Donald Trump Addresses The John Lewis Issue: The Swan Interview

It’s time to Break It Down!  

OK, truth in advertising requires that I advise you there was much more in the AXIOS interview than questions about Congressman Lewis. To get the full impact of what transpired, you may benefit greatly from clicking on the link below and watching the YouTube video of Jonathan Swan’s recent (last week) AXIOS on HBO Exclusive interview with Donald Trump.

I wrote about John Lewis last week; didn’t mention Donald Trump. In this post, I am focusing only on four Swan questions, all of which centered on the late Congressman John Lewis, and Mr. Trump’s responses. Yeah, it’s a quick read. You’re welcome!

I’ll get right to it:

Swan: How do you think history will remember John Lewis?

Trump: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose—I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe.

Swan: Do you find John Lewis impressive?

Trump: I can’t say one way or the other – I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive, but no, he didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s Okay. That’s his right. And again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have. He should’ve come. I think he made a mistake. I think he should’ve come.

Swan: But taking your relationship with him out of it, do you find his story impressive – what he’s done for this country?

Trump: He was a person that devoted a lot of energy and a lot of heart to civil rights. But there were many others, also.

Swan: There’s a petition to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama as the John Lewis Bridge. Would you support that idea?

Trump: I would have no objection to it if they ‘d like to do it. I’d have no objection to it, whatsoever. 

Although not an exhaustive list, the interview also touched upon COVID-19, sometimes referred to by Mr. Trump as the China virus, China, Tulsa, Fox News ratings, canceled rallies, good and bad Governors, testing, the great job the U.S. has done with the virus, Russian bounties, fake news, never having discussed the bounties with Putin, global warming, daily intelligence briefings, the angry place that is the world, Russia/Afghanistan, U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, having taken out ISIS, conditions under which Trump would not accept November’s election results, ballots vs. applications, Ghislaine Maxwell, Portland, anarchists, protesters, Antifa, and Chad Wolf, people rounded up without being told why they are being detained, Democrat run cities, Trump’s hope that there is no such thing as systemic racism, HBCU’s, Mr. Trump’s oft-repeated trope that he has done more for African Americans than any president, possibly other than Lincoln, but including Lyndon Johnson. 

This was not discussed at length during the interview, but just for the record, President Johnson was responsible for enacting The Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, the appointed the first Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, the first Black cabinet officer, Robert Weaver, and the first Black member of the Federal Reserve, Andrew Brimmer. But I digress.

Alas, the focus of this post is Congressman Lewis, so this is where I close. “Donald Trump Addresses The John Lewis Issue: The Swan Interview!”

I’m done; holla back!

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Dear John: Rest In Peace!

It’s time to Break It Down!

John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) was an icon; an American hero. The man who singled-handedly popularized the phrase “Good Trouble,” slipped the surly bonds of earth 12 days ago. It is not for me to say where he will rest in eternity. All I know is he did yeoman’s work on behalf of his fellow man, while he walked this earth. Mostly he invested his life in service to the cause of civil and human rights. He sustained more than a few beatings while doing so. As a child, his mother frequently admonished him to stay out of trouble. As an adult, he committed to avail himself to “Good Trouble,” and he did so, as often as possible.

As a 23-year-old, he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. As an 80-year-old, in his last public appearance, he visited Black Lives Matter Plaza, in Washington, as protest roiled, after the death of George Floyd. He insinuated himself in “Good Trouble,” many times over the course of the span of the nearly 57 years that separated The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and his last act of valor and sacrifice. As Mr. Lewis rose to much acclaim and notoriety, perhaps no single incident was more riveting than one of the occasions during which, he almost lost his life. He marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, on what is now known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement confronted the marchers, and terrorized and beat many of them, including Lewis.

John Lewis was a longtime civil rights activist, and organizer, and the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) when he first marched with Dr. King. However, he didn’t just start fast, he finished strong. He went on to become a US. Congressman in 1987, representing Georgia’s 5th District. He sponsored important legislation, including a bill to establish the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was he first introduced in 1988. It was one of the first pieces of legislation the newly minted Congressman introduced. 

It was a long, hard-fought battle. He re-introduced the bill every year thereafter. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law in 2003. That was 15 years after Lewis initially introduced it. He was not easily deterred. The museum broke ground in 2012, and was completed and dedicated in 2016. The facility is a three-tiered, bronze building designed by David Adjaye between 14th and 15th streets. Until the coronavirus pandemic closed museums, the NMAAHC was among the top-visited Smithsonian museums, having welcomed more than 7 million visitors since its opening day.

Congressman Lewis was a warrior for civil rights and racial justice. He was the last surviving speaker of the ’63 March on Washington. In 2020, he was a sponsor of H.R. 51, the D.C. statehood bill that passed in the House of Representatives in June. One final act in his lifelong pursuit of “Good Trouble.” John Robert Lewis, a devotee of nonviolence, rose from humble beginnings in rural Troy, Alabama. His acts of courage, dedication, prescience, and the pursuit of civil rights and justice for his people were the hallmarks of his four score years on this orb. But in closing, I want to leave you with some of his most piercing and prophetic words. During his speech at the March on Washington, he said:

“To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again.

