“That Other Pledge!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Those thirty-one words constitute what we commonly refer to as The Pledge of Allegiance.  It has been around in some version since 1892. Twice since its origination, The Pledge of Allegiance has been amended.  In 1923, eight words were added:

·        The Flag of the United States of America

In 1954, two more words were added:

·        under God

Francis Bellamy, a minister, wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance.  At its inception, the Rev. Bellamyenvisioned the Pledge as a tool that could be used by the citizens of any country, hence the generic, non-inclusion of our Country’s name.  While that makes for an interesting talking point, an even more notable factoidfor many Americans, especially Right Wing conservatives, is that the good Reverend was a Socialist, Heaven forbid.  In fact, when the 1954 change, adding the words, “under God,” Bellamy’s daughter opposed it.

It’s fair to suggest, given the lengths that The Right went to in labeling President Obama a Socialist, they obviously think being a Socialist is some stupendously abhorrent character defect.  Armed with this intelligence, by all means, let’s not tell them about the Rev. Bellamy’s awful flaw.

But I digress!  While it was important to establish the priority and preeminence of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Pledge to which I will devote the next few paragraphs is the ubiquitous “No Tax Pledge,” or as it’s officially known, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  This Pledge was conceived and popularized by Grover Norquist in 1986Mr. Norquist is the head of Americans forTax Reform (ATR).  The primary policy goal of ATR is “Reduce the percentage of the GDPconsumed by the government.”    The objectives designed to accomplish that goal, as articulated by ATR, are simply framed tenets.  They include:

·        Oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes

·        Oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses

·        Oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing taxes

Mr. Norquist was particularly effective at rallying a surging Right to defend, support, and execute the pledge; especially during the 2010midterm elections, as well as during the recent 2012 contests.  The orthodoxy appeared perfect and in order.  Then a funny thing happened.  It was a year when the numbers suggested an embattled President would surely lose, taken down by the millstone of a sluggish economy tied to his neck.  Republicans asserted the magic that propelled President Obama in 2008 was a once in a lifetime phenomenon, and now safely locked in a time capsule, buried four years ago.

Alas, the President and his team resurrected the ’08 coalition and won comfortably.  But it was not just the President’s victory that shocked the Republican hegemony.  The Party had hoped, if not expected, to take over the Senate, and expand its already comfortable majority in the House of Representatives.  Instead, Republicans, many of whom not only predicted a win by Governor Romney, but a rout, had to adapt to the reality of having lost the Presidency by 126 Electoral votes,and more than two million popular votes.  Moreover, the GOP also absorbed net losses in the Senate and in the House.

The unexpected losses in all three branches of government apparently motivated the GOP to do some searching.  The Party has initiated numerous discussions about moderating its position on social issues such as immigration, women’s reproductive rights, and even marriage equality.  Such an about face certainly warrants attention, but no change of positions would be more noteworthy than if a sizeable number of GOPstandard bearers were to abandon the more than a quarter century old Tax Pledge.

An internal Battle Royalemay be developing.  Several key members of the Republican Leadership have expressed, at least the possibility that, they may forgo their commitment to the Pledge.  There are 258members of the current Congress, mostly Republicans, who have signed the Pledge.  A few have either signaled their openness to walk away from the oath, or have already flatly renounced it, including:

That certainly does not constitute a groundswell.  And it definitely does not signal the ceding of any ground by Mr. Norquist.  In fact, he labeled the defecting Republicans pawns of the Democrats’ media campaign to raise taxes.  Furthermore, he vowed to work to defeat any Republican who drops the Pledge.

