Prayer Warriors for Herschel carry a lead pipe with a flag on it

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

October 4, 2022

Anti-abortion Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker did not, in fact, sue the Daily Beast over the story he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion. Instead, his son Christian Walker took to social media to call his father out for lying, abuse, and abandonment and to call out MAGA Republicans for continuing to support his father while claiming to believe in “family values.”

Walker’s supporters immediately blamed the son for hurting his father’s campaign. The candidate himself stayed away from the media, attending a private event sponsored by “Prayer Warriors for Herschel.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, organized to elect Republicans to the Senate, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both reaffirmed their support for Walker. They will continue to keep spending to boost his campaign. Still, concern about the outcome in Georgia has prompted the right-wing super PAC Club for Growth Action to plan a massive $2 million ad buy in Spanish for the Nevada senate race, backing Republican Adam Laxalt against Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto.

Dana Loesch, a former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association and a former writer and editor for the right-wing media outlet Breitbart, made the position of party leaders clear: “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles,” she said. “I want control of the Senate.”

It is unclear if this scandal will hurt Walker with supporters who have already swallowed lies about his businesses, academic achievements, relationship with law enforcement, unacknowledged children, and accusations of domestic violence. But abortion is a key issue—perhaps THE key issue—in this election, and the demonstration that a Republican Senate candidate is calling for a nationwide abortion ban even as he paid for a girlfriend’s abortion will likely not sit well with those upset about the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Republicans are determined to take control of the country no matter what it takes.

Today, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson, who is up for reelection, revised his August story about his role in overturning the 2020 election. After saying his part in the delivery of fake electoral votes to the vice president was only “a couple seconds,” he now says that he texted with Wisconsin-based lawyer Jim Troupis, who was working for Trump to overturn the results of the election in Wisconsin, for about an hour. He also downplayed the events of January 6 as not an “armed insurrection.”

In the Washington, D.C., trial of the Oath Keepers today, though, prosecutors played a recording of a November 2020 meeting in which Oath Keepers planned to bring weapons to Washington and “fight” for Trump. The gang’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, said it would be “great” if protesters were there, because violence would enable Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act.

“Pepper spray is legal. Tasers are legal. And stun guns are legal. And it doesn’t hurt to have a lead pipe with a flag on it,” codefendant Kelly Meggs told attendees.

A lawyer for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol revealed in court today that the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Kelli Ward, repeatedly invoked her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination when testifying before the committee. Ward was one of Arizona’s false electors.

Also today, in a story about Trump’s disregard for the correct handling of classified records, Washington Post reporters Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima, and Jacqueline Alemany said Trump White House chief of staff John Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, told them that Trump “rejected the Presidential Records Act entirely.”

The Presidential Records Act is a federal law.

In contrast to the course of the current Republican Party, President Joe Biden has focused on demonstrating that democracy works. Today, the CHIPS and Science Act, which provided $52 billion in public investment in semiconductor manufacture, appeared once again to pay off: Micron announced that it would spend up to $100 billion over the next 20 years to build up to four plants in upstate New York near Syracuse to build computer chips. The company estimates that the project will create almost 50,000 jobs generally over the next 20 years, with about 9,000 of those in the plants themselves.

“To those who doubted that America could dominate the industries of the future, I say this,” Biden said in a statement. “[Y]ou should never bet against the American people.”

Today, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson brought an important new philosophy to the law when the Supreme Court heard arguments over Merrill v. Milligan, a voting rights case. This case concerns Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which, as summarized by the Department of Justice, “prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups identified” in the act.

In 2021, Alabama’s legislature cut the state into seven districts that “crack and pack” Black voters. About 27% of the residents of Alabama are Black, but they are either “packed” into one district or “cracked” among the others, diluting their overall strength.

Registered voters, the Alabama chapter of the NAACP, and the multifaith Greater Birmingham Ministries sued under the Voting Rights Act. A district court of three judges, two of whom were appointed by Trump, agreed that the redistricting violated the law and gave the legislature two weeks to redraw the map to create two Black-majority districts.

The state immediately filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court, which was granted, allowing the states to use the original map for this year’s elections.

In today’s arguments, Alabama Solicitor General Edmund G. LaCour Jr. claimed that states must draw districts that are “race neutral.” When Justice Jackson pressed him to explain, he turned to the Fourteenth Amendment, saying it “is a prohibition, not an obligation, to engage in race discrimination.”

Jackson then turned on its head the so-called “originalism” that has taken over the court. “I understood that we looked at the history and traditions of the Constitution and what the framers and founders thought about,” she said, “and when I drilled down to that level of analysis, it became clear to me that the framers themselves adopted the equal protection clause, the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment in a race-conscious way.”

