Willard the Joker Played the Birther Card; then Denied It!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Near the end of The Wizard of Oz (The Wiz, if your predilections insist), Dorothy exclaimed, “There is no place like home!”  Apparently, that’s how Willard “Mitt” Romney felt last Friday as he boastfully told a crowd in Commerce, Michigan (Romney was born in Detroit, Michigan) that no one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” making a clear reference to the divisiveand racist inspired birther (conspiracy theory) controversy.  In the past, Mr. Romney has stated repeatedly he believes President Obama was born in Hawaii, and left the banal birther crap to his more politically unctuous surrogate, Donald Trump.

Afterward, he insisted that his comments were a joke, and that rather than referring to President Obama and his birth certificate, the statement was intended simply to pay homage to the fact that he (Willard) was back in the state where he and his wife were born.  He then reiterated, what he has often said in the past, “President Obama was born in Hawaii.”

There is no denying, he had every reason to feel he deftly handled the matter.  Mr. Romney walked back the statement in a manner that at once, sidestepped an apology, implied that a liberal media was too sensitive and/or biased to discern “the joke,” and most important, dog-whistled the far Right fringe a most comforting note, “I got your back!”

As the Presidential campaigns have labored on, many of the blatant half-truths, unsubstantiated innuendo, and virulent, bald-faced lies have been smartly packaged and foisted upon the airways by nameless, faceless Super PACs.  While we hate that it has come to this, we recognize this practice has quickly become inured as part and parcel of the fabric of campaigning, especially at the highest level.  In other words, “it is what it is!

Given that concession up front, no matter how reluctant, we know that such deception will, sooner or later, due to convenience, or by necessity, make its way to the candidates.  On Friday, Willard bit into that apple. On this one, he cannot stand behind some Super Pac whose message he does not control, wink, wink.  Nor can he just be coy and say he did not write or frame his surrogates’ message.

Nope, this time, Mr. Romney is not demurring on his taxes; nor are we left to ferret out when exactly he left Bain Capital.  This time is different.  On Friday, we heard, in Willard’s own words, what he really wants to convey (to skeptical Right Wing voters) about what distinguishes him from President Obama.

No, it was not his policies, some of which are eerily similar to the President’s (See Massachusetts Health Care law and the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan).  Last Friday anyway, Mr. Romney wanted to underscore the source and validity of his birth certificate.  With that, he figures you are smart enough to infer how that makes him different…and better for us than President Obama.  So, one fine day, in Commerce, Michigan, Willard the Joker Played the Birther Card; then Denied It!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: 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:












Double Play: “Legitimate Rape &…Augusta National Shows Its Feminine Side

It’s time to Break It Down!

5th Anniversary Edition


Tempest fugit (Time Flies)!  Monday was another significant milestone in the life and development of “Break It Down!”  I initiated this blog August 20, 2007, on a lark…almost a dare.  That was Five years (and 268 editions) ago.  Having related the story several times over the past several years, I will not repeat the details today.

I will note that on that summer’s eve, I contemplated, in 5paragraphs, the experience, in reality the lack thereof, of then Senator Barack Obama, as he navigated the early stages of his historic Presidential Campaign.  The prodigiousparameters of that history were not evident at the time.  To be sure, over the next 14 ½ months, he bested the odds and won not only the DemocraticNomination, but the Presidency.  In so doing, my lack of conviction, and that of many others in Mr. Obama’s ability to claim the nation’s biggest political prize was laid bare as a patently errant assessment.

Briefly, before moving on to the gist of today’s topics, I want to make one more note about the blog.  Effective this issue, I am rolling out a new host site; WordPress.  The link, http://TheSphinxofCharlotte.com  is simpler and more straightforward than the Blogger (Blogspot) link, http://TheSphinxofCharlotte.blogspot.com.  The site design and presentation at Word Press, while still under construction, is cleaner, less busy than the one at Blogger.  Please note, while Break It Down! may eventually migrate exclusively to WordPress, the blog will remain available at both sites for the foreseeable future..