“And then you holler, ‘Be patient.’ How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now. We do not want to go to jail. But we will go to jail if this is the price we must pay for love, brotherhood, and true peace.” Loosely translated (by me), he was saying, if “Good Trouble” is what it takes, then by all means, give us “Good Trouble.”

“Dear John: Rest In Peace!” I’m done; holla back!

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Who Is That Masked Man?

It’s time to Break It Down!

The year 2020 has earned numerous mocking descriptions, based on a near apocalyptic litany of, “if it wasn’t for bad luck, there’d be none at all,” cataclysmic events, including only the third Presidential impeachment in the history of the Republic, the tragic deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash, the spread of a global pandemic, and the end of the magical string of economic and job gains that began early in the Obama era. Now as a nation, we have familiarized ourselves with an array of new nomenclature and habits ranging from COVID-19 to regular mask wearing for the most mundane of outside chores. Sports ground to a screeching halt, movie theaters shut down, schools from Pre-K to colleges and universities closed, or transitioned to online operations, and a larger than ever swath of Americans, who are still fortunate enough to have a job, are working from home.

Through it all, the one thing Americans could reliably depend on was the Leader of the Free World was spinning and weaving a tale liberally mixed with positivity, fantasy and denial. Despite, presumably being apprised and armed with the best and most accurate intel on planet earth, for months he suggested the ultimate relief was right around the corner, or just over the proverbial rainbow. Here’s a sampling of a dozen times Mr. Trump teased relief, that in reality, was nowhere in sight.

February 10th in a meeting with Governors (12 documented cases) – “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April.”

February 25th at a roundtable in New Delhi (53 documented cases) – “[China is] getting it more and more under control. So, I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away.”

February 26th during a news briefing (59 documented cases) – “Again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

February 27th at a photo opportunity at the White House (60 documented cases) – “We have done an incredible job. We’re going to continue. It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows. The fact is, the greatest experts — I’ve spoken to them all. Nobody really knows.”

March 6th during a bill signing (278 documented cases/14 deaths) – “It’ll go away.”

March 10th during a meeting on Capitol Hill (959 documented cases/28 deaths) – “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

March 12th during a bilateral meeting (1663 documented cases/40 deaths) – “You know, we need a little a separation until such time as this goes away. It’s going to go away. It’s going to go way. I was watching [former FDA administrator] Scott [Gottlieb] — I was watching Scott this morning, and he was saying within two months. … It’s going away. We want it to go away with very, very few deaths.”

March 30th during a coronavirus news briefing (161807 documented cases/2978 deaths) – “It will go away. You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away. And we’re going to have a great victory. … I want to have our country be calm and strong, and fight and win, and it will go away.”

March 31st during a coronavirus news briefing (188,172 documented cases/3873 deaths) – “It’s going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month. And, if not, hopefully it will be soon after that.”

April 3rd during a coronavirus news briefing (275,586 documented cases/7,087 deaths) – “It is going to go away. It is going away. … I said it’s going away, and it is going away.”

April 7th during a coronavirus news briefing (396, 223/12,722 deaths) – “It did go — it will go away. … The cases really didn’t build up for a while. But you have to understand, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I don’t want to create havoc and shock and everything else.”

April 28th in a news conference (1,004,908 documented cases/58000 deaths) – “I think what happens is it’s going to go away. This is going to go away.”

So, in the event anyone was to place Mr. Trump’s early spitball assessment that 15 cases would soon be zero, the cases by April 28th totaled just 92 shy of 67,000 for every one of those 15 cases he referenced on February 26th, a two-month span of time. For the record, that would total 1,005,000 cases. Yesterday, for the first time since early June, the death toll from the virus exceeded 1,000 per day. In the backdrop, Mr. Trump stood in front of a bank of reporters and TV cameras and in, given the above statements, made what amounted to a 180-degree reversal. After nearly three months, he revived the coronavirus task force and conceded the trauma that is COVID-19 would get worse before it gets better. Those who represent that as doing a great job, are undoubtedly skilled in the art of truthful hyperbole. (You either get it, or you don’t).

Over the course of the pandemic, three Golden Rule protocols emerged. They are frequent hand washing, social distancing (maintaining six feet of separation between yourself and other people especially folks with whom you do not share a household), and mask-wearing. Well before Donald Trump became a political figure, he was known to be a germaphobe, who disdained shaking hands. He revealed this nugget to the world, via his 1997 book, “The Art of the Comeback.” 

Taking into account his aversion for the microbes other people carry, it’s actually an interesting dynamic, that he resisted wearing a mask. It took months, millions of cases, and more than 100,000 deaths before he would deign to don a mask in public. At one point he offered that he refused to give the media, with which he has a perpetual battle, the satisfaction of taking his picture in a mask. While that may have been part of his motivation for what seemed both a stubborn and, under the circumstances, bizarre behavior, a likely deeper rationalization was his commitment to pitching himself as an exemplar of strength to his loyalists, and partisans. With that in mind, it is no surprise, many Trump supporters also eschew, if not downright refuse to wear a mask. In fact, a great many of them appear not to care much for social distancing either. I’m in no position to speak about their penchant for hand washing, or the lack thereof, but if they are rejecting two of the three principal protocols, they are certainly increasing their odds of contracting, or spreading the virus…or both.

