Pink Cadillacs – Tribute to Aretha Franklin

When Aretha Franklin’s funeral cortege leaves her funeral service today in Detroit it will travel through a tunnel of pink Cadillacs. How fitting for the Queen of Soul who sang about the joy of driving a car that suited her so well. We get to celebrate her life with a tribute to that iconic car and that iconic woman and singer as we say a tearful goodbye. Our tears are accompanied by big smiles. If you cry and smile at the same time does it make an invisible rainbow? Maybe.

www.facebook.com/msnbc/videos/832154746908158/

pink cadillac Getty images

Pink Cadillac album cover

pink cadillacs line up in Detroit

 

aretha-franklins-funeral-procession-will-include-130-pink-cadillacs-128242-7

This all seems like a fine tribute to a great lady and a talented singer. We’ll miss you but you left us your music.

 

Words for Aretha

Aretha 70's

Aretha Franklin died today. I know everyone and their sister will want to write something to say how much she meant to them, so I do not want to be left out. I don’t like to admit to my actual age, especially since I think people will pay my writing no mind once they know it, but I am only 3 years younger than Aretha Franklin. First all it reminds me that I am at the end of my life. But what really strikes me is that we lived through the same decades and she sang songs that spoke to me all through those decades. She had talent she was born with and that she honed through practice and hard work and that talent carried her through a spectacular 50 year career.

She said she was not an avowed feminist, but she was beloved by women everywhere who realized that women are sisters at heart, sisters whose lives involve love and break ups and feeling empowered, feeling joyful, and feeling low down. She was an activist in the civil rights movement and we, who lived through those same decades, felt connected with Aretha through the social and political movements that have punctuated our days. My admiration for Aretha has accompanied me and her music has lifted me up; it has been belted out by me in the privacy of my home while I did my housecleaning; it has made me smile as she sang from my car radio while I did my errands or on long trips. I don’t want to miss her, because she has left a legacy for all of us that will continue to move us. I think it is more in line to celebrate a life well-lived. But my sympathies are with her family and friends who knew her well enough to miss the person, as well as the musician. From what I hear she was even greater in person.

This was the first album I owned by Aretha Franklin and it had so many great songs. You can look up the discography of all her albums on Discogs or ASCAP or All Music or even on Wikipedia.

Aretha Franklin 60's Discogs

In fact Discogs gets attribution for this album picture, although they most likely do not own it.

  1. Songs on this album:
  2. Respect
  3. Baby, I Love You
  4. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
  5. Chain of Fools
  6. Do Right Woman – Do Right Man
  7. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
  8. Sweet, sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone
  9. Ain’t No Way
  10. Think
  11. See Saw
  12. The House That Jack Built
  13.  I Say a Little Prayer
  14. The Weight
  15.  Eleanor Rigby
  16. Share Your Love with Me
  17. Call me

I also love many later songs like Pink Cadillac and Who’s Zoomin’ Who. My little eulogy to a much loved star of music and life must include a video.

 

https://youtu.be/d50aFTGZPIU

Can someone exist in this life and in the next life at the same time? If you love anyone who has died you know that it is possible. Thanks for the body of work you have left to comfort us in this life of joy and pain. And thanks for sharing your talents with us. We don’t always make that easy.

Losses, Memories, Joys, Tears and a Japanese Maple

IMG_20180610_162932

I introduced my mom, Velma Augusta Hatch Brisson to my readers in July because we were getting ready to help her celebrate her 100thbirthday. She was born in 1917. This kind of milestone is not considered as great a thing as it used to be since many people live beyond the age of 100 these days, but it is not really a contest or an accomplishment. It is just a fact.

We were a lucky family. Who gets to enjoy their mom’s company well into their own senior years? It has its down sides because mom needed more care and she was still bossy. She would still look over your outfit and say, “are you wearing that?” But we were not orphans like most of our friends. Now we are. In November of 2017 mom died and it has now been six months since she passed. We, her children, have spent the last six months getting the family home ready to sell. It is a poignant labor of love to sift through all the memories collected in each possession, each room, each corner of the yard that surrounds the house.

