous president failed to report to Congress that we had a man in the USSR during the Space Race.

I sure would like to see that file. I have written to two presidents and asked to have a look. I even asked my congressman to ask the President. The President has not honored my request.

When Tad told me his story, he was dying. He has been gone for almost seven years. To my way of thinking he was a great American hero, a brave man who ventured into the Soviet Union without protection. He did it not once but many times during the Cold War, even when there was a sudden change in Soviet leadership in 1964 and he did not know whether he would be arrested. But by then he had many friends among the Soviet scientists and cosmonauts, and maybe they had enough pressure to protect him. We will never be certain about that, only that Tad went when he was called.

Barack’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost

In my forthcoming book, Ploughshares into Swords, I tell how a Colonel in the US Army visited Belgium at the end of WWII. At an inn an old Belgian man wanted permission to kiss the colonel because the American Army had save Belgium not once but twice from the German horde. “American chickens had come home to roost.”

Before it was all over and the Cold War was over, Belgium had been saved from the Soviets. American chickens had indeed “come home to roost,” as far as Belgians were concerned. We had saved the Belgians three times.

It is an old homeletical trick to move from the particular to the general. That is, an invasion of Iraq suddenly becomes symbolic of all American actions. A girl baby sitter shakes a baby to death and “American Women are Killing our Youngsters.” This is the gimmick employed by the Right Reverend Jeremiah Wright (RJW) at his Chicago church. For twenty years Barack Obama never heard this hateful message. RJW preached hatred and did it ignorantly. Yet Barack said Wright was the best the black church had to offer. Many black ministers would disagree.

According the RJW, Iraq, an action Wright did not agree with, became symbolic for all America’s actions. Obama somehow did not get the connection. Or he lied about it.

A minister I knew once preached that the American dollar was declining and that was God’s curse on America. I caught him after the sermon and respectfully said, “Frank, it is good for the American dollar to lose its value, because that makes our goods cheaper allowing more Americans go to work.” He was suddenly aware that he had misspoken. His face turned red but he never corrected his statement. He was too much in love with his own argument.

Did America save Europe three times? Of course. Is Japan better off than it was in the 1940’s? Yes, the people are richer and they seem to have grown five inches in stature as well (according to military records).

Barack Obama is dense or dishonest. His defenders will say, in effect, “Everybody does it.” And the matter will be settled. Few defend RJW, though. He appears to be a hating, “America last” minister, preaching to the worst in people. Not the worst of people, but the worst in people, who are easily led. One can easily extend Wright’s thinking to citizens who are going to vote to support a man, Wright’s nominee.

Franklin and Barack

There are a few accurate historians who noticed that Franklin D. Roosevelt brought with him the seeds of the Nation’s economic destruction in 1932. That is, businessmen and investors distrusted him, and rightly so. He had decidedly socialist leanings in a time of world socialism. Thus, his policies continued the breadth and depth of the Great Depression. This is because capital investment is a huge factor in an economy. Since people who could be investors, weren’t investing. The economy suffered.

The Englishman Lord Keynes, on whom FDR depended for economics advice, recognized the need for investment and told FDR that since the private sector would not invest, the Federal Government should do the investing. It was an admission that people with capital did not trust the new president.

Once again we are faced with electing a man with decidedly socialistic tendencies—Barack Obama. He is a lawyer and seems not overly astute at economic matters. He is probably not a historian, so we may well be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the 1930’s. That is, people with capital will not invest and the Federal Government will invest in their places. A bloated, unmanageable Government will become even more so.

Am I wrong about this? Perhaps. But I noticed that recently, when the polls showed a decreasing gap between the popularity of the two presidential candidates, the stock market rose almost 900 points.

Probably, private investors are a little better at history and at economics than Mr. Obama.

No Financial Bailout

Today the House failed to get behind a proposed rescue bill for the financial industry. Some call it a bail-out. Banks have failed. They probably would have failed anyway. At any rate I am hearing that the American people do not want the House Bill. A significant number of Democrats and Republicans would not vote for the Bill. There is probably little disagreement over the inept handling by the Speaker of the House.

What is plan B? Well, the problem seems to be not that the financial markets need seven hundred billion dollars. The problem seems to be uncertainty, or risk. Therefore, if the government can alleviate the risk, the financial markets can rest easy and the proposed disaster can be avoided.

But perhaps that is not what the House majority wants. After all, they proposed a bill and immediately larded it with billions in earmarks. If they were serious, they would have proposed a clean bill with no money in it for Acorn, the suspect political organizers.

