Rules for Republican and Democratic Presidential Candidates

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

The current cast of Presidential hopefuls constantly complain about the “Gotcha questions” posed to them by the reporters who are chosen to conduct the debates. The problem is their complete lack of knowledge regarding the Constitution, the branches of government, and the specific functions of each branch. They were not taught in school that whining to their teachers and parents will not work especially if they have not read their textbooks on the subject assigned to them. I used to tell my students that the only excuse for lack of effort was to be hit by a beer truck on the way to school.

Here is a partial solution to overcoming the complete ignorance for a person running for a political office. Every candidate running for political office would be required to attend a class and pass that class before being allowed to place their name on a ballot in any state whether running for a local, state, or national office. Passing such a course with or without local help or attendance for formal instruction would be required. Party affiliation would not matter since governing in our form of government should be color blind, blind to religious affiliation and blind to political affiliation. Supreme court justices for both state and local offices would not be exempt because we need to have well educated political official officers at all levels. As an example, our local city council has ignored our state’s open meeting laws whereby it is required that the public attendees be allowed to ask questions during regular scheduled public meetings.
We have not been well served by this self centered group.

The present Supreme Court of the United States also has not served our nation well by allowing rich benefactors to buy their influence through the passage of the Citizens United ruling which essentially allows money to set aside
political ethics and endorse corruption as a way of life in our great nation.

Republicans and Their Lack of Scrupples

You would think that the Republican Party would adopt a new strategy in their attempt to govern this nation when their party is in power.  Whenever we had a person who had conservative views, but at the same time had the concept that fair play which involved listening to the Democratic Party I split my vote. Unfortunately, the current Republican Party does not have any sense of fair play when it gets into power. At present most of the Republicans in House of Representatives and the Senate are so anxious to get into power they seem to have no scruples except to sell their souls to those who have extreme wealth. The rise of Alec and the Supreme Court’s making Citizen United a person has enabled the wealthiest people in this nation to buy Senators and Representatives who will do anything just to get elected and then continue to bow to their wealthy benefactors’ wishes.  This is not the way to continue  for our nation to be referred to as a Democracy.

So, what can we do to restore Democratic principles to this nation?   One thing we can do is make it easy for all of our citizens to vote.  Our replacement Governor Kate Brown is a woman with great insite.  She replaced Governor Kitzhaber who was removed from office shortly after being elected to his fourth term for violations committed by the First Lady of the State of Oregon.  When she first took office this year, she made anyone who had a license to drive eligible to vote in any state election.  Not only is this a new provision, but our ballots had been mailed to our homes for many years now, so if you cannot drive you are still eligible to vote.  She recently worked with the legislature to make Community College tuition free to all interested persons.  This is now being discussed in other states, but Oregon has always been a state that does not wait to do its best for its citizens.  California was one of the first states to have this provision, but it was discontinued by Governor Ronald Reagan in the 1960’s.  Some of our wealthiest corporations are now interested in tuition free Community Colleges because they need workers with upgraded skills.  Our high schools have largely dropped shop classes and other such classes that train students in skills that could get them a job after graduating from high school.

Governor Brown is  one of the few female Governors of a state at present.  She also has a law degree from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.  She has the ability to work well with the Legislature regardless of political affiliation and is the kind of person we need in our State which needs strong leadership and can work with both Democrats and Republicans, and best of all she is not for sale to those whose wealth exceeds their loyalty to this nation.

Railroads and Accidents

Walter L. Bell Ph.D.

While listening to the news of a passenger train derailment, I remembered a conversation with an engineer for one of the major railroads in which we discussed why passenger trains had difficulty on tracks built for freight trains.  This conversation occurred about fifteen years ago, but what surprised me were the changes that had been made in the length of sections of the rails.  He told me that the length of the rails much longer than they had been in the years when both kinds of trains were common until after World War II, and when the railroads owned both passenger and freight trains.  The freight trains traveled as did passenger trains on short sections of rails in order to accommodate the higher speeds of the passenger trains.  

Once passenger trains were phased out in the 1960’s, the railroads slowly lengthened the sections of rail because the freight trains carried much greater loads at much slower speeds.  Also, as the temperature changed from cold to warm from winter to summer, the longer sections of rails expanded greatly because there were less spaces in the longer sections of rails for expansion.  This did not affect the freight trains because of their slower speeds and greater weight.  The passenger trains tended to derail due to this expansion because they were lighter and traveled at much higher speeds.  The passenger trains tended to derail during the warmer months when the expansion of the rails were the greatest.

We were parked by each other in our RV’s so we had time to discuss this problem in detail,  plus there had been some passenger trains that had derailed along one of the railroads in a Southern State.  I wondered at the time if Amtrak was aware of the problem, because the only passenger trains were operated by Amtrak.  Also, the engineer told me that with the longer rails there were no longer the click and clack sound of the train rails while traveling over the shorter rails.  Since I last rode on a passenger train once in 1958 and on an Amtrak train in 1987,  I liked the sound over the short rails especially at night because the sound tended to lull me to sleep.  I doubt that very many passengers on the trains east of the Mississippi know about the changes in the rails that affect the safety of its passengers.  Since Amtrak discontinued its rail service from Portland to Salt Lake years ago, the length of the rails is no longer a concern for this rail system.  At present, one has to travel to San Francisco and then take the train east over the mountain pass through Nevada to reach Salt Lake, so the Amtrak system in the Western States is greatly compromised thanks to our Congress which will spend money on anything except infrastructure.

I would like to have two dedicated high speed rail systems built from the Mississippi River to the West Coast.  One rail system would end in Portland, Oregon and the other in San Francisco or Los Angeles.  We could then build the third dedicated high speed rail system from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C.  This would provide the vast Western States with an alternative means of transportation. The definition of a dedicated rail system means that the railroad is enclosed with an Australian fence which will keep out large animals and people, since these trains travel at very high speeds.

