Trump Acts Like A Mobster; Pleads the Fifth More Than 400 Times

It’s time to Break It Down!

What a difference a quadrennial makes. Four years ago, Donald Trump said:

“You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

Last August, in a ironic twist, The Donald invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 400 times during his deposition with office of New York Attorney General Letitia James. Newly released video shows he repeated the same answer for nearly four hours. The deposition was part of a $250 million fraud lawsuit by the Empire State against Trump, three of his adult children, and his business.

The video showed Trump refused to answer any questions during the four-hour deposition on August 10th.

Trump answered the first three questions of the deposition with: “For all of the reasons provided by my answer, which is incorporated herein in its entirety, I decline to answer the question.”

NY AG James’ team told Trump that to speed things up, he could respond to the questions with, “same answer.” 

Most of the rest of the deposition was the voice of the AG senior enforcement counsel Kevin Wallace, who noted for the record that ‘obviously, we disagree with a lot of the characterizations in Trump’s statement.

When Trump showed up in downtown Manhattan for the deposition, he’d inexplicably (not really) evolved his position. There he said:

“This whole thing is very unfair. Anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool, and absolute fool.” 

I respectfully decline to answer questions under the rights and privileges afforded every citizen under the United States Constitution, on the advice of counsel.

This will be my answer to any further questions.”

And just like that, the imperious Donald the Intrepid, developed a brand-new attitude, and surprise, surprise, a whole new-found appreciation for the viability and applicability of the Fifth Amendment. Whoever said, old dogs can’t learn new tricks?

A little over a month after the deposition, on September 21, AG James announced her office’s suit against Trump, the three kids, and the business for inflating the value of their properties. All four Trumps denied any wrongdoing.

Despite his repeated “same answer” responses, The Donald appeared to weigh at least some of the questions posed. At one point he leaned forward, crossed his arms, and studied financial documents handed to him by AG counsel Wallace. Then, he uttered, “same answer.”

This is just one of several pending legal actions directed at Trump, both civil and criminal. These suits, combined with the active presidential campaign Trump is waging will make for a unique campaign season. There are sure to be further developments. Stay tuned. “Trump Acts Like a Mobster; Pleads The Fifth More Than 400 Times!”

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11697855/New-video-shows-Trump-pleading-Fifth-400-times-Letitia-James-deposition.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-deposed-ny-ag-civil-probe-business-practices-rcna42355

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-invokes-fifth-amendment-after-saying-the-mob-does-that-2022-8

And Another One…

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday, Donald Trump, former President, withdrew a lawsuit challenging NY AG Letitia James’ investigation into the Trump Organization. It was the second case Mr. Trump dropped; just days after dropping a case attempting to block access to his personal trust.

Lawyers for both Trump and James said, of the one-page filing they submitted, they reached agreement to dismiss the appeal with prejudice, which precludes the case from being revived in the future.

Last year, in May, Mr. Trump appealed a federal judge’s ruling that allowed James’ investigation into the Trump Organization to proceed. The judge dismissed Trump’s argument that James, a Democrat, was driven by political animus, and was investigating Trump in bad faith.

This past September AG James sued Trump, his three eldest children and the Trump Organization alleging they were involved in a decade long fraud that misled lenders, insurers, and tax authorities to enrich themselves. James is seeking $250 million in the suit.

Team Trump has denied wrongdoing. According to Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, the appeal was withdrawn for strategic purposes. There may be some question about whether that’s true. But then again, if anyone knows lawsuits, it’s Donald Trump.

In announcing the news, AG James said:

“I’m pleased that Donald Trump has withdrawn both of his pending actions against my office. As we have shown all along, we have a legitimate legal case against him and his organization, and we cannot be bullied or dissuaded from pursuing it.”

Earlier, on Friday, Trump withdrew a lawsuit he filed in November seeking to stop the AG’s office from obtaining documents and records from the personal trust he set up to hold his business interests after becoming president.

Additionally, last week, Judge Donald Middlebrooks – who was overseeing the trust lawsuit – sanctioned Trump and a different set of attorneys $937,989 for a lawsuit Trump brought against Hillary Clinton, former top Justice Department officials and several others alleging they conspired against him in his 2016 campaign.

In his finding, Judge Middlebrooks said:

“No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.

The appeal withdrawn yesterday was made to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in NY, and is not tied to Judge Middlebrooks, who is seated on the bench in Florida’s Southern District.

At a glance, it appears several Mr. Trump’s legal gymnastics are failing, falling flat on their face… “And Another One…!”

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/24/politics/trump-letitia-james-withdraws-lawsuit/index.html

MLK, Jr.: Quotes You Don’t Remember…Or Perhaps Never Heard (Relayed by Nikole Hannah-Jones) Redux

It’s time to Break It Down!

Solomon Peña, who lost his 2022 bid for New Mexico state House District 14, was arrested Monday by an Albuquerque SWAT team for allegedly paying and conspiring with four men to shoot at the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners in December and January, authorities said. No one was injured but investigators said Peña intended to cause serious injury or death. Peña, attributed his defeat to a “rigged” election is accused of masterminding a series of shootings targeting the homes of elected Democrats. But I digress. Consider this batschitt craziness an FYI!. It’s not the topic of today’s post.

Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Over the years, I’ve written a post about Dr. King, the holiday, and how it came to pass. Today, I am again revisiting a post I initially wrote and posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011, and that I reprised January 18, 2017, January 17, 2018, and again, January 23, 2019, examining the advent of the King Holiday. It’s been 37 years since the initial observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (MLK DAY), and 40 years since President Reagan signed the MLK, Jr. Holiday bill into law. Contemporary events continue to remind us that now is an apt time to look into the rearview mirror of time.

After over three decades of inculcation into the very fabric of our society, it may be largely forgotten that the conceptualization, submission and continual resubmission of the idea, the enactment, and the gradual national observance, was not the product of universal acceptance of a grand and enlightened concept, but rather, was emblematic of the civil rights struggle itself; steeped in controversy, and the eventual victory of a relentless movement to achieve richly deserved, and long overdue social justice.

Several members of Congress, a number of states, and even a President, using a host of creative means, sought to undermine, outmaneuver, sabotage, subvert, and otherwise derail the efforts of the measure’s proponents. Ultimately, the movement was consolidated, snowballed, and would simply not be thwarted.

The effort to create a King Holiday was started by U.S. Representative John Conyers, Michigan, shortly after Dr. King’s death, in the spring of 1968. It was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 1979 but fell 5 votes short of the number needed for passage in the Lower Chamber.

High profile opponents to the measure included Senator Jesse Helms, NC, Senator John McCain, AZ, and President Ronald Reagan. Both Senators voted against the bill, and Senator McCain publicly supported Arizona Governor Evan Mecham for his rescission of MLK Day as a State Holiday in Arizona. The campaign however, reached a critical mass in the early 1980’s. Spurred on by Stevie Wonder penning a song in King’s honor called, “Happy Birthday,” a petition drive to support the campaign would attract over 6 million signatures. It has been called the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. History.

Buttressed by what had become a wildly successful public campaign, Congress soon followed suit. The proposal passed in the House by a vote of 338-90, and in the Upper Chamber by a vote of 78-22. Given the dimensions of this overwhelming support, in the form of bicameral veto-proof votes, President Reagan signed the provision November 2, 1983, and it became Federal Law. The first observance under the new law took place January 20, 1986, rather than on January 15th, Dr. King’s birthday. A compromise in the legislation specified that the observance take place on the Third Monday in January, consistent with prior legislation (Uniform Monday Holiday Act).

Of course, that was not the end of the story. It would take more than 30 years after Dr. King’s death before the Holiday was fully adopted and observed in all 50 states. Illinois holds the distinction of being the first State to adopt MLK Day as a State Holiday, having done so in 1973. Twenty years later, in 1993, for the first time, some form of MLK Day was held in each of the 50 States.

It was not until 2000 that South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges signed a bill to make MLK Day a paid holiday for State employees; giving the Palmetto State the dubious distinction of being the last of the 50 States to do so. However, Mississippi also sets itself apart by designating the Third Monday in January as a shared Holiday that honors the memory of Robert E. Lee and Dr. King…two fine southern gentlemen.

Summer before last, after entertaining a whirlwind, on again off again, job offer at UNC, journalist, McArthur Fellow, Pulitzer Prize winner, and UNC alum Nikole Hannah-Jones opted to choose Howard University as her next employer, over UNC. Ms. Hannah-Jones, who gained notoriety for her work on the 1619 Project, has become a lightning rod for discourse around issues of civil rights, and the much-ballyhooed topic known as Critical Race Theory, #CRT.

A year ago, NH-J was invited to give an MLK speech on Monday. She discovered that a few members of the group hosting her wrote and subsequently leaked emails opposing her giving the speech. Those who opposed her felt it dishonored Dr. King to do so and characterized her as a “discredited activist” “unworthy of such association with King.”

This insight motivated her to call an audible. She scrapped her original speech and spent the first half of her speech reading excerpts from several of Dr. King’s speeches…without revealing that they were his words. She subbed BLACK for Negro, to avoid dating the material and giving away the fact that it was from over half a century ago. Literally, that’s all it took to transport to 2022.

Here is some of Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 2022 MLK, Jr. Day speech:

“It was in the year 1619 that the first BLACK slave was brought to the shores of this nation. They were brought here from the soils of Africa and unlike the Pilgrim fathers who landed here at Plymouth a year later, they were brought here against their will…”

“White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society…The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and racism…”

“The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power. A nation that continues year after year to spend more $ on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

“The crowning achievement in hypocrisy must go to those staunch Republicans and Democrats of the Midwest and West who were given land by our government when they came here as immigrants from Europe. They were given education through the land grant colleges…”

“These are the same people that now say to black people, whose ancestors were brought to this country in chains and who were emancipated in 1863 without being given land to cultivate or bread to eat; that they must pull themselves up by their own bootstraps…”

“What they truly advocate is Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor… “We know full well that racism is still that hound of hell which dogs the tracks of our civilization.”

“Ever since the birth of our nation, White America has had a Schizophrenic personality on the question of race, she has been torn between selves. A self in which she proudly professes the great principle of democracy and a self in which she madly practices the antithesis of democracy.”

