Thursday Reads: An Utterly Self-Involved Exercise in Nostalgia

Washington Street in Boston's downtown shopping district, Feb. 7, 1978

Summer Street in Boston’s downtown shopping district, Feb. 7, 1978

Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, Feb. 7, 1978

Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, Feb. 7, 1978

Good Morning!!

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 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.”

Oh really?

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 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?


42 Comments on “Thursday Reads: An Utterly Self-Involved Exercise in Nostalgia”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Thanks for “a trip down Memory Lane” bb! I remember that storm all too well: stuck in the house for almost a week with 4 kids, a grumpy spouse, and my mother! Oy vey!

    This coming storm is predicting 12 to 18 inches by the time it ends and my biggest fear is the possibility of losing power. I have 3 LED lanterns, a portable radio, a gas stove, plenty of food, but the loss of heat should the power fail is my biggest concern. That ice storm in 2011 where we lost power out here for 8 days was no fun! The only “bright spot” is that the forecast is calling for 40 degrees on Monday.

    Your end of the state may be getting more like 2 feet according to this morning’s forecast. Yikes!

    • bostonboomer says:

      WBUR was predicting 16-24 inches as of this morning, beginning late tonight! I’m starting to get a bit worried. Like you, I’m afraid of losing power. I don’t know what I will do if that happens. I’m just hoping for the best.

      • RalphB says:

        Great post BB. Best of luck with this storm! May you come through unscathed. Take care of yourself.

        You to, Pat!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Ralph. I’m sure it will work out OK. As long as I don’t lose my heat and internet, I’ll be fine until I have to shovel. There’s no use panicking.

      • BB, Both you and Pat stay safe please, as with all the other sky dancers in the northeast.

      • HT says:

        I’m not exactly northeast (being outside Toronto is slightly north of Boston by 1 degree, although not as east ), but we’ve been getting snow for the last 3 hours and the forecast is wavering between one to two feet or maybe more. I’m hoping the forecasters are wrong, however I’ve got three inches of snow in my driveway as we speak. Everyone bundle up and keep warm.

    • Fannie says:

      I feel for you all………………be sure to layer your clothes………..and them in one location with hats and gloves for indoors, and check on your neighbors to make sure they are safe too. Good luck.

    • SophieCT says:

      Great post BB! I remember that storm as well–I was going to Fairfield University at the time–Ella Grasso was the governor. Good luck up there!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    This is shameful. The Senate Armed Forces Committee has delayed the vote on Hagel’s nomination.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and at least two dozen other Republicans signed a letter Wednesday criticizing what they called Hagel’s reluctance to fully disclose his financial records. In light of what they said was incomplete information, they called for more time to consider his nomination.

    One key sticking point was whether the former Republican senator from Nebraska has taken payments from “foreign sources,” either for speeches or consulting work, and until lawmakers are satisfied they said he should not be confirmed.

    “The committee and the American people have a right to know if a nominee for secretary of Defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly, from foreign sources,” the senators wrote. “Until the committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as secretary of Defense.”

    Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said that the committee had delayed a vote, in a separate announcement on Wednesday that did not allude to the Republicans’ objections.

    Primary Carl Levin!!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Steve Clemons: Strange Days in the Senate: Could Ted Cruz Do What He Is Asking of Hagel?

      Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the new ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, think they have found a way to gum up progress on the confirmation process of Chuck Hagel.
      They want “copies” of speeches he has reportedly given and for which he was occasionally compensated.
      Hagel has sent all available speeches — including video fragments or transcripts if they exist — to the committee and has confessed that he just didn’t use prepared texts for a number of these possibly great moments of Hagel oratory.


      I’ve seen John McCain, Jim Inhofe, Jeff Sessions, Roy Blunt and others speak extemporaneously — and if they were in Hagel’s seat, I’m sure they’d be a bit miffed if senators Jeanne Shaheen or Carl Levin or Joe Manchin were pounding on them to produce speech texts that don’t exist. They need to get over it. Calling Hagel a “liar” is beneath them, beneath the institution in which they work, and not healthy for democracy.

      They also want financial information about donations received by and business done in the private and public firms Hagel was associated with but did not actually control.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Ted Cruz’s wife works for Goldman Sachs. Let’s turn this around a bit. Should Cruz’s wife, Heidi, eventually be nominated for something big time — or Senator Cruz himself have ambitions beyond his senate perch — will he be able to compel her to make Goldman Sachs, which has considerable equities involving the US national interest, disclose its business and relationships domestic and foreign? I certainly hope not. Wrong way to get at Goldman Sachs — and an inappropriate expectation from the eventually-nominated-to-something Ted or Heidi Cruz.

        Goldman Sachs is a private firm. Chevron, for whom Hagel sits on a board of directors, is a private firm. The Atlantic Council, whose board Hagel is also on, is a nonprofit, private firm.

        If the Senate wants to call a hearing about Chevron’s business or the Atlantic Council’s international funders and activities, it should do so! By all means.

    • RalphB says:

      Primary Carl Levin!! He folded like a cheap suit in the face of obvious McCarthyism. He was also one of the major holdups for filibuster reform according to dkos and tpm!

    • RalphB says:

      Levin is going to move Hagel’s nomination after all. Someone may have spoken with him?

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Good luck with weather BB….I hope ya’ll keep your power.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I just hope I can manage to dig my way out. Two feet of snow is a lot for a 65-year-old woman to move off a long walk and driveway all alone. Maybe some neighborhood kids will show up to help me out.

  4. hyperjoy says:

    Summer Street doesn’t exactly look summery, does it? What a storm! Stay safe in the upcoming one.

  5. janicen says:

    Totally understand your need to share your blizzard story. I lived in the Buffalo area for the Blizzard of ’77 and I love to tell the tale. Unless you’ve been through something like that, you just don’t know. Thanks for sharing. I distinctly remember the Blizzard of ’78. We folks over in Buffalo watched closely and knew how difficult things were.

    I hope you are as ready as you can be for what’s coming. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts. Please keep us updated as long as you have power.

    • janicen says:

      I just listened to the radio broadcast. I was not aware that the tide was over 11 feet higher than normal. That’s just stunning.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for the good wishes, and thanks for listening to the broadcast. It makes me smile to hear those old-time Boston accents.

      • RalphB says:

        The guy talking about walking backward because of the fierce snow was cool. Very vivid impression of what it was like out there.

      • janicen says:

        Brrrr! I know that feeling, RalphB. I was a “walker” in elementary school. Girls had to wear dresses but we were allowed to wear “leggings” as long as we took them off once we got to school. There were times I either forgot to wear them or just didn’t wear them because other kids made fun of them. Oh mang it was cold.

      • RalphB says:

        I’m glad I didn’t have many weather issues growing up. The only time I’ve been in snowstorms were when my business had a client in DC and I got caught there both times the government shut down due to bad weather in the ’90s and once in a worse storm in Atlanta the same year. That was miserable! Lighting and thunder while a blinding snow was coming down in Atlanta, yuck. Airport was closed for like 3 days.

      • janicen says:

        I worked in DC during the nineties. When the govt shut down, my company would shut down but we still got paid! Loved it!!!

      • RalphB says:

        During the shutdowns, my partner and I had visitor passes and we worked while we were the only people in the building. We just installed our software project on their servers, tested it, and we were done. Hanging around the hotel would have just cost us time, which was money to us in those days 😉

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I wouldn’t want to be trapped at Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson on a warm summer day, much less during a snow storm. I hate that airport and there’s nothing worse than being in a major Southern city during a snow storm/event, everything grinds to a damn halt. The grocery stores go empty at even the hint of snow and travelers familiar with the South pull over and book a hotel/motel room when the flurries begin. I’ve seen vehicles abandoned on roads for days because we’re not prepared to move snow off the roads like the cities in north and northeast.

    • RalphB says:

      Luckily, I kept my room at a hotel in Atlanta so wasn’t stuck in the airport. The hotel was bad enough but Hartsfield would have been torture.

  6. janicen says:

    Broun calls the Civil War “The Great War of Yankee Aggression”? Wow. Some people just won’t let it go.

  7. RalphB says:

    Adam Nagourney has a sad “poor California millionaires” story. 🙂

    NYT: Two-Tax Rise Tests Wealthy in California

    • HT says:

      Goodness grief, those poor millionaires/billionaires. How sad is it that from all the money that they have made, they have to give for living where they do. they could always relocate to Arkansas, or Texas, or Alabama or Louisiana etc. Wonder why they don’t? Must be because they find it advantageous to live where they do?

  8. RalphB says:

    Ray LaHood: ‘America is one big pothole’ because Congress won’t approve funding to fix our infrastructure.

  9. RalphB says:

    TPM: We’re not all rational. Whodathunkit?

    “It’s not that conservative people are more fearful, it’s that fearful people are more conservative.”

    New study coauthored by Brown University political scientist Rose McDermott.

  10. ANonOMouse says:

    BB…..Do you have any alternative heat, like kerosene or maybe a fireplace? The forecasts seem to be getting more gloomy.

  11. Boo Radly says:

    BB, all Skydancers in the NE – buckle up, hunker down. Wunderground has a live blog and Twitter feeds going – don’t like the projections. Been through two blizzards here in WNC – wind howling, front door impassable – on the side of a steep hill. Hoping y’all keep power and heat.

  12. Boo Radly says:

    Link to Wunderground blog and it has the Twitter feed link.