Monday Reads: The Biden Republic

Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976). Brüderstrasse (Free Room), 1930. Watercolour, ink, and graphite on vellum, 475 x 345 mm. The George Economou Collection © DACS, 2018.

 Good Day Sky Dancers!

It was perhaps wishful thinking that made us think that just electing someone other than Trump would ever give us a semblance of a “normal” America.  I’m not even sure I know what our normal is these days.  I’m sitting here in a 4th surge plague-ridden New Orleans and realize that just like you can lead that horse to water, you can’t make him drink, that you can also give folks vaccines and the promises of better schools and roads, but you can make them embrace it.

BB has me very interested in artists doing”magical realism.”  I realized many of the artists I’ve enjoyed recently actually fall into that category without knowing it. So, between what I hinted at above and my search for a sense of “magical realism” in things, I found that the Weimar Republic was a hotbed of the artform.  I daily harken back to that period of a hapless democracy driven by a crazy few into a fascist world-destroying war. So, let me give you some sense of why this rainy morning has brought me back to the Weimar Republic and history repeating.

Many today’s journalists are joined in the sense of cult outrage at the idea that Former President Obama might actually want a 60th birthday bash and believe it has to be a super-spreader event of Trump Rally proportion. This side-car circus may distract from some fascinating journalism in other places.  Let’s go to those other places.

Otto Dix Reclining Woman on a Leopard Skin 1927 © DACS 2017. Collection of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University. Gift of Samuel A. Berger; 55.031.

First up, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker follows the “Big Lie” money. No surprises here, but this is essentially the funding of continued insurrection.  Here’s the headline: “The Big Money Behind the Big Lie. Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy are being promoted by rich and powerful conservative groups that are determined to win at all costs.”  Go read the entire article and read the narrative about the Republican crusade to ensure that only old white guys vote.

Although the Arizona audit may appear to be the product of local extremists, it has been fed by sophisticated, well-funded national organizations whose boards of directors include some of the country’s wealthiest and highest-profile conservatives. Dark-money organizations, sustained by undisclosed donors, have relentlessly promoted the myth that American elections are rife with fraud, and, according to leaked records of their internal deliberations, they have drafted, supported, and in some cases taken credit for state laws that make it harder to vote.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has tracked the flow of dark money in American politics, told me that a “flotilla of front groups” once focussed on advancing such conservative causes as capturing the courts and opposing abortion have now “more or less shifted to work on the voter-suppression thing.” These groups have cast their campaigns as high-minded attempts to maintain “election integrity,” but Whitehouse believes that they are in fact tampering with the guardrails of democracy.

One of the movement’s leaders is the Heritage Foundation, the prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. It has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (alec)—a corporate-funded nonprofit that generates model laws for state legislators—on ways to impose new voting restrictions. Among those deep in the fight is Leonard Leo, a chairman of the Federalist Society, the legal organization known for its decades-long campaign to fill the courts with conservative judges. In February, 2020, the Judicial Education Project, a group tied to Leo, quietly rebranded itself as the Honest Elections Project, which subsequently filed briefs at the Supreme Court, and in numerous states, opposing mail-in ballots and other reforms that have made it easier for people to vote.

Another newcomer to the cause is the Election Integrity Project California. And a group called FreedomWorks, which once concentrated on opposing government regulation, is now demanding expanded government regulation of voters, with a project called the National Election Protection Initiative.

These disparate nonprofits have one thing in common: they have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Based in Milwaukee, the private, tax-exempt organization has become an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right. With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years. Public records show that, since 2012, the foundation has spent some eighteen million dollars supporting eleven conservative groups involved in election issues.

At the Shooting Gallery by Jeanne Mammen (1929). Photograph: The George Economou Collection © DACS, 2018

This is well-funded and quite coordinated.  We saw a lot of this as state after state magically rolled out the same voter suppression laws. This is the true threat to our current Biden Republic.

Alexander Vindman writes for The Atlantic today on that little matter of Trump’s  Ukraine shakedown.   Here’s the headline for that: “What I Heard in the White House Basement. I knew the president had clear and straightforward talking points—I’d written them.”  Again, this is a long, worthwhile read.  This happened in the same room where Obama and Clinton watched the raid on Osama Bin Laden.  (This is a preview from his upcoming book.)

