Front Porch campaign in full swing…

It was reported today that Elizabeth Warren has formed an “Exploratory Committee” to get a jump on the other potential Democratic presidential contenders. Not to be outdone, I declared a year ago and have been campaigning ever since. Part of our “Front Porch” strategy is putting up campaign cards/flyers in spots around Ohio. This bulletin board was at a Market in Mt. Eaton, OH, and as you can read, I don’t even need paid political campaign marketers for some of this stuff. Lol, sort of.

small business, a mobile chapel, recycling, an athlete who’s lost a step…

Catching up on the rest of the month… For “Small Business Saturday,” I did a newspaper story on, well, small businesses in Bluffton. They are the backbone of our economy (some 70% of businesses are small businesses), and they are an integral part of our Economic Position Paper… Pictured her, his woman runs a “spirit wear” shop downtown. The high school mascot is, that’s right, a pirate. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but… I also did a story on a man from Ada, Ohio, who is a chaplain at a Mobile Chapel set up at a Pilot truck stop in Beaverdam, Ohio. It’s a converted 18-wheeler that has been converted to a chapel and sits as a beacon of hope, he said, for, often, lonely drivers who are continually tempted with drugs, gambling, prostitution… in some of these truck stops… I also interviewed the Ada Village Administrator for a story on local recycling. While there was a local focus, Jamie Hall explained the cost of recycling is going up because, in part, China has stopped taking the world’s recycling in order to ramp up badly needed pollution control in that country. China, for instance, used to take 40% of American recyclables to bolster their GDP… Our Environmental Position Paper outlines a series of measures we’d attempt to mobilize in America to work on our own pollution control… Instead of going to Mar-a-Lago for the holidays (although I realize Trump was stuck at the White House this time with the shutdown. I wish I was ‘stuck’ there…), I went to Steubenville, Ohio, for a family get together. One of our rituals is a family basketball game at the local gym. Our daughter Sarah was “Newcomer of the Year” in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference a few years back, our son Joseph is starting point guard for Franciscan University, our son Jonathan is starting point guard for his high school JV basketball team… and I couldn’t get out of bed the day after the game. I think I’ve lost a step.

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.