In Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book The Bully Pulpit, she notes that one of Theodore Roosevelt’s biggest challenges was confronting the “malignancy” of big money in politics. In a scathing NY Times editorial about this at the time, the paper suggested that a millionaire could buy a Senate seat “…just as he would buy an opera box, or a yacht, or any other luxury in which he can afford to indulge himself.” Fast forward to, well, the Trump administration. Just sayin’. Note: One form of Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit” were “Fireside (Radio) Chats.” Our campaign has resurrected those (for the cyber age). We call them “Fireside (Internet) Podcasts.”
With the heightened focus on Russia of late, I picked up an old book in the Bluffton University Library titled: The Soviet Cultural Offensive. Author Frederick Barghoorn writes that when your average Russian citizen is asked a political question: “Feigned incomprehension, ingeniously tangential replies, or indignant parroting of the official policy are among the common responses. Some foreigners have reported that Soviet people are equipped with a wealth of slogans, but with a minimum of facts about either domestic or foreign politics.” While written in the mid part of last century, a lot of this still probably holds true — because, for one, the media in Russia is controlled by a somewhat repressive government, still. Okay. But what of Americans today in our extremely polarizing society? They are either fed a steady media diet of liberal ideology, or conservative ideology. Then they often parrot this back in per-established talking points. Less and less of American citizen opinion is a well reasoned amalgam of solid points from both sides, mixed in with just as well reasoned personal opinion. Note: We’d like to think our position papers are, indeed, a good amalgam of the best of both (liberal and conservative) trains of thought, mixed in with some refreshingly original thought as well.
With Betsy DeVos now in as Education Secretary, all eyes are on charter schools. (Or at least most eyes.) With Curtis Bowers, however, not so much. Mr. Bowers is a former principal of a high school in Clarkston, Washington. During a campaign tour stop in Washington, Mr. Bowers told me that federally funded vouchers to allow a child to attend a private school often siphons off the top students from already hurting city schools. Our administration’s paradigm would be to push for every school in America becoming charter school quality. And we researched a series of charter school models that could easily be replicated from school to school across the country. One component of these schools, for instance, would be “learning teams,” which are being experimented with in Rhode Island. Each student would have a team (parents, school counselor, teacher, several community members…) who would meet regularly with the student to talk about goals, assess progress, offer, say, a summer job in a professional area a student might be interested in. All this would not only help the student, but connect more community members to the school as well. For a sweeping look at our Education plan across the board, see…
Some notes from my research the past few weeks: China has recently allocated some $360 billion dollars for the development of more green energy. Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt — who apparently has close ties to the fossil fuels industry — has just been appointed the head of the EPA in America… There’s talk in the Trump administration about moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem for their capitol, if they ever have their own state there. America moving it’s embassy to Jerusalem could create quite a firestorm… A Pat Buchanan column noted that in 2016, the U.S. had a trade deficit in goods of nearly $700 billion. “For an advanced economy like the U.S., such deficits are milestones of national decline,” he wrote…. In a George Will column in the Washington Post, he advocates for a “Peace Through Technology” doctrine at this point. Will, for instance, advocates for much more drone use. He notes drones have already logged more than 4 million flight hours and can deliver “precision strikes with minimal collateral damage…” A Time Magazine article notes that since Philippine President Rodrigo Duertes took office, more than 6,000 people had been killed (in the first six months) in his campaign to purge the Philippines of illegal drugs and those who are associated with them. The article noted that while there has been some international outcry in regard to the brutality (and lack of due process), some 77% of Philippine people give Duertes a favorable rating. Note: Our administration would come at illegal drug use in a much different, and much more systemic way. See…
President Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. Trump, obviously, is not the first president to try and tackle the Israeli/Palestinian issue. In the book: Off the Record (The Private papers of Harry S. Truman), I was reading yesterday that: “In the autumn of 1945, Truman began to come under intense pressure from American and European Zionists who wanted what then was known as Palestine opened wide to Jewish immigration.” The book went on to note that Jewish people were languishing in displacement camps and Arabs argued that since they were made homeless by the Hitler/German persecution, it was Germany’s responsibility to provide a place for them… Reciprocally now, many Arabs (Syrians, Iraqis…) are in displacement camps hoping others will take them in. We, all of us, should have been doing that — all along. Taking them in. God is giving us this tremendous spiritual opportunity to help. And if we don’t? Well, many of us may then be ‘languishing’ in a very hot displacement camp ourselves — for eternity. Just sayin’. “But Lord, when did we see you homeless?”