By the time I sat down at the table in the basement conference room on July 25, preparing to listen to Trump’s call with President Zelensky, my workdays had become consumed by the Oval Office hold on funds. On July 18, I’d convened what we call a Sub-Policy Coordinating Committee, a get-together of senior policy makers for the whole community of interest on Ukraine, from every agency and department, to work up a recommendation for reversing the hold on the funds. By July 21, that meeting had been upgraded to a Policy Coordination Committee, requiring even more administrative and intellectual effort, which convened again two days later. We even scheduled a higher-level Deputies Committee meeting for the day after the Zelensky call. Chaired by the deputy national security adviser, these meetings bring together all of the president’s Cabinet deputies and require an enormous amount of advance research and coordination.

Many of us were operating on little sleep, working more than the usual NSC 14-hour days. I’d barely seen my wife, Rachel, or my 8-year-old daughter, Eleanor, in weeks.

In the week leading up to the call, I’d discerned a potentially dangerous wrinkle in the Ukraine situation. Actions by the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested a hidden motive for the White House’s sudden interest in Ukraine. Operating far outside normal policy circles, Giuliani had been on a mysterious errand that also seemed to involve the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. Just a few weeks earlier, I’d participated in a meeting at the White House at which Sondland made a suggestion to some visiting top Ukrainian officials: If President Zelensky pursued certain investigations, he might be rewarded with a visit to the White House. These proposed investigations would be of former Vice President and current Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Sondland’s proposal was clearly improper. Little could have been more valuable to the new, young, untested leader of Ukraine—the country most vulnerable to Russia—than a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States. A bilateral visit would signal to Russia and the rest of the world a staunch U.S. commitment to having Ukraine’s back as well as U.S. support for Zelensky’s reform and anti-corruption agenda, which was crucial to Ukraine’s prosperity and to closer integration with the European Union. That’s what all of us in the policy community wanted, of course. But making such a supremely valuable piece of U.S. diplomacy dependent on an ally’s carrying out investigations into U.S. citizens—not to mention the president’s political adversary—was unheard of. Before I’d fully picked up on what was going on, that meeting with the Ukrainians had been abruptly broken up by Bolton. But in a subsequent meeting among U.S. officials, at which Sondland reiterated the idea, I told him point-blank that I thought his proposition was wrong and that the NSC would not be party to such an enterprise.

I wanted to believe Sondland was a loose cannon, floating wild ideas of his own, with support from a few misguided colleagues. But he wasn’t a freelancing outlier like Giuliani. He was an appointed government official. His maneuverings had me worried.

7024

The Beggar of Prachatice by Conrad Felixmüller (1924). Photograph: The George Economou Collection © DACS, 2018

So, let’s try something from The Guardian.  Sidney Blumenthal writes: “Want to make Jim Jordan sing about the Capitol attack? Ask Jefferson Davis’.  This throws us way back to John Brown’s Raid, believe it or not.

After a bloody insurrection was quelled, a congressional committee was created to investigate the organization of the insurrection, sources of funding, and the connections of the insurrectionists to members of Congress who were indeed called to testify. And did.

Within hours of the assault Brown and his band were cornered in the engine room of the armory, surrounded by local militia. Then the marines arrived under the command of Col Robert E Lee and Lt Jeb Stuart. At Brown’s public trial, his eloquent statements against slavery and hanging turned him into a martyr. John Wilkes Booth, wearing the uniform of the Richmond Grays and standing in the front ranks of troops before the scaffold on which Brown was hanged on 2 December, admired Brown’s zealotry and composure.

Nearly two weeks later, on 14 December, the Senate created the Select Committee to Inquire into the Late Invasion and Seizure of the Public Property at Harpers Ferry. Senator James M Mason of Virginia, the sponsor of the Fugitive Slave Act, was chairman. He appointed as chief prosecutor Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

Davis was particularly intent on questioning Senator William H Seward of New York, the likely Republican candidate for president.

“I will show before I am done,” Davis said, “that Seward, by his own declaration, knew of the Harpers Ferry affair. If I succeed in showing that, then he, like John Brown deserves, I think, the gallows, for his participation in it.”

