“It’s the economy stupid?”

“Its the economy stupid!” This political campaign slogan mantra is bandied about, either implied or implicit, in every presidential campaign cycle. Ours, however, is a different take on the “economy.” As an example: I was just reading in the book Justice (In A Global Economy) that, for instance, what we eat has multiple ramifications. Several days ago, I interviewed a philosophy professor at Ohio Northern University who teaches a “Food Ethics” class. He said he teaches the class that “traditional farming” these days, while increasing growing and profits in the short term (creating a “booming economy”), in the long term it can have some extremely detrimental effects. For instance, he noted that massive corporate farming fields of genetically modified crops are regularly sprayed with toxic, artificial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. This, over time, destroys the nutrients in the soil. What’s more, during an interview I did with author David Orr, who was also the head of Oberlin College’s Environmental Science Program at the time, he said these toxins were making “chemical cocktails” in consumers’ systems — ‘exploding’ into diseases like cancer. [One in three Americans now get cancer in a lifetime.] The author of the Justice book recommends we readjust our paradigm by growing much more organic food, shopping locally at Farmer’s Markets and such, and avoiding a lot of non-nutritional junk food. As for the latter, as an example, Americans could take the savings from, say, drinking pop, and fund well-water-projects for many more of the almost one billion people in the world without even the access to the basics in clean drinking water. That might well be a component of an ‘economy’ much more in line with the economy God might want for our society. Spiritual common sense. For more on our agricultural platform, which addresses a number of these issues at length, go to…

Africa at an ag. crossroads…

A vignette that’s emblematic of the crux of some of the article. –photo by Robin Hammond

I just read a rather detailed article on “African agriculture” in National Geographic magazine. It noted that it was on the rise and that Africa, itself, while having a lot of fallow land and plenty of water for irrigation, nonetheless still has the “…largest ‘yield gap’ of anywhere on earth.” The article also noted that the World Bank, other donor countries, and corporations are stepping up to increase this ‘yield.’ Problem is, the article (by Joel K. Bourne, Jr.) explains that big farming is colliding, in many parts of Africa, with small farming. Corporate farming concerns are, for instance, buying up big swaths of land in, say, Mozambique — with the government doing little to protect small farmer land rights in this. As the big farms take over, they then continue to increase exponentially (as has happened in America). What’s more, big farming practices include things like using massive amounts of toxic, artificial pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers… that, in the long run, damage the soil, the environment, and, well, consumers (cancer risks, and such). In the article, a partial argument is made to help current small farmers there be as sustainable as possible by helping them in various ways. For instance, “African Century Agriculture” provides small farmers with more seed and mechanical devises to weed. It also provides “extension agents” to teach these small farmers about “conservation agriculture,” the latest in seed treatments, and such. They currently work with some 900 farmers. Note: Our administration’s policy would be too increase, ‘exponentially,’ aid to organizations like African Century Agriculture to help buoy the small farmers of Africa. Given Africa is the “hungriest continent” in the world (scores of people starve to death every day there), our priority — devoid of myopic, selfish “American interests” — would be to, well, do what’s morally right to help people with constant “food insecurity” issues. And our agricultural platform stance, in part, outlines projects that we’ve researched across America to mobilize a lot more help for these people. This is, really, how we can: Make America Great AgainĀ — in God’s eyes. [Our Foreign Policy addresses some of all this as well.] Note 2: The article also noted that the “specter of climate change threatens to hammer Africa’s [crop] yields.” So our administration’s policy would be to also work on, ‘exponentially’ again, curbing climate change.

food terrorists?

In the book This Hungry World, it notes that in Central America there is a food that is a mixture of ground corn, cottonseed meal, yeast and Vitamin A. The protein it provides, according to what I was reading, is almost as good at the protein value in milk. What’s more, “incaparina” costs about three cents a day per: child. The book also notes, however, that many families there make less than a dollar a day. So… On a stop in Vermont several years ago, I interviewed a Mary Knoll priest who is stationed in Cambodia — where there are a lot of similar hunger issues. What’s more, he said with Americans wasting billions of dollars a year on a host of non-nutritional junk food and beverage — in the face of such dire world hunger — it makes us nothing less, in God’s eyes, “food terrorists.” You know, when you think about that objectively, much less spiritually, you have to say he’s right. Note: As president, I’d use the office as a “bully pulpit” to try to get this across to Americans. In fact, a good deal of our “Foreign Policy” spins around much more “just” distribution of resources worldwide. Note: Besides violence, may are fleeing Latin America because of the stark poverty. Peoples’ kids are hungry!

‘Plimpton presidency’

Joe working on an organic farm in Lisbon, Ohio –photo by Steven Piscura

It will be a ‘Plimpton presidency,’ as it has been a ‘Plimpton candidacy.’ George Plimpton was a “participatory sports journalist.” That is, he would actually play whatever sport he was writing about to better understand it in portraying it. For instance, before writing the book Paper Lion, he participated in part of training camp with the Detroit Lions and even ran three plays at quarterback during an exhibition game. I, as an example, tout organic farming in our platform. So myself, and our family, worked for extended periods on several organic farms over the years. This was not some “farm photo-op deal.” We worked long, sweaty hours for weeks, sometimes months on end, bailing hay, cutting wood, working with animals… For more on our agricultural platform in general… Note: I told the Country Today newspaper in Wisconsin that another part of our agricultural platform revolves around lobbying for big corporate mega-farms to be classified as “monopolies,” and broken up. Our country would do best to go back to small family farms, which was once the backbone of the country, and should be again.

Doomsday Clock: tick, tick, tick…

Doomsday Clock businessinsider.com photo

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists kept the Doomsday Clock at an ominous two minutes to doomsday a few days ago. This, it was noted, is as close to doomsday that we’ve been since the Cold War. I was recently reading part of the book Beyond The Cold War. The book notes that a nuclear crises can arise from either a sudden, acute imminent threat; or the gradual deterioration of international relations over time that could lead to the same threat. “The most effective, improvised action to be taken in anticipation of a possible thermonuclear war is evacuation of civilians to shelter in rural areas.” Uh… Conversely, our administration would propose an extremely proactive set of strategies to build peace worldwide through a U.S. Department of Peace. Note: What’s more, Mother Theresa once said, for instance, that abortion can lead to nuclear holocaust as well. [Abortion is legal in all but six countries in the world, with America coming in at a staggering 60 million abortions now, and counting.] So a multi-prong approach would be to mobilize the U.S. Department of Peace strategies, in tandem with ending abortion. And we have a plan for the latter as well.

extraterrestrial life? Uh…

I just read some of the cover article in this magazine. The relatively new field of “astrobiology” has scientists spending all kinds of time and money setting up experiments in places like a frozen arctic lakes, tropical caves, and such, in order to simulate conditions on, say, parts of Mars, Europa, and so on, in a quest to discover life forms, like, for instance, earth’s microbes and other possible microscopic life “out there.” Uh… I just interviewed a philosophy professor at Ohio Northern University who teaches a class on Environmental Ethics. He talked about people developing what he referred to as “virtue ethics.” That is, their actions are determined, not at random, but rather through where their moral compass points to. Okay… If I know that some one billion people on this planet don’t have access to clean drinking water, and I’m part of a field spending millions, maybe billions, of dollars, and all kinds of precious time and valuable expertise, on looking for extra-terrestrial microbes, what might that say about where my moral compass is pointing? Just askin’.

Martin Luther King Day (2019)… and “Black Amends”

Earlier in our campaign travels we stopped in Selma, Alabama. Part of extensive cross-country touring included teaching our children American history. Here my wife Liz is explaining to our Sarah about “Bloody Sunday” at the Emund Pettus Bridge. –photo by Joe

Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Our campaign/research travels took us all over the country in the past 20 years, or so, to look at, among a host of things, Black issues. We volunteered at Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, which was the backwater version of Selma/Montgomery. We followed the Voting Rights March route between Selma and Montgomery. We did an “Underground Railroad Tour” from the deep south to Ohio. We lived, for extended periods (and did outreach) in hardscrabble areas of Cleveland and Atlanta looking, first hand, at issues facing Blacks who have been trapped in inter-generational poverty loops. And more… From this exposure, including interviews with a variety of people who have developed models to help, we have crafted a comprehensive “Black Amends” position paper that would go a long way in making things right.

Bluster and bombs?

I visited this War Memorial in Spencerville, Ohio, the day Trump talked from the Pentagon. We should weigh our words soberly in this area, and our actions even more soberly. –photo by Joe

Yesterday Trump, with great fanfare, spoke from the Pentagon about withdrawing troops from Syria, ramping up even more our missile defense, and he talked, once again, about the need for a iron clad border wall. Yesterday I, with a whole lot less fanfare (in fact I was the only one there), visited a Military Memorial in small Spencerville, Ohio, in the early evening. The Memorial, among a good number of things, includes a marble stone listing every armed conflict the U.S. has had over the years where American service people have lost their lives. Anything from, say, WWII where 293,121 lost their lives to as small as the “Bay of Pigs” (1961) where four American service people lost their lives. As president, the gravity of going to war, any war, would weigh heavily on me. I believe in the “Just War” principles where, among other principles, you have to exhaust every avenue of peaceful diplomacy before committing to war. This would include, in my book, being as proactive as possible about preemptively “building peace” around the world at every turn. And there is so much more we could do in these areas, starting with our proposal for a U.S. Department of Peace. Note: “Bluster and Bombs” is not a sustainable, geo-political long-term answer.

‘Let them eat cake!’ Trump?

The underside of Joe’s 2004 Equinox, muffler tape and all.

Trump struck a $3.9 billion deal with Boeing last year for a new, and exclusively improved, Air Force One. I just spent $9.95 on muffler tape to help nurse the exhaust system on my 2004 Equinox through the winter because of other financial obligations — like feeding my kid. During the current Federal Government Shut Down, time and again there have been stories of a good number of federal employees who are living pay check to pay check and are being impacted, a lot, by this. And by extension, there are many of us in the country who are living pay check to pay check in general. This “Let them eat cake!” ‘Trumpian’ luxury mentality — eating, say, chocolate mousse at Mar-a-largo or the White House, while a majority of “average Joe’s” are struggling week to week, is, at best, quite troubling.

Trashing the planet?

Joe’s article

We, many of us, are “trashing” the planet. I wrote this article a few weeks back. Ada’s Village Administrator pointed out that China is taking approximately 40% less recycling from the U.S. these days because it’s trying to get its own pollution problems under control. I mention further on in the article, that when we were on a research trip out east a number of years ago, we learned that New Jersey’s landfills were all but full, and garbage trucks there have clear cylinders on the outside that the trash is initially funneled through before going into the body of the truck. If recyclables are observed in the garbage, some municipalities levy fines now — of up to $250. For a look at our position on the environment…