It’s early, and there will need to be many more Republican dissenters before there is anything resembling a palpable division of the ranks.  However, it is already clear that character, courage, and cojones will be on full display in the coming days as the Presidentand Congress look for ways to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, while Republicans duel Grover Norquist over the contemporaryviability of “That Other Pledge!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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A Time for Giving Thanks!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Reprinted from Break It Down! – 11/24/10

As in the past, since it is Thanksgiving Week, this post will deviate from the standard fare. I know that travel schedules, meal planning, family time, shopping, football, parades, and if there is anytime remaining, relaxation, will dominate the next week. But it is Wednesday, so there shall be a blog! But it is definitely brief. 😉

Those among us who have ascended to genuine righteousness and perfected humility have, no doubt, elevated giving thanks to an art form, also. The rest of us are left to fully vest our appreciation in the notion, “That’s why we have Thanksgiving!”

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, which kicks of what we refer to commonly as the Holiday Season. Almost instinctively, Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. But there is so more than that to the Holiday Season. Over the next 54days, many of us will enjoy succulent feasting at Thanksgiving, exchange gifts and contribute to those in need during Hanukkah, buy, give, exchange, and/or receive gifts at Christmas, eat, drink, and celebrate the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa, party and toast the dawn of 2011, on New Year’s Day, and honor the life and works of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on MLK Day. In addition, even in these tough economic times, millions of Americanswill pay (literally) homageto our most celebrated of shoppers’ holidays, Black Friday, by rising early, and proceeding to scour the aisles for those perfect gifts…and if not perfect, at least cheap, relatively speaking.

In the past I have recounted my reasons for being thankful. While in many ways this has been a particularly challenging year for me, personally, perhaps the most challenging yet, I find that I have more reasons than ever to sit contemplativelyin humble repose, and to affirm boldly, that I know, without caveat, not only the goodness of God, but of his inestimableand inexhaustiblebeneficence. I thank Him for deliverance, and for imbuing me with the sense and sensibility to discern the distinction between kairos and chronos; Greekconcepts for God’s time, and man’s time, respectively.

Eons ago, when I was a college student, I joined a fraternity; the Oldest, Boldest, and Coldest…I digress. The point of this reference is that during what was known as the pledge process, prospective initiates were required to learn a series of poems. There were many, and each one was selected to convey a specific life lesson. Many of them have stayed with me, but none more thanInvictus, written by English poet, William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), and never more than this year. The Latintranslation 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 a day on the calendar. It is a spirit that dwells within us, and that prompts us to thank God (for our being undefeated), and to share His blessings with our fellow men and women. Indeed, everyday is “A Time for Giving Thanks!

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:













Analysis: Election 2012

It’s time to Break It Down!

On October 3rd inDenver, Colorado, in the first of three Presidential Debates, Governor Romneychided President Obama, saying, “Mr. President, you are entitled to your own house and to you own airplane, but not to your own facts.”  It was a great one-liner from the evening that will likely be remembered as Governor Romney’s signature moment in a bruising, but ultimately, losing campaign.  By virtually all accounts, the Governordelivered a buoyant and skillful performance, albeit one that saw him deny,denounce, and/or deprecate virtually every policy position he’d taken in the last several years.  But he sure looked good doing it!

Today, Mr. Romney is entitled his own concealed tax returns, and to deride nearly half of allAmericans (47%), but not to his own facts.In the closing days of the campaign, the Governor and his surrogates dismissed any and all polling that did not project a Romney-Ryan victory onNovember 6th.  Collectively, theycontended that most polling consistently oversampled Democrats, and that the2008 Democratic coalition would/could not be repeated in 2012.

As is often noted, hindsight is 20/20; today we know the Republicans misjudged both the validity of the polls and viability of the vaunted Democratic “Get Out The Vote” machinery.  Nate Silver, author of the New York Times 538 Blog, nailed the polling, correctly calling the results in all 50 States.  As a result, despite the best efforts of the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, and their Super Pacs, and Grover Norquist and his tax pledge, the POTUS is immersed in preparing to negotiate a resolution for avoiding Sequestration and the FiscalCliff, while Willard Romney is planning to take Ann on a well-deserved vacation.  Much respect to the Community Organizer; clearly a lot of communities (and voting blocs) were supremely organized on Tuesday, November 6, 2012…just as they were November 4, 2008.

There is more to analyze than can possibly be considered in any one post.  However, I thought is would be interesting to elevate some of the more compelling data points connected to last week’s election.  Let’s get it on!

