Home Grown (American) Terrorism: The Gift Of White Privilege

It’s time to Break It Down!

There is a growing scourge on American soil. Men, women, and children are being killed at schools, at hotels, at churches, mosques, and synagogues, at shopping malls, at theaters, at work, and at nightclubs. They are not being murdered, for what they did or didn’t do, or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner wrote in a piece appearing yesterday at CNN.com, they were, “Slaughtered again and again because, whether Jewish, or black, or simply not “pure” white, they are seen as a pestilence to be purged.”

The individuals who committed their murders are adherents of a vile and hateful ideology that meets the FBI definition of terrorism. However, a number of higher echelon law enforcement officials (LEO’s), past and present, say they aren’t treated as terrorists, because they arte American…and because they are white.

Alas, in the backdrop of a rising number of lethal white supremacist attacks, many of these same officials say that must change. They add; white supremacy has to be labeled terrorism, and in turn, addressed with the same vigor and relentless pursuit as ISIS and al Qaeda. Easier said than done, especially considering the policy changes that must be enacted to facilitate and achieve such a change.

Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance was one contemporary LEO driven to that conclusion by a preponderance of the evidence. He was investigating the Midtown Manhattan homicide of 66-year old Timothy Caughman. Mr. Caughman was walking alone when a man approached him from behind and plunged a sword into his chest. While dying, he uttered the last words, “Why are you doing this?” His killer’s response? He kept stabbing!

The answer would be become clear in short order. James Jackson had come from his home in Maryland with one thing in mind…To start a race war. While it was certainly an egregiously hateful act, Vance concluded this was more than a hate crime. He described it thusly, using these words from Jackson’s manifesto:

“It was the targeted killing of a black man with the aspiration of dividing the races to keep killing each other, ending in the death of every black person in the United States and around the world.” That’s deep; it’s also real.

Vance went on to say, “I think we needed to call it what it was. This was an act of terrorism. This exists in our country, and it happened here.”

Although DA Vance framed it gingerly, his point was nevertheless, crystal clear. Most Americans, in their own self-absorbed way, refuse to admit that terrorists can be English speaking, American-born, and white people. Terrorists, though, come in all tongues, nationalities, and hues. Moreover, if one endeavors to spread fear, and to wipeout a specific group of people, one is a terrorist. To wit, Vance and his team ascribed Jackson with the title he strived for, and that he duly earned, terrorist. He noted that calling someone a terrorist elevates that person’s profile, as well as that of the case; it can also lead to leveling additional charges and attaching higher sentences.

Caughman’s killing actually fits the category the FBI has deemed domestic terrorism:

“Perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily US-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”

This murder may not have gained wide national notoriety. But, its part of a very public and growing, deadly trend of domestic terror attacks committed largely by white men. From the Charleston church massacre through the killing of a protester in Charlottesville and the shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, far-right extremists are responsible for — or suspected of – most of the ideological killings in America in the last 10 years, according to data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks extremist activity.

White supremacist murders in the US “more than doubled in 2017,” with far-right extremist groups and white supremacists “responsible for 59% of all extremist-related fatalities in the US in 2017,” ADL’s audit shows. They were responsible for 20% of these fatalities the year before.

The degree to which white supremacist terrorism is a problem depends upon whom you ask. Some folks insist it’s not a problem. Donald Trump, for example, has said he does not regard white nationalism as a rising global threat. His response to the question of whether he worried about the rise in white nationalist movements around the world, was, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.”

Conversely, George Selim, former head of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force at DHS says, “If the same number of Americans had been killed at the hands of an individual that was inspired or directed by a foreign terrorist organization, you can bet this Congress and any administration, irrespective of political party would be reacting much differently,” Selim is set to take his argument to Congress today. He is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The title of the hearing is, “Confronting white supremacy: The consequences of inaction.

In a number of ways, the current spate of racist murders has common denominators with episodes of foreign terrorists. Its sort of a radicalization is radicalization vibe. It frequently occurs online, and is similar to the methods and sources utilized by ISIS and al Qaeda. There is one specific distinction; these homegrown extremists are white. Caughman’s murderer focused on his intense hatred of African American men before traveling to New York and killing him.

For weeks leading up to his attack, Jackson spent huge amounts of time during days and nights online studying Nazism and extremism. Interracial dating was an “insurmountable problem,” in his mind. He read obsessively about Dylann Roof, who murdered the Charleston Nine. Jackson wrote in his manifesto, “The racial world war starts today. Negroes are obviously first on the list for extermination.

The gunmen in Charleston, and the Pittsburgh and Poway suspects all engaged in hateful speech online before transforming their rage into lethal action. Mr. Selim emphasizes a behavioral response that he believes to be both critical and foreboding, the reluctance to name white men as possibly dangerous. That in and of itself poses a clear and present danger…”because white supremacists and nationalists are a real and persistent threat.” Selim went on to say:

“As I look forward in the next five to 10 or more years, we need to acclimate ourselves to the new normal, which is increased incidents of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism, anti-Semitism, and all acts of bigotry or Islamophobia, xenophobia that target ethnic and religious minority groups. Once we understand that that is very likely the new normal, then we can put in place some of the strong infrastructure related to counterterrorism and community resilience that we’ve already built up and focus it on these new threats that we know we’re going to be facing.”

In the final analysis, there is much work to be done in this area. No small part of the challenge is attached to America’s love of guns, and the sacrosanct nature of the 2ndAmendment. Guns are frequently and easily available. And, they are most often the method of choice of the principals we’ve been discussing. But, if you are thinking, that’s a whole ‘nother blog, you’re right. IJS, in order to deal with this matter, we must eventually deal with the gun issue. In the meantime, today’s focus is, Home Grown (American) Terrorism: The Gift Of White Privilege!”

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/2019/05/14/us/white-supremacy-terrorism-soh/index.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/05/15/home-grown-american-terrorism-the-gift-of-white-privilege/

 

Jerry and Don’s Coup: Fiction on Steroids…The Real Hoax!

Evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, take your pick, is a global transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity. My father was a Baptist preacher. You might say he was an evangelical. As someone who practices the Christian faith, is to this day a regular churchgoer, and who considers my father my greatest influence, by a wide margin, I suppose that means, at the very least, I am endowed with some measure of evangelical lineage. On most days I am intellectually capable of coming to terms with that logic framework.

Before going any further, let me be clear, my father did not raise another preacher. Good, bad, or indifferent, that path never spoke to me; it was not on my radar. Still, growing up in church, and around ministers, I had ample opportunity to observe the sausage making aspects of church life from an up close and personal angle, starting at an early age, and extending to my early thirties, when my dad passed away.

I needed to posit the preceding paragraphs to establish the predicate for the assertion of the premise of the subject line. Jerry Falwell, Jr., scion of his namesake, Jerry Falwell, is like his father before him, one of the most prominent evangelicals in America. He is a lawyer, and also like his father, who preceded him in that capacity, the President of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

This past Saturday evening, Falwell, Jr. tweeted the following:

“After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump – no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring. I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.” (Jerry Falwell, Jr.)

Donald J. Trump retweeted Falwell’s message Sunday afternoon.

That is just the latest from Falwell’s growing Library of Trump sycophancy. Here’s a dandy from a few months ago:

Christ has finally delivered us a man worthy of grace in President Donald J. Trump. After 8 long years of Barack Obama’s tyrannical rule we have a President who prays like us, serves like us, and looks like us. 6:47 PM – 21 Feb 2019 (Jerry Falwell, Jr. Tweet)

I don’t even plan to address the latter tweet, other than to note it’s interesting that one of Falwell’s 3 elevated points is that Trump “looks like us.” I’m not really sure if that pertains specifically to people who are rotund, overweight, with thinning hair…or just to the entirety of white America. I mean, I can’t know what’s in his heart, right? Take your pick. I have no interest in debating the matter.

Let’s get back to the alleged coup attempt. First, it’s instructive to note this was not the only time Trump has inserted coup into the conversation, presumably to establish victimhood bona fides and light a fire under his acolytes.

In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on April 25, 2019: Trump said:

“This was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government. … I think it’s far bigger than Watergate. I think it’s possibly the biggest scandal in political history in this country. Maybe beyond political. … This was a coup. This wasn’t stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup.”

In the weeks leading up to the Hannity appearance in which Trump referred to a coup, he retweeted or quoted in tweets several allies using the term. The first was pro-Trump commentator Dan Bongino, who said on Fox & Friends on Feb. 18 that “this was an illegal coup attempt on the President of the United States.”

It should be noted that Mueller found no conspiracy with Russia; if Mueller had been part of a coup, he could have thrown Justice Department guidelines to the wind and indicted Trump. Moreover, let’s go deeper.

A coup d’état is defined as the sudden and irregular (i.e., illegal or extra-legal) removal, or displacement, of the executive authority of an independent government. The principle and irreducible element of a coup is it is first and foremost an action carried out beyond the bounds of legality. Conversely, the inescapable point about the Russia investigation is it was undertaken by law enforcement, and adhered to relevant laws.

By using the word coup, Trump, Falwell, Bongino, and anyone else who subscribes to that notion are suggesting that Trump’s own Justice Department, comprised of and more pointedly, run by people he appointed, acted at variance with the law.

There are at least 12 types of coups, including:

  • Military coups
  • Rebel coups
  • Popular revolts
  • Dissident actions
  • Palace coups
  • Foreign coups
  • Internationally mediated transitions (Which may be what Trump is attempting to foment in Venezuela, but I digress)
  • Forced resignations
  • Self coups (Which is what some believe Trump may do if he loses the 2020 Election, but again, I digress)
  • Attempted coups
  • Coup conspiracies
  • Counter coups

Here’s the bottom line. The Russia investigation began before Trump was elected. And at a time when it was widely assumed that Mrs. Clinton would win. It cannot have been a coup attempt. It was an effort carried out by duly established arms and agents of the state to prevent seizure of the government by a witting or unwitting Russian agent.

Politifact found that Trump said, the Russia investigation “was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States Government.”

A thorough review reveals the Russia investigation resulted from a by-the-rules law enforcement inquiry. That’s the antithesis of a coup, for which the defining characteristic is that it’s an extra-legal action. That distinction must be added to the recognition that the investigation began prior to Trumps’ “record-breaking” inaugural, which means…he wasn’t even eligible to be deposed by a coup.

Consequently, this assertion garnered a Pants on Fire rating. Of course, if you read last week’s post, that should come as no surprise, whatsoever. Just add it to the list. And there you have it; got through the whole post without a screed on Falwell and Trump’s new found respect for reparations, or a thoughtful treatise noting, even FBI Director Christopher Wray (that’s Trump appointed Christopher Wray, if you’re keeping score) admits there was no spying on Trump. Anyway, forget about the “Russia hoax.” Instead, focus on “Jerry & Don’s Coup: Fiction on Steroids…The Real Hoax!”

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/Jerry_Falwell_Jr.

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

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-retweets-falwells-call-extend-his-first-presidential-term-2-years-pay-1415645

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2019/apr/29/donald-trump/was-donald-trump-target-coup-no/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/05/08/jerry-and-dons-coup-fiction-on-steroids-the-real-hoax/

 

It Was Only A Matter Of Time: #45 Eclipses The 10K Milestone

It’s time to Break It Down!

Spoiler Alert: Since I framed and wrote this post (Monday, in full disclosure, due to travel into late Tuesday night), Rosenstein resigned, and Mueller threw a hand grenade into the GOP circle jerk. At first glance, said developments may be more interesting than this post, but they also make this post more compelling. They pointedly indict both Rosenstein and Barr as having joined #45 in presenting and promoting a patently false narrative about Mueller’s report. A narrative that, not surprisingly, was slanted in #45’s favor, and as is frequently the case when it comes to #45, one that is counterfactual. See how that ties into the thematic direction of this post.

Prolific! That’s my personal WOTD. Conceived and utilized expressly for this post.

Just to set the tone, in no particular order, here is a definition and 10 synonyms for prolific:

Present in large numbers or quantities –

  • Plentiful
  • Abundant
  • Bountiful
  • Profuse
  • Copious
  • Proliferative
  • Plenteous
  • Bounteous
  • Proliferous
  • Fruitful

All things considered, the above adds up to a cornucopia of ways to describe the frequency with which the dude in the Oval finds himself occupying a space other than that which contains the verifiable truth. While I have written before about the fact challenged nature of #45’s commentary and tweet history, the current situation warrants reiterating not because it’s new, it obviously isn’t, but because his false and misleading claims are increasing at a near exponential pace.

In the early going, it was clear that #45 was going to get the benefit of the doubt by a media reluctant to call his deviations from the truth lies. Never having been confronted by anyone so willing to push the envelope on such things, it was perhaps momentarily, an interesting experiment. It didn’t hurt that he surrounded himself with a team composed of individuals willing to ignore, justify, rationalize, and when necessary double-down on the falsity of the moment.

After the Inauguration in 2017, then White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated Mr. Trump’s specious claim that Trump’s Inauguration had the largest crowd ever for the event. When Spicer’s assertion was rightfully called into question, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President co-signed Spicer’s sleight of tongue by saying the Press Secretary had given “alternative facts,” when what he did was make an inaccurate statement.

The Washington Post and The New York Times are among a number of entities tracking Trump’s veracity. The Post deploys a source known as The Fact Checker’s database. According to this resource, through April 27th, #45 has been “credited” with having made 10,111 claims that are either false or misleading, in 828 days. It took 601 days for him to reach 5,000. That equated to an average of 8 claims per day. Unarguably, that’s a prodigious sum, and a high octane pace, in its own right. However, in retrospect, it’s clear the vibrant young man with the very, very large brain, was just getting warmed up. Though it was already clear, the trend line was on the upswing. During his first 100 days, he averaged about 5 such statements per day. At that somnambulant rate, he would have accumulated only around 7,000 in an entire 4-year term.

This month, the last week or so in particular, he has almost certainly put the truth-o-meters into hyper-drive.  Take note of these examples:

Add in #45’s constant Twitter barrage, and the precocious dissembler ran up 171 false or misleading claims in just 3 days, April 25th–27th. That’s a sum greater than the total for any single month during his first five months in office.

The Fact Checker welcomes academic research into the Trump claims database. Recent examples include Erasmus UniversityUniversity College London, and University of California at Santa Barbara. You can request their data files with an explanation of your research plans by contacting them at factchecker@washpost.com.

The single most repeated claim (160 times) made by #45 is that his border wall is being built. It is not. Congress has yet to fund the wall, as he envisioned it, and in response, he has pitched bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.” Moreover, he has a tendency to operate from the “If he continues to repeat the same untruth, it’ll be believed.” The Post’s database has noted nearly 300 instances in which #45 has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times. He has also garnered 21 “Bottomless Pinocchios,” claims that have earned Three of Four Pinocchios, and which have been repeated 20 or more times.

The order and degree of things about which #45 makes false or misleading claims has no bounds. A short list includes:

  • Trade deficits with China and Japan – He has exaggerated the deficits and frequently claims America loses money from such deficits. We’ve purchased more goods from them than they did from us. Period. Moreover, if we add tariffs to their goods, it is Americans who pay more money to purchase desired goods and services.
  • He has said he has nothing to hide from the Russia investigation. Perhaps, but he persists in refusing to testify under oath. Draw you own inference.
  • He continued inflating jobs gained under his administration, starting the count from his election, rather than his “largest ever” inauguration.
  • He claimed the Green New Deal would require every building in Manhattan to be replaced. No. Just no!
  • He took credit for funding a program, the Great Lake Restoration Initiative, which his administration tried to eliminate.
  • He claimed that he passed the biggest tax cut in history, and that he cut the estate tax to zero. No…and no.
  • He claimed he insisted that the new Embassy in Jerusalem be made of Jerusalem stone. The reality? The British mandated through municipal laws in what was then Palestine that buildings must be faced with a local form of limestone that has a golden hue.

And so it goes; I’m sure you get the readily obvious, and often repeated point. This dude is a piece of work. It amazes me that in a political party in which so many people think of, or who define themselves as free-thinkers, so large a proportion of them display such a phenomenal level of obeisance to this man. I’ll tell you what doesn’t surprise me at all though. “It Was Only A Matter Of Time: #45 Eclipses The 10K Milestone.”

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.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/29/president-trump-has-made-more-than-false-or-misleading-claims/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3a1f65d2545c&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-claims-database/?utm_term=.c9caff7d5234

https://www.salon.com/2019/04/29/trump-has-made-over-10000-false-or-misleading-claims-as-president/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/05/01/it-was-only-a-matter-of-time-45-eclipses-the-10k-milestone/

 

Don’t Believe The Hype: It’s Still Early

It’s time to Break It Down!

OK, get ready for one of the shortest blogs ever. No citations, no links, just in essence what amounts to my thought for the day.

As I read, watch news shows, listen to podcasts, and converse with friends, I have been confronted by a recurring theme. Democrats are panicked because they are concerned Donald Trump may win again, not because he is a better, or even a worthy candidate, but because:

  1. Democrats won’t be able to field a competitive candidate.
  2. The field is humongous; candidates will cannibalize one another.

Relax. It’s April 24th. On this date four years ago, more than 6 weeks passed before Donald Trump announced his candidacy. At least from a calendaring perspective, it looks like Joe Biden is set to announce with time to spare.

Moreover, while at it’s max, the Dems are certain to have 20 or more candidates, don’t forget Donald Trump formally dispatched 16 intrepid Republicans on his way to the GOP nomination, including a guy who claimed presidential DNA, and a staggering one hundred thirty million dollar war chest.

The bottom line is, seemingly all-knowing prognostications notwithstanding, we don’t have a clue how this passion play will unfold, and we certainly don’t know who will be last man or woman standing. Having said that, we do know one this with unswerving assuredness. Elections have consequences! We are living them now.

It has been said Democrats who stay home elect Republicans. Don’t get me wrong. If you are a Republican, I’m perfectly cool with you voting your conscience. Do you! Alternately however, if you are a Democrat, I urge you not to be deterred by Russians or by Republicans. Vote. Vote in primaries, vote in run-offs, and vote in the General Election. Don’t Believe The Hype: It’s Still Early!

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.

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/04/24/dont-believe-the-hype-its-still-early/

 

Trump’s Taxes: Dems Not Up To The Challenge

It’s time to Break It Down!

So says White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, in and interview with “Fox News Sunday” host, Chris Wallace. In a next up sort of way, Sanders trotted out a new rationale for why Democrats in the House of Representatives, as Acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney said, will never see Trump’s taxes. When asked by Fox News if Democrats’ efforts to obtain Trump’s tax returns would succeed, Mulvaney said:

“No, never. Nor should they.” He added: “Democrats are demanding that the IRS turn over the documents. That is not going to happen, and they know it. This is a political stunt.”

Trump has a proverbial phalanx of support aiding in shielding his taxes from the sunlight of public, or even Congressional scrutiny. Rep. Richard Neal, D-MA sent the IRS a formal request, asking for six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns. He asserted, in his role as Chair of the Joint Committee on Taxation, that the committee “has a responsibility to conduct oversight of our voluntary Federal tax system and determine how Americans — including those elected to our highest office — are complying with those laws.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, weighed in, writing in a letter, “The Committee’s request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of Congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose, and the constitutional rights of American citizens.”

Ms. Sanders’ retort was yet another shot across the bow, warning Democrats that the GOP apparatus is fully on board in circling the wagons to prevent the release of Trump’s taxes. Her direct broadside attack on Democrats’ intellectual capacity is yet another indication she is comfortable parroting her boss’ attacking style. She first referred to Democrats’ requests for Trump’s tax returns as “a disgusting overreach,” and warned that they are headed down “a dangerous road.”

It was after that less than subtle dig that she went into full-throated Trump mode. She added:

“I don’t think Congress, particularly not this group of congressmen and women, are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be.

My guess is most of them don’t do their own taxes and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything.”

It is all but certain Trump smiled as he watched her performance (And you know he watched; if not live, as soon as he returned to his TV screen from the links. It was Sunday, after all). He may even have added that she delivered the lines…just as he would have, or possibly, as he instructed her to do. Moreover, beyond Trump’s obvious delight, Ms. Sanders was apparently proud in her own right. She later reprised the moment in tweet:

“Democrats in Congress aren’t smart enough to understand the President’s tax returns and probably don’t even understand how to do their own…”

Not surprisingly, there were a number of responses to Ms. Sanders snarky commentary, including noting that there are a minimum of 10 accountants currently in Congress, at least three of whom are Democrats…not that Sanders specifically cited Democrats as being the tax-inept lightweights. But you just know that’s what she meant. After all, who’s asking for the tax returns?

As noted above, in framing his request, Chairman Neal asked for six years of Trump’s Tax returns. He cited a law that says the Treasury Department “shall furnish” the committee with “any return or return information” upon request. At this point it’s safe to say the two sides are dug in. The House Democrats are sure to keeping coming after Trump’s taxes, and Team Trump is certain to install every obstacle imaginable to keep Democrats from obtaining them. The matter appears headed to court where Trump is betting his stable of appointees will tilt the ultimate decision in his favor, and save him from the revelation all Democrats, and a majority od Americans think is warranted. In addition to the fact that process is likely to take years, if indeed, it turns out that way, then as much as it sucks, Sanders, and her Knight, will have won the dayTrump’s Taxes: Dems Not Up To The Challenge!”

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.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/democrats-aren-t-smart-enough-read-trump-s-tax-returns-n994291

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

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/15/sarah-sanders-doubts-congress-smart-enough-understand-trump-taxes/3470822002/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-taxes-steve-mnuchin-calls-democrats-request-for-the-presidents-tax-returns-unprecedented/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/mulvaney-vows-democrats-will-never-see-trumps-tax-returns-2019-04-07

https://news.yahoo.com/chief-staff-says-dems-never-see-trump-tax-133000338–politics.html;_ylt=AwrCwPM5iLZcdkgADhYPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTBydDI5cXVuBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM2BHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/04/17/trumps-taxes-dems-not-up-to-the-challenge/

From Outhouse To Penthouse: Hoos Win!

It’s time to Break It Down!

OK, it’s Wednesday, April 10th and the CIAA, ACC, and NCAA Basketball Tournaments are history. But before I turn the page, I’ve got a few final observations to make about the NCAA Final Four.

First, to the University of Virginia Cavaliers, their students, alumni and fans, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Kyle Guy, and Coach Tony Bennett, congratulations on winning the 2019 NCAA College Basketball Division-I Championship! All praise coming your way for this signal achievement is richly deserved. Moreover, your 85-77 victory in the Title Game stands as an Instant Classic.

From the agony of being the first #1 Seed to be ousted by the University of Maryland Baltimore County (affectionately known as UMBC), a lowly #16 Seed last year, Virginia completed the ultimate NCAA college hoops comeback by being the last team standing, triumphantly so, when the confetti settled and the speakers in the makeshift US Bank (Stadium) Arena blared the 2019 edition of “One Shining Moment.”

A year ago at about this time, I decided since I’d never attended a Men’s Final Four, I would enter the ticket lottery and roll the dice. When I received confirmation last June that I’d scored two tickets, my wife and I were set. The only question remaining was whether my beloved Tar Heels would be accompanying us.

Alas, despite the regular season hype, and the early Tournament anticipation of an ACC/Tobacco Road cataclysmic Battle of the Titans between Duke, and North Carolina, the Heels made it only as far as the Sweet 16, where their hopes and dreams were dashed on a Friday Night in Kansas City by a sizzling hot Auburn squad that dismantled and dismissed them handily in what would become their own run to the Final Four.

As it turned out, erstwhile devastating Duke would have its own issues. First, they escaped a last second tip in attempt as Krzyzewski protégé Johnny Dawkins’ University of Central Florida fought valiantly, but lost by a point, as the Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16. Then, in an ACC family affair, Duke faced Virginia Tech for the third time, after having split during the regular season. Duke won the rubber match, and advanced, but only after VA Tech missed its own tip in at the buzzer for a chance to send the game into overtime. However, as we know, a win, is a win, is a win.

After having demonstrated Houdini-like resilience in two successive games, I made myself comfortable with the notion that Zion and Company were fated, and poised to claim the Title. However, the Spartans of Michigan State University had other ideas, and ultimately, would have their say in the matter. In their third nail-biter in a row, College Basketball’s 2018-19 version of The Greatest Show on Earth faltered, as MSU prevailed, winning by a single point in their Elite 8 contest. So much for a Duke-Carolina Title tilt!

Moving ahead, this year’s setting for the Final Four was US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The successful quartet included Auburn University (Charles Barkley), Michigan State University (Magic Johnson), Texas Tech University (Patrick Mahomes), and the University of Virginia (Ralph Sampson). Yeah, I know Mahomes is a football player, but here is where I confess I don’t know any prominent Texas Tech alums who made their mark in the NBA. Besides, those four guys were actually at the Final Four.

Speaking of the NBA, while in the Twin Cities, we also took in two Timberwolves games at the Target Center. Saw them play the Miami Heat (Dwayne Wade’s last Minneapolis appearance as an NBA player) Friday night, and the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday afternoon. The T-wolves bested the Heat, but fell to the Thunder. In total, we saw 5 games ( 3 college and 2 NBA) in 4 days. We did all this, and still managed to escape Minneapolis-St. Paul ahead of a projected snow storm that could deliver up to 12-inches of frozen precipitation to the area.

Back at US Bank, two of the four teams, Auburn and Texas Tech, had never advanced to a Final Four. A third, Virginia, had never made it to the Title Game. Of the four, only the Spartans of Michigan State had previously appeared in and/or won a Title Game. The Spartans claimed the Trophy in 1979, in the famous Magic-Bird match-up, and again in 2000, with a squad lead by Mateen Cleaves.

The first semi-final game featured SEC Champion Auburn’s fast-pasted offensive juggernaut facing off against ACC Regular Season Champion Virginia, buoyed by its stalwart #1 ranked defense and a much improved, but often underrated offense. The game was a back and forth contest with a high drama ending. With Auburn leading 62-60, an Auburn player fouled Kyle Guy with 0.6 seconds remaining. Complicating matters for the Tigers, the shot, even though he missed it, was a three-point attempt.

Undoubtedly, by now, you know what happened next. Despite Bruce Pearl calling a timeout after Guy’s first two free throws, hoping to ice the shooter, Guy swished the third attempt, just as he did the first two shots. For all practical purposes, game over. In fact, the game, 0.6 seconds remaining, notwithstanding, was over. Final score, Virginia 63, Auburn 62.

In a 20/20 hindsight world, Samir Doughty would have assumed a stout hands in the air defensive stance, and made Guy hit or miss a tough shot and trust his teammates to corral the rebound. If he made the shot, congratulate him on hitting an acrobatic game winner. If he missed, celebrate Auburn’s win with his sure to have been exultant teammates. But college basketball isn’t played in hindsight. And in real time, Kyle Guy may have lost the battle (missed the shot), but he won the war (and the game), nailing a trifecta of foul shots to transform a two point Wahoo deficit into a one point lead with less than a second remaining, and Auburn needing to traverse the 93 feet length of the court and score in 0.6 seconds or less. Uh, game over.

In Saturday night’s second semi-final contest, Texas Tech, with its #3 ranked defense squared off against perennial Big 10 Power, Michigan State. It was another game in which the momentum and the lead swung back and forth. With less than 3 minutes remaining and Texas Tech clinging to a 52-51 lead, the young men from Lubbock dug in and leveraged the phase of the game that had kept them relevant all year. Defense!

They held the Spartans scoreless for the remainder of the game, while they went on to add 9 points to their own total. With that 61-51 victory, they launched themselves into Monday night’s Title Game. The combatants were set, Virginia, from the ACC, and Texas Tech, from the Big 12; marking both teams’ first Title Game appearance.

Monday night’s matchup between Texas Tech and Virginia pitted two of the top three defensive teams in the country against one another. Virginia allowed opponents only 55.5 points per game. Texas Tech was not far behind, allowing only 58.8 points per game. Only the Wolverines of the University of Michigan separated the two, barely edging the Red Raiders, allowing opponents 58.3 points per contest.

Here in Minneapolis there was an ever so slight Texas Tech vibe. Largely, I think, it was a root for the underdog kind of thing. Although, as we were taking the Blue Line Train back to our hotel after the Title Game, I did hear one local say he had pulled for Texas Tech “because of the stigma associated with Charlottesville.” The reference, of course, was to the Unite The Right Rally, which featured neo-Nazi and alt-right protests, and which resulted in counter protests on August 11th and 12th, 2017. There were any number of infamously memorable events that weekend in Charlottesville, including white men in Khakis and sports shirts chanting Jews will not replace us, two law enforcement officers killed in a helicopter crash, and the President of the United States asserting, “There are very fine people on both sides.” Even with all that, perhaps the incident that gained the most notoriety was James Alex Fields, Jr. running into a crowd of counter protesters with his car, killing activist Heather Heyer on August 12th.

Of course, I’m not a yahoo fan, but I don’t hold the events of that weekend against UVA students and/or student athletes. That’s a narrative with a host of sources, but the UVA Family is not one of them…in my humble opinion. But I digress.

Back to the Title Game, my own assessment is that while they were both stellar defending teams, Virginia probably had just a little too much offense. As it turned out, for 40 minutes, it was a draw, as the two teams played to a 68-68 tie, and overtime. For those who were rooting for Texas Tech, if you quickly revisit the world of 20/20 hindsight, two plays should standout. The first, with halftime nearing, and the score tied 29-all, Virginia with the ball, Ty Jerome found himself all alone at the 3-point line. Predictably, soon afterward, the ball joined him. In the blink of an eye, shot taken, shot made, halftime, UVA up three. Remember that sequence!

With Texas Tech leading 68-65, with 14 seconds left, the ball found De’Andre Hunter alone in the corner. Déjà vu all over again! With no closeout in sight, Hunter squared up and casually sank a 3, tying the game, and ultimately leading to OT. In hindsight, in both instances, the defense should have forced a contested two, rather than giving up an open 3. In any event, after having witnessed, and survived the halftime dagger, both Texas Tech’s coaches and their players should have insisted on creating a different response (and hopefully a vastly distinct and discernibly dissimilar outcome) at the end of the game. But…that’s the difference between hindsight and real time. After trailing briefly, Virginia took command during the overtime period, and went on to win with minimal stress, and little apparent resistance in the extra period.

As is often the case, some folks will second-guess the officiating. I’ve been known to look askance at a call or two here and there, myself. Others will suggest the Wahoos were simply lucky. Carolina fans, think Dean Smith’s Heels in 1982 when Georgetown’s Fred Brown mistakenly threw the ball to James Worthy instead of a fellow Hoya, and again in 1993 when Michigan’s Chris Webber called a timeout when he and his Wolverine cohorts did not have any. People who default to those “what ifs” fail to take into account a couple of key considerations. In both cases, Carolina was ahead at the moment of the ill-timed miscues. Therefore, both teams would have had to design and execute a play (remember UM had no timeouts), take…and make…a shot, score, and prevent Carolina from doing the same thing. No sure thing in either case.

By the way, next year’s Final Four is in the ATL. I’m just saying. But again, I digress. This is about Virginia…and Texas Tech.

At the end of the day, it is my opinion that the team that was the best team in the country all year long won the tournament. Duke did beat them twice, of course, but as I mentioned earlier, Duke had its own issues. The Cavs were stout on both sides of the ball, refused to fold under pressure, survived, advanced, and withstood whatever their opponents threw at them. They executed a perfect fairytale ending, including making clutch free throws, three on one possession to seal Saturday night’s game, and 14 in a row down the stretch Monday night in the second half and overtime to secure the Title. They also played enough defense to weather the storm both nights. “From Outhouse To Penthouse: Hoos Win!”

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.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2019/04/08/texas-tech-virginia-live-updates-ncaa-tournament-title-game/3404447002/?src=rss

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ncaa-championship-final-2019-virginia-beat-texas-tech-overtime-85-77win-first-ncaa-tournament-national-college-title/

https://sports.yahoo.com/virginia-completes-redemption-story-edges-texas-tech-in-ot-for-national-title-034918062.html

https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2019/04/08/virginia-wins-national-championship-overtime-deandre-hunter-texas-tech-march-madness-recap

http://www.espn.com/espn/wire?section=ncb&id=26472427

https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/article/2019-04-08/virginia-texas-tech-score-cavaliers-win-ncaa-title-ot

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/04/10/from-outhouse-to-penthouse-hoos-win/

 

Chicago Has Spoken: Lori Lightfoot Wins Historic Runoff

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday beckoned a new day in the City of Chicago, the nation’s third most populous city. In a Mayoral Election in which the outcome, no matter which way it went, was certain to usher in a change of historic proportion, voters in the Windy City doubled down on change in the City’s historic runoff Tuesday. Both Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot are African American women. Lightfoot, 56, who won, is a former US attorney who describes herself as “an out and proud black lesbian.” When sworn in, she will own the distinction of being both the first black woman, and the first lesbian to be Chicago’s Mayor. She will be the second woman to hold the position. Jane Byrne served one term in the capacity from 1979 to 1983.

In February’s general election, which featured 14 candidates, Lightfoot and Preckwinkle were the top two vote-getters, which led to Tuesday’s runoff. On the heels of the election, both women issued statements indicating intent to work harmoniously to build a better Chi-town. For her part, Mayor-elect Lightfoot said, “Now that it’s over I know we will work together for the city that we both love.”

Ms. Preckwinkle, 72, and a longtime political insider, heads the Cook County Board and chairs the County’s Democratic Party. She vowed to continue working on issues important to her. After calling Lightfoot to congratulate her on being victorious, she said, “This may not be the outcome we wanted but while I may be disappointed, I’m not disheartened. During the mayoral race she made education and a $15 minimum wage the major planks of her campaign.

By contrast, Lightfoot rose to prominence in the wake of the Laquan McDonald scandal — in which a white police officer, Jason Van Dyke, shot the black teenager 16 times as he walked away from police — Lightfoot was appointed by then Mayor Rahm Emanuel to head the newly created police accountability task force. Emanuel did not seek a third term. Congratulations Mayor Lightfoot. Chicago Has Spoken: Lori Lightfoot Wins Historic Runoff!”

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/2019/04/02/us/chicago-mayoral-election-results/index.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/elections/ct-met-chicago-election-results-mayors-race-lightfoot-preckwinkle-20190402-story.html

https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/708833184/history-to-be-made-as-chicago-votes-for-mayor

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/04/03/chicago-has-spoken-lori-lightfoot-wins-historic-runoff/