'Until the fates allow ... we'll have to muddle through'
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, June 11, 2015


I’ve heard sad things happen in threes, and that’s how many good conservatives I knew were lost to Massachusetts in the last two weeks.

The first, Leonard McGuire of Manomet, Plymouth, was a long-time member of Citizens for Limited Taxation and an avid Fox News fan. He was also a member of my son’s extended family, being the father of Lance’s father’s second wife and her many siblings.

I regret that I never got to meet such a good CLT member, but my grandchildren have happy memories of “Papa” playing with them at a family get-together in New Hampshire a few years ago; he had always welcomed Lance and his family as his own. The McGuire family had been planning his 100th birthday party in August; I imagine a life lived that long and deep inspired as many smiles as tears at his funeral.


The other two deaths were of younger men, both of whom passed on June 1, at age 89.

Sam Blumenfeld, always realistic, emailed Beverly’s Michael Gendre that he had just been diagnosed with acute leukemia -- “which is incurable” -- considerately giving his friends a chance to send a note telling him how valued he has been.

I met him 35 years ago, when I started my career as a taxpayer activist; he was a friend of CLT’s first executive director, Don Feder, and our guru on education issues. I’d see him when I attended Don’s Fourth of July parties, where we would all take turns reading the Declaration of Independence after eating well and catching up.

Sam also kept CLT’s Center-Right Coalition informed about his ongoing project to try to make sure American children learn to read. He’s published eight books on education in America, with investigations on the decline in American literacy and increase in learning disabilities, including ADD.

Sam is internationally known as a leading advocate of systematic phonics. We argued about Dr. Seuss, of whom Sam disapproved, I think, because there are too many pictures. I recommend that new parents buy his, “Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for Beginning Readers” at Amazon, if they want to make sure their children learn to read.


Sam and Michael, who is of French background, were beginning to write a version of Alpha-Phonics for French native speakers, who find it difficult to learn the odd pronunciations of some of our English words.

Older parents might be interested in his 1984 book, “NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education.” That far back, we were all concerned about the effect of teachers’ unions on the public schools; Sam was active in support of charter schools and yes, the Massachusetts teacher unions still oppose lifting the cap on the number allowed.

Sam’s friend Alex Newman wrote that “He wanted more than anything to rescue as many children as possible from illiteracy, ignorance and wickedness”. I look forward to reading their 2015 book “How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

Meanwhile, President Obama has been wanting to forgive some federal college loans, especially for students who think they didn’t get their money’s worth from their college experience. I miss Sam already; would love to ask him if thinks that parents of public school students who can’t read upon graduation from high school should get some of their property taxes back.

My other recently deceased friend, Robert E. Kelly, would laugh at that suggestion. His own primary concern for American children, however, was the national debt: he recently updated his original book about the subject to “The National Debt of the United States 1941-2008,” which takes the readers through the history of those years and the decisions made by elected officials, the courts, and of course the voters that have set our country on its present disastrous course to unsustainable burdens.


I was looking forward to the third edition taking us through the Obama Administration, but Bob died unexpectedly after a fall. So there will be no more books from him on history/economics, or on baseball either, another of his many interests.

I met him some 15 years ago on the pages of this newspaper, where he wrote a political column then later drifted into a column on the aging process, which I’d appreciate more now! I wrote to him and from that beginning found myself invited to his Peabody home every December to open the Christmas season with Bob at the organ, his friends gathered ‘round singing carols.

After his move to Beverly, we’d sit with his wife, Peg, on his apartment balcony at Colonial Gardens, talking about politics and the culture. I hadn’t been to his new address in Danvers, but got an email in early May listing 14 problems with illegal immigration with the subject line, “Does this bother you?” I replied that it does, along with a host of other things. He replied with his final question to me: “Are we lost?”

I suggested that we give it one more election. Will miss sharing that election cycle with him to see if voters finally take his advice in the conclusion of “The National Debt”:

“Voters must get angry. They must vote. They must remove from office those who do not talk straight and elect those who will cut spending, reduce the size of government, lower debt, and return to Americans the right to live their own lives.”

At our last caroling party, I had my first solo, in response to my ongoing complaint about the wrong words in “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” the line about hanging “a shining star upon the highest bough.” The proper words are:

“Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow, until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow…” Have to admit now that my three recently departed conservatives were shining stars upon a high citizen bough. I hope we’ll all be together someday. Until then, let’s muddle through.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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