But back to risk, which is the underlying problem. If the government were to offer a bill that would alleviate risk, the problem would suddenly become manageable. How to do this? Several people have already proposed such a bill: offer to insure or back the bad mortgages. Some mortgages would have to be declared dead, but many other would not and in any case the financial markets could continue to operate.

Yes, the government might come out ahead with its insurance program as it did with other large programs of offering to backup the finances of a company or a country. It is an idea that the American people might find less offensive.

But, it is a political year in which one party or the other must be seen to save the day, and screw the American people. Those who voted against the House bill today may well turn out to be heroes.

Did you happen to think that today’s bailout bill might have been tossed out by the Supreme Court? After all, it puts too much power in the hands of an unelected official. There is nothing Constitutional about that bill.

PACs Upon US

Having just returned from the gas pump where I paid about $4.00 a gallon for gasoline, I began to think about the various PACs, Political Action Committees that are responsible for such high prices. I thought of three PACS right away:

Pompous Asses in Congress who will not let us drill for our own oil.

Previous Administration Clods who said, “Why drill in Alaska? It will take ten years to see any result, anyway.” Those ten years and more have arrived.

Preventers of Atomic Construction. We need to be like the French in one way: we need to generate our electricity with Atomic Energy.

We may be sure that there are Arab interests who, with their own PACs financed by our dollars, are actively working against any members of Congress who want the US to drill for its own oil.

Arabian PACs and the ones mentioned above are working against Paying American Citizens.

NASA’s Man at the Baikonur Cosmodrome

Almost no one knows today that  the space race with the USSR during Cold War conditions was not much of a race. NASA had a man stationed in the Soviet Baikonur Cosmodrome from about 1963 through 1971.

NASA’s man was a space medicine scientist whom Premier Khrushchev allowed to enter the USSR to consult with his Soviet counterparts. He was a very good scientist who was aware of much that went on around him. And he made strong friends with several Soviet scientists and cosmonauts. Colonel Yuriy Gagarin, the world’s first cosmonaut, was one of the American scientist’s friends.

The American NASA scientist made frequent trips to the USSR for at least eight years. In October of 1964 when Khruschev was deposed the American scientist kept going back to the USSR, not really sure that the next Premier, Brezhnev, was going to be as friendly as Khrushchev had been. NASA’s man was a hero.

Now, fifty years after Sputnik, and a great deal of cooperation with the USSR, the American scientist’s brave efforts are still being kept quiet. I wrote to Sergei Khrushchev, son of Premier Khrushchev, and asked him if anyone in Russia today would care if they found out about the US-USSR cooperation in space medicine. Mr. Khruschev was very courteous but his response was not reassuring.

So for a while, NASA’s American Scientist in the USSR will have to remain anonymous.

Fears that Never Go Away

It was in the 1959-1960 period that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was running for president.  He was handsome, charming, humorous, and well-spoken.  Yet, some folks were deeply concerned about JFK.  What was their concern?  Well, he has a Catholic, and a Catholic had never been in the Oval Office before.  Didn’t it stand to reason that the Pope was going to move into the White House and run the United States of America?

Now Mitt Romney is running for president.  He is handsome, charming, humorous and well-spoken.  But he is a Mormon.  If Romney wins the election, it stands to reason that the Mormons about to take over the White House and the country.  Or does it?

What people didn’t seem to know about John Fitzgerald Kennedy was that his religion was politics.  It appears that Mitt Romney’s religion is politics, too.

Therefore, if Romney wins the election, a politician will be in the White House.  Nothing will change very much and life will go on.

Alberto Gonzales Bites the Political Dust

In an amazing “mine is bigger than yours” battle, the Bush administration lost its Justice Department’s leader, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.  He seemed like a decent man if a bit confused.  I would prefer him to Janet Reno.  But he had two major problems.

One of Alberto’s problems was that he was Hispanic.  Hispanics in prominent positions must be Liberals or they must disappear.  Conservative Hispanics must not be seen as successful.  If Liberal Hispanics saw successful Hispanics who owed nothing to the “minority establishment,” they might begin to question the “minority establishment.”

The second of Alberto’s problems is that he seems naïve.  He seems to think that if he treats people fairly, they will treat him fairly.  Harry Truman said something like, “In Washington, if you want a friend, get a dog.”

Thirdly and least important, Alberto seems confused and unable to stand up to the windbags in the Senate.  Normally, confusion is no hindrance to keeping a high level position in Government.  Nor is incompetence.  But when combined with situations one and two (above), one can easily lose his job.