Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This Issue has been revised from the Break It Down post originally conceived, created, and published December 29, 2010, and re-posted December 28, 2011, and December 31, 2014. This is my last post of 2015, and 444th Edition of Break It Down, which debuted August 20, 2007 on the BlogSpot platform. I migrated the principal site to WordPress August 3, 2012, approximately three weeks before the Fifth Anniversary of the blog.  You may find this and most other posts at either site.

With this post I wish you a blessed and bountiful Happy New Year. While I’m at it, today is my “born day.” So, without asking, and without further ado, I’m taking a point of special privilege. Before you read the post, click on the link and check it out:


Now, enjoy today’s blog.


The one-half fortnight between Christmas and New Year’s Days is a unique occurrence in the unfolding of the American edition of the Gregorian Calendar.  It is the only instance in which the space of a mere seven days separates two major holidays. Unquestionably, the timing is propitious.  Millions of holiday travelers return home from their Christmas commemoration and revelry, just in time to get a day off to “celebrate” the New Year…and recuperate from the old, most notably their extracurricular activities, including the exploits of New Year’s Eve.

In last week’s post, I presented a re-airing my personally crafted Christmas Concert (12 Days of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2015) from the past Noels.  This week, I doubled down and again reverted to my trusty time capsule. Once again, this tack permits new readers to catch-up by seeing the piece, it allows long-time readers to reflect upon both the passing year as well as the theme lifted in the post, and finally, it ensures that those busy readers, with no time to invest in checking out a new blog during the holidays, will not have to miss anything. It’s a win, win…win!

With that loosely framed preamble behind us, here’s the déjà vu all over again:

Since we are still in the Sweet Spot of the holidays, I shall practice minimalism. For your purposes, that means the blog should be available, but not intrusive. To that end, I am taking a page from the Christmas e-concert, but going a step further. Instead of a concert, I give you a song…of reflection.

Robert Burns, a Scot, wrote a poem (Auld Lang Syne) in 1788 that has come to symbolize the spirit of mass contemplation that people around the world invoke as the clock strikes midnight, signaling not just the dawn of a new day, but of a new year. Undoubtedly, you have been somewhere, at sometime, when you joined those assembled to sing Auld Lang Syne, which loosely translated means, Times gone by.

Once again, that time is upon us. After thoughtful reflection on my 2015, I have had no choice but to conclude, my travails have been few and small, especially when compared to my blessings, which have been both abundant and vast! All praises to the one true, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God; a mighty fortress is He.

No need to thank me for my inherent thoughtfulness. But, by all means, “Drink a cup of kindness,” or eggnog, or Champagne, or “name your favorite adult beverage,” for me. And, if you are a teetotaler, water will do nicely, thank-you!

As I complete my last post for this year, and, prayerfully and faithfully prepare to embrace 2016, I leave with you this familiar Irish Toast:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I invite you to click on the link below, which leads to a Smooth Jazz interpretation of Auld Lang Syne, arranged and performed by Donnie Thomas (and listen to the remainder of this week’s edition of Break It Down):


It has been my unique honor and privilege to visit with you briefly for each of the 52 weeks this year (including presenting a guest blogger). I hope you have derived a fraction of the pleasure reading the blog posts that I have experienced from preparing and providing them to you. May 2016 bring you the fulfillment of all your fondest desires. Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.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:





12 Days of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2015

It’s time to Break It Down!

Re-sent 12/24/15; edited to activate hyperlinks for song titles.  Merry Christmas!

(Revised from Break It Down – 12/24/08, 12/22/10, 12/21/11, 12/26/12, and 12/25/13)

Merry Christmas to you! I know some of you are caught up in the whole “We Are The (Secular) World” trip; thus you 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.

By now, many of you should have already begun your well planned and no doubt, richly deserved hiatus from work. Perhaps you have finished your shopping and taken care of all the major errands that accompany preparing for the Big Day. Maybe all that remains is packing and/or traveling; or that throw-down cooking marathon that precedes the arrival of 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 through the facts, be they esoteric or mundane. Not the election, or the economy, no wars, and absolutely no (further) references to Steve Harvey and/or the Philippines, Colombia, or the Miss Universe Pageant. 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 family.

In the true spirit of keeping it simple for both you and me, I am, as the title suggests, reprising a previous post, or in this case, posts.  In fact, not just any previous posts…not even just any prior Christmas Posts.  I am, essentially re-posting my entry from several Christmas’ past, with a notable caveat. In my eight preceding Christmas Season posts, I have presented an e-Christmas Concert on five occasions. This year, I am pressing the reset button on the Concert.

The English playwright and poet, William Congreve, in the opening line of his 1697 Play entitled The Mourning Bride,” asserted, “Music 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, and then indeed, we should take more opportunities to render ourselves captivated by its magical spell. (By the way, it really is breast…not beast; caught you thinking, didn’t I?)

So, I identified and pulled together an assortment of my favorite Christmas Standards by several of my favorite artists. This year, I am offering a new variation of the artistic olio I pulled together for your reading, viewing, and listening pleasure a number of years ago. Below, you will find brief summaries accompanying a hot link to a YouTube video interpretation and a song for each of the 12 Days of Christmas listed and included in the form of a Yuletide e-concert.

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.

  1. Brown was renowned for his energetic performances, which earned him another of his many titles, “Hardest working man in show business.” His rendition of Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto James Brown was a reminder that he had earned his chops the hard way, and that he was much more than just flash and dash.
  1. Kitt’s Eartha Kitt – Nothin’ For Christmas // Christmas Essentials is on my list, not only because it is a classic; it is, but also because it’s less well known than everybody’s fave, by her, Santa Baby. I felt it deserved to be featured, so I did.
  1. The Temptations – Silent Night is quite simply personifies Christmas for many of us. After several names changes, and adding and subtracting new and old members became a group in 1961. A current version of the Franchise still performs today.
  1. Stevie Wonder-Someday At Christmas has been a staple for many years. Stevie, one of the one-name icons is regarded as a musical genius of the ages, and his rendition of this classic is golden.
  1. Marvin Gaye *☆* The Christmas Song; a classic sung by a classic. Marvin, yet another one-name icon made music so compelling that he made singing The Star Spangled Banner not only patriotic, but cool. His version of The Christmas Song is must hear music.
  1. The Emotions – What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas: Christmas is one of the most hyped holidays on the American calendar, and songs like this one by the Emotions is one of the reasons Christmas Songs are so popular. These ladies were at the top of their considerable game on this tune.
  1. Luther Vandross – My Favorite Things is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. The song was first introduced by Mary Martin in the original Broadway production, and sung by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film. As standards go, this is classic. Luther, another one-name icon, is Luther; he kills it…softly.
  1. Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Bab: Otis, one-name icon…check. He is among the many artists who were with us for too short a time, but who definitely made his mark during his too brief sojourn. His jovial treatment of this classic is epic Otis.
  1. Boyz II Men- Let It Snow: Great song, deft rendition. Enough said!
  1. Whitney Houston (feat. The Georgia Mass Choir) “Joy to the World: Whitney, yes, another one-name icon is joined by the Georgia Mass Choir on the potent delivery of this perennial standard. She sings with verve, power, and yet nuance, all in one rendition.
  1. Ledisi – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christma: One of my favorite artists doing work on one of the most popular songs of the Season. Bravo!
  1. Will Downing *☆* Christmas Time Is Here: One of the classic voices of our time, singing one of the foremost Christmas standards of all time. Well done.

That’s it, 12 artists and videos and/or songs. Add it all up and you get “12 Days Of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2015!” Enjoy it again, and by all means, remember the Reason for the Season!

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.


Koch and a Smile: Masking an Illiberal Agenda

It’s time to Break It Down!

The Koch Family is a well known for having made its mark as a bastion of industrialists and businesspeople. In contemporary times their most notable associations have been made visible through their vast array of political activities and control of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the United States (with 2013 revenues of $115 billion). Family patriarch, Fred C. Koch, started the business, which developed a new cracking method for the refinement of heavy oil into gasoline.

The senior Mr. Koch’s hardline conservative leanings are well documented. He was a founding member of the John Birch Society (JBS), an advocacy group supporting anti-communism and limited government. It has been described as radical right. That portends much for the activism of several of the current Koch Foundations. During the 80’s and 90’s Fred C. Koch’s four sons litigated for control of Koch Industries. At the end of the day, the last two men standing, as it relates to running Koch Industries, were Charles and David.

Four sons of Fred C. and Mary Robinson Koch:

The Koch family foundations are a related group of non-profit organizations that began with the establishment of the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation in 1953, and that now includes the Charles Koch Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Koch Cultural Trust. The organizations collectively have a stated goal of “advancing liberty and freedom” through the support of various causes which “further social progress and sustainable prosperity.” In addition to the direct action of the non-profits, the groups have also contributed financially to other philanthropic organizations in the fields of research, public well-being, arts, and education, including contributions to scholarship programs, university support, and loan assistance through organizations like the United Negro College Fund.

The Koch brothers have indicated that they intend to raise almost $900 million in support of candidates in the 2016 elections, and have given more than $100 million to conservative and libertarian policy and advocacy groups in the United States, including the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, and more recently “Americans for Prosperity“.

“Americans for Prosperity,” founded by David Koch, has been reported by Kenneth Vogel of Politico to be one of the main nonprofit groups assisting the Tea Party movement; but in 2010, Koch spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia distanced the Kochs from the tea parties and FreedomWorks saying that “no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” According to the Koch Family Foundations and Philanthropy website, “the foundations and the individual giving of Koch family members” have financially supported organizations “fostering entrepreneurship, education, human services, at-risk youth, arts and culture, and medical research.”

According to the environmentalist group Greenpeace; the Koch brothers have played an active role in opposing climate change legislation. Organizations that the Koch brothers help fund, such as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato institute, and the Manhattan Institute, have been active in questioning global warming. According to salon.com, through Americans for Prosperity the Koch brothers influenced more than 400 members of Congress to sign a pledge to vote against climate change legislation that does not include offsetting tax cuts.

While the Koch family has been making substantial donations to criminal justice reform organizations for nearly a decade, most recently the Kochs headed a bipartisan resolution to make more serious leaps to reform. Included in these are aims at eliminating over criminalization and over incarceration, which generally harms low-income and minority communities, as well as reducing recidivism rates, diminishing barriers faced by the rehabilitated seeking employment, and law enforcement’s Asset forfeiture to deprive the incarcerated of property.

Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, has pointed out that, although their critics are usually unaware of the fact, the Koch brothers have supported more than just what are generally considered conservative causes. They opposed George W. Bush on many issues, are pro-choice, support same sex marriage, and had worked closely with the Obama White House for the Obama administration‘s criminal justice reform initiatives that aligned with their own.

This counter narrative brings us face-to-face with the notion that despite a significant historical footprint in the arena of conservative and ultra-conservative politics and policies the Brothers are expanding their range of interest to encompass addressing the needs of the poor. At first blush, one may be tempted to wonder if these leopards have shed their spots, or at least altered them in some meaningful way. That is a fair contemplation.

Upon further reflection, before racing to any conclusions, one may recall that after the 2012 General Election, the GOP did a results audit to examine the micro and macro results of the election, and to determine the cause or causes they failed to capture the White House. One of the findings of that analysis revealed that Mitt Romney’s efforts were torpedoed, largely, due to something characterized as an “empathy gap.” Among voters seeking a candidate who “cares about people like me”, President Obama clobbered Romney 81 percent to 18 percent ― by far the widest gap among the four traits commonly measured (the others are vision for the future, shares my values and strong leader. To that end, lets rip the thinly disguised veneer away and just admit that this initiative is part of a grand design to mind-game people who traditionally have recognized that their interest are not well served by those who vote and frame policy in a way that aligns with the interests of the Koch Brothers and/or their Foundations.

The brothers have invested millions of dollars in programs to win over an unlikely demographic target for their small government conservatism – poor people. The related outreach includes turkey giveaways, GED training and English-language instruction for Hispanic immigrants, community holiday meals, healthy living classes for predominantly African American groups, vocational training and couponing classes for the under-employed. The strategy calls for presenting a more compassionate side of the brothers’ politics to new audiences, while fighting the perception that their groups are merely fronts for rich Republicans seeking to game the political process for personal gain. Not surprisingly, the efforts do include a healthy dose of proselytizing about free enterprise and how it can do more than government to lift people out of poverty.

Once again, that sounds good, and may even be true, if you discount the almost certain bait and switch elements waiting in the wings. We can anticipate that eventually, the Koch network will throw its clout behind a GOP nominee who supports a tax plan that lavishes its largest windfalls on the rich; would repeal Obamacare’s coverage expansion for many millions and replace it with something that would almost certainly cover far fewer people; resoundingly rejects a minimum wage hike to keep pace with inflation; and pledges fealty to the Paul Ryan vision, which would block-grant safety net programs to the states, potentially “increasing poverty and financial hardship,” as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities puts it.

Broadly speaking, the GOP candidates are already committed to a vision built around the idea that rolling back Obama’s redistributive policies, and unshackling runaway growth, is the way to jog loose stagnating wages and stagnant opportunity. As conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru recently put it: “Republicans do not seem to be even trying to erode the Democratic advantage on middle-class economics.”

And that’s fine! Let’s put this contrast before the voters — again. Obviously one doesn’t want to dismiss out of hand the possibility that there may be a backlash among swing voters to Obama’s government activism or that a candidate like Marco Rubio may effectively employ his humble background to sell conservative policies in a way Mitt Romney couldn’t. But right now, it seems doubtful that slathering the same old economic vision with fat from free turkeys will make it any easier to swallow.

Election season begins in earnest February 1st. Until then, just recognize…” Koch and a Smile: Masking an Illiberal Agenda!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.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:






















Getting What You Paid For

It’s time to Break It Down!

