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.

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.

X78SDPCHDGD7

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.

The US House of Representatives and the US Senators Getting Rich

It appears that members of Congress are immune from the laws governing insider trading on the stock market. Suppose a member learns that a firm is going to come out with a new invention that will cause the stock price to increase dramatically. They can use that information to get rich, but if I were working for the same company and used that information to help out a relative, I would be subject to being indicted and possibly sent to prison for the same act. But members of Congress can use such information without fear of reprisal. Retired Senator Judd Greg and his brother made millions over the closing of an obsolete Air Force Base.  This explains why so many members of Congress do not want to increase taxes on  millionaires, because they are protecting themselves from paying more taxes.  No wonder the middle class voters have such a low opinion of Congress.   It is too bad that so many members of the middle class, who are uninformed, do not choose to vote out these millionaires and allow public financing of elections.  Public financing of elections would bypass the need to become a millionaire first or rely upon corporations to buy a Senator or Congressperson in order to become a member of Congress.

The other problem is with the Supreme Court.  We appoint the members of the Supreme Court for life, with no real means of removing them for failure to uphold a balanced view of the law and the constitution.  We have seen the willingness to the Current Supreme Court members to sell themselves to the highest bidder in their Citizens United case making a Corporation a person and allowing corporate money to buy anyone without any moral or  ethical values.  The current crop of would be Republican Presidential Candidates has gathered millions from Corporations, and the Supreme Court has made themselves available for purchase by attending ALEC meetings and have dipped into the Corporate coffers for their own accumulation of wealth.

The Republican Presidential Candidates have made their approval of the Citizens United windfall by using podiums which are labeled “Citizens United.”  I have no doubt that if we have a Republican elected as President, it will be business as usual and that the middle class will continue to decline until we have as a richer class of the “Haves and the Have Mores.”  to quote the Supreme Court Appointed but not Elected President George Bush.  My final admonition to the voters is to become informed, and to vote for those with ethical values which favor the entire population.  We do not need Senators like Mitch McConnell or Congresspersons such as Boener.  We need people willing to compromise and to vote for laws favoring the best interests of this nation.

Politicians, Supreme Court Justices, and Other Public Officials for Sale or Already Sold

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

It is amazing that with all the attention paid by various media outlets that more attention is not paid to investigating politicians who are obviously for sale or have already been sold by large corporations who funnel money to them. We have not yet heard anything new regarding Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who failed to file proper income tax returns on money earned by his wife. His excuse that he did not understand the tax laws is inexcusable. I personally do not understand all the tax laws, so I do the next best thing and hire a trustworthy Certified Public Accountant to do my income tax. We have also not heard anything about censoring Supreme Court Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito for their attendance at the secret meetings held by the Koch Brothers to plot ways to secure control of state, local, and the federal government by buying politicians such as Governors Scot Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasik of Ohio.

To give you a concrete example of the great Governor of Ohio, Cooper Tire Company negotiated a contract at one plant in Ohio and convinced the union employees to give up about $30,000 each, in wages and benefits over a three year period of time, to help make this particular plant profitable. The union did so and the plant became one of the most profitable in the Cooper Tire Company. After getting the union to give up wages and benefits, the management used much of the money to vote themselves huge bonuses. Now after three years of profits, the management of this particular Cooper Tire installation is trying to coerce the union to renegotiate their contract to again give up more wages and benefits so that they can again give themselves huge bonuses.

It is time for the workers to vote out any politician, like Walker and Kasik, who were bought and paid for by the corporations belonging to ALEC, and to get a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, with Obama as President and recall the Supreme Court Members who voted for Citizens United. Only the House of Representatives can recall a Supreme Court Member, so we need a solid majority of Democrats who have not been bought and paid for by the Corporations who belong to ALEC. You can easily tell who those politicians and corporations are by looking up www.ALEC.com. You can easily find your own state representatives and senators as well as the corporations, such as WalMart, who are providing the money to buy the politicians.

If you remember, former WalMart women employees tried to get the Supreme Court to force WalMart to compensate them for wages and promotions given to male employees while ignoring equally qualified women employees. It was reported that Supreme Court Justice Kennedy was rude and made disparaging remarks to and about the women in the this class action suit. We as citizens should not tolerate actions by the Supreme Court which are derisive to 99% of the citizens of the United States. I am in favor of the so-called Tea Party and the 99ers who have been out peacefully protesting politicians of all flavors who flaunt the will of the people. I do not always agree with the solutions proposed by these two groups, but I applaud their dedication to our nation.

We also have two of the Right Wing Supreme Court members who were invited to a meeting and lavish dinner by the big pharmaceutical firms, and who want the Supreme Court to rule on the Obama Health Care provisions and return the laws to the same firms who disallowed Health Care for preexisting conditions and for the provision that would require everyone to pay for at least a minimal amount of health care. This provision would allow the costs of emergency medical care to be added to those members who already pay for their health care. It appears that the Supreme Court is going to hear the case that the pharmaceutical firms want them to hear, so it certainly appears that the Right Wing members have already made up their minds to vote against the new health care laws just as they did on the Citizens United Case. Again, we have not only our Congressional politicians being bought and sold, but the Right Wing Supreme members are apparently on the “Take” as well.

ALEC–AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL–LIMITED GOVERNMENT, FREE MARKETS, FEDERALISM

ALEC is an organization which is made up of some of the richest persons and corporations in the United States. It produces boilerplate legislation for state legislatures throughout the nation which are often passed without any thought by the legislature of a given state. It patterns itself after the Propaganda Techniques of the Nazi Regime of World War II. Lately, as an example, it was running advertisements on the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System to try to sway public opinion on those employees who had retired and moved to other states to retire. If a retiree moves to another state, that retiree has only to pay taxes required by the state of their present residence. This right was won by a women who moved from California to Nevada after she was retired and was required to pay California taxes even though she had not lived in that state for fifteen years. She had sued the state of California in Federal Court and won. This right was extended to every retiree throughout the United States. The corporation running this advertisement was none other than Comcast, one of the largest cable companies in the United States, and which extended its reach into politics by recently purchasing CNBC.

A woman who works for ALEC, had written that ALEC was based upon the Republican principles of President Thomas Jefferson and the Federalist Papers. At the time the Federalist papers were written, there were basically two parties, the Federalist Party and the Republican-Democratic Party. The Federalist Party became the Whig Party and the Republican-Democratic Party became the Democratic Party. The Whig Party then became the Republican Party, so to link Jefferson to the Republican Party by the woman from ALEC was a complete misrepresentation of Jefferson’s political beliefs which were very liberal. I asked the woman from ALEC if she had ever read the Federalist Papers because if she had she would not have made the error of trying to tie Jefferson to the conservatism conveyed in the Federalist papers. After I wrote my email to her she changed the introduction, but still tried to tie Jefferson to the conservatism of the Federalist Party.

The Republican members of the Supreme Court are all members of the Federalist Society. In fact, justices from both the Republican and Democratic members of the Supreme Court have looked to the Federalist Papers in making decisions throughout the history of the Supreme Court. The Federalist Papers defined our system of government and our nation as a Republic and not a Democracy as defined by the city state of Athens, where decisions had to be made by the people gathered in one place such as a public square. Obviously in a nation the size of the United States, a voice vote of all the citizens gathered in one place would not work, so we now have elections at the Federal Level decided by the Electoral College where members of the Democratic and Republican Parties are chosen at the state level and are expected to cast their votes for their respective candidates. This system worked well until the Supreme Court decided to appoint Bush as President in the 2000 election rather than allow a recount in the State of Florida. Again this same group of conservative justices looked the other way when the wide spread voter fraud in the state of Ohio again favored Bush in 2004.

When the Republican Members of the Supreme Court voted in the Citizens United Case to make Corporations a person, they extended their prejudices even further by allowing corporations to donate millions of dollars to any political candidate of their choice without any disclosure as to its source, its candidate, or the amount of money. In recent elections in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio corporations under the umbrella of ALEC have purchased votes by buying and paying for Governors and State Legislatures whose politics are aligned with their own interests and beliefs. The Republican Justices of the Supreme Court claimed that corporations should be allowed free speech just as individual citizens enjoy free speech, but unless an individual is extremely wealthy, free speech can be very costly. I cannot make much of a dent by donating a few dollars to a candidate of my choice.

If you want to read the Federalist Papers for yourself, you can download a PDF copy free. These papers are not easy to read, but are well worth your time if you are interested in the history of our nation and the reasons we have evolved as we have both politically and economically. You can also buy a copy by visiting my Amazon Store.

GROWING UP IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930’S

My wife and I keep getting surveys from the Democratic National Committee on what the party should be doing to improve the economy, get elected, and improve the party’s chances in the next election. I do not particularly like surveys because they are too simplistic to be of much value to anyone and often do not allow one to express a detailed thought on how to solve the long term problems of the nation. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my experiences with being born during the great depression and the consequences of growing up during the depression.

First of all, there are many families who are so poor that they would not recognize the difference between one depression versus another. These families come from every nation on this planet. Many will remain poor during their entire lifetimes, and they are not all lazy, ignorant and poor managers of their resources and time. It is difficult to escape poverty even with the best on intentions and the best work ethics. A person often has to have a helping hand or a burning desire or an unusual opportunity to escape poverty.

I grew up in a family of eight children, with five older sisters and two younger brothers. Each of my brothers and sisters have different memories of how hard they had to work, who had the best opportunities, and other details too numerous to mention. None of us had much in the way of material possessions, but we did have enough to eat and were able to go to school. My father and mother were both raised by their fathers because both of their mothers died when they were children, so their family was important to both of them. My father started working at age 14 years. He worked on ranches in Wyoming, and at odd jobs relating to the construction industry, so by the time he was an adult, he had developed skills in building and the construction trades that kept him self-employed most of his life. During the Depression he worked on the development of the irrigation districts and projects that were sponsored by government funds under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Reconstruction Programs. My father followed the construction of irrigation projects starting in Minatare, Nebraska, to the Black Canyon Dam in Idaho, to the Owyhee Dam in South Eastern Oregon, to a dam in Central Oregon, an irrigation project in Baker, Oregon and finally back to Vale, Oregon where he and my family spent twenty eight years before moving to Colville, Washington in the 1950’s. Because of the nature of the work during the depression, such as twenty hour days, my father became ill in his forties and was not expected to live. He still had to work and by the time he reached his fifties, his health had improved and he was able to take a job as maintenance foreman for the Vale Oregon Irrigation District where he worked until age 66 years before he retired. My father died about two weeks before of his 88th birthday. My Grandfather was born in 1842, so he was eighteen when the Civil War began, and he was also 88 years of age when he died. This makes me the third generation from the Civil War. I grew up on a farm which we homesteaded, meaning the farm was in sagebrush and had to be cleared before it could be farmed. We had to build a house, improve upon the land, and farm it for seven years before the deed was transferred to my father and mother. Like many of the families the children had to work to enable us to survive. We first farmed with horses which I learned to harness and hook up the farm machinery at an early age of about nine. From that time forward, I took on more and more responsibility until the farm was sold in about 1955. I did most of the farming with the help of my middle brother. My sisters were all gone from the farm by 1948, so the family of eight was reduced to three. I started college by the fall of 1952, but I still spent my summers farming during that time which included helping to milk cows, manage crops like haying and growing potatoes, corn and other crops. My mother’s life was not easy during these years because she spent much time raising a huge garden, canning fruits and vegetables, sewing, ironing, cooking and cleaning house. Her lifelong hobby was growing vegetables and flowers. She loved the latter and continued this hobby until she died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease(ALS) at the age of 74 years.

When I hear the Speaker of the House, John Boehner complain about having to sweep floors in his father’s tavern, I cannot have too much sympathy for him because all of my classmates grew up in far more demanding circumstances than he did because we started early in the morning doing chores and had to start in doing more chores once we got home. I have never considered any kind of physical labor demeaning. My day started at 5 a.m. and finished at 10 p.m. We had to be on the school bus by 7:30 a.m. and got off at 5:30 p.m. I would get a snack before starting chores because the time from noon until our night time meal at 8 to 9 p.m was long. I had no time for homework because by 10 p.m. I was exhausted. While my grades suffered because of missed homework assignments, my learning did not. Once I started to college life became easier because for the first time in my life I had time to concentrate on assignments other than work. I compared notes with one of my classmates and found out that we were just one of many families who were poor. The great depression started in 1929 and lasted until after World War II for most of us. We had food, a few clothes, but very little money. In fact, I spent about two hours looking for a 50 cent coin that I had lost while taking a path across a field on the way home from school. My mother earned extra money selling eggs to the local grocery store, so she depended upon the money she earned to supplement our meager income. My first wife had more clothes in High School than all five of my sisters combined. I never talked to her or our children about my family circumstance because it would have been futile.

