North Carolina Voter Fraud: Apparently It Really Is A Thing

It’s time to Break It Down!

For years the GOP has pushed for Voter ID. The professed reason? To stamp out voter fraud. The thing is, numerous studies conducted by a variety of researchers, across numerous years and elections have found that given the number of elections and voters, voter fraud occurs at an infinitesimally small rate. Here are several examples:

The Brennan Center’s seminal report on this issue, The Truth About Voter Fraud, found that most reported incidents of voter fraud are actually traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices. The report reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. Given this tiny incident rate for voter impersonation fraud, it is more likely, the report noted, that an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”

A study published by a Columbia University political scientist tracked incidence rates for voter fraud for two years, and found that the rare fraud that was reported generally could be traced to “false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.”

2017 analysis published in The Washington Post concluded that there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that Massachusetts residents were bused into New Hampshire to vote.

comprehensive 2014 study published in The Washington Post found 31 credible instances of impersonation fraud from 2000 to 2014, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. Even this tiny number is likely inflated, as the study’s author counted not just prosecutions or convictions, but any and all credible claims.

Two studies done at Arizona State University, one in 2012 and another in 2016, found similarly negligible rates of impersonation fraud. The project found 10 cases of voter impersonation fraud nationwide from 2000-2012. The follow-up study, which looked for fraud specifically in states where politicians have argued that fraud is a pernicious problem, found zero successful prosecutions for impersonation fraud in five states from 2012-2016.

A review of the 2016 election found four documented cases of voter fraud.

Research into the 2016 election found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

2016 working paper concluded that the upper limit on double voting in the 2012 election was 0.02%. The paper noted that the incident rate was likely much lower, given audits conducted by the researchers showed that “many, if not all, of these apparent double votes could be a result of measurement error.”

2014 paper concluded that “the likely percent of non-citizen voters in recent US elections is 0.”

2014 nationwide study found “no evidence of widespread impersonation fraud” in the 2012 election.

2014 study that examined impersonation fraud both at the polls and by mail ballot found zero instances in the jurisdictions studied.

Just when the data suggest that the facts fly in the face of the GOP’s most assiduous and far-flung arguments, emerging evidence in the Old North State appears to support a strong case for, wait for it…voter fraud. There is, however, a notable deviation from the oft-spouted storyline. If early indications are accurate, this is a Republican scam. Oops!

After a day short of a month, since the midterm elections, the quest continues to determine a victor in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Republican Mark Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes after all the ballots were counted. However, state officials are now investigating allegations about tampering with absentee ballots; many of which were signed by the same group of people – an unusual pattern that may indicate improper activity. To add to the intrigue, a locally known Republican consultant who was previously convicted of fraud and an absentee ballot collector who alleges she was paid, are involved. In the balance…hangs a congressional seat.

So, what’s the deal in my Tar Heel state? Here’s the CliffNotes version. The State Board of Elections is a bi-partisan body composed of 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats, and 1 unaffiliated voter. The group has voted twice to investigate this matter; the first time unanimously, and the second time with 2 Republican members voting no. The Board’s discussions have been in closed sessions up to this point.

According to six affidavits, there was a scheme to harvest and complete absentee-by-mail ballots, many of them unrequested. The key principal in the investigation, Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., is an elected official, vice chair of the Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation District. Dowless is also an electioneer with a criminal past. His crimes of record extend back to the 80’s and 90’s.

In this instance, Dowless’ name surfaced because of the affidavits. In one, an individual claims to have heard Dowless say he’d be paid $40,000 if Mark Harris won. In another affidavit, a person claims Dowless told him he was doing “absentee” for Mark Harris and Jim McVicker, the Bladen County Sheriff. According to that affidavit, Dowless had 80 people working for him, from Cumberland County (Fayetteville) to Charlotte.

Dowless has worked in political circles at least as far back as 2010, when he worked for a Bladen County District Attorney candidate. He was paid, primarily, for get out the vote efforts. Records also show he worked for Pete Givens, a Charlotte City Council candidate. According to the Charlotte Observer, Harris introduced Givens to Dowless.

Mr. Dowless was not always affiliated with Mark Harris. Campaign Finance records show he worked for Todd Johnson in the 2016 Republican Primary for the 9thDistrict. Though Johnson finished last in the Primary, he finished first in Bladen County. Delving deeper into voting records reveals Johnson received 98% of the absentee-by-mail votes, totaling 221. Mark Harris received 4 votes. Incumbent Robert Pittenger received 1 vote.

In 2018, Dowless was hired to work for the Harris Campaign. The firm that hired him, Red Dome, has been paid $428,000 from the Harris Campaign. The disbursements listed include administration and staff and grassroots. In the 2018 Primary, Harris amassed considerably more than 4 votes. Similar to Johnson in 2016, he rolled up a huge advantage in absentee numbers, totaling 437 of the 456 of the absentee-by-mail votes. Pittenger, the incumbent, received only 17 votes.

In the General Election, against McCready, Harris received 61% of the absentee votes (even though Republicans comprise only 19% of the ballots submitted). Bladen was the only county in the 9th District in which Harris received more absentee votes than McCready. According to an analysis by Dr. Michael Bitzer of Catawba College, Harris garnering 61% of absentee votes meant that in addition to the less that 20% of loyal Republicans who voted absentee, Harris would have also had to receive almost all the registered unaffiliated votes, as well as some of the registered Democrats’ votes.

Among irregularities in Bladen County, eight people were found to have signed as a witness for at least 10 ballots. Three people signed for at least 40 ballots. Ginger Eason said McCrae paid her $75 to $100 a week to pick up absentee ballots. This is illegal. She didn’t turn the ballots in to the Board of Elections; she gave them to McCrae Dowless. The State Board of Elections also refused to certify two local races in Bladen and Robeson counties.

At this point, the end does not appear to be in sight. If the State Board of Elections orders a new election, the same three candidates, Mark Harris, Dan McCready, and Libertarian Jeff Scott will be on the ballot. If the incoming U.S. House of Representatives orders a new election, there will be a new filing, primary, and general election. Federal law requires a minimum of 45 days for absentee voting. The State Board of Elections has determined there will be an evidentiary hearing on or before December 21. The Board has not set a timeline for when everything must be completed. Members have said they are aware that the House swearing-in occurs on January 3rd.

There’s more, of course, but this should be more than enough for you to get the gist. I cannot fathom that this was what the GOP hoped to establish, but here it isNorth Carolina Voter Fraud: Apparently It Really Is A Thing!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://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/2018/12/04/politics/north-carolina-9-absentee-voting-fraud-investigation/index.html

https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/debunking-voter-fraud-myth

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/12/05/north-carolina-voter-fraud-apparently-it-really-is-a-thing/

“From Hope And Change To Hate And Pain: How Obama Begat Trump…or (‘This Is America’)!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

As I surveyed the landscape last night, in search of a topic suitable to convey both my own opinion as well as an incisive analysis of this moment in our historical and sociological journey, I stumbled across a piece originally posted at cnn.com by Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner. While for my purpose, heading above works perfectly, the online article is entitled:

“In 2008, there was hope. In 2018, there is hurt. This is America’s state of hate.”

If I were to add a subtitle, I’d borrow from Childish Gambino; “This Is America!” Why? Because it is.

Without further ado, I give you one of the more powerful, plain spoken, fact driven assessments of our American situation that I have read this year, or any year. It is deep, but on point. I hope you take the time to read it and measure it against your own views.

In 2008, there was hope. In 2018, there is hurt. This is America’s state of hate.

By Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner, CNN

Monday, November 26th 2018, 1:19 PM HST

Updated:

Tuesday, November 27th 2018, 7:19 AM HST

By Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner, CNN

On Election Night in 2008, Americans gathered in Grant Park, Chicago. They cried tears of joy knowing Barack Obama would become the first black president.

For millions of Americans, Obama lifted the nation. For white supremacists, he lit a powder keg.

His election supercharged the divisions that have existed since the country’s birth.

The hate created two Americas. Two realities. Split-screen reactions to the same events, that continued and were exacerbated with President Trump’s victory and time in office.

When a gunman massacred nine people praying at a predominantly black church, America wept and asked for grace. But the virulent racists cheered, hailing the gunman a hero for helping to start the race war they dreamed of.

When much of America was horrified by the sight of neo-Nazis in their streets in 2017, white supremacists were almost gleeful their views were front and center.

And when a gunman stormed into a synagogue just last month, declaring “all Jews must die,” Americans wept over the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history. But white supremacists breathed a sigh of relief. One of their biggest targets had been successfully attacked.

The era that started with hope and change had now become one of unapologetic hate.

Very different rallying cries 

Most African-Americans polled immediately after the 2008 election called Obama’s victory “a dream come true,” one they never expected to see in their lifetime.

Not all Americans saw it that way. Racists viewed a black man in power as a signal of the browning of America. It was the sight they feared the most. They were terrified and infuriated.

White supremacists, Klansmen and others began to vent, plot and act. As Obama called for people to come together, they used his existence to drive the nation apart.

Their rallying cry became “We have a black man in the White House and you need to do something about it,” according to Ken Parker, then a KKK Grand Dragon and neo-Nazi.

“We would even joke amongst ourselves, we’re going to send President Obama a honorary membership to the Klan because he’s our … biggest recruiting tool.”

Some racism was out in the open — especially that directed at Obama and his family.

The former President was shown as a witch doctor and photoshopped often onto “Uncle Ben’s” rice. His face was superimposed onto the body of a chimpanzee. His wife and former first lady Michelle Obama was called an “ape in heels.”

Donald Trump, then a private citizen, questioned if the first black President was born in America. Some repeated the lie that Obama was Muslim, as if to exaggerate his “otherness.”

This undercurrent of racism came as the country struggled with a divided Washington and the economic crisis following the Great Recession.

Kevin Nelson, a pastor in Kentucky, knew the reality of being a black man in America. More likely to be thought a thief. To be pulled over. To be a target. The pastor knew that a black man ascending to the highest office could not magically change what happened on the ground, in the neighborhoods where attitudes were so deeply rooted.

Yet Nelson was among the cautiously optimistic: “I think like most people, I celebrated the fact that our country had come to a point where we did not allow the pigmentation of a person’s skin to stop them from getting to the Oval Office,” he told CNN recently.

Any hope for progress toward racial harmony took a hit with a seemingly never-ending run of mostly young, unarmed black men being killed, often by police officers.

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald and Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Alton Sterling. Activists put out a blunt message: “Black lives matter.” Critics countered with “Blue lives matter” in support of law enforcement or just “All lives matter.”

White supremacists went further. The neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer published stories declaring, “Actually, No, Black Lives Don’t Matter.” They called Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown, a “heroic killer” of Brown, whom they dubbed a “black terrorist,” with no evidence whatsoever.

Then came Charleston and a man trying to start a race war.

He walked into the Mother Emanuel church and sat next to the black pastor for Bible study. For over an hour, the worshippers prayed and talked about scripture. They welcomed the stranger. Then he took out his gun, and shot them. He reloaded, and shot again. Because they were black. Because he believed lies that black people were inherently violent. And that they were always raping white women.

President Obama went to Charleston to comfort America and again try to heal some racial wounds. He sang “Amazing Grace” after delivering a eulogy and emphasized the United States of America.

But online, racists were cheering the killer.

“They had a Klan hotline and the prerecorded message, clearly said we needed more warriors like Dylann Roof,” said Parker, the former Klansman.

The message ended simply: “Hail Dylann Roof, hail victory.”

In a neo-Nazi chatroom, readers of the Daily Stormer used different symbols to celebrate attacks against non-whites, similar to Facebook’s “like” button. The Charleston killer’s bowl haircut became one of them. A caricature of the face of a Jew was another. A gas chamber button, too.

Once again, it was clear black churches were not safe. That, as in the dark days of the Civil Rights movement and the murder of four little girls in an Alabama church bombing, worshippers could be targeted for the color of their skin.

In Kentucky, Pastor Nelson started locking his church doors. He could never have known it would save his worshippers’ lives.

Not black and white

Obama’s presidency spanned a time of multiplying, complicated hate.

Between September 12, 2001, and the end of 2016, far-right extremists were responsible for 73% of deadly extremist attacks, though the numbers killed by far-right and Islamist extremist perpetrators were similar, government statistics show.

There was no simple target, cause, or perpetrator for the extremist attacks. A Muslim couple in California who had pledged allegiance to ISIS killed 14 at a holiday party in San Bernardino. Another American Muslim massacred 49 at a gay club in Orlando. A black man who told negotiators he was angry at police shootings and that he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers, murdered five cops in Dallas.

Obama would acknowledge the reality while trying to reinforce optimism in his final speech as President.

“After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic,” he admitted. “For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago.”

As Obama left office, more than half of Americans polled said they thought race relations between whites and blacks had gotten worse — up even higher than after the Charleston church attack.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2016 seemed to bring those divisions out into the open. Trump received great support in perceived and outwardly racist language. From his call for a so-called Muslim ban, to denigrating Mexicans at his campaign announcement, Trump stirred America’s melting pot of diversity and haters emerged.

It wasn’t just race. Jews, Muslims, Latinos, gays, immigrants and other minority groups found themselves as targets of hate — both online and in real life.

When Trump declared he was going to Make America Great Again, racists heard a clarion call. White supremacists perceived the message as it was time to make America “white” again.

Trump’s victory coincided with readership growth on white supremacist internet sites and language on message boards like 4chan and Reddit became increasingly vitriolic. A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center looking at hate groups in 2017 found there were more than 600 groups that adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology. Within that category, neo-Nazis saw the most growth over the past year, from 99 to 121 groups.

Less than a month after the election, white nationalists led by Richard Spencer shouted in support of their new President.

“Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” Spencer yelled as supporters of the alt-right — in reality just rebranded white nationalists — raised their arms in a Nazi salute.

Lawyers for a man convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction to kill Somali Muslim refugees the day after the election now argue that he should be given leniency as he was swept up in Trump’s rhetoric.

The ugly words from the campaign trail seemed to be echoed on the streets, in stores and even in schools. Day after day, stories of people becoming victims of hate incidents seemed to pop up. White schoolchildren telling classmates with darker skin to go back to Mexico. Swastikas spray-painted onto temples and cars in Jewish neighborhoods. Muslims wearing head coverings attacked on the streets. Videos of the incidents shared online and ricocheting around the world.

The FBI reported hate crimes increased in both 2016 and 2017, though it only has access to incidents classified and voluntarily reported by local agencies. A broader review by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates there were 250,0000 hate crime victimizations a year between 2004 and 2015.

Each incident sparked outrage in the mainstream, which helped recruiters for the hate movement. Parker was one of those recruiters, for the Klan and the National Socialist Movement. He found himself vulnerable when he left the Navy after 11 years’ service as a torpedo man on submarines and came home in a bad state to a crumbling marriage.

When he reached out online, looking to fill a void, a Klansman got back to him within 15 minutes and started sowing the hate. Parker was hooked, eventually tattooing a swastika on his chest, a white power symbol on one leg and on the other, two SS lightning bolts, a reference to Hitler’s, elite paramilitary force is now common imagery for white supremacists.

And he would recruit too, saying the goal was to “wake up the white race, let them know that we have a problem with minorities, Jewish people running everything.”

His hate spilled into real life.

“If me and another one of my white supremacist buddies were in the grocery store and we saw a Jewish person, … we’d start making fun of them,” he explains. “Like, oh, that hooked nose Jew over there, you know, probably looking for pennies,” he said. “Where you see a Muslim in the grocery store, we’d start talking about, you know, the new Mohammed cartoon … sometimes we thought about grabbing a pack of bacon and throwing it in her shopping cart and walking off.”

As he spewed his insults, websites like Daily Stormer grew its readership; the site is now visited more than 2.5 million times a month, according to data from analytics firm SimilarWeb. YouTube channels and podcasts dedicated to white supremacy began growing exponentially, creating an easy way to spread racist and religious hatred propaganda.

Anti-Semitic fliers began showing up on campuses as an attempt to sway young minds. Banners were strung across roadways.

“For race and nation,” one read. “Diversity is a code word for White Genocide,” another declared. “Danger: Sanctuary City Ahead,” read another. “You will not replace us, end immigration now,” another said.

The goal, as always, Parker explained, was to grow the numbers of people who felt the same as them.

“You can’t go into a battle with like five people,” he said. “So that was the perspective they were looking at. We’re going to have a race war one day. And the more people on our side, the better.”

Looking for a fight

If there was a war to be had, the preliminary battle seemed to be Charlottesville.

“I’m not gonna lie, like there were all kinds of people that went to Charlottesville that knew there were going to be a bunch of conflicts and they were just chomping at the bit waiting to be able to defend themselves with, like, extremely excessive force,” Parker said.

As he rode in a van to Charlottesville from Jacksonville, Florida, with “all kind of white nationalists, Southern nationalists, Nazis whatever,” he thought of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. Rockwell had used a “hate bus” to harass Freedom Riders in the 1960s. Parker liked the similarities and dubbed his transport the “race bus.”

“On paper, we were just going up there to, like, stand up for the white race and defend our heritage, keep the [Confederate] monuments from coming down,” Parker says of those attending the Unite the Right rally. “But honestly, I think everybody was just going to fight.”

Charlottesville followed numerous protests nationwide on campuses and in public parks where small groups held banners declaring white supremacy, sometimes in nominal support of keeping Confederate statues to honor American history.

In Charlottesville, the white supremacists’ long-held hatred of Jews and their perceived control of the levers of power, also came out into the open.

A group of white men carrying torches marched through town shouting “Jews will not replace us.” Some chanted Nazi slogans and carried Nazi flags.

It was the most overt display of anti-Semitism in years and chilled Jews in America, who had long felt safe in the United States even as they remembered the struggles and the mass murder of the Holocaust. There had been an increase in hateful rhetoric and anti-Semitic acts in Jewish neighborhoods tracked by the ADL, but this was hate in the open with a mass following.

Exclusive CNN poll reveals depth of anti-Semitism in Europe

The next day, counter protesters gathered to challenge the Unite the Right rally. Most were peaceful but there were violent clashes between the two sides, with Antifa extremists joining the opponents.

A car was driven at a crowd of counter protesters, allegedly by a man fascinated with Nazism, killing Heather Heyer and injuring others.

Heyer’s death brought calls to end the violent hatred plaguing the country. But for some like Parker, the hate group recruiter, it brought joy. Someone who opposed their views had died.

“It was like jubilation with all the white nationalists when that happened,” Parker said.

He eventually renounced white supremacism and his hateful views after meeting a Muslim filmmaker in Charlottesville. After they spent time together, Parker realized he didn’t hate the woman. He now says he regrets his views and actions.

The delight over Charlottesville was magnified by President Trump’s contradictory responses to the event. When he said there was “blame on both sides” and “fine people” among the original protesters, white supremacists saw it as a nod he supported them.

Those looking to spew hatred felt they were vindicated — and continue to quote Trump’s words to this day.

Some victims felt the lack of condemnation would leave hatred unchecked and raise the possibility of more violence.

“The present administration has never gotten up and said, just stop hate,” Millard Braunstein, a 91-year-old resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said. “In Charlottesville the President said, there’s good people on both sides. Show me a good neo-Nazi and show me a good Ku Klux Klansmen. I mean, it just isn’t there.”

A race war did not break out after Charlottesville.

But even if America has not seen a repeat of a large white supremacist rally since, it’s arguable that no place is safe from hate.

An Indian engineer was gunned down in a bar in Olathe, Kansas, by a man who reportedly yelled “Get out of my country.”

A 17-year-old in Virginia allegedly killed his girlfriend’s parents after the couple tried to get their daughter to stop dating him because of his suspected neo-Nazi views.

Even the dead could not rest in peace.

Braunstein, the 91-year-old in New Jersey, found his mother’s headstone was among about 100 gravesites desecrated in Philadelphia’s Mount Carmel Cemetery in February 2017. Many were toppled and cracked.

“How could this happen in America today? That was my first thought,” Braunstein said.

For Jews, the America they saw as a sanctuary, was in many cases gone. Anti-Semitic acts in 2017 were the second highest since the Anti-Defamation League began tracking it in 1979.

Barry Werber knew what it meant to have a refuge as a Jew.

“This was the land of milk and honey,” he said. “This was where everything would be right.”

Some of Werber’s cousins died in Nazi death camps. Those who survived were permanently scarred — by numbers tattooed on their arms, and by worse.

Werber tells the story of one cousin. “He was used by the German scientists for experiments to find out if muscles will regrow once you cut them out of an arm. They had literally cut the muscles out of his arms to see if they would regrow,” Werber recalls, beginning to choke up. “And he had to live with that. Thank God I never had to go through that.”

Werber’s dose of hell would come unexpectedly, 73 years after the Holocaust and on American soil.

He went to temple to say the Mourner’s Kaddish for his mother, when a gunman walked in and shot his way through the building. Eleven of his fellow worshippers died in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, according to the ADL.

He buried so many friends in just one week. And always with a growing fear that rather than the “Never Again” refrain that followed the Holocaust, there will be an “Again.” He worries that people may become afraid to associate with Jews as they become frequent targets. It reminds him of the shtetls, the ghettos and little villages where Jews were clustered before the Nazis came for them.

“Can it happen again? Unfortunately, it can if the wrongness continues to grow, and the allowance by any leadership allows it to grow,” Werber says. “There are always people out there willing to jump on bandwagons of hate and that’s exactly what it is.”

The Pittsburgh shooter had been on Gab, a social media site favored by alt-right followers, that is a frequent source of hate imagery and language, especially towards Jews.

Moments before the massacre, he published an anti-Semitic message, saying, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” According to an officer on the radio, the shooter told police, “All these Jews need to die.”

Locked out, but not locked up 

The doors of the First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, are locked.

Pastor Nelson wishes it could be an open haven, like the temple in Pittsburgh or how Mother Emanuel had been in Charleston.

But since that black church was attacked, the doors have been closed at this house of worship that serves the largest and oldest black congregation in the area, surrounded by mostly white suburbs.

And the locked doors likely changed the church’s history.

Last month, parishioners were inside when a man approached, apparently intent on doing harm.

“Cameras capture him trying to get in and on the sanctuary door,” Pastor Nelson says. “He bangs on it and pulls on it and he backs up, put his hand on the gun. So whoever would’ve opened it would have possibly have gotten shot and killed.”

Unable to get in, the man left. The locked doors may have saved some of Nelson’s flock, but they did not stop the hate.

The stranger went to a nearby supermarket. He walked through the sprawling aisles. He could have shot at many people, but he didn’t. He chose two. They were black. Before he was captured, the shooter told a bystander, “Whites don’t shoot whites.”

His intention was clear. He sought to take the lives of black people. One of them was Vickie Jones, who was shopping for groceries for the evening when she was gunned down.

Her nephew Kevin Gunn says he cannot believe his aunt survived breast cancer only to die at the hands of hate.

“It hurts to think that there are people who are out there who just don’t like people because they’re different, whether it’s their skin color or race, gender, sexual orientation,” he says.

He blames the rhetoric in politics and proliferation of hate online for the culture that seems to allow hate to thrive.

“We used to be able to meet people in the middle and agree to disagree,” Gunn says.

Pastor Nelson also believes things are on a dangerous course. But he’s seen where we’ve been, and as a black man living in the South there is little that surprises him anymore.

“I’m not shocked or surprised by anything because of all that we’ve gone through and continue to go through,” he says. “I’m just always saddened that in 2018 and on the brink of 2019 it still hasn’t gotten any better.”

Still he tries to give a positive message to his parishioners.

“Although things and people will get worse, we don’t have to become worse with it.”

Gunn, who lost his aunt, can’t think what worse even looks like.

“I have to sleep at night,” he says.

But he can’t help but be fearful.

“I think the more that we try to combat racism, it seems like it comes back two-fold now,” Gunn says.

“It’s kind of like the Hydra,” Gunn says, comparing racists to the multi-headed serpent of Greek mythology.

“You chop off one and then … two more pop up in its place.”

Parker, the now-repentant ex-Nazi, is getting his tattoos lasered off. As with America, the stain of hate may take a long time to disappear and eventually, hopefully, heal.

And that is the roadmap “From Hope And Change To Hate And Pain: How Obama Begat Trump…or, (‘This is America’)!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://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.kitv.com/story/39541374/in-2008-there-was-hope-in-2018-there-is-hurt-this-is-americas-state-of-hate

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/11/28/from-hope-and-change-to-hate-and-pain-how-obama-begat-trump-or-this-is-america/

 

 

 

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.

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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(United_States)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ernest_Henley

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invictus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_Day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._Day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(shopping)

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/11/21/a-time-for-thanks-redux-18/

 

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.

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

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

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/11/14/the-eleventh-hour-of-the-eleventh-day-of-the-eleventh-month-redux/

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.

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.

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/11/07/house-turns-blue-senate-stays-red/

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.

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/10/31/election-2018-the-midterms/

 

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.

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.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/22/trump-nationalist-926745

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-23/trump-says-i-m-a-nationalist-in-appeal-to-texas-republicans?srnd=premium

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/412649-trump-you-know-what-i-am-im-a-nationalist

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/10/24/quoth-donald-trump-im-a-nationalist/