On Friday we lost two individuals that should have gotten more recognition than they did.
The first, Edward Brandt, Jr., MD. was the interim Surgeon General in 1981 and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
He was one of the early recognizers of AIDS, before it was known to have been caused by HIV (remember those days?)
In 1983, despite pressure from Ronald Reagan (that fascistic scumbag who now has airports and ships named after him!!!) his boss, Brandt issued a statement that, even with only 1,450 case having been identified at that point, that the disease had become the #1 priority of Public Health Service.
He spent the rest of his time in the administration fighting against cuts in the Center for Disease Control.
In addition to this distinction, the Director of the Office of Women’s Health at the National Institute of Health called Dr. Brandt the “Godfather of Women’s Health” for encouraging the study of the issue during his time at as Assistant Secretary.
The second person was former Congressman Charles Vanik of Ohio.
He was the co sponsor (along with one of my political heroes, Henry “Scoop” Jackson) of the famed Jackson-Vanik amendment.
The Amendment denies unconditional norm,alized trade relations to certain countries with non market economies and who restricted emigration.
The Amendment was principally designed to force the Soviet Union to allow the emigration of the “refusniks” principally Soviet Jews who had been arrested, detained or refused exit from the country.
The refusniks included many of the Soviets most significant scientists, most notably Andrei Sakharov, the father of the Soviet Hydrogen Bomb. Also included was Alexander Solzhenitsen.
More notable today, is Natan Sharansky, who after a distinguished career in the Soviet Union has become a leading right wing politician and government minister in Israel.
The Jackson Vanik amendment helped increase emigration from the Soviet Union but then became a source of tension as relations warmed in the late 1980’s. The amendment is still on the books today and has been repeatedly discussed by Pre3sitdent Putin as a source of friction.