The House of Representatives Assumes the Role of Secretary of State

Walter L. Bell  Ph.D.

Since John Boehner has not been able to accomplish anything in his role as the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives in the last six years, he has appointed himself as the Secretary of State, which is an Office of the Executive Branch of Government.  First, he invited Benjamin Netanyahu to give a speech before a joint session of the House and Senate before he was re-elected as the Prime Minister of Israel.  Prior to his re-election as Prime Minister, Netanyahu proclaimed that he would never consider a two state solution whereby the Arabs would be given back part of the land taken from them when the State of Israel was formed after World War II.  After the election, and after much criticism from the rest of the world, Netanyahu proclaimed that he would consider a two state solution, which leads one to believe that he lied just to get re-elected as Prime Minister of Israel.

Boehner has now said that he was going to lead a delegation of House and Senate delegates to visit Netanyahu in Israel.  It would be better if he tried to get legislation passed in the House of Representatives which is his role at present and allow Senator Mitch McConnell to complete the task of appointing a new Attorney General since Eric Holder has stated repeatedly that he would like to go back to civilian life.   The unstated issue in this whole drama is that a woman who President Obama has selected for the office is black and Republicans  cannot and will not confirm the appointment of a black person to serve  a half black and half white President.

Neither John Boehner nor Mitch McConnell have any desire to work on legislation which would benefit the working class in this country.  They both claim that we need a balanced budget, but neither has passed any legislation which would update the infrastructure such as freeways, bridges, schools, and manufacturing which would provide jobs for the working class of this country.  For example, the amount of money they will use to send a delegation to Israel to socialize with Benjamin Netanyahu could be better spent on improving the lives of  American citizens.

After all, the amount of money spent by a young congressman to redecorate his office and travel expenses are small compared to the amount which will be spent for Boehner to travel with a delegation to Israel.  Also, he does not have to worry about being forced to resign from the House of  Representative for wasting money and assuming the role of Secretary of State  or interfering with our present Secretary of State who is negotiating with the Iranians over the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The Ottoman Empire and the Attempt by Isis to Recreate Its Own Version of the Ottoman Empire

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

I recently saw a movie on the Crusades which reminded me of the Isis problem in Syria and Iraq.   Isis is a Muslim version of  the Crusades wherein the Christians  were  either trying to convert the Muslims to Christianity or kill those who did not choose the be converted.  With Isis, it is not clear whether they are intent on killing all of those who do not agree with their view of religion, or whether they just enjoy the act of killing much like some of the Christians in the Crusades.

It is not surprising that the members of the Muslim religion, which is primarily divided into Sunni and Shia believers, do not get along.  The present day Christians have so many different factions that it is hard to keep up with all the church groups that call themselves Christians.  In James A. Michener’s novel THE SOURCE,  a group of Crusaders enter a village and see everyone wearing a turban so they kill all the inhabitants only to discover that the persons they have killed were Christians.  The moral of this event was not to assume that  people who wear turbans are Muslims.

To understand the current unrest in the Muslim areas, it is important to understand the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I by the Western Forces.  The Ottoman Empire lasted 600 years and was a potent force in shaping the future of political interest in the region today.  During the greatest extent it had caliphates, which are a combination of religious and political governmental forms of government.  As the Ottoman Empire expanded, it encompassed parts of Eastern Europe from Bulgaria to parts of Persia(now encompassed in part by Iran), Turkey, Afghanistan and eventually expanded  to include  parts of the area not included in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Persia, Egypt, and all the African Countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

During part of the history of the Ottoman Empire, the human rights issues such as equality of men and women was one of the most inspired of any nation or empire.  Women’s rights were equal to men’s rights, which we as a nation have not yet begun to equal.  As the Ottoman Empire expanded, it included caliphates governed by different members of the empire, but who were under the overall ruler of the Ottoman Empire.  At its greatest extent, it included most of the areas around the Mediterranean Sea.  It got its start with the breakup of the Roman Empire and was still considered part of the Roman Empire.  As the Roman Empire began to diminish in its influence, the Ottoman Empire began to become independent and its influence on the areas around the Mediterranean Sea.

It is difficult to determine the goals of Isis because it has grown from a group which  was fighting with other groups to change the government of Syria, but then changed into a group to capture Iraq and other countries around the region and establish what it considered a Muslim country with as a Caliphate much as it existed in the Ottoman Empire.  It has a goal of expanding its version of a Caliphate wherever it can establish a government of its own liking.  In writing this article I do not claim to be an expert.  I started this post about December 1, 2014, but I discovered that I needed to go back through history and learn about the Ottoman Empire which was broken up after World War I, because it became an ally of Germany in the war against Great Britain, the United States and others.  As a result, Turkey became an independent nation and is no longer a Muslim nation.  In fact Turkey is the only part of the Ottoman Empire which still exists.  All the other parts of the  Ottoman Empire are independent nations populated primarily by the two major groups of the Muslim faiths, the Sunnis and Shia.

I remember taking a course in Modern European History in the early 1950’s which referred to the Ottoman Empire as the Sick Man of Europe so until I spent a great amount of time researching and reading about the Ottoman Empire  I could not write intelligently about its history.  I urge you to look up the maps of the Empire in order to understand the ultimate goal of Isis which is to build its own Empire and to extend it as far as it is able.  However, with its methods of killing anyone who disagrees with its goals, it will very likely encounter much opposition by those who wish to be left alone and determine their own destiny in a more peaceful manner.

Note:  To view the Historical Maps of  the Ottoman Empire go to Yahoo and type in Historical maps of the Ottoman Empire.