It’s a political marathon…

Pictured here is Rachel Mathewson. I just interviewed her for a newspaper article. She’s 42-years-old, the mother of seven — and has run the Boston Marathon twice, and counting. (She currently has her eyes set on “Boston 2020.”) I currently have my eyes set on “Election 2020,” for the presidency. And like Rachel’s ongoing quest, so, too, has been mine. I’ve run for president in six successive election cycles, and counting. I’ve traveled some 250,000 miles doing cross country research, as well as 100,000 miles campaigning. Its been a MARATHON! Rachel keeps on, as do I. In her last marathon, Boston 2018, Rachel finished 18,751st. I’ve finished higher than that, each campaign. Just sayin’.

“That definitely looks like…”

What does that front cloud on the horizon look like? Yeah, I thought that too. –photo by Joe

On March 18, 1942, four American Airacobra jets crashed together during a blinding snowstorm in a cluster of trees near a farmer’s field just southeast of the small town of Lafayette, Ohio. All four pilots were killed. I’d decided to do a “remembrance story” for one of the local papers. There hadn’t been a cloud in the sky all day. But as I was taking pictures of the historical marker at sunset (on Dec. 7, no less) a small formation of clouds appeared in the western horizon. Almost everyone I’ve shown the photo to has immediately responded that the front cloud looks an awful lot like: a fighter jet. I have to believe that evening that God was doing some “art stuff.”

Ada is doing just fine…

Ken Laurie is sworn in as the newest member of the Ada Village Council. –photo by Joe

I covered an Ada Village Council Meeting last night. As I write this, Trump is threatening a government shutdown. Conversely, this little village (pop. 4,000) seamlessly passed a new $11 million budget appropriation for fiscal 2019. No partisan haggling, nothing. What’s more, Ada’s government finances are in the black, while federal government finances float on an astronomical $20 trillion, and counting, sea of debt. Uh… Perhaps we could learn something from these rather well-running small municipalities across the nation. Just sayin’.

Healthcare for everyone

ONU Mobile Health Clinic parked in downtown Bluffton, Ohio

I recently did a newspaper article about Ohio Northern University’s “Mobile Health Clinic.”  Funded by federal and private grants (including money from ONU), university pharmacy students, and other volunteers, travel throughout a three county area giving flu shots, vitamins, cholesterol screenings, blood pressure checks… especially to people who otherwise couldn’t afford these.  Mobile Clinic Director Amy Fanous told me that she believes one of the biggest healthcare problems is that not everyone has access to quality healthcare and she said this Mobile Clinic, and other similar initiatives, would go a long way in impacting this — if it they were replicated all across the country.  Our healthcare position not only calls this as well, but we have traveled extensively researching these kinds of model healthcare projects across America.

To Russia, with love

I was just reading in USA Today that Russia’s GDP is less than that of California’s.  What’s more, their economy, right now, is hurting.  While on the one hand, we continue to play geo-political chess with Russia over election hacking, continued aggression in the Ukraine, it’s involvement in the War in Syria…; maybe on another level, we need to be trying to help Russia more.  It occurs to me that sending more foreign aid, starting up American/Russian sister-cities, and sending teams of, say, Habitat for Humanity volunteers… might catch Russia off guard.  In a good way.  Just a (biblical) thought.

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.