AKA Member Scores A First In NC: Call Her Madam Chief Justice

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday, NC Governor Roy Cooper announced he was appointing North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Cheri L. Beasley to the position of Chief Justice of NC’s highest court, following the retirement of Mark Martin. Beasley, who was elected to the NC Court of Appeals in 2008, served on that court until then Governor Beverly Perdue appointed her to the NC Supreme Court in 2012.

She was elected to her first full eight-year term on the Supreme Court in November 2014. Judge Beasley graduated from Rutgers University, where she became a 2013 Inductee into the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame. She also graduated from the University of Tennessee Law School. Governor Jim Hunt first appointed her to the NC bench as a state district court judge in District 12 (Cumberland County) in 1999. She went on to win election in 2002, and again in 2006, at which time she won without opposition. This is Beasley’s 20th year as a judge, and her 7th on the Supreme Court. She was a Public Defender in Fayetteville before becoming a judge.

In what will be an historic occurrence, Beasley will serve as the state’s first African American female Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court. NC judges are usually elected, not appointed. However, when former Chief Justice Mark Martin announced he would retire this month, state law gave Governor Cooper the power to pick Martin’s successor. Since Cooper picked a current Associate Justice to fill Martin’s seat, that means Beasley’s seat will be vacant, which he will also need to fill. The net, net, is the court may move further to the left. The split had been 5-2, Democrats, before Martin’s resignation. If Cooper picks a Democrat to fill Beasley’s seat, the court will have a 6-1 Democratic majority.

This year, the NC Supreme Court will be 200 years old. Stating the obvious, Beasley noted the anniversary during Cooper’s announcement that she would ascend to the position, “This is not the North Carolina of 200 years ago.”

In introducing Beasley, Cooper added, she was the right woman for the job. Beasley added that she wanted to serve as an inspiration for young girls, and also that she would “make sure that our justice system is sound, and that we are indeed serving the people of North Carolina the way we should.”

As an aside, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., historically important in its own right, has garnered a fair amount of extra-special attention due to the recently announced Presidential candidacy of one of its esteemed members, Kamala Harris. All due respect to Senator Harris, but add Justice Beasley to the list of Alpha Kappa Alpha members making headlines. Moreover, while we have another 21 months, if all goes well for her, before we know whether Senator Harris will claim the position she seeks, Congratulations right now to Justice Beasley, a 2014 recipient of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Achievement Award. Also, it’s worth noting, tomorrow is her 53rdBirthday. Altogether now, Happy Birthday & Happy Valentine’s Day Chief Justice Beasley. AKA Member Scores a First in NC: Call Her Madam Chief Justice!”

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.

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

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

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article226147190.html

https://governor.nc.gov/news/gov-cooper-names-chief-justice-nc-supreme-court 

http://www.rutgersblackalumni.org/hall_of_fame/hof_profile.php?news_id=108

https://www.facebook.com/AKA.MidAtlanticRegion/posts/1505406519525552

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/02/13/aka-member-scores-a-first-in-nc-call-her-madam-chief-justice/

Welcome To Donald’s World: A Lot Has Changed – Redux

It’s time to Break It Down!

Originally Posted on January 31, 2018; reprised, February 6,2019

Last night, #45 gave his second State of the Union (SOTU) address. If you tuned in here to get my take on that, I extend my sincere apologies. Consider this post alternative programming. I am instead re-posting the sentiments I shared after last year’s SOTU message.

Over most of my adult life the Republican Party has campaigned perpetually to distinguish itself via frenzied non-stop marketing, self-labeling, and branding, as the Family Values Party, the Law and Order Party, and the Party undeniably and irrevocably committed to national defense. These standards were hallmarks embraced by evangelicals, fundamentalists, and the Christian Right. You might say it was a match made in Heaven.

A little over two and a half years ago, June 16, 2015, Donald J. Trump entered the fray of campaigning for the Presidency. From that day to this day, he has presented himself, first as the un-candidate, and for more than two years now, as the un-President; a man whom his supporters insist is not a politician, and whom many of his detractors contend is unworthy of his titles, President, and Commander-in-Chief.

This post is not intended to represent a critique of Mr. Trump. I’ve done that, and in all likelihood, I will do so again at some point in the future. Today, however, I will simply share a few observations about the human pretzels that so many erstwhile stout Republicans have forced themselves into, all in an effort to defend at all costs the words, actions, and policies of the man they say on one hand is not a politician, but on the other hand, find themselves perpetually dismissing/labeling so many of his behaviors and decisions, as “just politics.”

In keeping with my commitment to brevity, I’ll use just four examples of how the renowned Party of Lincoln transformed itself into the Party of Nixon (and the Southern Strategy), and then subsequently, pivoted to become the Party of Trump (and Good People on Both Sides). I fully appreciate that virtually no one wants to be called a racist. In contemporary American society, white Americans, in particular, bristle at the notion, the mere suggestion, that anyone might deign to use that appellation to refer to them or one of their own. To each and every person who feels that way, I have one, and only one thing to say. I truly believe the best way to avoid having that pointed verbal hand grenade tossed in one’s direction is to separate oneself from racist behavior, deeds…and people. A hint to the wise should be sufficient, or so I’ve been told.

I fervently believe that truism holds for and applies to white people in general, and as our country’s titular leader, to #45, specifically. As for the latter, I am frequently bemused whenever I hear Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters passionately knocking down any suggestion that Mr. Trump is a racist, or that he even says things that are accurately categorized as such.

Upon hearing often angry disavowals, I am reminded of one of Queen Gertrude’s lines from Act III, Scene II of the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, circa 1600: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” In the event that the stilted language of a 17th Century English poet, penned in Shakespeare’s trademark iambic pentameter, is less than clear, the simplified CliffNotes-like interpretation is, Queen Gertrude was reacting in a fashion that let on that she considered the actor playing the Queen in the play was a stand-in for her, and that in that light, she (the actor) was being overly effusive and more pointedly, insincere.

Translation/relationship to #45 defenders and apologists: Folks who rush to deflect, divert, or deny that #45 is, at least on occasion, being, acting, and/or speaking in racist terms, are insincere, and over the top. If they don’t know better, they should know better. (For the record, I think they know better).

As we wend our way beyond AD 2 (Two Years After Donald), here are four quick observations about things that have changed since the GOP installed #45 as its North Star. In keeping with their pact with their now Dear Leader, #45 supporters, surrogates, and spinners, insist that these changes are all positive, or, in classic alternative facts/fake news fashion, that they actually do not in any way reflect changes.

  1. Family Values Party – As I noted in a previous post, (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/01/24/evangelicals-have-given-trump-a-mulligan-it-must-be-to-infinity/), evangelicals, fundamentalists, and the Christian Right endorse marriage and the family as the foundation of civilization. The synthesis of wedlock, faith, and spirituality were previously ingrained as keystone American values, or at least as GOP talking points. Then along came Mr. Trump with his penchant for swearing, creating less than truthful narratives (over 8,100 times in his two years as President, according to Washington Post and New York Times fact checkers), and if you believe 20 or more women…and Mr. Trump, in his own words, accosting women, to whom he is not wed. Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and all the folks who deem themselves true believers (In Trump they trust), gave him a mulligan on all that stuff. If the guardians of the Gates to Heaven feel that way, who am I to argue. Clearly…a lot has changed.
  2. Law and Order Party – For years, more than I can recall, the GOP has anointed itself as the foremost keeper of the flame of all things related to law enforcement. So, imagine my surprise when I see and hear daily, sometimes hourly, and if I’m watching CNN on a weekday, multiple times per hour, reports that one, several, or a whole host of Republicans are questioning the authority and or the good intentions of the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, and/or any other entities comprised in what we Americans refer to loosely as the Intelligence Community. A couple of years ago, that would have been hard to imagine, if not altogether unthinkable. Now, it’s de rigueur. Just let me reiterate…a lot has changed.
  3. National Defense Party – I was a youngster for a significant part of the Cold War. Hazily, I recall Khrushchev pounding his shoe on his Delegate’s desk at the United Nations, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember the Berlin Wall, and the fall of the Wall. My memories incorporate the fact that the United Soviet Socialists Republic (USSR), and subsequently Russia, was considered, by members of the GOP, our mortal enemy, global adversary, and geo-political rival…right up to and including, 2016, in its entirety. Suddenly, circa 2017, #45 has shown a greater propensity to demonstrate faith and confidence in Russia and Vladimir Putin than in our own country’s Intelligence Community. This includes initially refusing to execute sanctions approved in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 98-2. To be clear, that was a Senate in which the GOP owned a majority, by the way. TrumpWorld not only doesn’t think that’s out of character, its inhabitants believe it’s perfectly sane and logical to do so, and they give their guy digital high fives multiple times per day. Have I said…a lot has changed?
  4. Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and the Christian Right Party – On occasion, as a PK (Preacher’s Kid), I concede, I find myself out of step with certain elements of religious dogma. Prayerfully, I seek forgiveness. Conversely, when asked whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions, Mr. Trump said: “I’m not sure that I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that.” I don’t even know what to say about that one. I think I’ll just let it speak for itself. Oh yeah, one more time for the road…a lot has changed.

I’ve written before about the apparent hypocrisy of conservatives and would-be-saints, in regard to their unbridled support for #45. As we now hear, in addition to harassing folks that he appointed himself, members of his own Party, and a host of people heretofore deemed acceptable to the GOP writ large, he cleared the way to release a partisan GOP penned memo, written without the benefit of having evaluated the source data, while preventing the release of a parallel and explanatory memo from Democrats, all the while ignoring Justice Department warnings that such a release could result in causing irreparable harm. #45 has, through his attorneys, indicated that Mueller has not met the high threshold necessary to interview him in person. For an individual who claims there is neither collusion, nor obstruction, there is an abundance of actions, and yes, evidence, that casts doubt on that claim. In conclusion, “Welcome To Donald’s World: A Lot Has Changed – Redux!”

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.

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

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/31/politics/donald-trump-devin-nunes-memo/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/30/politics/donald-trump-attorneys/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/01/30/paul-ryan-nunes-memo-raju-sot-nr.cnn

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lady_doth_protest_too_much,_methinks

https://www.c-span.org/video/?326473-1/donald-trump-presidential-campaign-announcement

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/sns-state-of-the-union-text-story.html

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Counsel_investigation_(2017–present)

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

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/02/06/welcome-to-donalds-world-a-lot-has-changed-redux/

Don’t Be A Putz: Get Your Kid Vaccinated

It’s time to Break It Down!

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 days. Initial symptoms typically include fever, often greater than 40 °C (104.0 °F), cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. Common complications include diarrhea (in 8% of cases), middle ear infection (7%), and pneumonia (6%). Less commonly seizuresblindness, or inflammation of the brain may occur.

Measles is an airborne disease, which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of infected people. It may also spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Nine out of ten people who are not immune and share living space with an infected person will be infected. People are infectious to others from four days before to four days after the start of the rash. Most people do not get the disease more than once.

The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease, and is often delivered in combination with other vaccines. Vaccination resulted in a 75% decrease in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2013, with about 85% of children worldwide being currently vaccinated. Once a person has become infected, no specific treatment is available,

Measles affects about 20 million people per year, primarily in developing areas of Africa and Asia. No other vaccine-preventable disease causes as many deaths. In 1980, 2.6 million people died due to the disease; by 1990, the number was reduced to 545,000. In 2014, global vaccination programs reduced the number of deaths from measles to 73,000. Rates of disease and deaths increased in 2017 due to a decrease in immunization.

The 2019 calculus of what in some cases is an anti-vaccination movement has materialized in the form of a direct uptick of measles cases in the state of Washington. As of yesterday afternoon, there were 36 confirmed cases and another 11 suspected in the state. According to the CDC, Washington (the state) has the sixth-lowest rate of childhood vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella in the country as of 2017.

In his statement declaring the state of emergency last Friday, Governor Jay Inslee said:

“The measles virus is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children, and the existence of 26 confirmed cases [the number at the time the state of emergency was declared] in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties.”

Not only is the virus that carries the disease highly contagious, it can be contracted without being in proximity to an infected person, because it lingers in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area. Moreover, it takes days (up to 4) for the familiar and telltale rash to appear. As a result, people may not realize they are infected until after they have visited numerous public places, heightening the prospect that the virus will be spread further to others.

Of the 36 confirmed cases, 35 were in Clark County, and in 31 of those cases, the person infected had not been immunized. In the remaining four Clark County cases, immunization histories have not been verified. Clark County, Washington borders Portland, Oregon. This spikes concern that the spread of the virus may cross state lines.

Most of the people infected are children, who, along with those who are immunocompromised, are most susceptible to the potentially deadly complications of the virus, including pneumonia and encephalitis. Worldwide the disease currently kills 100,000 people per year, according to the Mayo Clinic, mostly children under the age of five.

Measles was declared completely eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, thanks to near-universal vaccinations. But a recent surge in parents choosing not to vaccinate their children because of philosophical objections, or (repeatedly disproven) fears that vaccines cause autism, has caused an increase. Seattle and Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon are among several “hot spots” around the country where there is greater risk of infection with previously eliminated or nearly eliminated diseases due to high rates of parents opting out of vaccinating. Scott Lindquist, MD, Communicable Disease State Epidemiologist for the Washington State Department of Health, pointed out that state-wide in Washington, childhood vaccination rates are mostly high, “it’s just that we have pockets of people with lower rates,” he says.

The so-called “anti-vax movement” is furthered by the sharing of un-founded conspiracy theories and junk science on social media, and despite reports on the role of social media in furthering the dangerous trend, Facebook has so far declined to take action against groups and pages dedicated to misinforming concerned parents about the risks of vaccination.

Anti-vaccination is not a newfound position. Anti-vaccine groups in the 19th Century typically:

Said that vaccines would make you sick

Blamed medical despotism, “a hard, materialistic, infidel thing” for creating the vaccination acts

Warned about poisonous chemicals in vaccines, namely carbolic acid in the smallpox vaccine

Argued that Jenner’s smallpox vaccine didn’t work

Pushed alternative medical practices, including herbalists, homeopaths, and hydropaths, etc.

Used their own literature to scare people away from vaccines

There were even celebrities who joined the anti-vaccine movement, including George Barnard Shaw, who also believed in homeopathy and eugenics.

The anti-vaccine groups in the 21st Century aren’t that much different from their 19th Century counterparts. They still:

Say that vaccines will make you sick

Blame Big Pharma

Warn about poisonous chemicals and toxins in vaccines, although they continue to shift which chemicals they worry about, moving from thimerosal to formaldehyde and aluminum, etc.

Argue that Jenner’s smallpox vaccine didn’t work and neither do any of the other ones

Push alternative medical practices, including herbalists, homeopaths, chiropractic, naturopaths, and other holistic providers

Use their own literature to scare people away from vaccines

There are also contemporary celebrities who back the movement, including:

Jenny McCarthy

Holly Peete

Andrew Wakefield

Barbara Loe Fisher

Robert De Niro

Despite the protests of naysayers, vaccines are one of the most successful programs in modern health care, reducing, and in some cases even eliminating, serious infectious diseases. Public support for the vaccination program remains strong, especially in the United States where vaccination rates are currently at an all-time high of >95 percent (CDC 2004). Yet, despite a long history of safety and effectiveness, vaccines have always had their critics: some parents and a tiny fringe of doctors question whether vaccinating children is worth what they perceive as the risks. In recent years, the anti-vaccination movement, largely based on poor science and fear-mongering, has become more vocal and even hostile (Hughes 2007).

While I do not live near the state of Washington, I have friends who reside there. I hope for their benefit, and the benefit and safety of all who believe in science, that people who have chosen to eschew immunizing their children will redouble their research and come to their senses, or, as the title of this post suggests, Don’t Be A Putz; Get Your Kids Vaccinated!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/measles-outbreak-anti-vaxxer-washington-786254/

https://www.verywellfamily.com/history-anti-vaccine-movement-4054321

https://www.csicop.org/si/show/anti-vaccination_movement

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/01/30/dont-be-a-putz-get-your-kid-vaccinated/

 

 

He May Be One of A Kind: However, King-like, He Most Certainly Is Not

 It’s time to Break It Down!

We just put a bow on another holiday weekend. While many may have moved on, once again, I have chosen not to do so. Instead, I am opting to carve out a moment of reflection on a few of the ideals so appropriately notated as millions across the United States, and around the world memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over the course of his birthday/Holiday weekend and beyond. I am also going to juxtapose Mike Pence’s characterization of Donald Trump as acting in the spirit of King, as Trump plows forward with his effort to build a legacy border wall.

In looking back on the many works of Dr. King, I am revisiting a post I wrote and posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011, and that I reprised January 18, 2017, and again last year, January 17, 2018, examining the advent of the King Holiday. It’s been 33 years since the initial observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (MLK DAY), and 36 years since President Reagan signed the MLK, Jr. Holiday bill into law. Contemporary events remind us that now is an apt time to take a look into the rear view 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 votes short of the number needed for passage in the Lower Chamber.

High profile opponents to the measure included Senator Jesse HelmsNCSenator 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 15thDr. 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 actually 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.

So with that extensive preamble, let’s move on. As you must surely know, on November 8, 2016, Americans voted, and based on Electoral College results, elected Donald J. Trump President of the United States. Three days shy of the observance of the first anniversary of his historic inauguration, one he claims to be the largest ever witnessed (despite the fact it was not), his unverified claims, outrageous tweets, and dubious comments continue to frame him in stark contrast to his recent predecessors. I will not leave that last comment hanging, without noting that while many Americans believe that is a peculiar, and often unfortunate situation, there is a certain element of our country that believes Mr. Trump is not just a good thing, but exactly what they had hoped for, and precisely what our country needs. Suffice it to say, those are individuals with whom I disagree. Vigorously!

On this past Sunday’s Edition of Face The Nation, Mr. Pence crossed the Rubicon of reason and common sense, asserting that Trump’s obsession with a border wall is somehow representative of the inclusive spirit of Dr. King. The show’s host, Margaret Brennan, asked Pence if Trump’s compromise proposal was a genuine attempt to end the partial government shutdown, considering no Democrats were consulted? Pence’s answer was Twilight Zone-ish…or at least alternative universe-ish (where, presumably, alternative facts reign).  He said:

“Honestly, you know, the hearts and minds of the American people today are thinking a lot about it being the weekend we are remembering the life and the work of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,’” quoting a passage from Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Pence continued on to argue that like MLK, Trump has also “inspired us to change.” “You think of how he changed America, he inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union,” he said. “That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do, come to the table in a spirit of good faith.” Left unsaid was…”To build the wall.”

Pence’s remarks came on the eve of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, a week after becoming the longest government shutdown on record, 30 days into the partial government shutdown, and 5 days before 800,000 federal workers will miss their second consecutive payday, if the shutdown isn’t ended. The thing is, arguments that the wall is immoral aside, Trump’s posture, and actions, reflect the polar opposite of those Dr. King articulated when he visited and spoke at the Berlin Wall in 1964. On that occasion, Dr. King said:

“For here on either side of the wall are God’s children and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.”

In its purest essence, Pence’s likening Trump to Dr. King is just another fabrication, statement of an untruth, deflection, and flat out lie. Using the occasion of the King Holiday to manipulate Trump’s followers is a dastardly, but not surprising act. This administration has shown time and time again that the race to the bottom…has no terminus. However, that’s pretty low. To add insult to this grievous injury, the day after Pence made the aforementioned comments, a year after Trump did nothing to acknowledge the King Holiday in 2018, and had no public events scheduled to do so in 2019, he accompanied Mr. Trump to the King Memorial to lay a wreath. They spent two minutes there, and Trump never mentioned Dr. King. Pence couldn’t have been more wrong. Two words…epic fail!

Let me be clear. I have never suffered any illusion that Donald Trump is a friend to the cause of equality, diversity, or inclusion. His wall promise, and kowtowing to the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh when he appeared poised to do the right thing, are just more evidence that his aims and methods are in no way reflective of, or in concert with those of Dr. King. Whether you label his words and actions racist (they often are) is inconsequential to me. But if you insist that you are not, but fail to summon the courage and intestinal fortitude to speak out when he spouts off on one of his offensive jags, or veers left, when clearly the moment calls for right, you display cowardice as best, and quite possibly reveal a picture window into your own moral and ethical failings. As for Mr. Trump, “He May Be One of A Kind: However, King-like, He Most Certainly Is Not!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/mlkhistory1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._Day

http://www.allvoices.com/partner/ap/news/7917530-obamas-mark-king-holiday-with-service-at-dc-school

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

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

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

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

http://www.newsweek.com/kirstjen-nielsen-trump-norway-white-782678

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PgzvxsEUC4

https://www.newsweek.com/mike-pence-compares-trump-martin-luther-king-jr-eve-mlk-day-both-inspired-us-1298644

http://time.com/5504826/martin-luther-king-wall-history/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/01/23/he-may-be-one-of-a-kind-however-king-like-he-most-certainly-is-not/

 

The Law of Unintended Consequences: From Obama to the Precipice of Armageddon

It’s time to Break It Down!

Charles Blow is a noted journalist, commentator, and currently a visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He is one of my favorite writers and speakers on a variety of subjects that include diversity and inclusion, recalcitrant exclusion, and all things Trump related. I readily confess he’s one of only two people whose tweets I follow daily. The other, just for the record is Eugene Scott, Harvard University Kennedy School graduate, a fellow alumnus of the University of North Carolina, and reporter for the Washington Post, covering identity politics. Mr. Scott is also an Alpha, so that makes him golden with me. But I digress.

Last Friday The New York Times published an Opinion written by Mr. Blow, entitled, “The Lowest White Man.” The title is predicated upon the words of our 36th President. Blow noted, “As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Trump’s supporters are saying to us, screaming to us, that although he may be the “lowest white man,” he is still better than Barack Obama, the “best colored man.” I could end this post right there. That’s a drop the mic revelation/conclusion. But I have more ground to cover.

While I have made those same assertions repeatedly, and for quite some time, I derive great satisfaction from the fact one of the more thoughtful and incisive journalists with which I am familiar has solved this downward spiraling vicious cycle of an equation and arrived at the same determination. The terse reality is this is no great secret. I have addressed the elephant in the room before. Yet, too many people with every reason to know better simply refuse…to admit it, to say it, or to concede that they even believe it.

As Blow posits, Trump is the manifestation of white folks inherent right to be wrong…and to still be right. In other words, he is the embodiment of the unassailability of the twin demons, white power and white privilege. To give up on Trump at this stage of the game would be the equivalent of abandoning the implicit deal America has made with white citizens from Jump Street. Our government will assist in underwriting white safety and success, even at the expense of other people in this country, e.g., Native Americans, African Americans, or new immigrants.

Of course, if you’re not a rookie in America, you know this is not a new ballgame. The concept of elevating the lowest white man over those more qualified and/or deserving did not start as a construct in Lyndon Johnson’s mind. Nor will it end with the various expressions of Donald Trump. No, it’s woven into the very fabric of the Stars and Stripes.

When Trump declared that he was on a mission to make America Great Again, the perked-up ears of his would be constituency heard, “make America the once and again proud haven for all white people.” Now just to be clear, this clarion call did and does not resonate with every single person who happens to be white. But for those for whom it does, it was and still is as powerful and irresistible as the Siren Song was to Odysseus.

I have friends who lurk, assiduously searching for each and every clue that the spell will soon be broken, and Trump’s Borg-like following will be as history, a thing of the past. They’ve tried everything, from imagining what the State of the Union would be if President Obama had said or done a fraction of the maddeningly absurd litany of miscreant infractions for which Trump is responsible, to enumerating and regularly updating the list of his atrocious behavior.

When Barack Obama was elected President, a significant number of people permitted themselves to believe his becoming Commander-in-Chief ushered America into a post-racial age. We know clearly by now, such was definitely not the case. In fact, it was just the opposite. Through no fault of his own, Obama instantly became the touchstone, a galvanizing element for a determined and pervasive opposition.

A group of leaders among GOP bosses convened on the evening of Obama’s first day in office. Robert Draper delineated details in his book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.” This was early evidence, but only a tip of the iceberg detail. At least 14 of the era’s most elite level Republicans, including House Members Eric Cantor (VA), Kevin McCarthy (CA), Paul Ryan (WI), Pete Sessions (TX), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Pete Hoekstra (MI), and Dan Lungren (CA), along with Senators Jim DeMint (SC), Jon Kyl (AZ), Tom Coburn (OK), John Ensign (NV), and Bob Corker (TN). The non-lawmakers in the room included Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and Frank Luntz, a longtime GOP wordsmith. Notable among the absent were Senator Mich McConnell (KY), John Boehner (OH), whom Draper wrote, had acrimonious relationships with Luntz. They met for several hours in the Caucus Room, a high-end D.C. establishment, and plotted ways to not only regain political power, but to block every legislative initiative Obama would eventually propose.

But that’s not all. The Tea Party movement sprung up as a response to Obama and his proposal to provide financial assistance to bankrupt homeowners. One of the major forces behind the initiative was an organization known as Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group funded by David Koch.

And then there were the populists who argue even today that Obama was the primordial cause of all our nation’s ills. They churn out memes attacking, belittling, and demonizing Obama, and naturally, in praise of Trump. It’s what they do.

