learning vacations; small town tourist destination

I just did a newspaper story on Bluffton’s Allen and Diane Yoder.  Each year for the past nine years,  they have gone on “Road Scholar” learning vacations.  The tour guides are local historians, college professors, and such.  The Yoders just returned from Natchez, Mississippi, where they learned about various aspects of slavery, about trade on the Mississippi River, about antebellum-era mansions…  The Yoders consider themselves “life-long learners” and really enjoy these adventures.  In our travels, we came across Wilcox, Arizona (pop. 3,501).  The town has a historical society, offers regular “learning tours” through the town, and have, basically (and with some creative tourism smarts to boot), turned Wilcox into a tourist destination.

My interview with U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan; Welfare Reform, too

For our newspaper, I interviewed high-profile U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan in Bluffton the day before the Mid-Term Elections vote. [Jordan is a top candidate to become Minority Leader of the House, since Republicans have now lost control of the House.]  Jordan had several basic talking points:  He said he wanted to continue to push to “build the wall” (southern border) because safety of Americans was paramount.  Jordan is also all in on Welfare Reform.  And he believes in a much more decentralized approach to education, with much less standardized testing (and teachers teaching to these tests), and much more creative, teacher-driven curriculum that fit the various needs of their students, from year to year.  Note 1: Several days ago, I heard a conservative talk show host say she’s lobbying for Jordan to become the Minority Speaker because he will adamantly “fight” for Republican priorities.  Jordan’s sport in school?  Wrestling.  Note 2:  Mr. Jordan talked about Welfare Reform and that it is an issue both Parties have expressed interest in addressing…  In the book Repackaging the Welfare State, it’s noted that increasing productivity in a country can offset, say, a growing dependency ratio.  What’s more, the author writes that the Welfare State “…is unquestionably one of the noblest accomplishments of the 20th century.  It meant a shift from purely private charity to protection by the state as well.” Where the balancing act comes in, according to Congressman Jordan (and others), is discerning between legitimate welfare recipients, and people on the Welfare dole, so to speak, who could be, in fact, considered legitimate “able-body workers.”

Rally Point… Youth for Christ

The other night our Wednesday Bible Study group volunteered at Youth for Christ’s “Rally Point” outreach in Lima.  The YFC building is situated in the heart of a quite hardscrabble neighborhood.  And kids here, many of them, are in tough situations amidst the poverty, drugs, gangs…  Rally Point provides a safe place for after-school tutoring, a nightly meal, recreation areas with pool tables, and such, an outdoor basketball court, and now, a new courtyard area as well. One of the staff people took me outside at one point to show me this area, complete with three quite nice, all- weather, picnic tables — with umbrellas — that had been subsidized with a grant from the city.  The next phase is to get some lighting for the area.  And that’s where my son Jonathan is going to come in, again.  Go to… *and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Taking trees seriously…

I interviewed a Bluffton Village councilperson, Ben Stahl, who is the liaison  between council and the Tree Commission here.  In recent years, Bluffton has established an “Arboretum” with a wide variety of tree species.  In addition, the village participates in the Tree City USA Program, with, among other things, $2 per person from the village budget going to new tree planting projects, and such. Earlier in my cross-country research, we stopped in Nebraska City, Nebraska (home of Arbor Day Farm).  The town of 7,000 there was undertaking planting 10,000 new trees within a 10 year period.  The whole eastern half of America was essentially “clear cut.”  And, well, its time to replant some of this.  For more on this, see our position paper on the Environment.

Caravan – Part 2

:You know in regard to my last post about the caravan of migrants coming up from Latin America…  In looking at some photos of the caravan, I saw a number of teenage kids.  I have a teenage kid.  Jonathan is 15.  His high school soccer team was just in the District Championship Game.  They held it in the small town of Kalida, Ohio.  Us Bluffton parents sat in the stadium stands on a nice Saturday afternoon, most of us clad in red (school color) “spirit-wear,” and cheered our players on.  It was one, of many, quintessential — and special — small town moments for these kids, us parents, community members…   Meanwhile other kids, and parents, are living amidst, say, horrific drug cartel violence in The Honduras.  It’s no longer safe to go to the sandlot soccer field up the street to play.  And, in desperation, parents are packing up their kids, themselves, and heading north — hoping to find safety and a way out of abject poverty.  People in the caravan are sleeping on the ground, regularly in inclement weather, on the way up here. People in the caravan are also hungry, they’re getting sick…  Meanwhile, President Trump went to sleep in a quite well-appointed, temperature controlled room, atop an extremely comfortable bed. That’s pretty much been his lot, not just as president, but forever.  No wonder he doesn’t get it.