A couple of interesting developments happened over the past week and a half. After publicly saying on a number of occasions, he had nothing against masks, but they were not for him, on a Saturday, July 11th trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he wore a mask in public for the first time. Then on Monday of this week, he tweeted a picture of himself wearing a mask, with the message

“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”

The message, though not resoundingly enthusiastic, positive or encouraging mask wearing, was still a sharp departure from Mr. Trump’s stance over the course of several months. His grudging acceptance of reason was welcomed by the medical and scientific communities, amid their valiant fight to subdue the virus. All things considered, it’s not even super important that the pressure for his ultimate submission was brought to bear, not by the nearly four million cases in the U.S., or as a result of the almost one hundred forty thousand deaths, but by his anemic polling, and resultant persistent efforts of his re-election team to persuade him to relent. It is what it is. What it is, was more than enough to cause me to inquire, “Who Is That Masked Man?”

I’m done; holla back!

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What A Difficult Choice: Umm, No, Not Really!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is a brief post. I’ve been inspired by memes in the past. But I’ve never, in essence, made a meme the blog. That changes today. There are anti-vaxxers, anti-elites, anti-scientists, even individuals who are anti- education. It is readily apparent that many Trump loyalists are deeply ensconced in one or more, possibly even all, of these factions. Be that as it may, we are, in my opinion, faced with a clear and compelling choice, when it comes to deciding from whom we should seek guidance, as we attempt to extricate ourselves from the morass that is COVID-19, A.K.A. coronavirus.

With that in mind, how to proceed is a function of accepting the advice and counsel of either Donald Trump or Dr. Fauci. Yes, the choice is binary; it’s just that simple. That brings me to the meme. It is framed, thusly:


Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D.:

Graduated first in his class, Cornel University, 1966

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


Expert in HIV, AIDS, SARS, Swine Flu, Ebola, & MERS

Donald J. Trump:

Allegedly cheated on his SAT’s

Brother’s friend said to have admitted him to Fordham University

Conceals his grades

Characterized by then employees and a former professor, as:

“An idiot” General John Kelly, Reince Priebus

“A f***ing morin” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

“A dope, a kindergartner” Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

“Dumb as sh*t” Economic Advisor Gary Cohn

“The dumbest student I ever had.” Wharton Professor William T. Kelley

In this case, the device provides such a pointedly succinct juxtaposition, no further narrative is required. And, as brevity is the soul of wit, I will restate the premise, and rest my case. “What A Difficult Choice: Umm, No, Not Really!”

I’m done; holla back!

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All In The Family: Dissing Don!

It’s time to Break It Down!

It has seemed for years now as though, we are living in an alternate universe. However, taking nothing away from the last three years of the Twenty-teens (2017-2019), 2020 has been downright other worldly. When the House of Representatives voted on December 18, to impeach Donald Trump (230-197 on one Resolution accusing abuse of power, and 229-198 on another, alleging obstruction of Congress), no one I know imagined that in six months, for most Americans, impeachment would have virtually disappeared from the daily narrative of news cycles. And not because we returned to some sense of normalcy, at least as far as the Trump era is concerned, but because a pandemic, the likes of which the world haven’t seen in more than a century (1918), has roiled our nation, and the world.

There are folks, most notably Donald Trump and his loyalists, who will tell you full-throatedly, that the pandemic is over. Both he and they insist, that he has navigated the currents of the pandemic expertly, and that he has been right on everything, from asserting the prophylactic effects of hydroxychloroquine, to lauding the curative powers of human ingestion and/or, injection of disinfectants. Keep in mind, that on February 26, Mr. Trump boasted, “You have 15 people, and the 15, within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. By April 28th, there had been a million confirmed cases in the United States. Today, cases exceed three million, and over 130,000 have died from the disease. Moreover, through yesterday, the number of cases was rising in 37 states, and falling in only 4 states, all in New England. Cases in Arizona, California, Florida and Georgia are rising at alarming rates.

But, as you were probably able to glean from the title, above, COVID-19 is not the focus of this post. The preceding paragraph was just a not so subtle reminder that, as Mark Twain said of his own demise, the rumors of COVID-19’s death, have been greatly exaggerated. But, I digress.

It looks as though we are about to see another Trump-centric book drop, this one courtesy of a family member. Mr. Trump’s niece, Mary Trump has written a new book, entitled, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” It’s scheduled to hit the shelves next Tuesday, July 14th.

As with a number of books about Donald Trump, Mr. Trump, or those close to him, launched a series of legal gymnastics to halt publication of the book. As with John Bolton’s tome, last month, efforts to scuttle release of the book were unsuccessful. Bolton’s book dished about numerous insider details from the Trump administration. Ms. Trump’s insights also originate from a proximate perspective; one based not on political connections, but from familial ties.

Mary Trump is the daughter of Donald Trump’s now deceased elder brother, Fred Trump, Jr. Ms. Trump holds a Ph.D. in Psychology, and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She assails Trump in the book with scathing criticism on a number of fronts, including:

1. Labeling him a sociopath

2. Charging him with willful ignorance and hubris

3. Asserting he used complicity, silence and inaction to destroy her father

4. Accusing him of displaying a blatant sociopathic disregard for human life in his response to the coronavirus, as well as throughout his business career, the handling of her father’s struggles with alcoholism, and dysfunction and infighting within the family

5, Comparing him him to an unloved 3-year-old with a fragile ego, in constant need of bolstering, because he knows he is not what he claims to be

6. Alleging that he enlisted and paid a smart kid (whom she names) to take his SAT, due to concerns about his grades

7. Claiming that Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, accused Trump of using the death of Fred, Jr. for political purposes, by citing it while addressing the Opioid crisis

8. Describing Trump’s rise in NY Real Estate as predicated on his father’s financial support, which was necessary, due to Donald’s shortcomings

9. Citing Trump’s relationship with Attorney Roy Cohn as the catalyst for some of his notable current behaviors, including dishonesty and lack of empathy

10. Characterizing Donald’s relationship with Fred, Sr., as akin to that of the border wall to Donald Trump; a vanity project, funded at the expense of more worthy pursuits

The ten items above are just a few of the nuggets included in Dr. Trump’s book. I’m not promoting the book, or, using this post as an occasion to get in any extra digs at Mr. Trump. Rather this piece is to elevate one more point of view regarding the phenomenon that is Donald Trump. Buy it, don’t buy it; the choice is yours. Obviously, I don’t get a red cent from the proceeds, so I really couldn’t care less. What I am vested in, is spreading the news from any available vantage point about a creditable view of the principal occupant of the White House.

As a counterpoint, White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Matthews, said of the book, “It’s clearly in the author’s own financial self-interest.” She added, of the allegation Trump had someone else take his SAT’s, that is was “absurd” and “completely false.” Considering the many self-aggrandizing references Mr. Trump makes to himself being a big-brained stable genius, this particular point must be one Donald Trump finds deeply irritating. As for Mary Trump’s personal financial interest being served, well, duh! That’s hardly an argument against the basic claims laid out by Ms. Trump.

The first link below will take you to a story that gives more details about the Simon and Schuster book. Clearly, there are a lot of people who want you to know, what they know, about Donald Trump, as we head to November, and the much ballyhooed most important election to date, in our lifetimes. There have been, and will be lots more, books written about Presidents. It’s fair to say there may never have been one quite like this; written by, not just a close associate of a sitting President, but by a close family member who has known the principal, up close and in person, for decades, and with a less than favorable narrative.

No matter what one thinks of Donald Trump, nor of Mary Trump’s motives, she has been privy to some of the most intimate long-term family dynamics of Donald J. Trump. She has told her story, and from all pre-release accounts, it’s not a pretty tale. “All In The Family: Dissing Don!”

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The Governor Signed A Bill: Mississippi Set “To Be Reconciled And To Move On”

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last week, it was NASCAR, yesterday, it was the state of Mississippi. Governor Tate Reeves signed into law a bill that, symbolically, let its people go. Mississippi was the sole remaining state to feature the Confederate insignia in its official flag. 

One supposes, given the independence of states, some state had to be last. For example, New Hampshire, didn’t adopt and observe the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, until the year 2000, fourteen years, after it was adopted as a federal holiday, in 1986. In retrospect, The Granite State acted swiftly. The Civil War ended with General Robert E. Lee’ surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia, April 9, 1865. It took 155 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days for The Magnolia State to relinquish The Lost Cause. Whoosah!

OK, so technically, Mississippi didn’t adopt the flag, which has red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in one corner, until 1894. With that historical caveat, it’s fair to note that the banner waved over the state Capitol Building in Jackson for 126 years. It’s surely less than 155 years, but for contextual purposes, that was 15 years before the oldest living Mississippian on record, Mrs. Malinda Johnson, who was born (1909 in Carroll County, MS), and 11 years prior to the birth of the oldest living American on record, Mrs. Hester Ford, who was born (1905 in Lancaster, SC; moved to Charlotte, NC in 1953). In other words, there is no one living today who was alive when Mississippi adopted the flag that it flew until yesterday.

Governor Reeves, a Republican, had this to say about the change, before signing the historic legislation:

“This is not a political moment to me, but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together to be reconciled and to move on.”

Yesterday’s signing capped a swift referendum on the flag by the state Legislature. The bill passed Sunday. The Governor had committed to sign it if it reached his desk. A commission will now design a new flag, including the words, “In God We Trust,” and without the Confederate emblem. Mississippi voters will vote on the new design in November.

The Governor also said:

“I know there are people of goodwill who are not happy to see this flag changed. They fear a chain reaction of events erasing our history — a history that is no doubt complicated and imperfect.”

