Monthly Archives: July 2016

Meanderings on the Conventions

I watched the Democratic and Republican Conventions this year and was shocked and dismayed by the lack of Republican cohesiveness and pleased with the Democratic push for military, minorities, and efforts to make Hillary Clinton look more like the apparently wise woman that she appeared to be in Democratic speeches. I remember a very valuable lesson I learned from Ronald Reagan when he ran against Jimmy Carter. Carter, probably one of our most intelligent Presidents, was Reagan’s putty. All Reagan had to say in order to shape him was, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Undoubtedly, we were not.

Now it is time to ask the Republicans the same question, “Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?” The obvious answer is yes. I know of people who have done very well in today’s economy but they want more. Everything cannot be Obama’s fault. He has used Keynesian Economics too much and we are in far too much debt. Part of the solution is lying on the docks. If we were actually fair to ourselves we would raise the tariff and bring in more money to pay off the debt. Countries would still trade with us because the dollar is the best bet in today’s world economy.

Obama had plenty to do with it, but some guys are not going to give him even a simple “hello.” We were in dire straits eight years ago, when it looked like everything was going to sour. It looked like the start of the Great Depression all over again. Because of Obama, and the Democrats in Congress, Keynesian Economics was used liberally, resulting in the standard large deficits of that economic stimulus. I have a copy of Keynes’ book, and the man did not spare too many people’s feelings. He said we had to spend more than we took in, that we had to run up large debts, and pay them off when the country was in better shape. It is kind of a credit card mentality. Rack up a large debt and pay on the principal and interest. It works.

The Democratic Convention, as I alluded to before, was a Band Aid on a large wound, but hearing the arguments of the speakers made me feel good that I was a Democrat. The fact that they lined up Republicans and Independents was good, a good thing. Bloomberg was right on about Trump when he said that Trump manufactured his own goods in China and other places overseas. I just hope that sticks. A Republican running for President of the United States should not be manufacturing goods overseas and then saying that he supports American goods made here. It is ultra-speak.

Many people had the chance to speak at the Democratic Convention. I especially liked the people I am going to list and with whom I felt a kind of fellowship. General John Allen, who had never spoken in a convention speech before said that “We will stop the spread of nuclear weapons.” Now, I am not for a nuclear free world. Nuclear weapons keep us from exercising our tactical weapons strategies. They are a powerful deterrent. When General Curtis LeMay was sent up to look at Japanese cities laid to waste in WWII, he looked at ten sites and could not tell the difference between cities that had been fire-bombed, and those that had been destroyed by nuclear weapons. Hiroshima and Nagasaki looked like other cities that had been fire-bombed. Fire-bombing was the release of five gallons of gasoline with a conventional bomb. It was a devastating way to invade Japanese air space.

General Allen also said, “The USA will continue to be that inspirational and transformational power in the world.” I believe that he was right. As a country, we have an obligation to the rest of the world to exhibit those facets of our democracy that make democracy so difficult to manage but so desirable.

Khzir Kahn, a Muslim, who lost his son in a battle in Afghanistan said, “Vote for the healer, not the divider.” In his estimation, Hillary Clinton was the healer, while her opponent was the divider. He also said, “My son had dreams of being a lawyer but he sacrificed those dreams to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. We are” he said, “stronger together.” I agreed with him that we cannot look at a person’s religion and come to a conclusion based on religion or race.

Governor Andrew Cuomo showed why he is like his father when he argued that, “The Middle Class is the backbone of society.” It is, I believe. Cuomo remembered 9/11 when he said that, “We got up and rebuilt together, and that was America at its best.” It was America at its zenith. We were united, and Obama made sure, apparently with strong persuasive words from Hillary Clinton, that he got Osama Bin Laden. I remember the day well, my friend said, “Your man did well today.” That was when it was verified that Osama Bin Laden was dead.

The Democratic National Convention made me proud to be a Democrat. Of special note was Bernie Sanders passing of his baton. He had done so well, and worked so hard, that his friends should have been able to vote for him, but it was not to be. He backed Clinton. That was an amazing and astounding move. When my brother-in-law, Paul Tsongas went to the 1992 Convention, he got a chance to speak to his supporters. Bernie Sanders did not even demand speaking time. He proposed healing time. He was inspirational.

So, that is my take on the Democratic Convention. I have little to say about the Republican Convention other than to point out that the Bush’s, the McCain’s, and the Romney’s were not even in attendance. That says more about Trump than anything. I went to a Trump speech and it was literally, “All about me.” All he spoke about was what was happening in his campaign. I have an hour and one-half recording of his speech, which was widely about his campaign accomplishments with very little about what he would do beyond building that wall. It was, in my opinion, a sophomoric talk to an all white audience. No wonder there were so few African-Americans in his hall. I did not see one person of color in a crowd of over one thousand. I have that recorded, too.

Those are my meanderings on the Conventions. Just a few thoughts, and a welcoming of the fact that I am a Democrat. I do not believe in the Democratic stand on abortion, I am too Catholic for that. Other than that, they were chanting my tune.

A Blog on Blogging and Bloggers

I now have 84,957 responses to my blog, and all I can think of saying is “Thank You,” to all who read it. There is no way that I can individually respond to 84,000 responders so I am writing this to acknowledge your friendship and kindnesses and hope that that does the trick. So thank you to all who take the time to write a response as well as those who simply read it. It is a source of great pride to me to know that sometimes I affect some people’s lives.

My summer is going well. I have been to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine points and beaches. I want to camp on the Kancamangus Highway in New Hampshire but have to wait a bit on that one. I have been fishing, fixed my boat, and written a great deal. I have a cat I call “TJ” who is an indoor cat who wants to go outdoors all of the time. T stands for Thomas and J is for Jefferson. I have a cat called “Thomas Jefferson,” one of my least favorite Presidents. He did do one thing that I must thank him for, he invented ice cream as we know it now. That was worth something.

Google recommended that I start having advertisers, but I do not want to do that yet. Probably never. They charge you for advertising, and it just does not seem to be in the atmosphere I want to project. Not that it never could happen, just that it is not going to happen until I get at least a one hundred thousand subscribers. And probably not then, too.

So, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and TJ aside, I want again to thank you for your responses. I greatly enjoy them and I like the many compliments. May life be good to you.

Meanderings

It has been one heck of a week. Five policemen were gunned down in Dallas, supposedly over police atrocities in other cities. Dallas did not factor into those atrocities. Then, in Nice, France 84 people were killed by a renegade refrigeration truck of a large size. Finally, today, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a man opened fire on six police officers, three died, one is in critical condition, and I am sure I am right in saying that our prayers go with him. The nation is falling apart from the split in the middle. A friend told me today that the “Communist Manifesto” said that nations could best be destroyed by carving up the nation from the middle. That seems to be what is happening. Just a few weeks ago, Orlando, Florida was the site of a massive killing. It has gotten to the point that you cannot tell how many people are killed by legal weapons. Ohio even has a “show me” law which allows people to walk the city exhibiting their weapons openly. The Governor was asked to say that, during the Republican National Convention you could not exhibit in the area of the RNC. The Governor said he could not do that. It was a violation of the Constitution. I doubt that those men with muskets ever believed that multiple shot weapons, which my police tell me makes them assault rifles, were protected by the 2nd. Amendment.

Anyway, that is my world as I see it in July of 2016. Killings, mass murders, and ultimate sacrifices seem to be the rule of the day. I do not believe in guns, and I do believe in gun control. So, I am in the minority apparently. Recently, my State Representative got the Legislature to declare that shooting into a home or house was a felony. On my television show, my Republican guest said “What if he is just cleaning his weapon and it goes off in his basement?” I told him his Republican leanings were showing. They were too.

I am certainly not without my foibles. The other day, someone hailed me to their jet ski and asked if the woman who had fallen off of hers could be picked up. I circled, looking for a spot to stop the propeller. Just then, a man on a jet ski went by and single-handedly picked up the woman and put her on the last seat of his vessel. My chances to be a hero were suddenly gone. I just marveled at the speed with which he worked.

I am listening to Bruce Springsteen currently and I am on his “You can’t start a Fire” song. I love “Want to change my clothes, my hair, my face.” Who has not wanted that at some point?

This world is in trouble. It is not just America. Where is the leadership? Russia is doing well, I hear, but I am not sure Putin is my Kennedy. So that leaves the woman leading Germany. She seems to be doing well. Who knows?

I spend my mornings talking to friends about what is going on in the world. They are not Liberal Democrats, like I am. They are primarily conservatives, and they love Trump. I don’t. I cannot believe that the leader of “The Apprentice” is the Republican nominee. All he said on that show was “You’re fired!” Anyone can do that, providing they have substantiation.

This is not going to be my best Meanderings, these are just the Meanderings of my small mind. I certainly hope that, whomever we elect, is a good choice. Personally, I do not like, at this point anyway, any of the major candidates. Trump is too cowboy, and Hilary has too many hidden secrets. I guess I will just wait and see what happens and then make up my mind. I hope you are having a better time of it then I am.

Efforts to Institute an American Curriculum

In his book, {The Struggle for an American Curriculum; Herbert Kliebard} said, “Growing up is a serious business, much too seerious to be left to parents who forgot to wind clocks or internalize time discipline completely.” Others agreed with him. In the 1880’s, school records show that the City of Lowell, Massachusetts lamented that you should not send your child to school until the age of seven years, and that anything less was an effort by the parent to avoid parenting {Lowell School Committee Minutes}.

In Lowell, there was a struggle between the need for labor, and the desire to educate our children. There was emphasis on the “higher goals” of mankind. In the city, there was a natural conservatism in the face of poverty, caused the educational system to place the maintenance of the “status quo” above the need or desire for a strong academic curriculum. Vocational training was desirable, and maintained at all costs, but innovations in education were constantly improved upon in order to fulfill Lowell’s obligations as a planned community. As Lowell got older, it turned more rigidly to the separation of vocational and academic training. We literally introduced curriculum that matched those two areas.

I discovered that most of what has been done for the good of the student has been spearheaded by parents and teachers working in harmony. Most of the stagnation, when there has been some, occurs when they do not work in harmony. Initially, my goal was to encompass changes to the curriculum in the city to make a definitive statement on what problems were involved with making these changes. I like to bring back the ghosts of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, who were on opposite sides of the vocational/academic argument. Jefferson was definitely an academic scholar while Franklin saw the benefit of learning a trade, in his case, printing and writing. Both areas were addressed in the 1800’s. I have shown that in my earlier articles.

My Declarative Hypothesis was probably, “Teachers in the City of Lowell school system have had little effect on curriculum change in the city schools.” That, however, would not be the case. Throughout Lowell’s history, schools have been of supreme importance. This is especially true when the teachers/administrators/parents, have banded together to alter the curriculum. In the 1980’s one individual oversaw the implementation of a single curriculum for the primary and middle grades. His/her effect on the curriculum budget was large, but the effect on the school system was small. Parents and teachers were not introduced into the larger debate on where the curriculum was going and how it was supposed to get there.

Parents, working from the outside, have had little impact on the school system. Only when those three components work together, is there any real change. It is imperative that each school have a PTO, each teacher feels like there good effort is making a difference, and administrators want to involve parents and teachers in as equal a manner as possible. We do not want to be like Kliebard, lamenting the fact that everything was the parent’s fault. Even to the winding of the clocks.

There are some important ideas to work on in implementing any hypothesis. In Lowell, it was said that “Spelling by Writing” was “less tedious than idleness, and more salutary than mischief.” {School Committee Minutes}. By making the imitation of printed letters a part of the curriculum, early educators compared the act to a child making pictures of what a child saw. In High School, single words and phrases, early on, “Accent, pronunciation, definition, punctuation, and division into syllables was required. Much of our city’s early curriculum was based on repitition. In addition, in order to have order, Grammar School Principals were urged to become small district Superintendents with smaller Primary Schools reporting to them. {School Committee Minutes}

Lowell was ahead of most of the rural schools of the day. There was a regular Kindergarten program in 1892. It was widely accepted. Students could be three and one-half years of age and up at the time. Apparently the earlier push for seven year olds was not working. It is not known if this was because of the problems seen by working parents, or if this was something that was instituted because of a type of growth in the school administrators.

There was at the time, one Supervisor of Kindergarten, a Miss Deveraux. She ran the entire Kindergarten system, but made much less than a man. “Equal pay for equal work” was not yet popular in 1892. Local and rural towns were not made to be Kindergarten ready for generations. This was quite a feather in Lowell’s collective cap.

So, Lowell was the city that saw experimentation as an important and beneficial tool. We see curriculum changes all of the time. One of the most controversial new ones is the loss of Cursive as a writing tool. How will people come up with a recognizable signature, we ask? More on curriculum in the future.

Meanderings from June 2015

I have not meandered in awhile, so I thought that this might be a good thing to do. I have noticed that my books keep getting older, and while that does not make them useless, it does create in some readers a little askance as to the modern relevance of a classic book or author. I tell people that there are four main sources in American Literature of quotations. They are, and not in any particular order; Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, and the Bible. Most modern writing has been influenced by one or more of these people, or in the case of the Bible, multiple persons. For instance, when Abraham Lincoln was called in to settle a dispute that bordered on violence, he was asked if having long legs or short legs was a better option. He said, “This question has been a source of controversy for untold ages, and it is about time it should be definitely decided,” he said slowly and deliberately. “In my opinion, a man’s legs should be at least long enough to reach the ground.” (The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Alex Ayres; a Meridian Publication; 1992)

Mark Twain made similiar observations, and Alex Ayres wrote of his opinions too. Do those opinions serve us in 2015? Probably not, but they can still be endearing. Sometimes the oddest of all answers is the answer that best serves.

So, where am I going with this? Presumably nowhere. It is just a passage in a book that grows older everyday. We try to capture our wit and wisdom on Twitter, or on Facebook, or somewhere else on the computer. It seldomly works out to our level of understanding, or our intent. We think we are brighter than we often are, and that lends itself to some ego-boosting. I firmly believe I am one of those who looks for those things, although I seldomly see Facebook and never have read a “Tweet.”

My meanderings often come back to my television shows. I have two now, “Peters’ Principles” and “This Town’s Character.” One is about those opinions I value and the other is about someone who has character, described in Webster’s as “integrity, fortitude, and reputation.” Not a character, but having some of those qualities. While I write this a constant face appears on my computer, and it is not a face I have often associated with one with whom I agree. It is Hilary Clinton’s face. A new topic pops up with the picture each time the face of the former First Lady smiles broadly on it. Now I have problems with Mrs. Clinton. I do not believe that she is the person to lead the nation. Her email dodges are to prevalent to put much faith in her abilities, I believe. Her unanswered questions on happenings in the Middle East make her someone who I believe does not have that character that would put her on my show.

I have another show which I appear on fairly regularly. That is John McDonough’s and George Anthes’ “City Life.” On it I have reiterated why I will not back Mrs. Clinton in elective office. She is the one who convinced her husband that he should not address his supporters in the 1992 New Hampshire Primary and make a conciliatory speech. He was going to, she stated that she told him, go down there and be the “Comeback Kid.” There are rules for running for President, and conciliatory speeches are one of many. As a friend said that night, “They don’t call them Razorbacks for nothing.” Mrs. Clinton seems to circle above the rest of us, making up rules to explain emails or other things for her benefit. Even her husband’s explanation for the affair seems to be above the norm. Perhaps, unlike Lincoln, their feet do not touch the ground.

Her husband was one of two Presidents to be impeached. No apologies, per se, just an explanation from him. You cannot even ask which corner of the Oval Office the incident which became so famous took place in, because it is, after all, an Oval. Earlier Presidents had their office upstairs or elsewhere. The Oval Office is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of the Presidency. That is something that those old books do tell you. You see, they were published at about the time that the President made the change to the now famous oval room in the center of the White House.

Speaking of that, I was discussed by name by the then President of the United States while he was in the White House. Jimmy Carter called my brother-in-law, according to Paul Tsongas, and asked him if I was actually backing John Anderson in Massachusetts. When Paul answered in the affirmative, President Carter asked him to put pressure on me to get aboard the Democratic train. “We do not do that,” Paul told me he answered. This rebuke on Jimmy Carter’s part from the man whose brother inspired “Billy Beer.” When Paul told me all I could say was that I was extremely flattered that I was discussed by name in the White House. Paul thought that was what I would say.

So, where am I meandering tonight? All over the place. Sometimes in my books, sometimes on my computer, and sometimes in my past. I remember one other thing that Paul told me. When I asked him what the difference was between being in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate he reached in his pocket and pulled out a plastic container. “I have to be ready for the television cameras,” he said. So the major difference was, and this was a joke, of course, that he had to carry a small container of facial cream of some sort.

I have had an excellent life and I have enjoyed it tremendously. I still find others to be much more interesting than I, but that ‘goes with the territory.’ My meanderings tonight take me to no special place, just alot of places that I hold dear. Most of them have something to do with my past experiences or history. Some of them have to do with the present, and many of them deal with the future. It is a good thing to be in a place that some people would disdain. I value my family, both immediate and satellite, and my friends. Thusfar it has been an interesting life. As I told a man recently, there was very little difference between being the son of the School Superintendent and the brother-in-law of the U.S. Senator. My meanderings are such that there were many secrets once kept. Fewer exist now. All will disappear at some point. That makes them much like those old books. That also keeps my two feet on the ground, as Lincoln would have liked.