Tours of 2010

Georgia Peach, Sweet Home Alabama, Mississippi Moon, Louisiana Gumbo, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Rocky Mountain High, Roaming Wyoming, Moseying Montana, South Dakota, Southern Minnesota, Southern Wisconsin, Northern Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Long Island NY, Gardan State 2, Pennsylvania 2, Maryland Moment, Virginia, North Carolina

Georgia Peach Tour

Georgia Peach Tour / Spring 2010

 

Towns:  Atlanta, Comer, Athens, Americus

 

     In Atlanta we spent several weeks volunteering at the Open Door Community, which is an outreach to the urban homeless.  While here, the kids, Liz and I helped at their Soup Kitchen, performed weekly house chores, met with people on the streets...  Our education platform calls for much more "Service Learning."  I once told Ohio Magazine that we want our children learning as much about helping others as they do learning about math, science, English...

 

     People come from all over the country to help at the Open Door Community in Atlanta.  While here, I interviewed retired Vanderbilt University professor of theology, Don Beisswenger.  He told me he taught about "practical theology" at Vanderbilt.  This, in part, means connecting the Gospel message with the year 2010.  And because Jesus was forever talking about helping the poor, well, that was why the professor was here.

 

     My wife Liz gave a talk at the Open Door Community.  She talked about the history of the Catholic Worker Movement.  (We've been involved with a number of Catholic Worker communities and their work of helping the poor.)  Liz said there are some 200 Catholic Worker "Houses of Hospitality" around the country, many of which take in the homeless.  (The Catholic Worker Movement was started by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.)

 

     From Atlanta, we headed a couple hours east to Jubilee Partners Community in Comer, Georgia for a series of interviews.  Jubilee was started some 30 years ago as a Christian community.  Their mission is to help new immigrants to this country, their first group of refugees being "Vietnamese boat people" who were fleeing communist oppression in the wake of the U.S. military pulling out of Vietnam.  Jubilee has since taken people from 31 different countries (the Sudan, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Nicaraugua, Afghanistan...).  By the time they get to America, on average, these people have been in refugee camps -- between 10 and 15 years!  (We spent a couple days at Jubilee interviewing new immigrants, staff and volunteers.  In fact, people come here from all over the country to volunteer.)

 

     After Comer, we stopped in nearby Athens, Georgia, where we met with Dr. Jonathan Davis.  (He's the kind of small town common sense doctor we'd consider for Secretary of Health.)  At the front end of the health care debate, Dr. Davis said a health care issue that's not getting hardly any discussion is:  We're going to the doctor way too much these days!  He said some 33% of healthcare costs in America would go away if we were able to understand which ailments need attention, and which don't.  Dr. Davis said we're a society that's become "...addicted to feeling good."

 

     While in Athens, we also took a tour of the Mercy Health Clinic.  (Dr. Davis volunteers here.)  An ecumenical outreach, the Mercy Health Clinic provides all its services free.  How they are able to do this is there are volunteer doctors, volunteer nurses, citizenry who helps in other ways around the place and they do local fundraising.  Actually, a Mercy Health Clinic would work in almost every county of the country.

 

     From Athens, we went to Americus, Georgia, where we stopped at Koinoinia Farm for several days.  This is the original home of Habitat for Humanity.  It was also the "back water Selma and Montgomery" of the Civil Rights Movement.  In the late 40's, Blacks and Whites worked side-by-side on the farm --  for equal pay.  There were drive by shootings, the Klan burned a cross in the front yard and the farm was boycotted by many town merchants.  The practice of Segregation was deeply entrenched in southern Georgia at the time.

 

 

Sweet Home Alabama Tour

   'Sweet Home Alabama' Tour / Spring 2010

 

Towns:  Phenix City, Montgomery, Owassa, Evergreen, Atmore

 

               We launched into our "Sweet Home Alabama Tour."  Original, huh?

 

                I stumped at Pattys, a 50's-style diner in Phenix City, Alabama.  This was once billed as the most corrupt city in America.  A weekend hang out for soldiers from nearby Fort Benning, there was a plethora of gambling parlors, prostitutes, taverns, mob influence...

 

                Our Sarah, 14, gave a pro-life talk to grade school kids at St. Patricks School in Phenix, Alabama.  She talked about how you're never too young to make a difference, even with this issue.

 

                We then made stops in Montgomery, Owassa, Evergreen and Atmore, Alabama.  In Montgomery, a man said to me that if he were president, he'd end the wars, bring our troops home, and station them at the southern border. And he said he'd order illegal immigrants to be shot.  This man said he was Christian.  I asked him if he'd ever read the Good Samaritan story in the Bible.

 

Mississippi Moon Tour

 'Mississippi Moon' Tour / Spring 2010

 

Towns:  Gulfport, Biloxi, Pascagoula

 

    We drove through southern Mississippi along the Gulf Coast. 