I understand those concerns and am determined to protect Mississippi from that dangerous outcome.”

A couple of weeks ago, in my Memorial Day post, I wrote about Old Glory, our nation’s flag, and the various flags that represented the Confederacy during its four-year tenure. Flags, banners, symbols emblems, and insignia representing the Confederacy have long been divisive proxies in American society. As with Confederate statues, the symbols have sparked an element of divisiveness in our country. Critics note that the flag represents the war to uphold slavery, while supporters call it a sign of Southern pride and heritage. Frequently, all of these symbols have been increasingly used as a rallying call for white supremacists. Moreover, the principal source of pride, of heritage, and even the most notable state’s right in the region was the right to own slaves as chattel property. Indeed, if cotton were King, slaves were metaphorically, the mint, working the land, and generating the King’s wealth.

As Americans, we often like to think of ourselves as exceptional. And there is no doubt, both individually, and as a nation, we are home to many extraordinary individuals, accomplishments, inventions, and discoveries. It is in that light, whenever I speak of, or write about the Confederacy, its flags, statues, and array of symbols, it is important to frame the discourse within the context of one simple observation. At the end of the day, no matter how magical anyone may have thought the period was, the Confederacy lost. That’s right, it L-O-S-T! It lost the war, and it lost the right to lord its symbols over the people it tried to claim as perpetual property, and over vast portions of the United States of America, and the many patriots, including slaves, who fought to ensure that such a perniciously evil and capricious system would neither carry the day, nor govern our nation. And when one thinks about that way, it really was not exceptional, in any way, form, or fashion.

Governor Reeves said all the right things. I hope he, and Mississippians of goodwill are committed to see it through to fruition, and that they succeed in avoiding the dangerous chain reaction outcome that he noted some of them fear. I wish them continued blessings, and Godspeed. “The Governor Signed A Bill: Mississippi Set ‘To Be Reconciled And To Move On!‘”

I’m done; holla back!

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Donald Trump: One Republican’s Take Down!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Every now and then I run across a point of view (POV) expressed so powerfully and poignantly, that coincidentally mirrors my view on a particular subject at that moment in time, that instead of creating a post, I, instead, share that POV. Given that prologue, you already know, today is one of those days.

Unlike most of the precedent posts of this sort from me, today’s contribution comes to you via third hand transference. Chris Cillizza, a CNN commentator wrote about an analysis of Donald Trump constructed, and shared by Steve Schmidt, one of the principal architects, and one of four founders, of a what is likely the most famous, or depending on your perspective, infamous, anti-Trump groups. As someone who works for CNN, Trump loyalists may contend that label applies to Cillizza too. Schmidt, however, brings an entirely different perspective and set of bona fides to the table. He is a founder of The Lincoln Project

Mr. Schmidt is a longtime (as in lifelong) Republican, and has deep ties to the GOP establishment, and to the Party’s orthodoxy. Of course, in contemporary reckoning, those are not necessarily perceived as the value adding components they would have been before Trump became the Master of the Republican Universe. Still, Schmidt’s involvement in the Party apparatus runs deep. He ran John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, he worked on Lamar Alexander’s 2000 presidential campaign, he worked on Capitol Hill for Republicans, he served as communications director of the House GOP’s campaign arm, and he helped Arnold Schwarzenegger become California’s Republican Governor, in addition to running Senator McCain’s presidential campaign. He has been a partisan GOP fighter for most of his life.

In other words, he is deeply ensconced, and long-term invested in Republican supremacy, as it relates to the American political landscape. Cillizza described Schmidt’s commentary as, “Brutal.” This is his unvarnished summarization of the Trump Effect:     

“Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don’t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.

When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don’t use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We’ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country whose ever been charged with substantial responsibilities. 

It’s just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he’s the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he’s brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let’s be clear. This isn’t happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you’re the most likely to die from this disease. We’re the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk.”

On it’s face, it is difficult to imaging a 3-paragraph narrative doing justice to the withering assault with which Mr. Trump has single-handedly pummeled our nation. However, if it could be done, I submit Schmidt had presented the definitive template. For his part, Cillizza doubled down by insisting that, despite its tone and tenor, Schmidt’s comments encapsulated “a decidedly succinct assessment of what Trump’s conduct in office — from coronavirus to protests over police brutality and back — have meant to the Republican Party and the country.” In thoughtful reflection, I can earnestly report, I concur. “Donald Trump: One Republican’s Take Down!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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Old Glory: One Nation, One Flag!

It’s time to Break It Down!

A year ago, at this time, I penned a post discussing the Toronto Raptors ascent to the NBA Title. I mention it today, only to underscore the fact the League hasn’t had a game in over three months, and is currently immersed in discussions to determine if, when, where, and how it will proceed to complete its season, and crown this year’s Champion. As a fan of the game, I remain hopeful that they figure it out, and let the games resume. It won’t be the same, but it will be better than ending the season with a “No Decision” verdict.

Today’s commentary will be brief. I frequently issue a special post around holidays. That saves time, but also is something I do in recognition of the fact that most folks have better things to do with their holiday breaks, than spend time reading blogs. Of course, in the age of COVID-19, the myriad of commitments to which we are normally tethered, is considerably lessened. Moreover, this weekend’s holiday, Flag Day (this past Sunday), is not one that was accompanied by days off, and may be officially considered a day of commemoration or observance, rather than an actual holiday. Still, I am opting to highlight it today.

Some people feel that during the span of this administration, we have been engaged in a series of culture wars. As I write that, I am aware there are those who will insist the culture wars predate this administration. And they do. But the temperature on most of them has been continuously elevating for the past three and a half years, often with considerable help from the chief occupant of 1600 PA Ave. 

These battles, and in some circles, there are genuine battles, though most are of the rhetorical variety, tend to revolve around topics such as race, class, economics and principally, for the purposes of this post, the Flag. So, let’s get to it. We are Americans, and as such, citizens, and/or striving to become citizens of the United States, emphasis on United. Our Flag, which the President has made quite a kerfuffle over, from time to time, is Old Glory, A.K.A., The Stars and Stripes.

For the brief duration of its existence, the Confederate States of America, A.K.A., the Confederacy, had three flags, between 1861 and 1865. Those flags were known as the “Stars and Bars,” (1861-1863, the “Stainless Banner,” (1863-1865), and the “Blood-Stained Banner,” used in 1865 from shortly before the Confederacy’s dissolution until the hostilities ceased. There was also a rejected national flag design used as a battle flag by the Confederate army, featuring elements of the “Stainless Banner” and the “Blood-Stained Banner” designs. 

While this particular design was never a national flag, it is commonly recognized as a symbol of the Confederacy. The Confederate States of America (CSA) waged war against the United States, in what is commonly called The Civil War. The CSA lost! In other words, the battle flag is the quintessential symbol of resistance, and ultimately, of the lost cause. Notably, it is the banner most frequently at the center of conflict, over the so-called (because it was never adopted), Confederate Flag. In the final analysis, and in the simplest of terms, it is the symbol and emblem of, to put it delicately, L-O-S-E-R-S!

As referenced earlier, Sunday (June 14th) was Flag Day. I posted a meme acknowledging the occasion, that in my opinion, was the be all-end all to the Flag discourse. It was short and simple, as every definitive statement should be concise. Shakespeare opined in Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” The meme displayed Old Glory on a flagpole, fluttering against the backdrop of a blue sky, sandwiched between the words, THE ONLY U.S. FLAG THAT MATTERS, atop, and SINCE 1865!, underneath.

Mic drop; case closed”Old Glory: One Nation, One Flag!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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Root Cause Analysis: This Didn’t Begin With George Floyd

It’s time to Break It Down!

George Floyd, 46, died May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Cause of death, homicide by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” when his neck and back were compressed by police officers for eight minutes and 46 seconds. The pressure cut off the flow of blood to his brain, an independent autopsy determined.

In the 15 nights that have ensued since then, a series of protests have arisen in over 75 cities across the United States, and indeed, worldwide. As May gave way to June, and we find ourselves on the cusps of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), or winter (in the Southern Hemisphere), it appears that, here in the United States, we are well on the way to our next long hot summer.

Over these two and a half weeks, I have read and listened to countless debates about the tenor and tone of the protests, a number of which have turned violent. The protests, not the conversations.

Some folks argue that protesters are working at cross purposes with their own interests. They suggest that protesters are simply using Mr. Floyd’s untimely demise as an excuse for rioting and looting. This view seems to be particularly prevalent among conservatives/Republicans. An NBC News/The Wall Street Journal poll of 745 Registered Voters found that of those polled, 81% of Democrats, and 59% of Independents were more concerned about George Floyd’s death and the actions of police, than with violent protests. Conversely, only 29% of Republicans shared that perspective. 

In other words, nearly 6 in 10 Independents, and more than 8 in 10 Democrats were more concerned about Mr. Floy’s death, and the draconian, and irresponsible actions that led to it. Concomitantly, less than 3 in 10 Republicans were more concerned about the death than the reactions to the murder, or public lynching, as it has been deemed in some circles. The polling had a +/- 3.5 points error ratio.

George Perry Floyd, Jr., was a human being, an African American, a man, a son, a father, a brother, and a person who had lived in 4 states across the American South, Southwest, and Midwest. H mattered. He was a native North Carolinian, born in Fayetteville. His life mattered. But for all the reasons Mr. Floyd’s life, and especially his death, will forever be tied to America’s 2020 Summer of Discontent, notwithstanding, he is not the cause, but rather a symptom of the current societal angst and turmoil.

Herewith, the primer. If you subscribe to American folklore, you might believe that police, as we know them today, are as old as the Republic. They are not. The earliest policing was an informal practice, based on a for profit, privately funded model, employing part-timers. Some towns employed a “night watch” in which volunteers signed up for a certain day and time, mostly to look out for fellow colonists engaging in gambling or prostitution. Boston, the first, started one in 1636, New York followed in 1658, and Philadelphia created one in 1700. It was very inefficient, because the watchmen often slept and drank while on duty, and there were people who were placed on watch duty as a form of punishment.

