“12 Days of Christmas: The Concert – Redux”

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Reprinted from Break It Down – 12/21/11)

Merry Christmas to you! I know some of you are caught up in the whole “We Are The (Secular) World” trip; thus the substitute Holiday for Christmas in seasonal greetings. Of course those innately curious enough to conduct the requisite etymological research know that the root derivation of holiday is “Holy Day;” but I digress; that is fodder for another day’s fight.

By now many of you have already begun your well-planned and no doubt, richly deserved hiatus from work. You may even have finished your shopping and taken care of all the major errands that accompany preparing for the Big Day. Perhaps all that remains is packing and/or traveling; maybe that throw-down cooking marathon that precedes the arrival of the family, friends, and guests whom you will host over the coming week.

As is my custom, I will not use this Christmas Season Post, if you will allow me to call it that, to challenge you to sort the facts, be they esoteric or mundane. No, this is your time to take advantage of the opportunity to hang out with your guests, or to be a guest, and enjoy the hospitality of friends and famiy.

In the true spirit of keeping it simple for both you and me, I am, as the Title suggests, reprising a previous post.  In fact,  not just any previous post; not even just any prior Christmas Post.  I am, for all intents and purposes re-posting the entry from last Christmas.

The English playwright and poet, William Congreve, in the opening line of his 1697 Play entitled The Mourning Bride,” asserted, “Musick has Charms to soothe a savage Breast, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”  I think Congreve was on to something.  If indeed music is capable of enabling us to overcome our basest instincts, and in so doing, ennoble us to pursue our finer impulses, then indeed, we should take more opprotunities to render ourselves captivated by it’s magical spell. (By the way, it really is breast…not beast; caught you thinking, didn’t I?)  😉

So, last year, I identified and pulled together an assortment of my favorite Christmas Standards.  This year, I am offering the same artistic olio for your reading, viewing, and listening pleasiure. Below, you will find bios for the 14 artists, the 13 youtube video interpretations, and the 12 songs listed and included in the form of a Yuletide e-concert. The information and links below tell the essence of the story; but there are a few points I wish to amplify for your consideration.

The number in parenthesis after each artist’s name is his or her current age, or the age at which the artist died, in the cases of James Brown, Eartha Kitt, John Coltrane, Nat King Cole, and Donny Hathaway. Each artist, song and interpretation is special in its own right.

The legendary Godfather of Soul, as James Brown became known, died on Christmas Day (2006, aged 73), as did Eartha Kitt (2008, aged 81), whom shall ever remain, to many of us, the incomparably personified Catwoman. There was both a surreal sadness and a resolute completeness associated with them ending their respective earthly journeys on Christmas Day, two years apart. Both artists were born in South Carolina; Brown in Barnwell, and Kitt, in North. Brown was renowned for his energetic performances, which earned him another of his many titles, “Hardest working man in show business.” His rendition of “Merry Christmas Baby” was a reminder that he had earned his chops the hard way, and that he was much more than flash and dash. Kitt’sSanta Baby” is on my list, not only because it is a classic; it is, but also because like me, it was born in 1953. I’d like to think we both (the song and I) have held up well.

Donny Hathaway’sThis Christmas” quite simply personifies Christmas for many of us. Hathaway, an initiate of Howard University’s Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, was a brilliant musician, but a troubled man. He endured bouts of depression and suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, which ultimately led him to commit suicide (1979, aged 33). “This Christmas,” however, lives on, and along with it and many of his other classics, so does his melodious voice.

Chris Brown (age 22), has had his moments. He is known in most circles as either the Pied Piper to Generation Y (Millennials), or That Guy…you know, the one who beat down Robyn Fenty (age 23); Rihanna to you! This post will not attempt to moralize, or capitalize in any other way on the beef between these two. Rather, for the purposes of this commentary, I wanted to touch upon Chris’ cover of Hathaway’s classic tune. I think he did a fine job, and is an example that, many voices to the contrary, Gen X’ers are not only capable, but do in fact, continue to perpetuate the tradition of making great music.

Nat King Cole (1965, aged 45) and Natalie Cole (age 61), father and daughter, both stellar musicians, in their own right, also represent two successive generations of the “family business.” Though the elder Cole is probably better known for his interpretation of The Christmas Song,” I intentionally chose his rendition of another standard, “O Holy Night,” to highlight another of his great performances. I included Natalie’s rendering of “The First Noel,” solely because of my partiality to the reverse spelling of “Noel!”

Having eschewed Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song,” I could not omit it altogether. Kem (age 42), delivers a virtuoso performance of this classic tune. He is one of my favorite contemporary artists, singing one of the Christmas songs I enjoy most. Ledisi (age 41, until her New Years’ Eve birthday) and Lauryn Hill (age 36) are two of contemporary R&B’s most accomplished female voices. Their versions of “Give Love On Christmas Day,” and “Little Drummer Boy,” respectively, are special treats, and integral components of this e-concert.

John Coltrane and Dianne Reeves (age 55) add an instrumental (“My Favorite Things”) and vocal (“Christmas Time Is Here”) jazz flavor to the mix, respectively. “Trane,” born in Hamlet, North Carolina, died of liver cancer (1967, aged 40), another life cut short, far too young. He and the combo render a cool version of the tune, so much so that it could make it one of “your favorite things.” Ms. Reeves uses her powerful and well-trained instrument to craft a compelling version of “Christmas Time Is Here.”

Christina Aguilera (age 31) and Brian McKnight (age 42) unite in a superb collaboration on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” They revel in demonstrating multiple octave range and elasticity in framing their unique arrangement of this classic that makes it a song I enjoy listening to again and again. Last, but certainly not least, Will Downing (age 48), perhaps my favorite musical artist, delivers a silky smooth rendition of “White Christmas.”  What can I say?  Will…is Will!

That’s it; 14 artists, 13 videos (a Baker’s Dozen), and 12 songs. Add it all up and you get “12 Days Of Christmas: The Concert – Redux!” Enjoy it agaian, and by all means, remember the Reason for the Season!

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:

James Brown (73) – Merry Christmas Baby



Eartha Kitt (81) – Santa Baby



Donny Hathaway (33) – This Christmas



Chris Brown (21) – This Christmas




Nat King Cole (45) – O Holy Night



Natalie Cole (60) – The First Noel



Kem (41) – The Christmas Song



Ledisi (32) – Give Love On Christmas Day



Lauryn Hill (35) – Little Drummer Boy



John Coltrane (40) – My Favorite Things



Dianne Reeves (54) – Christmas Time Is Here



Christina Aguilera (30) & Brian McKnight (41) – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas




Will Downing (47) – White Christmas


“This Time Will Be Different!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

Imagine if you will a moment…encased in silence.



Those 7 lines of white space symbolize a respectful pause in memoriam for the 12 little girls, the 8little boys, and the 6 teachers and administrators whose lives were snuffed out prematurely, last Friday morning, in Newtown, Connecticut, by an Assault Rifle wielding gunman; only 20 years-old himself.

Just a week ago in this space, I referenced the Jovan Belcher and Clackamas County, Oregon incidents to fashion areintroduction to the conversation about guns and the violence too often wrought by irresponsible and often unstable gun owners.  I emphasized then, that the incidents, horrific though they may have been, were not the point, but rather a convenient vehicle to remind readers of the results of gun violence in America.

It is with deepest regret that I acknowledge the attention of a mourning nation is once again riveted upon the continually emerging details of what can only be accurately characterized as a massacre. Of the 26 victims referenced above, all endured multiple wounds; some were shot nearly a dozen times.  In several instances, those shot were mutilated beyond recognition.  In some cases, parents and loved ones were advised by authorities not to view the remains.

In brief summation, the Newtown carnage was executed in three stages:

  1. Before he set out on his deadly rampage against 6 and 7 year-olds at their school, Adam Lanza murdered his mother, who was still in bed, at the home     they shared.  Mrs. Lanza, as the other victims, was shot multiple times (with     a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle).  Her wounds were head shots.  Mrs. Lanza was divorced from Adam’s father, Peter.
  2. The younger Lanza     then took four weapons to Sandy Hook.      He brought three of them into the school; the assault rifle, and     two handguns – a Glock 10 mm and     a Sig Sauer 9 mmHe left the fourth, a shotgun, in his car.  According to authorities, he shot all 26 victims with the rifle. 
  3. As first responders closed in, Adam took his own life with a single shot to the head.  By committing suicide, he was the only one of the 28 who died to be killed by a single gunshot.     

It should be noted that Adam Lanza’s older brother, Ryan, reportedly told authorities that Adam had Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  However, mental health experts have cautioned against imputing any link between Asperger’s and violence.Aside his from living with the disease, a number of former associates have described Adam as very smart (enrolled in college at age 16), socially inept, shy quiet, withdrawn; a nerd. He was also an avid video-gamer.  Some of the games he played most were designed around leadership, war, violence, and survival (Starcraft III & Warcraft).  Never-the-less, most people whom reporters spoke to seemed surprised that Adamcould have carried out the acts of last Fridayin Newtown.

That’s really more than enough of the grisly, gory aspects of this particular case.  After all, just as was the case last week, this post is not designed to reiterate the minutiae of the shootings.  The intent, instead, is to share a simple opinion; “This Time Will Be Different!”  At least, that is my thesis.  If you want more of the nitty-gritty, just tune in to the news; they will have it for you.

When I penned last week’s post, the senseless acts of violence that would unfold just two days later at the Sandy Hook Elementary School were simply unimaginable.  In the days that have ensued since Friday, the TV networks, the airways, the blogosphere, and the various social networking communities have all been electrified by the effusive outpouring of discourse, much of it civil, on the subject of the shootings.  More important, how to prevent this kind of thing from continuing to occupy the orbit of a recurring pattern has been a trending discussion item.

I believe, as the Title suggests, within the micro-dynamics of this shooting lie the structural bases for navigating a different outcome.  Unfortunately, events such as this have a tendency to play out through a political lens.As such, while the politics of disaster are always volatile, there has been no case, that so abruptly shoved into the collective face of America, the gritty details of the cold-bloodedmurder of so many children, en masse.That they happened to be mostly white will also likely (forgive the pun), color the dimensions of the ultimate response.

That racial caveat, while objectionable to some, is just a reflection of what moves the needle, not only in American discourse, but especially in framing a discussion so that it is viewed as a call to action.  For example, annual crime statistics in Chicago are abysmal.  Through December 11, 2012, 2,597 people had been shot; as of yesterday, 517 had been murdered, and of those, 62 were school aged (6-18).Needless to say, the vast majority of the shooting victims, the homicides and the school-aged victimsin Chicagoare black.  Odds are you have not heard any vociferous national outcry to intervene.  And yes, I will say it, President Obama, the Consoler-in-Chief, has not made a visit to the City, expressly to speak out on the need to curtail the violence that has become endemic in his adopted hometown.

And don’t get it twisted!  I’m not knocking the POTUS (though on this issue, calling him to task is appropriate).  I am making the point, as I did in developing the Title,Newtownis different!  Because I am more concerned with outcomes than with finger-pointing, or with assaying recriminations, I embrace the notion that this is a good thing.In deed, I submit we are on the verge of moving FORWARD!

A number of Pols, both Democrats and Republicans, have expressed a willingness to debate gun laws, and to consider new legislation to control firearms in the aftermath of the Newtowndisaster.  Walmart and Dick’s, two of the nation’s largest gun dealers, have limited advertising and the availability of brands of the AR-15assault weapon used in Newtown (and in Aurora, and in ClackamasCounty).

President Obama has declared he will use the power of his office to see that the events of Newtown are not repeated.  Joe Manchin, Democratic Senator from West  Virginia, an NRA Member who has made commercials with his gun in hand, said Monday that it is time to discuss gun policy and move toward regulating guns. Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Senator from California, has indicated that she with proffer gun control legislation on the first day of the new CongressSenator Charles Grassley, of Iowa, has suggested it’s time to put gun control on the table.  Finally, the National Rifle Association (NRA) broke its silence yesterday, and said it will work to ensure the events of Newtownare never repeated.

But all is certainly not of one accord.  Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, positsthat the teachers at Sandy Hook should have been armed.Mr. Pratt is a proponent of the premise that, gun-free zones, not guns, are the problem.  It should be noted that he is definitely not alone in his view.  At a Tea Party rally on Monday, Texas Governor Rick Perry espoused the notion that anyone with a concealed handgun license should be able to take guns on public property in Texas, including schools.  He urged state legislators to look at ways to improve safety at schools; ostensibly, he believes arming teachers is the preferred way to do that.

With that, there are still two sides to this argument.  However, as the debate continues, there appears to be some erosion of the hard and fast line in the sand that has been so expertly manipulated by the gun lobby historically.  It is this diminution of the power curve that gives me hope and fosters my belief that “This Time Will Be Different!”

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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:












Clackamas County, Oregon: Ground Zero for Yesterday’s Episode of American Gun Violence!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Today’s date is special; 12/12/12.  It is in the midst of the Season of Good Tidings of Great Joy.  I really wish I were commemorating both the date, and the coming events with a not so dire and gruesome message.  Sadly, I am not!

Less than two weeks removed from the murder-suicide of NFL Kansas City Chiefs’ player, Jovan Belcherand his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, which incidentally, left their two month-old infant daughter, Zoey, parentless.  Yet again, a senseless act of gun violence has claimed center stage…at least on the domestic front.   The details of the Belcher case have been well-chronicled, so I will not deign to repeat the particulars in this space.  Suffice it to say, before Americans could collectively execute a proper grieving period for those ghastly events, the Kansas City shootings were displaced from the headlines; not by anyinordinate time and distance, but sadly, by another grisly murderous sequence.

At about 3:30 p.m. PST yesterday, a gunman used a high-powered rifle to kill two people in Oregon’sClackamas Town Center Mall.  According to authorities, he then turned the gun on himself.  He was among the three people killed during the incident.  The mall is located in Clackamas County, near Portland.  Other shoppers were apparently wounded.  Those same reports say no shots were fired by police.

In the event you have relatives whom you think may have been at this mall at that time, a special number has been set up to call and check on them: (503) 655-8211.

This post is not about the Belcher incident; it’s not even about yesterday’s tragedy at the Clackamas Town Center, per se.  It is about the national debate, sporadic in frequency, but dynamic in intensity.  The gun lobby, represented most notably by the National Rifle Association (NRA), argues fiercely, among other things, that:

  • The Second     Amendment protects the right of Americans to own guns
  • Occurrences such at this are random anomalies
  • People who exact violence against others have     options besides fire arms
  • The threat of such violence would be lessened if     the victims were armed
  • Immediately after such events is too soon to     discuss remedies
  • Curtailing access to fire arms is un-American
  • Guns don’t kill people; people do
  • Guns are a necessary implement for hunting
  • Americans need to protect themselves from a rogue government
  • Gun Protectionism proves America     is the world’s last bastion for freedom

I’ve examined this brand of violence before.  In doing so, I have previously cited statistics about the paucity of gun violence in countries such as Australia, Canada, United Kingdom (Great Britain), and Japan, compared to the United States.  Relative annualized averages for these countries are:

  • Australia 65
  • Canada 165
  • Japan 39
  • United Kingdom (Great Britain) 68
  • United States     11,000+

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, in 2007, there were:

  • 12,129 homicides with a firearm
  • 17,348 suicides with a firearm
  • 721 deaths by accidental discharge of a firearm
  • +/-     5,000 deaths from legal     interventions (i.e., police shooting     criminals)

A problem does not reach this depth and breadth by osmosis, or accident.  There is of course a culture of American gun ownership that stretches back to the country’s founding and its fundamentally preeminent document of record; the United States Constitution.  It is the Second Amendment of the Constitutionthat purists use as the prime validation of their right to own a gun, tote a piece, or arm themselves to the teeth, depending upon one’s level of uber commitment to the cause.  The language of this hypercritical polemic is captured in a single sentence (ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State):

·        A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Who could imagine a mere 27 words, adopted 221 years ago this Saturday (December 15, 1791), could be the source of such disparate opinion, and perhaps more notably, or at least arguably, such horrific carnage?  For those who argue the sanctity of this venerablestatute, I caution with the subtle reminder; remember it is after all an Amendment.  Moreover, if Constitutional content were altered when the Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments) was added, for the betterment of the document and the country, perhaps it is time to make another alteration!In fact, I would assert, “It is definitely time to do just that.”

Naturally, my suggesting it won’t make it so.  There is an unbelievable infrastructure supported by gun making and selling in America.  There are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United  States, according to the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).  That includes 51,438 retail gun stores, 7,356 pawn shops, 61,562 collectors, with the rest held by manufacturers and importers of firearms and destructive devices.

To bring some element of context to this matter, consider that by comparison, a few of the numbers for other American institutions are:

·        Grocery Stores (2011) 36,569 – (Food Marketing Institute)

·        McDonald’s Restaurants (2011) – 14,098 (McDonald’s Corporation Annual Report 2011)

On their face alone, these numbers are staggering, and if you don’t find the relative comparison between the proliferation of guns and the number of source points for these other goods alarming, I certainly think you should.  Regardless, there is a key differentiator between guns and these other items.  Gasoline, burgers, and other food stuffs are perishablesand/or consumables; guns by contrast do not go away.  As a case in point, a rifle used in the 2009 Holocaust Museum shooting was nearly 100 years old, but no less effective as an instrument of murder and mayhem.

The ATF reported that in 2010, there were 5,459,240 new firearms manufactured in the United States, nearly all (95%) for the U.S. market.  An additional 3,252,404 firearms were imported to the United  States.

Under current laws and statutes, if you do not have a criminal record and you have not been adjudicated as mentally incompetent, you can buy guns.  In 2010the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checksfor firearms purchases.  Only a miniscule number of these purchases (78,211 or 0.48 percent)were denied.  Houston,we have a problem!”

I think the foregoing barrage of facts and figures more than adequately outlines the current environment in this country vis-à-visgun ownership, and the prevalence of the death and destruction of families that this culture is at least somewhat responsible for creating and sustaining.  We characterize ourselves as a nation with many glowing virtues.  Freedom is often listed first; family values usually follow, not far behind.  I submit that that if we are serious about our national association with these traits of honor, we are obligated to take some kind of action to ameliorate the ridiculous level of violence that stems from firearms…and/or their owners.  To do nothing hardly leaves us worthy of owning the term “civilized society.”

Today, we cope with the reality, Clackamas County, Oregon: Ground Zero for Yesterday’s Episode of American Gun Violence!”  We mourn the loss of life, pray for the survivors and the families of the deceased, and challenge Americans of all stripes to stand up to the culture of widespread gun violence, and demand change.  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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:


Cultivating a Culture of Capitulation: Will President Obama Cave (Again)?

It’s time to Break It Down!

Almost since 11:18 p.m. onNovember 6th, when the 2012 Presidential Election was called for President Obama, a chief trending issue on social, electronic, and in print media has been the inimitable Fiscal Cliff.  It is the be-all-end-all topic in virtually all things news related.

No surprisingly, given the great partisan divide that splits the country nearly in half, there are many different spins on this crisis, and its relative gravity.  It has been called manufactured.  Various members of both the political and the pundit class have insisted the cliff is not a cliff at all, but rather a hill, or even a gentle slope.  In fact, several noted observers have actually suggested the parties should not rush to make a bad deal, but should instead; choose to go over the cliff…or slope, or hill, or whatever one opts to call it.

One school of thought maintains the President is trying to back Republicans in a corner, and that he is loathe to negotiate, because he thinks he has some kind of tactical advantage.  In response, many proponents of this theory argue that Republicans should eschew any deal proposed by the President, and as a result, force the country over the cliff.  This would effectively “kick the can down the road,” and put the debate in the hands of the next Congress.  See Newt Gingrich.

An alternative school of thought counters that for any sense of mandate the President has, just because he won the election, is countered by the fact that Republicans retained theHouse, by a wide majority.  Those who make this argument content the voters who supported them endowed their Representatives with just as much of a mandate to act on their convictions, and presumably, more importantly, the convictions of those who voted for them, as does the President.

Another school of thought asserts that President Obama is intentionally working to force the country over the Fiscal CliffGrover Norquist, he of the “No Tax Pledge” (Remember that?) notoriety is a chief advocate of this notion.

Yet another school of thought (There are more, but I will end with this one), holds that the President ran on the precept of increasing taxes for the wealthy; he won the Popular vote, as well as the Electoral College vote, and therefore, he won that argument.  In addition, to buttress this position, data from numerous separate polls show that a majority of Americans favor increasing taxes for the wealthy, and that most Americans also will blame intransigent Republicans rather than the President, if we go over the Fiscal Cliff.  A sampling of these results includes the following:

·        In a June 9 ABC News poll, 61% of Americans believe higher taxes will be necessary to reduce the deficit, and 57% of those polled said that deficit reduction should include both tax increases and spending cuts.

·        A Pew poll found that more people blame the nation’s involvement in wars than tax cuts or spending for the deficit.  The poll also found wide support for increasing taxes, as 67% said that more high earners income should be subject to being taxed for Social Security and 66% support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 and 62% support closing corporate tax loopholes.

·        A Bloomberg poll taken in May found that only 33% of those surveyed thought that it would be possible to lower the deficit without raising taxes, 64% expressed the belief that it isn’t possible to lower the deficit without raising taxes.

·        An April CBS News/NY Times poll showed that 72% of people favored raising taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce the deficit.A March NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81% of those surveyed would support a tax on millionaires that would be used for deficit reduction, and 68% supported eliminating the Bush tax cuts on those who make over $250,000.

·        A Washington Post/Pew Research Center survey by a 53%-27% margin, said Congressional Republicans will be more to blame than President Obama if there is no deal to avert the Fiscal Cliff; 12% said both sides should be blamed equally.  Among Independents, 52% would blame Republicans and 21% would point to the President.

·        A CNN/ORC International survey released last week indicated more Americans would blame the GOP in Congress (45%) than President Obama (34%) if the Fiscal Cliff avoidance provisions do not go into effect until next year.

So, President Obama won the election.  The American people have expressed their preferences, before and after the election for what the President refers to as a balanced approach; one that employs spending cuts and revenue to avert the Fiscal Cliff.  The question of the hour is WWOD, or for you non-religious types, What Will Obama Do?

Most observers, friends and foes alike are apt to opine that in past instances, when faced withrubber-meets-the-road negotiation episodes, including, his initiative to close the prison facility at Guantanamo, pushing for a larger Stimulus Bill, framing comprehensive Healthcare Reform, opposing the extension of the Bush tax cuts in 2010, reaching a Grand Bargain to prevent the country’s default, and pursuing Immigration Reform legislation, President Obama blinked.

Don’t get it twisted.  As Vice President Biden enunciated the meme so successfully during the campaign, Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.  This President has had his moments.  Still, I choose to not to view the President through the lens of a sycophant; rather by using the same standard Mr. Obama himself uses for seeking and developing an appropriate schematic for averting the Fiscal Cliff, a balanced approach.  There is no doubt President Obama has built an impressive list of accomplishments, including the 10 below:

1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.

2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so fortwenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.

3. Passed  Wall Street Reform: Signed theDodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.

4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.

5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.

6. Eliminated Osama bin Laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.

7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM andChrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than  j100,000obs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.

8. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic assets.” Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.

9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi: In March 2011, joined a coalition of European andArab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops.Gaddafi’s forty-two-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.

It is a strong list, and including it is certainly fair.  Moreover, that is a short list; he has many more accomplishments.  However, the balance part of the equation requires the inclusion and consideration of the instances, referenced earlier, in which as a negotiator, the President acquitted himself, and his core constituency, less than effectively.  One might argue, he has “Cultivated a Culture of Capitulation.”  It’s totally fair to ask, Will President Obama Cave (Again)?

With a just under four weeks until the deadline, and more important, only 10 days until Congress is scheduled to go on holiday break, the proverbial hourglass is winding down.In the midst of the constant spin, counter spin, evaluation, and assessment, it is still too early to predict with precision exactly what the POTUS will do.  However, I have a hunch! 

I have long believed that President Obama, an avid sports enthusiast, navigated his first term with a second term in mind.  Similar to a football or basketball coach who may employ first half strategies and tactics to set up the second half, I think the President accepted some compromises with the mindset that to achieve his broader objectives, he needed to serve two terms, and to get to term two, it would be necessary to first survive term one, then advance.  That mission was accomplished November 6th.

Now, in term two, with no future elections on the horizon, he has the opportunity to reach higher.To that end, I suspect that while he realizes, in a divided government, negotiation will be a requisite reality, his resolve will be more firm, and he will pursue more persistently those designs and ends that he believes represent the best interest of the people of the United  States of America.

This brings us full circle, back to the opening premise and question: “Cultivating a Culture of Capitulation: Will President Obama Cave(Again)?”  To be sure, one instance of holding firm to one’s principles is insufficient evidence of a culture shift.  But, as is often said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  If President Obama is to turn this reputational conundrum around, he must first start somewhere.  I believe that somewhere is here…and now!

I’m done; holla back!

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