This current recession started in the year 2000 when George Bush II was appointed by the Supreme Court as President because of the failure of the State of Florida to conduct fair elections. He was again appointed because in the following four years nothing was done by the government nor the Courts to make certain we have fair elections so this time it was the State of Ohio chose to ignore fair elections. At present the Supreme Court is at it again by passing the most unfair and stupid bit of legislation in the history of this nation by making a corporation a person when it sided with the Court Case of Citizens United. We now have a Bush Supreme Court continuing its unconstitutional pattern of supporting the rich against the poor by supposedly allowing a corporation free speech. Now we have the Koch Brothers holding secret meetings of the rich people, which include Supreme Court Associate Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas prior to their vote to make a corporation a person. This has the appearance of a conflict of interest where two Associate Justices attend secret meetings having to do with making a corporation a person and then casting votes in favor of this misguided and stupid law. One person called in and asked if the corporation had to have a birth certificate which should give the “birthers” something new to chew on. The present depression was caused by another set of laws which were put in place during the 1930’s. One was the Glass-Steagal Act which prevented insurance companies and banks from selling securities. This law was voted out of existence by the Republican Party in 1999 and was signed by President Clinton. It should be reinstated because there is no regulation in the Insurance or banking industry which keeps them from squandering a person’s money. It is a case of the mouse guarding the cheese. Another was the lack of supervision of agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency which was practically starved to death by lack of funding. Yet another was the lack of supervision of the banks, insurance companies, the stock market traders, the lending agencies, the lack of funding of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the policy of open warfare by the Bush Administration against organized labor and against public school teachers which included the opening of Charter Schools which were supposed to revolutionize education in the United States. I learned recently that in some of the Charter Schools you are required to teach ten to twelve hours per day and are not allowed to join a union. Having worked in the field of education for 32 years, I can attest that it is a demanding job that does not pay much compared to other occupations. has more and more students with mental and behavioral problems, and a greater non-teaching personnel who do little but burden the teaching staff with programs that do not work.

At present, due to the Koch Brothers who combined have a net worth of about 104 billion, we have Governors in the States of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, whose campaigns have been financed by the Koch Brothers, with the express purpose of doing away with labor unions, both public and private, and privatizing as much of government as possible so that they can control more industries. We have the wife of Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas working for the Tea Party and earning over $800,000 dollars but failing to pay any taxes on those earnings. Maybe she thinks she is a corporation and does not have to pay taxes. In fact, one of the reasons for the current recession is that corporations do not pay taxes on their earnings, which is strange because they are now persons and should have to pay taxes like any other person or go to jail. The Supreme Court has done more to continue to extend the current recession by supporting big corporations than any other branch of government. We either have to wait until they die or try to impeach them and have them removed from office, but that will not happen because we would have to have a House of Representatives with a majority to do so or a coalition willing and able to work together. Currently, the Chief Justice John Roberts is not doing his job of keeping the Associate Justices Thomas and Scalia under control. So the current recession may well continue for 18 years as it did for my family, and the new persons, Corporations, will continue to sell this country to any other nation it chooses. If the Middle Class continues to disappear due to the lack of patriotism by the Supreme Court, the new persons–the Corporations–and the lack of concern by our other branches of government and our own citizens, we may well become a nation where 99 per cent of our citizens live in a constant state of recession or depression.

The primary difference in the current depression and the one in the 1930’s is the lack of agencies such as the CCC’s, the NYA, the WPA, and the PWA which helped to get people, particularly the young unemployed citizens, out of the cities and into the vast areas of the United States to rebuild our infrastructure. We currently need high speed rail, bridges rebuilt, schools rebuilt, and scores of other tasks that could be done by our corporations, if we had some which were interested and patriotic enough to do something for this nation instead of ones such as China and India.
We need to change the tax code so that the politicians, corporations, and the rich pay their fair share of taxes. We also need to prevent the wealthy and the corporations from setting up off shore accounts as a means of escaping taxation and using such accounts to claim they are an international corporation in order to avoid paying taxes.