 

    We stopped in the Mississippi towns of Pascagoula, Gulport and Ocean Springs, where we passed out campaign literature. 

 

     In Ocean Springs, we drove by some shoreline mansions in different stages of going back up after Hurricane Katrina.  I couldn't help but think it was like setting the bowling pins up again.

 

     The other thing we observed in southern Mississippi was a number of "Katrina Cottages."  These cottages (about the size of a full-length RV) were placed on lots next to homes that had been damaged in the hurricane.  While some people refurbished their places, they lived in the cottages.  Seeing these cottages got me to thinking...

 

    It would seem to me that if we want to stop the environmental cancer of urban sprawl that is incrmentally eating away at the cropland in this country, wouldn't it make sense, common sense, to start putting similar cottages on, say, existing suburban properties -- with people sharing land?

 

    Incidentally, many of the Habitat for Humanity homes that are built in the Third World are comparable in size to the Katrina cottages.

 

 

 

Louisiana Gumbo Tour

Louisiana Gumbo Tour / Spring 2010

 

 Towns:  New Orleans, Vacherrie, Donaldsonville, Baton Rouge

 

 

    We headed into Louisiana for our Louisiana Gumbo Tour...

 

      I gave a talk to an in-home gathering in New Orleans.  Just the day before, President Obama said he was committed to space exploration, but wanted to go into space in a smarter way.  I said I'd take the money we're spending trying to find water, etc., on Mars, and use it to help get more fresh water to the one-sixth of the people on our planet who currently don't have access to it.  That, to me, seems smarter. 

 

    The next evening Sarah and I went up to a nearby outdoor basketball court in a rough area of the city.  We got in a couple good pick-up games.  There was a girl there in, it appeared, her early 20's who looked good enough to start at point guard on most college teams.  Sarah, 14, held her own against this woman. (Sarah got pretty tough playing on the street corners of Cleveland.)

 

     While in New Orleans, we also toured a Housing and Urban Development project near the Mississippi River downtown.  This area had been virtually wiped out in the flood after Katrina.  The project is mixed housing.  That is, there is now high income, middle income and low income housing mixed together.

 

     I talked at a class at a Jesuit High School in New Orleans.  The topics ranged from abortion, to World Hunger, to the military, to the environment...   

 

     We then headed further west on the back road L.A. 18.   It could well be labeled Chemical Alley, with all the petroleum and chemical plants along the way.

 

    In Vascherie, Louisiana, there's a big sign at the city limits that reads: "No Thanks Petroplex, our health is not for sale!"

 

    And more problems with the petroleum industry... While we were in Baton Rouge, the Deep Water Horizon oil rig exploded.

 

     A couple days after the explosion, we were at Sunday Mass at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Baton Rouge.  It was announced that one of the 11 workers killed on the oil rig was a parishioner of this church.  He was married with two young children.  This spill is shaping up to be huge.

 

Deep in the Heart of Texas Tour

Deep in the Heart of Texas Tour / Spring 2010        

 

Towns:  Orange, Beaumont, Houston, Plantersville, Bryan, Hearne, Calvert, Marlin, Waco, Meridian, Hico, Stephenville, Abilene, Sweetwater, Snyder, Post, Lubbock, Plainview, Lullia, Happy, Canyon, Amarillo, Channing, Hartley, Dalhart, Texline

 

     We've moved into our "Deep in the Heart of Texas Tour" (and we continue to come up with these 'unique' tour titles, without speech writers, or anything.)

 

     In Orange, Texas, we met with pro-life advocate Paul Mayeux. One of their children, Michael, was three months old when he died.  During an ultra-sound when Paul's wife Ruby was pregnant with Michael, they learned he had a chromosome disorder.  The doctor recommended the couple go to Houston for more tests "...so they could consider their options."  Implied in this was the option of: abortion.  The Mayeuxs responded to the doctor that they were pro-life and the only 'option' was to have the baby.

 

     We stopped at Serenity Pond in Kurten, Texas, a 10-acre private Wildlife & Bird Sanctuary.  During a tour of the grounds, we learned inner city kids come out here for a day in the country.  Serenity Pond owner, Patricia J. McCain, was married to a first cousin of Senator John McCain.

 

    In Hearne, Texas, we did an interview with the Hearne Democrat newspaper.  I said my wife Liz and I are running for president as concerned Midwestern parents.  Between ongoing wars, metropolitan violence and drugs, sex on television... call me "old-fashioned" (my kids often do), but it's just not a sane environment to be raising children anymore.

 

     In Waco, Texas, I met with Baylor University professor Tyler Horner.  He teaches psychology.  He said people in society are leaning more and more toward narcissism.  That is, it's becoming more and more about: us.  Read: U.S.?

 

      While in Waco, I also gave a talk on social justice issues to a group of Baylor professors during an in-home event.

 

     Stopped at Heritage Farm in Elm Mott, Texas.  This is a Christian community that practices old fashion crafts like blacksmithing, weaving, plowing with draft horses

 

       We then went to World Hunger Relief Inc., also in Elm Mott.  This is a teaching farm.  People come here from all over the country to learn sustainable farming practices  before going to help in the Third World.

 

     Stumped in downtown Meridian, Texas.

 

      Campaigned in Hico, Texas, "purported" home of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid.  I took the kids to a (Where else?) "Billy the Kid Museum" where we watched a documentary on "Billy."  Dan Reigtmer runs the museum.  When he found out what I was doing, he said:  "It might just be high time that another populist candidate won."  I, of course, agreed.

 

      Was interviewed by the newspaper in Stephenville, Texas.  Liz said as First Lady she'd undertake looking at womens issues worldwide.  (For instance, back in Mobile, Alabama, Liz had attended a seminar on human trafficking of young women.)  The next day we were invited to the "Out to Lunch Restaurant."  Liz thought the name was appropriate, for me.

 

     Campaigned in Post and Lubbock, Texas.

 

      In Lubbock, I met with pro-life advocate Dr. Jim Sulliman.  In Lubbock, we were also interviewed by ABC News.  T-shirt sighting in Lubbock:  "I follow all the voices... in my wife's head."

 

      Stopped in Amarillo, Texas. There we attended a Holy Cross High School Graduation ceremony, then we took in an Amarillo Dillas Minor League Baseball game.  Tickets were free this night and the stadium was full.  (Have I mentioned it's a low budget campaign?)

 

      In Sweetwater, Texas, we stumped in the downtown and were interviewed by the Sweetwater Reporter newspaper.

 

      Was interviewed by the Plainview Herald newspaper in Plainview, Texas.  Then it was on to Happy, Texas ("The town without a frown.")  I got a bumper sticker with a smiley face on it.  What else?  We then went to the "Happy Place Cafe" where a waitress's shirt read:  "I'm not mean, I just don't like you."  Honest!  A bit ironic, huh.

 

     We stopped at the Loredo House in Hartley.  In the wake of what appears the coming tsunami of euthanasia in this country, this is a house that's been set up like a hospice to aid people on their way to a "natural death."  Death with dignity.

 

Rocky Mountain High Tour

Rocky Mountain High Tour / Summer 2010

 

Towns:  Trinidad, Walsenburg, Gardner, Silver Cliff, Westcliffe, Texas Creek, Canon City, Pueblo, Security, Colorado Springs, Arvada, Lafayette, Boulder, Loveland, Fort Collins

 

      We headed into Colorado for our (Stop me if you've heard this phrase.) Rocky Mountain High Tour.  (Once again, originality is the hallmark of our campaign.)

 

      We got to Trinidad, Colorado, the day of a dedication ceremony for a new (and rather striking) sculpture depicting men in a mine working around a coal wagon.  Southeastern Colorado was coal country.

 

      In Walsenburg, Colorado, we attended the Black Diamond (read: coal) Jubilee Festival.  In Walsenburg, we also toured the Walsenburg Mining Museum.  And in Walsenburg, I was interviewed by a reporter for the Huerfano World Journal.

 

      We headed up the mountains to Silver Cliff, Colorado, where we stumped at the Mining Company Restaurant.  It was Tuesday and the town band was playing there.  That is, anyone in town who had an instrument, or voice, could perform.  The musicians just kind of casually came and went during the evening.

 

      In Westcliff, Colorado, my son Jonathan and I attended a Pro-Life Biker Rally, which was a fundraiser for the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center here.  Earlier in the day, we had stopped at the Mining Days Festival in Silver Cliff.

 

      We then came back down the mountains a bit, stumping in Canon City, Pueblo and then on to Colorado Springs.

 

      In Colorado Springs, we stood in solidarity with a group protesting in front of a Planned Parenthood Center that performs abortions.

 

      I was also interviewed by the ABC News affiliate in Colorado Springs.  I said while people are pointing a finger at BP, four fingers should be pointing right back at : us.  It's us, the American driver, as an example, who is creating the demand for oil.

 

      We then traveled to Arvada, Colorado, where we talked with Chris Michalik.  He's been to Juarez, Mexico, four times to help with building projects in slums there.  (He goes with the non-profit group Southern Exposure.)  During a Border Tour several years ago to look at Hispanic Immigration issues, we stopped in Juarez as well.  The city is currently dubbed the "Murder Capitol of Mexico" because of all the drug violence.

 

      We campaigned in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, then headed to Lafayette.  In Lafayette, I interviewed Ben Venvigel, who was at the Los Alamos nuclear site at the same time Albert Einstein was there working on the atomic bomb.

 

     We headed north to Boulder where we visited the Memorial Wall for the Unborn at Sacred Heart of Mary Church there.  It honors:  All unborn babies lost to abortion, miscarriage or stillborn.

