Witch Hunt. Hoax. Fake News. Phony Scam. #NotAnymore!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Donald J. Trump has consistently maligned the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, using terms like witch hunt, hoax, fake news, and phony scam. If you’ve followed the situation, you know he hasn’t stopped there. Mr. Trump routinely levels broadside assaults against the FBI, and ignores the assessment of his own (as in he appointed them) Intelligence Agency Directors. In the considered opinion of the collective American Intel community, The Russians meddled in the 2016 Presidential Election. This has turned out to be quite problematic, but not because of the reason(s) one might think.

The very idea of this conclusion is akin to a bur in Trump’s very ample saddle. By his way of thinking, the mere suggestion that anything other than his personal brilliance, and stellar campaign tactics were responsible, in any way, for his victory, is not just a rank miscalculation, but also an affront to his not so refined sensibilities.

The Leader of the free world is so personally absorbed with his perception of being ill-treated by the FBI, he asserted that the Agency was responsible for the recent Florida school shooting because…they were obsessed with Trump, rather than with conducting the appropriate follow-up on Nikolas Cruz, the young man who killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day. Of course, this completely ignores the fact that the FBI has 35,000 employees, and that the criminal investigation in Florida is in no way connected with the political meddling case. other than that, the argument is still completely illogical on its face.

Add to all this the fact that Trump refuses to take Vladimir Putin and Russia to task for their fundamentally bad actor moves; not even by executing Sanctions already approved by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 98-2, and in the House by a vote of 419-3, or a total in the entire Congress of 517-5. In other words, in this hyper-partisan era, 99.4% of the entire Congress voted for Sanctions that the President refuses to enact. Does that mean the President of the United States has more faith, trust, and confidence in Putin than in his own FBI, and more respect for Vlad than he does the United States Congress, in which his Party controls both Houses? You be the judge!

Last Friday, Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein held a news conference at which he detailed charges related to indictments against 13 Russian Nationals and three Russian entities for trying to influence the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States…in favor of Donald Trump. Boom! As they say in the MiO commercial, “This changes everything.”

A summary of the 37-page indictment, as detailed by Bloomberg, includes several key elements:

Twelve of the Russians worked in various capacities to carry out election and political interference operations targeting the U.S. — “by impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful function of the government through fraud and deceit.”

The campaign started in 2014, ran through the presidential election of 2016, and continued after that.

“Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists.”

An American with a Texas-based grass-roots organization suggested to the Russians that they should focus their activities on “purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida.” After the exchange, the Russians commonly referred to targeting those states.

Their financing was provided by the 13th defendant, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies which he allegedly controlled.
Mueller Accuses Russians of Pro-Trump, Anti-Clinton Meddling

The Russians posed as Americans, created fake personas, and ran social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences, including on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They also used stolen identities of real Americans to post on those accounts.

The goal was “to sow discord in the U.S. political system,” including the presidential election, by supporting the Trump campaign and disparaging his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, with ads and rallies.

They’re charged with failing to disclose those expenditures, failing to register as foreign agents and obtaining visas through false and fraudulent statements.

The program was run from St. Petersburg, Russia.

It employed hundreds of individuals for its online operations

The organization, with an annual budget equivalent to millions of U.S. dollars, aimed to carry out “information warfare” against the U.S.

From Introduction to Substitute Assets, Mueller’s Indictment covers 99 individually enumerated topics, several of which also included alpha-based subdivisions. To give you an idea of the depth of the strategies and tactics the Russians employed, I pulled items 43-46 for your edification. These elements focus on the Russian operatives communicating derogatory information about Trump’s GOP Primary opponents, and Hillary Clinton, and communicating information in support of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. During the General Election, they produced and distributed an array of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton election materials, maintained corresponding social media accounts, and undertook a variety of efforts to suppress minority voting.

  1. By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump. 43. By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.
  2. Certain ORGANIZATION-produced materials about the 2016 U.S. presidential election used election-related hashtags, including: “#Trump2016,” “#TrumpTrain,” “#MAGA,” “#IWontProtectHillary,” and “#Hillary4Prison.” Defendants and their co-conspirators also established additional online social media accounts dedicated to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including the Twitter account “March for Trump” and Facebook accounts “Clinton FRAUDation” and “Trumpsters United.”
  3. Defendants and their co-conspirators also used false U.S. personas to communicate with unwitting members, volunteers, and supporters of the Trump Campaign involved in local community outreach, as well as grassroots groups that supported then-candidate Trump. These individuals and entities at times distributed the ORGANIZATION’s materials through their own accounts via retweets, reposts, and similar means. Defendants and their co-conspirators then monitored the propagation of content through such participants.
  4. In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their ORGANIZATION-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.
  • On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the      ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Woke Blacks” to post the following message: “[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”
  • On or about November 3, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased an advertisement to promote a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Blacktivist” that read in part: “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”
  • By in or around early November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the ORGANIZATION-controlled “United Muslims of America” social media accounts to post anti-vote messages such as: “American Muslims [are] boycotting elections today, most of the American Muslim voters refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton because she wants to continue the war on Muslims in the middle east and voted yes for invading Iraq.”

Considering there was 95 other numbered items in the indictment, you can imagine the degree of specificity and depth involved in Friday’s Mueller indictment. As these revelations come to light, I am particularly disheartened by the reality that many of my Woke Brothers and Sisters must now face. They were “played.” “Clinton Fraudation,” “Killary,”, “Hillary4Prison,” “Rather not vote,” so much Russian machination. In embracing this artful ruse, far too many otherwise Woke black folks helped elect a Useful Idiot-in-Chief. As ignorance is no excuse for not knowing the law, unwitting is no excuse for this horrific unintended consequence. Elections have consequences! There is really only one more point I wish to underscore with this post. The charade is over…Witch Hunt. Hoax. Fake News. Phony Scam. #NotAnyMore!”

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:











America The Racist: Yeah, It’s Black History Month

It’s time to “Break It Down!”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As you know February is Black History Month. For 28 days Americans of African descent will be feted honored, and buffeted with an array of historical retrospectives ranging from Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, founder of Chicago, to Barack and Michelle Obama, two of the most famous Americans to call the Windy City home. But that’s not all. Over the course of the month a variety of groups and individuals will be making an effort to elevate a truth that has never been fully told, and that is too often flatly denied.

According to a study completed by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, The National Basketball Association (NBA) was 74.3 black during the 2015-16 season, and 81.7 percent of the players were people of color. The study determined that 18.3 percent of the League’s players were white (including Europeans), while 22.3 percent were international. That translated into 43 white Americans spread across 30 NBA teams. However, eight teams did not have a white player at the start of that season.

On the basis of the preceding summary, it may sound as though the NBA is ground zero for the emergence of the black nouveau riche in America. That might be one way to look at it. Another view might be that it is an oasis in the midst of a sprawling desert of despair for many black folks. The reality is the preceding statement is many African Americans’ truth.

From time to time someone with a commanding profile steps up, takes a megaphone and shouts the truth from the mountaintop. Enter Gregg Popovich, an NBA icon. You may know Pop as the Head Coach of the 5-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, or as the guy who hired the first full-time, salaried female Assistant Coach in NBA history, or as the next Head Coach of Team USA, the Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. Is that high profile enough for you?

During the month of February, the NBA celebrates Black History Month in a variety of ways. The league honors trailblazers like Earl LloydNat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Chuck Cooper for breaking the league’s color barrier in 1950. Individual teams look back at their respective pasts. Players wear special gear, including sneakers and warm-up shirts to commemorate those who have come before. For the primarily African American league, the month of special activities serves as recognition of, and acknowledgment that the giant steps the NBA has taken toward international success and prominence have come as a result of strength, sacrifices, and contributions of a great many people, on the court and off of it, over the years.

In addition, they also call to the forefront of our minds how much further we all have to go. That was the aspect that Coach Popovich was most interested in discussing when he was asked about his thoughts on Black History Month, Monday, prior to a game between the Spurs and the Utah Jazz.

Popovich is known as a no-nonsense, give short shrift to mundane post-game interview questions kinda guy. He’s also quite well-known for speaking his mind on pertinent social issues of the day. Given the latter, it was not at all surprising that just a couple of days ago; he framed the importance of Black History Month in stark, blunt truth terms:

“I think it’s pretty obvious,” he told reporters. “The league is made up of a lot of black guys. To honor that and understand it is pretty simplistic. How would you ignore that? But more importantly, we live in a racist country that hasn’t figured it out yet. And it’s always important to bring attention to it, even if it angers some people. The point is, you have to keep it in front of everybody’s nose so they understand it still hasn’t been taken care of and we have a lot of work to do.”

As implied above, Popovich, who matriculated at the Air Force Academy, and who served five years in the military, has frequently voiced his displeasure with the state of affairs in the U.S. political system and broader discourse — has spoken about the importance of recognizing that many of the issues central to black history in the United States aren’t really “history” at all. Translation…they are not relegated to the past; rather, they are very much present day concerns.

For example, Coach Popovich said last February:

“Well, it’s a remembrance, and a bit of a celebration in some ways. It sounds odd because we’re not there yet, but it’s always important to remember what has passed and what the black population is experiencing now. It’s a celebration of some of the good things that have happened, and a reminder that there’s a lot more work to do.

But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that,’ or ‘Do we have to talk about that again?’ And the answer is, ‘You’re damned right we do.’ Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic, in the sense that when you talk about opportunity, it’s not about, ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash.

If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage – educationally, economically, culturally, in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education. We have huge problems in that they are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one; because people don’t rally want to face it.

In all likelihood, that includes many NBA fans, and no doubt, many Spurs fans, who might appreciate Popovich’s gifts as a coach and executive, but might not look so kindly on his assessment of the U.S. as a “racist country.” Regardless of whether all those watching, listening to, and/or reading his words share his viewpoint, it doesn’t appear that Coach Popovich is going to be dissuaded from espousing the legit truth, anytime soon.

Love it or hate it, that’s the good news. America The Racist: Yeah, It’s Black History Month!”

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:











Trump Indicts Dems as Un-American & Treasonous: What About the GOP?

It’s time to Break It Down!

At a Monday afternoon rally of the faithful, his faithful, to be precise, in Blue Ash, Ohio, #45 lobbed more verbal grenades. This time he targeted Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, in general, and members of the Black Caucus, in particular, most of whom did not clap and (in his view) appropriately, or sufficiently render themselves deferential and laudatory, during the course of his 80-minute long State of the Union (SOTU) Address.

It is well established that Trump is not just comfortable calling people, and some times whole countries, or entire continents, names, he is clearly predisposed to doing so. One day Haiti and African nations are shithole countries; another day, Democrats are un-American and traitorous. And that’s not the half of it. During the GOP Primaries he coined derogatory nicknames for many of his opponents. Most of his opponents and the folks who supported them thought he was an egomaniacal bully, totally unsuited to leading our nation.

Fast-forward to January 20, 2017, and Mr. Trump’s narcissistic bent, in tandem with his massive insecurities led him to assert that his inauguration was the largest in the history. Suffice it to say it was not. Suffice it to say, in addition to having raised name-calling to an art form, he has elevated truth avoidance (how do you like that euphemism) to previously unmeasured levels. According to the Washington Post (WaPo), which Trump supporters routinely call fake news, Mr. Trump made misleading statements, false claims, and or untruthful statements more than 2,000 times from January 20th to December 31st, 2017. By the paper’s calculation, he practiced this level of deception on average, 5.6 times per day.

Often when reports surface addressing Mr. Trump’s propensity to elude truthful commentary, his supporters counter that a similar evaluation of previous Presidents would yield similar results. The New York Times (NYT) took accepted this challenge and evaluated statements made by Mr. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. It found, using the same criteria, that Mr. Trump articulated 6 times as many false, misleading, or untrue statements in 10 months, as President Obama did in 8 years.

The NYT used a considerably more relaxed standard than WaPo. On the one hand, Trust looks much better, which will undoubtedly make his supporters feel much better. However, that will probably last only until they see that it makes Mr. Obama look almost saintly. In Mr. Trump’s first 10 months in office, the NYT reported he told 103 separate untruths, many of them repeatedly. President Obama, their research found, told 18 over his entire eight-year tenure. That is an average of about 124 a year for #45, and two a year for Mr. Obama.

So what about those un-American, treasonous Democrats? In the midst of a Trump-friendly crowd in Ohio, on a Monday afternoon in February, a couple of weeks into his second year in office, Mr. Trump was obviously feeling ecstatic about the recent release of the Nunes Memo, which he has repeatedly declared exonerates him of any charges of collusion or obstruction. He was there, ostensibly to tout a stellar economy, for which he has taken total credit.

An interesting thing happened on the way to his happy ending. In the middle of his speech, while he was delivering his oft-practiced spiel about the economy, split screens from virtually all the news outlets carrying the speech showed an up-to-the-minute display of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Ironically, as Trump crowed, the concurrent display, including on Fox News, the always favorable-to-Trump network, showed a Dow that was bottoming at around -1500 points for the day. It would ultimate recover to -1175, still the largest numerical drop in a single day. In full disclosure, because of the soaring numbers the Dow had reached (over 26,000 last week), that amounted to a percentage drop of only 4.6%, which percentage-wise, is significant, but nowhere near a record; not even in the Top 20 worst percentage drops.

And then…there was his SOTU rant. Somewhere along the way, Mr. Trump had an epiphany. For the entire year and a half he was campaigning for President, he expressed great disdain for Monthly Jobs Reports, Unemployment data, and anything else generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He suggested President Obama was cooking the books. “Funny” thing happened; Trump won the election, and suddenly the numbers are no longer fake, they are just plain marvelous.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has derived great pleasure in noting that black unemployment is at its lowest level in recorded history. Unlike much of what he says, that’s actually true. Of course, it doesn’t account for all those “full black unemployment years”…when such statistics were not recorded. Hispanic unemployment is also at record low levels.

As Mr. Trump stood and read his Obama-inspired teleprompter speech (they were bad when Obama did them, right?), he noticed that across the great divide that separated Democrats and Republicans during the SOTU Address, Democrats were significantly less responsive than the ever ready to applaud GOP. In fact, some of the Democrats didn’t applaud at all. A number of the members of the Black Caucus were adorned in Kente Cloth, and sat, respectfully, but unemotionally. The lack of adulation apparently stung the President, and Monday in Blue Ash, he let it be known. As he put it:

“You’re up there, you’ve got half the room going totally crazy, wild, they loved everything, they want to do something great for the country. And you’ve got the other side – even on positive news, really positive news – they were like death. And un-American. Un-American. Somebody said treasonous. Yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

For a quick historical retrospective, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, created in 1938, investigated alleged disloyalty and subversive activities. It was a blueprint of sorts for Joseph McCarthy’s aggressive anti-communist campaign of the 1950’s. Treason is an even starker concept. It is defined as:

“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”

So let’s establish, for the record, none of what the Democrats did was rightfully characterized as either un-American, nor treason. However those who insist that we “Let Trump be Trump” demand that he be given free rein to act in this way. I offer, in contrast, Congressman Joe Wilson’s infamously shouted “You lie ” while President Obama was addressing a Joint Session of Congress. He noted the ACA would not provide coverage for illegal aliens. By the way, the non-partisan organization FactCheck.org subsequently debunked the claim that the ACA would mandate coverage for illegal aliens. Wilson was forced to apologize.

In case you’re wondering, President Obama did not respond to Mr. Wilson’s rude and obnoxious behavior by labeling his action un-American and treasonous; perhaps because as a Constitutional scholar, he knew the definitions of both terms, and that those words didn’t appropriately describe Wilson’s actions. Once again, that’s what you get when you let Trump be Trump. This week, “Trump Indicts Dems as Un-American & Treasonous: What About the GOP?”

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:
















Welcome To Donald’s World: A Lot Has Changed

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last nigh #45 gave his first State of the Union (SOTU) address. If you tuned in here to get my take on that, I extend my sincere apologies. Consider this post alternative programming.

Over most of my adult life the Republican Party has campaigned perpetually to distinguish itself via frenzied non-stop marketing, self-labeling, and branding, as the Family Values Party, the Law and Order Party, and the Party undeniably and irrevocably committed to national defense. These standards were hallmarks embraced by evangelicals, fundamentalists, and the Christian Right. You might say it was a match made in Heaven.

A little over two and a half years ago, June 16, 2015, Donald J. Trump entered the fray of campaigning for the Presidency. From that day to this day, he has presented himself, first as the un-candidate, and for the last 53+ weeks, as the un-President; a man whom his supporters insist is not a politician, and whom many of his detractors contend is unworthy of his titles, President, and Commander-in-Chief.

This post is not intended to represent a critique of Mr. Trump. I’ve done that, and in all likelihood, I will do so again at some point in the future. Today, however, I will simply share a few observations about the human pretzels that so many erstwhile stout Republicans have forced themselves into, all in an effort to defend at all costs the words, actions, and policies of the man they say on one hand is not a politicians, but on the other hand, dismiss so many of his behaviors and decisions, as “just politics.”

In keeping with my commitment to brevity, I’ll use just four examples of how the renowned Party of Lincoln transformed itself into the Party of Nixon (and the Southern Strategy), and then pivoted to become the Party  Trump (and Good People on Both Sides). I fully appreciate that virtually no one wants to be called a racist. In contemporary American society, white Americans, in particular, bristle at the notion, the mere suggestion, that anyone might deign to use that appellation to refer to them or one of their own. To each and every person who feels that way, I have one, and only one thing to say. I truly believe the best way to avoid having that pointed verbal hand grenade tossed in one’s direction is to separate oneself from racist behavior, and deeds. A hint to the wise should be sufficient.

I fervently believe that truism holds for and applies to white people in general, and as our country’s titular leader, to #45, specifically. As for the latter, I am frequently bemused whenever I hear Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters passionately knocking down any suggestion that Mr. Trump is a racist, or that he even says things that are accurately categorized as such.

Upon hearing often angry disavowals, I am reminded of one of Queen Gertrude’s lines from Act III, Scene II of the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, circa 1600: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” In the event that the stilted language of a 17th Century English poet, penned in Shakespeare’s trademark iambic pentameter, is less than clear, the simplified CliffNotes-like interpretation is, Queen Gertrude was reacting in a fashion that let on that she considered the actor playing the Queen in the play was a stand-in for her, and that in that light, she (the actor) was being overly effusive and insincere.

Translation/relationship to #45 defenders and apologists: Folks who rush to deflect, divert, or deny that #45 is, at least on occasion, being, acting, and/or speaking in racist terms, are insincere, and over the top. If they don’t know better, they should know better.

As we wend our way beyond AD 1 (One Year After Donald), here are four quick observations about things that have changed since the GOP installed #45 as it’s North Star. In keeping with their pact with their now Dear Leader, #45 supporters, surrogates, and spinners, insist that these changes are all positive, or, in classic alternative facts/fake news fashion, that they actually do not reflect changes.

  1. Family Values Party – As I noted in last week’s post, (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/01/24/evangelicals-have-given-trump-a-mulligan-it-must-be-to-infinity/), evangelicals, fundamentalists, and the Christian Right endorse marriage and the family as the foundation of civilization. The synthesis of wedlock, faith, and spirituality was previously ingrained as keystone American values, or at least as GOP talking points. Then along came Mr. Trump with his penchant for swearing, creating less than truthful narratives, and if you believe 20 or more women…and Mr. Trump, in his own words, accosting women, to whom he is not wed. Tony Perking, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and all the folks who deem themselves true believers (In Trump they trust), gave him a mulligan on all that stuff. If the guardians of the Gates to Heaven feel that way, who am I to argue. Just let me reiterate…a lot has changed.
  2. Law and Order Party – For years, more than I can recall, the GOP has anointed itself as the foremost keeper of the flame of all things related to law enforcement. So, imaging my surprise when I see and hear daily, sometimes hourly, and if I’m watching CNN on a weekday, multiple times per hour, reports that one, several, or a whole host of Republicans is questioning the authority and or the good intentions of the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, and/or any other entity comprised in what we Americans refer to loosely as the Intelligence Community. A couple of years ago, that would have been hard to imagine, if not altogether unthinkable. Now, it’s de rigueur. Just let me reiterate…a lot has changed.
  3. National Defense Party – I was a youngster for a significant part of the Cold War. Hazily, I recall Khrushchev pounding his shoe on his Delegate’s desk at the United Nations, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember the Berlin Wall, and the fall of the Wall. My memories incorporate the fact that the United Soviet Socialists Republic (USSR), and subsequently Russia, was considered, by members of the GOP, our mortal enemy, global adversary, and geo-political rival…right upend including  2016, in its entirety. Suddenly, circa 2017, #45 has shown a greater propensity to demonstrate faith and confidence in Russia and Vladimir Putin than in our own country’s Intelligence Community. This includes refusing to execute sanctions approved in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 98-2. A Senate in which the GOP owns a majority, by the way. TrumpWorld not only doesn’t think that’s out of character, its inhabitants believe it’s perfectly sane and logical to do so, and they give their guy digital high fives multiple times per day. Just let me reiterate…a lot has changed.
  4. Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and the Christian Right Party – On occasion, as a PK (Preacher’s Kid), I concede, I find myself out of step with certain elements of religious dogma. Prayerfully, I seek forgiveness. Conversely, when asked whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions, Mr. Trump said: “I’m not sure that I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that.” I don’t even know what to say about that one. I think I’ll just let it speak for itself. Oh yeah, Just let me reiterate…a lot has changed.

I’ve written before about the apparent hypocrisy of conservatives and would-be-saints, in regard to their unbridled support for #45. As we now hear that in addition to harassing folks that he appointed himself, members of his own Party, and a host of people heretofore deemed acceptable to the GOP writ large, and clearing the way to release a partisan GOP penned memo, written without the benefit of having evaluated the source data, while preventing the release of a parallel and explanatory memo from Democrats, all the while ignoring Justice Department warnings that such a release could result in causing irreparable harm, #45 has, through his attorneys, indicated that Mueller has not met the high threshold necessary to interview him in person. For an individual who claims there is neither collusion, nor obstruction, there is an abundance of actions, and yes, evidence, that casts doubt on those claims. In conclusion, Welcome To Donald’s World: A Lot Has Changed!”

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:











Evangelicals Have Given Trump A Mulligan: It Must Be To Infinity

It’s time to Break It Down!

Before laying out the case that is today’s discourse, let us begin by stipulating a working definition for mulligan. According to Merriam-Webster, mulligan is defined as:

“A free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played” If you’re counting, that’s one shot.

If you are a golfer, you are probably already familiar with the term. If not, think of do-over, fresh start, redo, refresh, renew, restart, or start over. The subtle distinction is, in golf, a mulligan is most often a onetime thing. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you Donald Trump is not a “onetime kinda guy.”

Alas, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the future…or at least the immediate past. Yesterday, Tony Perkins, a former Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and current President of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy organization based in Washington, D.C., said in an interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront:”

“Yes, evangelicals, conservatives, they gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do-over. They said we’ll start afresh with you and we’ll give you a second chance.”

The timing of Mr. Perkins’ comments was important in that it followed a Wall Street Journal report that Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, formed a private LLC to pay a former porn star in exchange for not speaking publicly about an alleged sexual encounter with the then-candidate. For the record, Mr. Cohen, President Trump, and the former porn star, Stormy Daniels, have all denied the alleged sexual encounter.

Family Research Council is best known for promoting socially conservative family values. One of the foundational pillars of the organization, per its website is promoting marriage and family. This is expressly stated as:

“Family Research Council champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. Properly understood, ‘families’ are formed only by ties of blood, marriage, or adoption, and ‘marriage’ is a union of one man and one woman.”

Mr. Perkins, in clarifying his position, and that of evangelicals and conservatives, writ large, who support President Trump (no matter what), said it is the relationship Trump has built with evangelicals, as well as his “constitutionally conservative” policies, including appointing judges who oppose abortion that garners the support.

You know what? I’m not even gonna trip about this incident. In fact, were it just this one instance, while I would still be inclined to deem it hypocritical, I could at least accept the premise of it being a mulligan. But I think we all know that is not how this President rolls.

What do I mean by that, you may ask? That’s a great question; I’m glad you inquired. It means this gentleman, and I use the term loosely, has a long and lurid history of using words and taking actions upon which conservatives in general, and evangelicals in particular, would routinely frown. But even in golf, he is apparently known for his excesses. That Mr. Perkins employed a golf analogy is apt, because the President has certainly indulged frequently in his love of golf during his first year in office, during which time he is said to take “one free mulligan after another” on the links, according to former ESPN columnist Rick Reilly.

The Right and the Evangelicals attacked President Obama day in and day out during the entire 8 years of his presidency. Eight months into the Trump presidency, it is clear comparisons are there, just begging to be made between Trump and Evangelicals’ hypocritical new stances. As I have noted often, conservatives and evangelicals leap to twist themselves into pretzel shapes, all in an effort to defend Trumpspeak and behavior.

Undoubtedly Mr. Perkins and his evangelical and socially conservative friends are schooled in the ways of our President, and they not only know just what he needs, they are committed to giving it to him. So how about these for do-overs, fresh starts, redo’s, refreshes, renewals, restarts, or start-overs?

  • In 2016, President Obama visited flooded areas of Louisiana. At the time of his visit, there had been 13 deaths, 7 trillion gallons of rainfall, 24 inches of measured rainfall, and an estimated $15 billion in damages had accumulated. Evangelicals lambasted President Obama for not visiting earlier.
  • In 2017, President Trump visited a dry airport near flooded areas of Texas. At the time of his visit, there had been 16 deaths, 11 trillion gallons of rainfall, 49 inches of measured rainfall, and an estimated $50 billion in damages had accumulated. President Trump didn’t hug a neck, kiss a cheek, or wipe a tear. He didn’t encounter water falling from the sky or puddling upon the earth. He didn’t mention the loss of a police officer, or the drowning of a family of six. Evangelicals offered no criticism.
  • In 2012, in anticipation of President Obama’s quick response to Hurricane Sandy, Citizen Trump tweeted: “Not only giving out money, but Obama will be seen today standing in water and rain like he is a real President—don’t fall for it.” He went on: “Obama is now standing in a puddle acting like a President-–give me a break.” ~ October 31, 2012. He was damned for getting to NJ to soon and actually getting his feet wet, and damned for waiting for the water to recede in Louisiana, as the Governor asked him to do.
  • In 2011, evangelicals excoriated Obama for leading from behind and not protecting Libyans from being slaughtered by Gaddafi. Then, after getting others to go first with their troops and money, evangelicals eviscerated President Obama for getting involved in Libya. Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.
  • In 2013, when Syria erupted, President Obama sought a Congressional prescription by asking Congress to direct his actions. They refused. The GOP led Congress opted out because had they taken a position, they wouldn’t be able to change it and be on the opposite side of the President. They wanted to be on the opposite side of whatever action he took.
  • In 2010, after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, conservatives castigated President Obama for not doing enough. They named the spill, “Obama’s Katrina.” And then…when President Obama met with BP and persuaded them to pay a $20 billion fine to execute the cleanup, a House GOP member, Joe Barton – TX, openly apologized to the CEO for the shakedown of BP by President Obama, and Rand Paul said President Obama’s criticism of the foreign company was “un-American.” Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. Imagine the crowing Donald J. Trump would have done about his negotiating skills.
  • In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to support President Obama’s initiative to warn the public about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. McConnell would not sign a bipartisan statement about Russia’s efforts. President Obama felt the lack of a bipartisan action would serve the Kremlin’s interest. Naturally, when the conversation emerged after the election, Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals blamed Obama for not doing anything to warn the public about the Russian intrusion. Not just damned if he did, but obstructed, and then damned when he didn’t.

So it is with this serial conservative, GOP, and evangelical hypocrisy as a backdrop that I pen today’s post. Team Trump, which includes an amalgamation of all of the above, and then some, has the unmitigated gall and outrageous audacity to whimper, whine, and whinny that the current criticism of President Trump is unprecedented; worst than any previous president has had to endure. I do not hesitate to convey to you that such a claim fails to pass either the reasonable man (or woman) standard, or any version of a truth test. It’s just a fact-free claim; baseless and absurd on it’s face. What is clear is that…Evangelicals Have Given Trump A Mulligan: It Must Be To Infinity!

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:













A Distinction Without A Difference: So Not King-like!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is another holiday week. While many may have moved on, I have chosen not to do so. Instead, I am opting to carve out a moment of reflection on a few of the ideals so appropriately notated as millions across the United States, and around the world memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over the course of his birthday/Holiday weekend and beyond.

In reflecting on the many works of Dr. King, I decided to revisit a post I wrote and posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011, and that I reprised last year, January 18, 2017, examining the advent of the King Holiday. It’s been 32 years since the initial observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (MLK DAY), and 35 years since President Reagan signed the MLK, Jr. Holiday bill into law. Now seems an apt time to take a look into the rear view mirror of time.

After over three decades of inculcation into the very fabric of our society, it may be largely forgotten that the conceptualization, submission and continual resubmission of the idea, the enactment, and the gradual national observance, was not the product of universal acceptance of a grand and enlightened concept, but rather, was emblematic of the civil rights struggle itself; steeped in controversy, and the eventual victory of a relentless movement to achieve richly deserved, and long overdue social justice.

Several members of Congress, and a number of states, and even a President, using a host of creative means, sought to undermine, outmaneuver, sabotage, subvert, and otherwise derail the efforts of the measure’s proponents. Ultimately, the movement was consolidated, snowballed, and would simply not be denied.

The effort to create a King Holiday was started by U.S. Representative John Conyers, Michigan, shortly after Dr. King’s death, in the spring of 1968. It was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 1979, but fell 5 votes short of the number for passage in the Lower Chamber.

High profile opponents to the measure included Senator Jesse Helms, NCSenator John McCain, AZ, and President Ronald Reagan. Both Senators voted against the bill, and Senator McCain publicly supported Arizona Governor Evan Mecham for his rescission of MLK Day as a State Holiday in Arizona. The campaign however, reached a critical mass in the early 1980’s. Spurred on by Stevie Wonder penning a song in King’s honor called, “Happy Birthday,” a petition drive to support the campaign would attract over 6 million signatures. It has been called the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. History.

Buttressed by what had become a wildly successful public campaign, Congress soon followed suit. The proposal passed in the House by a vote of 338-90, and in the Upper Chamber by a vote of 78-22. Given the dimensions of this overwhelming support, in the form of bicameral veto-proof votes, President Reagan signed the provision November 2, 1983, and it became Federal Law. The first observance under the new law took place January 20, 1986, rather than on January 15th, Dr. King’s birthday. A compromise in the legislation specified that the observance take place on the Third Monday in January, consistent with prior legislation (Uniform Monday Holiday Act).

Of course, that was not the end of the story. It would actually take more than 30 years after Dr. King’s death before the Holiday was fully adopted and observed in all 50 states. Illinois holds the distinction of being the first State to adopt MLK Day as a State Holiday, having done so in 1973. Twenty years later, in 1993, for the first time, some form of MLK Day was held in each of the 50 States. It was not until 2000 that South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges signed a bill to make MLK Day a paid holiday for State employees; giving the Palmetto State the dubious distinction of being the last of the 50 States to do so. However, Mississippi also sets itself apart by designating the Third Monday in January as a shared Holiday that honors the memory of Robert E. Lee and Dr. King…two fine southern gentlemen.

So with that extensive preamble, let’s move to the issue of the day. As you must surely know, on November 8, 2016, Americans voted, and based on Electoral College results, elected Donald J. Trump President of the United States. Three days shy of the observance of the first anniversary of his historic inauguration, one he claims to be the largest ever witnessed (despite the fact it was not), his unverified claims, outrageous tweets, and dubious comments continue to frame him in stark contrast to his recent predecessors. I will not leave that last comment hanging, without noting that while many Americans believe that is a peculiar, and often unfortunate situation, there is a certain element of our country that believes Mr. Trump is not just a good thing, but exactly what they had hoped for, and precisely what our country needs. Suffice it to say, those are individuals with whim I disagree. Vigorously!

Last week, President Trump met with at least eight other people including several Republican and one Democratic Senator, to discuss reaching a deal between Republicans and Democrats to advance legislation on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In what sounds like a classic case of Trump being Trump, the President is alleged to have used hateful and vulgar language to describe Haiti and the 54 countries on the continent of Africa.

According to Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, President Trump repeatedly referred to “shitholes” or “shithole countries.” After several reports that after allegedly making the comments, the President spent the evening calling friends and supporters to revel in the media response generated by the comments. The following day, after seeing how it was playing on Fox and Friends, he was prompted to revise his approach, and responded that he had said nothing derogatory about Haiti. No mention of African nations, for the record.

Two Republican Senators, Cotton and Perdue, initially said they had no recollection of the President making any such comments. A couple of days later, by the Sunday new shows, they both experienced miraculous memory recall, and amended their stories to insist they were confident the President said no such thing. Lest we view this and conclude this was just a partisan (Durbin-only) attack on the President, Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the Republicans in the room, also confirmed that Trump made the comments. He said on Monday (unlike Cotton and Perdue) his memory has not evolved.

To add another layer to the lunacy of this entire discussion, a White House official suggested the president said “shithouse” rather than “shithole.” There is a fair amount of speculation that this parsing permits the senators (Cotton and Perdue) to deny use of one word without denying the broader context.

If you thought the banter couldn’t get any wackier, you obviously lost sight of the fact this matter includes Trump. So yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen. During the course of the interview, Democratic committee member Patrick Leahy asked Secretary Neilsen about her attendance at the aforementioned meeting. Before going any further, let’s stipulate Neilsen was under oath. In addition to the alleged “shithole/shithouse” comments, Trump also said (which has not been debated) we should instead be bringing in more people from Norway.

To that end, Senator Leahy asked Secretary Nielsen whether Norway was a predominantly white country. The question, of course, ties into the narrative that in addition to hateful and vulgar, this President employs a racist modus operandi. Her response, for lack of a better word, was stunning. She said:

“I actually do not know that, sir. But I imagine that is the case.”

