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.
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.
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.
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.
Walter L.Bell, Ph.D.
I received a letter from Governor Kitzhaber recently asking if I would vote for him in the upcoming election. I am reluctant to vote for him because he cut the formula for the Public Employee Retirement System due to several very highly paid employees from the University of Oregon and possibly other places in the employment as PERS members who were allowed to include money which was not part of their regular salary. Instead of requiring an investigation and a reversal of the persons illegal calculation of their retirement compensation, Kitzhaber allowed the matter to stand and decided to change the compensation of retired persons with his Republican buddies so that my retirement and thousands of other retirees are paying for the retirement of the former Athletic Director and Dean of the Law School at the University of Oregon. What should have been addressed is how PERS could have allowed this to happen and why it took a Law Suite by the Oregonian to disclose this information. I am highly disgusted with both PERS and the present and former Governors who allowed this to happen. The one PERS meeting I attended this year had five members who did not represent the present or former members of PERS. In fact, there was no allowance for questions from the audience regarding the meeting or the policies being discussed. My question is what happened to the open meeting law wherein the people attending have a right to ask questions regarding procedures and policies under discussion by the PERS Board.
I have read about both Governor Kitzhaber and the Republican candidate for Governor, and I will have to hold my nose and vote for the present governor. The report on the Republican candidate for Governor is that he is a far worse choice than Governor Kitzhaber because of his ethical values and reputation.
In reading about Governor Kitzhaber handling of the Cover Oregon website, he had several alternatives to Oracle in the development of a website. Since Oracle had two working websites in California and Washington, he could have asked Oracle to build a site similar to these two states. Also, he could have contacted the Computer Science Departments of Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Portland State University to have them develop a website. The development of a website is not like sending a spaceship to the moon which was done with computers which did not have the capabilities of the one I am using for this post. I developed three websites using wordpress.org and Bluehost as a host. The cost was minimal and my problems were minor, but I had offers to build a website for $5,000. Governor Kitzhaber by contrast has spent millions of dollars and is involved with Oracle for using proprietary code developed by Oracle with his new contractor. Oracle has filed a counter lawsuit against the State of Oregon for the use of its proprietary code by the new contractor. I doubt the Republican candidate for Governor of Oregon can fix this debacle so I will vote for Kitzhaber for his 4th and last term.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
Russia has had a long and troubled history with some of the most cruel and vile leadership of any nation. Its most enlightened monarch was Peter the Great who tried to modernise the nation against great odds because the ruling oligarchy opposed him at every turn. He wanted to Russia to join with the nations of Europe because Russia was basically isolated and backward in comparison. Unfortunately he was unable to accomplish all of his goals, but he is remembered for trying to loosen the hold of the oligarchy over Russia.
The next leader to try to loosen the hold of the Communist Party over Russia was Mikhail Gorbachev who tried to introduce economic reforms to move industries from state ownership to semiprivate owner ship. One of the persons Gorbachev recruited was Boris Yeltsin to help clean up the corruption in the Communist Party in 1985. As a reformer Yeltsin proved to be too ambitious for his mentor Gorbachev, but when Gorbachev resigned, Yeltsin took his place and helped to move Russia closer to a civilized nation instead of a nation which imprisoned and killed more of its own citizens than had been lost in World War II. It is estimated that under Stalin’s notorious leadership more than 20 million people were killed in his purges. When the Soveit tanks were gathered in Moscow, Yeltsin climbed on top of one of the tanks and dared the Russian Army to fire upon its own people. Unfortunately, Yeltsin’s economic policies caused a deep economic depression in Russia which lasted several years. Before Yeltsin resigned he freed many of parts of the Soviet Union such as the Ukraine, Georgia, and many of the states that had large populations of Muslim citizens such as Uzbekistan and many others. At the time about one quarter of the Soviet Union were of the Muslim faith. Even though Yeltsin’s policies were eventually beneficial to Russia, his great mistake was appointing Vladamer Putin to take his place.
Putin was originally a member of the KGB, the notorious version of our CIA and FBI combined. The KGB was responsible for the death of many of the Soviet citizens during the reign of Joseph Stalin who sent millions of his own people to prisons in Siberia or had them killed outright at his own whim. Putin the same mind set as Stalin and if left unchecked will leave his own cruel policies on his own citizens. His goal is to put Russia back together again as the Soviet Socialist Republic so as to make Russia an international bully and threat to former states such as the Ukraine and the Balkin States.
About the only thing I agree with Senator McCain of Arizona is his statement that “if you look into Putin’s eyes you see reflected KGB,” because once a spy and bully he will always be a bully and thug.
I am reminded of the history Professor from whom I took many courses, that it is difficult to discuss Russian history because like the history of China with its more than 6,000 years of history there is too much history.
The Republican Congress, both the House and the Senate have been crying “Wolf” over the Trillions of dollars in deficit, but when there is money to be distributed to their wealthy constituents, the response is radically different. If one looks back over the last 60 years or more, the only people who have benefited from farm bills have been wealthy farmers and large corporate farms. The number of people engaged in farming has fallen from more than 30% during the depression of the 1930’s to less than 3% at present. Even large family owned farms have become incorporated, because the cost of machinery to operate a farm has become extremely expensive, so that the one farm, one family owned farms have become almost extinct.