I recently went to a talk at Franciscan University by a priest who had done missions work in Siberia for 20 years. He said sound spirituality is putting the other person’s needs before your own. That would seem to fly in the face of that “America First” paradigm, huh. Our administration’s foreign policy paradigm would be more aligned with “America Second.” Seriously. As an example, recent data shows the U.S. Military spends 17 times more on defense — than the next 17 countries (including Russia and China) combined! Overkill? In Richard Stubbing’s book: The Defense Game, it’s noted that U.S. defense spending happens in a “complex and secretive world.” A ‘world’ often driven by a tremendous amount of unnecessary excess. For instance, the author (who worked on defense budgets for 20 years) notes that there has been a resistance to, say, postwar era base closings, not because of military strategics often, but because of local economies. “Any congress person who can’t muster the clout to hang onto a hometown base, might as well retire to a city council seat,’ wrote a reporter for the Gannett papers. Our administration would push for a comprehensive review that focused on obsolescence and redundancy in regard to current military bases. Closing some of these, selling the property, and such, could generate, say, a lot more money for USAID projects around the world.
I interviewed a financial planner in Findlay, Ohio, for an article for my wife’s magazines. During the interview, we talked about the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing, contemporary issues affecting both the stock and bond markets, and several dynamics around international trade deals — that seem to be in flux with the advent of Trump’s administration. If it was my administration, there would be a lot of economic things in general that would be in flux. (See…) In fact, we advocate a whole new (or rather “old”) paradigm when it comes to this area of society. We believe in a shift back to an agrarian based society. In addition, we would promote a lot more local production for local consumption. And we would also inspire a focus on a lot more craftsmanship, instead of mass production. What’s more, our form of “globalization” would be a lot more focused on a series of comprehensive social justice initiatives to help Third World countries become as sustainable as possible.
The book Cambodia (A Shattered Society) notes that under the Khmer Rouge regime, there were “mobile brigades” of youth, and adults, who worked exhaustively each day in the fields of agriculture, industry and fishing. What’s more, they were rationed merely small portions of rice, a small amount of vegetables, and very occasionally some “fish paste.” It was a diet almost totally devoid of protein. While the Kmer Rouge regime is no longer in power, significant parts of the country are still not faring much better when it comes to, say, nutrition. In our cross country travels, we met a Maryknoll priest in Vermont who is stationed in Cambodia. (He was back in the states visiting family.) This priest said he is surrounded by malnutrition and starvation in Cambodia. What’s more, he noted that a majority (66%) of Americans are now overweight. He then drew a corollary. He said on “9/11” America lost 3,000 people in the tragedy. However, he continued, 24,000 people silently starve to death in the world, every day. With many Americans over-consuming nutritious food, and also wasting billions of dollars on non-nutritional junk food and beverage in addition. In God’s eyes, the priest lamented, many Americans are nothing short of: “food terrorists.” Note: Our foreign affairs position paper addresses some of this.
Post election I have continued on with my ‘populist pursuits.’ Besides house painting, I continue to write freelance articles for our local newspaper. One article that I wrote in the last week was about an extra-ordinary senior at Bluffton University. Chris Wagler has a triple major (You read that right!): accounting, business administration, and exercise science. What’s more, he’s been president and treasurer of BU’s Business Club. He’s also the goalie on the soccer team. And he works part-time in the evenings at the Bluffton Family Recreation Center. Chris has also just received a full scholarship to do a Masters in Accounting at Bowling Green State University. (He’s decided on accounting, just so he can keep track of his schedule. LOL, sort of.) Note: A good number of evenings, I can be found in BU’s Library continuing to do research on our positions. For instance, there’s been a lot of nuclear saber rattling between president elect-Trump and Russia in recent weeks. This, ultimately, will send a dangerous ‘radioactive ripple’ into other countries as well. In the book China Goes Global by David Shambaugh, it’s noted that: “Beijing has not entered into nuclear arms reductions bilaterally or multilaterally. It has long argued that the two major nuclear weapons states — the U.S. and Russia — must drastically reduce their arsenals down to China’s level before Beijing will consider joining such discussions.” Note 2: Obama’s stated goal was to work toward a: “nuclear weapons free world.” And in this area, he was making strides. Trump? Apparently not so much. Our administration would be more in Obama’s camp on this one.
Okay. The election dust has settled. And, that’s right, I decided not to ask for a recount. (Didn’t want the country any more divided than it is.) Also it was apparent, at least to our campaign staff, that Russia didn’t try to manipulate the election in my favor either. So, time to accept the results — as I have the four past campaigns — and move on… In the last couple months, I’ve continued on with my “average Joe” life. Before the weather got too cold, we finished painting the exterior of a house on Spring Street in Bluffton. It was done in a rather distinctive “prairie green.” I couldn’t help but think how nice the White House would look with this color. (It’s been white for soooo long! Maybe when I get there…) Actually the color would be emblematic, in part, of our administration’s paradigm around developing a much ‘greener’ U.S. Unlike the incoming Trump administration, we (along with a host of scientists) believe global warming, for instance, is a real and imminent threat. And our energy position paper outlines a series of steps we’d take (based on some extremely tried programs), to help reverse global warming, quick!