First the Broad strokes:

1.      President Obama was re-elected – He won the popular vote 62,606,06759,130,715; an advantage of 51%-48%.  He won the Electoral College by a margin of 332 – 206, and prevailed in 26 States and the District of Columbia.

2.      Senate Democrats gained two seats, slightly boosting their slim majority.  They now have 53 seats(well short of the 60-vote Super Majority required to stop a filibuster, pass a cloture motion, or overide a veto), to the GOP’s 45 seats, with Independents (likely to caucus with Democrats) holding two seats.

3.      House of Representatives Democrats gained 4 seats, yielding a nominal increase, but still a substantial gap and a clear minority.  Three races, one each in Arizona,California, and North Carolina remain unresolved.  Republicans currently have 234 seats, well above the 218 required for a majority.

Overall,whites as a percentage of voters were 74% in ’08; down to 72% in ’12Governor Romney won 59percent of the white vote, compared with 39 percent for President Obama.  That gap was significant, but that was not enough to overtake President Obama’s progressive coalition of blacks, Latinos,Asians, unmarried women and low-income voters.

“The 2012 Presidential Election will be the last campaign where one of the major parties seeks to get elected solely with the white vote,” said David Bositis, Senior Research Associate of the Joint Centerfor Political and Economic Studies.

Speaking at a post-election briefing on The Impact of the African American Vote on the 2012 Presidential Election,Bositis said that this election was a clear showing that the country is a now amultiracial, multi-ethnic country.

Taking an even closer look at specific numbers, one can see the dimensions of the President’s second victory cut a wide swath across the fabric of the electorate.  Racial minorities, non-married women, & young voters made a large impact on the outcome of the election.  See the following:

  • The President won 44% of the white vote in ’08; only     39% in ‘12
  • Latinos represented 9% of the vote in ’08; 10%     of the vote in ‘12; 71% of whom voted for President ObamaThe Latino     vote was credited with carrying Obama to victory in Colorado,     Nevada and New Mexico. His showing among Latinos     was an improvement over the 66 percent share he won four years ago.
  • Single     women made up 20% of the electorate     in ’08; 23% of the electorate in ’12, 67% of whom voted for Obama
  • The youth vote (age 18-29) made up 18% of the     vote in ’08; 19% of the vote in ’12, 60% of whom voted for President Obama
  • Asians gave President Obama 62% of their votes     in ’08; 73% in ’12, the highest number since exit polls began tracking     Asian voters.
  • Catholic voters favored President Obama to     Governor Romney 51% to 48%, although white Catholics voted for Romney by a     margin of 56% to 43%.  By contrast,     Hispanic Catholics favored the President overwhelmingly, 76% to 23%.
  • Jews voted for President Obama in significant     numbers, giving him 70% of their votes; this despite tens of million     dollars spent in 2012 and before by political donors     like Sheldon Adelson, and groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition and     the Emergency Committee for Israel, intended to sow fear and doubt over     Israel, and to move Jewish votes away from President Obama and the     Democratic Party.
  • The     LGBT Community supported President Obama overwhelmingly, giving him 76% of     their votes, according to the Williams Institute, a sexual orientation think     tank at UCLA.
  • A Council on American-Islamic Relations exit     poll indicated 86% of Muslims voted for President Obama
  • Those who self-identify as regular church-goers     voted for Romney by a margin of 59%-39%
  • Those who self-identify as Evangelical     Born-again voted for Romney 79%-20%
  • Those who self-identify as Non-Evangelical     Protestants supported Romney 54%-44%
  • Those who never go to church supported President     Obama 62%-34%
  • Those who self-identify as Religious     Unaffiliated voted for the President 70%-20%
  • Of black Protestants, 95% supported the President
  • Women supported the President by giving him 55% of their votes    
  • Blacks, unquestionably President Obama’s most     fervent and reliable voting bloc actually supported Mr. Obama at a rate     less than that in 2008.  Still the     level of support he did get was impressive, and unmistakably essential.  The President garnered a 93% share of     the black vote in 2012, compared to 95% in 2008.  However, as with voters in general,     women supported the President at a rate greater than did men, 96%,     compared to 87%.

The African American vote was crucial for President Obama in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia,” said David Bositis, of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

President Obama defeated Governor Romney in the battleground state of Ohio50% to 48%. Blacks, who increased their share of the electorate from 11 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2012, gave 96 percent of their vote to President Obama, providing him with more than his cushion of victory.  Blacks also providedPresident Obama more than his margin of victory in Michigan,Pennsylvania, Floridaand Virginia, all battleground states and all carried by President Obama.

In general, President Obama garnered strong support in America’surban centers, and Governor Romney prevailed in rural areas.  This nugget notwithstanding, there are noteworthyoutliers.  For example, in Rock County, Wisconsin, where Janesville, is located, President Obama won.  Janesville, incidentally, is the hometown of Paul Ryan.  In fact, speaking of hometowns, or at least home States, President Obama won Wisconsin, the StatePaul Ryan represents in Congress, and where he was born.  Mr. Obama also won Michigan, where Mr. Romney was born, Massachusetts,where Mr. Romney served as Governor, and New  Hampshire, where the Romneys own a summer home.  Suffice it to say, the President had a good night.

The Obama coalition was many things; among them, urban, female, young, gay and lesbian, black and brown.  It was also fervent.  But it should be noted, it was more than those things.  The President’scampaign was efficient and effective!  He won Iowa and New Hampshire, where a preponderance of voters are white.  In both States he won by a margin of 51%-47%.  He won in EricCantor’s home County (Henrico) in Virginia.  In fact, of the 10contested, swing states, President Obama won 9; all but North Carolina.  He took Colorado,Florida, Iowa,New Hampshire, New Mexico,Ohio, Nevada,Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Insiders on both sides are nowwrangling over whether President Obama’s re-election came with a mandate.  I can certainly understand why Republicanswould feel inspired to argue that he does not.On one hand, they did retain the House of Representatives, and the margin of both the popular vote and the Electoral vote was smaller than in 2008.  On the other hand, Republicans did not concede the President a mandate in 2008 when he had larger spreads in the popular and theElectoral vote, plus a huge majority in the House of Representatives, and a working margin in the Senate.  In other words, I can imagine no circumstances under which the current GOP would openly concede that point.  Stop playing!

Also, consider just a few of the collateral accruals augmenting the President’s victory:

  • Wisconsin     voters elected Tammy Baldwin, an     openly gay woman, to the U.S. Senate.
  • Maine, Maryland and Washington     approved gay marriage, while Minnesota     rejected an attempt to ban it.
  • Voters in Colorado,     Massachusetts and Washington legalized state-regulated     marijuana (for commercial, not medicinal purposes).
  • Florida voters rejected an initiative that would have     banned public funds going toward abortion.

The combination of President Obama’s win, despite, a near 8% National unemployment rate, his clear and unrelenting articulation of the intent to increase the level at which the wealthiest Americans contribute to deficit reduction,Democrats retaining the Senate and making gains in the House, in addition to the four bullet points above, it does appear that Americans sided, in ademonstrable way, with President Obama’s vision.

I don’t believe he has a blank check by any means, but he clearly has earned the right to forge ahead.  At his 2004 post-election newsconference, GeorgeW. Bush declared “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.  It is my style.”  While he did have a majority in both Houses of Congress, he garnered fewer popular votes than President Obama, gained a slightly smaller percentage, maintained roughly the same spread over his opponent, and had fewer Electoral votes, as well.  We’ll see how it all unfolds for our current POTUS.

That’s more than enough to chew on.  Consider this a sweeping Overview and Analysis: Election 2012!”  I’m done; holla back!

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It’s time to Break It Down!

Obama 2012; check! 

That’s all folks…nothing else needs to be said.  I’m done, holla back!

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

To subscribe, click on Followin 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.

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