“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

Jim Peters is a frequent contributor to this site. Below is his latest essay:

I have three cats. Two of them hate each other, if I am reading cat noises correctly. Autumn hisses at Bella, and the third one stays far away from the fray. I have no idea why the two seem to dislike one another, except that one was here before the other one, and the third just got here and wants nothing to do with a running feud. They do make me think of the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts however. As a fairly active Democrat, I get an awfully lot of mail from Elizabeth Warren and as a friend of a Republican, I get a fair amount of mail from Scott Brown. At this point, I have to say that I cannot get a fix on either one. Elizabeth Warren’s biggest mistake, and I really do not see it as such, was stating that her mother told her she was part Cherokee Native American. It may or may not be true, but its truthfullness has little to do with the race for U.S. Senate.
That was not the way Scott Brown saw it. He used it to deride Ms. Warren, trying to make her look like a liar. By the same token, she tried to make him into a Playgirl model by bringing up the fact that he posed partially nude in order to help pay his way through law school.

How can I compare this spat to my cats. Like my cats, this is a spat. It has little to do with the issues that they could be debating. On that score, I would have to give the upper hand to Ms. Warren. She seems to try to bring her commercials into the realm of the real. I greatly wondered at the fact that Scott Brown voted for a Republican Amendment that allowed insurance companies, as I understand it, to deny Ovarian cancer screenings to women more than every five years. I may have part of that interpretation wrong, but I know that my feeling is that if my wife or daughter needed, according to their doctor, screening more often than every five years, the government should damned well stay out of it. Which brings to mind, how can a father of two girls, and the husband of Gail Huff, vote to deny them basic female coverage for a female cancer? It diminishes what was a good family commercial.

Where else has my mind meandered? I am the recipient of a series of emails entitled “Innovative Cities” but I fail to see what the point of the emails is, actually. I think, believe, that the point is to bring to a debate Lowell’s current status into a finer focus. But I cannot tell by the observations on what makes for an innovative city. They seem trite and confusing to me and when I responded once by asking what the purpose was, I just got back a notice that “Jim Peters asked what this was all about.” So I did not try again.

I am a strong proponent of organic gardening but I think we have to be careful of where we toss our manure. The “Green” movement is about spreading the manure wisely. I agree with that. We have to be able to utilize the earth and its resources wisely. We have to dispose of our organic waste wisely. I fail to see that discussion in any email that I receive. Most of what I receive is about keeping Obama in or throwing Obama out. Mike Dukakis, on Boston television last Sunday, pointed out that our past governor, Mitt Romney, was trailing Obama in his former political safety net, Massachusetts, by twenty-five points. That fact is incredible. It means that those of us who knew Mitt Romney’s work the best refuse to vote for him. He might do better in his hometown state of Michigan, but this must be really disturbing to Romney.

I am a liberal Democrat with decided conservative tendencies. I go to Mass many times a week. I agree with my church on the issues of the day. I recently got the chance to ask Senator Eileen Donoghue, in a meeting of the Highlands Council, which she was kind enough to attend and spend some time with us, what the legislature’s stand on doctor-assisted suicide was, and how its chances were in the legislature. She seemed to indicate that it was tied up in committee, with many other bills. Knowing something about the democratic process, I rested easier after hearing that answer,. I am against doctor-assisted death of any sort. I believe that they take an oath to do “no harm.” And, I believe the stands that the Catholic Church takes on such issues is reasonable and logical.

Senator Donoghue was very helpful and I thank her for spending more than an hour of her time with the people of the Highlands Council. She was gracious and helpful. I greatly enjoyed her donation of her time and knowledge to be with us. It does not seem that long ago that we were on opposite sides of the fence. That is not true anymore.

So where has my meandering mind left me? In a totally confused state called Massachusetts. I was invited to Springfield for the state convention on board a train with Ms. Warren. My favorite form of travel is a train, but reluctantly I could not attend due to business constraints. I love to fly, but my greatest love is riding the rails. I worry about our mutual distrust of one another. It shows when I leaflet for my business. It shows when I sit with my Republican friends. It shows when I sit with my brothers and sisters and inevitably the talk turns to politics or religion. The two great taboos. I wish we could learn to compromise again. It was fun then, it would be fun now. “Don’t negate, negotiate.” I made that one up myself in order to put into words where my mind wanders to, and from. It makes sense now, and it will, I believe, make sense in the future.

3 Responses to “Meanderings” by Jim Peters

  1. Steve says:

    Warren’s problem was not saying that her mother told her she was part Cherokee.
    It was claiming minority status in personnel documents. You may or may not think that’s misrepresentation, but let’s at least be honest about the nature of the issue.

  2. Christopher says:

    It wasn’t personnel documents; it was a survey she filled out for a directory after she had been hired. Those who are in a position to know have consistently said there was no indication of or benefit from her Native heritage in the hiring process. If her mother were Native enough that her father’s family objected forcing the couple to elope I would say that’s pretty strong evidence that there is something to her claim.

    Also, as I recall Warren did not bring up Brown’s centerfold pose herself; it was prompted by the debate questioner who prefaced the question as to how EW paid for college with the note about how Brown did.

  3. Daniel Patrick Murphy says:


    Lovely tone to your article. I am more concerned about Autumn and Bella’s disputatious relationship than the other two that you mentioned. Do you remember ‘The Cat Lady’?
    I wonder if her spirit still wanders the sidewalks around Nesmith St…

    The Cat Lady

    Hilda steps out
    Carrying her cage,
    Heads of cats inside.
    On sunny days

    Her skinny legs flake dirt.
    She’s an underfed alley cat,
    Mangiest that strays,
    Staring through cakey slits.

    On rainy days
    Her bony legs,
    With murky rills trickling down,
    Cross downtown sidewalks

    And along famine-filled canals.
    She’s shuffling silently along—
    A feline song sung
    In her own demented time.

    A singular pallbearer,
    She carries her box
    Of cat-heads
    With cutting, clawing eyes.

    –Daniel Patrick Murphy