Yesterday I sat out on mom’s back deck for lunch with two of my sisters, perhaps the last time we will meet, as we did so many times, on that back deck. You can almost see the family coming and going as we sit around that patio table. Sometimes, in the pictures in my mind, the family members who live in Florida come by and the level of talk gets loud and tangled with lots of individual conversations ebbing and flowing throughout a sunny afternoon. Sometimes the great grandchildren are there, visiting, playing on the back lawn, hauling out all the toys and games stored in the shed. Sometimes it is just the few sisters who live near mom, and mom, hanging out on a rare warm, dry day.

For me the years passed before me as I sat looking at the lovely Japanese maple tree that we all bought for mom. It will now belong to some other family, or perhaps, because the house is old and in bad condition, it will all belong to some flipper, who might even rip out that tree. You can’t have something and not have it. Does that fit the Schrödinger conundrum? I don’t know. You can’t have the tree and not have the tree. But you can have the memories. You can have the firefly evenings, the homework around the dining table, the brother shimmying down his sheets from the upstairs bedroom window only to be faced with a table full of his family (and dad) sitting down to dinner. You can have the ice skating rink in the backyard, and the ball games and the games of Tag and Red Rover. You can have the memory of mom having to stuff a crying child on to a school bus, and mom putting together a countertop full of sandwiches for all our school lunches (8 of us).

You can have all the day old bread, and the trips to the dairy to buy milk, all the tar-heeled walks to church in our high heels to sing in the choir or meet with the Youth fellowship. All the shopping trips with dad to the Midstate, the movies for 50 cents at the Hollywood Theater. Elvis had us dancing in the aisles. All the school days and instruments rented and discarded and all the books read. (People gave us boxes and boxes of books.) All the second-hand boxes of clothes we sorted through to find outfits that were suitably stylish. It all seems so wonderful now. But our feelings at the time were all over the place.

You can keep all the Christmases and the Easters, even the one when everyone had measles (awful). You can have all the graduations, the birthday cakes, the smiles, the songs, the friends, the broken hearts, the tears, the grief (my sister was killed in car accident at 29),the joy, the weddings, the babies, the toddlers, the tweens and the teens. You can keep them all because they are imbedded in your mind.

So why is it so hard to let go of that well-used house. I don’t want to buy it. It needs too many repairs. But I think the grief over the house gets magnified by the loss of our mom and the end of it all, the end of our childhood, even though we are ridiculously old. Our lives have lost their center.

These memories barely scratch the surface of a life lived in a simpler era which is probably gone forever. So I’ll throw that loss on the pile and mourn it too, because while it was happening I did not realize that these things would not be the memories of everyone. Now that I know the ravages of human hate, now that I know how poor we were and why that poverty has been difficult to leave behind, even knowing all I know, I still treasure those memories from our days of innocence and ignorance. I still am grateful for  how earnest my parents were, and how everyone around us pitched in to lift us up. I am sad right now, but we have all been there, all felt the sadness of loss. My mom’s life was a life well lived. Mom, you are missed.

Dems Do So Too Have Substance

american-flag-antiqued big pixabaySo much has been written that is critical of Democrats. Some say they are no different from Republicans, mainly because they also seem fixated on money and war, at least those seem to be the key complaints.

Others complain that the Dems have no substance, that voters do not know what the party stands for. It is true that Dems do not have a web of think tanks and foundations that hold frequent meetings and produce approved lists of talking points. If the Democratic Party starts doing lockstep they will lose their constituents and they will certainly lose me. It would not suit the modus operandi of the party, which believes in inclusion and which wants to be the party of “we the people”. Detractors argue that its power structure is perhaps made up of too many wealthy people who do not favor more progressive goals and who are too moderate for the tastes of many would-be Democrats.

Someone (a friend who scours the internet for memes like the one below) sent this list out on Facebook. I could not find the attribution but it is not mine. However it is a pretty complete and well-designed outline of the policies that Dems find important and serves as an excellent counterpoint to the policies we see being played out on the right. These party goals remind me of why I will be a Democrat as long as the party supports these policies.

  • Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class
    o Raising Workers’ Wages
    o Protecting Workers’ Fundamental Rights
    o Supporting Working Families
    o Helping More Workers Share in Near-Record Corporate Profits
    o Expanding Access to Affordable Housing and Homeownership
    o Protecting and Expanding Social Security
    o Ensuring a Secure and Dignified Retirement
    o Revitalizing Our Nation’s Postal Service
  • Create Good-Paying Jobs
    o Building 21st Century Infrastructure
    o Fostering a Manufacturing Renaissance
    o Creating Good-Paying Clean Energy Jobs
    o Pursuing Our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education, and Technology
    o Supporting America’s Small Businesses
    o Creating Jobs for America’s Young People
  • Fight for Economic Fairness and Against Inequality
    o Reining in Wall Street and Fixing our Financial System
    o Promoting Competition by Stopping Corporate Concentration
    o Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
    o Promoting Trade That is Fair and Benefits American Workers
  • Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities
    o Ending Systemic Racism
    o Closing the Racial Wealth Gap
    o Reforming our Criminal Justice System
    o Fixing our Broken Immigration System
    o Guaranteeing Civil Rights
    o Guaranteeing Women’s Rights
    o Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights
    o Guaranteeing Rights for People with Disabilities
    o Respecting Faith and Service
    o Investing in Rural America
    o Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind
    o Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas
    o Promoting Arts and Culture
    o Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations
    o Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico
    o Honoring the People of the Territories
  • Protect Voting Rights, Fix Our Campaign Finance System, and Restore Our Democracy
    o Protecting Voting Rights
    o Fixing Our Broken Campaign Finance System
    o Appointing Judges
    o Securing Statehood for Washington, DC
    o Strengthening Management of Federal Government
  • Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice
    o Building a Clean Energy Economy
    o Securing Environmental and Climate Justice
    o Protecting Our Public Lands and Waters
  • Provide Quality and Affordable Education
    o Making Debt-Free College a Reality
    o Providing Relief from Crushing Student Debt
    o Supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions
    o Cracking Down on Predatory For-Profit Schools
    o Guaranteeing Universal Preschool and Good Schools for Every Child
  • Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans
    o Securing Universal Health Care
    o Supporting Community Health Centers
    o Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
    o Enabling Cutting-Edge Medical Research
    o Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction
    o Treating Mental Health
    o Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families
    o Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
    o Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports
    o Protecting and Promoting Public Health
    o Ending Violence Against Women
    o Preventing Gun Violence
  • Principled Leadership
  • Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans
    o Defense Spending
    o Veterans and Service Members
    o Military Families
    o A Strong Military
  • Confront Global Threats
    o Terrorism
    o Syria
    o Afghanistan
    o Iran
    o North Korea
    o Russia
    o Cybersecurity and Online Privacy
    o Non-Proliferation of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
    o Global Climate Leadership
  • Protect Our Values
    o Women and Girls
    o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People
    o Trafficking and Modern Slavery
    o Young People
    o Religious Minorities
    o Refugees
    o Civil Society
    o Anti-Corruption
    o Torture
    o Closing Guantánamo Bay
    o Development Assistance
    o Global Health
    o HIV and AIDS
    o International Labor
    • A Leader in the World
    o Asia-Pacific
    o Middle East
    o Europe
    o Americas
    o Africa
    o Global Economy and Institutions

This list of goals is fairly inclusive and it shows that any Democratic administration would have a lot of offer to we the people. One problem I can see with this is that so many of these areas will be eroded by the Trump administration that it will be difficult to set priorities for what to tackle first. It is a lengthy menu and tough to address even some of the many priorities in a timely fashion. 

Another problem is that this list, while impressive, is too lengthy to serve Dems in an election campaign. It needs to be condensed and redesigned from a long list of bullet points which most voters won’t even bother to read, into a convincing and powerful set of promises that are specific and realistic. We should have a contest, with a great prize, to get some clever Democrat to produce just such a memorable meme.

 

Two Weeks Worth of Excerpts from Bizarro World

I want to share some links to some very interesting articles that I have come across recently which document the Bizarro World we now live in

Bernie Sanders brand of economic populism has great appeal, even across the blue/red divide.

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/17/can-the-red-blue-partisan-divide-be-overcome-bernie-sanders-thinks-so/

Women have less protection under the constitution than guns.

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/16/mira-sorvino-women-have-less-protection-under-the-constitution-than-gun-owners/

Phase two of tax cuts – GOP now wants Dems to help make the middle class tax cuts permanent before the midterm elections. Do you think Dems should help because this policy would be good for “we the people”? Do you think they should refuse to help with this fix because Republicans are only interested in doing this in order to change the 2018 election?

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/378861-gop-pushes-for-phase-two-of-tax-cuts

Trump is an un-American president. Is lying to an ally like Trudeau of Canada the last straw, is it the huge deficit that will accrue if the new GOP spending bill passes? What will be the last straw?

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/18/opinion/trudeau-trump-deficit.html

The alt-right is in disarray but their ideology has moved left into the mainstream Republican policy agenda.

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/19/alt-right-is-dying-but-powerful-conservatives-are-mainstreaming-its-ideas/

I don’t find the current incarnation of the GOP very funny but apparently the trending meme about the Meat Loaf dialogue in the Senate suggests that humor is not completely dead.

https://www.npr.org/2017/12/08/569365614/lawmakers-start-quoting-meat-loaf-lyrics-just-because

Both parties have used a strategy that this author calls “constitutional hardball” (I call it sedition) – but the data suggests that this has been practiced more often on the right in asymmetric fashion.

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/18/tilting-the-playing-field-how-republican-constitutional-hardball-has-reshaped-politics/

Hillary was right, Trump is backward

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/15/hillary-clinton-was-right-the-parts-of-america-that-support-trump-are-stuck-in-the-past/

Mississippi is trying to pass a new law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Is this against the letter of Roe v Wade or just the spirit of Roe v Wade and why can’t men leave women’s reproductive rights for women to decide? When men decide what women can and cannot do this smacks of regression and undermines women’s rights in general.

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/15/mississippi-moves-toward-15-week-abortion-ban-claiming-it-will-help-women/

Twitter fight on Bernie Sanders reveals an on-going troll operation.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democratic-bot-network-sally-albright_us_5aa2f548e4b07047bec68023

Koch is sending teachers free lesson plans in social studies. You can just imagine what deficiencies might be contained in this material (a lot of important -isms). And teachers have been using these materials for quite some time.

https://www.theroot.com/millions-of-students-are-quietly-being-taught-the-koch-1823742091

Rising seas threaten Easter Island antiquities

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/14/climate/easter-island-erosion.html

Trump’s war on the press – by Thomas Edsall who always gives lots of backup data.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/15/opinion/trump-press-freedom-fake-news.html

An all-expense paid trip to Europe for a blogger – hurry the deadline is soon.

https://www.news4jax.com/news/dream-job-company-looking-to-hire-people-to-tour-europe-on-all-expenses-paid-trip

An ex-CIA agent opines about Trump’s guilt, danger to democracy, etc.

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/12/veteran-cia-agent-on-trump-corruption-like-weve-never-seen-before/

Constitutional Rot

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/555860/

Did Cambridge Analytica have any effect on the 2016 election? Do they still have the data they “stole” from 50 million Facebook users, data which showed what they like and post  and what their friends also like and post? Obviously people who are selling things that are not products find value in the same algorithms retailers use.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/opinion/facebook-cambridge-analytica.html

Cambridge Analytica also offered to try to use the Russian strategy of “kompramat” to get something to hold over the heads of politicians if that might help Trump.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/us/cambridge-analytica-alexander-nix.html

Trump has staff sign nondisclosure agreements.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/03/18/trump-pushed-white-house-staff-sign-non-disclosure-agreements-report/436778002/

ACLU says NDA’s are unconstitutional.

https://www.salon.com/2018/3/19/aclu-donald-trumps-white-house-non-disclosure-agreements-unconstitutional/

Feel free to read the articles that interest you and to capture the “url” if you wish.

 

Any Trump Wednesday Another Nor’easter

 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Washington feels depressingly similar to the nor’easters arriving daily as lake effect on my back doorstep. The stuff piles up day after day burying us in snowy fallout we are quite sick of. It’s not a perfect metaphor because snow is occasionally beautiful. But the only beauty I have seen lately in Washington is those children against school terrorism, sitting silently for 17 minutes with their backs turned to the White House, the symbol of their government.

It’s not a perfect metaphor because the snow will eventually melt, but the heavy burdens of a country that is so wrong; the heavy weight of a nation that has a President who is wrong, will not melt away. It must be chipped away day by day, but it can’t be chipped away because it keeps getting thicker and heavier news cycle after news cycle, and, apparently, we don’t have the right tools for the job.

So on this Wednesday we say goodbye Rex Tillerson. You were a terrible Secretary of State but we will now be stuck with Mike Pompeo who will be an even worse Secretary of State. Our President, who could barely face children whose friends were gunned down in their American school because he is such a coward, tells South Korea that he will meet with Kim Jong-un who is truly quite frightening (he assassinates people). It is, however, highly unlikely that it will be possible to find a spot that is secure enough to suit the President, who talks as if he is brave, but who proves that he is not.

Goodbye Dodd-Frank, hello new financial and/or housing bubble. The banks can get away with anything. Wall Street can cook up new rip offs to tank the economy and line their own pockets. Hello almost new gun control laws, and goodbye to those same laws almost as soon as the grieving parents and children left the building.

Say goodbye to your pension Andrew McCabe, exiting the FBI after 21 years of service. It wasn’t enough to get you to retire early – you need to get shafted for all eternity, because fake Hillary stuff.

Goodbye House investigation into Russian intervention in our election and hello to newly sainted Trump who is not ever guilty of anything. Goodbye Stormy Daniels, even though Trump never signed the non-disclosure documents you may still not be able to disclose any incriminating evidence. You got screwed literally, you will get screwed again figuratively, and now we are getting screwed too because here is another crime that will never unseat a bad President.

Our President makes it look so easy to look very guilty, to actually commit a crime, and yet to walk away from it unscathed because he has learned to play the game so well. He inspires many Americans to try this too. No wonder this nation feels more like scam-merica than ever. Our phones ring all day long but we can’t answer them because we might be scammed. We are afraid that every time we go online we could lose our identity. Computer hacking has gotten to be so common that it may end the Tech Age. We’re afraid that even if our own computer is turned off some bad actor like Experian will fumble and expose our data (or sell it).

Goodbye James Schwab, spokesman for Homeland Security  who took issue with the things Jeff Sessions had to say about Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf – about recent deportation activities in California. He refused to issue false facts and when he could not get a new statement he quit his job. Hello Wall, he wants the transparent one, “We have to be able to see what’s happening on the other side.”

Someone tried to sell a decommissioned helicopter – oops – that was an NCIS rerun.

Goodbye to Sergei Skripal and Yulia, the ex-spy and his daughter killed with a chemical nerve agent in Salisbury, England. Our President was the last to accept that Putin was responsible and to offer lukewarm support for Theresa May.

Hello Conor Lamb, a Democrat in Pennsylvania in a district so gerrymandered to favor the GOP that the courts ordered that it be redrawn. Good for you, and may you be just the beginning of a blue tsunami. (Something positive crept in.)

Hello “Space Force”. I guess we will be weaponizing space before we even are able to go there.

We also learned this week that Trump and his followers may be in a state of “collective narcissism”. Yikes!

This is only one Wednesday in the Trump administration and I’m sure I missed a lot. I want this attack on our democracy to end but it will be some time before I get my wish. In fact the snows of winter will most likely have come and gone many times before our would-be dictator lets go of his hold over us and is finished with turning our lives upside-down. I am wishing for an end to the storms in Washington even more than I am wishing for Spring and I am in despair with waiting. Eight years of Obama was not nearly enough.

Goodbye Stephen Hawking, you deserve peace. You were a gift to all of us and we will remember you.

(I wrote this before I saw the Steven Colbert show last night, but our thoughts were obviously in sync.)