In early May 1858, Hugh Forbes, a down-at-heel soldier of fortune, a Scotsman who fought with Garibaldi in the failed Italian revolution of 1848, a fencing coach and a translator for the New York Tribune, knocked on Seward’s door with a peculiar tale of woe. He had been hired by Brown to be the “general in the revolution against slavery”, had written a manual for guerrilla warfare, but had not been paid. Seward sent him away and forgot about him.

Forbes wandered to the Senate, where he told his story to Henry Wilson, a Republican from Massachusetts. Wilson, who later became Ulysses S Grant’s vice president, was alarmed enough to write to Dr Samuel Gridley Howe, a distinguished Boston physician and reformer, founder of the first institution for the blind, and Massachusetts chairman of the Kansas committee. Wilson relayed that he had heard a “rumor” about John Brown and “that very foolish movement” and that Howe and other donors to the Kansas cause should “get the arms out of his control”.

But Howe, a member of the Secret Six, continued to send Brown money.

The investigating committee called Seward and Wilson. On 2 May 1860, Seward testified that Forbes came to him, was “very incoherent” and told him Brown was “very reckless”. Seward said he offered Forbes no advice or money, and that Forbes “went away”.

Davis pointedly asked Seward if he had any knowledge of Brown’s plan to attack Harpers Ferry.

Seward replied: “I had no more idea of an invasion by John Brown at that place, than I had of one by you or myself.”

Self-Portrait with Model in the Studio by George Grosz (1930-37). Photograph: © Estate of George Grosz, Princeton, N.J. 2018

Again, this is a long read but fascinating.  I took many trips as a Girl Scout and Elementary school kid to John Brown’s cave in Nebraska City. I never actually read this account of the senate investigation with the soon-to-be insurrectionists to our Republic in charge.

If you want some real clickbait on places not to hold your next Birthday Bash, check out this from The Hill and Albert Hunt: “‘Freedom-loving’ conservatives stoked the latest round of infection and death.”

I write columns about politics and government, occasionally indulging as a frustrated sports writer; I don’t write about business or leisure activities except:

Hopes that the misery of the pandemic is over are diminishing. There are more than 75,000 new infections daily, six times greater than a month earlier, overwhelmingly from the Delta variant and almost all among the unvaccinated.

Hospital intensive care units face overcrowding, again. If the spread isn’t stopped, new variants — perhaps more lethal — will emerge.

There are a few unvaccinated for religious reasons, and people of color who have historical reasons to distrust public health workers and the CDC.

But chiefly, the vaccination failure is because Coronavirus has been politicized among conservatives, with right-wing politicians, judges, think tanks and activists charging it’s all about personal liberty. This ignores the fact that exercising those personal liberties risks the liberties — and lives — of others.

Accordingly, there is a pressing need for a more forceful public and private response to a looming crisis brought about largely through conservative hypocrisy.

Conservative Republicans used to argue that government should only sparingly dictate practices to private companies; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are ignoring that philosophy. Republicans also used to argue that the government closest to the people governs best; their updated version adds the caveat: ‘unless local governments are run by liberals or minorities and the state government by Republicans.’

There’s the politicized judiciary. in a speech to the Federalist Society late last year — after the election — Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito lashed out at the social distancing, mask wearing and other COVID measures: “We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced  for most of 2020.” Of course, we actually have: rationing for food, gas and other resources during World War II; pervasive wage and price controls from 1971 to 1973.

Gert Wollheim, Untitled (Couple), 1926.

Ah, America, confuzzled and misinformed.

And, this kinda takes the cake for Trumpian Delusion: “Mark Meadows: Trump meeting with his ‘cabinet’ (despite not having one).”  When BB told this to me, I was speechless. This is from CNN.

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Newsmax that the former president has been holding meetings with his “cabinet” despite not being president.

There’s a video interview with Maggie Haberman if you want to go there.

This is way longer than I assumed it would be but hope you can find some time to read some  of these.

What’s on your reading and bloggling list today?


Sunday Reads: Coke and a Child

Good morning, I guess the memes make themselves up nowadays.

Cartoons from Cagle.com

All this mask freedom…is a bit premature…

The fat lady hasn’t even started to warm up, she won’t be singing anytime soon.

I thought Benji was out? Or would be out soon?

Meanwhile in Mississippi:

There is a new case of police brutality…this one is torture.

Remember the name Jamal Sutherland…because he will become the next George Floyd.

I tried to watch the video, but I could not. My disgust is overwhelming and I am seriously thinking about going to Charleston to March in the protest.

I’m ending this with a few nice things:

This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: Plumage and Bloomage

Good Day Sky Dancers!

My body went back to normal time this morning and stole that hour plus another back!  I’m just not adjusting well to this at all but I did enjoy time walking the dog last night under the Full Worm Moon. I’m not sure all the spring breakers holding the neighborhood hostage were gone but they seemed to be holed up somewhere inside because Temple and I had the neutral ground and all our heron buddies to ourselves.

The full Moon names used by The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. Traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not only to the full Moon.

The Worm Moon

March’s full Moon goes by the name Worm Moon, which was originally thought to refer to the earthworms that appear as the soil warms in spring. This invites robins and other birds to feed—a true sign of spring!

An alternative explanation for this name comes from Captain Jonathan Carver, an 18th-century explorer, who wrote that this Moon name refers to a different sort of “worm”—beetle larvae—which begin to emerge from the thawing bark of trees and other winter hideouts at this time.

This is Rob and Laura who live in the Live Oak closest to the River. On the next block there are two pairs. I’ve named them Lucy and Ricky and Ethel and Fred. They live in adjacent trees.

I’ve taken some photos of spring arriving to my street.  I hope you enjoy them!  I’m also highlighting some of the Haute Couture from the New Yorker’s article on Ann Lowe by Judith Thurman.Ann Lowe’s Barrier-Breaking Mid-Century Couture How a Black designer made her way among the white élite.”  Enjoy all the plumage and bloomage!

The issue in most dire need of elucidation is undoubtedly the onslaught of voter suppression measures in state legislatures across Republican States.  It is also the Voting Rights Act headed for the desk of the Senate.  If you read anything today please read Jane Mayer’s article at The New Yorker. Here’s the headline: Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century , On a leaked conference call, leaders of dark-money groups and an aide to Mitch McConnell expressed frustration with the popularity of the legislation—even among Republican voters.”

A recording obtained by The New Yorker of a private conference call on January 8th, between a policy adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and the leaders of several prominent conservative groups—including one run by the Koch brothers’ network—reveals the participants’ worry that the proposed election reforms garner wide support not just from liberals but from conservative voters, too. The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill’s provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn’t worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress.

Kyle McKenzie, the research director for the Koch-run advocacy group Stand Together, told fellow-conservatives and Republican congressional staffers on the call that he had a “spoiler.” “When presented with a very neutral description” of the bill, “people were generally supportive,” McKenzie said, adding that “the most worrisome part . . . is that conservatives were actually as supportive as the general public was when they read the neutral description.” In fact, he warned, “there’s a large, very large, chunk of conservatives who are supportive of these types of efforts.”

As a result, McKenzie conceded, the legislation’s opponents would likely have to rely on Republicans in the Senate, where the bill is now under debate, to use “under-the-dome-type strategies”—meaning legislative maneuvers beneath Congress’s roof, such as the filibuster—to stop the bill, because turning public opinion against it would be “incredibly difficult.” He warned that the worst thing conservatives could do would be to try to “engage with the other side” on the argument that the legislation “stops billionaires from buying elections.” McKenzie admitted, “Unfortunately, we’ve found that that is a winning message, for both the general public and also conservatives.” He said that when his group tested “tons of other” arguments in support of the bill, the one condemning billionaires buying elections was the most persuasive—people “found that to be most convincing, and it riled them up the most.”

McKenzie explained that the Koch-founded group had invested substantial resources “to see if we could find any message that would activate and persuade conservatives on this issue.” He related that “an A.O.C. message we tested”—one claiming that the bill might help Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez achieve her goal of holding “people in the Trump Administration accountable” by identifying big donors—helped somewhat with conservatives. But McKenzie admitted that the link was tenuous, since “what she means by this is unclear.” “Sadly,” he added, not even attaching the phrase “cancel culture” to the bill, by portraying it as silencing conservative voices, had worked. “It really ranked at the bottom,” McKenzie said to the group. “That was definitely a little concerning for us.”

Gretchen Reiter, the senior vice-president of communications for Stand Together, declined to respond to questions about the conference call or the Koch group’s research showing the robust popularity of the proposed election reforms. In an e-mailed statement, she said, “Defending civil liberties requires more than a sound bite,” and added that the group opposes the bill because “a third of it restricts First Amendment rights.” She included a link to an op-ed written by a member of Americans for Prosperity, another Koch-affiliated advocacy group, which argues that the legislation violates donors’ freedom of expression by requiring the disclosure of the names of those who contribute ten thousand dollars or more to nonprofit groups involved in election spending. Such transparency, the op-ed suggests, could subject donors who prefer to remain anonymous to retaliation or harassment.

This evening shift, circa 1924, is the earliest confirmed example of Lowe’s couture. Every bead was attached individually.Dress from collection of the Henry B. Plant Museum / Tampa, Florida

You certainly cannot boycott a Hedge or Capital Venture Fund but we know from Fair Fight that many Georgia Voters are putting pressure  on corporations–like Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot– to throw their weight behind getting Voting Rights passed and Voter Suppression Tactics stopped.  The effort is called Black Dollars Matter.

Georgia has some of the most organized and mobilized groups of Black voters, thanks to Stacey Abrams, who may be the shrewdest and most tenacious voting rights advocate in the nation.

Many of these Black voters remember when Abrams lost a close race for Georgia governor in 2018, a contest tainted by allegations of voter suppression. Kemp, Abrams’ opponent, ran for governor while also holding onto his position as the state’s chief elections officer — a position many viewed as a conflict of interest.

The perception that the GOP is trying to suppress the Black vote will only make Black voters in Georgia more determined to vote in 2022, when Abrams is widely expected to run against Kemp again, says the Rev. Jamal Byrant, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia.

“Georgia is frankly becoming browner and more progressive, and the Republicans are having anxiety about the upcoming gubernatorial election and they’re trying to do everything in their power to stop the wave,” Bryant says.

“You’re going to see a whole lot of first-time voters, younger voters and disillusioned and disenfranchised voters heading back to the polls because they realize what’s at stake,” Bryant says.

There is evidence to back up Bryant’s prediction. A growing body of research suggests that the passage of voter ID laws may in some cases motivate Black voters and spark voter organizing efforts.

One study examining the impact of the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby decision, which gutted the Voting Rights Act, suggested that voting restrictions may actually increase Black turnout in elections.

The Shelby decision made it easier for states to pass voter restriction laws after the high court removed the “preclearance” provision from the Voting Rights Act. Under preclearance, a state with a history of racial discrimination in elections had to get permission from the federal government for instituting any changes to how they run elections.

The study, which was cited in the New York Times, said the Shelby decision may have actually increased Black turnout in the 2016 presidential election in some states where preclearance was removed.

“Overall, the removal of preclearance did not decrease Black turnout,” says Kyle Raze, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon, who authored the study. “If anything, the removal of preclearance increased Black turnout in some states during the 2016 election.”

Political scientists have found laws that make voting more difficult don’t always succeed in changing election outcomes, because voters and parties take steps to counteract what’s happening.

I suppose the one great thing we’ve got going for us is that the country’s voters outnumber the country’s wicked rich. But then I read things like this poll from the Pew Research Center. “A partisan chasm in views of Trump’s legacy”.  It still seems many rank and file republicans get their information from alternative reality sites. Democracies don’t work so well when a slice of the electorate likes being deliberately and willfully ignorant.

Two months after President Donald Trump left office, 38% of Americans say he made progress toward solving major problems facing the country during his administration – while a nearly identical share (37%) say he made these problems worse. Another 15% say Trump tried but failed to solve the nation’s problems, while 10% say he did not address them.

Looking back at Trump’s term, just over half of Americans (53%) rate Trump’s presidency as below average – including 41% who say he was a “terrible” president. About a third (35%) rate his presidency as above average, including 17% who say he was a “great” president. Republicans and Democrats offer starkly different assessments of Trump’s presidential legacy, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 12,055 U.S. adults conducted March 1-7, 2021.

Graphic statement: A stately evening ensemble of black lace over aqua silk, for A. F. Chantilly, circa 1966.

I’d really like to know which problems exactly they think he solved.  He certainly created a lot more chaos and shameful policies than anything else he did.  Maybe they like the idea of child separation and children in cages? The huge budget busting and no growth creating tax cuts?  The love letters to Putin and Kim?  Who knows and I’m not about to ask any of them.  Phillip Bump of WAPO writes that “Trump is losing the war over his legacy”  How could someone who led a band of violent white supremacists to insurrection against our country have anything but a rotten legacy?  Added to his mishandling and manipulation of the COVID-19 response–discussed below–and I’d say he’s going down in history as a murderer, a seditionist, and a thief.

On Sunday evening, CNN aired a special featuring interviews with the senior officials involved in the early coronavirus pandemic response under president Donald Trump. No longer operating under the Trump political umbrella, they offered assessments of the past year that lacked any soothing veneer.

Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House response under Trump, expressed her belief that the deaths that occurred after the first wave of infections last spring were largely preventable. It’s a sentiment that matches recent research but was at odds with the sanitization practices of the Trump White House to which Birx had so often adhered. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top epidemiologist, suggested it was government experts, not Trump, who had decided to push forward quickly on a vaccine to combat the virus in January 2020. That was months before the administration rolled out Operation Warp Speed, its push for vaccine development..

Well, that’s the one thing he was taking credit for that might’ve stuck.  I guess we should’ve known that somebody else’s idea all along.  Also, in the news is the Solar Winds Hack which probably was partially due to the deconstruction all over the National Security front by the Trumpist Regime.  This is breaking  from the AP: “from Alan Suderman.

Suspected Russian hackers gained access to email accounts belonging to the Trump administration’s head of the Department of Homeland Security and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries, The Associated Press has learned.

The intelligence value of the hacking of then-acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his staff is not publicly known, but the symbolism is stark. Their accounts were accessed as part of what’s known as the SolarWinds intrusion, and it throws into question how the U.S. government can protect individuals, companies and institutions across the country if it can’t protect itself.

The short answer for many security experts and federal officials is that it can’t — at least not without some significant changes.

“The SolarWinds hack was a victory for our foreign adversaries, and a failure for DHS,” said Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, top Republican on the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We are talking about DHS’s crown jewels.”

The Biden administration has tried to keep a tight lid on the scope of the SolarWinds attack as it weighs retaliatory measures against Russia. But an inquiry by the AP found new details about the breach at DHS and other agencies, including the Energy Department, where hackers accessed top officials’ schedules.

Blush pink was a favorite color of Lowe’s. Here she uses it in silk and nylon for an evening dress, from 1962, festooned with trompe-l’oeil flowers.

Well, that’s a little this and that about the previous guy as well as what we’re experiencing now still because of the previous guy.  The Biden/Harris administration sure have their work cut out for them.

Since I now have the Blues I will put this up by Memphis Minnie (Lizzy Douglas) who recorded this song sometime during the peak of the great depression.  Douglas was born in New Orleans in the Algiers neighborhood in 1897 but moved to Tennessee to record.  She was billed as the Queen of the Country Blues. You can learn more about her at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

But there were plenty of men who wanted to play guitar like Memphis Minnie. She once even beat the great Big Bill Broonzy in a picking contest. Her title “Queen of the Country Blues” was no hype. Minnie did everything the boys could do, and she did it in a fancy gown with full hair and makeup. She had it all: stellar guitar chops, a powerful voice, a huge repertoire including many original, signature songs and a stage presence simultaneously glamorous, bawdy and tough.

She transcended both gender and genre. Her recording career reached from the 1920s heyday of country blues to cutting electric sides in 1950s Chicago studios for the Chess subsidiary Checker. Minnie helped form the roots of electric Chicago blues, as well as R&B and rock ‘n’ roll, long before she plugged in. Her unique storytelling style of songwriting drew such surprising fans as Country Music Hall of Famer Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing, who covered her song about a favorite horse, “Frankie Jean,” right down to copying Minnie’s whistling. Though she inspired as many men as women, her influence was particularly strong on female musicians, her disciples including her niece Lavern Baker, a rock and R&B pioneer in her own right, as well as Maria Muldaur (who released a 2012 tribute CD) Bonnie Raitt (who paid for her headstone), Rory Block, Tracy Nelson, Saffire and virtually every other guitar-slinging woman since.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?