Monthly Archives: March 2018

The World’s Best Philosophers and Other Mundane Items

I constantly tell my friends and readers, of which I have 432,000 responders, that my favorite quotes come from four or five sources.  These are:

Benjamin Franklin

Mark Twain

The Bible

Abraham Lincoln

and,      Shakespeare (although I use him a little more sparingly), I also like Mahatma Ghandi.

French philosopher Piaget stated that Ghandi and Christ were the only people to make it to seven on a scale where 7 is the highest you could get, and two or three was where most of the rest of us were situated.  So I make it a point to listen closely to the sermon given every Sunday and I read up on Hindu philosophy.

People like me, need to look up the philosophies of the greats in order to gain a sense of what is possible.  I was a little boy when John F. Kennedy was killed, but I do remember right where I was when I heard the news and I cried for years.  He would have handled our current malaise with wit and humor.  But, instead people make what I believe are mistaken comparisons between his time in office and Trump’s treatment of women.  At no time did Kennedy get caught in delicato.  If he did have affairs, they were not measurable to the degree that Trump has been openly accused of, not in the least.

   Shakespeare said, after a satisfying dinner, “I praise God for you Sir; your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious;  pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without heresy,”  He apparently had dinner with the perfect dining companion.  Either way, he seemed deeply appreciative of his new friend’s mannerisms.  Would that we all could have such a dining companion.  Equally, would that we could have William Shakespeare to pass judgement.  

Lord Chesterfield wrote to his son, in some of the most quoted letters from parent to child, …”that the English crust of awkward bashfulness, shyness, and roughness…is pretty well rubbed off (as in it no longer is a problem).   I am most heartily glad of it; for, as I have often told you, …those lesser talents, of an engaging, insinuating manner, an easy good breeding, a genteel behaviour and address, are of infinitely more advantage than they are generally thought to be, especially here in England.”  Determination and my father is the gist of this article.

I have recently had an opportunity to go through my late father’s papers.  The more I read, the closer I get to education, as in the profession, the more I admire his tenacity.  I always knew that he thought he was right, but looking through these many reports and books,  he had reason to be proud of his Superintendency’s.  At a time, such as now, when we have many people working in the Head Office, he kept his staff in Lowell down to seven people, four of them Secretaries and Clerks.  He came to Lowell determined to not put the elderly school system in debt, beyond what he could master.  He used old schools, found 33 classrooms in tours of the old Lowell High School, and worked around some well-intentioned grants.  One of them was the grant that paid for Patrick Mogan to study the canal system.  I know this because I had the opportunity to work for a day with Peter Stamas and Patrick Mogan on the canal system.  It was Mogan’s idea.  It was the school department’s money.   My father said I would enjoy Mr. (not Dr. yet) Mogan’s style and I did.  Mr. Mogan had dreams for the canal city.  One that he stated to me was gondolas.  But he could not see how they would fit under the bridges.  So he wisely dropped that idea.

Patrick Mogan, the inspiration, had the canal system, all of it, set up on wooden platforms.  The water was blue paint.  The sides were white painted wooden panels.  Peter Stamas actively contributed to the conversation.  I do not believe I have ever had a better time than I did in the Smith/Baker Center where they had set up the system on the second floor in a hallway.  My father was determined to see that funding of the project stayed in the budget.  As far as I know, he wrote or oversaw the writing of the grant(s) himself.  So he proved he could be a dreamer.

In (The Commonwealth of Massachusetts/Department of Education – Lowell Public Schools, an Interim Report) written under the directives of Neil V. Sullivan, Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner stated that he was writing in response to a request of my father’s for additional information on a one-day visit on October 24, 1969, “this Department sent a team of Specialists to Lowell for a one day study,”  Dr. Peters openly asked for more information from the panel.  They “visited schools at all grade levels and talked to citizens, children, teachers, and administrators.”    The purpose was to determine where “the Department can best assist Lowell in meeting the challenge in the excellent report, “Agenda for Change” recently completed by Harvard University.”  Mr. or Dr. Sullivan says that “my staff are very impressed with the current determination of the citizens and school officials in Lowell to  implement change.” (Page One)

“It is apparent,” Dr. Sullivan stated, “that all responsible  elements of the Committee (the State Committee) are eager to assist you, your Staff, and the School Committee in your efforts to acheive equal educational opportunity for every child in Lowell.”  There was limited infighting.

