Happy Birthday Donald: Enjoy the Gift of Irony!

Admittedly, I almost never plan ahead what I am going to write about.  The 24-hour news cycle is far too dynamic to get ahead of oneself in that way.  Still, as last week was winding down, I thought I had zeroed in on what would be today’s topic.  Then came Ciiven Bundy’s lucky day…last Saturday.

On the surface, it seemed more likely to be a day Donald Sterling would celebrate.  Why, you might ask?  Well, Saturday was Donald Tokowitz Sterling’s (Donald added the surname Sterling as an adult) 80th birthday.  Indeed, it was one for the ages, and it is certain to be one he remembers indefinitely.

As it turned out, it was far more than a birthday for Mr. Sterling.  It was special to Mr. Bundy because thanks to the media explosion surrounding Sterling’s taped phone call to a woman described as his ex-girlfriend, or an employee, or both, depending upon who is providing the explanation of her role, Bundy’s romanticizing of Slavery is a distant memory (except for those in the Nevada desert), supplanted by Sterling-gate.

In a quick CliffsNotes-like version of Bundy’s story, he is a Nevadan rancher who took a stand against the Federal Government.  He stopped paying fees to the Feds Bureau of Land Management for the land on which his cattle grazed, claiming the land as his own.  This apparently heroic stand endeared him to the Right, the GOP in general, and especially the Tea Party element.  Alas, given the spotlight to highlight his 15 minutes of fame, Bundy weighed-in during a New York Times interview that blacks might be “better off as slaves, picking cotton.”  Almost immediately, the newest heartthrob of the Right Wing movement was spurned by a number of his newfound friends, including Senators Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Dean Heller (Nevada), as well as media maven Sean Hannity.  Then came the explosion of the Sterling incident upon the scene.  End of story.

Sterling-gate came to our collective national attention Saturday when TMZ revealed and released portions of a taped conversation it alleged to be between Mr. Sterling (he would later verify that it was his voice on the audio recording) and a woman they identified as his girlfriend, V. Stiviano.  Sterling has owned the Los Angeles Clippers since 1981.  The man skewered Ms. Stiviano for having posted a picture of herself with Magic Johnson on Instagram.

In the audio portion of the story, Sterling can be heard telling Ms. Stiviano, among other things:

  • Do not to bring black people to my games
  • Why are you taking pictures with minorities
  • Yes it bothers me that you associate with black people
  • Why publicize it (your admiration for black people)?
  • Why are you bringing them to my games?
  • Maybe you’re stupid
  • Feed him, f..k him; don’t put him in your Instagram, and don’t bring him to my games

For his part, Magic Johnson replied on Twitter that he was aware of Sterling’s rant, and that he and his wife Cookie would not be attending any more Clippers’ games as long as Sterling is the owner.

There is a good deal of irony associated with how all of this is unfolding.  The Clippers, for years among the worst teams in the NBA is having one of its best seasons ever.  They played the Golden State Warriors on Sunday (the day after) and lost a game that was practically over before it started.  Regardless of whether it was a factor, bolstered by Commissioner Silver’s decision, the Clippers, having returned home to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and claimed a 113-103 victory of the Golden State Warriors (1:38 a.m. EDT).  The Clippers now lead the Best-of-Seven series three games to two, and they have a chance to clinch the series Thursday night in Oakland.

Yesterday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference during which he revealed the results of the NBA’s investigation into Sterling-gate.  The League’s inquiry was thorough, but swift, as Silver had promised.  The judgment, all-encompassing.  Commissioner Silver:

  • Issued Sterling, the NBA’s longest tenured owner, a lifetime ban (from NBA Game decision-making, games, practices, & facilities)
  • Levied a $2.5 million fine (the League max)
  • Urged owners to vote (3/4 Majority required) to force Sterling to sell the team

Ultimately, this will be a birthday Mr. Sterling remembers for all the wrong reasons.  “Happy Birthday Donald: Enjoy The Gift of Irony!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com.  Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:




















The Supremes Strike Another Blow Against Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) held in an opinion yesterday, by a vote of 6-2 (Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the case, presumably because of a conflict of interest based on her work as Solicitor General), that a Michigan lower court did not have the authority to set aside a measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters, banning the use of race as a criteria in college admissions.  Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined her in opposition to the ruling.

This may prove to be a pivotal decision in what has become a national debate over the issue of affirmative action.  It prevents publicly funded colleges (in Michigan) from extending “preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

That is a lofty sounding pronouncement, and to many, undoubtedly sounds perfectly reasonable.  But, is it?

Well, that depends on your point of view.  Three Justices, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Justice Samuel Alito, wrote the majority opinion.  Justice Kennedy wrote:

“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved.  It is about who may resolve it.  Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.”

Three other Justices, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, and Clarence Thomas joined in the prevailing opinion.  Interestingly, as it turned out, this opinion resulted in the gentlemen of SCOTUS seeing it one way, and the gentlewomen of the Court seeing it quite differently.  In toto, the Justices wrote more than one hundred pages, spanning 5 distinct opinions, to get to this ruling.

  • Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Roberts & Justice Alito wrote the main opinion for the majority
  • Justices Scalia & Thomas added a separate element to the majority opinion
  • Justice Breyer, normally aligned with the liberal wing of the Court offered his spin on the majority opinion
  • Chief Justice Roberts made a terse retort to the minority opinion
  • Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg, wrote the 58 page minority opinion; longer than the other four opinions put combined

Speaking of Justice Sotomayor’s opinion, she channeled denizens of pop culture, from Director Haim Tabakman’s 2009 movie “Eyes Wide Open,” to Dr. Cornel West’s 1994 book, “Race Matters,” when she wrote:

“This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable.  The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.  As member of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”

However, Justice Sotomayor did not just use pop cultural icons to make her point.  She recast Chief Justice Roberts’s remarks from a  2007 opinion, in which he wrote:

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

The comeback was not lost on the Chief Justice.  It led to his own rejoinder, which he wrote separately from Justice Kennedy:

“People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.”

In the parlance of the streets, that exchange amounts to a catfight amongst the SupremesJustice Sotomayor, an alumna of Princeton University, and of Yale University’s Law School, is a product of affirmative action (not unlike her countervailing cohort on the Bench, Justice Thomas).  Her opinion may have reflected that cognizance.  She, unlike Justice Thomas, recognizes and has embraced the correlation between affirmative action and her current success.  She wrote in her 2013 memoir, “My Beloved World,” ”For years, I lived the day-to-day reality of affirmative action.”

In articulating her message, Justice Sotomayor referenced directly the confounding exigencies of history, including slavery and Jim Crow, but she also spoke about the contemporary malevolence of “recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”  She may have lost the battle, but she certainly made her point.

There are a number of States that currently employ an affirmative action ban, including Florida, California, Texas, Washington, and of course, Michigan.  It is considered likely that yesterday’s SCOTUS results will energize efforts to increase that number.  From the erosion of the Voting Rights Act to the scuttling of affirmative action measures, the landscape across America is changing.  In taking stock of the direction we often appear to be heading, I am loath to call that “exceptional,” but hey, that’s just me.  For now, it is what it is, and what it is, is…The Supremes Strike Another Blow Against Affirmative Action!”  I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com.  Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:











Pew Study: Majority of Americans Say President Obama Is Not Black

In what must come as the shocking revelations to most African Americans, a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center determined that a majority of Americans say President Obama is not black. In two Presidential Elections, President Obama outpolled his opponents on average, 94% to 4%. To be fair, Democrats traditionally maintain an advantage over Republicans with the black electorate. Still, 4%, which is the number that both Senator McCain and Governor Romney polled in their respective elections against Mr. Obama, must be considered a low, if not paltry total.

Then Senator Obama captured 95% of the black vote in 2008 to Senator John McCain’s 4%. He also outpolled Senator McCain among Hispanics, 66% to 31%, and held the same margin with voters under the age of 30. He garnered 56% of women voters, and forged a virtual tie with 49% of men. More white men, 41%, voted for Senator Obama than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter. An imposing 71% of first time voters cast their ballot for Mr. Obama, compared to 29% for Mr. McCain. Mr. Obama won the Catholic vote 54% to 46%, won the Asian vote 63% to 34%, and won 78% of the Jewish vote.

Senator Obama won 66% of single voters, he won 51% of married voters, while suburban-rural voters split 50-50. Among high wage earners, those making $200,000 or more in 2007, 53% voted for Mr. Obama. Finally, 85% of Democrats who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries, voted for Barack Obama in the general election.

In 2012, President Obama fell off his 2008 pace, but still logged 93% of the black vote. Undoubtedly, the former Illinois Senator’s ability to galvanize support within the African American community in such a way was tied to the perception of its affinity with him.

He also beat Mr. Romney among Hispanics 71% tor 24%, and among Asians, 73% to 22%. He won the age 18-29 years old demographic by 60% to 35%, and won the 30-44 years old age group by 52% to 41%. Among women, he received 55% of the vote, down a percentage point from 2008, while he fell 5 percentage points among men, to 44%. In his second election, President Obama dominated vote totals for Americans who earn under $50,000.

For those who earn less than $30,000 per year, the President led 63% to 31%, and for those earning between $30,000 and $49,000, the President attracted 57% of the vote to Governor Romney’s 39%. Among those earning more than $50,000 per year, President Obama lost by a substantial margin, 42% to 53%. The margin was even greater for those earning more than $100,000 per year, 38% to 54%. These higher income-based results represent a reversal from 2008.

Party loyalty was high, as might be anticipated. Democrats supported the President by a margin of 92% to 4%, while Republicans voted for the Governor 93% to 3%. President Obama ceded Independent voters to Governor Romney, 42% TO 50%.

So, let’s get back to that poll. Slightly more than one quarter, 27% of Americans, say President Obama is black. Contrast this with 52% who say he is mixed race. On some level this newly emerging narrative is surprising, but not on every level. W. E. B. Du Bois noted in his transcendent 1903 treatise, The Souls of Black Folks, “For the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” After more than eleven decades, and significant progress in many arenas and endeavors, his words ring as true today as they did 111 years ago.

Suffice it to say our nation wrestles with issues of race, ethnicity, and culture. During the initial Obama Presidential Campaign in 2008 there was a popular discussion about Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and his election, were it to come to pass. The premise held we were transitioning into a state called post-racial America. The essence of the arguments in support of this mythical universe is that the willingness of our country, burdened by centuries of slave-based guilt, to elect a black man to the highest office in the land would enable us to metamophosize into some idyllic racial space, thus jettisoning said guilt in the process.

The argument was silly and self-serving at the time. Surely, the elevation of one man to a seat of power, even if that seat were considered that of the most powerful man on the planet, could not erase all the slings and arrows absorbed and endured over centuries debasing abuse. It did not.

However, now that history is firmly in the rear view mirror, and President Obama not only not only ran, won and governed, but ran and won a second time, it appears there is an effort to re-write the script. Remember that black guy who became President. Well…”as it turns out, he wasn’t really black after all.” Really?

I don’t pretend to know the motivation of those who constructed the Pew Poll. I do know there is an effort afoot to lessen the impact of the “browning” of America. Categorizing the President, whom by the way self-identifies as black, as mixed race is one of the component steps of that effort.

Technically, mixed race is not a new American concept. At least as far back as the first collaboration between slave master and impregnated slave, there have been mixed race individuals among us. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what the children of those unions were called. Just in case, I do, the word-of-the-day was slave.

Among blacks, 55% considered the President black, while only 24% of whites, and 23% of Hispanics did so. The reality is, that’s OK. He has one white parent and one black parent, so he is of mixed race heritage. It just so happens that mixed race and black are not mutually exclusive. That is the central point I wish to underscore before this new narrative gets blown out of proportion.

In summary, you can call him mixed race, or you can call him a Socialist, or you can call him Mr. Obama, or any of a host of other less charitable names often used to refer to him. Moreover, despite the results, “Pew Study: Majority of Americans Say President Obama is Not Black” – for me, he is, and shall ever be, President Obama…and oh yeah, he’s black.

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:











The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Shortest Blog Ever!

From this writer’s vantage point, thirty-three days later, those who know are not talking; those who are talking do not know.  The End!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:











Obamacare Hits Target: No April Fools’ Gag!

On yesterday, April 1st, President Obama announced that over 7.1 million Americans have enrolled for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This was a significant announcement.  What that means is, as of March 31, the end of the initial enrollment period for Obamacare, the program exceeded its initial enrollment goal, despite the copious foray of outrageous slings and arrows launched by a variety of haters.

After months of speculation, skepticism, and flat out derision, the total provided a surprising, and no doubt satisfying victory for the President.  The race for enrollment began in October and spanned six months.  In the initial stages, the computer system established to facilitate enrollment was plagued with problems.  Actual sign-up was so sporadic, there were reports of customers trying for hours, unsuccessfully, just to log on to the system…and still not being able to do so.

Opponents of the ACA, many of the same Republicans who garnered so much disdain for the ill-conceived notion of shutting down the Government, discovered newfound energy and an improbable resurgence due to the ineffective rollout.  The GOP moved from widely scorned to openly ebullient in a matter of weeks.  Conversely, Democrats, who never wholeheartedly embraced the ACA in the first place, went from moderately confident, to routinely avoiding the President and calling for their own revisions to Obamacare.

All the while, the President and his team moved deliberately in their efforts to right the ship, and continually expressed confidence the program would deliver the goods.  The message the Obama Administration continued to hang its hat on was that the problem was centered in the computer system design, not the premise or the purpose of the ACA.  He argued that tens of millions of Americans lacked coverage, and would be better served by the ACA than the current system, or by repealing Obama, with no replacement, which was for all practical purposes, the substance of the Republican alternative.

The GOP has rolled the dice with its relentlessly strident opposition to the ACA.  On March 5, The GOP-led House of Representatives took its 50th vote to repeal, rescind, or remake Obamacare.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Speaker of the House John Boehner are among the GOP leaders who continue to look for ever new and more inventive ways to attack the program and undermine a President their Party placed a premium on defeating and nullifying since before his initial Inauguration.  The Plan, as it were, was to attack the President’s key advisers, oppose his economic proposals, pounce upon vulnerable Democrats, win back the House in 2010, and defeat President Obama in 2012.  While they did not achieve all their objectives, after all, Mr. Obama is still President, their zeal and commitment has not receded.

As the first quarter of 2014 is a memory, and the races for November campaigns heat up, it will be interesting to see how fervently Republicans stick to the script on its attempts to repeal a program for which millions of Americans have signed-up.  By enrolling in the ACA, many of these Americans are becoming insured for the first time.  Many more are obtaining better and or more comprehensive coverage, and others still able to rid themselves of lifetime capes, of nettlesome precondition clauses.  When the dust settles, will the Party of No continue to adhere to its position; despite the likelihood large blocks of voters will have derived considerable benefit from the program they have so enthusiastically scorned?

Yesterday, in claiming victory President Obama noted “The program approved by Congress in 2010 – with no Republican support and vilified relentlessly by the GOP as government overreach – has been a force for good.”

The battle is by no means over.  The 7.1 million number represents only those who have signed-up for coverage.  Not all of them have paid.  They will have until mid-April to complete the process, however.

Ultimately, this is a victory for the President, and for the millions of Americans who were uninsured or underinsured.  The GOP, undoubtedly, will continue its efforts to destroy Obamacare.  The key question is will they pay a price for it at the polls in November.  The answer to that query is months away.  However, we know with irreducible certitude at the moment is, “Obamacare Hits Target: No April Fools’ Gag!”

I’m done holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post: