Blogster's Miscellany, or How FBI Could Be as Stupid as Any Other Outfit in History

Friday, May 15, 2015

‘DON’T WORRY, MR. HOOVER, WE’RE ALL OVER THAT DANGEROUS SONG.’  From the story of Whitey Bulger and the unfaithful federal agents he bent to his will, we know the Federal Bureau of Investigation is vulnerable to corruption.  From the story of Jack Ely, we know the FBI is vulnerable to idiocy.  Ely, who died last month at age 71 in Oregon, was the lead vocalist for The Kingsmen.  In 1963, he recorded a famously incomprehensible version of “Louie Louie,” one of the most frequently heard, not to mention overrated, songs of the Sixties and Seventies.  The way Ely performed it, you couldn’t tell what the hell he was saying.  Many listeners, straining to discern the messages they felt certain were hidden in the garble, concluded the words were dirty.  In 1964, an Indiana parent wrote to then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, complaining about “Louie Louie” and declaring, “The lyrics are so filthy that I cannot enclose them in this letter.”   RFK turned the matter over to J. Edgar Hoover.  Next thing you know, the FBI and other agencies were conducting a full-scale investigation, complete with serious attempts at decrypting the lyrics in an FBI audio lab.  In an obituary on Ely published April 29, the New York Times reported that, “…After more than two years and a 455-page report, the bureau concluded that three governmental agencies dropped their investigations because they were unable to determine what the lyrics of the song were, even after listening to the records at speeds ranging from 16 r.p.m. to 78 r.p.m.”  There’s no comparison between corruption in the Boston office and a crazy quest for evidence of obscenity in the agency’s Washington headquarters.  People got wasted in Boston.  Only time and taxpayer dollars were wasted in D.C.

THAT STATE HOUSE AIN’T ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE: When interviewing the author of a book on the astronauts, Stephen Colbert, late of the Daily Show and soon to be David Letterman’s replacement, noted that more astronauts have come from Ohio than any other state.  Colbert asked, “What is it about Ohio that makes people want to flee this world?”  Observing recent developments in the legislature, it’s only right to paraphrase Colbert by asking, “What is it about the State House that makes people want to flee to city halls?”  Yesterday, The Republican newspaper of Springfield had a report on the latest legislator to announce his candidacy for mayor. Third-term State Rep. Mike Finn, who was just re-elected in November, will be a candidate for mayor of West Springfield this year.  “No matter how many miles I have commuted to Boston the last several years, I have never lost focus on what matters most to me – serving West Springfield and its citizens,” Finn was quoted as saying.  Given that it’s a four-hour commute to Boston, two hours each way, Finn may have unconsciously offered up a motivational key: the not-unreasonable desire to spend less time behind the wheel, dodging tractor trailer trucks on the merciless Mass. Pike.  Not two weeks ago, longtime State Senator Bob Hedlund, a rock and roll aficionado who can probably recite the actual lyrics of “Louie Louie,” announced he would be a candidate for mayor of Weymouth.  If his decision to take on the incumbent, Mayor Susan Kay, pans out, Hedlund would potentially put the Republican Party in a bind.  He is one of only six Republicans in the 40-member Senate.  Republicans will not have an easy time holding onto the seat if Hedlund, who has the gift of being effortlessly likeable, is not on the ballot in the Plymouth/Norfolk senatorial district.  Other legislators who have decided to run for mayor in their respective communities are Rep. Steve DiNatale of Fitchburg and Rep. Thomas Stanley of Waltham. And Rep. Paul Donato, according to the State House News Service, has said he is considering a run for the mayor’s office in Medford, which will be vacated at the end of this year by the dean of all Massachusetts mayors, the incomparable Michael McGlynn, who is retiring, like Rocky Marciano, undefeated. 

TRY TITLE ‘MADAME MAYOR’ ON FOR SIZE, MARTHA:  Looking at that open mayor’s seat in Medford, and recalling a recent news article in which former Attorney General Martha Coakley of Medford said she intends to keep trying to influence public policy in areas she cares about, I thought: Why not run for mayor, Martha?  I am serious.  Coakley still has much to offer the public, and she’s way too young to retire.  The problem is that most politicians are not willing ever to take what might be perceived as a downward step.  I contend, on the other hand, that the example of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, should have long ago removed for all time the stigma from such a move in this great country of ours.  After losing his presidential re-election bid in 1828, Adams ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts and went on to serve with distinction for 17 years, almost nine terms, in what  was then often referred to as “the people’s House.”  He distinguished himself as a fierce and relentless enemy of slavery, driving his southern colleagues nearly out of their minds with anger.  (The defenders of that most odious of institutions were so rattled by Adams they passed a binding resolution preventing him from continuing to introduce anti-slavery resolutions.)  Martha, think about it.  There must be plenty of things in your city worth your fighting  for.

HAPPY THE MAN WHOSE BOYHOOD DREAM COMES TRUE: I don’t know how he did it. Mike McGlynn, who has served as mayor of Medford since 1988, has aged like every other mortal.  Unlike most of us, however, Mike retains a youthful delight with his lot in life.  Perhaps that’s the key to his equally phenomenal energy and popularity.  Upon the announcement of his decision to retire from politics, McGlynn was quoted by Wicked Local Medford as saying, “We live in a great city with a diverse population, rich with history, and I am grateful to all of Medford’s residents for the privilege to serve them.  I met President-Elect John F. Kennedy, on January 9, 1961, at the State house with my father, Jack McGlynn, who was then the mayor and the state representative, and with my godfather/uncle, State Rep. Michael Catino.  That night, before bedtime, I told my father I wanted to be the mayor of Medford.  He said, ‘Go to bed, we will talk about it in the morning.’  Thank you, JFK, Dad, and the City of Medford.”   

NEVER GOT THE MEMO ABOUT NEVER SAYING NEVER:   I like how he said it -- plain and direct, with no fuzziness or weasel words -- but I can’t figure out why he said it.  While being interviewed on stage at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on the night of April 21 by Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory, Governor Charlie Baker was asked if he would ever run for president of the United States.  “No, I’m never running for president,” he said without hesitation. “I had enough trouble running for governor.”  Very “unpolitical” of Baker, I'd say.  Why, so early in what is shaping up to be a very promising governorship, close off the possibility of serving in the world’s highest and most enviable office, especially when you belong to a party that is desperate for centrist, non-ideological, straight-shooting problem-solvers like yourself?  Why not at least leave the door open a crack and say something like, “I’m flattered even to be asked that question.  But it’s way too early to speculate on what I might do in the future.  I’m concentrating totally on my job as governor.”  Could it be that simple? Could Baker be different from most men and women who have ever won a race for governor, you know, the garden-variety, wildly ambitious folks who immediately indulge themselves in the fantasy, the dream, at least the glimmer of a dream, of one day occupying the White House?  As we chin-rubbers like to say, Time will tell.



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