“The Department of Education stands ready to join you in the tasks  that lie ahead.”  “I extend to you, Dr. Peters, and your fine staff my congratulations for the steps you have already taken on behalf of the children of Lowell.”  Thus did Dr. Sullivan close his letter.  He thought my father was a fine Superintendent.  A few years later, after he was denied tenure and ran for School Committee,  Wayne Peters won more than 5,000 votes ahead of his second-place finisher.  The 2nd. place went to Mrs. Stoklosa.  They became good friends,  His vote total was over 15,000 votes.

This may be  just the ramblings of his son, but I am the only son who went into education, and I was close to him throughout his tenure.  It is my feeling that he did a good job.  That he refused to bend to those who wanted to control him, and we almost had to leave Lowell rather than stay here. I have been here for forty-nine years, and in my case, fathered four children who had a hometown; something I never had because we moved so much.  I, as George Anthes continues to say, am still a “blow-in,” who has made Lowell his goal.

Hopefully, I am closer to the Shakespeare assessment than the Lord Chesterfield one.  I want to be that person, adroit, and stoical.  For me, the LHS election was historically perfect.  Hopefully, what we get out of it will be perfect.  Oh, and one other thing, my father would not have wasted money on building the 1980’s building.  He would have been on the construction site everyday he was Superintendent or School Committeeman.  He was the most tenacious man I knew.  He never understood politics, but he did fairly well with that medium.  This blog is written in order to let people know what he was like.  In Holbrook, MA, his next assignment, he was there for years, but he never moved out of Lowell until he retired to Florida.  Even then, he kept up with politics in Lowell.  He called me all of the time.

I wrote this because I am my father’s son.  Lowell is better off because he chose to live here.  He did not move out.  That was a miracle.  He moved many times as I was growing up.  From the safety  of Iowa to the tension  of Harvey, Illinois; to the relative safety of Lowell.  He thought that Lowell did not know what to do with him.  It made him a better person and helped him deal with the many people who supported him.  He even wrote a book about it.

 

Copyright by James A. Peters

 

Presidential Timber and a Few Words on Elephants and Donald Trump

I have the good luck of being able to sit with some remarkable men every morning, or most mornings in the week.  They communicate easily, see things not my way, but in a way that they are comfortable with; and they are largely Republican.  Two were Colonels in the Armed Forces, a rank that is not easily acheived.  One was a fighter pilot around the time that Hollywood made being a fighter pilot sound like the best position in the world.  Another was a JAG in the Armed Forces.  The others, except for me, all served their country.  One even did so during the Cuban Missle Crisis.  I enjoy their take on what is going on in  the world,  but usually I disagree with their conclusions.  They do not threaten to string me up, but sometimes they get impatient with my Democratic philosophy.  I get equally impatient with their Republican ones.  Usually, they support Donald Trump, which to me is a anathema.  How can learned men support a man who allegedly had  a series of relationships with women of questionable character while he was pursuing the Presidency of the United States.  They stick up for him citing Kennedy’s reputation.  I point out that Kennedy never got caught.  He may or may not have cheated on his wife, but if he did, he did it quietly.

I do not get their points usually.  They are intelligent men who supported my brother-in-law, the late U.S. Senator Paul E. Tsongas in his quest to become the 1992 Democratic Presidential nominee.  As such, I assume that they agreed with Paul on special issues like conservation.  I read this morning that Donald Trump eviscerated two National Parks in order to allow oil drilling in parts of National Parks that were coveted and protected by President Teddy Roosevelt, whose statue is on Mount Rushmore.  Take that, Paul Tsongas.  Paul was the person who worked both sides of the aisle to get the Alaskan Lands Bill passed.  That protected Alaskan land which was the size of the State of Indiana,  from drilling and oil exploration.  It is, of course, one of the first National Parks targeted by Donald Trump and now there is exploration and drilling up there.

Paul Tsongas was one of those people who recognized that politics was a means to an end, not the end itself.  He got the support of Republicans in his legislation and it is hard to find one of his Republican Senate friends speaking ill of his efforts.  Paul Tsongas was the Democrat who came out and told people that the United States needed to work determinably together to realize the special significance of this effort at democracy.  He understood that democracy was only instilled in Athens, Greece for a mere one hundred years.  The Greeks could not understand to the fullest extent what they had.  They reverted to a monarchy one hundred years after the inception of democracy.  As Adolph Hitler said repeatedly, democracy was too encumbered to be able to fight in the modern world.  He advocated a dictatorship, and proved its inability to function well during World War II.

These men I mentioned earlier, were, I am fairly certain, supporters of Paul Tsongas’ effort to run for the presidency.  I have some literature from that period and it reads like who’s who in liberal thought.  Paul was far, even though he was able to reach across the aisle, from being a conservative.  But, I believe that most of these breakfast buddies of mine, supported him in his efforts.  One piece of old Tsongas literature comes from the New Hampshire presidential campaign.  The Boston “Globe” headline says that “N.H. Environmentalists  Back Tsongas.”   If I am correct in my surmising that most of these men supported Paul’s effort for the presidency, then they have changed to supporting a super-conservative approach to conservation.  Some of them have even traveled to the West to catch salmon.  They enjoyed all that conservation could bring to them.  The Salem, OR “Statesman” said in 1992, before we had any trillion dollar debts that “We have had plenty of experience with handsome public officials, we’re ready for someone who puts   brains, wisdom, integrity, and action first.” (1992)  The Cleveland “Plain Dealer” said Paul had “…The backbone to say how he plans to raise money for his programs.” (1992)

There are two concepts in those two sentences that explain why Paul Tsongas continues to be thought of in a good way twenty years after his untimely death.  Here he was, coming out with a free book to explain how he was going to finance his programs, and use his wits to finance the United States government.  The only dirty word I ever heard him say, at least in his delivery, was TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS.  He did not want to float a loan for one trillion dollars, let alone one and one half trillion dollars as a supposed tax break.  Wait until we have to pay that one off.

So I am confused.   Keynesian Economics states that a nation in a time of great financial hardship can borrow against anticipated revenues in the future.  But, I have read Keynes’ book, I have a copy of it, and nowhere does it say that you can have a flexible debt ceiling and float trillions of dollars in debt.  Instead, what it does say is that you can pay back your debt when the original problem is corrected.  I have a great many disagreements with this President.  How can he, two days ago, reintroduce and re-entertain the idea that you can hunt elephants and bring Dumbo back with you with your other prizes?  Who thinks like that?  I would venture a guess that my intelligent Republican friends do not agree with that one.  Maybe I am wrong, but I do not think so.

This country is in a deep flux.  We have to start listing our own lists of items that we want to have cared about, and work to acheiving them.  It was a great thing that so many people came out to vote in the Texas primaries.  Only by getting involved can we maintain our independence.  It is essential that we maintain our independence.  Conservatism is part of our culture, as is Liberalism.  Conservation is the same as Democratic ideals on the environment.  It is just from a different angle.  Neither is inherently right or wrong.

In the newspaper, “Nature’s Voice,” the writers and editors point out that Trump is pushing a “climate destruction plan.”  is a directive that the U.S. E.Protection Agency dismantle President Obama’s historic Clean Power Plan.  One of my Republican friends asked me to critique an article by Eugene Robinson which stated that Trump’s damage will last decades.  I cannot critique it because I believe it.  Mr. Robinson is right on, in my opinion.  He states rightly that in South America most transparency efforts are a “joke.”   I believe that.  So here I have a number of good friends who  believe in the Republican idea that Trump is a Republican.  He isn’t.  He is either a Populist, if I was trying to be nice; or he is a Liberterian.  Be like the first Republicans who pushed Abraham Lincoln to run for his second election outside the hallowed halls of Republicanism.  That’s right, Mr. Lincoln was not a member of that group in 1864.  Calling Trump something other than a Republican is just the truth.  That is why so  many special Republican families did not support Trump.  The Bush’s, who are both past Presidents, do not support Trump.  Maybe they know something we don’t know.

 

Protected under Copyright by James A. Peters