Perhaps, more than all the other factors, Donald Trump’s fixation on Birtherism sealed his support with a big fat Judas kiss. That solitary act alone catapulted him to the zenith of Republican Primary contestants; a lead he never came close to losing. He survived allegations of sexual harassment, admitting on tape to female genital grabbing, saying on camera a woman was bleeding from her…whatever, proclaiming John McCain was not a war hero, and a host of other faux pas, any one of which would have sank virtually any other candidate’s chances at becoming the nominee of a major political party.

With positions like those above taking root, it’s fairly easy to see how the road for Trump’s rise was paved. However, as Newton’s Third Law attests, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The resulting application of this Newtonian Law was the “Resistance.” Thousands of people gathered in cities across the country and around the world to give voice to protest over Trump’s election. Due to this reaction, those who support Mr. Trump, paradoxically, view Trump as some sort of victim. They fail to see what they self-righteously deem Trump Derangement Syndrome, as an organic response to all the myriad diabolical measures they took against Mr. Obama. They take absolutely no responsibility for their role in the downward spiraling vicious cycle I referenced earlier. Take a look around. There is nowhere to go, but down.

That brings us back to Johnson’s lowest white man aphorism. Or, as I dubbed this post, The Law of Unintended Consequences: From Obama to the Precipice of Armageddon!”

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.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/trump-immigration-white-supremacy.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/robert-draper-anti-obama-campaign_n_1452899.html

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

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/01/16/the-law-of-unintended-consequences-from-obama-to-the-precipice-of-armageddon/

A Congresswoman Used Profanity: Trump Declared She Dishonored Herself, Her Family, and Her Country!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last Thursday, the same day she was sworn in as a member of the 116th Congress’ Freshman Class, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who supports efforts to impeach President Trump, underscored her position right out of the gate. On Day 1 in Congress, January 3, 2019, she called for the impeachment of Trump in an op-ed article she co-authored with John Bonifaz for the Detroit Free Press. In that regard, she instantly distinguished herself from most of the Democrats’ top leaders, who caution that movement on the issue of impeachment, if there is any, should be set aside until after Special Counsel Mueller completes his criminal investigation.

Under normal circumstances, that move, in and of itself, would be a potently newsworthy step. It did, after all, instantly differentiate the newbie from a number of her moderate and centrist Democrat colleagues in general, and from Party leadership in particular. As it turns out, however, the op-ed was just the prologue.

Later that day, Tlaib attended a reception for the MoveOn campaign and spoke on stage. She ended the speech recounting a conversation she had with her son: “Look, mama, you won. Bullies don’t win,” Tlaib said. “And I said, baby, they don’t, because we’re gonna go in there and impeach the motherfucker.”

Social media exploded, the news media was abuzz, and Trump and his base feigned everything from shock to disgust, to flat out apoplexy. In making my personal assessment, I am willing to give social media and the mainstream news outlets a pass. After all, that’s what they do. When a public persona, especially a politician, runs afoul of generally accepted standards of communication in the public square, they pounce. For them, this was no exception.

I am not a proponent of whataboutism. I routinely challenge it whenever conservatives point to what President Obama did or didn’t do, or what Secretary Clinton said or didn’t say. I add the undebatable caveat that neither of them is President, because in almost every case, the matter I am discussing applies to the current President and his behavior, practices, and/or statements.

At this point I submit that conservatives and the media outlets they prefer seldom express similar concerns with the legendary and multitudinous profanities of Donald Trump. As a matter of fact, in the instances I have engaged with conservatives about such matters, and in many other instances which I have simply observed, conservatives spend an inordinate amount of time defending, justifying, reframing, and in a (concocted by me) word, Trumpsplaining his frequent off-color language choices.

As an example, in discourse with a Trump supporter over the weekend, I shared a link in which Donald Trump was captured using the same profanity as the one that instantly elevated Mrs. Tlaib’s media profile. His response? That was a bit old, and was before he was President. He also emphasized the way she spoke to a sitting President. Not one to be easily deterred, I then shared the link to a story about a meeting last Friday with Democratic leaders, in which Trump fired off so many expletives that Trump, the Donald Trump, is reported to have actually apologized to Speaker Pelosi. To that, this Trump supporter responded that he gets the way Trump uses language, and then noted that Trump says he has no time for PC. With that, he reiterated that Tlaib “used it towards a POTUS…not to mention the level of immaturity.”

It’s almost as though he parroted Trump talking points. At that juncture, this was my response:

“The way she used it towards a POTUS.”

“So…when he does it, it’s merely using language and avoiding PC. When his   opponents use it to address him…it’s out of bounds?

I don’t think so. Moreover, the things he said before he was president, especially if he said them while he was running, count, since his supporters voted for him, either because or despite the fact he said them.

He didn’t invent coarse language. But he cannot immerse himself in it, and then have immunity from having it used against him. It’s either acceptable or it’s not.”

Trump, who is known for being Mr. clapback, responded to Congresswoman Tlaib’s comments, which also included the “I” word (impeachment), by saying she had dishonored herself, and also her family. He added, he also thought it was disrespectful to the United States of America. Isn’t it interesting how neither Trump nor his acolytes e-v-e-r think that he has dishonored himself, his family, or our country? FYI, below are the two links I shared with the gentleman.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zOoj96dv4uI&feature=share

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-profanity-meeting-with-democrats-pelosi-government-shutdown-2019-1?utm_content=bufferf7f18&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer-bi

So where does that leave us? I will not even attempt to speak for anyone other than myself. I have friends who call me Old School, and OG. I crossed a significant chronological milestone 10 days ago. Some would say I’m just old, and I’m OK with that. Leading with that allows me to say I tend to side with the view of the Democratic leadership on the question of pursuing impeachment, possibly for reasons that differ from theirs. In fact, I may actually view the situation more conservatively than some of them. I do not think it’s wise to pursue impeaching Trump now, or at all.

Why, you may ask? Simple. I view it as an arithmetic thing, a practical matter, and a strategic issue.

The House almost certainly has the wherewithal to navigate impeachment proceedings and indict Mr. Trump. Howsumever, the Senate is an altogether different animal, operationally. The decision on a conviction resides in the Senate, and requires a 2/3 (67 votes) majority. This is not 1973. In the hyper-partisan age we find ourselves, there is a virtually nonexistent chance that the current Senate, which has a GOP majority, will evict the current tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Washington, DC). That’s the arithmetic thing.

Doing so without the imprimatur of compelling evidence from the Mueller investigation is a matter of zero probability in my estimation. That’s the practical matter.

Finally, when an overzealous GOP House successfully indicted Bill Clinton on Articles of Impeachment, the fallout was such that Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House at the time, who pressed the Clinton impeachment process, would eventually resign. Top Republicans of that era came to believe that Clinton and his Party recovered primarily because Americans voters viewed the GOP’s aggressive investigations and impeachment effort as misguided and politically motivated. Republicans serving at the time also believed Clinton profited politically from government shutdowns they forced to extract budget concessions from Clinton. Consider the parallels; tread lightly. That’s the strategic issue.

I suspect the Mueller investigation will yield evidence that will undoubtedly tempt some House Democrats to impeach Trump. My Advice is don’t do it! Take a deep breath and investigate, investigate, investigate. Remind every American, over and over, and over again of the litany of reasons Donald Trump and his cast of shady characters does not deserve to have its collective contract for services renewed for a four-year extension.

That’s my rant for today. A Congresswoman Used Profanity: Trump Declared She Dishonored Herself, Her Family, and Her Country!”

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashida_Tlaib

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-rashida-tlaib-dishonored-family-impeachment-comments-2019-1

https://youtu.be/nTDySwwxom0

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/01/09/a-congresswoman-used-profanity-trump-declared-she-dishonored-herself-her-family-and-her-country/

 

Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2019 Edition

Posted on January 2, 2019

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, and January 3, 2018. This is my first post of 2019, and the 601st 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 bountiful Happy New Year. Now, enjoy today’s blog.

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.  Millions of holiday travelers return home from their Christmascommemoration and revelry, just in time to get a day off to “celebrate” the New Year…and recuperate from the old, most notably their extracurricular activities, including the exploitsof New Year’s Eve.

In last week’s post, I presented a re-formatted airing of my personally crafted Christmas Concert (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2017/12/27/twelve-days-of-christmas-the-e-concert-2018-edition/) from past Noels.  This week, I doubled down and reverted to 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 the 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 sometime, 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 on my 2017, 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 first post of 2019, and, prayerfully and faithfully reflect upon 2018, 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://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0z_MamGk2c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=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 the blog posts that I have experienced from preparing and providing them to you. May 2019 bring you the fulfillment of all your fondest desires. Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2019 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

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/01/02/happy-new-year-heres-to-auld-lang-syne-redux-2019-edition/