She’s right, of course, and while she followed up with more Reconstruction history, she could have gone even farther: when President Andrew Johnson vetoed the 1866 civil rights bill on the explicit grounds that it was not race neutral (among other things), Congress repassed it over his veto and based the Fourteenth Amendment on it.

Jackson’s approach was about more than this case, important though it is. She brought to the court what has been called “progressive originalism” or, perhaps more accurately, legal analyst Mark Joseph Stern’s term “egalitarian constitutionalism.” The Reconstruction Amendments—the 13th, 14th, and 15th—give to the federal government the power to protect individual rights in the states, and originalists’ avoidance of them has always stood out. Those amendments launched an entirely new era in our history; scholars call it a “second founding.”

Now, it appears, that second founding has an advocate on the Supreme Court.

Eliza Carthy: ‘Folk music is sexy and filthy and at the end of the night you fall over. That’s how I live’

She was the pink-haired fiddler who punked up folk, but Covid almost sank her and her famous family. Eliza Carthy talks about going broke, bereavement and the healing power of boozy, bawdy music

By Dave Simpson

At the start of this year, things did not look good for the Waterson-Carthy folk dynasty. It was, as Eliza Carthy put it, “struggling to survive”. Her mother, the celebrated singer Norma Waterson, had been unable to tour for a decade after falling into a coma that left her having to re-learn how to walk and talk. She’d never returned to full health and had recently been hospitalised with pneumonia. Meanwhile, Covid lockdowns had deprived the MBE-awarded Eliza and her father, the revered singer-songwriter Martin Carthy, of their means of income. Being self-employed, like many artists, they didn’t qualify for furlough, just a small business grant that lasted six months.

“By the third lockdown,” says Carthy, “we were looking at selling our instruments.”

Then an old agent friend in the US suggested Carthy launch a public appeal for help. “You wouldn’t believe the people who gave us money,” she says. “It’s been comforting and heartbreaking.” Sadly, Waterson passed away in January, aged 82. “We weren’t allowed to see her until the last day,” says Carthy. “And she was gone by then. But we’d been FaceTiming and I got to tell her how much was in the fund. She looked at me and just said: ‘The children are going to be safe. The house is going to be safe.’ And that’s the first time we’d felt like that for a decade.” She reaches for a tissue, to wipe away the tears rolling down her face. “I’m sorry,” she says, “but it’s been really hard.”

We’re sitting in the kitchen of their congenially cluttered family home in Robin Hood’s Bay, a fishing village on the North Yorkshire coast. At the back door, her 81-year-old father – who influenced Bob Dylan and taught Paul Simon to play Scarborough Fair – is feeding chickens. Carthy moved back in 2011, becoming a “part-time carer and single mum”, as well as running her own band. On the wall are posters for NormaFest, the festival she set up in 2015 so her mother could at least perform locally. “She was a classic matriarch – loving but firm,” says Carthy, brightening at this happier memory. “When I moved back, she wanted me here but didn’t want me to touch anything.” She laughs and gestures towards a laptop plonked on a kitchen worktop. “She’d say: ‘This isn’t your office! It’s a food preparation area!’”

Lately, Carthy has thrown herself back into music. This month, she releases Queen of the Whirl, an album of fan favourites chosen by a Twitter poll and re-recorded with her crack band the Restitution, to celebrate the 30 years since she skipped her A-levels to become a professional musician. Her parents led the “folk revival” in the 60s, but Carthy is seeking to refashion the genre for a modern world, fusing traditional and contemporary music with rock guitars, reggae rhythms and sometimes edgy subjects, mixing in the bawdiness and vulnerability she displays in person.

“I object to the Brit-centric definition of folk,” she says, “which is very white and safe and fixated with acoustic instruments.” In her role as president of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, she has been keen to shake things up, diversity-wise. “To me, Ariana Grande is folk music. Bohemian Rhapsody is folk. I define folk as whatever you can sing in a pub – and for people to be able to join in and be as shit as you like. Folk music isn’t clean. It’s sexy and filthy and at the end of the night you fall over. And that’s how I like to live.”

Quite literally, in some instances. The song Blood on My Boots describes the night her friend, the comedian Stewart Lee, invited her to the premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera, which he co-wrote. After four glasses of champagne, Eliza hit the cold night air and took a tumble. “They found me under a bridge,” she says with a laugh. “I literally had blood on my boots.”