 

      In Loveland, Colorado, I interviewed Adrian Yanez, who is a music teacher at a local school and worked in the music industry as well for awhile.  He said a lot of rock, rap and hip hop appeals to our carnality, our materialism, our tendency toward violence 

 

     While in Loveland, I also stumped at the Anthropology Coffee Shop in Loveland, where there's not only coffee, but "deep discussion."

 

      Also while in Loveland, I met with Ken Waskiewicz who is running for U.S. Representative in the 4th District of Colorado as an independent.

 

     In Loveland I also did a Catholic Radio Station interview about pro-life issues, environmental stewardship and social justice.  The shows name:  "Rome in the Rockies."

 

    We moved even farther north, stumping in downtown Ft. Collins, Colorado.  We also stood in solidarity with a group protesting abortion on the streets of Ft. Collins.

 

     In Ft. Collins, we met with author Dr. Kimberly Schmidt who is the author of Parables of the Flesh (The Creators Love Story).  Dr. Schmidts work revolves around drawing corollaries between physiological systems going awry in the body and links to things like psychological trauma that hadn't been processed.  (Being a former counselor, I had seen similar things in my work.)

 

       Just before leaving Colorado, I was interviewed by a reporter for the local Channel 5 News.  I said my wife and I were running as concerned parents from the Midwest.  Then it was on to Wyoming.

 

Roaming Wyoming Tour

Roaming Wyoming Tour / Summer 2010

 

Towns:  Cheyenne, Laramie, Fort Steele, Rawlins, Lamont, Muddy Gap, Lander, Fort Wasington, Wind River Reservation, Riverton, Thermopolis, Meeteetse, Cody, Clark

 

 

     We launched on our Roaming Wyoming Tour (I've got a million of 'em).

 

     We took in a rodeo in Wyoming.  Then I interviewed Susan Patrick of Watertown, South Dakota, who was on the rodeo grounds with a Peter Schuttler Chuck Wagon (circa 1849).  She's part of the American Chuck Wagon Association.

 

     We headed into Laramie, Wyoming, where I talked with Douglas Wolford, who was vacationing from his home in Big Springs, Nebraska.  He is Secretary Treasurer of the Big Springs Fire District and responds to many accidents near the I-80 and I-76 split there.  He said he'd like to see a program where DWI offenders had to travel with him to the scene of some of these accidents  to see the carnage first-hand.

 

    We traveled west to Rawlings, Wyoming, where we stumped at a "Take Back the Night" celebration at Bolton Park.  There were about 300 people in the park this night.

 

     We then headed to Elk Mountain, Wyoming (pop. 192).  At the Crossing Café, I interviewed Ken Casner, who is running as an independent for State Senate.

 

     We stumped at the Community Meal in Lander, Wyoming amidst about 1,000 people.  This was a celebration of town people coming together recently to help pull through a pretty big flood.

 

    While in Lander, I interviewed Professor Jason Baxter from Wyoming Catholic College.  He teaches theology and said we have become a nation of infinite distraction.  Wyoming Catholic College students are not allowed TV sets, I-Pods, video games.

 

     We campaigned at a park in Riverton, Wyoming, in the heart of the Wind River Reservation.  Then we headed to Thermopolis where we attended events around the 60th anniversary of the Gift of Waters (A Historical Indian Pageant). 

 

    We stumped in downtown Meeteetse, Wyoming, and then learned at the Meeteetse Museum that the "Marlboro Man" (Remember him?) commercials were filmed on a ranch just 14 miles from here. 

 

    We headed further north into Cody, Wyoming, (as in Buffalo Bill 'Cody').  I attended a Catholic's United for Life meeting.  During a talk by Rev. Dwayne Borgstrand, I learned if a woman sees her unborn baby on a sonogram figures show some 85% of those women will carry their baby to term.

 

   Our last stop (about seven miles before the Montana border) was at the Mt. Carmel Boys Youth Ranch.  Troubled youth (drug and alcohol problems, behavioral problems, et. al) are sent here by parents from all over the country.

 

 

Moseying Montana Tour

 Moseying in Montana (and beyond) Tour / Summer 2010

 

Towns:  Belfry, MT, Billings MT, Sheridan, Wy, Buffalo, Wy and Sundance, Wy  

 

     We have launched on our "Moseying in Montana (notice the consonance) Tour."

 

     We stopped in tiny Belfry, Montana, where out in the front of the high school is a sculpture of the mascot.  Thats right a: bat.

 

     More bats (sorry):  In Billings, Montana, I stumped at a Billings Mustang Baseball game.  (Their mascot, obviously, a: mustang.)

 

     While in Billings, I also talked with a man who used to work for the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska.  He said a key to healthy forests is regular selective cutting to cut down on the intensity, and frequency, of forest fires, insect infestations, and the like.

 

    We stood in solidarity with a group protesting abortion in front of a clinic in Billings.  I told the Lewiston-Argus newspaper in Lewiston, Montana, several campaigns back, that as president I'd be protesting abortion on the streets as well.

