Definition Of A Raid/Siege: This Was Not That

It’s time to Break It Down!

I am impelled to write about this. There are no citations, no source materials, just my opinion. It’s straight forward; there is really, not a lot to say.

Over the past 48 hours, much discourse has ensued regarding Monday’s FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. I have noticed numerous outlets, especially those that tilt conservative, characterize the encounter using terms such as raid, or siege. These terms carry a negative connotation, and are rightfully, understandably, received as trigger words.

Some non-conservative outlets have also used the term raid in connection with the FBI’s search. From my vantage point, there is one simple, but huge problem with that characterization. Let’s begin by defining raid. 

Raid (Merriam-Webster)


A hostile or predatory incursion

A surprise attack by a small force

A brief foray outside one’s usual sphere

A sudden invasion by officers of the law

A daring operation against a competitor

The recruiting of personnel from competing organizations

The act of mulcting public money

An attempt by professional operators to depress stock prices by concerted selling


To conduct or take part in a raid

To make a raid on

When Trump, who was the first to share the news of the FBI’s visit and search, announced it, he engaged in rhetorical escalation, claiming his estate was under siege, when he declared, “My beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” He added, for effect, I’m sure, “They even broke into my safe.”

For further elucidation, let’s also define siege.

Siege (Oxford Languages)


“A military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside.”

“An operation in which police or other forces surround a building and cut off supplies, with the aim of forcing an armed person to surrender.”

“A prolonged period of misfortune.”

What it was. The FBI obtained a search warrant authorizing it to secure presidential records and or any classified material. In January, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes documents and other items that Archives officials said should have been turned over when Trump left the White House. While archivists continued to seek additional records, his advisers indicated Trump resisted relinquishing the materials for months.

One person who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said agents were conducting a court-authorized search as part of a long-running investigation of whether documents — some of them top-secret – were taken to Mar-a-Lago. That could be a violation of the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes, and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

By all accounts, the visit did not entail, as one conservative commentator maintained, “kicking the doors in.” The agents knocked, were admitted into the estate, and upon the authority granted them by the warrant, performed their investigation. The encounter was said to last roughly from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. There were no reports, unlike January 6, of anyone being gored, shot, or killed, or of the premises having been ransacked. “Definition Of A Raid/Siege: This Was Not That!”

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Chickens Coming Home To Roost: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably

It’s time to Break It Down!

Much of the on-going focus on January 6 has revolved around the hearings. Depending upon which side of the (political) aisle one resides, the view of the results of the hearings has been, either, an extended yawn fest (right wing Trump-fawning election deniers…most of whom claim they really haven’t watched) or riveting must-see TV (left leaning Biden-voting Citadel of democracy defenders, many of whom have been left with out-sized expectations). I write these descriptions without passing judgment. I think folks on each side of the divide would recognize themselves, and challenge others to explain, “What’s wrong with that?” If anything, they’d be more likely to challenge the adjectives ascribed to those on the other side. At least those on the right would…in my opinion.

We are beginning to see another category of interested parties emerge. Early on, most of the people tried and convicted for the roles they played in the insurrection/coup attempt were given minimal sentences. There was a sense that a mere slap on the wrist was the order of the day. When all is said and done, there may still be more of those, than sentences of real consequence. However, one thing has become clear. Even if cupcake sentences are the rule, there will be exceptions to the norm.

Guy Reffitt was sentenced on Monday for five felony counts, including obstructing an official proceeding of Congress; trespassing at the Capitol while carrying a holstered semiautomatic handgun; interfering with police in a riot; and witness tampering. Guy’s wife Nicole insisted repeatedly that Guy was, “Just all talk, and wouldn’t hurt anyone.” Maybe so, but on Monday, Guy officially joined the ranks of the, “About These Streets,” as Judge Dabney Friedrich sentenced him to seven years and three months, or, to put it in the parlance of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, 87 months.

Reffitt’s involvement in the events of January 6, and his subsequent trial, conviction, and sentencing provide not only keen insight into the general mind set of Trump supporters who came to Washington on J6, but also levels a specific object lesson for people who like Reffitt, opted or who will opt to reject a plea deal and instead push their case to the courts. The keen insight revealed that Trumpers wanted to be there, and they believed Trump wanted them to come to Washington to help him…”Stop the (alleged) Steal.” The specific object lesson disclosed that there is ample, in fact, preponderant) evidence, in video, audio, and digital formats, for the government to prove its case, and unless one wants to be a martyr, or one is content to wait for Trump’s “re-election” to be pardoned, it behooves one to cooperate, and take the deal. In Reffitt’s case in particular, the volume of evidence of this bragging – detailed in texts, videos, and audio – convinced jurors of his guilt, in a unanimous verdict on all counts, in March, after less than four hours of deliberations.