She recalls the first time she picked up the fiddle, in her case one that had belonged to her grandfather. In the nicest possible way, she says: “I didn’t want to be my dad.” Female fiddlers – give or take a Kathryn Tickell or Helen O’Hara – were rarer in the late 80s and 90s, never mind sporting bovver boots and a buzz cut. “Someone said: ‘You’re trading on your youth and beauty.’ I was like: ‘You wot?’” She dyed her hair pink and blue and toured the folk clubs, getting by on four hours’ sleep on couches. “In some ways, it was punk,” she says. “At one point, I woke up in a bed and it was snowing on my face.” In another incident, when her vehicle broke down, she tested the old wives’ tale about sealing a leaky radiator with a dozen eggs. “It didn’t work. We just got a radiator full of scrambled eggs.”

Gradually, after encountering some resistance from the more traditional folk camp, she earned their respect as other younger musicians emerged, such as Seth Lakeman and Jock Tyldesley. “I credit the folk scene for that,” she says. “I think they realised that if they didn’t get new blood, it would just be a case of them waiting for the phone calls telling them another old artist has died. Instead, they let us in and said: ‘Show us what you’ve got.’ Sometimes we fell on our arses and sometimes we didn’t, but the great thing about folk clubs in the 80s and 90s is they held folk up and that’s why my dad still plays the clubs. These people weren’t professional promoters. They were social workers, nurses, teachers – decent people who built stages that kept us all alive.”

After 1998’s Red Rice, often called her “drum’n’bass album”, was nominated for the Mercury prize, as was Anglicana five years later, Warners signed her up, hoping for “a cross between Joni Mitchell and Judy Garland”. They perhaps weren’t expecting such songs as The Company of Men, which begins: “I’ve given blowjobs on couches / To men who didn’t want me any more / Why didn’t they tell me before?”

She laughs at the memory. “It’s interesting encountering your early 20s self. There are certainly things that I’m not prepared to do any more.” As she tells it, she’d been inspired by Ani DiFranco’s songs about “abortions and stuff” which gave her the desire to be “completely honest” about a real life incident. She’d had her heart broken and the line “I don’t want to be one of the beautiful people” is pointed. “I was still in love with him and he said: ‘It doesn’t matter, because we’re the beautiful people.’ I thought: ‘No. I’m a scrubby little asshole from Yorkshire and I don’t like you very much. I’m a punk and you’re an arsehole!’” Her mighty cackle fills the kitchen. When the time came to record the song, she says, another musician walked into the studio. “I thought: ‘Oh Jesus, it’s Nick Cave and I’m singing about blowjobs!’”

She now describes herself as a “carer”. When her band got ripped off and didn’t get paid, she recorded a solo album, 2019’s Restitute, in her bedroom and sold it on the web to compensate them. Lately, she’s been planning her father’s Covid-delayed 80th birthday gig at the Barbican in London, writing her next solo album and – after being further waylaid by the virus – teaching music at her old school in Robin Hood’s Bay. “You can’t put a value on the emotional and spiritual awareness that music brings from an early age,” she says. “Music is mathematics. You can actually learn about the science of how arpeggios affect your nervous system. Music is so undervalued. It can be life-changing.”

By playing it – and reaching out to people again – she’s starting to put this year’s sadnesses behind her. “I found coming out of the pandemic traumatic at first,” she says, “because it reminded me of all the pain and isolation. But whenever we’ve performed, I’ve felt that collectivism again – and laughter and people. The pandemic’s brought up a lot of stuff and I’ve thought: ‘Maybe I should call so-and-so.’ And that’s been really lovely.”

Source: Eliza Carthy: ‘Folk music is sexy and filthy and at the end of the night you fall over. That’s how I live’

GasLit Nation: Defiance

Sept 28, 2022


This week we kick off by examining a country that is technically a democracy on paper but is actually ruled by an unelected supreme court of theocrats who strip women of their basic rights! Is it the United States? Iran? Does the fact that we have to ask not speak to a broader global attack on women’s bodily autonomy?! We look at the brave protests of Iranian women and prepare for a horrific month of rulings on the Supreme Court here in the US. We also note that a woman will become prime minister of Italy for the first time, but of course she is a fascist groomed by Steve Bannon, because it is 2022 and we are in hell.

“The Broadside Hack” Folk Music Documentary

By Alex Gallacher
Last year, two album compilations were released by Broadside Hacks (pictured below), a London-based collective and record label which initially formed as a folk night until the pandemic forced it to change its shape, morphing into a collective of young, like-minded musicians who met to play folk music in South London. Their debut album, Our Singing Tradition Vol. 1, and the following critically acclaimed Songs Without Authors Vol 1 (praised by The Times as a “superb collection” and tipped as folk album of the month by The Guardian) featured a wide collection of artists including some we’ve featured on Folk Radio UK over the years such as Molly LinenKaty J PearsonJunior BrotherLankumYorkston Thorne KhanBlaenavon, Shovel Dance Collective, Brigid Mae PowerRosa Zajac. There were some stunning re-imaginings, injecting fresh life into songs whose original authors have been lost in time. They included ‘The Burning of Auchindoun’ by Rosa Zajac (about to tour with John Francis Flynn) & Daragh Lynch (of Lankum).

Besides being great albums, what also made these releases so exciting was the collective vision behind them. It felt like a turning point, with the names involved adding genuine weight to their conviction – some of whom will not be that well known – e.g. Shovel Dance Collective (top main image), who I only became aware of via Jacken Elswyth’s excellent Betwixt and Between tape series.

Broadside Hacks describe themselves as a new collective derived from a group of like-minded musicians with a wild and lustrous curiosity for traditional, radical folk heritage. While the pandemic may have been instrumental in turning thoughts into action, it feels as though this moment of reinvention has been bubbling away for some time. The open-minded actions of this collective and others has the potential to inspire many more young people and encourage a more inclusive folk scene. This isn’t happening in isolation, and that’s something which actually adds to the impetus behind this collective. In a recent Folk Radio UK guest post from George Sansom and Sophie Crawford, they spoke of their Queer Folk project in which they are unearthing LGBTQIA+ history hidden in traditional music. They also spoke of how they were becoming more aware of LGBTQIA+ folk performers and a burgeoning out queer presence on the audience side of things. There are strong parallels with Shovel Dance Collective who played on the album and feature in the documentary.

Broadside Hacks believe the old songs can still be relevant – that in the ancient melodies and words about past times can be found truths about today. If you want proof, revisit one of the albums that introduced them to folk – Liege and Lief – and hear songs that could be drawn from today’s headlines, about honour killings, about class, about lives forced into certain directions for want of the choices wealth brings. In 2021, to so many people, folk just means “someone with an acoustic guitar”. Songs Without Authors is not that: it is music rooted in a place that has grown to encompass something universal.

Broadside Hacks have been gathering force and influence, having recently made their Glastonbury Festival debut. Their story will now be shared thanks to a collaboration between them and British Underground with the screening of a new documentary – The Broadside Hack at Kings Place, London, on the 25th August. Alongside the documentary will be a live performance by the acclaimed collective, as well as Shovel Dance Collective. An accompanying live album of the songs performed in the film will also be released on vinyl on 28th October (pre-order here).

The Broadside Hack tells the story of the young vanguard of UK artists sharing radical interpretations, proto-feminist narratives and queer histories through the lens of British traditional folk song. Today we get our sneak preview, courtesy of the Shovel Dance Collective‘s performance of ‘My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him’ that appears in the documentary

Having enjoyed its US premiere at SXSW in March, The Broadside Hack is a short music documentary produced by British Underground, created with the aid of a grant from Arts Council England and PRS Foundation. Directed by Crispin Parry and filmed by The Northern Cowboys, It explores the influence of traditional folk songs on a new generation of musicians, filmed just as the UK was emerging from the dark days of the pandemic. The documentary was made in collaboration with music collective Broadside Hacks and features influential artists and groups from the new folk scene, including Rough Trade signees caroline, former Goat Girl bassist Naima Bock, whose acclaimed album Giant Palm was released on Sub Pop earlier this year, Shovel Dance Collective, Thyrsis, Broadside Hacks and Boss Morris. Discovering a fresh vitality in the tunes and new histories in the stories they tell, the film includes conversations, dances and intimate performances filmed at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Box, Wiltshire between 17th and 19th August 2021.

Speaking about the album and documentary, director Crispin Parry says: “The sessions were electric and full of joy and The Broadside Hack captures some of that journey through performance, dance and conversation.  An archaeologist once said ‘Every age has the Stonehenge it deserves or desires’ and the same could be said of folk music today – forever re-inventing itself as this wonderful recording of ancient tunes, songs and hidden stories reveals.”

The live concert and screening of The Broadside Hack arguably marks the close of the first chapter in the story of the UK’s new folk scene, a story in which Broadside Hacks has been central. As the documentary, their three further LPs and recent performances at Glastonbury and SXSW demonstrate, this is only the beginning for this exciting and ever-expanding collection of artists.

Source: The Broadside Hack – Folk Music Documentary