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.

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 One Trillion Dollar Farm Bill To Provide Money for Wealthy Corporate Farmers

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.

VA Hospitals

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
Washington.

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.

 

 

 

 

Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi….

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.

 

Does the United States Have Feudalism?

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.

Extreme Poverty in the United States

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

I recently viewed a TV special on poverty in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan region where families were interviewed about their attempts find long term employment so that they could feed and house their families. It was the most depressing film I have ever seen on the subject. I know about poverty first hand because I grew up in a family of eight during a time when my father was in ill health due to working eighteen hour days as a contractor on irrigation projects during the great depression. We did have one advantage the people in the film did not have. We lived on a farm which we took out of the sagebrush as part of the homestead act which no longer exists. Under this act we paid $80 for 80 acres of land. We not only had to clear the land, but over a period of seven years, one had to make improvements such as building a house, improving the land and be able to make a living on the land.

In the film about poverty in Portland, Oregon, the unemployed people do not have the opportunity that we had to grow our own food, build our own house, and live in a place without the constant threat of having to move out and live in shelters or in their cars. This depressing film showed people evicted from their apartments or homes because the jobs they had were no longer available because the economy had gone from bad to worse starting in 2008 or earlier. Over and over, the people being interviewed stated that they had always worked and enjoyed working, but because of the 2000 depression they lived under the constant threat of being on public assistance which the latest US Congress failed to extend before they recessed to go home to their states. The grand bargain that Rep. Paul Ryan(Republican) and Sen. Patty Murray(Democrat) got passed in both the House and Senate voting did not include extending unemployment for these unfortunate people who will have to live out or their cars, or in a public shelter, or try to get food from the volunteer outlets which do not have enough food to go around. These people are not the mythical 47 per cent that Mitt Romney was deriding in his speech to the wealthy. They are people living under the constant threat of starving and living in unsanitary conditions. The primary reason for this problem is that we have allowed our largest corporations to relocate in foreign countries in order to escape having to pay taxes and pay workers a living wage which includes pensions for retirement. In the community where I live, we have a Wallmart Superstore being built, not because we need the store, but because one wealthy land owner got on the city counsel and was able to get approval for this ill advised project. The city violated the open meeting laws by passing this project without the people of this community approving or having an opportunity to vote on it. Wallmart is the face of corporate America which likes to claim that the United States is the wealthiest nation in the World, but that wealth extends only to the millionaires and billionaires, and not the other 99% of the population of the United States.

The Confiscation of Pensions by State and Local Governments

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
If you have been reading the press and watching the news lately, you may have noticed that cities like Detroit and Chicago and states like Oregon have looked to use pensions as a means of balancing budgets. Pensions were set up so that workers of all kinds could invest part of their salaries in a pension which was controlled by law with fiduciary experts who were supposed manage those pensions, with strict guidelines governing the actions of the managers who could be sentenced to prison terms for fraud and other misdeeds. One of the states leading the move to provide pensions for public workers was Wisconsin, until Scott Walker became the Governor, and decided to use those monies to balance the state budget. Scott Walker is a member of ALEC, a secretive organization made up of Corporations, Lawyers, Legislators, millionaires, billionaires, and mostly Republican Senators and Representatives, at both the State and National levels.

Cities like Chicago and Detroit have confiscated pension funds through bankruptcy and other means to build sports arenas. A federal judge ruled that in the instance of bankruptcy, that a city such as Detroit could confiscate pension funds to pay for the misdeeds of organizations such as ALEC, city managers, corporations who set up operations offshore to escape federal regulations and taxes, and use pension monies to pay for the misdeeds of others. In short, it appears that retirees, and union workers have no rights to the money that was set up for their retirement.

Several administrations, starting with President Reagan and including Presidents Bush, President Clinton and President Obama have turned a blind eye to the plight of union workers except when looking for donations for campaign funds. We have Raume Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and also the former Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools who have denounced Public Schools in favor of Charter Schools where teachers must work ten hour days and are not allowed to join unions. Supposedly the teacher’s unions protected inept teachers from being fired, so the way to fix the problem was to create Charter Schools and work to eliminate unions including teachers’ unions and industrial unions as well. In addition, since our industrial complex has been sent offshore where workers are paid so little that they cannot feed their families, that leaves the few existing unions pension funds to be plundered by persons like Walker and Emanuel in order to build sports complexes in both Chicago and Detroit as well as in other cities.

In order for the Republican Party to gain traction they have lost in recent elections, they have refused to raise the minimum wage, and have allowed corporations to fire workers who try to join unions. One of the most prominent of these is Walmart, which until recently had been a member of ALEC, until it withdrew its membership because it feared more adverse publicity because it sells more guns than any other corporation. The latest Republican fiasco is to eliminate unemployment for workers who have been unemployed for more than a year. This will leave people who have not been able to get jobs in the United States because those jobs have been shipped offshore. Like WallmartMcSrooge, we have RepublicanMcSrooge, a party which has abandoned the Middle Class workers in the United States.

USELESS HEARINGS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

By Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

One of the most costly and time consuming practices in the House of Representatives are hearings held by some disgruntled member of the House into some real or imaginary abuse by the other party. Darrell Issa of California has wasted tax our money in fighting every piece of legislation passed by the Democratic Party when they were in the majority during the first two years of President Obama, when the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, also so known as ObamaCare.

If the Speaker of the House had any control over his Republican Members, he would appoint a hearing committee to look into members such as Issa to either do something positive to add to the overall good of this nation and or resign as the head of this committee. Issa made his fortune by attaching anti-theft devices to cars in California, and it appears that this fortune addled his brain so that it is totally dysfunctional. He is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which is supposed to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal bureaucracy. It is unfortunate that he is unable to recognize his own waste, fraud and abuse in his own hearings where he abuses persons who do not agree with his point of view.

The Affordable Care Act and Its Website

The amount of news the press and all the members of our government have been giving to the website for signing up for health care is amazing considering that we have powerful computer systems and very adept programers, who, when called upon, can do amazing work. For example whenever a new computer system or an update to computer program is needed both Apple Computer and Microsoft can hire the talent needed to get a system running without much problem. I am certain that if Apple and Microsoft had been asked they could have been successful in building an interactive page in which people could sign up for a health care program of their choice. WordPress.org is an example of an organization which brings out updates of the program which enables me to type this post without giving much thought to whether or not my readers will have problems with signing on and reading the post. This version I am using now is Version 3.7 which I downloaded yesterday. It will work on any computer system as far as I know. I use it on three different Apple Power PC models dating from the year 2000 to 2009, and a 2012 Mac Mini which uses an Intel Processor.

The expectation that Kathleen Sebelius, the current Secretary of Health and Human Services, should be fired because the website for signing up for Health Care is not working properly is stupid and demeaning. I have worked with computers for years, but when I set up this website I had difficulties for about two years. Most of the problem
was my own inexperience with websites. I called Bluehost techincal staff numerous
times for help. I simply did not follow directions because I either forgot or I did not know they were important. My primary problem was not disabling the plugins which allow this blog to function as I want it to function so it would crash and I would have to go looking for my posts on the internet. I would then have to reformat each post so that it would be visible to my readers. I am finding that I still have many things to learn, but at present I take one task at a time and work on it until things work as I expect them to work. I talked recently with a friend of mine, who is a very bright person, who told me that he had never become computer literate. He spent is career teaching and coaching as a High School teacher, but I would not condemn him because he never became computer literate. So let us give Kathleen Sebelius a break, because I am certain the the bugs in the program to sigh up for Health Care will be successful very soon.

If you are unable to sign up for The Affordable Care Act, you can always visit your local Social Security Office and ask for help. Also, you can go to a state exchange, it does not have to be your state, and sign in on that exchange. California has very good exchange and has signed up millions of people. So, if you are currently without health insurance so there is no need to panic. I learned this information by listening to a TV program and not from the House of Representative or Senate critics.