Did He Really Write That? Yes He Did! Sad, Right?

In a tweet, the man who claims he hires only the best people called one of his former employees a crazed, crying lowlife. He didn’t stop there. More about that in a moment. The subject of those acerbic assertions is Omarose Onee Manigault-Newman, familiarly known as Omarosa. She served in the Trump White House, until last December, as one of Trump’s most highly paid staffers.

In one of the administration’s numerous media spectacles, Omarosa was fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly. She, in turn, has written a book, “Unhinged,” released, yesterday, that purports to reveal a number of details about the inner workings of Team Trump. Not surprisingly, many of the tell-all memoir’s assertions are gossip-filled and unflattering to Mr. Trump.

In the reflexive way that Trump does, naturally he fired back. Even had he stopped at crazed, crying lowlife (he did not), there are critics who would insist that this is yet another example of the Racial-Slurer-in-Chief spouting one more takedown of a prominent African American. And said critics would have a substantive argument. Did I mention, however, that he did not stop there? He went on to tie a bow of closure on the tweet by calling Mrs. Manigault-Newman a dog.

Just so you can see the tweet in its entirety for yourself, here it is:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”
7:31 AM – Aug 14, 2018

66.8K

71.5K people are talking about this

This one is pretty basic and just as clear. Did Donald Trump just call a black female a dog? Let’s understand that there is specific nomenclature for female dogs. Before you suggest that may be reaching, fall back, and consider his calling black football players sons-of-bitches…who should be fired. So, am I implying that he, in effect, called Mrs. Manigault-Newman a black b___h? I’m not implying anything. However, if you infer that’s what he meant, I understand. You can decide for yourself what he meant when referring to Omarosa. I won’t even deign to debate the point.

Meanwhile, in a White House administration that we now know has never had even one African American with an office in the West Wing (Thanks for the clarification Parris Dennard), yesterday the press secretary was unable, or at the very least, unwilling, to assert that there are no recordings of Trump using the N-word. In the words of Childish Gambino, “This Is America!”

During the course of yesterday’s press briefing, Sarah Sanders was asked if any recordings exist on which Trump is recorded using the N-word? Sanders said Tuesday that she could not “guarantee” that there are no recordings of President Donald Trump using the N-word.

“I’ve never heard him use that term or anything similar,” Sanders said in response to a series of questions from NBC’s Kristen Welker about whether he’s ever used the racial slur. Asked if she could promise that Americans would never hear him say it on a recording, she declined. “I can’t guarantee anything, but I can tell you the president addressed this question directly,” she said, though she acknowledged that she had never asked him the question herself.

If you have watched many of Sanders’ press briefings, you might be surprised at the number of questions she acknowledges she has never asked Mr. Trump. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure whether that ritual is a function of a timely game of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or more broadly, a question of both of them assuming a posture of “ignorance is bliss.” In either event, it’s a curious thing.

There are a great many people who support Donald Trump. Some of them support him enthusiastically, and many of those support him regardless of what he does, or says, and a sizable segment of those, when confronted with deeds and words even they cannot defend, just pivot, and adopt the Trump mantra, calling any such examples fake news, and or hoaxes. God bless America…and God help those people.

Did He Really Write That? Yes he did. Sad, Right? I’m done; holla back!
Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your inbox.

Consult the links below for more detailed information relating to a variety of aspects of this post.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/5821962967001/

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/sarah-sanders-says-she-can-t-guarantee-there-s-no-n900701

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/09/23/trump_nfl_owners_should_fire_the_son_of_a_bitch_player_who_disrespects_our_flag_by_kneeling.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-referred-haiti-african-countries-shithole-nations-n836946

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/06/25/maxine-waters-trump-exchange/732505002/

https://www.daytondailynews.com/entertainment/celebrity-news/cnn-don-lemon-pushes-back-against-trump-calling-him-dumbest-man-television/xaAWDwNc3jUGIktDVhpIHN/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/08/14/times-president-trump-comments-called-racist/985438002/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/04/politics/trump-lebron-james-tweet/index.html

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-insults-lebron-james-and-calls-cnns-don-lemon-dumbest-man-television-1057105

Trump’s Peculiar Relationship With Race Matters: A Long Term Trend

It’s time to Break It Down!

American bigots, racists, and white nationalists have a long and storied history of attacking African Americans as lacking intelligence, having low I.Q., and in general, being dumb. A number of folks, including Charles Murray, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has rebuked for “using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor,” have gained substantial notoriety for their promotion of so-called “race science. ”Murray, a political scientist, co-authored a book in 1994, with psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” in which he claimed that poor people, blacks in particular, are inherently less intelligent than whites or Asians. Murray further claimed that people with low I.Q. are found more frequently in nonwhite communities.

In the mid-60’s, physicist William Shockley sparked controversy by arguing that there might be genetic reasons why black people in the United States often score lower on I.Q. tests than white people. In 1969, educational psychologist Arthur Jensen published a long article with the suggestion that compensatory education had failed to that date because of genetic group differences. Of course, such theories predate the 20th century. In the 18th century, philosophers and scientists, including VoltaireDavid HumeImmanuel Kant, and Carl Linnaeus, proposed the existence of different mental abilities among the races.

