Local Boy Does Good: No Place Like Home

It’s time to Break It Down!

Michael Jeffrey Jordan, A.K.A. MJ, A.K.A. #23, A.K.A. principal owner and Chairman of the Charlotte Hornets, grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina, and went on to become known and beloved by the masses as the NBA’s G.O.A.T. (A.K.A. Greatest Of All Time). Yesterday Jordan donated $2 million dollars to Hurricane Florence relief efforts in North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence invaded North and South Carolina last week, and to date is responsible for at least 34 deaths, 26 in North Carolina. Wilmington was especially hard hit. Floodwaters cut the city off from the rest of the state, making the peninsula an island. The community was hit with 26.58 inches of rain. The resulting encroaching waters cut off roadways into and out of Wilmington, isolating the city, preventing people who didn’t evacuate before the storm from doing so afterward, and making it impossible for those who did to return immediately after the storm to check on their family members and property.

This is not Jordan’s first philanthropic rodeo. However, his route to this point was not a straight line. In the 90’s former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, the city’s first African American Mayor, challenged Jesse Helms for his NC Senate seat. Twice. In 1990, and again in 1996. Helms won both contests. In the 1990 race, Senator Helms used his infamous anti-Gantt, anti–affirmative action “White Hands” ad.

Despite the Senator’s unorthodox, and racially insensitive ad, and a number of pleas from prominent athletes, including Arthur Ashe, for Jordan to endorse Mr. Gantt, Jordan declined to do so. To add insult to injury, it was reported by a number of sources that Jordan, in declining to endorse Gantt, explained his decision by commenting to a friend, that, “Republicans buy shoes too.” For the record, Jordan has always denied having said that. But, as urban legends often do, the narrative developed a life of its own, and persists in many circles, even to this day.

While Jordan went on to win multiple NBA Titles, six in all, as well as a matching six NBA Finals MVP’s to complement his Rings, and would ultimately leverage his Brand into NBA Team Owner, and Billionaire status, it is both inaccurate and unfair to characterize MJ as just a soulless capitalist, entirely unconcerned or connected to politics.

Speaking in his own defense, Jordan had this to say about his not-so-well-known largesse:

“If I’m guilty of anything it’s of not seeking publicity or keeping a record of everybody I’ve ever helped. We still have racism. But sometimes the more publicity you give it helps increase racism rather than decrease it.”

To point out a few instances of Jordan contributions that may not have been particularly well know, see below:

According to OpenSecrets.org, Jordan donated $2000 to Gantt’s 1996 Senate campaign. (Estee Portnoy, Jordan’s spokeswoman, confirmed the donation to Slate. Despite the donation, Gantt lost that race, too.) Also in 2004, he contributed to Barack Obama’s senatorial campaign, leading Obama to joke that he “wasn’t sure whether he should cash [the check] or frame it.” Moreover, in 2012, he participated in a fundraiser for President Obama and “co-headlined” a $20,000 a plate dinner following it, ESPN reportedOpenSecrets.org also lists donations from a Michael J. Jordan with the occupation “Charlotte Bobcats Owner” to various groups associated with the Democratic Party.

In a statement published on ESPN’s the Undefeated, on July 28, 2016, under the headline “Michael Jordan: ‘I Can No Longer Stay Silent,’ ” Mr… Jordan wrote:

“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers.”

Later in the statement, Jordan announced he would donate $1 million each to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He did not elaborate on why he chose this particular moment to speak out and donate money, and he was very careful to avoid offending anyone in his statement:

“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.”

So, to be clear about the matter, while Mike has been reluctant to wade into things political, his reticence may have been at least somewhat overstated. Nevertheless, his “Undefeated” commentary and donation announcement is different. It wasn’t just a campaign donation: Jordan decided to use his voice and his platform to weigh in publicly on a pressing issue of race and social justice. He was still measured, and he still gave equal consideration to all sides. But there is no denying this was a long way from “Republicans buy shoes/sneakers, too,” whether he ever said those words or not.

Returning to yesterday, Jordan issued a statement accompanying his donation to assist the recovery effort from Hurricane Florence. In it, he said:

“It’s truly devastating to see the damage that Hurricane Florence is doing to my beloved home state of North Carolina and to the surrounding areas. The recovery effort will be massive, and it will take a long time to repair the damage and for the families to get back on their feet. Together with the NBA, we have launched a platform to aid those most impacted. Please join me, the Hornets organization, the NBA, and donate to one of the local organizations assisting in the relief and recovery efforts. To all those affected, stay safe and know that we’re here to help.”

The 55-year-old Jordan still has relatives who live in coastal North Carolina, including a nephew who attends UNC-Wilmington, which remains closed due to storm damage. In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Jordan said:

“It just hits home. I know all of those places: Wilmington, Fayetteville, Myrtle Beach, New Bern, and Wallace, which is where my father is from. So quite naturally it hits home, and I felt like I had to act in a sense that this is my home.”

“Local Boy Does Good: No Place Like Home!” I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.com or http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com.  A new post is published each Wednesday.

Nine-Eleven: A Seventeen-Year Retrospective

It’s Time to Break It Down!

 (This post appeared originally in this space on September 7, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented September 11, 2013, again September 13, 2017, and today, September 12, 2018).

A year ago at this time, and in this space, I opined the buzz for the day, would likely center, as it had for some time, on the weather. At that time the principal thrust was on taking stock of, and responding to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma, the second consecutive Category 4 or above hurricane to reach land in the U.S. after a 12-year absence of storms packing that level of fury.

Today, after several days of having been inundated by serial breaking news updates about the weather, those of us on the Eastern seaboard, especially we who reside in North Carolina, are in various states of battening down the hatches, at least figuratively. According to the National Weather Servicer, the storm, A.K.A. Hurricane Florence, which it characterized as an “extremely dangerous major hurricane,” is predicted to hit the North Carolina coast late Thursday or early Friday morning. Moreover, the National Hurricane Center projects it will drop as much as 30 inches of rain in some areas, and deliver wind gusts of up to the 140 mph range, which would mean it will be the strongest storm to hit North Carolina in over 60 years. But I digress.

Instead of providing virtual storm chasing services, I am going to re-post a past “Break It Down” entry. Yesterday was the Seventeenth Anniversary of Nine-Eleven; a day America will never forget.  With that in mind, I ask that you please spend a few minutes directing your attention to the horror that was September 11, 2001.

(From the Archives, September 7, 2011)

Do you remember where you were, Tuesday, September 11, 2001? Yesterday we observed the 17th Anniversary of the day that has come to be known simply as, Nine-Eleven (9/11). That day 17 years ago, America lost, in one fell swoop, its blissful innocence, its long-standing appearance of invulnerability, and its deeply ingrained sense of security. By some accounts, what it retained is its self-righteous (some would say) belief in American Exceptionalism and entitlement; but that is a conversation for another post.

Suddenly we were at war, and the fight had uncharacteristically come to us, straightway.  This battle was personal, and it was on our home turf; no longer some shadowy ideological military exercise, or guerrilla warfare episode, played out on foreign soil, half a world away.

U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 71 was introduced with 22 co-sponsors (11 Republicans and 11 Democrats) and approved by a vote of 407-0 on October 25, 2001 (with 25 members not voting).  The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on November 30, 2001.  The Resolution requested that the President designate September 11th each year as Patriot Day.  President George W. Bush signed the Resolution into law December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89).

On this day, the President directs that the American flag be flown at half-staff at individual American homes, at the White House, and on all U.S. government buildings and establishments, home and abroad.  This year President Trump, as President Obama did before him, deemed the day one of National Remembrance and Service. He and Mrs. Trump commemorated the day at a memorial ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, site of one where one of the planes crashed, after passengers were said to have fought back against the hijackers.

Even after more than a decade and a half, with seventeen years worth of context building, and development of perspective, the numbers behind Nine-Eleven are chilling.  Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and thousands of others were injured, and many more sustained post-event trauma.  Examples of the carnage include:

  • 2,977 Victims killed (not including the 19 hijackers)
  • 2,606 Killed at the World Trade Center Towers
  • 125 Killed at the Pentagon
  • 40 Killed in Shanksville, PA
  • 87 Killed on American Flight 11/NYC World Trade Center North Tower
  • 60 Killed on United Flight 175/NYC World Trade Center South Tower
  • 59 Killed on American Flight 77/Arlington – The Pentagon
  • 40 Killed United Flight 93/Shanksville, PA
  • 19 Hijackers
  • 246 Passengers Killed on the four planes
  • 19 Hijackers Killed (on the four planes)
  • 2,996 Killed on Nine-Eleven
  • 411 Emergency workers killed at the World Trade Centers
  • 341 FDNY firefighters killed
  • Paramedics killed
  • 23 NYPD officers killed
  • 37 Port Authority Police Department officers killed
  • EMT’s killed
  • 658 Employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. (Investment Bank) killed; most of any employer
  • 1,631 Bodies positively identified from World Trade Center Towers
  • 1,122 Bodies (41%) remain unidentified
  • Bone fragments were still being found in 2005 by workers preparing to demolish the damaged Deutsche Bank Building
  • 72 Additional remains found in 2010 by a team of anthropologists and archeologists

Medical Examiner will continue to try to identify remains in the hope new technology will lead to the identification of other victims.  The death and destruction of Nine-Eleven led to the so-called Global War on Terror.  Mostly the front lines have been in Afghanistan and Iraq.  However, a central intent of the action has been to prevent a recurrence of Nine-Eleven-like events on U.S. soil.

The initial thrust began October 7, 2001 when the U.S., British, and Coalition forces invaded Afghanistan, and in March 2002, the U.S. and Coalition forces launched Operation Anaconda and the Taliban suffered significant losses, and left the region.  In the interim, involvement in the region ebbed and flowed, but the war, which the Obama Administration referred to as Overseas Contingency Operation, continues. The War in Afghanistan is officially the longest war in American History.  We have for some time been in the “every day is a new record” era.

U.S. Intelligence sources pointed to Al-Qaeda as the probable instigator behind Nine-Eleven.  It’s leader, Osama bin Laden initially denied involvement.  Over time, bin Ladenbecame more emboldened, first conceding involvement, and ultimately admitting that he was instrumental in masterminding the horrific attacks.  During his Presidential CampaignMr. Obama declared he would not relent on the hunt for Osama.  The elusive terrorist was thought to be hiding in Pakistan.  Mr. Obama stated bluntly that if reliable intelligence pinpointed bin Laden, he would deploy U.S. forces to find and kill him, which he did on May 2, 2011.

The good news is, over the course of the past sixteen years, there have been no repeat Nine-Eleven scale events on U.S. soil.  That result is partly due to fastidiously focusing on prevention efforts, partly due to the fortuitous failure of would-be terrorists, and partly due to the fateful intervention of alert by-standers.

As we place the commemoration of Patriot Day 2017 in the rearview mirror, and sixteen years of Nine-Eleven related memories with it, Americans are still advised to be on high alert for potential incursions by terrorists, most likely of the lone wolf variety, where one person acts alone.  So here we are, Nine-Eleven: A Seventeen-Year Retrospective!” I trust you had a productive Day of Remembrance and Service.

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.com.  A new post is published each Wednesday.

Labor Day: It’s All About The Workers

It’s time to Break It Down!

(This post appeared originally in this space on August 31, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented again September 3, 2014, September 7, 2016, September 6, 2017, and today, September 5, 2018.)

 All things considered, I had to win a spirited debate with myself in order to resist the impulse to make this post about Donald Trump. Between his weekend in exile away from the McCain funeral services, the Nike trolling him by picking Colin Kaepernick as the face of their 30th Year Anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, and Bob Woodward dropping his new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” laced with a plethora of racy quotes, there is no question that Donald J. Trump is the man of the hour, as far as the news cycle is concerned. The good news, or for many of us, the bad news is, a number of items stemming from these forces will be part and parcel to many news cycles to come.    

Monday was Labor Day. As with most holidays, I knock it down a few notches so readers can enjoy their time off, and ease into a vintage post, if they so choose.

At its core, according to the U.S. Department of LaborLabor Day in the United States was designed to commemorate the creation of the labor movement; dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  The holiday focuses on contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well being of our country.

First observed in September 1882, the event has always been observed on the first Monday of the month.  Initiated by the Central Labor Union of New York, the celebration became a federal holiday in 1894.

In addition to its formal structure and purpose, Labor Day has a number of symbolic associations.  It is considered:

  • The unofficial End of Summer
  • The last 3-Day warm weather weekendfor vacationers
  • By High Society standards, the last day for which it is appropriate for women to wear white
  • The beginning of the College Football Season (the preceding Saturday)
  • The start of the NFL Season (typically the following Thursday)
  • The conventional kick-off of hard core political campaign season
  • Backto-School shopping

On the formal side, while the Labor Department’s blurb omits any reference to it, Labor Day also validates and recognizes an often controversial mechanism that frequently divides American opinion; labor union.  Scorned by many who fancy themselves as Free Enterprise Capitalists, unions and their members have not only been actively involved historically, in debates that framed public policy for American workers, they have won or forced hard-earned concessions that in the shimmering glow of reflective perspective, must be considered to have fundamentally altered the playing field (known as the workplace), including:

  • Pensions
  • Health Care Benefits
  • Paid Vacations
  • Equal Pay to women
  • The Development of Child Labor Laws
  • The 5-Day Work Week
  • The 40-Hour Work Week
  • The8-Hour Work Day
  • Worker’s Compensation benefits
  • Female Flight Attendants permitted to marry

These and many other important cherished and effective employee rights are attributable to the efforts of the American Labor Movement.  But, this is not an ode to Labor Unions.  Unions also have downsides.  They create or contribute to:

  • The potential for strikes
  • Additional costs to all employees (membership dues; whether a member or not)
  • Loss of individuality (ability to represent one’s self in a grievance)
  • Subject to fines & discipline by the Union
  • Disincentivesto productivity and competition
  • Lack of promotions
  • Burdensome salary demands(relative to the market)
  • Loss of profits (and/or pay) due to strike
  • Inefficient & ineffective contracts
  • Increased unemployment due to failure to reach agreement w/management

The first Labor Day celebration was led by a Labor Union.  The history of the Day has been linked, inextricably, with Labor organizations, ever since.  But if it is the American Worker the Day was intended to commemorate, Labor Day 2011 was set in an auspicious and trenchant backdrop:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U. was reported to be 9.1% in July 2011
  • The economy added only 117,000 jobs in July (154,000 in the private sector, -37,000 government jobs lost); better than expected, but still a dismally low number
  • Businesses were stockpiling $2 trillion in cash

Three years hence, the picture, thankfully, was much improved:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported to be 6.2% in July 2014
  • The economy added 209,000 jobs in July 2014
  • August 2014 employment data was released the first Friday in September

In 2011, President Obama, had announced after the Debt Ceiling Deal on August 2nd, that he would present a jobs proposal for Congress to consider, and was set to do so, after Labor Day, (on September 8th).  The proposal included a combination of tax cuts, spending on infrastructure, and measures designed to assist the long-term unemployed, while bolstering certain sectors of the economy.  This potion sounds eerily similar to the ideas Democrats proposed when negotiating the Debt Deal.

Republicans were lined up to oppose the plan, suggesting instead, among other things, a Balanced Budget Amendment; a balm the GOP/Tea Party also suggested during the Debt Deal negotiation.  In short, there was little expectation for significant movement, or the adoption of sweeping legislation to address the lack of jobs in America…and there wasn’t.  What we had instead was, déjà vu…all over, again!  At the time, I was compelled to ask, “Labor Day: Where Is The Celebration?” Fast forward three years, and the truth is the labor dynamics in this country had improved appreciably. However, our country was still beset by challenges.

Each day we were faced with a series of old, and developing challenges abroad. Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Russia, North Korea, China, Somalia, are all global hot spots, just to name a few. Then of course, there was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the burgeoning by ISIS/ISIL, also known as the Islamic State. And oh yeah, we were still winding down in Afghanistan.

Moving forward again, in the August 2016 Jobs Report, issued September 2, 2016, the nation’s Job’s Report continued to improve:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 4.9%
  • The economy added 151,000 jobs in August 2016
  • Paychecks grew 2.4% compared to the previous year
  • Jobs Growth record extended to 77 consecutive months

The August 2017 Jobs Report, issued September 1, 2017, showed that the economy, for the most part, held steady during the month of August.

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 4.4%, up slightly
  • The economy added 156,000 jobs in August 2017
  • Earnings rose 2.5% over the past 12 months; however, the average work week shrank .1 hour to 34.4 hours per week, which means paychecks were a bit smaller
  • The Jobs Growth record has extended to 89 consecutive months (7 months for #45)

This year, the August 2018 Jobs Report will not be released until Friday. The July Report showed a dip of one-tenth of a percentage point, down to the second lowest rate for the year, by one-tenth of a point. In July:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 3.9%
  • The economy added 157,000 jobs
  • Earnings were unchanged from June to July
  • The Jobs Growth record has extended to 100 consecutive months (18 months for #45)

August job growth is historically volatile, and is the slowest month for job growth since the Reports have been published. It’s important to keep an eye out for Friday’s Report, but it’s also of significance to note that despite historic volatility, the trend for this year has been one of consistently low unemployment, remaining comfortably below 5%.

As the sixth bullet from the top advises, the conventional kick-off of the hard-core political campaign season is upon us. There are lots of issues to consider, including, North Korea, Russia, the second Manafort trial, Michael Cohen’s plea deal, the Pecker and Weisselberg deals, the Brett Kavanaugh SCOTUS hearing, and…yes, Donald Trump, and his connection to any and/or all of the above.

The General Election is just 64 days away. The low unemployment rate is a good news story. However, while there is no Presidential Election this year, we are looking ahead to the midterms. Please understand that elections have consequences! The entire House of Representatives, 535 members, is up for re-election, in addition to 1/3 (33 members in regular elections, and 2 seats in special elections) of the Senate. By all means be sure to exercise your franchise; vote!

Labor Day: It’s All About The Workers,” and while we’ve got plenty of issues to temper our celebration, we should indeed celebrate America’s phenomenal Labor Movement. 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.

 

The Queen Is Dead: Long Live The Queen’s Music!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Today we observe the King of Pop’s 60thbirthday. I memorialized his transition in a blog post July 1, 2009. He died June 25, 2009, after having taken several drugs prescribed and/or administered by his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. In the 12 months after his death, Jackson sold more than 8.2 million albums in the United States and 35 million albums worldwide, making him the best-selling albums artist of 2009. Even in death, he was still the King.

Twenty days ago, we observed Whitney Houston’s 55thbirthday. I memorialized her transition in a blog post February 15, 2012. She died February 11, 2012, having drowned in a bathtub. The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office reported that an autopsy of Ms. Houston’s body also showed that the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use” contributed to her death.

This Friday, Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, will be funeralized in Detroit, Michigan, her hometown. Ms. Franklin died August 16, 2018 due to Pancreatic Cancer. She was 76 years old. Today is the second of two days that she will lie in state at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in the Motor City. Friday’s funeral will take place at Greater Grace Temple, also in Detroit.

Various reports note that long lines have been queued up for an opportunity to view the legendary singer’s remains. Her body is adorned in a red dress and heels, representing Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, of which the Queen of Soul is an Honorary Member. She is ensconced in a gold coffin.

Unlike Mr. Jackson or Ms. Houston, Ms. Franklin exceeded the Biblical longevity standard of three score years and ten. She was not only blessed with a relative abundance of years; she also enjoyed a musical career that spanned over six decades. Her successful musical portfolio includes numerous awards and nominations. Below is a list of a number of her awards:

  • Won18 Grammy Awards
  • Won 3 Grammy Special Awards (Legend Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, MusiCares Person of the Year)
  • Won 3 American Music Awards
  • Won 3 NAACP Image Awards
  • 1987 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (First Female Inductee)
  • 1994 Kennedy Center Honors
  • 1999 National Arts Medal
  • 2005 Presidential Freedom Medal
  • 2005 UK Music Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2012 GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2015 Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2018 YouGov US Poll – Voted The Most Popular Female Artist in America

I could go on, of course, but instead of indulging myself and writing more about the Queen of Soul, I will instead leave you with a treat in the package of a compendium of her very best work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6dQ2Qi0r78The Queen Is Dead: Long Live The Queen’s Music!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click 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 inbox.

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

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/17/entertainment/aretha-franklin-funeral/index.html

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

https://hollywoodlife.com/2018/08/28/aretha-franklin-casket-photo-memorial-funeral/

   .be/J6dQ2Qi0r78

https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5516202214514810687#editor/target=post;postID=8436418957177793223;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=317;src=postname

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

https://youtu.be/eH3giaIzONA

https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5516202214514810687#editor/target=post;postID=2307689826287035379;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=454;src=postname

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

https://youtu.be/ctinmprZxLw

Trump, His Friends And Supporters Had A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

11th Anniversary Edition

It’s time to Break It Down!

There are millions of Americans who consider themselves patriots, and who believe Donald Trump is heroic. Michael Cohen used to be one of those people. He was so enthralled by The Donald that he spent years as his “fixer,” personal attorney, and on at least one occasion, he declared he would “take a bullet for Mr. Trump.” Yesterday, in a stark about-face, Cohen admitted he made illegal campaign contributions…at Donald Trump’s behest. Oh yeah, that was after he pled guilty to campaign finance violations.

As if Trump’s former personal attorney pleading guilty and implicating him in the process didn’t make for a bummer of a day, another one of Trump’s best people (he hires only the best people), Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, was convicted in a Northern Virginia courtroom on 8 counts of financial crimes. The breakdown of the counts included:

  • 5 Charges of tax fraud
  • 1 Charge of hiding foreign bank accounts
  • 2 Charges of bank fraud

If maximum sentences for each charge were applied, it would yield Manafort, who is 70 years old, 80 years in prison. Sentencing experts say it’s unlikely he’ll receive the max, and that he could get as little as 10 years, which for a 70 year-old, is still no small matter. Federal sentencing guidelines require serving at least 85% of the term, which for a 10-year sentence would translate to 8 and half years. These numbers are not indicative of actual sentencing decisions; just an example of terms that might be applied in Manafort’s case. Of course, the reality is, Manafort may be banking, no pun intended, on a Presidential pardon.

In his best deflect, divert, and yes, deceive style, Donald Trump revels in calling any reporting he doesn’t like, especially reporting about himself, fake news, hoaxes, witch hunts, or as Kellyanne Conway said, alternative facts. Clearly that applied to virtually every story that emanated from any media source other than Fox News, if those stories covered Cohen, Manafort, and Trump’s relationship with either or both. The same truism was invoked regarding reports about George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, and Rick Gates. Just for the record, all five of those “President’s Men” have now either pleaded guilty, or been convicted of a variety of crimes that render them all felons.

The temptation, or perhaps in reality, self-centered rationalization of Trump supporters is always…it doesn’t have anything to do with Trump, or it has nothing to do with collusion, or there was no conspiracy with Russia…or it has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. OK, I threw in the last one for levity. Well, Mr. Cohen, who likely knows better than most where the various skeletons are hidden, has proffered a different possibility.

Oh, I know his word will not suffice for the denizens of TrumpWorld, at least one of whom admits he’d take Trump’s word over that of Jesus. Frankly, I’m not that concerned about the reticence of the Trumpophiles. I tend to believe over time, that the steady drumbeat of factual revelations will persuade a majority of reasonable Americans that “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”

The entire episode known as the Trump Presidency is a farce that will eventually implode and fall from the burden of its own weight. Granted that may take four, or even possibly 8 years. But by and by, the politicos and citizens who insist in supporting him, despite his corrupt tendencies, constant misstatements, cyber bullying, and uber casual belligerence, will find themselves on the wrong side of history. And lest anyone think this represents some kind of endpoint, I don’t know how to put it to you, other than to just come right out and say, it doesn’t. While prosecutors must decide whether to re-try Manafort on the 10 charges for which the jury couldn’t reach a verdict, he actually still faces a September trial in Washington, DC. There the charges include:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States
  • Failure to register as a foreign agent
  • Money laundering
  • Witness tampering
  • Making false statements

Early prognostications are that charges stemming from any possible D.C. Court convictions could be even lengthier than those from Alexandria. The array of charges and the way sentencing guidelines are applied will affect the final outcome.

Yesterday, at about the same time Manafort was learning his fate, i.e., that he was found guilty on 8 charges, in Alexandria, VA, Michael Cohen was pleading out in NYC on his own 8-pack of charges, including:

  • Tax fraud
  • False statements to a bank
  • Campaign finance violations

Cohen faces up to 65 years in jail. In light of Cohen’s decision to plead, he and the prosecution avoid the specter of a trial. Alternately, the deal creates a significant complication for Donald Trump. As part of Trump’s inner circle for more than a decade, Cohen served as Trump’s personal counsel at the Trump Organization, and continued to advise him after the election. The relationship began to fray after the FBI raided Cohen’s office, hotel room, and home in April. Earlier this summer, the man who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump told ABC news that his loyalty is to his family and country first, not the President.

It is worth noting that Cohen’s plea deal does not include cooperation with Mueller. Because of this, it is unclear whether he will follow through with previous assertions that he would talk to Mueller.

In the hours following their respective legal revelations, Mr. Trump had a lot to say about Paul Manafort, and zero, zilch, and zip to say about Michael Cohen. While it may be conceivable that Cohen will seek to repair his relationship with Trump in hopes of gaining a Presidential pardon of his own, it seems like a long shot. If, however, in the final analysis, it works for Donald Trump, in the view of Donald Trump, it is certainly still a possibility.

Some observers might consider yesterday the worst day of the Trump Presidency. In one news report, the contemporaneous Manafort/Cohen conviction/plea was characterized as the single worst hour of the Trump Presidency. Those things may or may not be true. Meanwhile, what is certain is that, yesterday, Trump, His Friends And Supporters Had A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click 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 inbox.

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

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-21/michael-cohen-appears-in-court-over-hush-payments-plea-update

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/08/21/michael-cohen-former-trump-lawyer-feds-reach-plea-deal/1053562002/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-michael-cohen-plea-deal-fraud-case-20180821-story.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/21/trumps-ex-lawyer-michael-cohen-strikes-plea-deal-nbc-news.html

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/21/michael-cohen-trumps-former-lawyer-to-appear-in-court-in-new-york

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/21/politics/paul-manafort-trial-jury/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/all/manafort-convicted-8-counts-n901231

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2018/aug/21/michael-cohen-latest-live-news-updates-trump-lawyer-plea-deal-charges

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/21/jury-announces-partial-verdict-in-manafort-trial-cannot-decide-on-several-counts.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/paul-manafort-jury-trial-verdict-day4-1534861860

Did He Really Write That? Yes He Did! Sad, Right?

In a tweet, the man who claims he hires only the best people called one of his former employees a crazed, crying lowlife. He didn’t stop there. More about that in a moment. The subject of those acerbic assertions is Omarose Onee Manigault-Newman, familiarly known as Omarosa. She served in the Trump White House, until last December, as one of Trump’s most highly paid staffers.

In one of the administration’s numerous media spectacles, Omarosa was fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly. She, in turn, has written a book, “Unhinged,” released, yesterday, that purports to reveal a number of details about the inner workings of Team Trump. Not surprisingly, many of the tell-all memoir’s assertions are gossip-filled and unflattering to Mr. Trump.

In the reflexive way that Trump does, naturally he fired back. Even had he stopped at crazed, crying lowlife (he did not), there are critics who would insist that this is yet another example of the Racial-Slurer-in-Chief spouting one more takedown of a prominent African American. And said critics would have a substantive argument. Did I mention, however, that he did not stop there? He went on to tie a bow of closure on the tweet by calling Mrs. Manigault-Newman a dog.

Just so you can see the tweet in its entirety for yourself, here it is:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”
7:31 AM – Aug 14, 2018

66.8K

71.5K people are talking about this

This one is pretty basic and just as clear. Did Donald Trump just call a black female a dog? Let’s understand that there is specific nomenclature for female dogs. Before you suggest that may be reaching, fall back, and consider his calling black football players sons-of-bitches…who should be fired. So, am I implying that he, in effect, called Mrs. Manigault-Newman a black b___h? I’m not implying anything. However, if you infer that’s what he meant, I understand. You can decide for yourself what he meant when referring to Omarosa. I won’t even deign to debate the point.

Meanwhile, in a White House administration that we now know has never had even one African American with an office in the West Wing (Thanks for the clarification Parris Dennard), yesterday the press secretary was unable, or at the very least, unwilling, to assert that there are no recordings of Trump using the N-word. In the words of Childish Gambino, “This Is America!”

During the course of yesterday’s press briefing, Sarah Sanders was asked if any recordings exist on which Trump is recorded using the N-word? Sanders said Tuesday that she could not “guarantee” that there are no recordings of President Donald Trump using the N-word.

“I’ve never heard him use that term or anything similar,” Sanders said in response to a series of questions from NBC’s Kristen Welker about whether he’s ever used the racial slur. Asked if she could promise that Americans would never hear him say it on a recording, she declined. “I can’t guarantee anything, but I can tell you the president addressed this question directly,” she said, though she acknowledged that she had never asked him the question herself.

If you have watched many of Sanders’ press briefings, you might be surprised at the number of questions she acknowledges she has never asked Mr. Trump. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure whether that ritual is a function of a timely game of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or more broadly, a question of both of them assuming a posture of “ignorance is bliss.” In either event, it’s a curious thing.

There are a great many people who support Donald Trump. Some of them support him enthusiastically, and many of those support him regardless of what he does, or says, and a sizable segment of those, when confronted with deeds and words even they cannot defend, just pivot, and adopt the Trump mantra, calling any such examples fake news, and or hoaxes. God bless America…and God help those people.

Did He Really Write That? Yes he did. Sad, Right? I’m done; holla back!
Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click 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 inbox.

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

https://video.foxnews.com/v/5821962967001/

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/sarah-sanders-says-she-can-t-guarantee-there-s-no-n900701

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/09/23/trump_nfl_owners_should_fire_the_son_of_a_bitch_player_who_disrespects_our_flag_by_kneeling.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-referred-haiti-african-countries-shithole-nations-n836946

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/06/25/maxine-waters-trump-exchange/732505002/

https://www.daytondailynews.com/entertainment/celebrity-news/cnn-don-lemon-pushes-back-against-trump-calling-him-dumbest-man-television/xaAWDwNc3jUGIktDVhpIHN/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/08/14/times-president-trump-comments-called-racist/985438002/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/04/politics/trump-lebron-james-tweet/index.html

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-insults-lebron-james-and-calls-cnns-don-lemon-dumbest-man-television-1057105

Trump’s Peculiar Relationship With Race Matters: A Long Term Trend

It’s time to Break It Down!

American bigots, racists, and white nationalists have a long and storied history of attacking African Americans as lacking intelligence, having low I.Q., and in general, being dumb. A number of folks, including Charles Murray, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has rebuked for “using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor,” have gained substantial notoriety for their promotion of so-called “race science. ”Murray, a political scientist, co-authored a book in 1994, with psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” in which he claimed that poor people, blacks in particular, are inherently less intelligent than whites or Asians. Murray further claimed that people with low I.Q. are found more frequently in nonwhite communities.

In the mid-60’s, physicist William Shockley sparked controversy by arguing that there might be genetic reasons why black people in the United States often score lower on I.Q. tests than white people. In 1969, educational psychologist Arthur Jensen published a long article with the suggestion that compensatory education had failed to that date because of genetic group differences. Of course, such theories predate the 20th century. In the 18th century, philosophers and scientists, including VoltaireDavid HumeImmanuel Kant, and Carl Linnaeus, proposed the existence of different mental abilities among the races.

This post, however, is not intended to spike or debunk the likes of the theories espoused by Murray, or Jensen, or Voltaire, or Kant, or any of the others noted above. While socioeconomic factors, and patterns of socialization readily account for most if not all those distinctions, this blog focuses on a 21st century maven of misinformation, and more importantly, mischaracterization of race matters. Donald Trump has managed for nearly 50 years to distinguish himself as someone with a precarious grasp on appropriate and respectful racial engagement. Want examples? Here’s ten:

  • Maxine Waters – “very low IQ.”
  • Don Lemon – “Dumbest man on television
  • LeBron James – “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” (A twofer, denigrating both Lemon and James, and daring Michael Jordan to side with him…which actually would have been intellectually questionable).
  • Barack Obama – “Was a terrible student,” questioned how he could have been admitted to Columbia or Harvard, and suggested Obama release his school records to prove he was intelligent enough to get into these Ivy League schools.
  • White nationalists/people protesting white nationalists – “There were very fine people on both sides.”
  • African Countries and Haiti – S-hole countries
  • Early in his Real Estate career, Trump was sued by the federal government for refusing to rent apartments to blacks. He would eventually settle the suit (after fighting it for two years) without admitting guilt, but being required to place ads in newspapers saying he welcomed black applicants, and that he would familiarize himself with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination.
  • The Central Park 5 – Trump took out full page ads in 5 major NY newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty after four blacks and a Latino were convicted of raping a Central Park jogger. A subsequent confession by another man, in conjunction with DNA evidence proved conclusively that they did not do it. They were released from jail and awarded $41 million for time served. Trump persisted in insisting that their convictions should have stood.
  • His employees – The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 in 1992 because managers would remove African American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler.
  • Birther-in-Chief – Trump was the leading proponent of the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in America

In evaluating how Donald Trump approaches race, his supporters are adamant about one thing. They aver with great conviction, he is no racist. At first blush, it appears they view him as a proxy for themselves. In such a context, it is impossible for them to concede that he is a racist…without admitting that they too are racist. While no such nexus was suggested, it’s as if they are playing chess, and thinking and visualizing several moves ahead. The assertion may not have been made, but, as sure as they drop their guard, they seem certain that they are next in line.

This is always a conversation with which I find great humor. Watching an individual twist him or herself into contortions as they try to explain why “I should not believe my lying eyes and ears” is just plain entertaining, at a very high level. Interestingly, many of his supporters have stopped saying he doesn’t lie. Frequently! That one, I suppose, has simply become too high a standard to achieve. Fact checkers at the New York Times have calculated that his lying quotient is around 7 per day, and actually numbers in the thousands. I guess that says even they find lying more acceptable than racism.

In conclusion, regarding the question of whether Donald Trump is an unreconstructed racist, I’m perfectly comfortable encouraging readers to review the bulleted evidence above, and draw your own conclusion. Please understand that those ten items do not represent a Top 10, or the definitive most egregious, or a priority ordered list, and are absolutely, positively not an exhaustive collection. Nope, they are just ten examples spanning 45 years (and parts of 5 different and consecutive decades) illuminating the words and behaviors of the guy who describes himself as a stable genius. Be he a genius or a simpleton, this is a brief summary of Trump’s Peculiar Relationship With Race Matters: A Long Term Trend!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

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

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/05/opinions/trump-lebron-pattern-opinion-obeidallah/

https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/trump-mocks-lebron-james-and-calls-don-lemon-dumbest-man-on-tv-in-twitter-tirade/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxLttE06-BU

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

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/trump-says-there-were-very-fine-people-on-both-sides-in-charlottesville/

https://www.npr.org/2016/09/29/495955920/donald-trump-plagued-by-decades-old-housing-discrimination-case

https://www.thewrap.com/cnns-don-lemon-hits-back-trumps-dumbest-man-diss-lebron-james/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Murray_(political_scientist)

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/04/politics/trump-lebron-james-tweet/index.html