The latest version of the farm bill cut food stamps which provide people with low incomes with affordable sources of food. My question is why we provide wealthy farm corporations with the equivalent of corporate food stamps and deny our needy, underemployed, and unemployed citizens the food they need to live? Another issue which was not addressed by the Farm Bill was the potential problem of genetically modified foods. Currently, a snip of DNA can be attached to plant DNA which alters the basic structure of the plant. For example, a snip of DNA can be attached to a given plant which provides the equivalent of Roundup which we use to kill weeds in our yards and gardens and fields. Spraying Roundup around a plant does not alter the genetics of the plant, but attaching a snip of DNA to plant so that it kills weeds that grow around the plant, means that we may be eating Roundup when we eat a carrot, corn, lettuce, etc. For example, I was exposed to Agent Orange when working for an irrigation district for two years. We had Agent Orange on our hands, in our face, and when we ate our lunch because we were spraying willows and other plants which grew in the irrigations canals and inhibited the flow of water in the canals. I became very allergic to all kinds of foods and would break out with watery blisters on my hands and with severe sinus infections. This went on until my late thirties.
Agent Orange is 245t and 23d combined and is a growth hormone which causes the plants to grow themselves to death. I used Agent Orange when I was 18 and 19 which was long before it was used in Vietnam to clear the jungles. It took the Department of Defense years before Agent Orange victims were compensated for the problems it caused the soldiers who were exposed in Vietnam. About four years ago, I called the Oregon Department of Agriculture and told them about my exposure. The official who answered the telephone asked me if I wanted sue the State of Oregon. I told him not at this late date which was 5o or more years later. I do know it causes prostate cancer which I developed in my late 60’s. The children born to women in Vietnam were often born with birth defects due to the exposure of the parents to Agent Orange. If one looks up Agent Orange, you will also find Agent Blue, Agent Green, and so on depending upon the combinations of chemicals which have been combined.
At present, there are no double blind tests given to animals and people when a plant is genetically modified. Monsanto, for example can genetically alter a plant without any oversight. If a drug is developed it has to go through at least three different stages of double blind tests to determine the possible effects of the drug on humans. Genetically modified foods should be subjected to the same kind of tests before they they are sold to the public. The Farm Bill had no such restrictions and it will cost the taxpayers more than one trillion dollars with support by the party of no–The Republican Party.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
There is nothing new about the problems with Veteran Administration Hospitals. The current problems have existed for years, so to put the blame on General Senseki is doing him a great disservice. We will have months of more useless hearings without any solution to the problem. The State of Oregon closed one VA Hospital near Medford, Oregon years ago and has one in Portland which is part of the Oregon Health Sciences University which has a great staff and resources available to Veterans. Our Grand Daughter spent part of her time when working on her MD from OHSU where she is now employed. She enjoyed working in that part of OSHU and working with veterans. My choice would be to attach all the Veterans Hospitals to up-to-date hospitals which have all the most recent tests, equipment and other facilities available to Veterans as well as other patients.
Another innovation would to make Veterans part of the Affordable Care Act so that they could get the kind of specialized care needed for injuries in any hospital in the nation. For example, currently Vietnam veterans are treated differently depending upon whether they were actually present on Vietnam soil. I have one son-in-law who can get VA assistance because he helped to load the bombs on Air Force planes on Vietnam soil, but the other son-in-law who served two tours on an Aircraft Carrier off the coast of Vietnam is not because he did not actually go on land in Vietnam. He could well be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange from having been on board a ship because, given the amount Agent Orange sprayed on the jungles in Vietnam, much of it could have drifted on board the ships where he was stationed. For example, I am considered a Korean War veteran even though I served state side, but I was exposed to Agent Orange while a member of the National Guard in Oregon. I was employed in two different counties in Oregon where we used Agent Orange to kill willows and weeds along ditch banks and fields. I did this over a two year period in Malheur and Union Counties in Oregon. No one told us it was Agent Orange until I found out about it years later when I called the State of Oregon and talked to an official in the Agricultural Department. I told him about my experience, and he asked me if I would like to sue the State of Oregon. Agent Orange was so named because the barrel of the chemicals delivered to Vietnam were labeled with an Orange stripe, Agent Blue, and so on because of the kind of chemicals contained in the barrels. Agent Orange is made up of 245t and 24d which are plant growth hormones which cause the plants to grow themselves to death. Both may father and I developed sever blistering on our hands, and I suffered for years from such outbreaks including constant sinus infections and other respiratory problems including asthma. I also had prostate cancer in my early sixties which I was told by my doctor was known to cause prostate cancer. I am certain that I would not be covered by VA insurance even though I served in both the National Guard and the U.S. Army on US soil during the time I was exposed to Agent Orange which was on our hands when we ate our lunch and blew back in our faces as we sprayed. Agent Orange was also used by the US Forest Service to kill unwanted vegetation when planting trees on areas which had been clear cut where a portion of the forest is completely cleared and then replanted with new trees in Northwest Forests primarily in Oregon and
So my suggestions would be to dramatically alter the Veterans Administration and make Veterans Health Care part of the Affordable Care Act so that a Veteran could go to any hospital which is set up to provide the kind of specialized care needed to provide treatment for any ailment which occurred during a Veterans term of service and quit using war zone designations as an excuse to deny treatment for our Veterans.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
This rallying cry by the Republican Party reminds me of the three quotations from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” that almost anyone can remember even if they had never read the play…”Hale, Hale, Hale”. You can sound literate even if you are not. Most Republicans keep saying Benghazi over and over again whether they have read and remembered the facts about the incident or are just Shades from the Republican Party who have passed over from another century or on another planet in another solar system.
