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Post An Open Letter to Speaker Ryan
Created by John Eipper on 01/06/17 3:21 AM

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An Open Letter to Speaker Ryan (Richard Hancock, USA, 01/06/17 3:21 am)

January 5, 2017

Congressman Paul D. Ryan, Speaker
National Republican Congressional Committee
320 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Speaker,

I appreciated receiving your letter of Dec. 27, 2016. I support the Republican party but have had my doubts about President-elect Trump. Lately, I have a more favorable impression of him in regard to his appointments and seeming moderation of his outspoken criticism of many factions and people in our country. I am concerned, however, about his fretful comments about Mexico. I was born in Alpine in trans-Pecos Texas and was raised in New Mexico. I am bilingual in Spanish and English and have lived in Mexico and in El Salvador in Central America. I have visited every Mexican state and nearly all Latin American countries.

I am appalled by Mr. Trump's goal to build a wall on our Mexican border and his statements about deporting Mexicans and Central Americans. We could handle all of these problems if we would simply collaborate with Mexico, rather than taking stands that would be catastrophic for that country. I have dealt with Mexicans all my life. They are very courteous and friendly and easy to deal with if we make a polite and friendly approach.

In the first place, we bear a share of responsibility for the fact that there are 11 million illegals in our country. I did my doctoral dissertation at Stanford University on the Contract Labor Program we signed with Mexico, that existed from 1940 to 1965. During this program, we admitted Mexican farm workers legally to this country and the entrance of illegals fell to almost zero. Without going into details about the termination of this program, I can say that it was caused by adverse publicity in a media that loves to highlight the worst in many things. No program is perfect, but we should have corrected some defects in the program and kept it going because there is a demand for common labor in this country, jobs that Americans refuse to perform.

Mr. Trump is severely critical of NAFTA. I can tell you that NAFTA is one of the most successful programs in the history of our two countries. I have published eight books on the Mexican state of Chihuahua, located south of New Mexico and Trans-Pecos Texas. NAFTA has been a source of prosperity, not only for Chihuahua but for Texas and New Mexico as well.

My first experience in Mexico was going to summer school in Saltillo, Mexico in 1948. NAFTA has produced an economic miracle in all of the Mexican border states, and has certainly contributed to the economies of Texas and New Mexico. The Wall Street Journal of Nov. 28 has a detailed article by Dan Frosch and Dudley Althaus: "In Texas Business Owners Hope Donald Trump's NAFTA Rhetoric is Just Talk--Free trade with Mexico and Canada has powered the state's economy."

If we demolish NAFTA and deport many Mexicans back to Mexico we will destroy the prosperity of that country. We are a Christian country and I certainly hope that we will behave in a more Christ-like manner toward Mexico, a country that has suffered much from our treatment of them in war with Mexico in 1848, when we seized control of the American Southwest.

I joined the Republican Party in 1990 because I felt that the Democratic Party had become too radical. I hope that I will not suffer equal disappointment with the Republicans because of shameful acts against Mexico. This is a summary of my feelings and I will be happy to provide you with more detailed information if you request it.

Yours sincerely,

Richard H. Hancock


JE comments:  Thank you for forwarding this to WAIS, Richard, and for showing us that democracy can work only if citizens make their voices heard.  I wonder how many youngsters today write their Senators and Congresspeople.  Not very many, I suspect, although there is Facebook.

Let's start a WAIS thread on "letters to my Representative, MP, etc."  Any interesting experiences?  Any positive results to report?

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  • Pat Mears Writes to the Baseball--and Political--Greats (Patrick Mears, -Germany 01/06/17 5:53 AM)
    This note responds to John E's request, placed at the bottom of Richard Hancock's letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (6 January), to start a WAIS thread on letters to our political representatives.

    Before I approach that topic, some background is in order. When I was 10 years old or so, I developed an abiding love for our National Pastime and became fascinated with the history of the game. As I read more and more about old-time ballplayers, especially those in the "Dead-Ball Era," I realized, much like Larry Ritter realized when he undertook to write The Glory of Their Times, that these players were quickly passing away. It was sometime shortly after Ty Cobb died in the summer of 1961 that I decided to write to retired ballplayers and, among other things, ask them for their autographs. I undertook this pledge with a passion. The first letter that I wrote was one to Joe Garagiola (who recently passed on); he responded with one of the nicest letters a kid my age could receive. One problem was obtaining their addresses, and I finally discovered that the old Sporting News would provide their addresses on written request. So that got me started. I received some wonderful notes responding to my letters. The first and probably most valuable letter I received was from former Yankees' hurler, Bob Shawkey, who cautioned me to send self-addressed, stamped envelopes along with my letters. Otherwise, he warned, "they may just throw your request away." Fred Snodgrass of "Snodgrass Muff" fame wrote me a very kind letter, thanking me for remembering an old ballplayer like himself. Jackie Robinson sent me a signed Hall of Fame Plaque of himself with a note on the back. And even then-current ballplayers, like Duke Snider and Ted Kluszewski, sent back autographed photos of themselves. So that was my warmup for the Show.