That brings me to the next point. How did we get here? Jackson, the son of Guy Reffitt, the first US Capitol riot defendant to go to trial rather than take a plea agreement, said his father “absolutely” deserves the 87-month prison sentence that was handed down Monday. Reffitt, who was sentenced Monday, had been convicted by a DC jury in March of five felonies — wanting to obstruct the congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election, transporting guns into DC, carrying a handgun onto Capitol grounds, interfering with Capitol Police protecting the Upper West Terrace and obstructing justice by threatening his daughter and son, who had turned him into the FBI.

Prosecutors played the audio in court from one of the videos Reffitt taped on January 6 at the Capitol. In the recording, Guy Reffitt talked about the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, referring to her in abusive language while speaking of a vague plan for “dragging” her out of the Capitol.

During the trial, Capitol Police officers testified about battling Guy Reffitt outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and prosecutors called him a leader of the crowd. He also recorded a video on January 6 in which he made threatening comments about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Weeks before Guy Reffitt drove from his hometown of Wylie, Texas, to Washington DC to storm the US Capitol, his son Jackson, 18 at the time, had already tipped-off the FBI.

It was a string of messages from his father on Christmas Eve to the family text chain that alarmed Jackson. In them, the older Reffitt announced his intention to go to the nation’s capital “to rise up the way the Constitution was written”.

During his testimony, Jackson said that he reported his father to the FBI because he was worried about his plans.

“We took the United States Capitol,” he texted his family after the siege. “We are the Republic of the People.”

When he returned home to Texas, Guy Reffitt spoke with his son and other members of his family about his experiences. He bragged about his role in the Capitol assault, said Jackson in his testimony.

“I started the fire,” Guy Reffitt told his family. He did not know that his son was secretly recording him on his mobile phone.

He threatened his son, warning him not to tell the authorities.

“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,” his father told Jackson. “And traitors get shot.”

After the verdict, Nicole claimed her husband was used as an example to make all the one-sixers (6 January defendants) take a plea. “Do not take a plea one-sixers,” she urged, “we got this.”

Nathan Reffitt, Guy’s brother, a 50-year-old electrician, called Jackson a “snowflake” and overly sensitive.

“My nephew turned against his father. It’s sad that our country has come to this.”

Jackson, meanwhile, tweeted that it was “impossible to be happy” about the verdict. “My father could have possibly been home by now getting mental help if he took a plea deal.”

Peyton and Sarah Reffitt, Guy’s daughters, took to Twitter and assailed Donald Trump. Sarah lamented her father’s treatment, observing that Trump might be elected again. Meanwhile, Peyton asserted that if their father got that long a sentence, Trump, whom she had previously noted was whose “name was on the flags,” deserves a life sentence. “Chickens Coming Home To Roost: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably!”

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The Movement to Dethrone Democracy: An Idea Capitalized Upon, But Not Created By Trump

It’s time to Break It Down!

On Tuesday of last week, the New York Times (NYT) published a David Leonhardt opinion asserting that the Anti-Democracy Movement is bigger than Donald Trump. Indeed, he points out that on February 24, 2016, someone registered the website Mr. Leonhardt suggests it may have been Roger Stone, who in 2016 was advising Trump’s campaign, and appears to have coined the now infamous phrase, “Stop the Steal.” Indeed, the time frame was during Trump’s primary campaign, and four years before Trump would get around to accusing Joe Biden of election fraud.

As it were, when the phrase was concocted, it wasn’t aimed at a Democrat at all. Rather, the target individual was Ted Cruz, who, at the time, happened to be Trump’s closest competitor for the Republican nomination. After Cruz defeated the field, winning the Colorado caucuses in April 2016, hundreds of Trump supporters gathered in Denver, at the State Capitol and chanted, “Stop the Steal.” Contemporaneously, the website posted baseless allegations claiming fraud in other states.

This quick history note is lifted from Charles Homans’s latest revelatory story, recently published by the Times Magazine. It focuses on the anti-democracy movement within the Republican Party, and makes as a central point, that the movement to create doubt about elections is both older than many people realize, and larger than Donald Trump.

Mr. Homans writes, “What is striking about the movement around the supposed theft of the 2020 election, is how much of it — the ideas, and rhetoric, even the people involved in it — predate Trump’s presidency, and in some cases, even his candidacy.” Moreover, as the movement continues today, it is based less on the narrow goal of restoring Trump to power, although there is still an element of that, and more on a missionary zeal to put rightwing candidates in office. This, of course, is accompanied by the ancillary benefit of install right wing judges and associated political operatives.

GOP candidates running campaigns this year, including the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania and the nominees for secretary of state (the job overseeing elections) in several other states, do not talk about Trump so often. Conversely, they cast themselves as part of a larger crusade to preserve traditional American, Christian, and conservative values. As Humans expounds, they “see themselves as an American people distinct from the American population — a people whose particular loyalties, identities, and values designated them as the true inheritors of the nation, regardless of what the ballots might have said.

On White Nationalism

Mr. Homans and Mr. Leonhardt spent some time discussing why this anti-democratic movement has become such a dominant force within the Republican Party now. Conspiracy theories have a long and significant history in American politics. But they have traditionally remained on the fringes, of both the right and the left. For example, the John Birch Society of the mid-20th century spread some of the same/similar ideas as today’s right-wing conspiracists. yet few Birchers won statewide or federal office.

What has changed? While there is no single answer, there are a few plausible explanations.

One is that many conservatives — especially White conservatives — feel more threatened than in past decades. They worry they are part of a fading minority. Mr. Homans documents the Stop the Steal movement has strong roots in the Tea Party movement, which began early in Barack Obama’s presidency, and frequently portrayed him as illegitimate and un-American.

President Obama, becoming the first Black president, was a clear sign that the country had become more racially diverse, and seemed destined to become even more so. It also happened as the country was questioning traditional ideas gender and sexuality, and becoming more secular, with religious observance declining.

Mr. Homans interviewed a supporter of Doug Mastriano, the GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, after a rally and asked her what she expected if Mastriano won. “I see him stepping in and going back to the Constitution — putting God back in things. He’s about bringing everything back. Everything back.”

Still, this racial and cultural reactionary response is almost certainly not the full story. After all, the U.S. has experienced more intense periods of debate over racial and gender issues — like in the 1960’s — without giving rise to a large anti-democracy movement. Today, several other factors also seem to be in play.

Four more reasons

One is the underlying level of frustration among Americans after decades of slow-growing living standards for most people. A financial crisis, which began shortly before Obama’s election, and the slow recovery from it exacerbated the dissatisfaction.

The pandemic, undoubtedly, is a mother factor. COVID-19 disrupted daily life and caused a further deterioration in many measures of physical and mental health, fostering a sense that society is coming apart.

A tertiary factor is contemporary media. Falsehoods can spread more quickly and be repeated more frequently, via the internet, than for example, the Birchers’ claim that Dwight Eisenhower was a secret communist. Simultaneously, Fox News broadcasts conspiracies to millions of viewers.

Finally, even though Trump’s role may be exaggerated, it is often central. In the past, national leaders tended to reject the conspiracies; in 2008, John McCain famously corrected on of his own supporters who called Obama an Arab. Trump, by contrast, not only pushed the birther conspiracy during Obama’s presidency, but he also declined to push back against his supporters employing it, even though he was forced to make an admission in the 11th hour of his 2016 campaign, that President Obama was American. Furthermore, Mr. Trump proved lies as no other modern U.S. politician has, making them acceptable to people who otherwise might have rejected them. After he ascended to the presidency, using the tactic, many other GOP politicians opted to echo his strategy, or at the very least, refused to denounce him.

That’s the story of how the anti-democracy movement moved to the center of the Grand Old Party. For now, it still revolves around Trump. Sadly, by all appearances, it has the potential to outlast him. “The Movement to Dethrone Democracy: An Idea Capitalized Upon, But Not Created By Trump!”

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The Q’s Are Coming: Welcome Omega Men

It’s time to Break It Down!

Those Who Read My Blog Already Know…I’m a PK, a Christian, a pro-Black advocate, a center-left Democrat, a daily exerciser, a Kinston native, a Charlotte transplant, a Bronco, a Tar Heel, a Hornets’ fan, a Panthers’ fan (home team forever), a Lakers’ fan, a  Dodgers’ fan, a devotee of whatever basketball team on which Andrew Wiggins plays, an HBCU supporter, an adherent of annual physicals, a believer in science & the efficacy of vaccines, a proponent of diversity and inclusion, a weekly blogger, and…an Alpha!

It is as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., that I join General President, Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, the Beta Nu Lambda and Charlotte area Chapters, and Alpha men everywhere, in extending a cordial welcome to Charlotte, to the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and their guests, who are about to visit Charlotte to conduct the business of their 83rd Grand Conclave.

For the uninitiated, pun intended, Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi are historically African American fraternities. Both are members of a collaborative umbrella entity known as the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), composed of seven other organizations, three fraternities, and four sororities, also of African American historical lineage. For anyone who may not know, Omegas are often familiarly called Q’s, as an homage to the letter Q, because of the similarity between the Greek Letter Omega (Ω) and the English Alphabet Q. Together, the nine organizations are collectively, informally, called the “Divine Nine (D9). Eight of the organizations were established during the first quarter of the 20th century; the final current member was founded in 1963. To see the names of the entire D9, and the order/year of their founding, including the NPHC, see the links below.

When the organizations convene in large meetings (National/International, Regional, or State/District), the convening organization hosts a public forum, at which members from the community, and other Pan-Hellenic Council member organizations are invited. The membership of these organizations is composed of some of the finest minds and most influential citizens in America and abroad, and they have been for more than a hundred years.  

Enjoy the warm hospitality and generous spirit of our city. Charlotte is honored to be your host. ‘06!…”The Q’s Are Coming: Welcome Omega Men!”

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That’s What Ails Us Now

It’s time to Break It Down!

COVID-19 developed into a genuinely serious matter circa March 2020. It was during the month of March when the NBA shut down its Regular Season, the NCAA canceled its Basketball Tournaments, and restaurants, schools & colleges, churches, and a host of other establishments either shut down, or greatly curtailed their services and accessibility. As far as we could tell, life as we knew it, forever changed. Troopers that we Americans are, we marched on, figuring out our latest new normal. But wait; roughly 10 months later, just when most Americans thought things wouldn’t or couldn’t get much worse, along came the events of January 6, 2021, for all practical purposes saying something akin to, “Hold my beer!”

So here we are, almost two and a half years after COVID grabbed us by the neck, literally choking the life out of over a million of our fellow Americans, and over a year and a half since an insurrection kicked us in democracy’s gonads, with the unfolding of a violent uprising in and around the U.S. Capitol, symbolic Citadel of our nation’s government. Perhaps the most spiritually debilitating aspect of these two impositions upon our way of life is, neither has been vanquished. Americans are still contracting cases of, and in too many instances, dying from COVID. And yes, we are also reminded daily of the lingering consequences of what many argue was a straight up coup attempt.

We continue to be confronted by new variants of COVID. The most recent strain is Omicron BA.5. Just know, COVID is still with us. Some experts say it will be like the flu, with new variations springing up in perpetuity. I do not know whether that’s true. I do know…it’s still here. Conduct yourselves accordingly.

As for the insurrection, the House January 6 Select Committee continues its work. The committee conducted its seventh day of hearings yesterday. The focus was on zeroing in on the connection between Mr. Trump and extremist groups. The committee showed that the former president and his allies interacted with these violent groups and provided evidence that some rally organizers even expressed concern about the event, and the people gathering in Washington.

The panel listened to live testimony from a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, and another person who participated in the riot, in addition to showing clips of the deposition of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. The committee cannot bring charges against Mr. Trump. However, its principal mission has been to uncover the full scope of his attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power, and to connect his actions to the violence at the Capitol. The Justice Department (JD) is the ultimate arbiter of whether to bring criminal charges.

This is where I do as I often have, and express supreme skepticism regarding whether any charges will be leveled against Mr. Trump. To be clear, not because I believe charges are not warranted, but due to the convolution and complexity involved with navigating such charges in an environment in which the prospective defendant might also be a major political party’s nominee for President, and as such, the chief political rival of the President…or whomever becomes the other major party’s nominee. In addition to skeptical I’m also cynical. I believe that is the number one reason why Mr. Trump wants to be his party’s standard bearer, and of course, President, again. It’s difficult to imagine a greater incentive than keeping his name off the police blotter, and his rear end out of the hoosegow.

Perhaps the two pending items garnering the most attention surrounding the committee’s work, now, are:

First, Vice Chair Cheney noted near the end of the hearing that the panel had forwarded information to the JD regarding a yet to appear witness whom Mr. Trump had attempted to contact, prior to providing their testimony. The individual, reportedly, did not take Mr. Trump’s call, but had their attorney contacted the committee, which in turn, referred that info to the JD.

Second, Steve Bannon, who initially spurned an invitation, and subsequently a subpoena, to testify before the committee, earning a contempt of Congress citation, and an ensuing court appearance, has recently changed his tack, and volunteered to testify…in a public hearing. Other witnesses have testified first in private hearings before their public testimony. It is certain that Bannon hopes to explode and create chaos in the process and change the focus by sidestepping the private hearing, and launching, on air, into the kind of diatribe that is his stock and trade. It remains to be seen whether the committee will put the rabbit in the briar patch. Of course, a morose Trump, utterly frustrated that no one is defending him at these hearings aided in facilitating Bannon’s changed tune by giving him a letter, ostensibly releasing him to vigorously defend himself. It takes very little insight to understand that Bannon’s main, if not only, role will be to defend Mr. Trump, loudly and passionately. It’s a good deal if they can get it. Touché! “That’s What Ails Us Now!”

I’m done. Holla back!

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July 4th In Black & White

It’s time to Break It Down!

Monday was a holiday. Typically, during holiday weeks, I recycle a redux version of a previous post. Not today. Like Dré, I had something to say. Something I needed to say, and something you needed to know. Carry on.

Not every great dilemma is destined to be distilled and viewed through the prism of race. Let’s be clear, however, race, despite being merely a social construct, was literally invented to keep the Black man down. And for ages, across the world, it’s done a hellava job.

Gomes Eanes de Zurara, a Portuguese chronicler of the European Age of Discovery, a lesser light whom most non-historians probably never heard of, pretty much single-handedly composed the lie that effectively invented racism. He was commissioned by Alfonso V, King of Portugal to compose a glowing biography of the African adventures of his beloved uncle, Prince Henry the Navigator. Zurara completed the Chronicles of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea in 1453, a book in which he described all the various people of the myriad countries in Africa as a distinct group, beastly and inferior. This was the first European book written about Africa. Of course, in direct contrast to Zurara’s slander, some of the most sophisticated cultures of the time resided on the African Continent. Not coincidentally, despite serious fakery, the Portuguese were contemporaneously pioneering the North Atlantic slave trade. They were the first to do it, so to speak. It became immediately convenient to have a justifying narrative to assert the inferiority of African people to the church, to other people, and notably, to themselves. With the stroke of a pen, Zurara invented both Blackness and Whiteness…because Blackness alone would have served no purpose without Whiteness. So let it be known, racism did not start based on some misunderstanding between groups, or cultures. It started based on a lie; one that has been perpetuated for over five and a half centuries.

In 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois prophetically foretold: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” It is a well-known sentence that is rarely quoted completely. Du Bois goes on to describe the color line as “the question of how far differences of race . . . will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.” In The Souls of Black Folk, he says it is “the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea” and says, “It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War.”

There is no denying Dr. Du Bois’ prescience. After all, here we are, nearly 120 years later, and the problem of the color line is still front and center. Fast forward more than 110 years after Du Bois’ pronouncement, to the summer of 2016, and the first Issue of OTHERING & BELONGING EXPANDING THE CIRCLE OF HUMAN CONCERN, in which john a. powell and Stephen Menendian wrote: “The problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of “othering.” In a world beset by seemingly intractable and overwhelming challenges, virtually every global, national, and regional conflict is wrapped within or organized around one or more dimension of group-based difference. Othering undergirds territorial disputes, sectarian violence, military conflict, the spread of disease, hunger, and food insecurity, and even climate change.

Clearly, powell and Menendian expanded the dimensions of the debate to include a host of additional variables, including people and issues. For the purposes of this post, I will continue to highlight race and the American condition. Although the enlarged conversation warrants further discourse, I’ll have to revisit that at another time.

For now, just know this. On June 27, 2022, 25-year-old Jayland Walker was involved in a traffic stop in Akron, Ohio that after his fleeing, devolved into the final encounter of his life. News accounts report that he was shot by police, as many as 60 times. On July 4, 2022, 21-year-old Robert Crimo was involved in a traffic stop in North Chicago, that after his fleeing resulted in him being detained and arrested. Some might consider it important to note that Crimo is the lone person of interest/suspect in a mass shooting that resulted in killing 7 people and wounding dozens more during an Independence Day Parade in Highland Park. Consider it noted.

Yes, Walker is Black; Crimo is White. Yes, there have been many instances with comparable circumstances, and similar results. This is America! For all its alleged greatness, there is still a lot to work on, particularly when it comes to race, and as Du Bois framed it, the problem of the color line.

Unless we, here in America, gird our proverbial loins, and commit ourselves to confronting, deconstructing, and neutering this behemoth of a problem, we are assured of staying mired in the quicksand of America’s original sin.

