“Consider President Obama’s Economy: You Might Be Surprised!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

If you listen to the Radical Right, you have heard that President Obama is many things; a Kenyan, an anti-Colonial, a Socialist, a Muslim, a Hitler clone, an inept newbie who doesn’t understand and is unfriendly toward business, but mainly, a big spending, economic recovery killing, Yellow Dog, Liberal Democrat.  In the event you are a regular listener to Fox News, you have heard all those things, and…the fact of the matter is, you heard wrong.  He is not, nor has he ever been any of those things.

I will be the first to admit, the President is not a denizen of Wall StreetHigh Finance is not his strongest suit, but like any Commander-in-Chief, he does not have to be the smartest person in the room, on every conceivable subject.

Moreover, it is probably best if he is not.  Among his primary tasks is assembling a formidable team, capable of effectively tackling whatever problems may confront our country.  As we approach the midpoint of the first year of Mr. Obama’s second term, all indications are the President’s economic advisors have succeeded in their part of this endeavor.  They helped him chart a course and execute a plan that has successfully revived an economy so moribund, that at it’s nadir, it was widely considered the country’s worst since the Great Depression; hence, commonly referred to as the Great Recession.

Political opponents have maligned POTUS as being the incarnation of every negative icon imaginable from the anti-Christ to the epitome of anti-business.  Yet, a strange new meme has emerged recently.  In the May 16th Edition of Forbes Magazine, Adam Hartung, who covers business growth and overcoming organizational obstacles for the magazine penned an article in which he shares an interview with Bob Deitrick, Co-author of “Bulls, Bears, and the Ballot Box (BBBB).”  Mr. Deitrick articulates a clear and compelling case that President Obama’s leadership and resultant policies have directly influenced the course of what is now, at least arguably, a resurgent economy.  Specifically, the author credits President Obama with the facts that:

     The auto rescue plan worked

     Wall Street reform has served to re-instated faith among investors

     Markets are more predictable; a sign of increased faith, decreased risk

     Small investors (i.e., those limited to 401(k) or IRA investments) have experienced  an annual compound return of more than 24% since the lows of March 2009.  By the way, that is a better record than Clinton, Reagan, or Roosevelt, the previous winners cited in BBBB

It is appropriate, if not necessary, to place in proper context the depths of the 2009 economic decline.  At the end of the Clinton Administrations’ second term, the ConsumerConfidence Index (CCI) was at a record high of 140.  By the end of the Bush Administration’s second term, this index had fallen to 25.3, which is an historic low.  By contrast, at the end of the economically weak Carter years, the index was still at 74.4.

In sifting through the granular details, it is important to note that President Clinton left office with a budget surplus; President Bush, conversely, left America mired in deficits, as Congress cut taxes, while raising defense spending exponentially.  Moreover, financial institutions experienced significant distress; many were on the verge of failing, and of course, some did.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is now reporting a $200 Billion decrease in the deficit.  This de-escalation is attributable, primarily, to increased revenue from a growing economy, higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans, a fairer tax code, improved regulation, and consistent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement.  Undoubtedly, the proponents of Supply-Side Economics are apoplectic, as this economic rebound represents a counter-intuitive fact to challenge their exuberantly held theory.  The deficit is down to 4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); it was over 10% at the end of George W. Bush’s Presidency.

Conservatives have raised the Spirit of Ronald Reagan to near sainthood.  Yet, for all the honorifics conferred upon the Great Communicator, and despite the short-term memory cycle we routinely afford politicians, the inconvenient truth is President Reagan tripled the national debt during his tenure.  In doing so, he created what his contemporary legion of followers might call “a legacy of unpayable debt for our grandchildren.”  No wonder, latter day Conservatives managed to develop an inexplicable affinity for Bill Clinton.  His tax policies erased Ronny’s Ocean of debt.

Back to the present.  In summary, Deitrick suggests President Obama, whose administration has shown little to no proclivity to take credit from the upsurge in economic indicators, should do so.  In reality, how you see the President’s performance, in economic terms, is likely to depend on the trajectory of your personal economy.  If you are a Wall Street Dom, in all likelihood, you have made a mint during the recovery.  As noted earlier, if you have a 401(k) or an IRA, chances are, you have done pretty well.

Naturally, there are still those who are yet to have their economic ships elevated by the rising economic tide.  Nevertheless, odds are there few instances in which individuals, given the choice, would swap their present day economy for the one they had in 2009.  Therefore, I implore you.  Take a moment to“Consider President Obama’s Economy: You Might Be Surprised!”

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.

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Sergio Got a Little “Fuzzy!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

It has taken a few years, 16 to be exact, if you’re counting, but, at a recent European Tour Gala, golfer Sergio Garcia, did his finest impression of Fuzzy Zoeller’s erstwhile 1997 culinary remarks. Just to reset and remind you of that time, back in the 20th Century, “The Fuzz” made his now infamous remarks after Tiger Woods first major, The Masters. In framing his response to Woods historic victory, Zoeller said:

“That little boy is driving well and he’s putting well. He’s doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not serve fried chicken next year. Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”

So, fast-forward more than a decade and a half. Apparently, when given a slow soft ball of a question, Tiger’s current day foil just could not help himself. At the aforementioned European Gala, a media representative asked Sergio if he would have Woods over for dinner during the upcoming U.S. Open. His reply:

“We will have him round every night,” García said. “We will serve fried chicken.”

It sounds as though the recession may still be on Sergio’s mind. Presumably as a budget cutting measure, he did not offer up any greens.

Sergio and Tiger have had their share of dust-ups. In those encounters, Tiger has pretty much had his way on the links. In the most recent field of play exchange, about a week and a half ago at the Players Championship, Sergio accused Tiger of inciting the gallery to cheer by removing a club from his golf bag as he (Sergio) was into his swing. This, he added, provoked his worst shot of the day.

Tiger insisted he did no such thing; adding that “The marshal said he already hit and I pulled out the 5-wood and hit.”

By the way, Tiger won the Tournament and regained the ranking of Number 1 in the world; Sergio finished the Tourney tied for 8th, after having been tied with Tiger for the lead with two holes to play.

Moreover, in case you are keeping track, or in case you want to, Tiger is continuing to amass big numbers. Here is a quick FYI review of Tiger, by the numbers:

•4: Victories in 2013 (Earliest Tiger has reached 4 wins in a season)
•7: Victories in his last 21 PGA Tour stroke-play events
•52 of 56: Times Tiger has won when having at least a share of the lead after 54 holes
•78: Career PGA Tour Victories Sam Snead leads with 82
•300: PGA starts (including as an amateur) Woods also won his 100th and 200th PGA starts
•$5,849,600: Official PGA earnings in 2013
•$106,800,300: Official career PGA Tour earnings

The media may make a lot of this recent gaffe by Garcia. It was clearly an ill-conceived effort to be funny, on his part, or at-least to be a smart-a..! He did apologize. I guess his PR machinery kicked in.

Numerous reports insist that Zoeller regrets his remarks to this day…and he should. Garcia, who has admitted he and Tiger do not get along, should regret his too. Whether he does, in reality, we will see. Given the nature of their relationship, there is ample room for doubt. There is, however, one thing about which, the rest of us can be clear: Sergio Got a Little “Fuzzy!”

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.

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.

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The White Vote is Disappearing: What Now?

It’s time to Break It Down!

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report a week ago today that revealed, among other things, that the white vote is diminishing in influence, as well as in raw numbers.  As facts go, this single unit of data has multiple implications.  Undoubtedly, reverberations from the resulting trend will be seen, heard, and felt across the political landscape.

Specific findings include: 

  1. For the first time since 1996, when the Census     Bureau began collecting this data, whites voted at a lower rate (64.1 percent of eligible voters)     than blacks (66.2 percent of     eligible voters).  Moreover, the     total number of white voters decreased by roughly 2 millions in 2012     as compared to 2008, the first     time since 1996 that a race     group has seen a diminution in     net votes cast.  Add to that, in the     last five presidential elections, the white share of the electorate dipped     nine points, the Hispanic share     rose four points, and African American votes increased three percentage points.
  2. The Hispanic     community in the United States     is growing rapidly, and because of it, is critical to the future electoral      calculus of both Parties.  In its present state, the Hispanic vote is skewed disproportionately toward Democrats.  However, in 2012, only 48% of     eligible Hispanic voters     exercised their franchise.  That is slightly above the 45% level in 1996, and less than the 49.9%     of the vote that turned out in 2008.  Note as a point of comparison that the     percentage of African Americans     who voted increased from 53% in 1996 to 66.2% in 2012.  Of course, even casual observers would     note, Barack Obama was not on     the ballot in 1996.  Still, the Hispanic community has not effectively translated its gross     numerical increase to a comparable advantage at the polls.  “Despite having an increased share of     the voting population in every presidential election since 1996, Hispanics have still accounted for a smaller percentage of     actual votes cast than their share of the eligible electorate would     indicate,” according to the Census report.
  3. In every election since 1996, eligible voters have increased in numbers.  That was true in 2012, but not by much.       In 2012, the total number     of votes cast was about 133     million.  That represents an     increase over 2008 of roughly 1.8 million votes.  That is the smallest increase in raw     votes in the last four elections.       An interesting phenomenon     is that gains by black voters (1.7 million more votes than in 2008) and Hispanics (1.4     million more votes than in 2008)     were offset by the decline in white voters (2 million fewer votes).
  4. President Obama dominated the youth vote     in 2008, and again in 2012.  However, it was not the President’s ability to get youth to     vote in historic numbers, that carried the day, but his penchant for consolidating     a substantial majority of youth votes into pro-Obama votes.  Exit polling showed that voters 18-29     made up 18% and 19% of the electorate in 2008 and 2012, respectively.       That is actually below the level the youth vote garnered in the 80’s, when it was typically 20% or more of the overall electorate.  The Census Bureau found that for 2012, this segment actually comprised just 15% of     the electorate.  However, the     President won 66% of votes among this age group in 2008, and 60% in 2012.

So, let us summarize the crisis of the Grand Old Party: 

Minorities, people of color – Hispanic, black, Asian – gave 80 percent of their votes to President Obama.  Minorities’ share of the electorate was only 26 percent in 2012; yet, minorities constitute 36.3 percent of the population.  Oh yeah, their share of both the electorate and the population is rising inexorably.

President Obama captured only 39 percent of the white vote in 2012; the lowest of any victorious presidential candidate.  Of course, by carrying people of color 4 to 1, he did not need anymore. 

In interpreting the mounting array of intel found in the Census Bureau’s treasure trove of statistics chronicling what reads like the decline of the Republican Party and Brand, there is impetus to pose a question.  Is there any good news for the GOP?  Well, in fact, yes there is. 

Consider the spike in African American turnout in 2008 and again in 2012.  It is not difficult to impute that the tremendous turnout of black Americans was due to what some might call the Obama Factor.  The President in 2012 was under ferocious attack and in danger of all out repudiation.  As a result, black folks turned out to rescue the first black President.  This will not be a dynamic of the 2016 race. 

However, there is more bad news for the GOP.  Yes, the Hispanic vote rose by 1.4 million between 2008 and 2012, even though 12 million eligible Hispanics did not vote.  Governor Romney lost the Hispanic vote 71-27.  If Democrats actually create a concerted and energized effort to get out the Hispanic vote, the GOP will fell the repercussions. 

On 48 percent of Asians voted.  However, when they did vote, they went 70 percent DemocraticAsians’ voting numbers are also expanding; as more go to the polls, the difficulties faced by the GOP continue to mount. 

In the face of this series of grave concerns, what is the Republican response? 

At least one group of the GOP brain trust, led by Senators Marco Rubio, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, are pushing for amnesty and a path to citizenship for the 11 to 12 million aliens in the country today. 

Who, exactly, are these people?  Perhaps half are Hispanic, but interestingly, 90 percent are people of color, who once registered, vote 4-to-1 Democratic.  In addition, each year a million new immigrants enter and move onto a fast track for citizenship.  Between 80 and 90 percent now come from Third Word, and once naturalized, they vote 80 percent Democratic. 

How did we get here?  Richard Nixon constructed a pathway to winning 49 states in 1972 and 1984, 44 states in 1980, and 40 in 1988.  In four elections, 1972, 1984, 1988, and 2004 – the Republican Party swept all 11 of FDR’s Solid South.  These were the copious benefits of the Southern Strategy. 

Then, conservatives urged Bush 1 to declare a moratorium on legal immigration, and build a security fence in 1992.  The erstwhile politically correct Republican Establishment fought to keep the idea out of the platform. 

What now?  Eighteen states, including four of the seven mega-statesCalifornia, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania—have gone Democratic in six straight elections.  Two others, Florida and Ohio, have gone Democratic twice in a row.  On top of that, white folks are now a minority in the last mega-state, Texas. 

In Ohio, which produced seven Republican presidents, more than any other state, Republicans are dropping out, and may be dying out. 

Eight years ago, blacks and whites voted at about the same rate in Ohio.  In 2008, “the participation rate for whites dropped to 65 percent, while the rate for blacks rose to 70 percent.  Last November, the turnout rate among whites fell to 62 percent, while the rate for blacks ticked up to 72 percent. 

From these Census figures, white folks are losing interest in politics and voting.  Still, whites still constitute three-fourths of the electorate and nine in 10 Republican votes. 

The very unconventional gambit to embrace amnesty and a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal aliens, led by Senator Rubio and Company may be a way to recalibrate the dial and increase Republican enthusiasm and turnout among three-fourths of the electorate.  Alternatively, is it really just a circuitous route to inciting a demand to seal America’s borders against all intruders? 

We are in search of answers to that query and many others.  Meanwhile, what we know is, “The White Vote is Disappearing: What Now?” 

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. 

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. 

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As the Cabinet Turns!

It’s time to Break It Down!

During the 2012 Election cycle, there was rampant on-going speculation about President Obama’s ability to hold on to the robust numbers generated by his incredible, never-before seen, 2008 coalition.  The Obama Re-election Team was always confident in the ability of it’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) machinery to connect with key demographics and persuade those voters to go to the polls and execute their civic duty.  Whether they could do so was considered critical to Mr. Obama’s chances to win, and many Republican prognosticators openly doubted the chances that what they considered a perfect political storm could be replicated.

As it turned out, President Obama did return to office, propelled by a coalition that performed even more stoutly than it had the first time around.  In the aftermath of Election 2012, the President’s critics and detractors grudgingly conceded they simply misjudged and/or underestimated Team Obama’s capacity to re-energize and motivate the many disparate parts of the President’s base.

The 2012 Campaign was marked by a revolving array of numbers.  The most important was two, of course, as in two terms for the incumbent President.  But there were many others, including:

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and the 99%

In other words, the President’s victory far-reaching and inclusive.  Nevertheless, straight off his victory, the President was confronted by a wide-ranging expression of concern about the lack of diversity in his new Cabinet.  Friend and foe alike have called into question the make-up of the President’s Second Term CabinetRepublicans, in the wake of the oft-mentioned “War on Women” Democrats attributed to their Party, called out President Obama for his lack of female appointees.

That the Grand Old Party, home to the loyal opposition (of Democratic Administrations) would challenge the President on his record of appointments, or anything else is not news, naturally.  However, it does raise eyebrows when representatives of several of the President’s most ardent ally groups challenge his record of Cabinet appointments.  That is precisely what happened during the early months of 2013, as President Obama revealed his nominees for appointment to Cabinet posts.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC – the nation’sleading LGBT organization), the NAACP, the National Organization of Women, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda have all challenged, criticized, and/or complained about the President’s Cabinet.  Now that there is only one Cabinet Post remaining to be filled, the Small Business Administration, (SBA), it is virtually assured the new Cabinet will be less diverse; whiter and more male-dominated than his first.

As diversity goes, there will likely be more white men (up from 8 to 10), fewer women (down from 8 to 7), fewer blacks (down from 4 to 3), fewer Asians, (down from 3 to 1), and fewer Latinos, down from 2 to 0 at present).  However, the President does seem to be leveling a concerted effort to fill the SBA post with a Hispanic.

President Obama insists that his first White House and Cabinet staff was as diverse a team, if not more diverse, than any in history.  In January, he urged critics to avoid rushing to judgment; to wait and see how the appointment process unfolded.  Now that the process has nearly played itself out, we can see there will be no panacea for proponents of diversity.

It is time for a new argument, posthaste!  The new argument, and there is one which holds merit, is that it is actually appropriate to recognize that the President has chosen a Cabinet that reflects his principles and policy beliefs.  These core values were validated by a coalition supported by the gaggle of numbers and percentages referenced earlier.  I know it is an about-face from the often splintering identity politics to which we have become accustomed.  Consider it a case of, “As the Cabinet Turns!”

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.

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.

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Definitely a First; But Will it be a Game Changer?

It’s time to Break It Down!

I was faced with a “Split the Baby” dilemma when deciding what to write about today.  Two separate and compelling (for me) stories called out to my faculties for discernment Monday.  It’s no secret, I am not gifted with Solomon’s wisdom.  Still, I had a blog to compose.  Ultimately, I’m a huge basketball fan, and Jason Collins’ story of coming to grips with his authentic self, and subsequently sharing his voice in a way that challenges convention, carried the day.

But I’m also an unrepentant homer, at heart.  As such, the fact that President Obama affirmed his nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the nation’s next Transportation Secretary caused me to beam with pride.  Mayor Foxx’s nomination is significant for many reasons.  The President has inured a fair amount of criticism for a lack of diversity in his second Cabinet.  I’m an strong and unequivocal supporter of the Commander-in-Chief…, but I have no hesitation in expressing the view that this particular criticism is “well-earned.” 

Needless to say, I am delighted President Obama redressed a grievance held by so many of his supporters (including me); I am pleased that Mayor Foxx has earned an opportunity to take his talent, skill, and ability to the national stage; I’m happy the City of Charlotte will benefit from the temporary bounce emanating from the media references that accrue from the Mayor’s nomination, and hopefully what will be a relatively non-eventful confirmation process.  

As an aside, in keeping with my homerism, I should mention that, today, President Obama is expected to name North Carolina 12th Congressional District Representative Mel Watt (of Charlotte) as his nominee to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  The agency regulates Fannie MaeFreddie Mac, and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks.  Thank you Mr. President, and congratulations Mayor Foxx and Representative Watt.           

By now you probably know that on Monday, in a “Sports Illustrated” (SI) essay, Jason Collins, an NBA Center, came out.”  In doing so, Collins became the first active male player in any of the four major American professional team sports (Basketball, Baseball, Football, & Hockey) to admit he is gay.  Other players have revealed their homosexuality, but not until after their career had ended.

Reaction across the always interesting landscape of the NBA has been surprisingly supportive.  For several weeks now, there had been a whisper that a collection of professional players, probably from several different professional leagues, would participate in what amounts to a communal revelation, or joint “coming out.”  While that might represent more of a sea change, and could still occur, this…is not that.

It may certainly be argued, Jason Collins has chosen “The Road Less Traveled.”  By standing alone in the breach, he eschewed (what for some may be) the comfortable notion of safety in numbers for the clarity of authoring, delivering, and to some degree, controlling his own message.  Collins has been widely lauded and applauded for his courageous action.  He has collected a Who’s Who list of calls, tweets, and supportive comments from dignitaries and celebrities, including:

Of course the reaction to Jason’s revelation was not all sweetness and lightESPN Analyst Chris Broussard weighed in with a lack of acceptance.  In describing his position, Broussard said:

“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle, or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals.  If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin.  I think that is walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”

In making his comments, Broussard added that he had spoken with a number of players and general managers, and reaction was mixed.  He asserted that even in cases in which a player of GM might disagree, they would be loath to say so, for fear of being labeled a bigot, or being perceived as impolitic.

Broussard, for his part, may have been insightful, but he was definitely not immune to the Shoot the messenger syndrome.  Regardless of whether he was well-intended or even pointedly accurate, the vibe on this matter is that the commentary…the official commentary anyway, is going to be pro-Collins.

The short story here is Jason Collins was deeply and securely “closeted.”  He played collegiately at Stanford, and was drafted in the 1st Round with the 18th pick by the NBA’s New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets in 2001.  He has played 12 years in the League.  When he told his twin brother Jarron last summer, Jarron had no idea.  Incidentally, the twins played together at Stanford, and both were drafted in 2001…Jarron in the 2nd Round; 52nd pick.

In his SI essay, Jason admits he dated women, and actually was once engaged.  It is unfortunate he felt compelled to portray a character rather than be himself.  Perhaps he will choose acting as his next career, and use his considerable skills to achieve an end he will deem more suitable.

There is no bigger fan or fan group, of Collins’ move, than the Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender (LGBT) community.  The buzz seems to indicate there is a strong feeling that Collins’ action will help engender heightened momentum for the movement.

The move by Collins is a first; it’s even groundbreaking.  But at least three questions remain open, for the moment at least.

Collins is a Free Agent, a 12-year veteran, and near the end of a pedestrian NBA career.  He is a 7-footer who had his moments, including playing an integral part on a Nets team that made it to the NBA Finals.  However, this year, he averaged 1.1 points, and 1.6 rebounds per game.  The first question is, “Will he be re-signed?”

Even without Monday’s  announcement, there were long odds on Jason’s career being extended.  If he is not re-signed by the Wizards, his current team, or traded to, or signed by another NBA squad, there will be those who question whether the decision was tied to the essay.  Based on the value proposition alone, such a suggestion, while not inconceivable, is improbable. Conversely, there is an argument that his revelation, in and of itself, may contribute to extending his career.  We shall see!  

An additional consideration is Collins has never been a marquee player, nor put up stratospheric stats.  For his career, Jason averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds during the Regular Season, and 3.3 points and 3.8 rebounds during the Playoffs.  As such, the announcement by him does not hold the same cachet as if a vastly more successful player had taken the same step.  Ergo, the second question is, “Does Collins’ move resonate throughout the NBA and other professional sports, long-term?”

The prospect of Collins playing again is iffy at best, but even if he does, it is not yet clear whether his initiative will at least motivate other individuals, or groups of male professional team sport players to step up and reveal that they are gay.  If it does, then the aforementioned sea change just might be underway. 

To that end, I leave you with the third and final question; “Definitely a First; But Will it be a Game Changer?”

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.

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.

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