    I started writing to politicians in late 1960 after the election, when I wrote to Dwight Eisenhower, still in the White House, asking for his autograph. His secretary, Ann Whitman, responded with a nice note and enclosed an autographed photo of the 34th President. Similar letters sent at the same time produced an autographed photo of Richard Nixon and family and also an autographed card with JFK's signature thereon. Over time, these letters to active and retired politicos not only sought autographs but also contained my comments, as juvenile as they were, on national issues and the like. I received autographs from some interesting people like General MacArthur, Herbert Hoover, Alf Landon, Thomas Dewey, Henry Wallace, Norman Thomas, Dean Acheson, Adlai Stevenson, John Sparkman, Strom Thurmond, Henry Cabot Lodge, Barry Goldwater, Robert Kennedy and the like. Harry Truman failed to answer my letter, unfortunately. One long letter, which I sent to Richard Nixon after the 1964 election and while he was a lawyer with the Mudge, Rose Wall Street firm, resulted in an invitation to visit him at his NYC office, which I took up and mentioned here previously. As I became older, I corresponded with my then-Congressman, Donald W. Riegle, Jr., about the proposed ABM Treaty and other issues of the day. After Nixon was inaugurated in 1969, I wrote to him urging that he appoint William F. Buckley to SCOTUS, which was obviously a very naive wish. I received back a letter from some functionary, thanking me for my input and promising me that RMN would take my comments "into consideration."

    I still have all of these letters and autographs back in my storage unit in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and from time to time think about those times when I doubled down with my pen and paper and a roll of 4-cent and later, 5-cent stamps to scribble out these missives. Thank you for asking, John, which triggered some fine memories.


    PS: When my son and daughter were young, we would often make road trips in the summer to Chicago to Wrigley Field and old Comiskey Park for Cubs and Sox games. After attending with them a Cubs-Sox interleague game in the early 1990s, where the Sox players (at least) wore vintage uniforms, I began to write similar letters to surviving old-timers, asking for their autographs on behalf of my children. Most of them (other than Hall of Fame members, who realized their autographs had pecuniary value) responded with autographs and, sometimes, with very nice letters. I kept up correspondence with a few of them for some time--namely Dom DiMaggio, Dick Bartell and Vern Kennedy. In fact, Bartell and I came up with the idea in early-1990 that the Detroit Tigers should hold a ceremony for the surviving players from the 1940 team on the 50th anniversary of its American League championship. That year, the Bengals won the pennant with an amazing flourish, when an unknown pitcher from the hills of North Carolina, Floyd Giebell, shut out the Indians behind their all-star starter, Bob Feller. After extensive correspondence with the Tigers management urging the team to throw such a party, the Tigers declined to do so, writing to us that "some of those players can't even get into their uniforms any more." That comment rather annoyed Bartell, who was known as somewhat of a hothead in his day.

    JE comments:  What a splendid collection!  Have you contemplated setting up a display of your letters and autographs, Pat?  Adrian College would certainly be interested in doing a temporary exhibit.

    E-mail communication is handy but leaves no artifacts.  It's a pity.

    PS:  Snodgrass Muff?  Please tell.

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    • The Snodgrass Muff, 1912 (Patrick Mears, -Germany 01/07/17 4:28 AM)
      To answer John E's question, Fred Snodgrass was the centerfielder for the New York Giants in the 1912 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. In the deciding game of that series, he dropped a routine fly ball in extra innings that ultimately cost the Giants the game and the Series. Here is the whole story from SABR (Society for American Baseball Research):


      The two main pitchers for Boston in this game, Smokey Joe Wood (who later managed at Yale) and Hugh Bedient, sent me nice notes and autographs when I was young. Fred Snodgrass was interviewed by Larry Ritter and was given a chapter in Ritter's The Glory of Their Times.

      JE comments:  Fred's father was Andrew Jackson Snodgrass.  These are the kinds of names you cannot make up.  Snodgrass fils was born in Ventura, California, in 1887, when Southern California was truly a backwater.

      Pat Mears has mentioned one of the great oral histories of all time:  Ritter's The Glory of Their Times (1966).  I'm going to read it.

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  • Writing to the Governor of Illinois (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/06/17 1:04 PM)
    I never wrote to any Italian politician; there's no use in writing insults. However my wife wrote to the Governor of Illinois. I believe I already sent a WAIS post about the experience.

    Well, we had gone to get a US driving license. Even if this operation in the States is extremely speedy and inexpensive compared to Italy, many people were in the motor vehicle office and we had to await for rather a long time.

    At a certain point my wife looked for the restroom, but she was told that they were available only for the employees. Returning home after getting her driving license, my wife wrote a letter of complaint to the Governor of Illinois.

    Surprise, within 5 days we received a letter of apology, in which it was stated that within 15 days for sure the restroom would be available.

    Accustomed to the empty promises of politicians in my country, I did not believe the statement, so I went to check. Much to my surprise, the facilities were in place!

    Glory to the Illinois governor and to the US system.

    JE comments:  Fifteen days can be a long time when you really have to "go," but the Battaglias' experience renews your faith in the power of the concerned citizen. 

    Don't know if there's a connection here, but Illinois governors are notorious for spending their retirements in jail--four of the last seven.  Perhaps corrupt politicians get more accomplished than the honest ones?

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    • Writing to the Governor of Illinois (David Duggan, USA 01/07/17 2:30 PM)
      As I recall Eugenio Battaglia's CV, he lived in the Chicago area in the early 1980s, which would have put him squarely within the era of James R. Thompson, who put the first of those Illinois ex-governors in the slam.

      JE comments: Thompson would be a good bet--he was governor from 1977 through 1991, longer than any governor in Illinois history.

      I could look this up, but David Duggan will give a better answer: Didn't Thompson run for president once, or am I confusing him with Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson?

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      • Illinois Governor James R. Thompson (Michael Sullivan, USA 01/08/17 7:50 AM)

        I observed Governor Thompson of Illinois in the mid 1980s while waiting in line to see the movie Top Gun in Chicago. He was standing about 10 folks further up in the line and several people kept coming up to him and shaking hands. He was dressed in a sport coat and Levis. I asked the person next to me if he knew who the person was, and he said it was Gov. Thompson.  The next morning I flew out to Southern California to attend my oldest son's college graduation and surprise, surprise Gov. Thompson was the graduation's guest speaker!

        JE comments:  A very happy New Year to Michael Sullivan on the occasion of his first post of 2017.  I cannot resist asking a real-life Top Gun, because I know others in WAISworld have the same question:  what did you think of the film?

        David Duggan has sent a followup on Gov. Thompson.

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        • "Top Gun": How Accurate a Film? (Michael Sullivan, USA 01/09/17 4:12 AM)
          Answering John E's question as to what I thought of the movie Top Gun, I will say it was a fairly true picture of the life of a Top Gun student during those years, with the usual Hollywood embellishments thrown in. The Naval Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) was held at NAS Miramar, San Diego, California, during that period and today it's held at NAS Fallon, Nevada.

          The Happy Hour scenes at the Miramar Officers' Club were spot-on, and the movie became the greatest recruiting event for Naval aviation ever! For a year or so after the film came out, there were lines around the block at the Miramar's Officers' Club of single gals waiting to get in to meet a Naval aviator. If you had a flight suit on you got immediate entrance. The two big nights were Wednesday and Friday, as Miramar was known for being the prime social gathering spot for the single set in the San Diego area after Top Gun was released! I have attended many Happy Hours at Miramar over the years even before Top Gun, and it was truly an awesome Officers' Club! Its counterpart on the east coast was the NAS Oceana, Virginia, in Virginia Beach.

          Today Officers' Clubs are disappearing from all services, as they've gone to joint all-ranks clubs which are sparsely attended, losing money and destroying tradition in the Naval service. Political correctness has banned the use of the words "Happy Hour" in the military today to de-emphasize alcohol...

          What impressed me watching the movie in Chicago was the audience kept cheering and applauding when the "good guys" won or did well, proving patriotism thrives in the Midwest.

          JE comments: Here's a reality check:  Top Gun (1986) is already 31 years old, or significantly older than Tom Cruise was (24) when he made the film.

          Michael:  Did the Navy move its training to the wilds of Nevada to minimize distractions?  Who would have thought there's a naval base in landlocked Nevada?

          I can sort of see the point of banning the Happy Hour, at least in name.  Not only do they incentivize binge drinking in the afternoon, they also subliminally--or not so subliminally--equate happiness with intoxication.  How about a Happy Hour of poetry reading, Scrabble, or amateur theater?  (LOL)

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          • Fallon, Nevada (Timothy Brown, USA 01/09/17 2:12 PM)

            Fallon, in the wilds of Nevada? I beg to differ with John E's statement of January 9th.

            Eons ago, while I was a student at Sparks (Nevada) High School, I played football, basketball and track against Fallon High, participated in glee club and forensic club competitions there and, on occasion, went to its rodeo (and tried unsuccessfully to date one of Fallon High's prettiest girls.)

            As for NAS Fallon, it has considerable value to the Navy for several reasons, because it has one of the longest runways in the United States and almost always good flying weather. It hosts the CAGs off aircraft carriers when they are on the West Coast and has a very large first-rate training range for military aircraft close by.

            Once, decades later during my four years while I was the State Department's SLO in Central America stationed in Tegucigalpa, NAS Fallon's communications center handled my classified communications. When a classified message came for me or I needed to send a classified cable, the NAS communications center would even send a vehicle to escort me on and off the base. At the time my mother was living in Fallon. When she passed, she left me a few acres on the NAS's flight path. She was buried in Fallon and every time we visit her grave, we get buzzed by Navy fighters.

            JE comments: My apologies; I shouldn't have dismissed Fallon!  I was contrasting it on the fly with San Diego, Top Gun, and palm trees, but that was thoughtless of me.

            Some translations:  CAG is a Commander, Air Group.  SLO is Senior Liaison Officer.  Did I get those right, Tim?

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            • Fun with Acronyms--and a Top-Secret Mission (Timothy Brown, USA 01/11/17 9:28 AM)
              To clarify the acronyms in my post of January 9th: CAG is used by the Fallon folks as standing for Carrier Air Group. SLO stood for Special Liaison Office (r).

              As to the acronym SLO--at the height of the Iran-Contra imbroglio, Pres. Reagan went to Congress, asked for, and was authorized $100 million to continue support for the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance, better known as the Contras. But Congress added as a condition that the Secretary of State take personal responsibility to see to it that there were no more Iran-Contra end-runs around them. State then opened two offices to monitor the program, one in DC at State and one in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. At the time they were both secret compartmentalized offices, and communications were labeled SECRET/EXDIS/CONTRA (the working title of my next book).

              None of this was public at the time and I was happily ensconced in Martinique as Consul General when first Lynn Nofziger and then Senator Laxalt contacted me. They knew me and that I was both a former Marine with both pro and counter-insurgency experience and a Central America specialist. (They also knew I owed them--I'll explain that in my next book.) They both said they had a job the White House wanted me to take. Very reluctantly, I tossed my hat into the ring and got orders about a week later. I wound up as the Central America head of what I was told was the first compartmentalized office State had ever had.

              In Tegucigalpa I worked out of an office inside a vault inside a vault inside the embassy in Tegucigalpa. What then happened has been largely untold history. But recently that caption was declassified in response to a FOI (Freedom of Information) request I made.

              JE comments:  Goodness, Tim:  what a teaser for your next book!  But please don't--to paraphrase Trump--keep us (totally) in suspense.  Can you give us a preview?

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      • Illinois Governor James R. Thompson (David Duggan, USA 01/08/17 8:34 AM)
        James R. Thompson, who won four elections as governor of the Prairie State (1976, 1978 [they changed that term to 2 years to make the governor's election off the presidential election cycle], 1982 and 1986), never ran for president of the United States.

        In 1988, he was mentioned as a vice-presidential running mate for George Herbert Walker Bush, but there were concerns as to his proclivities, which, like those of the ex-governor whom he convicted of tax evasion and perjury, Otto Kerner, had been kept in the closet. Nevertheless, he has had a distinguished post-gubernatorial career as the managing partner of one of Chicago's leading law firms, Winston & Strawn. He is married to former Assistant Attorney General of Illinois, Jayne Carr, who co-authored the article, with the Hon. Joel Flaum (now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit), advocating the prosecution of corrupt public officials under the mail fraud statute for depriving citizens of their expectation that the officials render "honest services" for their salaries.

        JE comments: "Proclivities" can still be a barrier to the highest political offices in the US, as there has never been an openly gay governor (or president).  (Jim McGreevey of New Jersey resigned in 2004 after he was "outed" for having a male Israeli lover.)

        This ceiling will almost certainly be shattered soon.  I can even foresee a time when the expression "openly gay" will pass into the dustbin of history (meaning, the adverb will be viewed as an archaic redundancy, akin to "openly left-handed").

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