“The fact is, there has never been a single, solid, determined commitment on the part of the vast majority of white Americans to genuine equality for Black people.”

“The step backwards has a new name today, it is called the white backlash, but the white backlash is nothing new. It is the surfacing of old prejudices, hostilities and ambivalences that have always been there…”

“The white backlash of today is rooted in the same problem that has characterized America ever since the black man landed in chains on the shores of this nation.”

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance…with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that BLACK AMERICANS HAVE come far enough.”

“…for the good of America, it is necessary to refute the idea that the dominant ideology in our country, even today, is freedom and equality and that racism is just an occasional departure from the norm on the part of a few bigoted extremists.”

“If America does not respond creatively to the challenge to banish racism, some future historian will have to say, that a great civilization died because it lacked the soul and commitment to make justice a reality for all men.”

“Why do white people seem to find it so difficult to understand that the Black people are sick and tired of having reluctantly parceled out to THEM those rights and privileges which all others receive upon birth or entry in America?”

“I never cease to wonder at the amazing presumption of much of white society, assuming that they have the right to bargain with the BLACK for their freedom…”

Oh, the uncomfortable silence as I read Dr. King’s words at a commemoration of Dr. King’s life when people had no idea that these were his words. When I revealed that everything I said to that point was taken from his speeches between ’56 and 67… Can you say SHOOK!

Then I read all the names that white Americans called King: charlatan, demagogue, communist, traitor — and brought out the polling showing more than three-quarters of Americans opposed King at his death while 94 percent approve of him now.

I left them with this: People who oppose today what he stood for back then do not get to be the arbiters of his legacy. The real Dr. King cannot be commodified, homogenized, and white-washed and whatever side you stand on TODAY is the side you would have been back then.

In fact, most white Americans in 1963 opposed the March on Washington where Dr. King gave the “I Have A Dream” Speech with that one line that people oppose to anti-racism like to trot out against those working for racial justice.

When the speech was over, Father Pfleger, who had been cheering me on from the crowd, whispered in my ear: That’s what you call the “You Gone Learn Today” speech.

“This is why the 1619 Project exists. This is why the decades of scholarship that undergirds the 1619 Project exists. Because if we do nothing, they will co-opt our history and use it against us.”

Dr. King was a radical critic of racism, capitalism and militarism. He didn’t die. He was assassinated. And many, including Regan, fought the national holiday we’re now commemorating. “If you haven’t read, in entirety, his speeches, you’ve been miseducated & I hope that you will.”

As it was in 1623, 1723, 1823, 1923, and yeah, remains in 2023…”MLK, Jr.: Quotes You Don’t Remember…Or Perhaps Never Heard (Relayed by Nikole Hannah-Jones).

I’m done; holla back!

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1483187472276328449.html?fbclid=IwAR3Gq0hLX0vDKCRlP693LO4TBL9-jWsBZnPiUg5Nqmf–T2c63h3l3BCwu8

https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/17/us/new-mexico-shootings-solomon-pena-what-we-know/index.html

Classified Docs: Biden’s Turn

It’s time to Break It Down!

I was prepared to write about the circus that unfolded at the Capitol last week, as Republicans manufactured dramatic theater in what I presumed, rightfully I can now say, to be a foregone conclusion…the selection of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House. Yes, it took 15 ballots, but seriously, McCarthy got at least 200 votes in each one. No other Republican eclipsed 21. All others together never reached 30. Who else were they gonna elect? Hakeem Jeffries? Perish the thought. It was McCarthy’s to lose, and he had absolutely no incentive/motivation to quit. Some argued that he repeatedly allowed his own team to embarrassed him. Let the record show that after flying to Mar-A-Lago and kissing The Ring, he pretty much established his imperviousness to embarrassment. He was all-in, and committed to be Speaker, and submitting to prostration for the sport of his own team was most certainly not going to get in the way.

I accept all disagreement with my position on the subject, and file it in the category of, you’re entitled to your own opinion. Moving on. As noted, that was what I was going to focus on today. Was!

There is always news, worthy of investing time, contemplation, and discourse. That’s the case this week, like any week. Monday’s big reveal, that Confidential documents were found in one of President Biden’s private offices in Washington instantly topped my list. As a matter of course, it will be an immediate inflection point, and basis for GOP pivoting to talking points around investigations that they promised, even before they won a House Majority…if they won a House Majority, which of course, they did. Even though not in the ominous Red Wave they expected. But a Majority is a Majority.

Republicans will do their best to conflate Biden’s document problem with that of Mr. Trump. As a matter of politics, that dog hunts…for Republicans, desperate to move the spotlight away from last week’s theatrical shenanigans. But seriously?

Mr. Trump was “invited” by the National Archives, repeatedly, to return documents. An offer he alternately blithely ignored, disrespectfully declined, and at points defiantly refused. Then, his counsel, presumably at his direction, claimed “all” documents had been returned. They were not. Apparently, some still have not be returned.

Conversely, when President Biden was informed that documents were found in one of his offices, he is said to have self-reported, and ordered the docs returned. An investigation has already begun.

Based upon actions by the principals, there is no comparison. What about the metrics? 

Trump:

At least 325 documents

60 top secret

Under investigation for obstruction

National Archives reached out to Trump’s lawyers (repeatedly)

Biden:

10 documents

Some top secret

Lawyers found & alerted National Archives

U.S. Attorney (Trump Appointed by the way) conducting review

Finally, I am uninclined to lawyer for Biden. He’s a big boy who’s been in the game for decades. He can handle himself. That’s absolutely not the point of this quick overview. Rather, it’s to clarify a simple fact; it’s impossible to fairly evaluate the two situations without nuance and context. But that’s up to you. All I have to say is… “Classified Docs: Biden’s Turn!”

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/10/politics/classified-documents-joe-biden/index.html

The Curious Case of George Santos & GOP Leadership’s Silence

It’s time to Break It Down!

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” –Sir Walter Scott, excerpted from the poem, “Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field,” 1808. 

NY GOP Rep.-elect George Santos has been making headlines since December 19 — when The New York Times published its jaw-dropping article documenting his litany of false claims about his work experience, education and just about everything in between. (Santos later described these falsehoods as “resume embellishment” but admitted to misrepresenting his employment and educational background.)

Santos claimed in his campaign bio to be, for all practical purposes, the 

“full embodiment of the American dream” and was running to safeguard it for others. He amplified his storybook journey:

Son of Brazilian immigrants

First openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent

Grandparents survived the Holocaust

Jew-ish

Mother died in 9/11 attack (Later revealed she died in 2016)

By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.

A New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.

Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.

There was also little evidence that his animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, was, as Mr. Santos claimed, a tax-exempt organization: The Internal Revenue Service could locate no record of a registered charity with that name.

His financial disclosure forms suggest a life of some wealth. He lent his campaign more than $700,000 during the midterm election, has donated thousands of dollars to other candidates in the last two years and reported a $750,000 salary and over $1 million in dividends from his company, the Devolder Organization.

Yet the firm, which has no public website or LinkedIn page, is something of a mystery. On a campaign website, Mr. Santos once described Devolder as his “family’s firm” that managed $80 million in assets. On his congressional financial disclosure, he described it as a capital introduction consulting company, a type of boutique firm that serves as a liaison between investment funds and deep-pocketed investors. But Mr. Santos’s disclosures did not reveal any clients, an omission three election law experts said could be problematic if such clients exist.

And while Mr. Santos has described a family fortune in real estate, he has not disclosed, nor could The Times find, records of his properties. 

Throughout these twists and turns, one thing has remained constant: GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy has not condemned Santos. Not over his admitted falsehoods, his apparent misrepresentation about family members fleeing the Holocaust, questions regarding his campaign funding or even reports on his spending of campaign funds on travel to places such as Miami. (McCarthy has not returned CNN’s requests for comment about Santos.)

This silence is not surprising. It perfectly sums up McCarthy and many in today’s GOP who seek power at any cost — with no regard for principle or the greater good of our nation.

Even fellow GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz — who has opposed McCarthy’s bid for House speaker — recently slammed the Republican leader for not having any core values, writing in an op-ed, “Every single Republican in Congress knows that Kevin does not actually believe anything. He has no ideology.”

While it’s true, McCarthy has been mum on the subject, so has much, if not most of the GOP leadership. Arguably, McCarthy’s excuse is, he’s locked into a tense battle that he hopes will end with him being voted in as the Speaker of the House for the 118th Congress. This was scheduled to happen yesterday. In fact, the House conducted 3 votes, none of which resulted in any candidate earning the necessary majority (118 votes) of votes from House Members. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic challenger, garnered the most votes in each of the three ballots. Jeffries got 212 votes each time. McCarthy got 203 votes twice, and 202 votes during the third ballot. The general presumption is given the tenuous nature of McCarthy’s bid, even though Republicans maintain a slim numerical advantage, he could not afford to lose even one vote, which might have happened, had he acted or made comments that may have offended Santos.

That leaves a plethora of other Republicans in Congress, few of whom have called out Santos for his eye-popping exaggerations, misleading claims, and falsehoods. It doesn’t require much imagination to glean the tone, tenor, and frequency of GOP hyperventilation, had a Democratic Congressman been the source of similar claims. That Santos won a contested race, at least partly based on his misrepresentations, adds even more fuel to what should be considered de rigueur behavior, in response to any candidate taking such liberties with the truth. 

There’s so much more to this still unfolding saga. But that’s enough to establish the gist of the case. Meanwhile, make your own foray into…”The Curious Case of George Santos & GOP Leadership’s Silence!”

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/01/opinions/kevin-mccarthy-silence-george-santos-obeidallah/index.html

Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2023 Edition

It’s time to Break It Down!

During this holiday week, here’s a reprised edition of “Break It Down!”

This Issue has been revised from the Break It Down post I originally conceived, created, and published December 29, 2010, and subsequently re-posted in amended formats December 28, 2011December 31, 2014, December 30, 2015, December 28, 2016, January 3, 2018, January 2, 2019, December 30, 2020, December 29, 2021, and today, December 28, 2022. This is my final post of the month, and of the year 2022. This is the 809th Edition of Break It Down, which debuted August 20, 2007, on the BlogSpot platform. I migrated the principal site to WordPress August 3, 2012, approximately three weeks before the Fifth Anniversary of the blog. You may find this and most other posts at either site.

With this post I wish you a blessed and bountifully Happy New Year. Now, enjoy today’s blog post.

The one-half fortnight between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a unique occurrence in the unfolding of the American version of the Gregorian Calendar. It is the only instance in which the space of a mere seven days separates two major holidays. Unquestionably, the timing is propitious.  In year 3 of the dreaded Coronavirus, America is gradually rebounding, and millions of holiday travelers are returning home from their Christmas commemoration and revelry, just in time to get a day off to “celebrate” the New Year…and recuperate from the old, most notably  extracurricular activities, including the exploits of New Year’s Eve. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I hope to the extent feasible, most people whose traditions include Christmas, celebrated, and plan to observe the arrival of the New Year, responsibly.

In last week’s post, I presented a re-formatted airing of my personally crafted Christmas Concert (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2022/12/21/twelve-days-of-christmas-the-e-concert-2022-edition/) from past Noels. This week, I doubled down and revisited my trusty time capsule. Once again, this tack permits new readers to catch-up by seeing the piece, it allows long-time readers to reflect upon both the passing year as well as the theme lifted in the post, and finally, it ensures that those busy readers, with no time to invest in checking out a new blog during the holidays, will not have to miss anything. It’s a win, win…win!

With that loosely framed preamble behind us, here’s this week’s déjà vu all over again:

Since we are still in the Sweet Spot of the holidays, I shall practice minimalism. For your purposes, that means the blog should be available, but not intrusive. To that end, I am taking a page from the Christmas e-concert but going a step further. Instead of a concert, I give you a song…of reflection.

Robert Burns, a Scot, wrote a poem (Auld Lang Syne) in 1788 that has come to symbolize the spirit of mass contemplation that people around the world invoke as the clock strikes midnight, signaling not just the dawn of a new day, but of a new year. Undoubtedly, you have been somewhere, at some time, when you joined those assembled to sing Auld Lang Syne, which loosely translated means, Times gone by.

Once again, that time is upon us. After thoughtful reflection, even during Covid, I have had no choice but to conclude, my travails have been few and small, especially when compared to my blessings, which have been both abundant and vast! All praises to the one true, omnipotentomnipresent, and omniscient God; a mighty fortress is He.

No need to thank me for my inherent thoughtfulness. But, by all means, “Drink a cup of kindness,” or eggnog, or Champagne, or “name your favorite adult beverage,” for me. And, if you are a teetotaler, water will do nicely, thank-you!

As I complete my final post of 2022, and prayerfully and faithfully reflect upon another year framed by the narrative of COVID-19, I leave with you this familiar Irish Toast:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I invite you to click on the links directly below, which lead to an A cappella and a Jazz interpretation of Auld Lang Syne, arranged and performed by the late Lou Rawls (and listen to the remainder of this week’s edition of Break It Down):

https://youtu.be/B0z_MamGk2c

https://youtu.be/NkWqUR-YdWs

It has been my unique honor and privilege to visit with you briefly for each of the 52 weeks this year. I hope you have derived a fraction of the pleasure reading (and occasionally listening to) the blog posts, that I have experienced from preparing and sharing them with you. May 2023 bring you the fulfillment of all your fondest desires, including vanquishing the global Covid plague. 

Four days remain in 2022. As we rapidly approach Sunday, January 1st, it’s my esteemed honor, and pleasure, to wish you an early Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2023 Edition!”

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/question279.htm

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

Twelve Days of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2022 Edition

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Revised from Break It Down – 12/24/08, 12/22/10, 12/21/11, 12/26/12, 12/25/13, 12/23/15, 12/21/16, 12/26/17, 12/26/18, 12/25/19, 12/23/20, and 12/25/21)

According to tradition, mine if no one else’s, my Christmas post includes a complement of Songs of the Season. Today’s issue will constitute the next edition in that tradition. It’s Tuesday night, or in my personal time dimension, Blog Night. In keeping with what I do, let’s make it so, Wednesday’s coming! As incorporated in the title above, many purists celebrate Twelve Days of Christmas. This has been documented in song, book form, at least one movie, and in countless tales and renditions.

It would be patently unfair, inappropriate, and frankly, unimaginable, for me to launch into a Christmas 2022 post without at least mentioning COVID-19, aka coronavirus. Again!  According to the CDC, there have been over 99.7 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States, and over a million deaths. Since Covid vaccines have been introduced, over 224M Americans, or 68% of the population has attained the full regimen of shots. That’s good, if not great news. Oddly enough, though vaccines are the most effective vaccine combatant, many of us still resist getting them, elevating the risk level for their own life, as well as that of others. May each and every single life lost to this scourge, as well as the ones that will be lost, Rest In Peace, and may their memories be a blessing.

Here, as scheduled, is the blog. I hope you enjoy the blog/e-concert.

Merry Christmas to you! I know some of you are caught up in the whole “We Are The (Secular) World” trip; thus, you substitute Holiday for Christmas in seasonal greetings. But that really shouldn’t be a problem since the man we call 44 brought Christmas back (wink-wink). But seriously though, in case you don’t know, Christmas never went anywhere.  In fact, a quick check back over the Obama years reveals…Christmas was a staple in his repertoire. (http://www.msnbc.com/am-joy/watch/-merry-christmas-never-left-the-white-house-824078915806).  Of course, those innately curious enough to conduct the requisite etymological research know that the root derivation of holiday is “Holy Day;” but I digress; that is fodder for another day.

The beauty of this post is, it’s timeless. By the time you get around to it, most, if not all of you will already have done whatever it is you do to observe and/or celebrate Christmas. But you know what, herein lies an opportunity to take one more moment, a time out if you will, before returning full tilt to your normal schedule.

As is my custom, I will not use this Christmas Season Post, if you will allow me to call it that, to challenge you to sort through the facts, be they esoteric or mundane. Not the election, or the economy, no wars, and absolutely no (further) references to Presidents, past, present or future.

No, this is your time to take a break and leave all that behind. Notice, I did not say forget it, and I certainly would never ask that you pretend it doesn’t exist. Just give yourself a break.

In the true spirit of keeping it simple for both you and me, I am reprising an amalgam of previous posts. In fact, not just any posts…posts from several Christmas’ past. This is my thirteenth e-Christmas Concert. Several years ago, I pressed the reset button on the Concert. Instead of simply providing 12 standards, I upped the ante and provided 24, 12 by female artists, and 12 by male artists. This year, Christmas Day is Saturday, delivery day, as it were. Take your time, but give them a listen, if you like Christmas Music.

The English playwright and poet, William Congreve, in the opening line of his 1697 Play entitled The Mourning Bride,” asserted, “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”  I think Congreve was on to something.  If indeed music is capable of enabling us to overcome our basest instincts, and in so doing, ennoble us to pursue our finer impulses, and then indeed, we should take more opportunities to render ourselves captivated by its magical spell. (By the way, it really is breast…not beast; caught you thinking, didn’t I?)

So, I identified and pulled together an assortment of my favorite Christmas Standards by several of my favorite artists. This year’s version includes a variation of the artistic olio I pulled together for your reading, viewing, and listening pleasure several years ago. Below, you will find hot links to YouTube video interpretations and two songs for each of the 12 Days of Christmas listed and included in today’s Yuletide e-concert.

Female Artists

  1. Eartha Kitt is known for having had many talents skills, and abilities, among them acting and singing.  Last year I substituted her most popular Christmas song for “Nothing for Christmas.”  After a 1-year hiatus, I’m bringing back Santa Baby.  As I’ve noted before, the song was born in 1953, and as I will this Sunday, it turned 65 this year.  She slays (or if you’re really in the Christmas spirit — sleighs) it. https://youtu.be/Mk_GmhD053E
  2. Dianne Reeves is a Grammy-winning jazz artist who sings in the vein of Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae, a skilled lyricist and scat singer.  She presents “Christmas Time is Here” as if it’s her own. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hInJstw1cGE
  3. Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America.  She had a short and tumultuous reign.  But cream rises to the top, and her talent ensured that losing her title was but a mere speed bump in a star-studded road.  Her rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear” provides a glimpse of her musical flexibility and skill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKmvk0NJnzE
  4. Lena Horne was a jazz musician whose career spanned over 70 years.  She was also an actress, dancer, and civil rights activist.  She demonstrates her vocal caliber in this version of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh8JZp_gnU4
  5. Cassandra Wilson was born December 4, 1955.  Her birthdate alone ensured that I included her on this list; ’06!  But that’s not the only reason she made the cut.  Her range includes blues, country, and folk music, as well as jazz.  Moreover, she stuck the proverbial landing in her rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmAQzS5Zk7o
  6. Toni Braxton is a lot of things: a talented songwriter, singer, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. She is known to be sexy, sultry, and an unpredictable reality show star.  She’s still best known for her music though, and her version of “Santa Please” will do absolutely nothing to change that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nFWiF_E_VQ
  7. The Emotions are one of those classic Old School Girl Groups born in the 70’s.  Influenced greatly by Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire Fame, they continue to perform today.  One of my favorite tunes by them is their version of “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?” https://youtu.be/coO2E2v5RwE
  8. Anita Baker released her first solo album in 1983.  In 1986, she released “Rapture” and it was the dawn of her stardom.  She is known for her trademark “husky” voice, and she is at her Christmas best in this version of “The Christmas Song.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHze40h13mc
  9. Diana Ross and the Supremes were the “It” Group of Motown when Motown was the “It’ place of Soul Music.  The Supremes are America’s most successful vocal group with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Here they are with their 1965 rendition of “Silver Bells.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIJROwP4BnM
  10. Ella Fitzgerald is jazz royalty.  Frequently referred to as the First Lady of Song, the Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella, she was widely acclaimed for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, and intonation, as well as a horn-like improvisational ability.  Virtually all scat singing is measured against her. Check out her version of “Sleigh Ride. ”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnEbRaFaqfg
  11. Whitney Houston had a voice known worldwide.  Her recordings accounted for nearly 200 million records sold.  Hers was a clarion voice of our times.  This version of “Joy To The World,” taken from the movie, “The Preacher’s Wife,” is special, as was she. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYPpyTyPf6I
  12. Ledisi (Anibade Young) is an R&B and jazz recording artist.  Her first name means “to bring forth” or “to come here” in Yoruba.  She was aptly named.  Enjoy her rendering of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xMz5oGc8s1Q

Male Artists

  1. James Brown was renowned for his energetic performances, which earned him another of his many titles, “Hardest working man in show business.” His rendition of “Merry Christmas Baby” is not so up-tempo, but still a reminder that he had earned his chops the hard way, and that he was much more than just flash and dash. https://youtu.be/4VFZGRoZwB0
  2. Donny Hathaway was a multifaceted soulful crooner and a product of Howard University who excelled in jazz, blues, soul and gospel music, an Alpha Man.  He suffered from depression and died of suicide January 13, 1979, at 33 years old.  He rendered this marvelous recording of “This Christmas. https://youtu.be/pj1mVUEHeUE
  3. The O’Jays were formed in 1965 and have been a staple in Soul and R&B music ever since.  They knock it out of the park with this version of “Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas Anymore.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc4g1wsIA9g
  4. The Temptations were a significant part of what made Motown, Motown, in the 60’s and 70’s.  Their rendition of Silent Night lives on as a classic among classics as far as Christmas music goes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFc7STuQF0U
  5. Al Green, soul singer, turned minister, soul singer-minister was at his most popular during the 70’s.  He puts his considerable talents to good use in this version of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cFyRwlR5YXk
  6. El DeBarge was the central figure in the group known as DeBarge, which reached its zenith in the 80’s.  El was one of several members of the group who went on to fashion solo careers.  He nails this version of “Christmas Without You.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_xB6VD7fS8
  7. Will Downing has been recording albums since 1988.  I’ve seen him in concerts twice, including a couple of weeks ago, and I own most of his recorded music.  He simply does not disappoint.  This recording of The First Noel is no exception. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOQWKBIuk-I
  8. Joe (Lewis Thomas) released his debut album in 1993.  He has maintained a presence on the music scene ever since. His nuanced presentation of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is just another fine example of his limitless talent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vbpsVILCvU
  9. Jerry Butler, popularly known as the Ice Man, fitting for an Alpha, is a singer, songwriter, and musician (guitar, electric guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums) who was the lead singer for the Impressions before going on to a solo career. He recorded this classic version of O Holy Night. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0dR1Dk7Bu0
  10. Luther Vandross was a musical icon. Period. End of story.  He is one of my favorite musicians, and his treatment of “My Favorite Things” is certainly among my favorite Christmas songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6TRlV6MOOU
  11. The Whispers hail from LA, and have been around since the 60’s.  They became members of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003…for good reason.  They got it like that.  And they prove it with this version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbJ95aWUc_A
  12. Kem (Owens) is an R&B/Soul singer who has made his uniquely fashioned mark on the music scene since 1999.  He enlists Ledisi (Anibade Young), another single named musical star to create a fabulous rendition of “Be Mine For Christmas.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_8rVJ_ENaY

That’s it, 24 artists and videos and/or songs. Add it all up and you get “Twelve Days Of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2022 Edition!” Enjoy it throughout the Season, and by all means, remember the Reason for the Season!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttps://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:

January 6 Committee: The End Is Near

It’s time to Break It Down!

This time a couple of years ago, Donald Trump and his League of Followers was busy denying the results of the November 2020 Presidential Election. Their antics crescendoed with the January 6 Insurrection/coup attempt. On June 30, 2021House Resolution 503 – Establishing the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol passed on the House floor by a vote of 222 to 190, with all Democrats and two Republicans, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, voting in favor. Sixteen Republicans did not vote. 

In summary, the resolution empowered Speaker Pelosi to appoint eight members to the committee, and empowered House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to appoint five members “in consultation with the Speaker. Pelosi indicated she would name a Republican as one of her appointees. On July 1, Speaker Pelosi appointed seven Democrats, and one Republican, Liz Cheney. On July 19, Kevin McCarthy announced his 5 selections: Jim Banks, Ranking Member, Jim Jordan, Rodney Davis, Kelly Armstrong, and Troy Nehls. Banks, Jordan, and Nehls had voted to overturn the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Banks and Jordan had also signed onto the Supreme Court case Texas v. Pennsylvania to invalidate the ballots of voters in four states. On July 21, Thompson announced he would investigate Trump as part of the inquiry into the Capitol attack. Within hours, Pelosi announced that she had informed McCarthy that she was rejecting Banks and Jordan, citing concerns for the investigation’s integrity and relevant actions and statement made by the two members. She did approve the recommendation of the other three. 

In retaliation, McCarthy pulled all his picks and insisted he would not appoint anyone to the committee, unless Pelosi approved all 5 of his choices. Duh. At this point, Pelosi figuratively shrugged and moved on, recognizing she was now in control of the entire makeup and workings of the committee. She then appointed Adam Kinzinger, and hired former GOP Representative Denver Riggleman, as an outside committee staffer or advisor. Cheney voiced her support and pushed for the involvement of both of them.

After a year and a half of hearings, investigations, reports, and related stories, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson announced yesterday that the Committee will hold its last meeting next Monday and will issue its final report Wednesday.

Thompson told CNN that the panel is looking at five to six categories of referrals beyond those deemed criminal, but it has not decided on the specific number of individuals. He said that in addition to criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, there could be other categories of referrals the committee makes such as ethics referrals to the House Ethics Committee, bar discipline referrals and campaign finance referrals. The Chairman told reporters on Tuesday that next Monday’s public meeting will include a presentation and cover the names of people facing criminal and other referrals.

While Mr. Thompson’s Committee winds down, the new Republican majority in the House is eagerly waiting in the wings, salivating at the prospect of spawning a host of new investigations and potential impeachments. More to come…

All things considered, when I contemplate this erstwhile important committee wrapping up its work, I’m reminded of T.S. Elliot, and his 1925 poem, Hollow Men, in which he wrote, “This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Fortunately, there are other avenues available to review and evaluate the trauma wrought by Mr. Trump’s reign. While there is merit in bringing atrocities to light…in the end, it is better to know than not to know…indeed it would be preferable that there be an actual reckoning; some action to discourage, or to prevent said atrocities from being repeated. A dozen or so investigations aimed at Trump and his businesses are underway. While I am on record having stated and reiterated many times, my belief that there is no jail in Donald Trump’s future, I do believe, despite his considerable acumen in legal legerdemain, he may be visited with legal consequences, when all is said and done…“January 6 Committee: The End Is Near!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://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.cnn.com/2022/12/13/politics/january-6-committee-final-public-meeting/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_6_commission

Vote ’22 Part 4

It’s time to Break it Down!

It’s Raphael: Dems 51 – GOP 49.

Somewhere around 10:27 p.m. last night, it was announced on the Fox News Channel (back to that later) that Senator Warnock would win the Georgia Primary Runoff, and re-election to the U.S. Senate. In the next Congress, Vice President Harris will no longer be required to do double-duty, Democrats can dropkick the power-sharing agreement they negotiated with Republicans for the 117th Congress, and perhaps most important, Democrats will now Chair and control all Senate Committees. Given that the GOP will control the House, having an absolute Democratic majority in the Senate was a compelling necessity. It will still be tough sledding, but a 50-50 Senate would have posed an even more onerous burden on Democrats, and quite possibly even democracy itself.

Oh yeah, Fox News. The race was tight all night, as expected. I don’t know what time it was called on CNN, but I knew whenever Fox called it, whatever Fox called it, the right would align behind it, because, well you know, Fox is Fox. What else do you need to know? I then turned to CNN, and saw they were making the same call.

Just before Fox broke the news, Laura Ingraham posed the question, why do Democratic cities always come in with late votes? I presume this was headed toward another dark and capricious conspiracy theory. However, before she and her panel were able to give it the full treatment, the race was called. I don’t know whether they returned to the subject, as I turned from Fox after they projected Senator Warnock would win.

I could go on about the implications/ramifications of this race, but frankly, I need a break. I imagine you do too. So, to the voters of the Peach State who supported Senator Warnock, and to Warnock contributors world-wide, a well-deserved Thank-you. 🤙🏿 That’s it for…”Vote ‘22 Part 4!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://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.cnn.com/politics/live-news/georgia-senate-race-results-12-06-22/index.html

Vote ’22 Part 3

It’s time to Break It Down!

It’s been three weeks since I last regaled you about the importance of voting. On November 8, the United States executed nation-wide elections, including all 435 House seats and 35 of 100 Senate seats. Democrats held onto 50 seats in the Senate, meaning they will retain control of the chamber, due to the tie-breaker vote wielded by Vice President Kamala Harris. Republicans have taken over the House with a slim majority. At this point, it appears the House will begin the 118th Congress on January 3rd with 434 members. Virginia Representative Donald McEachin died Monday, and will be replaced via a special election, as House members cannot be appointed. 

Next Tuesday, December 6th, Georgia will hold a Run-off Election, pitting Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock against Republican Herschel Walker.

How did we get here?

Georgia Election 2022 (Runoff)

When no candidate receives a majority of votes in the general election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters is required. The runoff election will be Tuesday, December 6, 2022. Statewide, voters will decide between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and his challenger Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate. Some counties have down-ticket races as well.

A Democratic victory would nudge their advantage up to 51-49, while a Republican win would result in a 50-50 tie, which has been the status during the 117th Congress, the past two years. Technically, the Democrats will control the Senate, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s Run-off. Still, Warnock’s seat is important.

The additional seat, which would provide a numerical advantage, avoiding a tie. This advantage would give Democrats an additional seat on Senate committees, and give them a majority, instead of a tie. That is useful on all committees, but it is especially critical on the committee that sends judges to the full Senate. Without that extra vote, Republicans can stall nominees in committee, and sometimes even derail their nomination.

If you’re thinking most of this information is geared toward Georgians, you are both insightful and correct. So, if you live in Georgia, or you know someone who lives in Georgia that is registered and eligible to vote, please encourage them to exercise their franchise, either by voting early, voting by absentee ballot, or by voting in person on Election Day. Finally, wherever you live, and regardless of where you live, if so inclined, send a contribution to Senator Warnock’s campaign. Thanks in advance for doing your part to secure our democracy…”Vote ’22 Part 3!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://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://georgia.gov/election-2022

https://georgia.gov/election-2022https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/28/politics/donald-mceachin-virginia-congressman-dies