The night-watch officers were supervised by a constable. That wasn’t a highly sought-after position either. Early policemen didn’t want to wear badges because these guys had bad reputations to begin with, and they didn’t want to be identified as people other people didn’t like. When communities tried compulsory service, “if you were rich enough, you paid someone to do it for you – ironically, a criminal or a community thug. As the nation grew, different regions made use of different policing systems.

The first publicly funded, organized police force with officers on duty full-time, like the first night watch system, was created in Boston, in 1838, just over two hundred years later. In the South however, the economics that drove the creation of police forces were centered not on the protection of shipping interests, such as in Boston, but on the preservation of the slavery system. Therefore, slave patrols were among the primary Southern policing institutions. The first formal patrols were created in the Carolina colonies in 1704. These entities had three primary functions: (1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules.

During the Civil War, the military became the primary form of law enforcement in the South. Over the course of Reconstruction, many local sheriffs functioned in ways analogous to the earlier slave patrols, enforcing segregation, and maintaining the disenfranchisement of freed slaves. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved into modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing “Jim Crow” segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system.

As the nation evolved, so did the methods and schemes designed to maintain order, in part by keeping the black man down, even if it meant separating him from his most valued possession; his life. Throughout the eras, from Slavery (1619-1865), to Reconstruction (1862-1877), to Jim Crow (1877-1954), to  Civil Rights (1954-1965), to Modern times 1965-Present), as rights and freedoms have evolved, so have the mechanisms used to disenfranchise and deprive black Americans from full and complete participation in fruits of our so-called exceptional country. The bottom line is black men were beaten and lynched in1620, and the same is true in 2020. That it happened 400 years ago stains the pompous assertion of exceptionality. That this wack and violent measure was used to kill black men in the 17th century was a travesty. That the tactic is still employed in the 21st century renders bogus, the premise that America is exceptional, at least in a positive way.

That contemporary law enforcement officers act in a capacity akin to 18th century slave patrols, in effect, hunting down, and/or killing black men without cause, or consequence, is the reason we are experiencing the current level of civil disobedience, unrest, and violence. In response, to those individuals who would prefer us to suffer in silence, and not act out, we have largely done that, and policemen and women are still killing black men. We are constantly told, these acts are the purview of a few bad apples, yet, the preponderance of good apples seldom reigns in the bad apples, and in fact, often sides with, and defends them. Just this past weekend, 57 Buffalo officers resigned because two of their colleagues were suspended for shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground, resulting in a cracked skull, and other severe injuries. The 57 officers comprised the entire Buffalo Police Department emergency response team. The officers will still be employed by the department but will no longer work on the emergency response team. Where were the good apples?

Consider that not long ago, Colin Kapernick, and other NFL players who kneeled as the National Anthem was played at football games to protest police violence against black men and women, were deemed S.O.B.’s, by the individual considered the leader of the free world. Today, the NFL Commissioner (and a litany of other business executives) says the League made a mistake in how it treated players, who were apparently ahead of their time in peacefully protesting the termination of black lives by officers of the law. What changed? Yes, Mr. Floyd was killed, but that in itself merely added to the too rapidly mounting carnage total. The ante was raised substantially by the ensuing protests. Corporations have committed to donate $billions to help right the many wrongs, in what amounts to the government sponsored plundering of black lives. I haven’t heard Mr. Trump amend his position on the subject. Of course he hasn’t recanted his DNA obliterated position on the Central Park 5 either, so, I’m not holding my breath. But it’s clear, numerous executives, businesses, and leaders, propelled by good will, common sense, and yes, a few videos, have come to see the light on the issue. That’s is at least a start. Black America does not need or want to get something off its collective chest. No, we want and need an end to systemic racism, and for police officers to take their knees off our necks, stop shooting us when we are unarmed, or when we are armed (since we have Second Amendment rights too), and posing no threat. Is that too much to ask?

In conclusion, the point is, Mr. Floyd’s death was the result of a senseless act of violence, and as The Reverend Al Sharpton said during Mr. Floyd’s eulogy, yesterday, a crime. The local police union and others are trying to shift the focus and responsibility to Mr. Floyd. His record has become a source of deflection. This, in spite of the fact that Officer Derek Chauvin, who’s knee to the neck, caused Mr. Floyd to expire, is the subject of 18 prior complaints, only two of which were closed with disciplinary action. This is an example of the kind of case, in which officers are often exonerated, or, simply not charged in the first place. It just so happened that Mr. Floyd’s case was captured, virtually from start to finish, on video. Chauvin was one of four officers involved at the scene. The three others, participated, either directly, or by shielding bystanders from intervening. None of them stopped Chauvin or administered CPR after Mr. Floyd stopped breathing and/or ceased to show signs of a pulse.  Moreover, consider this. It’s still not considered an open and shut case. That, in a nutshell, is why an inordinate number of people, and not just black people, but Americans of all persuasions, as well as individuals from other countries around the world, are in an uproar, or, paraphrase Fannie Lou Hamer’s immortal words, spoken 56 years ago, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” To wit…“Root Cause Analysis: This Didn’t Begin With George Floyd!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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57 members of Buffalo police riot response team resign after shoving incident

High Stakes Poker: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?

