Nationalizing ‘Walmart syndrome’ banks

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of 2008, essentially, nationalized the banks, because the $700 billion infusion from the federal government came with strings attached. The initial intent of this was to purchase toxic assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen, as a whole, the financial sector. It was done hastily in the wake of Lehman Brothers going bankrupt, so there wasn’t a cascading effect with other banks at the time. In turn, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection followed shortly after. However, what we continue to see on the front end, is the larger banks buying up more and more of the smaller banks, creating, in essence, another Walmart syndrome with the banking institutions. Note: If there was any stimulus at this point, it should be debt free/no strings attached stimulus money to local banks and credit unions to stimulate lending, within the context of a “Main Street Market Economy.”

Are we all living in East Palestine? photo

In the wake of the catastrophic train derailment at East Palestine last week, I wrote a newspaper column that asked a question that, well, no one seems to be asking: WHY ARE WE USING THESE TOXIC CHEMICALS IN THE FIRST PLACE?! I mean, we have the technological smarts to send spacecraft to Mars, but we can’t come up with, say, paint that doesn’t “…cause cancer in rats in California”? This is absolutely nuts! In a sense, with our cleaning fluids, paints, plastics… virtually all having some of these chemicals, it’s like we’re all living in East Palestine. One in three people get cancer in a lifetime in America now… In one of the towns that I cover as a reporter, a billboard recently went up with a photo of a homeless man, with the words: “Veterans, you’re not alone.” One would wonder, at least in part. That is, I did some research. In 2019, as an example, 17 U.S. Veterans, on average, committed suicide each day. Uh… I also wrote an article about a local, Christian book study group. They were reading the book: Live Your Truth (and Other Lies). The premise of the book is, basically, that some modern, pop-culture, self-improvement philosophies, and such, may actually be antithetical to the Gospel message. For instance, one of the slogans alluded to in the book is: “You only have one life to live…” With the attendant message being to grab for all the pleasure and material wealth you can. Note: I gave up a profession and my hometown to go out onto the roads of America to do all the stuff you see in this website, since I “…only had one life to live.” Part of the journey/sacrifice is contained on the following page…

Hypersonic Cold-War

Ronald Reagan Nuclear Missile Test Site (Marshall Islands)

I was just watching a pretty damning “Dartmouth Films” documentary in regard to the U.S. Military involvement in the Marshall Islands during the last six decades, starting with the detonation of 23 nuclear weapons on the Bikini Atoll between 1946 and 1958. Not only was everything (knowingly) radiated within a huge radius of the blasts, but the surrounding islanders (just as knowingly) were used as test subjects to monitor the effects of radiation on humans. Cancer rates were off the charts, birth defects were off the charts… It was totally unconscionable. Actually, closer to the truth, it was pure: evil. And that was us, read: U.S. But it didn’t stop in 1958. No. Staying in the Marshall Islands, the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site was set up on the Kwajalein Atoll. It’s used for missile testing, for missile launches, and science experiments for the U.S. Department of Defense. The documentary said the overall mission there is described as: “Vision 2020: Full Spectrum Dominance.” And, as just one example, as the U.S. is racing to develop “offensive hypersonic missiles,” so is Russia and China. It’s, in essence, now a Hypersonic-Cold-War. The answer? For us to stop, unilaterally, put the billions of dollars intended for this into global humanitarian aid projects, and trust God. For our overall position paper on the military, see…

Memphis (and Clev.) on My Mind

Cleveland Rec. Center coaching

Memphis on My Mind… Memphis is now 65% Black. Our family moved into a hardscrabble area of Cleveland that was, at least, 50% Black. We moved there to do outreach volunteer work with a group called the “Catholic Workers.” And we were there for some five years. Many people in this part of Cleveland, like, I’m sure in Memphis, are trapped in trans-generational poverty loops. What’s more, kids down there are faced with trying, daily, to dodge hunger, needles and bullets. It’s a systemic problem that needs a systemic solution, not just social service Band-Aids. Our campaign has not only thought hard about the situation, we have, again, lived in the midst of it. Our position paper provides a multi-dimensional approach to the real solution to all this.

Smart policing

speed radar sign

Smart policing. On a micro-level, each community, in large part, is responsible for its own safety. And the police in Ada, Ohio, have come up with a common-sense strategy to enhance safety in that village. They just put in two speed radar signs at the village limits on major roads coming into town. The police chief told me that this, in fact, does two things. One, a good number of motorists slow down when they see their digital speed. And two, instead of having squad cars regularly posted at each of these locations, police are now freed up to do more of other sorts of policing throughout the village. Note: Ada also has a SAFER Program, which is part of a Community Oriented Policing model. Liaisons, through regular meetings, and such, are established between village residents, businesses, school officials and the police. The synergy of these groups working together has created, well, a much ‘safer’ environment here. Note 2: Our campaign is big on backing Community Oriented Policing programs. See our position paper on crime…

Winter bicycling?

winter biking couple …photo by Joe

If we are serious about reducing our carbon footprints, we have to change our individual lifestyle patterns and, basically, get tougher in some areas. I, for instance, ride my mountain bicycle around town about 50% of the time — during winter. What’s more, I interviewed our local bicycle store owner for an article on “winter bicycling,” and he said with the proper thermal attire, studded tires, fat tires, and the like, winter biking is, indeed, quite doable. We keep pointing at the next Climate Summit emission reduction promises, which we should. But pointing at these, we have to also realize there are three fingers (Covered with thermal bicycle gloves, hopefully.) pointing back at us. Incidentally, as president, I’ll be bicycling around DC in the winter as well. And won’t that be fun for the Secret Service. LOL. Can’t you just hear that: “He’s going to do what?”

eco-webs and ‘stealing’

biology book excerpt

I was doing some research this afternoon, in the context of how man-made pollution is disrupting “eco-webs.” And, as this diagram illustrates: “…energy moves through an eco-system in a complex network of feeding relationships called a food web.” God has set it up this way. The above illustration is particularly about ocean life and the healthy balance needed to maintain this eco-system. However, massive amounts of toxic chemical farm run-off, massive amounts of plastics, and so on, are being injected into this eco-system, majorly affecting the balance. And coupled with this, when it comes to the oceans, there’s a massive amount of over-fishing as well. Disrupting these balances, on these levels, are having major consequences now, and potentially catastrophic consequences for generations to come. Psalm 14:1 — “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” We are like teenagers trashing one of the rooms (the earth) in God’s universe. What’s more, the Catholic Catechism draws the 7th Commandment into this mix: “Thou shalt not steal.” The Catechism notes that we are “…to have concern for the quality of life of our neighbors, including generations to come.” We are, in essence, in the above illustration: stealing clean water. That simple, and that sinful. For more on our stance on the environment, see…

Ethical global trade…

…photo by Joe

In doing a series of stories about small, local businesses, one of the ones I focused on was Ten Thousand Villages. Ten Thousand Villages (there are 100 stores nationwide) contracts with Third World artisans and offers them, not sub-standard, but rather “fair” prices for their products. In “caring for the earth,” Ten Thousand Villages often contracts with artisans who use locally sourced, recycled and renewable resources. Ten Thousand Villages is non-profit, and also often contracts with the disabled, women, “…and others often excluded from the global economy.” The store manager noted that the organization provides 50% of the purchase price up-front to artisans for materials, and such — because often these people can’t get small business loans from their local banks. What’s more, the other 50% is paid when the product is complete — whether it sells, or not. Note: Our administration’s global trade policies, in part, would embody this kind of ethos, simply because it makes ethical/spiritual sense.

‘We put the outing in scouting’

Boy Scout insignia…

I just interviewed a local Scoutmaster for a newspaper article about his troop. His standard sound byte is: “We put the outing in scouting.” He said once a month, the troop goes camping as one, of many, scouting activities. He said it’s good to regularly get kids “…off screens and out into nature.” I agree. During our travels, we met with David Orr, who was the head of Oberlin College’s Environmental Science Department at the time, and also an author. Among a number of books, he wrote: Earth in the Balance. He said many kids, and adults, these days, have developed “bio-phobia.” And, often, the closest they get to nature are things like: The Weather Channel. Our position paper on the environment is a structured set of strategies revolving around emphasizing the importance of nature, in all it’s dimensions.

Thanksgiving 2022 goes ‘…back to normal’

Thanksgiving 2022

I just did a newspaper article about a local community center that puts on an annual Thanksgiving Dinner event. Attendance this year, according to the director, broke all kinds of records. The director surmised ‘inflation creep,’ number one, is attributable, to the rise in attendance. And two, after all the Covid lockdowns/restrictions the past two years in this country, she said people simply like “…getting out again.” In fact, she continued, the laughter, the smiles, the conversations in general at the tables, were quite poignant to her. And on a contemporary affairs front, it’s not hard to seen why the protests over stringent (Zero Covid Policy) lockdowns in China are erupting. As president, I would stand with the general populace in China — unlike what the current U.S. administration is doing. Human rights should always trump trade concerns, and so on. Especially if you’re coming at it from a spiritual angle.