This post, however, is not intended to spike or debunk the likes of the theories espoused by Murray, or Jensen, or Voltaire, or Kant, or any of the others noted above. While socioeconomic factors, and patterns of socialization readily account for most if not all those distinctions, this blog focuses on a 21st century maven of misinformation, and more importantly, mischaracterization of race matters. Donald Trump has managed for nearly 50 years to distinguish himself as someone with a precarious grasp on appropriate and respectful racial engagement. Want examples? Here’s ten:

  • Maxine Waters – “very low IQ.”
  • Don Lemon – “Dumbest man on television
  • LeBron James – “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” (A twofer, denigrating both Lemon and James, and daring Michael Jordan to side with him…which actually would have been intellectually questionable).
  • Barack Obama – “Was a terrible student,” questioned how he could have been admitted to Columbia or Harvard, and suggested Obama release his school records to prove he was intelligent enough to get into these Ivy League schools.
  • White nationalists/people protesting white nationalists – “There were very fine people on both sides.”
  • African Countries and Haiti – S-hole countries
  • Early in his Real Estate career, Trump was sued by the federal government for refusing to rent apartments to blacks. He would eventually settle the suit (after fighting it for two years) without admitting guilt, but being required to place ads in newspapers saying he welcomed black applicants, and that he would familiarize himself with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination.
  • The Central Park 5 – Trump took out full page ads in 5 major NY newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty after four blacks and a Latino were convicted of raping a Central Park jogger. A subsequent confession by another man, in conjunction with DNA evidence proved conclusively that they did not do it. They were released from jail and awarded $41 million for time served. Trump persisted in insisting that their convictions should have stood.
  • His employees – The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 in 1992 because managers would remove African American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler.
  • Birther-in-Chief – Trump was the leading proponent of the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in America

In evaluating how Donald Trump approaches race, his supporters are adamant about one thing. They aver with great conviction, he is no racist. At first blush, it appears they view him as a proxy for themselves. In such a context, it is impossible for them to concede that he is a racist…without admitting that they too are racist. While no such nexus was suggested, it’s as if they are playing chess, and thinking and visualizing several moves ahead. The assertion may not have been made, but, as sure as they drop their guard, they seem certain that they are next in line.

This is always a conversation with which I find great humor. Watching an individual twist him or herself into contortions as they try to explain why “I should not believe my lying eyes and ears” is just plain entertaining, at a very high level. Interestingly, many of his supporters have stopped saying he doesn’t lie. Frequently! That one, I suppose, has simply become too high a standard to achieve. Fact checkers at the New York Times have calculated that his lying quotient is around 7 per day, and actually numbers in the thousands. I guess that says even they find lying more acceptable than racism.

In conclusion, regarding the question of whether Donald Trump is an unreconstructed racist, I’m perfectly comfortable encouraging readers to review the bulleted evidence above, and draw your own conclusion. Please understand that those ten items do not represent a Top 10, or the definitive most egregious, or a priority ordered list, and are absolutely, positively not an exhaustive collection. Nope, they are just ten examples spanning 45 years (and parts of 5 different and consecutive decades) illuminating the words and behaviors of the guy who describes himself as a stable genius. Be he a genius or a simpleton, this is a brief summary of Trump’s Peculiar Relationship With Race Matters: A Long Term Trend!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/05/opinions/trump-lebron-pattern-opinion-obeidallah/

https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/trump-mocks-lebron-james-and-calls-don-lemon-dumbest-man-on-tv-in-twitter-tirade/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxLttE06-BU

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/trump-says-there-were-very-fine-people-on-both-sides-in-charlottesville/

https://www.npr.org/2016/09/29/495955920/donald-trump-plagued-by-decades-old-housing-discrimination-case

https://www.thewrap.com/cnns-don-lemon-hits-back-trumps-dumbest-man-diss-lebron-james/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Murray_(political_scientist)

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/04/politics/trump-lebron-james-tweet/index.html

Ghost Guns: Next Level Weaponry

It’s time to Break It Down!

I have written on numerous occasions about the improvidence associated with the positions of the NRA and the gun lobby regarding the ease of access in acquiring firearms. After virtually every time there is a mass shooting, a vicious cycle ensues. First there is a great hue and cry against the shooter, usually followed by an assertion that the individual(s) was troubled, and or suffered from mental illness, which is then buttressed by a fervent pushback courtesy of the NRA, and gun & second amendment enthusiasts.

There is a certain rinse and repeat nature to it all. Well, don’t look now, but certain interests have endeavored to elevate the vicious cycle to hyper drive. Beginning today, thanks to the Trump Administration striking a court deal, individual citizens were on track to start producing Do-It-Yourself (DIY) 3D-printed guns. That’s right, effective August 1st, a commercially available software blueprint could enable people to make their own guns using ABS plastic resin and a 3D printer. The process was green-lighted via a court settlement between the blueprint designer and the U.S. State department. Not surprisingly, gun rights advocates celebrated the decision.