Having established that evolutionary developments of the blog, fast forward five years and we find ourselves on the cuspsof yet another Presidential Election;76 days and counting.  As the Republicanand Democratic Conventions convene over the next two weeks, we will emerge after Labor Day in what is considered the traditional “heat of the campaign.”

But lest we get ahead of ourselves, this week has proven huge in generating big picture, thematic issues; particularly as it relates to women and their views.  Two in particular that stand out are:

  1. Missouri     Representative Todd Akin made a controversial statement using the term     “legitimate rape”
  2. The     venerable Augusta National Golf Club, home to The Masters, announced the     admission of its first two female members, former Secretary of State,     Condoleezza Rice, and South Carolina businesswoman, Darla Moore

For different reasons, both of these events have significant implications, and the potential to alter theirrespective landscapes.  In the first case, the story is largely of a political nature.  It developed suddenly, and with great fury.

It appears Mr. Akin’s untimely and untoward comments resulted in unsettling the Republican establishment, just at the time when the Party is attempting to consolidate its message in preparation for the National Convention, which begins Monday in Tampa, Florida.

Republicanmainstays from Mitt Romney, presumed Presidentialnominee, to Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee Chair, to Scott Brown, GOP Senator from Massachusettshave all asked, encouraged, or suggested that Akin, a candidate for the contested Senate seat in Missouri, step aside.  Yesterday at 5:00 p.m. was the deadline for the Congressman to simply withdraw without additional costs and legal wrangling.

Undoubtedly Mr. Akin heard the cries; just as clearly he declined. In the interim, he has apologized, and asked forgiveness. Despite the appeals of almost everyone in the GOP holding any official capacity, he has indicated he will cast his lot with the voters who elected him in the Primary.  A number of analysts believe he will still opt out next month prior to the second deadline (September 25th), if for no other reason; because all official funding sources have evaporated.  He is in effect, politically radioactive.
In short, I view this as an amazing development.  In the wake of recent shootings in Coloradoand Wisconsin, the GOP (and the NRA) have cited chapter and verse the irreducibleprotections of the Second Amendment.  In short the right to bear arms gets translated into the right for Americans to shoot other Americans.
But what of the First Amendment?  Does Mr. Akin lose his right to freedom of speechjust because he spoke stupidly, or irresponsibly, or unscientifically?  Methinks not. Rather, I believe, his former allies abandoned him not for the high-minded principle of Constitutional purity, but because in light of his gauche faux pas and noxious commentary, the GOP’sconfidence that it can win Missouri’s contested Senate seat is compromised.

Suffice it to say, the fact thatMr. Akin had the occasion to have co-sponsored a bill with now Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan that included the language forcible rape,” is also a point of grave concern. As the Party attempts to escape the Kryptonite that is Akin, the last thing it needs, wants, or feels it can tolerate, is to have the Number 2 guy on the Ticket irrevocably tied to a man who is now by most accounts viewed universally in GOP circles as a pariah. This situation is one that bears watching in the coming weeks.

In the second instance, the story has been developing, building, and marinatingfor a decade.  In 2002, Martha Burk initiated a protest of Augusta National.  The action was a catalyst that would eventually lead to the Club producing the 2003 Masters without commercials, as a number of sponsors declined to support the event.

Augusta National is without question one of the most famous golf courses in America, founded by one of the most successful golfers in ever, Bobby Jones.  The 18-hole course is the home of the Masters; one of the preeminent rites of passage for spring time.

The Club, like many has a long history of various forms of exclusivity(AKA discrimination), admitting its first black in 1990.  Long time Chairman of the Club, and of the Masters,Clifford Roberts is quoted as having once said, “As long as I’m alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black.”

In deed, Lee Elder was the first African American to play the Masters, doing so in 1975. For the record, Robertscommitted suicide at Augusta Nationalin 1977.  He had been ill for several months.  There is no word that there was any correlation between Robert’s death and Elder’s having played in the Masters. However, in what is a notable development, Augusta National did not invite its first black to become a member until 1990.

That the Augusta National chose to invite two females to accept membership Monday, the same day Mr. Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments hit the airways was an ironic Daily Double,”of a twist.  Arguably, just more evidence the universe unfolds in a way as to seek balance; Thumbs-up for Augusta National, Thumbs-down for Todd Akin.
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American Women Ruled the 2012 Olympics: The Title IX Story!

It’s time to Break It Down!

The 17 days of the 2012 Summer Olympics are over and done.  For now, the United Stateshas returned to the top of the heap in terms of the grandest of all athletic endeavors…the Summer Games.  At first glance, it may appear the 104 medals (46 Gold, 29 Silver, 29 Bronze) garnered by Americans, most in these Olympics, is the story, and indeed, perhaps it is the story.  But if the total medals haul is the story; the story inside the story is that women accounted for more than half of those medals.

That’s right, American women won 58 medals in London, exactly half of them, 29, were Gold.It was a series of historic performances amid numerous extraordinary moments.  Female athletes comprised a majority of America’s Olympians, including the oldest (Karen O’Connor 54) and the youngest (Katie Ledecky 15,and a Gold Medalist) of our OlympiansThey also brought home a majority of our country’s medal take.

American women earned more medals than their male counterparts (58 to 46) and more Gold Medals (29-17) as well.  Moreover, Only two countries, the United States and China, won more Gold Medals than did the American women.  Great  Britain managed a tie, at 29.In fact, by themselves, Americanwomen won more total medals than all but 4of the 204 countries participating in the Games; the United States, China, Great Britain, and Russia.

American women did much more than hold their own in London.  There is no other way to frame it; they were dominant.  So you may ask how dominant were the Americanwomen? 

They were so dominant that most Americans found it difficult to be sad when a pair of American women won theSilver Medal in Beach Volleyball. Why was that?

Because Silver Medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross lost in the Gold Medal Match to Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings; also Americans.  OK, so it’s fair to presume Kessy, Ross, and their friends and families may have been sad, but you get the point; the Gold Medal not only went to America; it was assured of doing so before the first serve.  That’s dominance!

Finally, if the U.S.medal count is the story, and the American women’s dominance is the story inside the story, the catalytic event behind the story inside the story is the 1972passage of Title IX Legislation.  At first glance, the law, fraught with controversy, did not portend such an impactful outcome on women’s sports.

When President Nixon signed the bill June 23, 1972, he spoke mostly of busing desegregation, also an emphasis of the law.In fact, he did not even mention the expansion of educational access for women, or their playing sports.

In terms of 21st Century impact however, today’s lens shines a completely different light on the subject.  In most communities, if busing for desegregationpurposes was ever the law, it has long ago been reversed, overturned, or simply ended by fiat.  Alternately, a contemporary assessment of female participation in sports shows a 900% increase in high school, and a 450% increase on the collegiate level.  Just to be clear, the percentages of participation in sports for both high school and college have also grown for males, but by not nearly as dramatic an increase; 15% for high school, and 31%for college.

The effects of Title IX did not just miraculously materialize in London.  The process has been gradual andcumulative.  It just so happens that on the 40th Anniversary ofenacting the law, we saw what amounted to an explosion on a variety of fields of play; some of which the U.S. may not have competed at all, and others, surely not so successfully, pre-Title IX.  Ten Examples of this incremental development over time advacement in athletic acumen include American women having won 2012 Olympic Gold Medals in:

  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Gymnastics (Team & Individual)
  • Beach Volleyball (Gold & Silver)
  • 4X200m Freestyle Relay
  • 4X100m Medley Relay
  • Rowing
  • Tennis Doubles
  • Tennis Singles
  • 4X400m Track Relay

Fortyyears ago, European women were thought of as vastly superior to Americansin many sports endeavors.  In fact, they were routinely thought to be dominant.  All and all, the London Games were the most productive Olympics for Americans in terms of Gold Medals of any Olympics not hosted by the U.S.  Americanwomen were instrumental in our success, and Title IX was the elephant in the roomin terms of their competing at the highest level.  I’ll say it again, American Women Ruled the 2012 Olympics: The Title IX Story!  Now you know.

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: 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:

My Name is Gabby Douglas; I Am Not My Hair!

There is no doubt Gabrielle Christina Victoria “Gabby” Douglas is a star in the vast firmament of gymnasts!

I promise to make this short and sweet. Ok, maybe short will have to do.

It is possible; I might have been persuaded before the start of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, to believe that I would craft a post about the games. However, under no circumstances could I have imagined it would have been about gymnastics; Women’s Gymnastics no less.

I’d like to say Gabby Douglas’ history-making performances made the difference, and served as the catalyst for my choosing this topic. Alas, sadly in fact, while her performances were scintillating indeed, it was not her mastery of the craft, or her superlative artistry that sold me on this topic.

No, it was not that an amazing athlete plied her skills with power, poise, and precision that caused me to choose this topic, though she was amazing and her routines were powerful, poised, and precise. It was not the history-making nature of her performances; yet she was the first African American to win Olympic Gold Medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions. And it was not that Gabby blended seamlessly with the other four members of the Fab 5 to turn in a series of sterling performances for Team America, despite the fact she did…in fact, she was, or did, all of the above!

I decided to write about Gabby’s Olympic exploits because so many of her “Sisters,” and I use the term guardedly, shamed themselves by deciding to make a spectacle of themselves, rather than revel in Ms. Douglas’ spectacular accomplishments. To put it tersely, a group of “Ugly Americans,” far too many of whom were African American women, elevated Gabby’s hair to “News of the Day” status, when all she did was show her Championship mettle. I love black women, but “Sisters,” this was, to put it mildly, “not your finest hour.”

As I thought about the conversation which trended in the Twittersphere and proliferated on other social media for several days, India.Arie’stune, I Am Not My Hair came to mind. Released originally, November 15, 2005, the nearly 7-year old standard should be required listening for each and everyone who got “caught-up” in Olympic Hair-gate. Gabby’s hair, her ponytail, and/or her kitchen(and y’all know what I mean…if you don’t, see definition #3), simply should not have been a concern.

Gabby went to the London Olympics to compete with her teammates and peers from 204 countries around the world. She was tasked with vying for medals against the world’s best in their respective gymnastic disciplines. That she won two Gold Medals confirms that she passed her tests with flying colors (Red, White & Blue, of course).

Gabby’scombination of performance and personality has spurred analysts to predict she will cash in on a marketing bonanza once she returns stateside. As a matter of fact, her likeness appeared on the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box the day after her individual Gold Medal triumph. It is anticipated that she will earn millions in endorsements, trading on her historic Olympic success.

My short-term prediction is that when we see Ms. Douglas next, in her post-Olympics life, she will be appearing on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and the TV circuit in general. Moreover, to the great pleasure of her recent critics, she is certain to be elegantly coiffed, splendidly dressed, and looking like a million bucks…which she’ll be worth…literally.

Can’t you just imagine Breakfast at Gabby’s? You can be sure, in this version of the story, her “kitchen” will feature prominently, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes; along with her smiling picture, (laughing all the way to the bank, eh), adorning the box.

Oh yeah, She will definitely introduce herself, proclaiming, My Name is Gabby Douglas; I Am Not My Hair!

I’m done. Don’t just holla; holla back!

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Welcome to my blog at WordPress.com! This is my very first post here at this site.

You may be familair with Break It Down! from my http://Blogspot.com site. If not, check it out at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com. I will be constructing this new site in the near future. It’s ultimate format has yet to be determined. If you have ideas about what you’d like to see me cover in this space, feel free to let me know by providing me your feedback.


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