Really! Are you serious? Yesterday in general was not Neilsen’s finest moment. She also took incoming from Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris about her claimed amnesia regarding Trump’s offensive remarks. Here’s the bottom line. That we were force-fed this ridiculousness throughout the course of the MLK Holiday Observance is a hugely sad commentary. Dr. King left us many deep and wise things to contemplate. At this moment he GOP, collectively, is elevating one above all others in my mind. It is this:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I suffer no illusion that Donald Trump is a friend to the cause of equality, diversity, or inclusion. Whether you label his words and actions racist (they often are) is inconsequential to me. But if you insist that you are not, but cannot find the courage to speak out when he spouts off like he did last week, you display cowardice as best, and quite possibly reveal a picture window into your own racism. I fully and completely understand the R-word is a lightening rod to which many folks instinctively default to describe as “playing the race card” when African Americans are forced to tag specific words or actions with that appellation.

In the final analysis, regardless of whether your President said “shithole,” or “shithouse,” it is but “A Distinction Without A Difference: So Not King-like!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the links: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com or http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com. A new post is published each Wednesday. For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

























NC General Assembly Back to the Drawing Board: Déjà Vu All Over Again

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday, a Federal 3-Judge Panel struck down NC’s 13 Congressional districts because they found the map to be unconstitutionally partisan in their application. The Judges said the map violates the Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article 1 of the Constitution.

After determining the unconstitutionality of the district map, the panel gave North Carolina roughly 3 weeks (or until January 29th) to redraw the map and file a new plan with the court so that it will be in place before the 2018-midterm elections.

Judge James A. Wynn, of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, authored the majority opinion. In it he wrote, “Partisan gerrymandering runs contrary to numerous fundamental democratic principles and individual rights.

North Carolina’s state Senate redistricting chairman, Ralph Hise, told Reutere News that the GOP would appeal.

Meanwhile, Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the NC GOP, focused his ire at Wynn, an appointee of President Obama. As he put it:

“This is a hostile takeover of the #NCGA and legislative bodies across the US. It is incredibly disappointing that activist Judge Jim Wynn is waging a personal, partisan, war on North Carolina Republicans.”

It comes as no surprise that NC Democrats view the ruling with a different lens. To wit, the state’s Democratic Party applauded the decision. Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a major victory for North Carolina and people across the state whose voices were silenced by Republicans’ unconstitutional attempts to rig the system to their partisan advantage.” In addition, he called upon the legislature to draw “fair, nonpartisan maps that give North Carolina voters a voice.”

The NC General Assembly is the bicameral legislative body in the state, consisting of a House and Senate. GOP legislators hold the majority in both houses, and have enough votes to override any vetoes by the state’s Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper.

Voting in the state has been split along Party lines in recent statewide elections, such as for Governor or President. However, Republicans control 10 of the state’s 13 House seats, versus 3 for Democrats. North Carolina is currently home to the 10th largest delegation in Congress.

This is the second time in 18 months that the districts have been found unconstitutional. The panel found that while the current version got rid of racial gerrymandering (the basis for while the map was found lacking in 2016), this iteration gives Republicans decided advantages for most seats. The latest lawsuit – filed by election advocacy groups and Democrats – said the replacement for the racial gerrymander contained unlawful partisan gerrymanders. The litigants argued that GOP legislators went too far when they followed criteria designed to retain the Party’s 10-3 majority.

During the debate, according to the order, House redistricting Chief, GOP Representative David Lewis attempted to justify the criteria by saying, “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew the map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” WTH?

Pursuant to questionable nature of Mr. Lewis’ reasoning, the court rendered the following response in it’s ruling:

“We find that the General Assembly drew and enacted the 2016 plan with intent to subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican control of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation. Judge Wynn, who wrote that, added, the evidence shows “the plan achieved the General Assembly’s discriminatory partisan objective.”

According to Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, yesterday’s ruling is the first time a federal court blocked a Congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering. However, that is not a choice the Constitution allows, the court said, in its 191-page ruling. Li went on to say that if the NC case were upheld upon appeal, it would have far-reaching implications, noting:

“The court will have signaled that there are, in fact, limits of how far you can go with partisan gerrymandering.”

It is all but a foregone conclusion that this case will eventually wend its way to the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). In America, the nature of things political has always been arranged in a partisan order. However, since the election of President Barack Obama, the tension and intensity have been ratcheted up by the nth power. That in itself is an odd thing, given the narrative frequently spun after the November 2008 election is that we had entered something referred to as a post-racial era. Let me make this perfectly clear, we did not transform, mutate, or otherwise change to post-racial. Furthermore, it is not on the horizon. I laud “Me Too,” and the “Time’s Up” addendum that augments the movement. Both are long overdue. May the force be with them.

As for NC and our Congressional district maps, it’s a work in progress. Similar to post-racial, we are not yet there. One day, perhaps! But for now, we are here”NC General Assembly Back to the Drawing Board: Déjà Vu All Over Again!”

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: