A Time For Thanks Redux ’18

It’s time to Break It Down! 

Originally posted on November 24, 2010, and prior to today, subsequently on November 27, 2013, November 26, 2014November 25, 2015, November 23, 2016, and November 22, 2017.

As in the past, since it is Thanksgiving Week, this post will deviate from the standard fare. I know that travel schedules (in some cases impeded by weather events this year), meal planning, family time, shopping, football, parades, and if there is any time remaining, relaxation, will be the dominant theme this week. However, it is Wednesday, so there shall be a blog and it will definitely be brief.

Those among us who have perfected humility, and ascended to a genuine Nirvana state, have no doubt also elevated giving thanks to an art form. The rest of us must fully invest our appreciation in the notion, “That’s why we have Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, which kicks off what we commonly refer to as the Holiday Season. Almost instinctively, Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. Yet, there is so much more than that to the Season.

Over the next 54 days, many of us will enjoy succulent feasting at Thanksgiving, exchange gifts and contribute to the needy during Hanukkah. We will buy, give, exchange, and/or receive gifts at Christmas, eat, drink, and celebrate the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa, and party and toast the dawn of 2019 on New Year’s Day. We will honor the life and works of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on MLK Day. In addition, even in these tough (though improving) economic times, this weekend, millions of Americans will pay (literally) homage to our most celebrated of shoppers’ holiday weekends, Black FridaySmall Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, by rising early, and proceeding to scour the aisles for those perfect gifts…and if not perfect, at least cheap, relatively speaking. There are even some precociously enterprising businesses that will start the shopping clock Thursday. Sigh!

In past years, I have sometimes recounted my reasons for being thankful. This year I find that I have more reasons than ever to sit contemplatively in humble repose, and affirm boldly, that I know, without caveat, not only the goodness, no the greatness of God, but also of his inestimable and inexhaustible beneficence. I thank Him for deliverance, and for imbuing me with the sense and sensibility to discern the distinction between kairos and chronosGreek concepts for God’s time, and man’s time, respectively. In this the Year of our Lord and Savior, 2018, a.k.a. Year 2 A.D. (After Donald), I have been reminded, God really does have a sense of humor. In accordance, I thank him dearly and daily for Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and SNLAmen!

Eons ago, when I was a college student, I pledged a fraternity. It is familiarly known as the Oldest, Boldest, and Coldest, but I digress. The point of this reference is that during the erstwhile pledge process, as prospective initiates, we were required to learn a number of poems. There were many, each selected to convey a specific life lesson. Many of them have stayed with me, but none more than Invictus, written by English poet, William Ernest Henley (1849-1903).

The Latin translation for Invictus is Undefeated. You may recall it, but just in case, see it below:

Invictus (Latin for Undefeated) By William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.


So, as you go about your way tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that follow, recognize that Thanksgiving, at its core, is not simply a day on the calendar. It is a spirit that dwells within each of us, an impulse that prompts us to thank God (for our being undefeated), and for the graciousness to share His blessings with our fellow men and women. Indeed, everyday is “A Time for Giving Thanks Redux ’18!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month…Redux!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Nine years ago, I wrote a post in recognition of Veteran’s Day, and the service personnel we as a nation honor on that day. In 2009, and again in 2015 when I reprised this post, Veterans Day fell on Wednesday. In 2018, this past Sunday was that day. Today, once again, as our nation continues to grapple with conflict overseas, I decided to edit/re-post the Veteran’s Day 2009/2015 Edition of “Break It Down!”

It’s worth noting that while our fighting forces officially exited Iraq in December 2011, we still have military personnel fighting ISIL/ISIS there, and in Syria. We also still maintain forces, roughly 13,000 troops in Afghanistan (the other hotspot referenced in the initial post). In addition, for the record, we have a variety of personnel in Iran, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Yemen…lest you think the world is one big blissful, peaceful place.

I hope you enjoyed your day, and that you took an opportunity to reach out and thank a Veteran. Moreover, for my part, to all of you who are Veterans, “Thank you for your service.”

Many of you may know, or at least faintly recall that I frequently alter the blog format to integrate holiday traditions into the discussion. Often holidays are expanded by days away from work, long weekends, travel, and a host of leisure activities. In those cases, I prefer to scale back in recognition that aside from road map directions, GPS instructions, and the like, very little reading will be taking place.

As most Americans know by now, this year marked the 100-year Anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, AKA “The Great War,” and/or, “The War That Ended All Wars.” At first, it was known as Armistice Day. It later became known as Veterans Day. But what do we really know about this day that has been set aside to honor real American heroes and sheroes?

Well, first, Veterans Day is not Memorial Day, and vice-versa. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day is intended largely to honor Living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty. Memorial Day honors those veterans who died in the service of their country, particularly those killed in combat, or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

We also know that Veterans Day is a different kind of federal holiday. With the exception of Sundays, it falls on its actual date. In 1968Congress approved the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This law, which took effect in 1971, amended the observance of certain federal holidays so that Washington’s BirthdayMemorial DayColumbus Day, and Veterans Day would be observed on Mondays instead of fixed dates.

Congress passed the Act to increase the number of three-day holiday weekend for federal employees. After a loud and persistent outcry from Veterans and Veterans’ groups, who argued the historical significance of November 11th was compromised by the change, Veterans Day observance was returned to November 11th in 1978.

So how did this affinity for November 11th come about? As with many historical facts, it evolved. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day. The significance of Armistice Day is that it was the day of the signing of the Armistice that terminated World War I (WW I). In effect, WW I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That was when the Germans signed the document, ending hostilities that had begun in 1914President Woodrow Wilson subsequently proclaimed the first Armistice DayNovember 11, 1919.

WW I was deemed The Great War, and was thought by many, at the time, to be “The War That Ended All Wars.” It was, as the numeric designation suggests, the First World War. Of course, more wars would ensue. There was World War II (WW II), later the Korean Conflict, and then Vietnam.

In 1953, a storeowner in Emporia, KansasAl King, launched an idea to honor all Veterans, not just those who served in WW I. The idea took root, sailed through Congress, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law May 26, 1954Congress amended the Act November 8, 1954, changing Armistice to Veterans, and thus it has been ever since.

So now, especially remember “The 11th Hour of This 11th Day of the 11th Month…Redux!” To augment a popular bumper sticker, “If you can read this, thank a teacher”…and a veteran.

I’m done; holla back!

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

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House Turns Blue; Senate Stays Red

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last week I penned a short post about the midterms. The idea was, recognizing just about everything that could be said about the Election had already been stated, the post served as an opportunity to encourage folks to go vote.

Today, the 2018 Midterm Elections have come and gone. Oh, to be sure, there are still a few races to be called as I write, but the trends are fairly discernible. As was anticipated, Republicans maintained control of the U.S. Senate. They even added to their majority, which will undoubtedly result in less infighting over confirmations, and an enhanced ability to get bills through that Chamber. Contemporaneously, as most prognosticators projected, Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives. This development will increase the challenge in getting Trump’s agenda through “both” Houses.  In key Governor’s races, the GOP appears poised to take an impressive Big 3 in the form of Georgia, Florida, and Ohio. All things considered, there is not much more to say today than last Wednesday.

The pertinent refrain last week was “Elections have consequences, VOTE!” Today, we are left to sift through those consequences. Along the way, there will analyses about Donald Trump’s tactics of focusing on Birthright Citizenship and the Migrant Caravan rather than the soaring economy and plummeting unemployment rate. As Mr. Trump said last week, “Sometimes it’s not as exciting to talk about the economy.”

The bottom line is, also as Trump said, “It’s effective.” It works for him, and it worked for many of the people for whom he campaigned for and supported. But, while many, myself included, would say there was no overwhelming Blue Wave, Democrats re-taking the House is not small ball. It will at the very least mean Mr. Trump no longer has a blank check across all levels of the federal government. There will be new House Committee Chairs, new Committee majorities, and those Chairs and majorities will be Democrats.

Suffice it to say the type and tenor of House Committee investigations will be somewhat different. The rules of engagement will not be the same. Having said that, I caution folks who are disaffected with Trump not to expect miracles. Dems must figure out their own leadership structure before moving on to things Trump. And oh by the way, now that the Election is over, remember Mueller put his investigation on the back burner so as not to distract from the Election process. That probe will likely ramp up again pretty quickly.

I don’t know whether Mrs. Pelosi will get another shot at the Speakership. A number of Democrats believe she shouldn’t. Yet, she was central to the fundraising that led to numerous successful campaigns, and to Democrats returning to a majority in the lower Chamber. I don’t know whether the movement to impeach Trump will garner any substantial momentum, since the Senate is still controlled by Republicans, and that body would never convict, and oust “their” Party’s President.

There are lots of decisions to be made in the coming days and weeks. The balance of power will shift in January. Not necessarily in an overly dramatic fashion. But it will change. Moreover, if you are a Congress watcher, you will notice. Just keep in mind, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, Elijah Cummings, Eliot Engel, and Nancy Pelosi will be among the newly shot-calling leaders of the Loyal Opposition. Mr. Trump has derisively mocked several of those members, in some instances, with fervor and frequency. It will be interesting to see how the interactive dynamic between the Executive Branch and the House evolves under the revised terms of engagement.

While there are many things that remain to be seen, this much we know: “House Turns Blue; Senate Stays Red!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Election 2018: The Midterms

It’s time to Break It Down!


Consider this post a classic illustration of the aphorism “Less is more.”

The Election is next Tuesday, November 6th. Elections have consequences, VOTE…“Election 2018: The Midterms!”

That’s it, 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.



Quoth Donald Trump: “I’m A Nationalist!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

As we all know, Donald Trump is many things to many people. To those who think most highly of him, nothing that others say about him, especially those with whom they disagree, matters. That’s why for this brief post; I choose to employ his own words to impeach him.

At a campaign rally Monday in Houston, Mr. Trump declared:

“You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK — I’m a nationalist. Use that word.”

Undoubtedly, Trump advocates and sympathizers will endeavor to paint their hero’s remarks as patriotic. However, the term nationalist is not new to the geopolitical lexicon; nor should it ever be confused as a synonym with patriot. Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970), the French general and statesman said, long before Trump ever entered politics:

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”

I could write pages on this topic. But really, what else is there to say? Trump asked that we use that word. So I, for one, will use that word. Quoth Donald Trump: I’m A Nationalist!”

 I’m done; holla back!

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

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Addressing Women: A Recurring Theme

It’s time to Break It Down!

These are curious times. Nationally, we operate under the arc of a man who burnished his reputation by promising to “Make America Great Again (MAGA). He has fashioned, indelibly, his own style of doing so. The people who support him credit him with reviving the economy, making better trade deals, and of course, cutting taxes. Never mind that the economy has been steadily rebounding for at least six years, a large part of the new trade deals are revisions of the pacts that preceded them, and the tax breaks preponderantly benefited the wealthiest Americans, and contributed to a 17% increase in the Deficit, due to the resulting decrease in revenues.

But none of those things are the crux of this post. I want to briefly note the propensity of Donald to Trump to publicly denigrate women. That is not to say that all women dislike him. In fact, there are at least a couple, Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders, who defend him mightily, and frequently.

Nevertheless, despite their boundlessly exuberant protestations, Mr. Trump often tends to make statements that, at the very least, lead to questioning their credulity. Here are 12 examples of his “special” way of addressing women. This list is not a top twelve, and is not in the order of occurrence. It’s just a dozen of many more:

  1. Stephanie Clifford, A.K.A. Stormy Daniels:

“Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the great state of Texas,” Trump taunted in a tweet yesterday in the wake of the decision he won. “She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!”

  1. Alicia Machado:

He accused her of gaining too much weight after the Miss Universe competition and referred to her as “Miss Housekeeping” — a seemingly racist dig at her Venezuela roots — and “Miss Piggy.”

  1. Rosie O’Donnell:

“She announced last week that she suffers from depression,” he said during a 2007 speech. “They call me for comment and rather than saying ‘I have no comment’ or ‘isn’t that too bad, oh that’s so bad,’ I said, ‘I think I can cure her depression,’ — most of you heard of this. ‘If she stopped looking in the mirror, I think she’d stop being so depressed.”

  1. Arianna Huffington:

Trump has also targeted media executive Arianna Huffington for her outward appearance — in 2012 he called her “unattractive both inside and out.”

“I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man,” he continued. “He made a good choice.”

  1. Hillary Clinton:

Trump also seized on Clinton’s looks throughout the 2016 election and similarly claimed she did not have the right look to be president.

“I just don’t think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look,” he said during a Sept. 6 interview with Lester Holt. “She also doesn’t have the stamina.”

A month later at a rally in North Carolina, Trump said he “wasn’t impressed” when the former secretary of state walked in front of him during one of their debates.

  1. Heidi Cruz:

Amid the 2016 elections, Trump shared an unflattering photo of Ted Cruz’s wife alongside a photo of Melania Trump.

“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” the meme was captioned.

The insulting tweet came on the heels of an anti-Trump ad commissioned by a super PAC — not affiliated with the Cruz campaign — which shows the first lady posing nude in a shoot for GQ magazine.

  1. California Representative Maxine Waters:

“Low I.Q.”

  1. Mika Brzezinski:

“Dumb as a rock”,“Crazy”,“low I.Q.”,“bleeding badly from a face-lift”, “had a mental breakdown while talking about me”, “crazy and very dumb”, “very insecure”,“not very bright”, “neurotic”and “wild with hate”.

  1. NY Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

“Someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them)”.

10. Then Fox News host Megan Kelly:

“Blood coming out of her wherever.”

11. Omarosa Manigault Newman:

“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 (John) Kelly for quickly firing that dog!,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to his chief of staff.

12. The Billy Bush tapes:

“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” He went on to say, “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

We have had 45 Presidents. Suffice it to say, we have never had one that built this kind of public record regarding his views toward women. While my inclination is to pray we never have another, I understand that not everyone will agree. And that’s OK. For now, I encourage you to reflect upon Trump…Addressing Women: A Recurring Theme!

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Anthony Foxx: Why I’m Joining Lyft

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday, Anthony Foxx, former Charlotte Mayor, and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, issued a statement through the online publishing platform Medium, about his reason for joining Lyft, an on-demand transportation company. Foxx, a Charlotte native, discussed how his experiences growing up in Charlotte, as well as his time as Mayor and as Secretary of Transportation, affected his decision to affiliate with the company.

Lyft, based in San Francisco, California, is a competitor to the larger Uber. It develops markets and operates the Lyft car transportation and mobile app. The entity launched June 2012, and operates is approximately 300 U.S. cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The company provides over 1 million rides per day, and was valued at $15.1 billion in June 2018. It has raised over $5.1 billion, and in December 2017, moved into Canada to challenge Uber.

Foxx will serve as Lyft’s chief policy officer and advisor to its co-founders. He is expected to focus on developing more partnerships with governments and with reshaping mass transit systems in cities. This move speaks to the increasingly central role tech companies play in transportation. He is the first former transportation secretary to join a Silicon Valley startup, and the second prominent Obama official to join Lyft. Former senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was named to the company’s board last year.

Mr. Foxx said in his statement that the company’s mission and values drew him to the enterprise. His entire statement appears below:

“Transformations can happen quickly. Some take time. With so much talk about the growth of cities, the internet of things, the role of regulation in an era of rapid technological change, rising congestion and the need to open the doors of opportunity wider to all segments of the population, change is needed. I have spent much of my public life putting the building blocks in place for that transformation to occur. I see a future in which we get places safer, faster, smarter, cleaner and more connected to opportunity — and each other — than ever before. This future is within our grasp but it will not happen on its own. It will be the product of business and government working together. Because I believe the team at Lyft is best positioned to drive us in the right direction, I am proud to announce that I am joining their team today as Chief Policy Officer and Senior Advisor to the President and CEO.

More on that in a second.

Let me get back to transformations.

There is a transformation underway across the world and in the United States. People are increasingly flocking into cities, seeking better opportunities and quality of life. This growth is compounding the challenges of moving ever larger numbers of people within the relatively tight footprint of our urban regions. If we’re not careful, sheer population growth and slow adaptation of technologies that might otherwise relieve congestion, create more connections and increase economic access will limit our potential as a nation. There will be some trial and error. There will be some transition challenges. But the direction — safer, faster, smarter, cleaner and more connected to opportunity — and to each other — will be worth it. My belief is woven into my life experience.

Growing up in Charlotte, I rode with my grandparents on weekend trips to the grocery store. They were retired school teachers and cared for me throughout my childhood. We routinely passed by the stores closest to us because they offered moldy meats and seafood. These stores would never have attempted to open in more well-to-do parts of my hometown. So, every Saturday morning, my grandparents traveled to three grocery stores across town, one for staple foods, another for meats, fruits and vegetables and still another for fish. It does not get any more fundamental than food.

My grandfather bought used cars. He put enough gasoline in them to make the trips he needed but rarely filled the tank. The car was a necessity but it was also a cost center. We were lucky to have a car. I saw so many nearby families who did not. How much more discretionary money might my family have had if we never owned a car — if there had been a way to pay for the trips they needed instead of the car itself? How about those families I saw growing up who had no choices — not for food, not for work, not for school, not for health care? Lyft is, at its core, a transportation company. It wants to offer solutions we did not see back in those days.

As a mayor and, later, as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, I have a unique perspective. I have made decisions on issues affecting mobility — everything from zoning and land use, to capital budgeting, to street resurfacing, to transit. As U.S. Transportation Secretary, I carried my local government experience to Washington, putting forth the Department’s first Smart City Challenge and issuing the most comprehensive national autonomous vehicle policy framework in the world. I traveled to all 50 states and lobbied for passage of the FAST Act, the first long-term transportation funding bill in a decade. These efforts required strong relationships, creativity, grit and vision. These are qualities that I also see in Logan and John — and the incredible platform they have built.

Lyft has built its brand on getting you there and caring about how you get there. The company remains at the forefront of meeting our nation’s comprehensive mobility needs, but works hard to do so in partnership with key stakeholders. They recognize the extent to which the Lyft platform can bring people together while connecting us to the places we go. They have built an amazing team, and they believe, as I do, that this work, if done well, can lead to a better world. I so look forward to working with this incredible team. Lyft is the future, and I cannot wait to get started.” The foregoing statement reflected, in his own words, “Anthony Foxx: Why I’m Joining Lyft!”

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.