Anti-CRT advocates and folks who claim to adhere to constitutional originalism fail to acknowledge and appropriately address the Constitution’s odious double malady, first of ignoring Black people, then secondly, of relegating us to 3/5 status. In short, the United States was founded by men who owned slaves, and who did not extend equal rights to women. We can, and in fact, we should, stop pretending all the documents they wrote were infallible. Oh, by the way, to celebrate July 4, 1776 and simultaneously ignore January 6, 2021 is the epitome of hypocrisy. Full stop.

Slavery, like it or not, is an irreducible fact, not some throwaway guest worker clause, or involuntary relocation plan (both euphemisms that are actively applied today), and it is an indelible black, no pun intended, mark on the ego-inspired notion of “American Exceptionalism.” George (no, not Washington) Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Contemporary America asks all of us to take the “blue pill,” and forget how we got here. The best and most compelling counterpoint to that ill-conceived plea is that there is a cadre of Americans who are never going to permit that to happen. We are here, America is our home, and we are not going anywhere. You can forget about those go back to Africa, or Mexico, or India, or China, or Japan, or fill-in-the-blank Muslim country jeers and sneers. We are here, and what’s more important, we don’t just sing America, We Are America…Oh Say Can You See Us…now. That dear friends and family, is “July 4th In Black & White!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Cassidy Hutchinson: Remember The Name

It’s time to Break It Down!

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol resumed its public hearings June 9, 2022. The first hearing, conducted July 27, 2021, featured emotional testimony from several law enforcement officers on duty defending the Capitol on that day. 

After nearly 10 and a half months of information gathering, including interviewing over 900 witnesses, and assembling more than 10,000 documents, the committee announced it would “present previously unseen material documenting” the events of January 6. After preliminarily scheduling a break for the July 4th holiday, the committed announced Monday that it would hold its sixth hearing yesterday to consider recently obtained evidence on the attack.

During the hearing, Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, delivered two hours of compelling, sometimes riveting testimony. Nicholas Wu wrote a piece in Politico yesterday, elevating 5 stunning moments from Ms. Hutchinson’s interview. To be sure, there were other damning revelations, but these 5 points more than adequately frame the callous disregard the former President showed for sober restraint, propriety, and the orderly transition of power spelled out in the United States Constitution. Ms. Hutchinson expounded on her knowledge of Mr. Trump’s post-election campaign to hold onto power – from his desire to go to the Capitol as unrest by his supporters became a riot, to his efforts to allow armed rallygoers to join him on the Ellipse hours before the attack.

Trump lunging for the Beast’s wheel

First, Ms. Hutchinson shared that she’d heard from Tony Ornato, a top presidential security official, about an altercation on January 6, as Mr. Trump continually pressed to go to the Capitol following his “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse. When Mr. Trump was advised that he would be returning to 1600 PA Ave. instead of going to the Capitol, while riding in “the Beast,” he became irate.

She said she was told by Ornato that Mr. Trump lunged for the steering wheel of the car and was physically restrained by the head of his Secret Service detail, Robert Engel.

Mr. Ornato “described (Trump) as being irate. The president said something to the effect of, ‘I am the fucking president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” Ms. Hutchinson said. She added that while Ornato relayed this story, Mr. Engel sat silent.

Trump throwing food at the wall

Second, Ms. Hutchinson related that, after then-Attorney General Barr gave an interview to The Associated Press in December 2020 saying there was no widespread voter fraud, Mr. Trump was so enraged that he threw his plate at the wall, smearing it with ketchup.

“There was ketchup dripping down the wall and a shattered porcelain plate on the floor.” Ms. Hutchinson testified nearby aides conveyed the president was “extremely angry” about the Barr interview. She told the committee she then grabbed a towel and started wiping the ketchup off the wall alongside a presidential valet.

A call from ‘angry’ McCarthy

Third, Ms. Hutchinson recounted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called her on January 6 to relay his concern that Mr. Trump would try to come to the Capitol after the then-president mentioned it on a stage at the Ellipse rally.

“He sounded rushed and frustrated and angry,” Ms. Hutchinson said, adding that the California Republican told her Trump had offered assurances for a week that he would not be coming to the Capitol on January 6. Mr. McCarthy then asked Ms. Hutchinson, as she remembered it: “Why would you lie to me?”

“Figure it out,” she said Mr. McCarthy told her on January 6, as Congress prepared to certify the 2020 election results. “Do not come up here.”

A spokesperson for Mr. McCarthy did not immediately return a request for comment about Ms. Hutchinson’s recounting of the call.

Meadow’s warning – then non-reaction

Fourth, Ms. Hutchinson disclosed that Chief of Staff Meadows, her boss at the time, told her on January 2 that “things might get real, real bad” four days later. However, four days later, on January 6, when he was told the Capitol Police were being overrun, she recalled that he “almost had a lack of reaction.”

“I remember him saying something to the effect of, ‘How much longer does the president have left in his speech?’” She had to wait about 20 to 25 minutes to talk to Mr. Meadows that afternoon while he was on a call in a secure vehicle.

“It wasn’t something he regularly did.”

Trump OK’ing weapons at ‘Stop the Steal’

Fifth, Ms. Hutchinson divulged that just minutes before Mr. Trump took the stage at the Ellipse rally of his supporters on January 6, 2021 – a gathering to amplify his baseless election fraud claims, a rally that he vowed would be “wild,” and that later metastasized into the Capitol riot – that she heard Mr. Trump urging the Secret Service to remove security magnetometers and let in people with weapons.

His rationale, as she recalled it, was allowing in armed rallygoers because, “they’re not here to hurt me.”

Mr. Trump wanted the rally space to be full and “for people to not feel excluded,” and was “fucking furious” people were turned away. 

Suffice it to say, Mr. Trump denied it all, and in his standard disclaimer said, he barely knew who Hutchinson was…but he’d heard only bad things about her. “Cassidy Hutchinson: Remember The Name!”

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Bowers’ Story: The Receipts Come Rolling In

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday, another iteration of the January 6 Panel interviews unfolded. As I’ve noted in the past, there are occasions when the story is the story, and no interpretation or extrapolation is necessary. This is one of those instances. With that in mind, I pulled one rendition of yesterday’s J6 Committee hearings from KOLD News 13 in Tucson, AZ. The details follow below.

The House 1/6 committee outlined on Tuesday Donald Trump’s relentless pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election, aiming to show it led to widespread personal threats on the stewards of American democracy — election workers and local officials who fended off the defeated president’s efforts.

The hearing opened with chilling accounts of the barrage of verbal attacks facing state and local elected officials, including Arizona’s Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers who said he was subject to a “disturbing” smear campaign online, bull-horn protests at his home, and a pistol-wielding man taunting his family and neighbors.

Speaker Bowers tells the Jan. 6 committee about groups that regularly show up at his house.

The panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol resumed with a focus on Trump’s efforts to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the most local way — by leaning on officials in key battleground states to reject ballots outright or to submit alternative electors for the final tally in Congress. The pressure was fueled by the defeated president’s false claims of voter fraud which, the panel says, led directly to the riot at the Capitol.

Chairman Bennie Thompson declared, “A handful of election officials in several key states stood between Donald Trump and the upending of American democracy.”

We fought Trump pressure, GOP state officials tell 1/6 panel

Moments before Speaker Bower’s testimony Monday, Trump issued a statement calling Bowers a “RINO” or a Republican in name only, a term often used by members of the party to those who are not seen as conservative enough. Trump also wrote that Bowers had previously told him that the election was rigged and that he, indeed, “won Arizona.”

Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers is the latest RINO to play along with the Unselect Committee. In November 2020, Bowers thanked me for getting him elected. He said he would have lost, and in fact expected to lose, if I hadn’t come along. During the conversation, he told me that the election was rigged and that I won Arizona. He said he got more votes than I did which could never have happened. In fact, he said without me, he would have been out of office, and he expected to be prior to my coming along, and big Arizona rallies. The night before the election he walked outside with his wife and saw the tremendous Trump enthusiasm and told her, “You know what? Maybe I will win after all”—and he did. Bowers should hope there’s not a tape of the conversation.

Former President Donald Trump on the morning of Bower’s testimony

Speaker Bowers fired back at the claim by the former President telling the panel “anywhere, anyone, anytime has said that I said the election was rigged, that would not be true.”

Bowers walked through an account of being called by Trump on a Sunday after returning from church when the defeated president laid out his proposal to have the state replace its electors for Joe Biden with those favoring Trump. “I said, Look, you’re asking me to do something that is counter to my oath,” Bowers testified before the committee. Bowers insisted on seeing Trump’s evidence of voter fraud, which he said Trump’s team never produced beyond vague allegations. He recalled Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani at one point told him, “‘We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.’”

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) told U.S. House committee members that anyone who claims he said the election was rigged is lying.

Trump wanted Bowers to hold a hearing at the state Capitol, but the Republican leader said there was already a “circus” atmosphere over the election. The panel showed video footage of protesters at the Arizona state house including a key figure, the horned-hat wearing Jacob Chansley, who was later arrested at the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

Trump nevertheless pressed the Arizona official, including in a follow-up call, suggesting he expected a better response from a fellow Republican. But Bowers testified under oath that because of his faith, including a belief the U.S. Constitution is divinely inspired, what the president was asking him to do was “foreign to my very being.”

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice chair, embraced Bowers during a break in the hearing. She implored Americans to pay attention to the evidence being presented, declaring, “Donald Trump didn’t care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them, he made no effort to stop them.” “We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”

The public hearing, the fourth by the panel this month, stemmed from its yearlong investigation into Trump’s unprecedented attempt to remain in power, a sprawling scheme that the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee has likened to an “attempted coup.” There will be more. But for now, consider “Bowers’ Story: The Receipts Come Rolling In!”

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Juneteenth: Why It Matters

It’s time to Break It Down!

I’m sure there are Americans who’ve never heard of it, though the number is likely decreasing each year. As we delve further into the digital age, all variety of media explore more deeply, almost every topic known to man. Juneteenth certainly falls into that category.

To be clear, Juneteenth is an American federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The backstory on how Juneteenth came to be a thing in the first place is prima facie evidence of why the term American Exceptionalism is oxymoronic, in both derivation, and in contemporary assertion.

A year ago, on June 15, 2021, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Momentum for this legislation had been increasing since the spate of Black Lives Matter protests, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, and Democrats taking over Congress and the White House after the November 2020 Election. However, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson spiked the bill in 2020, saying it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Johnson relented on his opposition last year, despite lingering concerns. He said:

“Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate. While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss this matter.”

The measure was overwhelmingly approved by the House on June 16, 2021, and then signed into law by President Biden a day later, June 17, 2021.

In the beginning, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, the end of slavery, in accord with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Initially issued September 22, 1862, the Proclamation went into effect January 1, 1863. Slave owners in Texas had for two and a half years, somehow managed not to pass that information along to their enslaved population. Hence, the oxymoronic utilization of the term American Exceptionalism, dating all the way back to the 19th Century. Go figure. 

Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980. With Governor Kristi Noem’s signing of a bill in South Dakota on February 11, 2022, every state in the Union commemorates the day, though only a few states observe it as a paid holiday.

Senators Ed Markey, D-MA, and John Cornyn, R-TX, along with Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX are among the members of Congress who spearheaded the initiative to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday. It’s about time. “Juneteenth: Why It Matters!”

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Inflation And Gas Prices Are High; So Are Retirement Accounts And Millennial Home Ownership

It’s time to Break It Down!

There is a woebegone narrative that suggests the United States has gone to hell in a handbasket. The story is built upon a framework that accurately points to an inflation rate unseen since the 80’s, and to record high gasoline prices, both legitimate causes for alarm and distress.

But that’s not the end of the story. In fact, quiet as it’s kept, tens of millions of American households are thriving at the highest level in decades.

Why is that significant? High gas prices, stock market volatility and inflation are hiding the reality that the economy is working for a high swath of Americans – and has richly bolstered their nest eggs.

Here’s something rare these days – a parade of encouraging news:

Houses: It’s hard to find one to buy –  and the 66% of Americans who do own homes are seeing the values soar. The middle class has made an enormous $2.1 trillion from homeownership in the past 10 years, Fortune reports.

Retirement accounts: Despite the recent sell-off, they’ve been fattened by the stock market. Moreover, the share of people who say they expect to work past their early 60’s has dropped below 50% for the first time.

Jobs: Today there are 11.4 million job openings. The current unemployment rate is 3.68% – back to pre-pandemic lows.

Safety nets68% of Americans say they have cash for a rainy day.

Millennial homeownership: It’s at 43%, up from 37% last year.

Reality check: There’s still plenty of pain in this economy – likely with much more to come.

The tight housing market is pricing out millions of renters and potential buyers.

Rising prices – at the pump and in the grocery store – are draining wallets.

That helps explain one of the bigger polling conundrums we’ve seen:

We think things are going fine for us, but terribly for America. 78% of Americans are confident in their personal financial well-being, but only 24% are confident in the financial well-being of the U.S., per Federal Reserve data reported by the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson.

The bottom line: Things haven’t been so good for many decades, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research told The New York Times:

“You’d have to go back to the late 1990’s to find a similar era. Before that, the 1960s.”

At the end of the day, there is no getting around the fact that these are challenging times. But let’s be clear, these are not Dickensian “Worst of times.” Remember to appreciate the balance of the universe. “Inflation and Gas Prices Are High; So Are Retirement Accounts and Millennial Home Ownership!”

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

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