Adding High Speed Rail

Recent comments by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and other reporters at CNN have criticized the new rail installed in New Hampshire because the service was not high speed rail as found in Europe. This group of reporters did not do their job in finding out the limitations of high speed rail service over existing rail lines. For example, several years ago I was parked next to a man who was an engineer on a train for Union Pacific. He was telling me about the limitations of passenger train travel over existing rail lines and why passenger train speeds were limited over the lines. He told me that the rail lines were no longer short links of rail but were a mile and a half of a continuous rail. This was done to take out the clicks and clacks sound made by the trains rolling over short pieces of rail. The rails worked very well for freight trains but not for passenger trains. Freight trains travel at relatively low speeds compared to passenger trains. Passenger trains tend to derail at speeds above 50 to 60 miles per hour particularly during hot summer months because the rails expand and the passenger trains which are much lighter derail at high speeds.

High speed trains in France have their own dedicated rail lines which are enclosed by high secure fences so that no animal or person can get onto the rail line and cause the train to derail and cause an accident. So if we are to have High Speed train travel in the United States, we would have to build dedicated rail lines to be used only for Passenger trains. This might seem like a unneeded expense, but when one considers the expense and congestion at airports, I would opt for the comfort of high speed rail over air travel. I have read about the use of special airlock terminals where one could board a train and exit a train without it stopping. This sounds much like the old movies on Star Trek, but I am can imagine some very intelligent engineer designing such a system.

It continues to irritate me that the Republican Party is intent on not spending any money on our decrepit infrastructure for outdated bridges, freeways, schools, railroads, and so forth. The latest ploy to vote down the talking filibuster is and example of the lack of rational leadership by Republicans in the Senate. In any business one has to spend money in order to build and business and earn money. Investing in rebuilding our infrastructure would put millions of unemployed people to work and would be paid for by increased public benefits.

WELCOME TO THE SOUTH

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

I decided to add a preface this post after reviewing what I had written. It has to do with the onset of World War II and the incarceration of Japanese American citizens into Concentration Camps. There were those in the War Office who considered them a threat to the war effort against the Axis powers of Japan, Italy, and Germany. Two lifelong friends, one Japanese and one Caucasian, are part of this post because prejudice is not confined to any part of this country or to any particular race or group of immigrants. The Japanese sent to the concentration camps were loyal Americans who were sent without proof that they were disloyal. They came to live and go to school with us because the father of my lifelong Caucasian friend suggested releasing the Japanese to farm. We needed farmers to replace all the young men who went off to fight in World War. Once the Japanese were released from the Camp in Idaho, they came to work as farmers. Farming was new to most of the Japanese so the crops they chose to plant and raise were row crops such as lettuce, potatoes, sugar beets, and onions. Their first task was to take out the fence rows and farm adjacent to the roads. They did not raise any livestock or any crops such as corn, alfalfa, or grain. The children of the Japanese became our classmates and entered into learning with greater effort and diligence than their Caucasian classmates. They entered into the sports programs such as boxing, football, track, and baseball. There was prejudice at first, but as we got to know each other better the prejudice diminished and we became friends. The first Japanese and Caucasian marriage caused an incident by both families. The couple married and divorced because of their families, but they remarried each other after the brief divorce. There were many more intermarriages. The Japanese decided to build a cultural center to commemorate their arrival and development as citizens of Malheur County in Eastern Oregon and also Western Idaho, but decided to dedicate it to all the citizens of the region because they realized we were all immigrants. My lifelong Japanese friend still lives in Eastern Oregon and is married to a Caucasian woman, and my other friend lives in Southern Oregon.

On October 1956, after graduating in June from what is now Eastern Oregon State University, I was drafted by the U.S. Army. I had three school choices, cook’s school, military police, or aircraft maintenance school. I chose the latter and set off for basic training at Camp Carson in Colorado. The elevation at Camp Carson is about 6000 feet, but because I had been building a telephone line from La Grande, Oregon to Baker, Oregon, where the elevation was about 4500 feet, I was not bothered by the difference in elevation. For those who were overweight or in poor physical condition, it was so difficult that some would pass out and have placed in the medical truck which followed us on our marches. After about five to six weeks, those who were out of shape at the beginning of basic training were able to keep up with the rest of the company. My work during the summer had prepared me very well, because I had been finishing up digging the holes for telephone poles using an eight foot metal bar that was pointed on one end and flat on the other end. I also had and eight to ten foot spoon to scoop out the loose rock. I did this work for about twelve weeks or more in temperatures that were often 110 degrees. I always got a severe headache because dynamite contains liquid nitro-glycerine which is placed in diatomaceous earth or sawdust to form a means of holding the liquid. The nitro-glycerine fumes cause the headaches. When I went into the Army, we had to take physical training tests(PT Tests) to determine our degree of fitness, plus we all had to pass a medical exam and take shots of all kinds. So with my fitness at a very high level, I did better at the PT tests at the beginning of basic training than at the end. As soon as I finished basic training, I was sent to Camp Rucker, Alabama, now Fort Rucker, to train as a helicopter mechanic. It was an interesting assignment and an interesting place. I was sent there in December from Camp Carson wearing my winter uniform which was a heavy wool uniform. When I got off the train at Montgomery, Alabama the temperature was in the 80′s and the humidity was very high so we were very uncomfortable. As I looked around the train station, I saw that the water fountains and restrooms had signs “Whites Only” and “Colored Only”. My mother was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas and had told me about the South, but I was puzzled by the signs. It was my first introduction to the South in the late 1950′s. I should have known better because my mother told of traveling from Jonesboro to Memphis, which was about 60 miles, and seeing a black man hanging from a telephone pole. His crime could have been as minor as looking at a white woman ore even worse flirting with her. The other information of interest was that we were told that the blacks had refused to give up their seats to whites on the buses and were boycotting the bus company, so that the busses were not running at a full schedule. There had also been a black Minister, who had been traveling around the South, demanding the same Civil Rights enjoyed by the white citizens. I had never heard of this Minister who turned out to be the Reverend Martin Luther King, or the woman, Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man. Rosa Parks had been arrested sometime either in late 1955 or in 1956 for this crime. She had also been arrested about ten years prior to the latest event, when she refused to pay her toll and then get off the bus. walk to the back of the bus and enter the bus through the back door so the white passengers did not have to look at the blacks as they went down the aisle. This earlier crime had taken place on the same bus with the same driver before the one in 1955 or 1956. The Army had sent us to Montgomery, but had not provided us with transportation or with money to travel to Camp Rucker, so we had to stay overnight in the YMCA for a night which cost us 50 cents plus a little more for food. Some of my companions went out looking for women and reported back that the women they had met were very light skinned but the palms of their hands were even lighter. They thought they might be mulattos, a term seldom used anymore, to label a person of mixed race primarily black and white. After spending the night in Montgomery and contacting the Army in Fort Rucker, we took the bus to Fort Rucker. As usual, I walked to the back of the bus and got peculiar glances by the blacks sitting in the last ten rows of seats. I sat down next to a young black boy and talked to him as we rode along. I later learned that the State of Alabama could have arrested me for riding in the back of the bus. I liked riding in the back of the bus because it was usually empty or not crowded. In my case, ignorance was bliss because I was neither arrested nor did I have any problem because I rode in the back of the bus.

In the rest of my service, I had little contact with blacks except for a Warrant Officer who was one of the 34 helicopter pilots in our company. The only segregation I observed was that we started to get NCO’s in our company from the Infantry because the military was going through a downsizing and had to put the senior NCO’s somewhere. These NCO’s did not want anything to do with the Specialist class of soldiers who had been through helicopter maintenance school and tried to impose spit and polish techniques on the rest of us. One thing they tried was to insist that both pairs of boots had to be polished to a high shine, but once any hydraulic fluid was spilled on the boots, they would no longer shine. With the help of the First Sergeant and the Commanding Officer, this life threatening problem was solved by leaving one pair of boots polished for inspection. These same infantry sergeants did not want to share the mess hall with such low-lives, which the specialist class of soldiers represented. We also had army officers who had been victims of reduction in force, but they had a choice of retiring with less than twenty years of service or staying in the service as a Master Sergeant to finish their years toward retirement. The moral of this story is that different branches of the US Army operate without the need for strict rules of hierarchy because the pilots need to trust and respect the enlisted personnel who take care of the aircraft they are flying. Before the infantry sergeants, we did not have this class distinction in our company. I guess another moral of this story is that rigid class distinctions can arise anywhere at anytime.

It was in 1991 before I returned to the South where I lived for three years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. The State of Mississippi had changed greatly due to the Civil Rights movement. The black kids and white kids who were poor attended public schools, while the affluent black kids and affluent white kids attended the once all white academies which were set up by the whites as the result of the desegregation. This meant that the Southern States spent more on education than the Northern States on a per capita basis, a statistic seldom discussed in Educational Circles. The other result of the resegregation of schools on the basis of affluence and not race, is that it robs the public schools of the leadership qualities which the affluent kids enjoy because of their enriched life experiences. The Northern States have a similar segregation due to affluent parents sending their kids to private schools, such as charter schools and other private schools that were set up before the United States were formed as a Union. Now the Public Schools are under assault by the large companies which make up ALEC, because they do not want to support public education through taxation. We are entering a new era of segregation with the super wealthy citizens refusing to pay their fair share of taxes in order to provide financial support for public services. In politics, we see new voting laws which try to keep underprivileged citizens from voting. These wealthy corporations and citizens have no sense of patriotism. Segregation as once practiced in the South now finds new areas in which to flourish, from the avoidance of taxes to prejudice against less affluent citizens in the Hispanic, Muslim, Black and White communities. We have states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania trying to void municipal laws, elected officials, labor unions. and so forth.

In contrast while living in Mississippi, we had Black police officers, mixed church congregations, mixed schools and many other examples communities working together for the good of their communities. In contrast, on the eve of Inauguration of President Obama we had Rep.Eric Kantor, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, probably Minority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and many others attending a secret meeting and agreeing to do everything in their power to thwart the Obama Presidency because he was of both Black and White heritage. We had Senator McConnell of Kentucky declaring that he would do everything possible to ensure that Obama would not be elected for a second term.

To summarize this post, I have a favorable view of Southern Politics and my Southern Relatives. I grew up in Oregon, but my mother taught me the Southern tradition of manners, and my Southern Wife from Mississippi has continued the lessons, although she is sometimes in despair over my progress. Southeners are not perfect. Neither are the Northeners or Westeners because in many of the Western States such as Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho, there are some of the most conservative political leaders anywhere in the United States. We have some of the Oklahoma delegates who do not believe in global warming and would not even if that state formed rain forests and jungles. My deceased brother-in-law had many black friends in Mississippi, including a Deputy Sheriff who met in each others homes. He once asked me what I would think of his asking his friend. Deputy Sheriff Bubba, over for drinks. I replied that if he were my friend I would not care what others would think if I invited him over for drinks. I am certain he and Bubba had shared many drinks in each others homes, but he wanted my approval. In true Southern tradition white and black women would often assist each other during child birth or if there was an illness in each others family. During the early 1920″s, my father bid on a construction project while he and my mother were living in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was criticized for hiring black carpenters to help him on the project. He told the white relatives and friends that he did not care what color their skin was as long as they could do the job. I cannot state my true disdain for any political leaders who would meet in private and pledge to oppose the first White and Black President of the United States in everything he proposed. I promised myself not to use profanity in my posts.

REBUILDING THE UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

We have heard many speeches on rebuilding our infrastructure, but so far very little money has been appropriated to start such projects. If we go back to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, we had President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was very wealthy, but also had great compassion for those who were poor and out of work. He fought a long fight to convince the Republican Party to work with him to rebuild old infrastructure, and to build new projects which would provide for the long term prosperity of not only the wealthy, but to build a prosperous middle class which would have a public safety net for health and retirement. He did not succeed in all of his attempts, but he did establish social security and provided funds to build hydroelectric dams which provided for electricity and water for irrigation. He expanded his efforts to large and small metropolitan areas in order to provide money to rebuild their infrastructure and to provide jobs. These efforts were very important because unemployment was approximately 25% nationwide, and included mostly men, since the number of women working outside the home was small compared to the present time. Also, the percentage of people engaged in agriculture during the 1930’s was well over 30%, and has gradually declined to under 3% in 2012.

As a young man, he was crippled by polio and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he was always careful to be photographed standing up in a special set of braces that allowed him to walk a few steps to a podium. He would not allow himself to be photographed in a wheelchair because he did not want pity or to be described as weak because of his illness. He brought the country back to prosperity from 1934 to 1937 only to have a second deep depression which was worst than the first. He did not despair but continued to develop new agencies such as the WPA, PWA, and the CCC’s. He put millions of unemployed workers to doing jobs which would develop the infrastructure across the nation. Many of these projects included hydroelectric dams which still provide electricity and water for irrigation, and included the Tennessee Valley Authority(TVA) and the Bonneville Power Administration(BPA) which eventually spanned the length of the Columbia River, as well as the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. All three of these great projects are still working today to bringing power and irrigation to large areas of this nation. He was fought at every turn by the Republicans, but he continued his work until his death just before the end of World War II, when his Vice President Harry S. Truman became President. He was elected as President four times and guided this nation through the great depression and through much of World War II. He also set up the CIA with the help of the British before World War II, so that he could use their services in espionage projects overseas, since the FBI operation is confined to the US. The automotive factories and other manufacturing facilities were converted to building all kinds of war machines from the Jeep, to trucks, to tanks, to landing crafts, to ships and to airplanes. Our industries provided the Allied nations including Russia and Great Britain with war machines and materiel to fight World War II. After the war, the Marshal Plan was put in place to rebuild the infrastructure over much of Europe and Asia. President Roosevelt used radio broadcasts throughout his Presidency to communicate with the nation. He had a great speaking voice, much like President Obama, and could convince people to support his policies in both peace and war. I grew up listening to his broadcasts, because my father always listened to the news on the radio when he came home from work. TV was first broadcast in New York in the late 1930’s, but did not expand around the nation until the 1950’s. Once the war was over, President Truman carried on President Roosevelt’s policies, and the equally progressive Republican President, President Dwight Eisenhower provided the funds to build the national highway interstate system so that we now have the United States connected by high speed freeways. The G.I.bill provided funds for the retraining of returning World War II veterans in colleges and trade schools. During the Korean War and the Vietnam War the G.I. bill was also provided for veterans. I used my G.I. bill to attend graduate school to earn a Ph.D. at Oregon State University. I was glad to see the G.I. Bill reinstated for the veterans of the Gulf War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. These were the most cost effective programs ever instituted because they provided well educated individuals to work in building the infrastructure of the the U.S., and because they included both skilled workers and college graduates.

President Obama’s efforts to rebuild the infrastructure has been met with much the same opposition by the Republican Part that President Roosevelt experienced in the 1930’s, except the present Republican Party vow was to oppose his efforts in order make certain that President Obama was a one term President. In the meantime our infrastructure is between 60 and 80 years old. Our buildings such as schools are old and decrepit, our cities are showing signs of age and disrepair, our highways and bridges are unsafe and old, particularly in areas where salt is used to melt snow in the winter, our rail system needs to be updated to include high speed rail which is found in Europe, China and Japan. I would like to see high speed rail on the West Coast from the City of Tijuana , Mexico to Vancouver, B.C. Further, we need a high speed rail from Chicago to Seattle, and one from New Orleans to Los Angeles. I do not know enough about the needs of the East Coast to comment intelligently. I do know, that a high speed rail system would take the pressure off the airplane travel and offer an alternative to air travel which has become congested and increasingly expensive. Lastly I would like to see a Western White House built in one of the Western States possibly Nevada. We westerners get the impression that politics on the West Coast do not matter, but we do have a growing and influential population.

Voter Suppression Laws

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

The voting rights act was put into place to provide citizens of the United States with the opportunity to vote without undue registration requirements. With the Republican Party desperately trying to win the next election for President, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, their best opportunity appears to cheat by passing bogus laws which makes it more difficult for the poor, the aged, and the minority voters to vote. If our Supreme Court were awake and concerned with all members of the United States, it would not have passed the Citizens United ruling allowing the billionaires to buy votes. I have not forgotten how my vote was ignored and suppressed in the 2000 election when the Supreme Court appointed George Bush as President, and again sat silent when the Secretary of State for Ohio ignored pleas for a recount when thousands of ballots disappeared, and George Bush was appointed again by the Ohio Secretary of State.

In a Democracy, the right to vote is sacred if were are to survive as a free nation and not end up as dictatorship. A judge in Pennsylvania has allowed the new law which discriminates against about 750,000 voters who have voted in previous elections, by requiring new voter identification rules and not allowing any voting on weekends. Many of these voters are poor and cannot afford the cost of new identification, and have no way to get to the proper place to register or to vote once they get their new registration. Many of the elderly black people were not born in hospitals because the white run hospitals would not allow them to give birth in a hospital. An elderly black woman who marched with Martin Luther King will not be able to vote. Latinos, young students in colleges will not be allowed to vote unless they vote via absentee ballots.

Here is what I would suggest for all Americans to do, because it appears that our dysfunctional Supreme Court has gone to sleep again. It appears that certain members of the Supreme Court have contracted the BAT-CRAP-CRAZY-VIRUS that infected the Tea Party Members, such as U.S.Rep Michelle Bachmann. Clarence Thomas and his wife were also infected by the virus with regard to the $800,000 she earned from the Tea Party. Clarence Thomas claimed he did not understand income tax rules. He got a second dose of the virus when he attended the secret meetings hosted by the infamous Billionaire Koch Brothers. Also infected by this virus were Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito who also attended these secret meetings.

It is no wonder that to please themselves and the other Republican members of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as most of the Billionaire group, they voted to pass the Citizens United law that gave Billionaires the right to buy votes nationwide to influence legislation and buy Senators, Representatives at the National and State level. The Citizens United law was the most biased and stupidest law ever passed by any Supreme Court in our history, by declaring corporations to be persons. The last I heard, only children born by other people were legally persons. This same Supreme Court has been silent regarding Voter Suppression Laws passed by states with a vast number of minority citizens, both poor, old and ethnically impure with the basic intent to prevent them from voting and thus ensuring that a Republican President is elected. So in order to help these voters to be able to vote in the next election I am suggesting the following:

1. Send a letter to the Supreme Court Justice of the United States, John Roberts, and to the Associate Justices as well. If you need help get together with your friends and neighbors and send out letters as a group. Explain your discontent with their inaction and mention the attendance of Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas at the secret meetings with the Koch Brothers where much of these actions were discussed and planned,

2. Send a copy of the letter to the State Supreme Courts, the Secretary of State for your state or whoever is in charge of elections, the local person in charge of elections. If you can, try to get a bipartisan group involved, but I would not be disappointed if you do not get the cooperation of the Republican Party. It is not in their best interest to have fair elections in our government.

3. Also, send a letter to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, telling him you support his efforts to challenge voter suppression laws.

4. Start a fund drive to help those voters in other states who do not have the financial means to pay for voter registration.

5. Current Members of the Supreme Court of the United States:

Name Service Assoc Justice Chief Justice Birth Place Date Religion

Antonin Scalia 1986– *** N.J. 1936 Roman Catholic

Anthony N. Kennedy 1988– *** Calif 1936 Roman Catholic

Clarence Thomas 1991– *** GA 1948 Roman Catholic

Ruth Bader Ginsberg 1993– *** N.Y. 1933 Jewish

Stephen G. Breyer 1994– *** Calif 1938 Jewish

John G. Roberts 2005– N.Y, 1955 Roman Catholic

Samuel A. Alito, Jr. 2006 *** N.J. 1950 Roman Catholic

Sonia Sotomayor 2009 *** N.Y. 1954 Roman Catholic

Elena Kagan 2010 *** N.Y. 1960 Jewish

Mailing Address for the Supreme Court:
U.S. Supreme Court Building, 1 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20543

ON DAY ONE I WILL DO THE FOLLOWING

Since the Republican hopeful for POTUS needs only one day to completely change the direction and function of the United States of America, I suggest limiting Willard Romney to a one day Presidency. After all, he constantly talks about firing people, doing away with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Department of Education, Commerce, all Wall Street reforms, taxation for the Wealthy, etc. I suggest that he also do away with the Supreme Court since it has become so inept and biased toward the Citizens United Billionaires that it no longer functions as the third branch of government. He could also revoke the citizenship of all the 1% millionaires and billionaires and send them to the Cayman Islands and other off shore tax avoidance havens. He could export Jaime Dimon(James Dimon). James “Jamie” Dimon is an American business executive. He is the current chairman, president, and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, one of the Big Four banks of the United States. Under his expert leadership JPMorgan Chase lost at least 2 Billion dollars gambling with derivatives. He reportedly lost 3 Billion dollars or more, but who is counting with such exemplary leadership. He could serve as a one day Secretary of the Treasury and continue to Bankrupt the United States as President George W. Bush did with Treasury Secretary Henry(Hank) Paulson(The Sky is Falling Treasury Secretary). Hank Paulson, knowing that our treasury was in default, and knowing that the four of the largest banks in Great Britain were near default bought Puts on three of their largest banks and earned 5 Billion dollars. If Paulson had purchased Puts on the US Banks which were also in default, he would have been guilty of insider trading and could have been sentenced to prison. You buy puts on financial trading as a bet that the price of a commodity or some other financial transaction is going to decline. You buy Calls on a financial transaction if you think it is going to increase in value.

So you see that we need Romney as President for one day only to finish the job of bankrupting this country started by eight years of the failed Presidency of George W. Bush. We would then fire Romney and turn the Presidency back to Barack Obama in order to clean up the destruction and disorder imposed upon this great nation by the Supreme Court, the Bush and Romney Administrations, and rename the Republican Party, the “Citizen United Party for the Destruction of the United States with the aid of Republican Supreme Court Justices of the United States”. That is a very long title for the Republican Party but since we would have our one day President Romney, not only firing himself but the entire Republican Supreme Court Justices and all of the Republican Representatives and Senators, including Rep. Eric Kantor, Rep. Paul Ryan, and especially Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would in his final act as a Senator make Romney a ONE DAY PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I do not have the time at this moment to come up with a shorter title.

Some song writer could write a stirring melody for this occasion commemorating the One Day POTUS and the former Republican SCOTUS members would be replaced by newly appointed members by the the Second Term President Barack Obama. I have not exhausted my store of ideas, but I need to stop at this point and Cook Breakfast, which given my limited cooking skills includes only making coffee. You see my definition of cooking is applying heat to some food or beverage.

The Vulture

Since our home backs onto a wildlife refuge, we have all kinds of wild animals including hawks, vultures, blue herons, geese, ducks, ravens, crows, mountain jays, fox, coyotes, deer, eagles, five different snakes, rabbits, feral cats, humming birds, and frogs. The one animal I will tell you about is the turkey buzzard because the buzzard or vulture doesn’t kill anything it only eats dead animals.

I once had a poster of two buzzards sitting upon a road sign out in the desert with two signs pointing in two directions. At the bottom of the sign was a sun bleached skeleton of an animal which had been picked clean. Since I grew up in the high desert of Eastern Oregon, it takes less than 30 days for a dead cow or horse to be nothing but a skeleton with only a few pieces of hide and sinew left on the bones. After a year of two the sun will have bleached out the skeleton so that the bones are completely white. My poster, in which my wife saw no humor, had two buzzards sitting on the sign post looking down at the bleached out skeleton. One buzzard turned to the other and said, “Patience hell, let’s kill something.”

We have been hearing on the news about Venture Capitalists buying a company, selling off all its assets, laying off all its employees, confiscating its pension funds and leaving the company with a mountain of debt, so that it has to file for bankruptcy,and keeping all the profits for themselves. This is the kind of business Mitt Romney was involved in when he started Bain Capital. Venture Capitalists, now referred to as Vulture Capitalists do not create anything but only leave a skeleton of a company that is bankrupt and lies bleaching it the sun as a dead company. Romney will try to explain that he merged companies or reorganized them into viable companies, but what he doesn’t tell you that his investors or partners never lost money. Instead, they stripped all the assets out of the company and kept the money for themselves. In order to keep from paying taxes on their money they established off shore accounts which were not taxed. This is how he set up a hundred million dollar offshore account for his sons. It is also the reason he is reluctant to present his income tax records for the public until the very last moment before the next election.

Romney also wants to defund public sector unions, including teachers unions, and use that money for other schemes he and his cronies in ALEC have set up. One only has to look at Romney’s record as Govenor of the State of Massachusets, which he left with a huge debt, to get an idea on how he would try to run the Federal Government. It would be a government of the Rich, for the Rich, and by the Rich. He wants to cut taxes on the rich and has probably already signed the “Vulture Document”, authored by Grover Norquist, never to raise taxes.

We need to spend money to get us out of this depression. We will have to do deficit financing on a scale similar to the Great Depression of the 1930’s and after World War II in order to get us out of this quagmire the Republicans have got us into with their refusal to fund any public works projects such as building roads, and bridges, and schools. You do not see the employees of banks and other financial institutions working in buildings which are falling apart. Go to any small town or big city and you will find that banks waste more space than any other institution. By contrast, public schools in large and small communities are overcrowded, have high levels of molds that make students ill. Many were built either in the 1930’s or after World War II. The high school where I taught was literally falling apart. It got so bad it was finally torn down and a new building was built. My students were always asking me why we did not have air conditioning, to which I always replied, “We do, it is air conditioned hot and hotter.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, from Kentucky refused to allow his Republican colleagues in the Senate to provide money to rebuild a bridge in his own state, that is unsafe and causes traffic delays which ultimately costs more than the cost of rebuilding the bridges. This is sheer stupidity and makes one wonder why the citizens of Kentucky keep electing people like he and Rand Paul. The bridges and freeways were built after World War II when President Eisenhower, a liberal and well respected Republican, signed the highway bill to bring our roads up to the standards he saw in Germany during World War II. Our level of national debt was higher in proportion than at the present time. So the solution is to use deficit financing until we have rebuilt our factories, employed our own workers, and have a fully functioning private and governmental work force which is able to buy our own products. You will hear the argument that our goods and services will cost more because of labor unions, but at least our citizens will be employed and have more money to spend. This plan worked well until the past two Bush Presidencies out sourced our jobs, failed to finance two wars, gave tax breaks to companies and wealthy individuals to set up companies overseas.

An update on current events has Bain Capital moving a company to China because it can make more money and escape paying taxes in the United States. The final irony, is that current employees of this company are required to train their Chinese counterparts in the job they are doing. I have always wondered why an employee would do agree to train someone else for their job unless they were getting a large severance package to do this work.

WELCOME TO THE SOUTH

I decided to add a preface this post after reviewing what I had written. It has to do with the onset of World War II and the incarceration of Japanese American citizens into Concentration Camps. There those in the War Office who considered them a threat to the war effort against the Axis powers of Japan, Italy, and Germany. Two lifelong friends, one Japanese and one Caucasian, are part of this post because prejudice is not confined to any part of this country or to any particular race or group of immigrants. The Japanese sent to the concentration camps were loyal Americans who were sent without proof that they were disloyal. They came to live and go to school with us because the father of my lifelong Caucasian friend suggested releasing the Japanese to farm. We needed farmers to replace all the young men who went off to fight in World War. Once the Japanese were released from the Camp in Idaho, they came to work as farmers. Farming was new to most of the Japanese so the crops they chose to plant and raise were row crops such as lettuce, potatoes, sugar beets, and onions. Their first task was to take out the fence rows and farm adjacent to the roads. They did not raise any livestock or any crops such as corn, alfalfa, or grain. The children of the Japanese became our classmates and entered into learning with greater effort and diligence than their Caucasian classmates. They entered into the sports programs such as boxing, football, track, and baseball. There was prejudice at first, but as we got to know each other better the prejudice diminished and we became friends. The first Japanese and Caucasian marriage caused an incident by both families The couple married and divorced because of their families, but remarried each other after the brief divorce. There were many more intermarriages. The Japanese decided to build a cultural center to commemorate their arrival and development as citizens of Malheur County in Eastern Oregon and also Western Idaho, but decided to dedicate it to all the citizens of the region because they realized we were all immigrants. My lifelong Japanese friend still lives in Eastern Oregon and is married to a Caucasian woman, and my other friend lives in Southern Oregon.

On October 1956, after graduating in June from what is now Eastern Oregon State University, I was drafted by the U.S. Army. I had three school choices, cook’s school, military police, or aircraft maintenance school. I chose the latter and set off for basic training at Camp Carson in Colorado. The elevation at Camp Carson is about 6000 feet, but because I had been building a telephone line from La Grande, Oregon to Baker, Oregon, where the elevation was about 4500 feet, I was not bothered by the difference in elevation. For those who were overweight or in poor physical condition, it was so difficult that some would pass out and have placed in the medical truck which followed us on our marches. After about five to six weeks, those who were out of shape at the beginning of basic training were able to keep up with the rest of the company. My work during the summer had prepared me very well, because I had been finishing up digging the holes for telephone poles using an eight foot metal bar that was pointed on one end and flat on the other end. I also had and eight to ten foot spoon to scoop out the loose rock. I did this work for about twelve weeks or more in temperatures that were often 110 degrees. I always got a severe headache because dynamite contains liquid nitro-glycerine which is placed in diatomaceous earth or sawdust to form a means of holding the liquid. The nitro-glycerine fumes cause the headaches. When I went into the Army, we had to take physical training tests(PT Tests) to determine our degree of fitness, plus we all had to pass a medical exam and take shots of all kinds. So with my fitness at a very high level, I did better at the PT tests at the beginning of basic training than at the end.

As soon as I finished basic training, I was sent to Camp Rucker, Alabama, now Fort Rucker, to train as a helicopter mechanic. It was an interesting assignment and an interesting place. I was sent there in December from Camp Carson wearing my winter uniform which was a heavy wool uniform. When I got off the train at Montgomery, Alabama the temperature was in the 80’s and the humidity was very high so we were very uncomfortable. As I looked around the train station, I saw that the water fountains and restrooms had signs “Whites Only” and “Colored Only”. My mother was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas and had told me about the South, but I was puzzled by the signs. It was my first introduction to the South in the late 1950’s. I should have known better because my mother told of traveling from Jonesboro to Memphis, which was about 60 miles, and seeing a black man hanging from a telephone pole. His crime could have been as minor as looking at a white woman ore even worse flirting with her. The other information of interest was that we were told that the blacks had refused to give up their seats to whites on the buses and were boycotting the bus company, so that the busses were not running at a full schedule. There had also been a black Minister, who had been traveling around the South, demanding the same Civil Rights enjoyed by the white citizens. I had never heard of this Minister who turned out to be the Reverend Martin Luther King, or the woman, Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man. Rosa Parks had been arrested sometime either in late 1955 or in 1956 for this crime. She had also been arrested about ten years prior to the latest event, when she refused to pay her toll and then get off the bus. walk to the back of the bus and enter the bus through the back door so the white passengers did not have to look at the blacks as they went down the aisle. This earlier crime had taken place on the same bus with the same driver before the one in 1955 or 1956.

The Army had sent us to Montgomery, but had not provided us with transportation or with money to travel to Camp Rucker, so we had to stay overnight in the YMCA for a night which cost us 50 cents plus a little more for food. Some of my companions went out looking for women and reported back that the women they had met were very light skinned but the palms of their hands were even lighter. They thought they might be mulattos, a term seldom used anymore, to label a person of mixed race primarily black and white. After spending the night in Montgomery and contacting the Army in Fort Rucker, we took the bus to Fort Rucker. As usual, I walked to the back of the bus and got peculiar glances by the blacks sitting in the last ten rows of seats. I sat down next to a young black boy and talked to him as we rode along. I later learned that the State of Alabama could have arrested me for riding in the back of the bus. I liked riding in the back of the bus because it was usually empty or not crowded. In my case, ignorance was bliss because I was neither arrested nor did I have any problem because I rode in the back of the bus.

In the rest of my service, I had little contact with blacks except for a Warrant Officer who was one of the 34 helicopter pilots in our company. The only segregation I observed was that we started to get NCO’s in our company from the Infantry because the military was going through a downsizing and had to put the senior NCO’s somewhere. These NCO’s did not want anything to do with the Specialist class of soldiers who had been through helicopter maintenance school and tried to impose spit and polish techniques on the rest of us. One thing they tried was to insist that both pairs of boots had to be polished to a high shine, but once any hydraulic fluid was spilled on the boots, they would no longer shine. With the help of the First Sergeant and the Commanding Officer, this life threatening problem was solved by leaving one pair of boots polished for inspection. These same infantry sergeants did not want to share the mess hall with such low-lives, which the specialist class of soldiers represented. We also had army officers who had been victims of reduction in force, but they had a choice of retiring with less than twenty years of service or staying in the service as a Master Sergeant to finish their years toward retirement. The moral of this story is that different branches of the US Army operate without the need for strict rules of hierarchy because the pilots need to trust and respect the enlisted personnel who take care of the aircraft they are flying. Before the infantry sergeants, we did not have this class distinction in our company. I guess another moral of this story is that rigid class distinctions can arise anywhere at anytime.

It was in 1991 before I returned to the South where I lived for three years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. The State of Mississippi had changed greatly due to the Civil Rights movement. The black kids and white kids who were poor attended public schools, while the affluent black kids and affluent white kids attended the once all white academies which were set up by the whites as the result of the desegregation. This meant that the Southern States spent more on education than the Northern States on a per capita basis, a statistic seldom discussed in Educational Circles. The other result of the resegregation of schools on the basis of affluence and not race, is that it robs the public schools of the leadership qualities which the affluent kids enjoy because of their enriched life experiences. The Northern States have a similar segregation due to affluent parents sending their kids to private schools, such as charter schools and other private schools that were set up before the United States were formed as a Union. Now the Public Schools are under assault by the large companies which make up ALEC, because they do not want to support public education through taxation. We are entering a new era of segregation with the super wealthy citizens refusing to pay their fair share of taxes in order to provide financial support for public services. In politics, we see new voting laws which try to keep underprivileged citizens from voting. These wealthy corporations and citizens have no sense of patriotism. Segregation as once practiced in the South now finds new areas in which to flourish, from the avoidance of taxes to prejudice against less affluent citizens in the Hispanic, Muslim, Black and White communities. We have states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania trying to void municipal laws, elected officials, labor unions. and so forth. In contrast while living in Mississippi, we had Black police officers, mixed church congregations, mixed schools and many other examples communities working together for the good of their communities. In contrast, on the eve of Inauguration of President Obama we had Rep.Eric Kantor, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, probably Minority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and many others attending a secret meeting and agreeing to do everything in their power to thwart the Obama Presidency because he was of both Black and White heritage. We had Senator McConnell of Kentucky declaring that he would do everything possible to ensure that Obama would not be elected for a second term.

To summarize this post, I have a favorable view of Southern Politics and my Southern Relatives. I grew up in Oregon, but my mother taught me the Southern tradition of manners, and my Southern Wife from Mississippi has continued the lessons, although she is sometimes in despair over my progress. Southeners are not perfect. Neither are the Northeners or Westeners because in many of the Western States such as Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho, there are some of the most conservative political leaders anywhere in the United States. We have some of the Oklahoma delegates who do not believe in global warming and would not even if that state formed rain forests and jungles.

My deceased brother-in-law had many black friends in Mississippi, including a Deputy Sheriff who met in each others homes. He once asked me what I would think of his asking his friend. Deputy Sheriff Bubba, over for drinks. I replied that if he were my friend I would not care what others would think if I invited him over for drinks. I am certain he and Bubba had shared many drinks in each others homes, but he wanted my approval. In true Southern tradition white and black women would often assist each other during child birth or if there was an illness in each others family. During the early 1920″s, my father bid on a construction project while he and my mother were living in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was criticized for hiring black carpenters to help him on the project. He told the white relatives and friends that he did not care what color their skin was as long as they could do the job. I cannot state my true disdain for any political leaders who would meet in private and pledge to oppose the first White and Black President of the United States in everything he proposed. I promised myself not to use profanity in my posts.

FINDING MONEY FOR A COLLEGE EDUCATION

Getting a college education is becoming more and more expensive to the extent that it is becoming extremely difficult for a person of modest means to go to college. Trying to work while one goes to college can be frustrating because the amount of money one can earn at a part or full time job is rarely enough to pay for housing, plus tuition, books and other fees. There are many resources either on line or available at a local college or university. At the university I attended, there was an extensive library devoted to scholarships, grants, writing proposals and so on. I discovered this library when I went there not as a student but as a professional writing a proposal for a research grant. Here are some of the categories I found:

1. Scholarships and grants for students whose parents lived in a particular community and worked for a specific company or had a specific occupation are available. The category of scholarships and grants is particularly useful because, unlike loans, they do not have to be paid back. Many students have no idea that these kind of scholarships and grants exist.
2. Work Study is often offered by Community Colleges, Four Year Colleges, and Universities can be combined with grants, loans, and scholarships to provided the student with some extra spending money. Some colleges and universities have learning centers where students can go to get help in study skills, writing skills and topics in mathematics, science, and other technical areas where they need help. Let us say for example that you have good writing skills. If you have the time and patience to work with other students, you can get paid to help other students. There is another advantage of working in a learning center and that is that in teaching others you will enhance your own learning because students will ask you questions that you never thought of because the particular subject was easy for you to learn.
3. Loans are another way to get through college which is an advantage, but loans do have to be paid back and usually have to be guaranteed by your parents unless you are independent and self employed.
4. What ever choice is open to you, you need to get started early and start before you graduate from high school if you are still in high school. The internet is a good place to start, but you do not have to pay someone to apply for a grant, scholarship, or loan. You will need to to have financial information from your parents or from your own income statement.
5. Make absolutely certain that you check your spelling and sentence structure when you apply for admission to a college or university. There is nothing worse than to project yourself as lacking in skills. Remember you are trying to sell yourself to a committee who does not know you. Have someone else check your work and chose someone who you know has good writing skills.
6. Finally, you have to choose a specific set of schools that fit you as a person. For the first two years, a community college is a good choice because not everyone has to go to an Ivy League College or University such as Harvard or Princeton. Luckily for myself, I chose to go to a small four year college which had a good faculty and a small student body whose back ground fit my own. I went to this college with the attitude that I was going there to learn and not to party. Learning should be approached as a job

The Arab Spring

New reports regarding the Arab Spring do not focus very much upon the heroics of the Muslim Women who are very much at the forefront of the Movements for freedom from repressive governments. It is no surprise that Muslim women are not given credit in the press for their heroics. For some reason women have not been recognized in the USA. If you want an example of this you need only to watch the Congressional hearings led by Republican Rep.Darrell Issa from California on women’s reproductive rights. The only woman at these hearings was Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who objected to a hearing of all men making decisions regarding women’s rights without any women available to testify because none were invited.

In the Egyptian uprisings, both men and women were represented in great numbers. I have great admiration for the courage shown by Muslim women all across Northern Africa with special recognition for the courage of the Libyan woman who was raped by the Gaddafi”s guards, and went on television to report it. In Syria, the Syrian Army is targeting men, women and children who have no protection, no medical care, and lately very little food. It is hard to tell anything regarding the outcome of women’s rights in this region once the governments are changed to allow the citizens more participation in their own government. In the early stages of the development of the Muslim religion, the women had more rights than at present times.

The current paranoia by many of the citizens of the United States regarding Muslims, a nation which was supposedly founded upon the freedom to pursue any religion of ones choice, is a stain upon our national character. To denigrate the religion of the Muslims in this nation and around the world is a retreat to the Crusades which were carried out to get rid of the so-called infidel Muslim religion. I do not know where this quote came from, but someone in the news stated that a Muslim said that he wished he had met Jesus Christ before he met Christians. In our own new search for a new President, we have new voter suppression laws being passed by many states that mirror the poll taxes laws in the Southern States prior to the Civil Rights Movement. These states are trying to ensure that the minorities in the United States do not re-elect a President who is not white.

I have recently watched a television movie made in 1997, Mandela and De Klerk, where Sidney Poitier played the role of Nelson Mandela. In this movie Poitier was brilliant in his role as Mandela in his quest to bring equality to the Black Citizens of South Africa. The movie was a great reminder of the struggle the human race has to provide freedom and equality for all our earthly citizens regardless of their race, gender or religion. Much of our current political discourse reverts back to the racial origins of President Barack Obama. By the voter suppression measures being instituted in many of our states we certainly do not appear to have learned much about equal rights for our citizens. I am hoping that we emulate the courage shown by the men and women in the Arab Spring movement.

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Reincarnation–Fact or Myth

I have found this a very interesting topic over many years. It is not one that is treated as a serious issue particularly in the scientific community which views life as a biochemical state made up of atoms and different compounds, but with no spirit or concept of an afterlife. Since I started out as a liberal arts major and ended up with a background in physics and mathematics, I tend to bridge both worlds in my thinking. I have many books on the subject of reincarnation and have read many accounts of near death experiences in which people have been declared clinically dead and yet survived. Many of those who survived recount experiences in which they viewed their operations from the ceiling and heard themselves declared to be clinically dead. Others recount experiences of going through a tunnel toward a light in which they were greeted by friends, relatives and counselors who told them their mission in life was not yet finished.

Many of the major religions accept reincarnation as part of the cycle of life where one works out problems they have before they are accepted into a permanent state where it is no longer necessary to reincarnate. Most Christian religions accept the idea of Jesus of Nazareth as a soul worthy of resurrection without the need to reincarnate. Buddhists, depending upon the particular version of Buddhism, view the quest for enlightenment as a means to attain a state of permanent reincarnation. Buddhism is based upon the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who sought enlightenment, rather than to follow his father as the ruler of a state or region in eastern India. I have no intention of going into the various versions of either Christianity, Buddhism, or the Islamic religion. The topic is too vast for my purposes which is to discuss briefly the concept of reincarnation which is permanent state of existence where birth and death as we know it is no longer necessary. Wikipedia has an excellent overview of Buddhism which you can read if you are interested. My interest and reading has been primarily devoted to Zen Buddhism and to the Tibetan version of Buddhism.

One of my favorite books is a compilation of Zen thought, ZEN FLESH ZEN BONES, A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings(1957 and 1985) compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki. It consists of a series of Koans which are thoughts designed to help the unenlightened to become enlightened. Here is an example of having attained enlightenment: MUDDY ROAD

TANZAN AND EKIDO were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous, Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

Another book I found of great interest was written by a Irish Priest who left Ireland and spent ten or more years studying with a Zen Master in Japan. The book is entitled: CHRISTIAN ZEN: A WAY OF MEDITATION, by William Johnston. He was amazed that he could ask any question without fear of reproach by the Zen Master, who would usually answer much like Tanzan did in his answer to his fellow monk. William Johnston was amazed at the manner used by the Zen Master to enable the Priest to answer his own question for himself. He stated that if he had stayed in Ireland as a Catholic Priest he would never have thought through the answers to his questions in such depth.

Another author I have read extensively, was Ruth Montgomery who wrote many books on the subject of reincarnation, including one entitled Strangers Among Us(1979), and one entitled Aliens Among Us(1985). In the book Strangers Among Us, she discusses people who she calls Walk-ins, as enlightened beings who are permitted to take over the body of an adult being who wishes to depart and has given permission to an enlightened being, who has undergone many reincarnations, to come back and work on a specific task without going through rebirth, childhood, and adulthood. Ruth Montgomery started out as a journalist and turned to writing books on many topics related to reincarnation. Among her associates were Edgar Casey a medium who worked with a medical doctor to help develop cures or treatments for diseases of his time. Casey had many books written by others based upon various topic he discussed over many years one entitled Edgar Cayce on Atlantis, compiled by Edgar Evans Cayce(1968) his son and who was the Director for the Association of Research and Enlightenment.

There are so many authors who have written upon this subject that I will not attempt to name them all, but I must at least list some of the books in my personal library which relate to the topic of life and other lives.

Gina Cerminara, Many Lives, Many Loves(1963), Lobsang Rampa, The Third Eye(1956), Carlos Castaneda, The Fire From Within(1985), George Gamow, One,Two,Three Infinity,…Facts and Speculations on Science(1988), Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics(1976), The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fizgerald(1962), Kahlil Gibran, The Profhet(1923), and R.G.H. Siu, The Tao Of Science, An Essay on Western Knowledge and Eastern Wisdom(1957). My list is short because it is up to the reader to explore this topic and come to their own conclusions. If you choose to explore it, you will come across many more authors, skeptics, who deny any afterlife. It is up to you. I hope you enjoy your journey.