Thursday Reads: An Utterly Self-Involved Exercise in NostalgiaPosted: February 7, 2013
This is going to start out as a self-centered, nostalgic post. I hope it doesn’t bore you too much. I’ll post some current news links down below.
Thirty-five years ago today, the Boston area was buried under about four-and-a-half feet of snow in the wake of the Blizzard of ’78. When the storm started on Feb. 6, we already had at least 2 feet of snow on the ground. When it was over, amounts ranging from 29-36 additional inches of the white stuff had fallen, depending on where you lived. We didn’t even know it was coming. Famed Channel 4 weatherman Don Kent had predicted just a normal snowfall.
By afternoon it was clear that this was a “storm of the century” situation. Kids were sent home from school and workers left work early. Unfortunately, there were hurricane-force winds and the the snow was falling 1-2 inches per hour. Hundreds of commuters were stranded on Route 128 (AKA I-95).
Here’s audio from WBZ radio’s Gary LaPierre and Gil Santos talking about the storm, followed by Don Kent’s updated weather forecast. Love those Boston accents!
Governor Michael Dukakis declared a state of emergency on Feb. 6th and then renewed it on Feb. 7. Finally he ordered the entire state shut down for a week. No one was allowed to drive except for emergency vehicles. Employers were ordered to pay their employees for the lost time.
Here’s part of a local report on the storm toward the end of the week. Check out the cardigan on Governor Dukakis!
In those days, I lived on a narrow street in Somerville on the second floor of a two-family house. When the storm was over, you couldn’t even tell there was a street. The snow stretched straight across from the front porch of our house to the front porch of the house across the way. There was no way anyone was going to come and clear of our little street, so we all went out and dug out the street as best we could. Toward the end of the week, the plows came and then later the loaders came to cart the snow away. There was no place to put it.
Anyone who lived through the Blizzard of ’78 remembers where they were and what they were doing when the storm started. It was a disaster, especially along the coast; but for those of us who didn’t lose our power and got a week off work or school it was kind of fun in a way. As always in disasters, people pulled together and found things to laugh about.
The reason why I’ve been thinking about that long-ago storm is that there’s a nor’easter bearing down on New England on Friday and Saturday. We’re already under a blizzard watch beginning Friday morning and going through late Saturday afternoon. From AccuWeather.com: Blizzard to Bury New England at the End of the Week
Two storms will merge quickly enough to bring colder air, heavy snow and increasing wind to New England. Some areas will be hit with an all-out blizzard and a couple of feet of snow….
Strong winds will not only cause white-out conditions but can result in massive drifts.
At the height of the storm, snow can fall at the rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour and may be accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Of course you never know with these nor’easters. It could be a snowpocalypse or it could be a complete bust.
The intense snowfall rate anticipated is making the forecast especially challenging. A matter of an hour of intense snow versus 8 hours of intense snow will make the difference between a manageable few inches and a debilitating few feet of of snow. Nearby to the southeast of this intense snow, rain will be falling for a time.
It probably won’t be as bad as the one in ’78, but it could drop more than a foot of snow and possibly more than two feet of snow on the Boston area. So wish me luck!
Now for a little current news.
I’m not sure why there has been such a sudden furore in the corporate media about Obama’s having claimed the power to assassinate American citizens, since we’ve known about this for years now. But I guess once The New York Times decides to discuss it, the rest of the media automatically follows suit.
It was the topic of the day yesterday, and after massive pressure President Obama has said he will let Congress see the legal memos justifying the policy. The LA Times reports:
WASHINGTON — President Obama, who has championed lethal drone strikes as a major part of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, bowed to pressure Wednesday and agreed to allow the Senate and House intelligence committees to review classified legal memos used to justify a drone strike against a U.S. citizen in Yemen in 2011.
Senators had demanded for months to see the Justice Department opinions that provided the White House legal authority to order the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, a New Mexico native who became an Al Qaeda leader.
Complaints by several Democrats over not receiving the documents had cast a shadow on the Senate confirmation hearing Thursday of John Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism advisor tapped to be CIA director.
An administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified material, described the decision to release the classified Office of Legal Counsel material as “part of the president’s ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters.”
Joe Coscarelli at New York Magazine: Why the New York Times Outed a Secret U.S. Drone Base Now
When the New York Times revealed the location of the U.S.’s top-secret drone base in Saudi Arabia today, after months of keeping the information quiet, the other most important news outlets in the country sheepishly admitted they’d known about it, too. Along with the Washington Post, which said it had “an informal arrangement” with the government for more than a year, the Associated Press added last night that it “first reported the construction of the base in June 2011 but withheld the exact location at the request of senior administration officials.” Asked why the Times acted now, the paper’s managing editor Dean Baquet told public editor Margaret Sullivan it was simple: John Brennan’s big day.
“It was central to the story because the architect of the base and drone program is nominated to head the C.I.A.,” Baquet explained. Brennan’s confirmation hearings start tomorrow, and the Times decided it was important to discuss his pivotal role in U.S. operations in Yemen, where dozens of suspected terrorists have been targeted by drones, beforehand.
Previously, the government worried that the Saudis “might shut it down because the citizenry would be very upset,” so when the location “was a footnote,” the Times complied, Baquet said. “We have to balance that concern with reporting the news.” (Fox News, too, appears to have published the Saudi Arabian base location briefly in 2011 before switching to the more general “Arabian Peninsula.”)
Remember when the media was “the fourth estate?” Now they’re just part of the government. Amy Davidson has a thoughtful piece on the DOJ white paper: WHOM CAN THE PRESIDENT KILL?
About a third of the way into in a Department of Justice white paper explaining why and when the President can kill American citizens, there is a citation that should give a reader pause. It comes in a section in which the author of the document, which was given to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees last year—and obtained by Michael Isikoff, of NBC, on Monday—says that this power extends into every country in the world other than the United States, well beyond those where we are engaged in hostilities. The reference is to an address that John R. Stevenson, a State Department legal adviser, gave before the Association of the Bar in New York in May, 1970, to justify the Nixon Administration’s incursion into Cambodia. Does that make everyone, or anyone, feel better about what the Obama Administration has decided it can do, or the extent to which it thought through the implications, unintended consequences, precedents, and random reckless damage it may be delivering with this policy?
The white paper is a summary of something that had long been sought: the Obama Administration’s legal analysis of its killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen in Yemen who was hit by a drone strike in 2011. That memo has been described to reporters but never released. It needs to be. The question isn’t whether al-Awlaki, who worked with Al Qaeda, was an innocent—the question is at what point he crossed the line and became killable without any judicial proceedings, and when, by extension, the rest of us could be put on a “kill list.”
The whole article is well worth reading.
Here’s a little Karma for you: Go Daddy sued over revenge-porn site
Go Daddy has been named lead defendant in a Texas lawsuit filed by 17 women whose nude photos were published without their permission on a “revenge porn” website hosted by the Scottsdale-based company.
The lawsuit exposes an obscure Internet pornography niche that often involves jilted ex-boyfriends posting nude or semi-nude cellphone pictures of their former girlfriends, with each photo usually accompanied by personal information such as the woman’s name and city of residence.
Regardless of the lawsuit’s merits, legal analysts said, it’s unlikely the case will stand against Go Daddy, which merely hosted revenge-porn site Texxxan.com. Go Daddy hosts roughly 50 million websites.
What a shame. At least they’ll be inconvenienced by having to go to court and paying for legal representation.
John Nichols at the Nation discusses the Republican austerity agenda that is bringing down the Post Office.
The austerity agenda that would cut services for working Americans in order to maintain tax breaks for the wealthy—and promote the privatization of public services—has many faces.
Most Americans recognize the threats to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as pieces of the austerity plan advanced by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the rest of the Ayn Rand–reading wrecking crew that has taken over the Republican Party. But it is important to recognize that the austerity agenda extends in every direction: from threats to Food Stamps and Pell Grants, to education cuts, to the squeezing of transportation funding.
But the current frontline of the austerity agenda is the assault on the US Postal Service, a vital public service that is older than the country. And it is advancing rapidly. On Wednesday, the Postal Service announced that Saturday first-class mail delivery is scheduled for elimination at the beginning of August—the latest and deepest in a series of cuts that threatens to so undermine the service that it will be ripe for bartering off to the private delivery corporations that have long coveted its high-end components.
“USPS executives cannot save the Postal Service by tearing it apart. These across-the-board cutbacks will weaken the nation’s mail system and put it on a path to privatization,” declares American Postal Workers Union president Cliff Guffey.
Obviously, it’s also another GOP effort to put labor unions out of business. Don’t they need to explain how they have the power to destroy a government entity that was enshrined in the Constitution by the founders of this country?
Have you heard about the crazy freak who’s running for the Senate seat in Georgia that will be vacated by Saxby Chambliss? Alex Parene: Paul Broun enters Georgia Senate race
You know that unfair caricature elite coastal liberals have of conservatives as a bunch of mouth-breathing idiot religious fanatic white Southern racists? Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., is that guy we’re all thinking of, and we’re about to see if that caricature can make it to the U.S. Senate….
If recent history is any indication, Broun and all of his primary competitors — very likely a bunch of extremely conservative white men — will fight to see who can out-true conservative the others. In that fight, Broun has some huge advantages, because he is loudly and proudly stupid and extremist.
A couple of Broun’s greatest hits:
That’s all I have for you today. What are you reading and blogging about?