It’s time to Break It Down!

Let me begin at the end. My assessment is, this isn’t over yet!

So Mr. Trump asserted yesterday that the GOP will be “forced” to find a new state to host their convention as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stands by his demand that party leaders provide him with plans for a scaled down event amid coronavirus concerns. Bravo. Trump’s tough guy antics are cheered by many in his Party, and are absolutely drawing rave reviews from his hard-core supporters. Some of his most avid allies claim Trump enjoys the enthusiastic support of 97% of Republicans, a number, which they say, is a record.

I am hearing that Republicans believe Governor Cooper is a (politically) dead man walking. They contend the Governor is at best misplaying a bad hand, and at worse, outright overplaying it. They are thoroughly confident that Trump will not only be easily re-elected, but that the pending red wave will lead to reclaiming all the seats the GOP lost in the midterm elections, and, of course, that Governor Cooper is toast.

This is an interesting kerfuffle, to say the least. Not that long ago, Mr. Trump blithely deferred to Governors when it was time to make a decision on whether to develop and execute shutdown measures to blunt the spread of the coronavirus. He spoke, almost demurely, of federalism, and the role and responsibility of the Governors to figure it out for themselves. Some skeptics and cynics might conclude he was reticent to make the call, because like Pontius Pilate, he didn’t want his fingerprints to be associated with those actions. Because, of course, any downturn that might result from shuttering businesses, would have the effect of putting a damper on his self-proclaimed greatest economy ever…and subsequently complicate his bid for re-election.

Sure enough, while the virus had yet to peak in a number of states, he suddenly dispensed with the virtue of federalism, which he contended prevented him from invoking shutdowns, and proclaimed that it was time to open up, and that he personally would override any Governor who didn’t allow churches to re-open. Well, the move appeared to help him feel that he had reignited his mojo.

On Monday, the erstwhile, in control of everything, self-proclaimed law and order president made his way across Pennsylvania Ave. for a photo-op at historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been subjected to fire damage the previous evening, during protests of the death of George Floyd. Ahead of him, law enforcement officials used smoke canisters and rubber bullets to disperse, what according to most news outlets on the scene, were peaceful protesters. It was initially reported that tear gas was employed. That was lated denied.

Tuesday, the events were reimagined, and the new narrative was that Attorney General Barr had ordered the show of force. For a guy who claims the ultimate authority, declares himself in control of everything, and who bragged about dominating, and emphasized the need to dominate ”unlawful” protesters, dominating lawful protesters, and hiding behind his AG in the wake of broad-based public pushback, is not a good look. In fact, to use Trumpian vernacular, it was weak.

But that brings us to yesterday, and his threat, or was it a bluff, to snatch the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Charlotte, and North Carolina. A number of Republicans on the ground, in and around Charlotte, claim Governor Cooper is playing politics. All I know is, when it was time to make the call on Stay-at-home orders, Mr. Trump was (again) happy to use someone else, Governors in that case, as human shields. Now, he sees an opportunity to put pressure on a Governor in a purple/swing state to submit to his “dominating” pressure. He see’s himself, as holding all the cards.

If the Governor folds, and accedes to Trump’s bluster, he has bent to the will of the omnipotent POTUS. If he resists, and adheres to actions he believes are in the best interest of the citizens of his state, and, I might add, anyone from out of state, who might be attending the Convention, he will be characterized as depriving the city and state of jobs, and the branding spotlight of hosting the convention. This latter posture will undoubtedly energize his base.

But let’s be clear. Trump is all about the glitz and glamor of the show. Between now and August, and between August and November, he’ll create dozens of political donnybrooks, and complain of countless sleights to manipulate Team Trump. And they will dutifully respond.

I have no idea what Governor Cooper will do. I have the sense he is relying upon North Carolina’s official healthcare professionals and experts to provide guidance about what to require of the RNC, in the way of an acceptable plan. I hope he will weigh all the pertinent factors and apply his best judgment.

It’s worth noting there are a lot of people in the Charlotte community who think the City should never have bid on the RNC, and who certainly believe local elected officials should not have consummated the deal. In the fog of the current nationwide unrest, stemming from Mr… Floyd’s death, amnesia abounds. It seems there is a collective forgetfulness, as a number of cities claim to be lining up to embrace the RNC, should Trump and company actually move it, that when this deal was made, Charlotte was essentially the only bidder. That was in no small part, due to the toxicity of the Party Leader, and the GOP Brand. A Leader and Brand, I might add, that have not in any discernible way, been enhanced since that time, to anyone but Trump loyalists. Perhaps, that’s all it will take for them to succeed.

I’ve been surprised before, and I could be surprised again. But, as I said at the outset, my assessment is, this isn’t over yet. High Stakes Poker: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at; 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: