Live streaming podcast at http://averagejoe2012.tumblr.com.
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Ah, politics as usual. Expect nothing less over the next 7 months to hear about how critical this election year is. How we will need to be sure and vote for the "viable" candidate most likely to be elected. Sure, there may be a 3rd party or Independent candidate you might like better, but those just don't win elections and could take away votes (note the inherent assumption there that someone "owns" your votes) from the candidate closest to you and throw the election to that evil "other guy." (Note the inherent assumption that either one of the Two-Party Hegemony is actually better than the other.) People will listen to this advice of course, just like they have listened for the last umpteen elections since I've been alive and old enough to pay attention.
I can save you the trouble of having to wade through all of it right here and now and in 10 minutes or less. See if the following doesn't sound familiar:
From the Republicans, expect to hear that if Obama is re-elected, America will continue it's slide into Socialism. We will be forced to by Health Insurance against our will. Taxpayers will be on the hook to support the lazy & unproductive. The world will get more and more dangerous as the War On Terror rages unchecked. The Unborn will continue to be slaughtered, but at a greater rate. Our sluggish economy will not get the medicine it needs in the form of tax cuts and government spending cuts.
From the Democrats, expect to hear that if the Republicans (presumably Mitt Romney at this point) are elected, America will revert back to the dark ages as "Reproductive Rights" are severely rolled back. There will be more necessary wars fought over mythical terrorist threats and nonexistent WMD's in the desert. The wealthy 1% will get all the tax breaks at the expense of the middle class. The Government will not be allowed to invest in the Infrastructure or Clean Energy initiatives that could help the environment, get us off of Foreign Oil and put people back to work.
I'm sure there's more on both sides that I'm not thinking of right at the moment, but those 2 synopsis will do for the time being. For the implications on both sides that Obama is that much different than his immediate predecessor, or whomever is likely to succeed him, first look at this video comparing Obama to his 2008 opponent. Next, take a look at my blog entry endorsing Nader in 2008 and articulating my gripes that neither MCain nor Obama were what they were cracked up to be:
Then, brace yourself. This piece titled "Bush, Obama - Same Old Drama" from the St. Pete for Peace website is overflowing with news articles - many from mainstream sources - that indicate that we haven't really gotten "Change we can believe in." Far from it.
And if all that isn't enough to convince you beyond the shadow of a doubt that Obama is merely Bush's 3rd term, check my more recent blog entry detailing how the Repubs have been playing the Pro-Life Movement like an old violin. Pretending to be for the Sanctity of Life but getting little, if anything concretely done. Oh, and don't look now, but the GOP doesn't seem to be much for defending life after you are born, in terms of health care reform, a safe, clean environment, a non-aggressive foreign policy, the Patriot Act, and jobs cleaning up the environment and converting the US to Clean Energy alternatives.
But then, are the Democrats really any better?
You know, Ralph Nader got all the flack in the world for supposedly denying Al Gore the 2000 Election. One sold out Obamite told me during the 2008 Election: "Nader has thousands of dead people at his feet. I do not believe Al Gore would have gone to war in Iraq." Let's dispel that myth right here and now: Check Gore's labored sabre rattling against Iraq, which tends to boggle the mind when one thinks of the kinder gentler progressive image he's cultivated for himself since leaving office:
When you are done with that, think back: Remember who was Gore's Vice-Presidential Running mate?
Then go back to the Bush, Obama - Same Ol' Drama news abstracts, if that's not enough to convince you that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are really that much different.
Those who dis the idea of a Third Party in this country ignore history. The Republicans started out as a minor party, and in just 6 short years had taken the White House!
But the point I'm trying to drive at is this: What would be so bad about a few hung elections? In fact, I think the best thing that could happen to this country is that the Electoral College would be deadlocked. Over and over again. Until people get the message that the Two-Party Hegemony isn't working anymore.
And on a personal note: I am no more likely to vote for Barack Obama now than I was 4 years ago. In fact, I have come to look at doing something like that as on a level with Native Americans voting for George Custer. For me it boils down to two things: Obama's war on the Medical Marijuana Industry, and his attempts at circumventing Due Process for young men accused of Sexual Assault on college campuses.
Now that I've gone on a long rant against Establishment Politics, and hopefully got anyone who would criticize me for my choice to shut the hell up, I'd like to talk about my choice for POTUS in the 2012 General Election.
I introduced Joe Schriner in a previous blog entry and today, I am making my endorsement of his Candidacy official.
What we have in Joe Schriner may be one of the most unique entities in American politics: A Small Government Progressive. Hear a podcast of his talk on Health Care here.
- One-fifth of American curriculum should be community Service Learning work. (This would unleash a lot more help to societal areas that needed help. And it would help form students in the ways of being more caring.)
- Reduce classroom size considerably. (This would include more teachers, more teachers-aids and more parent, and other adult community member, involvement in the schools.)
- Develop Learning Teams in every school. Teams comprised of the student, an adviser, a family member(s), community mentors (Not only does this team create a tremendous amount of support for the student, but it also draws more community members into the school system.)
- Replace the No Child Left Behind Program, which is top-heavy with standardized tests and rote learning protocols, with a much more creative, individual teacher-led approach -- in sync with the needs and talents of a particular classroom of students.
- For some schools, particularly some inner city schools, have no formal grades of grade levels. (Cleveland, Ohio's, K-8 award winning Urban Community School meets students where they're at in a non-shaming way, said Director Sr. Maureen Doyle. Grades can be so punitive, especially for kids already experiencing failures in life down here, Sr. Doyle continued. (UCS students have gone on to be Presidential Scholars at Boston University, the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University)
- Experience related learning should be incorporated into curricula in a much more prolific way. That is, a traditional school math course would include, say, multiplying rather sterile numbers. Whereas the students at Cleveland's Urban Community School learn math through things like adding, subtracting, multiplying the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James's field goal percentages, number of assists, and so on. Sr. Maureen said this becomes much more meaningful and memorable.
- Turn every school into a quality charter school. With the better students currently getting vouchers and heading for quality charter schools, the other students are left further abandoned in decaying schools. The focus should be on improving all the schools, and creating incentives for some suburbanite families to move back into the cities to help change, not only the class atmosphere, but the infra-structure (improved tax base, as an example) of the schools, and cities.
- An increase in shop classes that teach about quality craftsmanship, like in the old days.
- More Physical Education classes. With childhood obesity and youth sedentary lifestyles on the rise, more Phys. Ed. classes make sense, common sense. Whats more, some of these classes should focus on teaching about lifetime sports, like walking, bicycling, kayaking, jogging, canoeing... And the Phys. Ed. stream should include classes on healthy nutrition.
- Much more Multicultural Education. Because we are such a melting pot, if we're really interested in strong community building, we need to learn about each other, that simple. These studies would cover African-American Studies, Latin-American Studies, Hispanic-American studies, etc. This would also include a dramatic increase in immersion experiences, where students went to such geographic locations like Appalachia, the Southern border, and so on, to learn about people in their home settings.
- More Work/Study options. For students not going to college, Vinton County High School in Ohio allows students to spend part of the school day working. Whats more, in this stream the school teaches core classes on topics like the various fundamentals of running a business. At a collegiate level, Antioch College has a Work / Study Program that allows the student to go to school for a semester, then work in their chosen field for a semester. This cycle repeats for the entire four years.
- Career should be viewed in light of vocation, for some. The University of Dayton's Chaminade Program is oriented toward getting students to look at career as a vocation choice centered around the common good of society. Students visit a seminary to learn about discerning prayer, they volunteer at outreaches to the poor, they spend their Spring Breaks volunteering around the country
- More focus on trust-building and conflict resolution in schools. Ohio's Euclid High School has peer mediation and support groups. Wilmington College's Peace Resource Center stages two and a half day retreats between various opinion leaders from various clique groups. This goes a long way in starting to break down barriers.
- Incorporation of farming classes and Farm Schools in much more American curriculum. Our platform calls for a shift back to an agrarian-based society and this would be the building blocks to some of this.
- Schools should be open much longer hours, with them doubling as community centers in the evenings, especially for latch key kids.
- Classes on the environment, recycling (practically everything), alternative energy should be taught from elementary school, up.
- The economy should be tremendously jacked down and simplified.
- We need to value social health above material wealth.
- Re-institute much more productive work around the vital areas of shelter, food, medical, energy, education and transportation.
- De-emphasize financial speculation (Wall Street) and other extraneous paper shuffling that doesn't contribute much, if anything, to the necessary stuff of life. (Many of these extraneous paper shuffling jobs, and the like, have evolved in the last century.)
- Refocus on craftsmanship in local communities.
- See work as a vocation.
- Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Home Depot, etc., will be categorized as monopolies and broken up.
- Downtown revitalization, with a resurgence of small Mom & Pop shops will make a major comeback.
- Big city down-towns will be sectioned off and turned into sets of small towns in the city.
- Keep things small, with as much local production for local consumption as possible.
- Debt-free stimulus to community-based projects to revitalize Main Street market economies. (Economies that support social and environmental balance.)
- National Banks should be viewed as monopolies and broken up as well. And the branches should be sold to local investors.
- Money that has been used for Wall Street financial speculation must be redirected to productive, local, socially responsible investment.
- Another New Economy component will be a shift to a much more decentralized, organic agrarian based society. (Mega-corporate farming would end another monopoly and there would be a return of the small family farm, en masse.
- More community sponsored agriculture projects and more local food co-ops.
- Shift from America being predominately a Society of Consumers to America becoming a Society of Conservers. In regard to a tremendously heightened sense of environmental consciousness.
- Move toward a distributist orientation to maximize as much ownership as possible in business and real estate. This is best displayed in business co-ops, farming co-ops, housing co-ops
- In The New Economy, federal government shrinks and deficit spending goes away.
- Shift in college education that's more streamlined, affordable and localized.
- Revamping of the Social Security paradigm.
* Amnesty for illegal immigrants and family reunification.
* Living wage, optimal working conditions, benefits, adequate housing for all new arrivals.
* Temporary worker program, with border check points, etc., for those who want to work here, but keep their citizenship south of the border.
* Help Latin America Drive! Mobilization of much more help (humanitarian aid, Peace Corps, Sister City projects) for countries south of the border to help them with sustainability. (Many people don't want to leave country, family, culture but their kids are hungry, or the political oppression has gotten to be too much.)
* North American Union (NAU) Establishment of a NAU between Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Central America -- similar to the evolving European Union (EU). This would be for the purpose of inspiring more joint environmental conservation projects, more joint business ventures, more tourism (especially eco-tourism) to help boost poorer economies, more cultural exchange and, most importantly, it would promote much more general camaraderie between nations.
My Commentary: I once pointed out to my Conservative Republican former roommate that I had seen examples of how Immigration as it has played out in this country, has helped revitalized local economies. The Rockwood district of Multnomah County, OR which forms a buffer between Portland and Gresham, has seen some of the big names come and go: Burger King, Fred Meyer, and a local restaurant & lounge called the Satellite which had been a favorite eating spot for year, all shut down. In their places have appeared Mexican/Hispanic based fast-food joints, convenience stores, restaurants, etc. Now one has to assume that the business owners are all here in the USA legally, because they wouldn't be granted a license to operate. But we can also assume that thousands of "illegal dollars" flow through there every day as well, and keep those businesses open. When I was involved in a Mennonite Church in the Rockwood area, I used many of those places of business myself while I was traveling back and forth by public transportation.
Point being: What's it going to hurt to begin to integrate many of those people into society even further? I can't see any problem, myself - if we aren't going to be too legalistic about Immigration rules & regs.
The North American Union is probably one that the Anti-Big Government crowd won't like the sound of. Many have seen that proposal as some sort of Conspiracy to theorize about. Myself, I don't have a dog in that fight, because to me all human governments are exactly that: Human. The only "Christian Nation" is an invisible one. (John 18:36) I find the notion of whether the US is partnered with the rest of North America to be a non-issue. The issue is: Will our Public Policies be based on compassion. And that is something Joe Schriner definitely understands.
Foreign Policy: Friendship, not occupation
"Schriner said he believed changes could have been made in Iraq through non-violent means, just as Martin Luther King Jr. did in the south and Gandhi did in India." -Valley Courier, Alamosa, Colorado.
"We are now looked at as occupiers interested in controlling Iraq oil. There have been massive civilian deaths and maiming. And there are now 1.8 million Iraq refugees, and counting. Our use of depleted uranium munitions (bullets and bunker-busting bombs) is leaving Iraq radioactive in many spots and spiking the incidence of cancer and other disease in the civilian populace exponentially. The Iraq War has diverted attention away from such international crisis as the genocide in Sudan, and diverted a tremendous amount of money that could have been used to cut world hunger, fight disease, help reverse global warming.
"At home, the Iraq War has meant U.S. military deaths and maiming, significant cuts to domestic social programs, increasing emotionally disturbed families from new cases of soldier post- traumatic stress syndrome."
You can read more regarding Joe's foreign policy and approaches to Peace-related issues here, here, here and here.
"Schriner added he found the Toledo Zoo Bird Shows ending by narrator Emily Insalaco insightful. We've not inherited this earth from our parents; were borrowing it from our children, she said." - The Press, Maumee Bay, Ohio
* Dramatically reverse trends leading to global warming (and immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol for significant reduction of greenhouse gases).
* Make clean, renewable alternative energy (solar, wind, water) Americas primary source of energy.
* No to nuclear technology
* Create incentives for Americans to substantially cut back on their energy use.
* Heightened focus on alternative transportation: solar and electric vehicles, bicycling, walking in a more decentralized society.
* Switch to more biomass fuel sources.
* Implement Walkable Communities Model nationwide
* Reforest America Campaign
* Better, and more regionally oriented, forest management practices
* End eco-system damaging grazing on federal lands.
* Ban environmentally toxic lawn fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
* Emission control standards for gasoline powered lawn equipment.
* Ban toxic (to the environment and humans) farm chemicals -- including a shift to much more organic growing.
* Curb urban sprawl and reestablish wildlife habitat including incentives for more Backyard Habitats.
* Inspire Endangered Species Associations for each species that's currently endangered.*Stop water pollution.
* Help generate more clean water in the U.S. and in the Third World with desalinization plants, low-tech solar ovens for water pasteurization in the Third World, gutter systems to harvest rainwater
* Tremendously stepped-up Recycling Program nationwide.
* Become a Society of Conservers.
"There are also things homeowners can do to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, [Schriner] said, such as riding a bike or walking places, not using air conditioning, turning the thermostat down and wearing sweaters at home during the winter all things he and his family do. " -Gothenburg (NE) Times
*Many more local safety nets for moms & dads in crisis pregnancy.
*No death penalty, no euthanasia.
*No embryonic stem cell research and no cloning.
*Respect for God's sovereignty and natural order.
"...we need to come up with more help for people in crisis pregnancy, Schriner said." -Range News, Wilcox, Arizona
My Commentary: I have a hard time taking anyone seriously if they are against abortion, but do not follow that up with a serious plan for social safety nets. Denmark has a great system where they give paid maternal leave and a guaranteed job when you come back. Are we Pro-family, or are we not? It's as simple as that! Good for Joe, for recognizing the connection between the two.
Poverty: A war waged in Peace for Economic Justice
Our administration would tackle Third World poverty with vigor. In tandem, we'd work to reduce, exponentially, inner city and rural poverty in America.
At Habitat for Humanity headquarters in Americus, Georgia, we looked at models of quality small homes intended to get scores of people off the streets and out of sprawling slums worldwide. And like Jimmy Carter, hammer in hand I would tout that program at every turn.
During a talk in Picayune, Mississippi, I said that "according to UN figures, 24,000 people starve to death every day in the world! This is an absolute social justice travesty, given the resources America (and the rest of the First World ) squander."
At a seminar in Wilmington, Ohio, I learned America wastes (spoilage, simply throwing away, etc) 33% of its food. Then we spend billions of dollars on non-nutritional junk food every year and even more billions being over-nourished (33% obesity rate in America ) while so many others, again starve, or are extremely malnourished.
As president, I would push to make the "Eating is a Moral Act Campaign" (already existing) much more high profile to educate people about these dynamics, I said during a talk to a Political Science Class at Baldwin Wallace College.
I told the LA Times ( Orange County edition) in California that "we should make war on poverty and social injustice." And in our travels, we looked at the poverty first hand on tours of the South's Black Belt region, in inner cities across America, on the dusty streets of a slum in Juarez, Mexico, on multiple Native American Reservations, in Appalachia...
And there are multiple programs I would point to to carry on this war against poverty in these places.
*In Waconia, Minnesota, I interviewed Paul Turek, a representative for Caribou Coffee. That company has taken Fair Trade a step beyond by helping some of their grower villages in Latin America start Health Clinics.
*In Fisher's Indiana , we learned about new nationwide Economy of Sharing businesses that give the first third of their profits, off the top, to the Third World.
*On the Southside of Chicago, in a gang war zone, we researched The Port Ministries, which provides a tiered system of help (homeless shelter, transitional living facility, mentor programs, education programs) to help people get on their feet.
*In Durango, Colorado, we learned about a church that has adopted a village in Uganda, where Moms and Dads are dying of AIDs and little children sleep on burlap bags on dirt floors.
And we looked at so much more in the way of social justice programs nationwide.
What's more, every chance I could as president I would point to these projects (as we do now in our travels) and ask the American people, almost across the board, to sacrifice much more so the poor can have at least the basics in adequate nutrition, housing and healthcare.
That there is so much potentially relievable human suffering in the world that isn't being relieved, is unconscionable.
"This is an era of American history we not only need to remember, we need to make I right, said Schriner" -Sequoya County Times, Sallisaw, OK.
*A heartfelt formal apology to Native Americans for past atrocities.
*Land give backs and Native American relocation moratorium.
*Creative land give-backs (for instance, subsidies to help finance Native American land restoration projects like the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota).
*Much improved healthcare, alcohol and drug treatment on the Reservations.
*More programs to reverse poverty and establish sustainability on the Reservations.
*Spark a nationwide Native American Renaissance
*Native American Commission to revise history books
*Many more grade school and high school classes on Native American history and culture
*Collegiate level minors and majors in Native American Studies
*National Native American History Month.
Live streaming podcast at http://averagejoe2012.tumblr.com.
Americans Elect Profile: https://secure.americanselect.org/profile-candidate/369630/topic-answer