Juneteenth: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This was not what I was inclined to write about today. My driving impulse was to highlight the 21 House Republicans who voted yesterday, against bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on all members of law enforcement who protected the Capitol and the members of Congress who were there during the January 6th atrocities, aimed at derailing the peaceful transfer of power by preventing the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th President. To be clear, the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of passage of the bill, 406-21. Both Houses previously approved their own resolutions to award the medals. The revised bill will now award three medals – one to the entire U.S. Capitol Police force, one to the Metropolitan Police Department, and one for display in the Smithsonian Institution, accompanied by a plaque that lists all the law enforcement agencies that protected and defended the Capitol, and the members of Congress present, against the day’s assault, which, like it or not, meets the Oxford Dictionary definition of insurrection.



A violent uprising against an authority or government.

The punishment?

Whoever incites, sets foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States. (U.S. Code Statute 2383, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 115)

Lauren Boebert – CO

John Rose – TN

Andy Harris – MD

Thomas Massie – KY

Bob Good – VA

Louie Gohmert – TX

Barry Moore – AL

Ralph Norman – SC

Matt Rosendale – MN

Marjorie Taylor Greene – GA

Chip Roy – TX

Paul Gosar – AZ

Andy Biggs – AZ

Warren Davidson – OH

Scott Perry – PA

Matt Gaetz – FL

Greg Steube – FL

Andrew Clyde – GA

Jody Hice – GA

Mary Miller – IL

Michael Cloud – TX 

I do not advocate, saying their names, but if you are from one of the 15 states represented by the 18 men and 3 women above, I do suggest you remember them. Oh yeah, and vote accordingly, when the opportunity presents itself. One more thing. Do Blue Lives mater, or not? If so, when? Perhaps not when harmed or killed by right wing domestic terrorists.

Consider the summary on the Congressional Gold Medal a bonus. The double bonus is I promise to be brief in my treatment of today’s subject.

It appears yesterday was actually a fairly busy day for Congress. In recent times, that is, in itself, unusual. In addition to the House completing its work on the Congressional Gold Medal bill, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution yesterday establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Momentum for this legislation has been increasing since the spate of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, sparked by police killing George Floyd, and Democrats taking over Congress and the White House in the fall. However, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson spiked the bill in 2020, saying it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Johnson relented on his opposition this week, 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 still needs to be approved by the House, and signed by the President, to be signed into law. With the Senate vote confirmed, it is likely the House will follow suit, and President Biden will sign the bill.

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. Go figure. 

Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980. Since then, every state but South Dakota has moved to commemorate 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: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably!

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Final Grade: I for Incomplete

It’s time to Break It Down!

There are those among my family and friends who rue each time I write or post about 45. I have a relative who claims to read all my posts, but readily adds the caveat, unless it’s about “him.” I get it; really, I do. But here’s the deal. We view the situation through different lenses. They are, understandably, fatigued by the half decade of constant coverage that he enjoyed, or tolerated, depending upon the media outlet in question. Or they are just not into the whole political sphere. Respect. They have a point, and I appreciate it.

I really do. I merely subscribe to a different view. Let me begin by stipulating that 45 didn’t invent racism. Moreover, he is not singularly responsible for the array of poxes that infect his party. However, a choir boy, he is not. Meanwhile, the GOP has circled the wagons to form what amounts to a virtual order of protection for its Consigliere.

Supporters of 45 stormed the Capitol on January 6th. It is the kind of action that in a bygone era might reasonably have resulted in a vigorous and enthusiastic case of he said, she said. That is, were it not for the undeniable proviso that the crux of the matter unfolded in real time, and unlike Gil Scott-Heron’s “Revolution,” televised. To that end, hundreds of millions of people, in America, and around the world saw it, as it happened. Now, in a world in which facts, and logic ruled, that would have been enough to carry the day. It did not; so much for facts and logic.

Yesterday, The Senate released the most comprehensive bipartisan report on the attack, to date. Just last week, Republicans filibustered the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the matter. Yesterday’s report contained several details that made it evident why a commission was needed, or…if you are 45, or his supporters, why they would want to employ any means necessary to ensure that no such commission be formed.

The 95-page report issued yesterday by a pair of Senate committees included a host of previously unknown details about the siege by 45’s loyalists attempting to subvert democracy. The document cited security failures, pertinent recommendations, logistical breakdowns, and several other lapses. This is where GOP intransigence, in the face of facts, reared its head.

According to Senate staffers speaking with CNN, Republicans required at least two critical concessions for their support for the report, including:

Not delineating what role former President Donald Trump played in the insurrection.

Exclusion of the word “insurrection.”

All of this transpired in an environment in which some members of a party 45 still dominates, continue to claim that the mob that trashed the Capitol, smashed windows and doors, crushed, attacked and injured police officers – including one who died – and called for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence, was as friendly as a group of tourists.

Absent the respect for facts and logic, previously referenced, millions of Republicans, at least say, they believe the absurd claim that, if there was a mob, it was comprised of 45’s foes. This, despite the fact the Capitol echoed with chants of “Fight for 45!” as rampaging attackers tried to keep the defeated one in power, and even though 45 praised his violent supporters (“We love you,” he said while the assault was in progress), calling them “very special” people.

The Homeland Security & Rules committees narrowed their focus to “security, planning and response failures” by law enforcement. Staffers noted, each word of the report was crafted to ensure that Republicans would sign on.

Let’s face it, most Republicans are not prepared to liberate themselves from their 45 shackles. An Orwellian imagination would be required to have predicted what the party has become, a gathering of sycophants who deny what they personally endured. “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” he wrote in the dystopian novel “1984.” “It was their final, most essential command.” You can’t find, or even look for evidence…if your instructions demand that you reject it.

That’s why the GOP already blocked the plan for a full-scale 9/11-style commission, and also why I still choose to write about 45. We are at an inflection point on the future of our democracy. Yes, the Senate generated a bipartisan report on the 45 inspired insurrection. However, they refused to say that. Ergo, “Final Grade: I for Incomplete!”

I’m done; holla back!

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President Biden Goes to Tulsa: The Centennial Anniversary of the Historic Greenwood Massacre

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday President Joe Biden visited Oklahoma to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The infamous event occurred on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of White residents, many of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and burned businesses of the Greenwood District of Tulsa. The action is often referred to as the Black Wall Street Massacre, or the Tulsa Race Riot. It marks one of “the single worst incident(s) of racial violence in American history. The incident was executed on the ground, and by private aircraft. The onslaught destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district that was at the time, the wealthiest Black Community in the United States.

While on the ground in Tulsa, President Biden laid out his administration’s ideas about how to address racial inequality in America. He also memorialized the hundreds of Black Americans who were killed by the White mob that set upon their neighborhood, and razed dozens of city blocks. The plans include a range of issues, including small business opportunities, racial discrimination in housing, and voting rights.

In his remarks, Biden noted:

“One hundred years ago, at this hour, on this first day of June smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed in rubble. There was no proper accounting for the dead nor any arrests made. “In less than 24 hours, 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost. Insurance companies — they had insurance, many of them — rejected claims of damage. Ten-thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in interment camps.

“My fellow Americans: this was not a riot. This was a massacre — among the worst in our history, but not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history. As soon as it happened there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories.”

President Biden called what happened in Tulsa an act of domestic terrorism and added that the resulting effects linger until this day. He referenced the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, specifically, along with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. He referred to White supremacy as “the most lethal threat to the homeland today.”

Biden also referenced the ongoing debate over which historical narratives around race and slavery should be taught in US schools. “We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, the everything. That’s what great nations do. There’s greater recognition that for too long we’ve allowed a narrow, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game, where there’s only one winner. ‘If you succeed, I fail.’ ‘If you get ahead, I fall behind.’ ‘If you get a job, I lose mine.’ And maybe worst of all: ‘if I hold you down, I lift myself up.’ Instead of: ‘if you do well, we all do well.” Opponents of so-called Critical Race Theory (CRT) offer a consistently disparaging summation of its product. In reality, more often than not, the resulting material is Culturally Relevant Teaching.

In response to national economic concerns, President Biden announced that he will use federal purchasing power to expand federal contracting opportunities with small, disadvantaged businesses — many of them minority owned — from 10% to 15%. According to the White House, this will translate to an additional $100 billion over five years. 

An administration official added that efforts referenced by the President include new specifics on the $10 billion community revitalization fund included in Biden’s infrastructure proposal. The fund will be targeted to economically underserved and underdeveloped communities like Greenwood. The initiative will support adapting vacant buildings and storefronts to provide low-cost space for services and community entrepreneurs, including health centers, arts and cultural spaces, job training programs, business incubators and community marketplaces. It will also support removing toxic waste to create new parks and community gardens. New competitive grants totaling $15 billion will target neighborhoods where people have been cut off from jobs, schools and businesses because of previous transportation investments, officials said. And the American Jobs Plan will also invest $31 billion to support minority-owned small businesses.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge will lead an interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals. Elements incorporated into the initiative will include ensuring enforcement of fair housing laws, regulations, and devising standards and guidance in partnering between industry and state and local governments. HUD will publish a pair of fair housing rules. They will also restore fair housing definitions and certifications, and reinstate the department’s discriminatory effects standard. These changes are intended to establish that the department will “more vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act.”

The administration will lay out specifics for neighborhood tax credits as part of the American Jobs Plan, introduce a grant program to fund jurisdictions that take steps to reduce barriers to affordable housing, as well as expand housing choices to the low and moderate income. However, Derrick Johnson, national President of the NAACP, expressed concern that the President’s proposal did not address the elimination of the student loan debt crisis. He went on to posit that student loan debt suppresses the economic prosperity of Black Americans across the nation. In response, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary noted, The American Families Plan includes an historic $46 billion of investments in HBCU’s, tribal colleges and universities, and minority serving institutions. She added “President Biden is calling for a historic investment in affordability through subsidized tuition and expanding institutional and grants.”

At the end of the day, though, this visit was about Tulsa. Survivors and descendants of the Tulsa Massacre, 100 years later, are still awaiting justice. In May, 107-year-old massacre survivor, Viola Fletcher, testified before Congress and called for justice and for the country to officially acknowledge the massacre. Something it did not do for decades.

President Biden said during his speech, the story of Greenwood isn’t just a story of a loss of life. It’s also a story of a loss of living, wealth, prosperity and possibility. Today, Greenwood is a fraction of the size it was before the massacre. The wealthy neighborhood was never fully rebuilt, and its descendants say the area never fully recovered.

President Biden also used the occasion of his speech on the Tulsa Race Massacre to announce he’s asked Vice President Harris to lead an administration push to protect voting rights. For her part, Vice President Harris said in a statement: “I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide.

The President reaffirmed his commitment to address systemic racism in America, “to advance racial justice through the whole of our government and working to root out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, and our hearts.” He further noted that his administration is addressing longstanding racial inequalities by investing in programs to provide capital to small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, while ensuring that infrastructure projects advance racial equity and environmental justice. “President Biden Goes to Tulsa: The Centennial Anniversary of the Historic Greenwood Massacre!”

I’m done; holla back!

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Racism Is Real: Get Beyond Denial

It’s time to Break It Down!

If there is one thing, I’m certain of, it’s that a lot of White people are tired of the nearly inescapable national discourse on racism. I know a number of them don’t believe it exists, and a good many more believe White people are the victims. Not really! At least not in the deeply entrenched systemic way, that needs to be, and has needed to be, addressed for eons.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. Derek Chauvin, a local police officer, killed Floyd near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd died as a result of Chauvin applying a knee to his neck for 9 minutes and twenty-nine seconds…until death, did he depart this life. The incident sparked a national and international movement emphasizing social justice, and underscoring in a most persistent way, the ideal that, Black Lives Matter. During a global pandemic, we experienced, yet another long hot summer.

Now there are individuals who posit, the real problem is Black on Black crime. Whenever the conversation about police officers killing “frequently unarmed” Black men arises, many people I know default to the classic whataboutism of Blacks killing other Blacks being ignored, or being OK, or being underreported. Stop it! It’s none of those things. It is regularly reported. I see it on the local and national news on a near nightly basis. They are not the same. Law enforcement officers have the advantage of the power of local, state, or federal government behind them, plus firearms, Tasers, nightsticks, and an array of tools they are authorized to use to neutralize suspects. Oh yeah, purportedly, they are also equipped with advanced training and skill sets, including de-escalating conflict, and subduing uncooperative detainees. Although, admittedly, when it comes to encounters with Black folks, you wouldn’t know it.

Suffice it to say, the space in which we find ourselves is not new. In 1968, LBJ’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders — better known as the Kerner Commission — put out a report that attempted to address systemic racism in the US, including police violence against Black people. That was the year Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed; more than 50 years ago. Perhaps, one of the most notable elements of that study was the willingness of a White guy to cite racism aimed at Black people as quintessentially problematic.

In fact, the report pointed to the scourge of racism as a major cause of economic and social inequality for Black people. It also added that it was moving the country towards two societies: “One Black, one White, separate and unequal.” That, coupled with the brutal police treatment of people of color and poverty, helped spark the race riots of the 1960s.

This was the first time “White racism” was expressly identified in the public policy square as a major cause for inequality in status and living conditions of Black Americans. That was great, as far as it went. Unfortunately, the recommended prescriptions and remedies were not executed.

Former Oklahoma Senator, Fred Harris, the only surviving member of the Kerner Commission, said, change will only come when the people have the will, and the government is truly honest about what must be done politically, socially and economically to address racial inequality. Easier said, than done.

As Jelani Cobb, historian and co-editor of “The Essential Kerner Commission Report,” said, people and institutions already know what the problem is and that the only action that needs to be taken now is actually following the recommendations of the commission, and pay the price that comes with it. 

“The actions are laid out; you really don’t need more recommendations. The fundamental observations (of the commission) have never been acted on.” 

So, what exactly, were those proposed solutions?

The enduring query for the Commission was: What can be done to prevent race riots from happening again and again?

The Commission recommended:

A great, new federal program

Vigorous enforcement of the newly enacted Civil Rights laws

New jobs programs

New housing programs

New Health and education programs

Unfortunately, former Senator Harris noted, the commission coincided with what historians call “a political moment.” President Johnson was facing heat from the left to provide more support for civil rights and systemic racism issues, while the right wanted to roll back that funding, and redirect it to funding for the Vietnam War. In the final analysis, Johnson opted not to seek re-election and the Commission’s recommendations went nowhere.

There have been other commissions. None have stepped up to the challenge. Some of President Biden’s supporters are trying to frame him as a potentially transformative President. We’ll see if he can find the wherewithal to address systemic racism head-on. If his colleagues on The Hill can successfully marshal their forces and navigate to fruition the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, he will have made an auspicious start. “Racism Is Real: Get Beyond Denial!”

I’m done; holla back!

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Mi Familia: This One’s Personal

It’s time to Break It Down!

If you follow my work, you know that every now and then, I write about the intricacies of my personal life. Today’s blog is one of those posts. No links, no footnotes; one hundred percent first person accounting. 

Forty-eight years ago, I lost my brother to a violent crime. He lived in the Capital of The Empire State. We were close, at least for siblings born twelve years apart. He was the eldest (there were only two of us), and broke camp soon after high school. He started a family and made a life in Albany. I visited a couple of times growing up. He came back home about the same number of times.

My mother died of cancer in 1962. He spent some time at home during the final stages of her illness. We bonded over our deep appreciation of comic books. At least that’s was the pretext. I think we knew, in our heart of hearts, this was the advent of the next phase of our individual, and collective lives, living without the physical presences and love of Gertrude Wiggins Miller. Our mom.

After that uniquely life altering experience, I moved about a bit. I was adopted by an aunt and an uncle, and spent a couple of years with them, living as a military brat, in Washington, DC for a semester, and in Ft. Belvoir, VA for a year and a half. I hung out with my dad in Brooklyn during the summers. I made it to Albany during one of the summer stints. Didn’t make it back again until Christmas Break of my Freshman Year in college. It was a great reunion after 7-8 years, albeit unavoidably short. 

In retrospect, it turned out to be the last time we would see each other. Two and a half months later, I was pulled out of an afternoon class, to be greeted by devastating news. My big brother, mi amigo y compadre, had been murdered. It was an unfathomable sequence. While my rational mind understood the premise that people of all ages die, it simply never occurred to me that my brother, or I, would meet death’s angel before our father. Or my adopted parents, for that matter. While in later years, my dad would clearly establish himself as my unparalleled hero, in those days, the sun rose and set on my big brother. The abrupt and unforeseen end of our mutual admiration alliance, simultaneously ended my connection with the life my brother had made in Albany, including with his family…my family.

Over the past 10-15 years, I have often wondered what ever happened to my Albany family. As it turns out, though I had no bead on my brother’s family, his brood was not my only family in town. On Mother’s Day weekend, a cousin here in NC traveled to visit her sister and brother-in-law…in Albany. While there, she did some on-the-ground reconnaissance. She returned to NC with a nephew’s phone number. I subsequently called and spoke with him, and with a brother and a sister. Just like that, after decades, I was able to reconnect with a long lost (to me) part of my family.

Over the past week, we have begun the process of forging a proper and lasting familial bond. I look forward to escaping the confines of Covid, and spending genuine quality family time, catching up on what all of us have missed. Willie, Maurice, and Nicole, thank you for embracing me; I love you. “Mi Familia: This One’s Personal!”

I’m done; holla back!

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Cancel Culture GOP Style

It’s time to Break It Down!

This shouldn’t take long. So if everything holds to form, the GOP will remove Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her position as the Number 3 Republican in the House when her conference votes later today. According to a variety sources, this open secret is the expected outcome.

For weeks now, Cheney, who has survived one episode designed to separate her from her position, has reportedly been on a non-stop collision course with cancellation. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and a host of his fellow Republicans have referred to Cheney as a distraction. In an on-air interview last week, he noted that he supported NY Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who ironically nominated Cheney, for the post. People who follow such things have observed that Stefanik has a considerably less conservative record than Cheyney. She also voted with 45 less frequently than Cheney.

The GOP has consistently and fervently ranted and raved against what it calls cancel culture. McCarthy even recently boasted that Republicans are a party that has room for dissenting voices. All of this serves to only heighten what even some of their own members consider hypocrisy. This sentiment flows from the fact that it is apparent the reason for Cheney’s impending exile is that she voted to impeach 45, and readily admits that 45 inspired the January 6 insurrection. She has told friends she “does not believe 45 will just fade away” and that she’s planning to wage a protracted political war — through public statements and in the media — against the former President.

The fact that the attack on the Capitol played out on TV, complete with 45’s remarks as a prologue, has not proved sufficient to induce most Republicans in Congress to trust their lying eyes. Moreover, some of those who admitted it later January 6TH, including McCarthy, and Mitch McConnell, have effectively recanted. There is polling that suggests 70% or more of all Republicans do not believe the election was free and fair. In other words, they believe the 45 inspired “big lie.”

Cheney is among a small group of Republicans in Congress who have shown the temerity to speak truth to 45’s power. In addition to Cheney, Adam Kinzinger in the House, and Mitt Romney in the Senate, have called out 45 for his shenanigans. Obviously, that’s not nearly enough.

Last week, Cheney published an op-ed in The Washington Post that foreshadows her likely tack. In it she wrote:

“Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this. The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.”

Today is a big day for Liz Cheney, for the GOP, and for American Democracy. Congressional Republicans, apparently, have made their decision. They are rolling with 45. Congresswoman Cheney has made her position clear; she’s repping for the Constitution. Democracy hangs in the balance. Get ready for”Cancel Culture GOP Style!”

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As Many Already Knew, There’s More Than One Big Lie

It’s time to Break It Down!

Slowly, surely, inexorably, the wall of obfuscation, deception, and flat out lies will tumble. It may take much longer than it should…but it will happen. Late last year, the 2020 Voter Fraud machination became familiarly known as “The Big Lie.” This post is a friendly reminder, it’s not the only one.

Yesterday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected the Justice Department’s attempts to keep secret a departmental opinion to not charge 45 with obstruction at the end of the Mueller investigation. In doing so, she called the administration’s lawyers “disingenuous.”

The Justice Department had argued before the court that the largely redacted March 2019 memo was legal reasoning that aided AG Barr make a decision about 45. However, Judge Jackson said she believed Barr and his advisors had already decided not to charge 45 with a crime before he got the written advice. Instead, the memo was more strategic planning than legal reasoning. As a result, it can be made public.

Jackson’s decision adds to other criticism that federal judges and others have leveled at Barr for the way he handled the end of the Mueller investigation. There have been persistent questions about Barr’s motives for keeping documents related to the investigation – including Mueller’s findings and Barr’s reactions to them – secret, or for delaying their release.

In a 35-page opinion, Judge Jackson noted, “The agency’s redactions and incomplete explanations obfuscate the true purpose of the memorandum, and the excised portions belie the notion that it fell to the AG to make a prosecution decision or that any such decision was on the table at any time.” 

She went on to add, “The fact that [45] would not be prosecuted was a given.”

The government transparency group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has sought access to DOJ documents in this case through the Freedom of Information Act. The judge’s opinion is a part of that case.

CREW is one of several groups still seeking the release of new records from Mueller’s investigation. The specific case Jackson is hearing this week deals with documents around Barr’s decision not to charge 45. This matter is still acutely important. From the outset, 45 supporters have defaulted to bolster the assertion that Trump not being charged as evidence on its face, that he was innocent. At the very least, these new developments poke holes in that argument. As Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for CREW said, “We requested these records and filed this lawsuit due to serious doubts about the official story coming out of Barr’s DOJ. While we do not yet know what is in the memo, the Courts opinion gives us confidence that we were right to have questions.”

The 9-page memo was crafted by two top political leaders in the Justice department – Steve Engel of the Office of Legal Counsel and Ed O’Callaghan, a top adviser in the Deputy AG’s Office – the same day Barr briefed Congress about Mueller’s findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice. The DOJ had argued that much of the memo should stay blacked out, because it was protected internal discussions about policy and the law. Another lawyer, Paul Colborn, had told the court the memo was meant to help Barr decide whether to prosecute 45. Engel and O’Callaghan’s memo recommended no prosecution, positing that Mueller’s findings weren’t evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Jackson, who has read the document disagreed. She concluded that the document was strategy, and not citing that in court, equated to pretending the strategy discussion didn’t exist.

The Judge issued a strongly worded opinion that, comes close to accusing the DOJ of a cover up. She noted that while officials at DOJ prepared the legal opinion that gave Barr cover not to prosecute 45, they were simultaneously emailing about a higher priority to inform Congress the President was exonerated. Mueller thoroughly  investigated several episodes of 45 trying to impede or end the inquiry into his campaign’s ties to Russia. However, he left the indictment decision to the AG and his political appointees. Still, after closing shop, Mueller later told to Congress that an ex-president could be prosecuted for obstruction after he left the office, yet Barr had already reached a definitive conclusion in 45’s case.

Judge Jackson took a close look at how that decision came about, including reviewing court statements from department lawyers, and internal emails between Barr’s top advisers. She noted, DOJ officials’ “affidavits [in court about the memo] are so inconsistent with evidence in the record, they are not worthy of credence.”

It is worth noting that another federal judge had previously slammed Barr in a public records case following the Mueller investigation, observing the attorney had a “lack of candor” that was helpful to 45 politically when the AG told Congress and announced to the public what Mueller had found, without releasing the nearly 500-page report. In conclusion, As Many Already Knew, There’s More Than One Big Lie!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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In-The-Books: The First 100

It’s time to Break It Down!

“Today, the police will kill three people. And tomorrow, the police will kill three people. And the day after that, the police will kill three people. Because on average, the police in America every day kill three people. Which amounts to about 1,000 people a year. And those people happen to disproportionately be Black people.

James Baldwin once said, ‘The most despicable thing that anyone can be is indifferent to other people’s pain.’ And so, I just ask that you please not be indifferent. Please don’t be indifferent to our pain.” –Travon Free Oscar Speech (4/25/21)

Just so we’re clear, that preamble has absolutely nothing to do with, and has no association to today’s post. It is simply one inescapable factoid that in my humble view, warrants inclusion in every conversation, every day, until or unless we re-invent that untenable narrative. But I digress.

Tomorrow will mark Joseph Robinette Biden’s 100th day in office, as our nation’s 46th President. Media outlets across the spectrum will invest in highlighting that point, in the days immediately preceding and following Thursday’s milestone. But why? How did this manufactured news item come to be a thing?

Ironically, it is an ode to the incomparable accomplishments of FDR in his first 100 days in office. Since then, the media has often framed the early tenure of U.S. Presidents in that light. To be sure, Mr. Biden came into office with an array of challenges, and on the wings of a host of promises. The list is longer than I will enumerate, but includes, the pandemic, vaccines, the economy, the border, Russia, China, climate change, and restoring America’s global stature.

In this era of hyper-partisanship amid our country’s political landscape, anyone who assumes the presidency with start with a large favorable constituency, but also a hefty opposition. Probably one of Biden’s most notable positive characteristics is, he is not Donald Trump. That alone, may have made the difference between winning and losing the election. Despite Trump’s hollow ringing assertion that he did not lose; the election was stolen, my own analysis leads me to conclude, many Republicans abandoned him. In several of six states Trump and his team contested after the election, Republicans were successful in other parts of the ballot, but not for President.

Joe Biden the candidate committed to attack the coronavirus by following the lead of scientists. He promised 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. When the nation met that goal in 58 days, Biden doubled down, and promised 200 million shots; a goal that was also exceeded. In February, the U.S., under his direction, rejoined the Paris Climate Accord. Yesterday, the CDC announced new guidelines that stated those who have been fully vaccinated can congregate outside in small groups without masks. Biden and the CDC did clarify that masks are still required in crowds.

In an instance of political derring-do; also the source of GOP chagrin, Biden and the Democrats pushed through a $1.9 stimulus package, aimed at boosting the economy, and stemming the pandemic. As a follow-up to the collective results of Biden’s initiatives, and his non-argumentative relationship with the media writ large, he recently polled a 54% approval rating. That number, while modest, in comparison to several recent presidents, was higher than his immediate predecessor attained at any time during his tenure.

But, let’s face it, now is when the real tests begin. The President has a $2.1 trillion infrastructure package on deck. Just as with the aforementioned stimulus plan, Republicans are in lockstep opposition to the bill. However, in this case, it’s likely passage of the bill will require 60 votes, rather than a simple majority of 51 votes. In addition, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, of West Virginia, and Arizona, respectively, may also opt to not support the bill. Moreover, both have already expressed opposition to killing the filibuster…which, if executed, would negate the need for the 60-vote supermajority.       

And there’s more. Biden has stood up to Putin, calling him a killer, and his administration has implemented more sanctions on Russia. Allegedly, a potential summit between the U.S. and Russia may be in the offing. Any day now, campaigns for the midterm elections will begin. Republicans have designs on retaking House, and increasing their numbers in the Senate, where they need to net only one additional seat to reclaim the majority. It remains to be seen how the future will unfold. What we know is”In-The-Books: The First 100!”

I’m done; holla back!


Guilty On All Counts: But Hold That Celebration!

It’s time to Break It Down!

I’m gonna keep this short.

Yesterday, some might say, ironically, on 4/20, the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts:

Second Degree Murder

Third Degree Murder

Second Degree Manslaughter

When asked, one-by-one, the 12 jurors acknowledged they agreed with all three counts. In summary, as required by the rules of the court, the decisions were unanimous, one and all. Sentencing is scheduled for 8 weeks from yesterday. Chauvin’s bail was revoked on the spot, and he was remanded into custody.

It has been nearly 11 months since Officer Chauvin extinguished the life of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, by applying a knee to the neck…for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. In the ensuing months, America was subjected to another long, hot summer, in large measure, due to marches and protests across the nation, spurred on by Floyd’s murder. An execution which, as fate would have it, was videotaped from start to finish.

The slogan, “Defund the police,” was injected into the country’s vernacular. At its essence, it supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources. By most, but not all, accounts, it does not mean eliminating police departments.

A number of State and local governments have proposed or implemented reform legislation to change policing strategies and techniques. The House of Representatives has introduced federal legislation in George Floyd’s name. At first blush, this year, 4/20 was a good day, and not just for those who support legalizing Marijuana. Still, I’m uninclined to celebrate. First, despite the events of yesterday in Minneapolis, Chauvin’s conviction is an aberration, the exception to the rule. If there is anything history has shown us, it is that too often, yesterday’s outcome does not happen. In retrospect, there are too many instances when a law enforcement officer kills a frequently unarmed, too often black, man and subsequently evades conviction, or even a trial.

Yesterday, the stars aligned in just the right way, and jurisprudence was properly executed. I cannot; no, I will not, call this justice. Accountability, maybe, but not justice. And it’s just the beginning. Until yesterday’s outcome is the norm, and not the exception, we have more work to do. Since March 29th, the day Chauvin’s trial began, an average of 3 people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement. And, as quiet as it’s kept, the specter of an appeal still looms. To wit”Guilty On All Counts: But Hold That Celebration!”

I’m done; “holla back!”

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

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Su Casa Es Mi Casa…Or Words To That Effect

It’s time to Break It Down!

As I am wont to do, I have chosen to share a story that resonates with me. It’s about a family who for all practical purposes, had its property taken, nearly a century ago. The family had been threatened and intimidated for years, by residents and Klansmen, before the City of Manhattan Beach took the property, using eminent domain, paying them a fraction of what the beach property was worth. A lot like contemporary instances of law enforcement officers killing unarmed Black men and women, this was a common experience of Black property owners, who owned desirable properties, located across America.    

A well-worn figure of speech in popular culture is mi casa es su casa. Roughly, that translates into, my house, is your house, or into, what’s mine is yours. It’s fair to say the City of Manhattan Beach reversed that aphorism in acquiring the property of Charles and Willa Bruce.

The gist of the story is that Charles and Willa, a Black couple, owned a beach resort in Manhattan Beach, a scenic town in Southern California. The Bruce family had a thriving business at the beach that included a dance hall and a lodge. Strict segregation codes at the time, as well as harassment from White neighbors, and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) expedited a quick and rocky end to the flourishing business. The city’s eminent domain claim ushered in the final blow. Due to the collapse of the business, and the taking of the property, The Bruce family relocated to Los Angeles where they lived an impoverished life, and where they died within 5 years.

Los Angeles County officials have initiated actions to provide justice for the descendants of the Bruce Family for the California dream they had stolen from them. The County officials are working in conjunction with State lawmakers to return the property, estimated to be worth about $75 million, to the family. Janice Hahn, County Supervisor, assessed that, “Generations of their descendants … almost certainly would have been millionaires if they had been able to keep their property and their successful business.”

At the outset of their beach property ownership experience, Bruce’s Beach extended to Black families an environ in which they could enjoy the rich taste of California life. The couple paid $1,225 for the land in 1912. They built several facilities, including a café and changing rooms.

Some of their White neighbors resented the Black beachgoers and the popularity of the resort. White Supremacists and Klan members posted “no trespassing” signs and slashed tires so Black families would avoid the area. The KKK attempted to set the property on fire, and they succeeded in burning down a local Black family’s nearby home, according to county officials.

Hahn shared with reporters that when scare tactics didn’t work, Manhattan Beach resorted to eminent domain. The couple was paid roughly $14,125. The land was left vacant for decades. The property is now a park with a lawn, parking lot and a lifeguard training facility. Manhattan Beach transferred ownership of the property to the state and Los Angeles County in 1995.

Manhattan Beach city officials have acknowledged and condemned what happened, though they stopped short of an apology. They made the following statement:

“The Manhattan Beach of today is not the Manhattan Beach of one hundred years ago. The community and population of the City of Manhattan Beach are loving, tolerant and welcoming to all. We reject racism, hate, intolerance and exclusion. Today’s residents are not responsible for the actions of others 100 years ago.”

 The population of the city today is less than 1% Black.

Losing Bruce’s Beach was devastating. The family struggled to buy beachfront property elsewhere. As a result, Charles and Willa Bruce moved to South Los Angeles and became laborers, according to family spokesperson Duane Shepard. He added, they suffered “physical, mental, social and emotional stress and died within five years after leaving Manhattan Beach.

Although the bill is not expected to face much opposition at the legislative level, it has been met with resistance from some in the neighborhood. One person who did not give her name expressed her concerns at the county’s news conference on Friday.

“I’ve been lucky enough to live in this beautiful spot for over 50 years. I’ve never been discriminated against by this community, but it hurts me that the people here are trying to spoil what we have here.”

One option the family is considering is leasing the land back to the county. With this option, the Bruce descendants would be landlords and the county would pay rent to use the property to maintain the existing park and lifeguard facility, for example.

Another alternative the descendants are considering is an offer to accept an outright payout from the county, the family spokesperson told CNN. Details of that specific amount have not been disclosed. The family may also elect to simply reclaim the property and do as they wish with developing plans, a move that would require various steps to achieve local officials’ approval.

As state Sen. Steven Bradford, a coauthor of the legislation, noted, the story of Charles and Willa Bruce is not unique in California.

“Black-owned properties experienced tremendous amounts of hatred, harassment, hostility and violence at the hand of the Ku Klux Klan, who cold-bloodedly threatened the Bruces and other families who dared to enjoy their property.”

The details of how this story unfolded, were repeated more times than we know, across this country. It actually appears that this case, unlike too many others, is on its way to a long overdue happy ending. It’s too late for Charles and Willa Bruce. But hopefully, their descendants will reap the benefits of their legacy of foresight, courage, hard work, and diligence. The State of California is poised to make right this god-awful example of”Su Casa Es Mi Casa…Or Words To That Effect!”

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.

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