Alan Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation Founder and Executive Vice-President, said:

“Not only is this a first amendment victory for free speech, it also is an end to the gun prohibition lobby.”

Defense Distributed, the company backing the blueprint crowed:

“The age of the downloaded gun lobby formally begins.”

Conversely, gun control advocates were alarmed. Nick Suplina, managing director of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety stated:

“The settlement was incredibly dangerous.” He further implored the State Department to continue to block the publication of deadly information. This settlement would enable convicted felons and domestic abusers to download schematics online and print their own illegal and untraceable guns.”

The lawsuit was the result of a software file developed by a University of Texas law student, Cody Wilson. The blueprint was that of a single-shot 3D printed handgun, code named “The Liberator.” The State department initially ordered Wilson to cease and desist his work, arguing that making the blueprint available would be a violation of arms export statutes.

Wilson, a libertarian at heart, quickly evolved from seeing himself as a hobbyist to adopting the mind set of a full-fledged crusader. As he described it:

“All I tried to do in law school was print a pistol and put it on the Internet (he told the Guardian in 2016). Now I’m on a ride I can’t get off.”

Wilson sued on the grounds that his design was protected by the first amendment. He founded a non-profit, Defense Distributed. To celebrate the settlement, he tweeted an image of flowers laid at a plaque in memory of “American gun control.”

Just when it looked as though insanity might reign, a court stepped in and blocked this irresponsible action. But before I get to the good news, there are a few points about the DIY gun that I’d like to share.

• Wilson principally funded his legal battle with proceeds from the sale of products which allow for DIY production of metal framed “ghost guns,” which do not have serial numbers and are not subject to traditional gun control laws.

• Defense Distributed sells users an “80% lower” – a piece of metal the government deems is only 80% of a gun – and a milling machine that can, with a PC and the right software, bring the gun into completion.

• The company describes the milling on its website as a way to “legally manufacture unserialized rifles and pistols in the comfort and privacy of home.

• With The Liberator and other 3D printed guns, including AR-15 style rifles, users will not need a prefabricated “80% lower.” They will be able instead to construct virtually an entire gun with any 3D printer and enough ABS plastic resin.

• The gun does require a metal firing pin to operate. An additional piece of metal is included in the blueprint, to ensure compliance with the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act.

The Obama Administration, out of an abundance of concern about making it easier to produce plastic guns, had used export laws to ban the foreign distribution of firearms to prevent publication of the blueprints. However, in true Trump fashion, the current administration’s State Department, in its reflexive drive to undo all things Obama, cleared the way for Wilson to usher in what his website calls “the age of the downloadable gun.”

That age was scheduled to begin today, when he would start uploading instructions. Enter a Seattle federal judge, who yesterday granted a temporary nationwide injunction blocking Mr. Wilson from executing his plan. Judge Robert S. Lasnik, a United States District Court Judge, faced with dire warnings about an imminent risk to public safety from alarmed public officials across the country, acted to block Wilson.

Attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia filed a joint lawsuit to stop the ghost guns. After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Lasnik said the lawyers bringing the suit had established “a likelihood of irreparable harm” and of success on the merits. He set a follow-up hearing for August 10 in his Seattle courtroom.

Clearly, this is not the end of the conversation. DIY ghost guns may still make their way onto the scene in just a matter of days. In addition to the injunction, there was an unexpected opinion on the matter that could be a factor in the ultimate decision. Donald Trump tweeted yesterday morning saying he’s looking into the matter, he’s spoken to the NRA, and that it doesn’t seem to make much sense. It will be interesting to see if that is his final world, and if so, how the NRA, the gun lobby, and the Trumpire will respond to this very un-Trump-like position.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

“I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” 8:03 AM – Jul 31, 2018 
44.4K 28K people are talking about this”

Remember that vicious cycle? The one where the NRA, the gun lobby, and the ardent second amendment defenders harp on and insist that the real problem is we have not prevented people with mental illnesses from securing weapons…yeah, that one. Well what will they say when someone downloads an AR-15 and goes and kills children at a school, or shoppers at a mall, or anybody anywhere? At what point should they have been stopped? Before the download? While reading the instructions? At the computer store? Of course, keep in mind, that anyone with access to a computer and a suitable printer will be able to obtain a gun. I would say, let that sink in, but I’m pretty sure, all the folks who favor this have already done so, and still think it’s a good idea. You should all find that a scary proposition. “Ghost Guns: Next Level Weaponry!”

P.S. While the final decision regarding these weapons is being deliberated, it’s worth noting that based on the original suit, some guns started being downloaded last Friday. At least 2,500 have been received, in addition a pending backlog…just so you know. Wilson has said hi goal is to ensure that every gun in production is available in a downloadable format.

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/23/3d-printed-guns-court-settlement-trump-administration-cody-wilson

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/ny-news-3d-printer-guns-federal-judge-temporary-restraining-order-20180731-story.html

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/31/trump-takes-aim-at-3d-printed-guns-doesnt-seem-to-make-much-sense.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-trump-guns-printable-tweet-20180731-story.html

https://slate.com/technology/2018/07/president-trump-tweet-3d-printed-ghost-guns.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/federal-judge-blocks-3d-printed-guns-blueprints-defense-distributed-cody-wilson/

http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-pol-judge-blocks-3d-guns-20180731-story.html

http://dailycaller.com/2018/07/31/judge-blocks-3d-guns/

Racial Profiling: Clear As Black And White

It’s time to Break It Down!

The data are clear, persistent, and as revealing as critics of the practice thought it would be, maybe even more so. After over twenty million traffic stops in my home state of North Carolina, researchers discovered a protracted pattern of racial disparities that do not disappear when taking into account legally relevant factors such as being pulled over for drunk driving or when researchers considered legally irrelevant differences such as age or gender. All things considered, racially disparate search rates appear to happen because police tend to hold unwarranted suspicions about young men of color.

Frank R. Baumgartner, Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Derek Andrew Epp, Assistant Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, and Kelsey Shoub, a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of North Carolina, have written a book published this year, entitled, “Suspect Citizens What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Race.” In summary, the book provides the most in-depth look to date at the most frequently occurring form of police-citizen interactions, the routine traffic stop. Since the inception of the war on crime, police departments have employed traffic stops as a means to search drivers suspected of transporting contraband.

From the outset, police agencies made it clear that large numbers of stops would have to be made before scoring a significant drug bust. What was not stated up front was the calculation that many Americans would be subjected to police investigations so that a small number of high-level offenders might be caught. However, the principal element of the strategy that was denied sunlight was the fact that middle-class white Americans were largely exempt from its consequences. “Suspect Citizens” documents the extreme rarity of drug busts, while simultaneously revealing the sustained and troubling disparities in how racial groups are treated.

The book’s work focuses on every traffic stop in the state of North Carolina from 2002 to 2016. This deep dive provides unassailable evidence of racial bias in police-citizen interactions. Moreover, given the scholarly heft of the authors’ research, their work may generate practical policy reforms.

The genesis of the research associated with this book was intended to discern the viability of whether Driving While Black (DWB) is a thing. Most African Americans know that it is, and many, black males in particular, often can offer a litany of off-the-cuff examples. While the common traffic stop may be discounted as a mere brief inconvenience for whites, for blacks, they frequently lead to humiliation, violence, and even death. This has become increasingly clear in recent years, as videos have surfaced, hashtags have trended, and various reports have been released. As a result of these indisputably verified accounts, the black box of negative interactions between police and drivers of color have been unveiled for all to see. “Suspect Citizens” sets out to move beyond un-researched episodes to systematically exploring every traffic stop in North Carolina for more than a decade. Here is the operational framework that serves as the foundation for the book:

Who Gets Stopped, Who Gets Searched?

  • 1999 NC law mandated confirmation or refutation of the “DWB” allegation. It can clearly be confirmed. The state has never done so.
  • Data: 20 million stops (all of them) from 2002 to present.
  • Stops: Blacks 63 percent more likely than whites, by population.
  • But blacks drive 16 percent less. So about 95 percent more likely, by driving habits
  • Searches: Among those stopped, blacks are 115 percent more likely to be searched (2.35 % for whites, 5.05% for blacks)
  • So: a double whammy: 95 percent more risk of stop, 115 percent more risk of search, given a stop. Double, and then double again. Search rates per stop about 2x, search rates per population: 4x.

So what are the outcomes of these kinds of searches? At first glance, the answer may seem surprising, if not flatly counterintuitive. White, middle-class drivers are more likely to get a ticket. That may sound inconsistent with preceding assertion. But the reality is it’s not. Why? Because if you are objectively breaking the law—say you’re speeding, or you run a light—you deserve to get a ticket. That is to say, in their cases, they were only pulled over after having been observed violating the traffic code in a serious way. They were violating traffic laws, and they got a ticket for their troubles.

Conversely, black drivers are more likely to get a warning. Again, that seems counterintuitive, until you think about it in broader terms. On the surface, that may sound like a good outcome. That is unless, or until you ask the why question. As in, why was that person stopped in the first place? Often, the reason was just that the officer had a vague suspicion and a desire to investigate. So they stopped the person based upon a pretext, they investigated by starting a conversation with the driver, and…since nothing turned up, they said, “Well, thank you for your time. I pulled you over because you were speeding by five miles per hour. I just wanted to tell you to slow down and be more careful.

During the course of their research, the authors found the biggest predictor of low disparity in traffic stops and searches is having black representation on the city council. After looking closely at all municipalities within the state of North Carolina, black city council representation, which tends to correlate with having a large black share in the population and having a large share of black voting in the most recent election, was the most significant factor in blacks having a low disparity in receiving tickets. At its root, that indicates that government agencies, including police, respond to politics.

After parsing an enormous amount of data, the authors reached a number of conclusions. Here are a few:

Some Conclusions

  • Use of the vehicle code for criminal investigation is: • Extremely inefficient (leads to very few significant contraband hits, only 12 % arrested after search)
  • Racially biased
  • Generative of tremendous community mistrust, in those communities being targeted.
  • However, it is invisible and perhaps unbelievable in those communities not being targeted. Hence its political value.
  • Implicit bias as well as institutional procedures are at the core of these patterns. “High crime” areas have mostly law-abiders…
  • Simple institutional reforms can dramatically reduce disparities and the mistrust
  • Voice matters: suppress the vote, reduce voice, gerrymander the districts to restrict black power: disparities can be greater
  • Voice matters: vote; gain representation, equitable treatment follows

Police violence in minority communities has been frequently and persistently highlighted since the 2013 launch of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Problems of racially disparate policing, however, are long-standing. Yet, developing and implementing effective public policy responses have been slow, and are frequently undercut because of the tendency of middle-class white Americans to doubt allegations of systematic injustices. There is widespread admission that there may be a small number of rogue officers who are corrupt and/or racist. But most whites cannot (or will not allow themselves to) envisage that police interactions with minority citizens are regularly harsh.

Middle-class whites may find it incredible that police would behave in ways they themselves have never experienced. Alternately, young men of color grow up with different, negative expectations that naturally reduce their trust in government. Ergo, they become less likely to cooperate with police, to vote, or to participate constructively in public life. In the final analysis, crime control becomes more difficult to achieve because so many members of the public, particularly in high crime areas, have been bequeathed a legacy of legitimate reasons to be distrustful of police.

After their exhaustive analysis, the authors recommended a number of reforms. Some of them include:

Recommended Reforms

  • Focus on traffic safety, not investigatory stops, reduce disparities: • Arrest rate ratio, 1.68 overall, 1.29 for safety stops (24 percent less)
  • Search rate ratio, 2.15 overall, 1.76 for safety stops (18 percent less)
  • Written consent forms very effective

Baumgartner, Epp, and Shoub conducted an epic study and concluded that using the War on Crime, the traffic code and the vehicle code as mechanisms to investigate people more broadly has not only been ineffective, but doing so has had the unintended and previously undocumented consequence of making people feel as if they do not have full citizenship. They feel, instead, as though they are perpetual suspects. Racial Profiling: Clear As Black And White!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:

https://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/books/SuspectCitizens/SuspectCitizens-Representation.pdf

https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/06/is-it-time-to-reconsider-traffic-stops/561557/

https://theundefeated.com/features/the-stop-national-geographic-anquan-boldin-racial-profiling-of-drivers-leaves-legacy-of-anger/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/the-stop-race-police-traffic/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/07/17/what-data-on-20-million-traffic-stops-can-tell-us-about-driving-while-black/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.27b77de13dc0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/07/17/what-data-on-20-million-traffic-stops-can-tell-us-about-driving-while-black/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.27b77de13dc0

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2014-10-06/traffic-stops-ii-data-show-racial-disparity-police-say-thats-never-been-their-

https://www.christianforums.com/threads/the-stop-racial-profiling-of-drivers-leaves-legacy-of-anger-and-fear.8054677/

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL31130.pdf

https://www.wral.com/project-puts-racial-disparity-in-nc-traffic-stops-on-display/15181088/

The Guardians of TrumpWorld Are Busier Than Ever: Thanks Donald!

It’s time to Break It Down!

It is a near certainty that by now, everyone who even glances at this post, today, or at any other time, saw, has viewed clips, or has heard about, maybe even discussed Donald Trump’s visit to Helsinki, Finland for the Summit with Vladimir Putin. Unlike I often do, citing source material, and providing elements of a variety of other people’s commentary, I am simply going to delve into and share a few of my thoughts about the Summit, Mr. Trump, and Putin.

Before Monday’s Summit, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced 12 new indictments of Russians, Friday afternoon. That announcement, depending on one’s perspective, either gave Trump the cudgel he needed in order to smack Putin up side the head, figuratively of course, with the charge of Russian meddling, or…it provided a convenient prompt for reporters to query Trump about whether he believes the findings of the American Intelligence Community…in the event he opted not to use his cudgel.

As fate would have it…no check that. As events unfolded, it turns out, to virtually no one’s surprise, Trump chose not to use his very un-secret weapon. In fact, in a scripted performance not worthy of an episode of “The Apprentice,” Don, remaining fully in character, cozied up to Vlad, and when it was time to declare a side, in a very Charlottesville moment, the erstwhile Leader of the Free World missed a lay-up and said in effect, there were good people on both sides. He noted that Putin had strongly and powerfully denied Russian involvement, and then wondered, why would they be?

For his part, when a question was put to him about whether he preferred one of the two 2016 American Presidential candidates, Vladimir boldly and emphatically admitted he preferred that Trump win; adding that he pledged to foster better relations with Russia. Putin was a cool, confident operator. He very well could have been a KGB agent. Oh wait; He is a former KGB agent. At one point, he literally boasted that he knew how dossiers were put together.

Before the Summit, Trump had been asked whether he was ready. His response was pretty much he “was born ready.” He downplayed the ado that was made over Putin’s spy days. In retrospect, one has to concede, if there is one thing Trump does not lack (aside from a propensity to avoid truth-telling) it’s bravado. He knows how to manufacture bluster. However, if he was ready for the moment Monday, his display when the lights came up belied his preparation. By virtually all accounts, he earned an epic fail by even the most generous of evaluators.

Democrats, by and large, blew a collective gasket over a number of his responses. That was to be expected. What was less predictable, though understandable, was that a number of GOP politicians expressed a range of emotions that ran from disgust to shock and awe. But there was more. Even Fox News had several analysts diverge from the script and call Trump’s performance off key, or some variation thereof. Newt Gingrich called Trump’s apparent siding with Putin over his own Intelligence Community the biggest mistake of his tenure to date. He insisted that Trump must recant and fix it immediately. Senator McCain, Paul Ryan, and even Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, all weighed in, and not in a supportive manner.

Yesterday, after a barrage of negative publicity from myriad sources, Trump reluctantly conceded he accepts the U.S. Intelligence Committee reports of Russian meddling. However, no sooner than he read the words, emphasis on read, he added that it could have been any number of others. But first, he rationalized, I mean explained, his initial ridiculous position was a function of having misspoken. He explained that he said would when he meant wouldn’t, when he asked why would they (as in why would Russia meddle). According to his newly revised and highly scripted (he actually read it) version of events, it was just that simple. I would add that was the only thing he cleaned up regarding the entire episode. One word. Really?

Gingrich and others in the Trump/Fox orbit clearly got their point across. In response, Trump transformed one word into a conjunction, and for many, all was right again in TrumpWorld. But let’s be clear, while the political timber shivered, and even the media lights blinked, the real denizens of TrumpWorld, the MAGA hat wearing Trumpians, never waivered. They stood resolutely behind the Dear Leader of the People, firing Obama and Clinton zingers as if they have them on speed dial, which is actually a possibility. They are knitted closer to their commitment to defend Trump than Trump is to his defense of Putin. You must admit, that’s d… close.

One thing that always makes me smile is that for all of their robotically reflexive defenses of The Donald, few of them ever can get more than a few words out without receding into that seemingly inescapably cavernous pattern of referring to President Obama, or Hillary Clinton, and occasionally Bill. Of course, right after those tried and true scapegoating aphorisms come Democrats, liberals, fake news, the Main Stream Media, the deep state, and Bernie Sanders. Mostly, they seem to hate Obama and despise the Clintons way more than they admire and respect Donald Trump, which come to think of it, are almost oxymoronic constructs in the first place.

All things considered, it has been just another drama-filled week in the TrumpWorld universe. If I’ve learned anything about Trump over the past year and a half, it’s that there have been others before this one, and there will most assuredly be more to follow. Despite the thinnest of veneers, as far as explanations go, several of the folks who a mere 24 hours earlier were aghast at the words that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth, felt, or at least portrayed, an almost giddiness about Trump’s hardly deft effort at redirection. But, as many have concluded, the Republican Party has receded; the Trump Party has emerged. May God save all of us. “The Guardians of TrumpWorld Are Busier Than Ever: Thanks Donald!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Hypocrite-in-Chief: And Another One

It’s time to Break It Down!

With apologies to Donald McKinley Glover, Jr., AKA, Childish Gambino, AKA, mcDJ, “This Is America” (https://youtu.be/VYOjWnS4cMY)! As we Americans find ourselves nearing a year and a half into the zone we casually, or at least generally, refer to as the Trump Presidency, so, so many precedents and unconventional occurrences have become the rule rather than the exception. Daily.

It this era of transconfiguration, more aptly devolution, America is a place in which our titular leader eschews norms with fierce intentionality. We have become a nation-state in which defaming long-time allies, and coddling historical adversaries is de rigueur, if not flat out expected. To be blunt, we live in a world, more precisely, in a country, where no matter how confounding, outrageous, or bizarre the news of the day happens to be, if it pertains to the President, I no longer have the capacity to be surprised.

In recent months, up until yesterday, Trump has granted seven clemencies: five pardons and two sentence commutations. Pardons forgive people who have committed crimes, and restore at least some of their rights. Commutations reduce prisoners’ sentences and most often free them immediately. Here are a few examples:

  • In April, Mr. Trump pardoned Scooter Libby, a former George W. Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2003.
  • In May, he posthumously pardoned Jack Johnson, who died in 1946, at least in part at the behest of Sylvester Stallone. Johnson was a Heavyweight Boxing Champion, convicted in 1913 of taking his white girlfriend across state lines.
  • In June, he granted commutation to Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother and great grandmother who was serving a life sentence in prison for nonviolent drug offenses. The sentence was rendered in 1996. Kim Kardashian West’s support buttressed Johnson’s case.
  • Trump also pardoned Dinesh D’Souza last month. Mr. D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to illegally using straw donors to donate to a Republican Senate candidate in New York.
  • Last August Trump gave his first-ever pardon to Joe Arpaio, the bombastic former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. The 85-year-old earned much of his legacy for illegally detaining Latinos, and keeping inmates in brutal jail conditions during his 24-year tenure as sheriff. His tactics led to a 2017 criminal conviction after he violated a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

Trump has floated the idea of pardoning Martha Stewart, whom a jury found guilty in 2004 of obstructing justice, and lying to investigators about the reasons she sold shares of stock. She served five months in prison. He also teased the notion of commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year sentence after being convicted of corruption ensuing from a scheme to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama, who had been elected President in 2008. Both those things …could…happen, but they will have to get in the queue.

Yesterday, Trump signed full pardons for Oregon ranchers Dwight Hammond, Jr., and his son Steve Hammond. The Hammonds were convicted in 2012 of setting fires that spread on government-managed land near their ranch. Dwight was initially sentenced to three months in prison, while his son Steve was ordered to serve a year and a day. Prosecutors appealed because those sentences fell short of the five-year minimum for arson committed against federal property. First, just ponder that for a moment. An apparently activist judge (which Republican reputedly disdain) decided that the minimum sentence was too harsh for these fine, upstanding citizens…who had merely took over, and set fire to public lands. No biggie, right? Right!!! Spoiler alert: Prosecutors won their appeal and the Hammonds were ordered to serve the entire five years; hence, yesterday’s pardon.

Seriously, to characterize, these pardoning the Hammonds as anything short of Trumpian-level hypocrisy would be an abomination. Never mind the arson though;  the Hammonds’ debacle led to the Ammond Bundy incident, which included armed conflict resulting in the loss of life. Privilege!

This pardon sequence showcases the double standard of justice still prevalent in America. Yes, it’s a race thing. Period, full stop. To call it anything else is to dissemble, deflect, deny…oh, just call it what it is…lie!

Whites cloak themselves in the flag, call themselves survivalists, invoke the anthem, and spread insurrection. They are deemed overzealous patriots whose love of country and hatred of taxes got the best of them and prompted them to misbehave. Where’s my violin?

To be black and challenge authority on almost any level in this country is apt to garner an invitation to go back to Africa, or to incite the N-word, or to risk police brutality…or worse. Kneeling football players are SOB’s who should be fired, while Maxine Waters is low IQ, and of course, President Obama was a Kenyan-Socialist-Muslim, because he had the temerity to win the Presidency. Twice! And don’t even mention real pushback. The mere existence of the Black Panthers prompted local, state and federal authorities to enact new laws, including gun control in California, expressly to curtail their impact, and to make it easier to arrest and prosecute them.

Trump’s pardon of the Hammonds is just the latest episode of rapprochement with his overwhelmingly white and frequently intolerant base. Meanwhile, recollections of the Central Park stand in stark contrast.

A jogger was raped and beaten in Central Park in 1989. Four black and one Latino teenager were charged, convicted and jailed for the crime. However, the evidence was shaky, and confessions were allegedly forced. Trump ran full-page ads in several NYC newspapers calling for the resumption of the Death Penalty. A subsequent confession by a previously convicted murderer and rapist, along with associated DNA evidence and his admission that he acted alone resulted in the five being released, after serving as many as a dozen years in jail. Oh yeah, none of the Central Park 5 was ever found at the scene of the crime.

Not surprisingly, they sued the City. They were awarded a $41 million settlement. Meanwhile, for decades, Trump continued to call for them to receive the Death Penalty, and quite naturally criticized the City for reaching a settlement. Yes, “This Is America,” and he is the…”Hypocrite-In-Chief: And Another One!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Glover

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peniel_E._Joseph

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/10/opinions/trump-hammond-pardon-race-and-justice-joseph-opinion/index.html

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-pardons-oregon-cattle-ranchers-center-bundy-standoff/story?id=56487437

https://theweek.com/articles/653840/donald-trumps-30year-crusade-against-central-park-five

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooter_Libby

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Johnson_%28boxer%29

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Marie_Johnson

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinesh_D%27Souza

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Arpaio

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/10/627653866/president-trump-pardons-ranchers-dwight-and-steven-hammond-over-arson

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Trumpian

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

Independence Day: Free At Last Redux ’18!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Today’s post is a revised reprint of a blog I originally published July 9, 2008, and then subsequently in the July 4, 2012, and July 5, 2017 Editions of “Break It Down!” Since today is literally the 4th of July, this redux version is timely. I hope you are having a wonderful Independence Day, 2018, and that if you get around to reading it, that you will enjoy this week’s blog.

So as I approached this Fourth of July, as always, I did so with complicated panoply of thoughts, a few of which I will share here. Our great country, and yes, by many measures it is great, strives to be all it can be, at home and abroad. It’s appropriate to note we have been successful on many fronts. On others, we still have work to do. It’s fair to embrace our successes, and necessary to accept our challenges. Doing both is the only way we can reach our true potential.

As African Americans, we often find ourselves pulled in divergent directions over how to address this day; perhaps everyday. A hundred fifteen years ago, W.E.B. Du Bois framed it thusly in “The Souls of Black Folk:”

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.  One ever feels his twoness, –an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

I endorse Dr. Du Bois’ views on the subject.

But lest anyone rush to judge Du Bois, he is not alone; he is not even the first to cast a disparaging eye at the relationship between African Americans and the Fourth of July. On July 5, 1852, fifty-one years earlier, Frederick Douglass gave a speech at Corinth Hall, in Rochester, NY, his home. In a passage of that speech, Douglass said:

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Suffice it to say neither Douglass, nor Du Bois was sold on the notion of the Fourth of July as a pure as the driven snow family friendly holiday. But that is not the sole point of this post.