Border Wall, at Heaven?

Just read a couple NY Times pieces on immigration, the “approaching caravan,” et. Al.  One article noted that Mexico is struggling to assimilate the surge of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Latin America.  Although Mexico hardly “…meets the definition of a safe country.  Last year was its deadliest in two decades,” the article noted.  Now, our campaign travels took us to Juarez, Mexico, several years ago where we toured the slums there.  Some 200,000 people living in cobbled together shacks with no electricity, no running water, and little food.  Of course Mexico would be “…struggling to assimilate the surge of [new] migrants.”  I told a newspaper reporter in Hobbs, New Mexico, during one of our “Border Tours,” that many Americans are missing a tremendous spiritual opportunity to help these people.  What’s more, and again on the spiritual front, what kind of wall (read: “chasm”) are many quite well-off Americans (by Latin American socio-economic standards) going to meet at the border of Heaven?  For more on our take on all this, see our position paper on Hispanic Immigration.

American Solidarity Party talks

Catching up more on the last month…  I gave a keynote talk on Running for President as an Independent Candidate at the American Solidarity Party’s Regional Conference in Walnut Creek, Ohio, a couple weeks back. I also gave brief talks on National Security and Civil Rights issues.  [*I was actually endorsed by the ASP, formerly the Christian Democratic Party, in Campaign 2012.]  The ASP’s platform is pretty much totally in line with my platform..  The platform is against: abortion, against poverty, against pollution… It is for: small business, traditional marriage, civil rights…  In other words, where the Republicans and/or Democrats get it wrong, the ASP gets it right — across the board.  It’s, in essence, a “What Would Jesus Do?” type of  Party.  Note:  More on the talks in a future post(s).

nuclear weapons build-up, again?

Last Saturday President Trump said he was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.  His administration’s contention is that Russia is breaking the treaty by building and testing a new class of weapons.  The treaty bans ground launched ballistic and cruise missiles that have a range from 300 to 3,400 miles.  According to the book the Nuclear Age Reader, Russian “strategic [nuclear] force expansion” has forced the U.S. to abandon its commitment to strategic superiority, and it has further driven the U.S. to settle for detente as the best framework for bilateral super-power relations.  Trump’s move, in tandem with his expressed intentions to ramp up our nuclear weapons development, could well start another Cold War Arms Race.  Our administration, on the other hand, would look to parity with Russia in a bilateral — or even unilateral (taking the lead) — nuclear arms reduction.  With, eventually (and sooner than later), this going all the way to: zero.  Why?  See the section in our military paper on: “nuclear weapons.”

 

 

Robert Kennedy, the marginalized, my presidency

Catching up on the last month…  I’ve been reading some of the book Robert Kennedy and His Times by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.  Last night I was reading a section that included that Kennedy wrote in 1967:  “…we are two worlds.”  The world of the white middle class was reasonably pleasant. “But if we try to look through he eyes of the young slum-dweller — the Negro, and the Puerto Rican, and the Mexican-American — the world is a dark and hopeless place.”  Schlesinger noted that Kennedy could bridge divides and connect deeply with those on the margins.  “He could see things,” said Cesar Chavez, “through he eyes of the poor… It was like he was ours.”  This section also chronicled the bloody “ghetto rioting” during this time, and Kennedy fervently trying to come up with answers, not only to quell the violence, but to impact the dead-end poverty that was pushing people to the edge.  Note:  We saw this dead-end poverty, first hand, during a five-year stay near the inner city of Cleveland to work with a group of Catholic Workers.  During this time, my empathy for those trapped down there increased exponentially.  As president, I’d wage war on poverty and social injustice in these cities and this position paper details these strategies, at length…

Space Force. Not!

With Trump’s new proposed Space Force, we stand at the brink of yet another Cold War arena. The book Beyond the Cold War notes that the U.S.’s military pre-eminence in the world is unmatched (the U.S. currently spends more on the military than the next 17 countries — combined)!  However, the book also notes that countries with a lot of nuclear weapons (read: Russia, for one), trumps — pun intended — military superiority in the other areas.  What’s more, the book notes that western allies with the U.S. know this, so they are not as dependent on America for security, as they were before.  Our administration would nix the Space Force idea, not only because it would inevitably start yet another unnecessary Cold War race; but it would also take a significant amount of money away from programs to help the poor, to help the environment, and so on.  So… “Beam me up Scotty…”  If you’re under 30, Google that phrase. Note: During a campaign swing through Texas, I told a reporter I would be opposed to any type of militarization of space.  For more on our stance on the military in general, see…