 

     We had been asked to give a talk on Long Island, New York, in the Fall.  That would mean at some point we were going to have to take a right.  (I didn't even need a GPS, or anything, to figure that out.)  So we decided at Billings to take a right.

 

    The route that looks the straightest to us on the way to the East Coast is Rte. 90.  And given its an interstate, we decided to change our pace, calling it the "Rte. 90 Run n Gun Tour", for all you basketball nuts.

 

    In Sheridan, Wyoming, the family and I passed out flyers at a street fair and I also talked to Alex Lee, who is running for City Council in Sheridan.  He said his biggest plank is a one cent tax on everything sold in Sheridan, which he estimates will generate $5 million a year for local roads, a senior center, and other city services.

 

     Rte. 90 continues to briefly dip back down into the Northeast corner of Wyoming, where we stopped in Sundance, Wyoming.  (Named for outlaw Harry Longabaugh aka The Sundance Kid.)  Could you have imagined the draw of that movie title:  Butch Cassidy and (drum roll) Harry Longabaugh.

 

South Dakota Tour

South Dakota Tour / Summer 2010

 

Towns:  Spearfish, Sturgis, Rapid City, Box Elder, Wasta, Wall, Cactus Flat, Murdo, Presho, Chamberlain, Mitchell, Souix Falls

 

     We stopped in Spear Fish, South Dakota where we passed out flyers downtown.  The sign at the city limits has a picture of, thats right, a fish being speared.

 

    Then we stopped at Sturgis, South Dakota, (just a week after the big annual bikers rally).  I passed out flyers downtown with the caveat that I was pro-motorcycle.  Well, when in Rome.

 

    In Rapid City, South Dakota, we got a new tail pipe at the Bargain Barn Automotive Repair Shop.  (It continues to be a low budget campaign.) 

 

     We then headed east to the South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

 

     Just outside of Cactus Flat, South Dakota, we stopped at the National Park Services Minutemen Missile Headquarters.  There I learned it takes approximately 30 minutes for a nuclear missile to make it to Moscow.  Theres a chilling thought, huh.

 

     We then hop-scotched, campaigning in Murdo, Pesho and Chamberlain, S.D.  One man-on-the street in Chamberlain said it must be quite an undertaking running for president.  Yeah, its an uphill thing, I joked.  And I'm not even sure if we've gotten to the hill yet.  He laughed.

 

     We stopped in rural Wasta, South Dakota, where we spent the day at the Trax Ranch.  Pat Trax, with a group of other local ranchers, are fighting monopolies by four major Packing Companies who control 80% of the slaughter industry, Mr. Trax lamented.

 

      Earlier in the week, we stopped at the famous "Wall Drug" in South Dakota.  There were tourists from all over the country wandering about the multi-store complex.  Jonathan and I set up shop downtown and passed out campaign cards to as many people as possible.  (It's either the national news, or a stop at Wall Drug for us.)

 

Southern Minnesota Tour

Southern Minnesota Tour / Summer 2010

 

Towns:  Worthington, Jackson, Fairmont, Austin

 

     In Worthington, we passed out some campaign literature to a man wearing a shirt that proclaimed America had just crossed the 51 million abortion mark.  He said we've got to keep fighting to stop this, no matter what.

 

     Heading east on Rte. 90, we flew right by the town of: "Welcome".  I felt guilty not stopping.

 

     In Fairmont, Minnesota, we took the kids swimming at Budd Lake.  After swimming a bit, I found myself in a roundtable, or rather round beach chair, discussion with some people who had gotten together for a family reunion. (They had asked about the campaign vehicle, and when they found I was running for president, well, the questions started to fly.) One of them was about the southern border. I said while our administration would continue to try to crack down on drug cartels, we had to look at this whole issue systemically.  That is, the drugs are coming here because:  THERE IS A DEMAND ON THIS SIDE OF THE FENCE FOR THEM! Our administration would work to cut down the demand dramatically, I said.

 

     After the latter beach discussion, I walked about the park stumping and passing out literature.  One man was wearing a Viking's hat.  I smiled and told him that our campaign promise is that when we get to D.C. we're going to lobby to get the Statue of Liberty replaced with:  a Viking.  Liz says I've got to quit doing that from state to state, but I can't seem to help it.  It's like an addiction, or something. 

 

Southern Wisconsin Tour

Southern Wisconsin Tour / Summer 2010

 

Towns:  La Crosse, Madison, Straughton, Beloit

 

     In Madison, I passed out some campaign literature to a man-on-the-street who said he wanted a "Fair Tax" instituted.  That is, he'd like to see a uniform Federal "flat tax" on all items across the board -- and the elimination of the income tax altogether.

 

     In downtown Beloit, I was stung by a bee as I hopped into our campaign vehicle.  Apparently he didn't like the platform.

 

Northern Indiana Tour

Northern Indiana Tour / Summer 2010

 

Towns:  South Bend, Elkhardt

 

     In South Bend, Indiana, I talked with a teacher from St. Joseph's High School here.  He said the standard tuition at the school is now $6,000 a year, far beyond the reach of many families in the area.  However, last year he lobbied for partial scholarships for low-income Hispanic youth.  And the administration went along.  This year four Hispanic youth were given scholarships, with the possibility of more next year.

 

     We headed into Elkhardt, Indiana, where there is a 16% unemployment rate.  Driving into town, we noticed a sign graphics shop with a billboard that read:  "We Make Signs For Money."

 

     In Elkhardt, I went to a downtown plaza where I passed out campaign literature to people sitting at tables around a small hotdog stand.  The sign on the hotdog stand read:  "Dogs for Dollars."  Apparently when you're living in a pretty monetarily depressed town, you have to be pretty explicit about needing money.

 

     Our "new economy" position reflects a different approach to all this.

 

Ohio Tour

Ohio Tour / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Bluffton, Findlay, Jelloway, Mt. Vernon, Cleveland, Warren, Leavittsburg, Youngstown

 

     Went to a Bluffton High School soccer match where I passed out campaign cards.  They were playing Wapakoneta, home of astronaut Neil Armstrong.  (He was the first person to set foot on the moon.)  I refrained (this time) from mentioning to the Wapakoneta people that I'd probably push to end the Space Program -- at least until we had stuff on this planet straightened out.

 

     In Bluffton, I also rode around in a combine part of an afternoon talking to a local farmer.  He was harvesting soy beans.  He said the small farmer is at a tremendous disadvantage to compete today because of the astronomical costs of farming implements.

 

     Stopped in Findlay, Ohio, where we ordered some campaign vehicle signage from Sign Shack there.

 

     In Jelloway, Ohio, we stopped at a friend's farm for a day to help clear wood from a recent "wind sheer," which had torn through the area recently.

 

     In Mt. Vernon, Ohio, I stumped in the downtown area passing out campaign cards and talking with the locals.  Also stopped in at Sips Coffee Shop for some java.

 

     In Cleveland, I talked with lawyer / activist Maria Smith.  She has been to Nicaragua a number of times as part of tours with Witness for Peace.  She said the poverty in Nicaragua increases, in large part because of NAFTA.  With free trade, she said corporate mega-farms in America are now regularly undercutting small Nicaraguan subsistence farmers trying to sell to local markets in that country.

 

     While in Cleveland, I also talked with a human rights advocate who spends a lot of time in the country of Columbia.  Chris Knestrick told me that malaria is a huge problem in that country and he had recently gone on a mission to bring a man who was deathly sick with the disease to a hospital.  The team had to hike 20 hours into rural Colombia and another 20 hours back to get this man to the hospital.

 

     In Warren, Ohio, I talked with Fr. Charles Crumbly who is a chaplain for the U.S. Marshalls.  He also worked with Children's Services here for 19 years.  In a series of counseling sessions, he learned one youth grew up without a father at home and the mother would regularly sell the boy for sex, beginning at age eight.  "And I thought I'd grown up in an abusive home because my parents hadn't given me a car when I was 16," Fr. Charles half smiled.

 

     I talked in Terry Armstrong's government class at Labrea High School in Leavittsburg, Ohio.

 

     Talked with Randy Law, a former Republican Ohio congressman from the district around Youngstown, Ohio.  Law was the first Republican representative from this districts -- in the last 40 years.

 

Pennsylvania Tour

Pennsylvania Tour / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Grove City, Clarion, Du Bois, Clearfield, Millersburg, Lamar, Lewisburg, Milton, Bloomsburg, Bridgeport, Stroudsburg, E. Stroudsburg

     

     In Grove City, I passed out a campaign card to David Redfoot who smiled and said he was thinking about doing the same thing.  That is, he was thinking about posting on Facebook that he was running for president "...then see what happens," he smiled.

 

     In Grove City, we had dinner with the Whitaker family in their home.  A former Catholic youth minister, Dan Whitaker said he only allows his children to watch such shows as the 1950's Ozzie and Harriet.  He said most of the TV stuff today is too corrosive for youth.

 

     We stumped in Clearfield, where I got in a conversation with Mike Barber who said that while he'd been an independent, he finally declared with one of the main political Parties in order to vote in the primaries. His contention is that every voter should be "independent" and have access to voting in any primary they so choose.

 

     Took our kids to the Clearfield High School Homecoming football game.  In the stands, I met a man who works at the nearby DuBois Hospital.  He said besides the regular hospital, there is a Clinic of DuBois that is staffed with volunteer doctors, volunteer nurses and other citizens do a range of other clinic duties.  Open two days a week, the clinic provides free services for the "working poor," he said.  

 

     At a Flying J Truck Stop in Lamar, I passed out campaign cards to some rock band "roadies."  At another truck stop up the road, I passed out more campaign cards to car loads of people heading to the Penn State football game.

 

     In Milton, I put up a flier on a downtown community bulletin board.

   

     In Bloomsberg, my daughter Sarah and I gave a talk to a church youth group.

 

     In East Stroudsburg, we talked with a retired elementary teacher who had worked in The Bronx, New York.   He said what we're seeing in America is a domino effect.  That is, as the discipline breaks down in a home, this gets translated into the classroom -- which then gets transposed into all of society.

 

 

New Jersey Tour

New Jersey Tour / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Hackettstown, Paterson

 

     In Hackettstown I talked with electrician Ken Rapach, who was working on a library renovation project there.  

He said he'd just been talking to "the guys" about politicians in D.C..  He said currently people in Congress get a full pension, sometimes for just serving one term.  Why don't these politicians, "like the rest of us," have to be at a place longer before they're eligible for a pension?

 

     We headed into Patterson, New Jersey.  Poverty everywhere.  And congestion.  There was congestion on the streets, congestion in low-income housing units stacked side by side.  There were kids playing on basketball courts with rusted rims and broken glass...  I couldn't help but think of New Jersey's Bruce Springstein singing:  "Kids down here look just lke shadows..."

 

 

Long Island, NY Tour

Long Island, NY Tour / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Farmingdale, East Northport, Bay Shore, Patchogue, Southhold, Greenport

 

     We headed through part of New York City late one night and high over the George Washington Bridge (quite a view) into Long Island.  

 

     We passed out campaign cards in East Northport.

 

     Then it was on to Patchogue (Indian name for something) where we passed out more campaign cards downtown.

 

     We then headed further east to almost the far end of the north side of Long Island's "fork."

 

     In Greenport, we talked with Don Shea, a retired New York City police officer.  He had just been interviewed for a television documentary around his arrest of the notorious bank robber Willie Sutton.  (The was last century's version of, say, butch Cassidy.)  During his bank robbery career, Sutton stole some $2 million. 

 

     In Southhold, I met with Ann Reitman at a new Birthright satellite office.  Birthright provides counseling and referrals to things like government programs (WIC, as an example) all intended to help mothers with their pregnancies.  In addition, Birthright provides money for doctors, housing and other supplemental support for mothers.

 

     Coming back east, we stopped in Farmingdale.  In the concourse of a mall there is a pro-life display, with a wide screen TV continually showing live (literally) scenes of little babies in their mothers' wombs at all different stages of development.

 

Garden State II Tour

Garden State Tour 2 / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Elizabeth, Westfield, Plainfield, Lebanon

 

     We headed south on the 'Jersey Turnpike'.

 

      At a Service Plaza, I passed on a campaign card to a man from Massachussetts.  He said he would have liked to see the general citizenry in various areas voting for where the government stimulus money would go locally.

 

     We broke down on the Jersey Turnpike and I did a makeshift repair job on the bolt to the alternator.  It held just long enough for us to limp into Elizabeth, New Jersey.  

 

     After getting the bolt fixed, we took the kids to a YMCA in a decidedly rough part of town.  In a basement, no-frills weight room, I seemed surrounded by guys with tattoos of gang insignias, and the like.

 

     In Westfield, New Jersey, I stumped with a group of people sitting at an outdoor table at Panera Bread.  (The table was right on the street practically.)   The banter was lively and covered a number of issues.   One man, lightening things up a bit, said his main "issue" was two slices of toast at Panera had recently gone up from 69 cents to 99 cents.  Shortly after this, this same man said he'd like the country to go to a much shorter work week, like just two four hour shifts -- every week.  "I can see why you're concerned about the price of toast going up," I smiled. 

 

Penn State II Tour

Pennsylvania Tour 2 / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Allentown, Shartlesburg, Harrisburg, Shippensburg

 

     Out of New Jersey, we headed back into Pennsylvania, stopping first in Allentown.  (Remember the Billy Joel song?)  Driving about, we were able to see that parts of this old blue-collar city are, indeed, as depressed as Mr. Joel sang about, still.

 

     In Allentown, we talked with Frank Kutish who is vary involved with the pro-life movement.  He said every year in Allentown, for the past 30, his St. Paul pro-life group has raised money to sponsor a woman for nine months, if she wants to keep her baby in difficult circumstances.

 

     Out of Allentown, we stopped in Shartlesville, and then headed to Harrisburg.

 

     In Harrisburg, I passed out campaign cards and talked with Jim Carr.  He lamented about what seems might be a long recession.  "You go to work today, and you're still not sure whether you're going to have a job tomorrow," he frowned.

 

     

 

Maryland Moment Tour

Maryland Moment Tour / Fall 2010

 

Town:  Hagerstown

 

     In Hagerstown, I interviewed Fr. Nixon Mullah who is from the country of Cameroon.  While now living in America, Fr. Nixon goes back to his village in Cameroon for a month each year.  There he mobilizes groups of people to, in an ad hoc volunteer fashion, work on roads, build classrooms, and the like.  What's more, he's started a drive to raise $50,000 to drill a well there for clean drinking water for the village.  (Fr. Mullah said the central government in Cameroon is slow to do practically anything.)

 

     In Hagerstown, we were invited to Bob Przywieczelskis place for dinner.  His wife said Bob is 50-years-old and is still an active hockey player.  So active, in fact, he busted some ribs playing last year.  Yet he has no intention of 'retiring.'  "I'd rather wear out than rust out," he smiled.

 

     In Hagerstown, we stood in solidarity with a group protesting in front of a downtown abortion clinic there.

 

     In Hagerstown, I talked with Ned Smith, who had recently gone to El Salvador with the Center for Exchange and Solidarity.  He said he saw poverty practically everywhere.  What's more, he said in the wake of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement), Smith said subsistence farmers in El Salvador were being driven out of business, and off their land, as mega-corporate farms in America, as an example, now flood the markets in El Salvador with cheap grain.  What a travesty.

 

Virginia Tour

Virginia Tour / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Gainnesboro, Woodstock, Harrisonburg, Verona, Staunton, Lexington, Buckman, Roanoke, Radford

 

     In Woodstock, the Tigers youth soccer team let our Jonathan, 7, practice with them at a local park.

 

     Before leaving Woodstock, I passed out some campaign cards to a group of guys drinking coffee in front of a Sunoco station.  Obviously hunters, they were all dressed in camouflage stuff.  Surprisingly, no one asked me my stance on guns.

 

     We headed south on Rte. 81 through the famous Shenandoah Valley.  

 

     I passed on campaign information in Harrisburg, Staunton and Verona.

 

     In Verona, we spent the evening with the Maggie and John Nilo family, including their 10 children.  Our kids paired up with some of theirs and had a great time (except for the BB gun incident). Have I mentioned my stance on BB guns?

 

     In Verona, Liz and I attended a Bible study this evening at the Nilos as well.  The Bible study leader said tax collectors in those days were scorned, in part, because they were known to skim some of the tax money off the top for themselves.  I enjoined that with 173 loop holes in our tax code (many of them to the advantage of the rich), that 'skimming' seems to still be going on.

 

     We headed out of Verona and on to the town of Buchannan.  We stopped at the Buchanan Quick Stop (that didn't seem all that 'quick').  A slow country music song was playing in the background of the store and some older African Americans were milling about out front.  I passed out some campaign cards.  A marquee out front simply read:  Go Hoakies!

 

     We headed further south to Radford where we passed out more campaign cards at the Radford Rest Area on Rte. 81.  I love rest areas.  I must have passed out cards to people from at least 10 different states.

 

 

North Carolina Tour

North Carolina Tour / Fall 2010

 

Towns:  Mount Airy, Statesville, Mooresville, Huntersville, Charlotte, Belmont

 

    Our first stop in North Carolina was Mount Airy, "America's Hometown."  This is the small town where actor Andy Griffith grew up.  And it's the small town that inspired the Andy Griffith Show's "Mayberry."  The Andy Griffith Show is one of the TV programs we allow our kids to watch -- so we had to stop.  (Funny, going past the city limits sign, I actually think the kids thought the town was going to be: in black and white.)

 

     Our first stop was Opie's Candy Shop downtown.  We got a half pound of mix and match chocolates for three bucks.  Opie (Ron Howard), incidentally, was recently featured on the cover of the AARP Magazine.  And time marches on.

 

     While walking about downtown Mt. Airy with our boys, I passed out a few campaign cards (there were tourists here from all over the country).  On one bench were some retired teachers.  After receiving a card, one of the women sort of facetiously said:  "I know, when you get to D.C. you're going to lower our taxes."  I responded:  "Not exactly."  I said the current Federal debt is almost $13 trillion and I didn't want our seven-year-old son inheriting it.  I also said there are some 173 different types of tax breaks written into the tax code.  And if a number of these were eliminated, we could actually balance the budget in a relatively short time.  

 

     Another woman on the bench was Leigh Furmage, a retired high school science teacher from Cumberland County, North Carolina.  She told me she regularly spent her own money on lab equipment, to get things the school budget didn't allow for.

 

     Heading further south on Rte. 77, we stopped in Statesville, Mooresville, Huntersville and Charlotte.

 

     We then headed southwest, stopping in Belmont, North Carolina.  Belmont is the home of Belmont Abbey College.

 

     The kids and I walked about Belmont Abbey's campus, finally stopping at the "Holy Grounds Coffee Shop."  I approached a table of about eight students and told them I was running for president as an independent candidate.  There was a collective:  "Cool."  After passing on some campaign cards, we noticed a bumper sticker in one of the Abbey parking lots.  It read:  "Got Monks?"  We smiled, and headed on.