No, history has given us the gift of some intriguing coincidences, as well as some compelling ironies. In observing both, there are times when, even though I hold him/her in great awe, and with the highest regard, I am convinced God is, if not a confirmed jokester, at the very least, the owner of a genuinely robust sense of humor.

During a number of past holidays, I have addressed ad nauseam, the “principle of incompatibility” that divides holidays from structured endeavors such as reading, studying, and heaven forbid, working. To that end I usually try to ratchet it down a notch or two, or several, during holidays. The fact that today is July 4thAmerica’s official Independence Daymakes that messaging exceedingly apropos.

Looking back at Independence Days past, 1826 probably held one of the more noteworthy coincidences.  July 4th, 1826, marked not only the 50th Anniversary of American Independence, but was also the day two of our nation’s Founding FathersJohn Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died. Yes, they died the same day in the same year. Such an occurrence today would almost certainly serve as a catalyst for rumors of a death pact.

Adams and Jefferson shared more than joint status as two of the fifty-six co-signers of the Declaration of Independence; they also went on to become the 2nd and 3rd Presidents of the United States, respectively. It is reported that Adams’ last words were, “Jefferson still survives.” However, unbeknownst to Adams, Jefferson had died earlier that day.

Adams and Jefferson had quite a concurrent history.  Adams was the first to serve as America’s Vice President, he was the first President to live in the executive mansion (known today as the White House), and he was also the first President to be defeated in a re-election bid…by Jefferson, who had served as his Vice President.

Thomas Jefferson went on to become President after defeating Adams, but not without a bit of what we would think of today, as drama.  Aaron Burr tied Jefferson with 73 electoral votes.  As a result, the election was sent to the House of Representatives to determine the winner. After 36 ballots (that’s right 36), Jefferson prevailed. In later developments, Burr, who served for a time as Jefferson’s Vice President, killed Alexander Hamilton, who was also a Founding Father, in a duel. Not surprisingly, Burr’s career in politics took a precipitous decline afterward, although he was never convicted of a crime for his role in the incident.

Burr’s leaving the office meant Jefferson had to secure another Vice President for his second term as President. After 203 years, P-Funk fans still tip their hat to Jefferson, as he selected George Clinton to hold the second chair. (Funk-a-teers and P-Funk Mythology devotees will know what I mean…see George Clinton, musician, and his anthem Atomic Dog, as a point of reference).  I digress!

The virtually concurrent deaths of Adams and Jefferson marked an intriguing Independence Day coincidence of considerable magnitude. July 4, 2008, Independence Day again collaborated with the death of a prominent political figure, this time in what many consider a compellingly ironic twist. Former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, popularly known as Senator No, a nickname he appeared to relish, died leaving a legacy that will be debated, by supporters and detractors for many years to come.

It is a fact that there are those who consider Helms a patriot. Others have cited his “courage” to stand against the forces of change, on issues ranging from gay rights to trade agreements, to foreign aid. Many of his most notable tirades focused on issues of civil rights and affirmative action, and funding for AIDS research. He was also a leading Senate opponent of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, and he authored and/or approved the infamous, in North Carolina anyway (but highly effective), “white hands” commercial, aired during the first of two Senate campaign battles against former Charlotte Mayor, Harvey Gantt (1990).  For that moment in time at least, Senator No drove the concept of negative campaign advertising to a new and ugly low.

The Honorable Senator No appeared to take great pride in his predictable opposition to progressive ideals, and often needled the media when he felt he had bested their desired interests. He earned the distinction of being North Carolina’s longest serving Senator. That is a noteworthy accomplishment, and cannot be diminished.

However, it must be noted that many of the tributes and editorials that began streaming forth FridayJuly 4, 2008, sanitized the bigotry and raw mean-spiritedness that marked so many of Helms’ political encounters; especially his triumphs. His was a divisive, zero-sum brand of politics that often targeted the historically disenfranchised for more abuse, insult, and exclusion. In that light, it is impossible to deny the essence of irony in the events of Independence Day, 2008. He was a bona fide Tea Party hero, before his time. One can almost envision the spirit of King, after having scaled the mountaintop, uttering that famous three-word phraseFree at Last!

In my solitary reference to him during this post, I cannot wind down this blog without stating the obvious. Helms and some of his tactics were eerily reminiscent of some of those employed by a certain contemporary politician who holds one of the most powerful positions in the world, and whose 5-letter name rhymes with grump. In an effort to embrace the liberating theme of Independence Day, I opted not to promote “name that rhymes with grump” fatigue, by making this post about him. Indeed, it’s “Independence Day: Free at Last Redux!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com. A new post is published each Wednesday. For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Burr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Clinton_(vice_president)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Clinton_(funk_musician)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Helms

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=h000463

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1995/05/bates.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7490458.stm

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/04/obit.helms/index.html

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1871

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._E._B._Du_Bois

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Souls_of_Black_Folk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_consciousness

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2927.html