Another idea that just occurred to me is that Benghazi is an Arabic word, so by chanting Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi…, those Republicans with the fifty cent haircuts can sound like they are experts in all matters related to the Arabic world, and their history and language. Rep. Darrell Issa should be named Chairman of this select committee because having made his fortune from car alarms, he is easily alarmed at all things related to the Democrats, and with a Arabic heritage, he might be able to add some other Arabic words to the Benghazi chant.
There should be Republican women on the committee because while they may not have 50 cent haircuts, they might hold hearings for the men on the committee so that they can educate the men regarding the special needs and powers that women have that men do not such as bearing children, getting pregnant or not during rape. These subjects stumped the Republican men during the last election, so if such subjects have any bearing on the Benghazi hearings it would be well to have the men informed. Who knows whether the men involved in Benghazi attack might have been angry at their women because they all had arguments the night of the attack.
One last item should be mentioned, which has not made much news on CNN and Fox, is that the Ambassador and his three other assistants were warned ahead of time that the embassy at Benghazi was not secure and to go there before it had been upgraded was extremely dangerous. The Ambassador was dedicated to his job like many of the news reporters who have been killed reporting the news. It is a tragedy that people are killed in the line of duty, but life is never secure and free of tragedy no matter where we live or what we choose to do as an occupation. The fact that Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during the tragedy and may decide to run for President of the United States should not be used as the reason to continue to hold useless and wasteful hearings just to thwart her political goals. The House of Representatives should hold hearings on their own failures during their last four years — failure to extend food stamps for hungry families — failure to continue to provide low interest loans to college students who are in need — failure to provide the money to rebuild our infrastructure for the past four years — and finally spending extensive vacations so that the House of Representatives business was not completed. How many live were lost in their fight against doing anything positive for the health, welfare, and lives of people who have suffered because of their dereliction of duty.
By Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
Of all the questions posed upon this website, this is one of the most important because given our current Supreme Court which has no checks and balances, unlike the Presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, we are well on our way to becoming a feudalistic society where our wealthy citizens control this nation in the way that nations operated before the French Revolution.
During the era of feudalism, the noblemen controlled vast areas of land all over the world. The serfs lived on the vast areas of land and performed all the labor to keep the nobleman’s land profitable. They had no personal rights and were at the mercy of nobleman’s sense of right and wrong concerning their welfare. A woman was expected to submit to the sexual desires of the nobleman. She had no choice and could only resist at her own peril. Men also had little choice except in the skills as carpenters, farmers, and whatever other skills were needed to keep the lands profitable. In short, the only free peoples were the nobility, which at present, in the United States, include only the very wealthy. When the Supreme Court, in the Citizens United ruling declared that there were no limits on the amount of money an individual could spend upon the election of Senator or Representative, the buying of a lackey who would vote as the wealthy patron just to get elected, has turned this nation into politicians who are willing to be bribed in order to get elected. The only solution to this decision is to try to appoint liberal judges to the Supreme Court, but in order to do this we have to have a majority of democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, plus have a Democratic President. Also, we have to have a Republican Justice of the Supreme Court resign during the time we have a Democratic majority in all three branches of government. We did very well during the first part of President Obama’s term in office when we had a majority in the House of Representative when we were able to pass the Affordable Care Act. But in off term elections the Democrats go to sleep and do not turn out to vote. This voting pattern has allowed the Republican Party to load the Supreme Court with their own conservative candidates when a Republican President is in Power. The Bush Presidents are responsible for most to the Conservative Justices on the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas is a glaring example of a black candidate who was not liked by the Black Voters. The loss of Justice Thurgood Marshal, the civil rights hero who became the first African American Supreme Court Justice, to be replaced by Justice Clarence Thomas, during the first Bush Presidency, along with Justice Scalia, Justice Alito, Justice Kennedy, and Chief Justice John Roberts have ensured that our Democracy is in Peril. The rich now rule the United States much as the Robber Barons did during the 1800’s and the early 1900’s, so we now have a choice either get out and vote for candidates who will not be purchased by the wealthy, or accept the present stupidity of the current Supreme Court of the United States who do not believe in voting rights or fair elections. We are now entering the New Age of feudalism in the United States.