I’m still stuck in central Indiana and there seems to be a blizzard bearing down on the Northeast. They’re predicting 18 inches in northwest greater Boston where I live. I’m hoping I’ll manage to get back there soon, if weather permits.
I had to call the guy who has been helping me with the snow the last couple of winters and ask him to shovel my house out so I don’t come home to piles of solid ice in my driveway and on my front walk. I hope everyone who is getting hit by the blizzard will be okay!
While I was checking up on the Boston weather forecast, I came across this interesting story in The Boston Globe.
If you were around in the late ’50s and early ’60s, you may recall a famous song by the Kingston Trio about the Boston subway system, then called the MTA.
In June of 1959, packaged sandwiches and envelopes of nickels began pouring into the Park Square headquarters of Boston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, postmarked from as far off as California and Hawaii. All were addressed to Charlie — “the man who never returned.’’
The Kingston Trio’s “At Large’’ album was headed to number one, and listeners couldn’t get enough of the opening track, “M.T.A.,’’ about a fellow trapped on the subway because he lacked a nickel for the exit fare. The hit would go on to become a campfire staple and slice of Americana, widely embraced, frequently parodied, and adapted for styles from country to punk.
It turns out that the song the Kingston Trio recorded was
…actually a sanitized version of the original, a campaign song for a 1949 Boston mayoral candidate who opposed the subway fare hike. But by 1959, the candidate had been blacklisted and run out of town, and the song’s most political lyrics were simply edited out
because another folk group, The Weavers (which included Pete Seeger) had been blacklisted because Seeger and another member of the group, Lee Hayes were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and both refused to name names.
Now the Boston transit authority (now called the MBTA) is displaying the uncensored lyrics of the song along with the backstory at selected subway stations. “Charlie on the MTA” was Walter O’Brien’s campaign song–a protest about a fare increase in subway fares.
The MTA had been formed just two years earlier from the ashes of the Boston Elevated Railway Co., a private company whose shareholders had received a guaranteed dividend for years even as the transit company relied on public subsidies. When lawmakers eventually bought them out to abolish the company, shareholders made out handsomely. Then the taxpayers footing the bill got slapped with the fare hike.
Does that remind you of anything in the present?
“The Progressive Party saw that as a bailout of private interest and inappropriate use of taxpayer money, and [then the fare increase] was one wrong piled upon another,’’ said Jim Vrabel, an activist and historian determined to reclaim the song’s origins. “It’s been kind of trivialized and made kind of a cute song, and people don’t realize the serious political background of it.’’
I hope you’ll take the time to read the entire article. It provides quite a bit of information on what it was like for artists, politicians, teachers, lawyers–really just about anyone left-leaning, during the McCarthy era.
Below is a video of the song will the original lyrics.
If only we had a Walter O’Brien today! He couldn’t afford to pay for advertising so he hired trucks to drive around playing the song in the streets of Boston. Can you imagine the great songs that could be written about the bankster fraud and bailouts and all the people who are paying by losing their homes and livelihoods?
In the encrypted message, a commander tells Gen John Pemberton that no reinforcements are available to help him defend Vicksburg, Mississippi.
“You can expect no help from this side of the river,” says the message, which was deciphered by codebreakers.
The text is dated 4 July 1863 – the day Vicksburg fell to Union forces.
The small bottle was given to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, by a former Confederate soldier in 1896.
Also via Memeorandum, “death panels” are back, according to The New York Times: Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir
When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.
Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.
I don’t have a problem with that as long as it doesn’t lead to denying care to elderly people who want it. Of course knowing that this administration is going to be embracing the Catfood Commission Report, I’m a little leery of what else they might be planning for us old folks. Ice floes anyone?
Airline passengers should get used to invasive full body scans and enhanced pat-downs, the Homeland Security secretary suggested Sunday.
CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Janet Napolitano if she expected changes to the controversial Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening procedures in the near future.
“Not for the foreseeable future,” Napolitano replied.
“You know we’re always looking to improve systems and so forth, but the new technology, the pat-downs — just objectively safer for our traveling public,” she said.
Okay, Janet, how about you have a “pat down” performed by a TSA thug on national TV? Then you can make an announcement about how great it was. The youtube would go viral, millions of people would see your sales pitch on the internet, and perhaps a few would be convinced. Oh, and is the government going to bail out the airline industry when millions of people stop flying?
I guess that doesn’t worry Napolitano though. She plans to start “stepping up security” at malls, and train stations.
“What we have to do is say, well, what other ways are they thinking to commit an act, because our job is not only to react, but to be thinking always ahead, what could be happening,” Napolitano said.
“And so we have enhanced measures going on at surface transportation, not because we have a specific or credible threat there, but because we know, looking at Madrid and London, that’s been another source of targets for terrorists.”
Soon you may have to go through a naked scanner and/or “enhanced patdown” (aka groping session) in order to get into a mall. Oh joy! Thank goodness I do most of my shopping on line…
A few new Wikileaks tidbits…
The New York Times has a story on how the DEA has become a global organization.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables.
Because of the ubiquity of the drug scourge, today’s D.E.A. has access to foreign governments, including those, like Nicaragua’s and Venezuela’s, that have strained diplomatic relations with the United States. Many are eager to take advantage of the agency’s drug detection and wiretapping technologies.
In some countries, the collaboration appears to work well, with the drug agency providing intelligence that has helped bring down traffickers, and even entire cartels. But the victories can come at a high price, according to the cables, which describe scores of D.E.A. informants and a handful of agents who have been killed in Mexico and Afghanistan.
In Venezuela, the local intelligence service turned the tables on the D.E.A., infiltrating its operations, sabotaging equipment and hiring a computer hacker to intercept American Embassy e-mails, the cables report.
More at The Independent: Panama row reveals US drug agency’s power
The El Paso Times: WikiLeaks tells why drug king is still free
and the BBC News: Wikileaks: Governments ‘sought US wiretapping help’
At The New Republic, Norm Scheiber explains Why Wikileaks will be the death of big business and big government.
That’s about it for me. What are you reading this morning?