As the header notes, I will feature, occasionally, the work of a guest blogger in this space. Today, the third time in the eight years I have been producing the blog, is one of those instances. This week, I am honored to introduce to some and present to others, a talented and insightful writer, who presents a cogent discourse on an important topic.

Mr. Anthony Kent pulls no punches in framing a pointed discourse about the value proposition of pursuing a college education. This is always a timely discussion, and I’m confident you will derive key information upon reading it.

I enjoyed Anthony’s work, and I am delighted that he generously shared his wisdom and insight with the Break It Down community, as a guest blogger. I am certain you too will find his message compelling and thought provoking. Feel free to add your responses in the Break It Down comment section.

Thanks; enjoy!


Anthony Kent is a celebrated, talented, and renowned author, motivational speaker and Senior Project Manager. He labored for distinctive world-class organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Wachovia, Ally Bank, and BB&T, which attributed to Anthony’s skills and expertise to diversify and empowered his colleagues to “strive for excellence”.

He developed a wealth of knowledge in project management, process excellence, and risk management. His certifications include: Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Anthony obtained internships through INROADS at Sara Lee and IBM. Anthony Kent is a Charleston, South Carolina native, although he was raised in the flourishing city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Kent graduated from East Mecklenburg High School. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University and an MBA from Winthrop University. Anthony acquired a passion for investing at the age of nineteen; moreover, he is an advocate for the promotion of financial literacy.

His previous philanthropic work includes, the Substance Abuse Prevention Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, FASFA Day, United Way Young Leaders, Charlotte Area Fund, and Habitat for Humanity.

Mr. Kent is also a proud member of the Beta Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

“The Youth Advisor: A Young Adult’s Guide to Success” is the author’s first non-fictional manuscript. The parable focuses on preventive measures for our youth that will keep them from making costly mistakes, while giving them additional tools to help achieve financial success.

The book provides factual stories and advice to make sure young adults graduate from high school and college successfully, while budgeting money effectively; so that he or she may purchase a car, buy a home, and invest money for retirement.

 Getting What You Paid For

Value is what you expect to get when you pay for a product or service.Next to purchasing a home, a college education will be one of your biggest investments. The average cost of tuition and fees per year is $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.[i]

Students with large loans will spend much of the rest of their lives paying off debt accrued during their college years. The commitment is similar to that of a 30-year $130,000 home loan minus taxes and insurance.

Are you willing to take on this kind of responsibility? If so, there is one important thing you must do first.

Choose the right college major. The right choice increases your chances of securing and keeping employment, for after graduation you need to position yourself in a healthy financial situation—so you can pay off your loans sooner.

Selecting Your Major

In choosing your college major, you must first identify your interests. What are you good at doing? The best approach to capturing your thoughts is to write them down. Let’s start here. In the table below, write down activities you enjoy doing or being around in the first column. Your list might read, ‘Computers, Music, Sports, Animals, Building, Reading, and Writing.’ In the second column, note the courses you took in high school. This list might read, ‘English, Chemistry, Algebra, Music, Physical Education, and Theater.’ In the third column, write down the grades you received and in the fourth column, write down Yes or No if you enjoyed the course. The objective here is to draw a correlation between your performance in class and what you enjoy doing. For example, if you did well in math-related courses then majoring in finance could be a good option.

Have you considered the type of lifestyle you want to live? When you choose a college major, you are imagining a future lifestyle. So go ahead and picture the type of home you want, the cars, number of children, vacations, plus entertainment events you will want to attend. If you are accustomed to or want the finer things in life, you will need to select a major that pays well.

The following table lists the median lifetime earnings for common majors.

Median Lifetime Earnings for Common Majors[ii]
Academic Majors $ Millions
Chemical Engineering 2.2
Computer Science 1.75
Finance 1.55
Accounting and Actuarial Science 1.48
Nursing 1.4
Marketing and Marketing Research 1.35
Business Management and Administration 1.33
Biology 1.2
Psychology .98
Early Childhood Education .75

To learn more about the potential earnings related to majors, conduct research on the jobs that align to them. There are many websites that allow you to conduct salary searches based on various job titles, a company or location.

Glassdoor.com, Salary.com and BLS.gov are sites where you can view salaries. BLS.gov provides an Occupational Outlook Handbook with career information about hundreds of occupations. The Occupational Outlook Handbook allows you to browse occupations by the highest paying jobs, fastest growing (projected) and most new jobs (projected). The link to the Occupational Outlook Handbook can be found at the end of this article.

Pay close attention to the differences in salaries as you conduct research. Salaries will vary depending on the company, industry and location. Location is always a major factor, as the cost of living varies from city to city.

How long will it take to secure a job? The answer depends on the relationship your school has with employers, the demand for your major, and your desire to find a job.

Schools provide Career Services. A goal of Career Services is to help you find a job. (Find more info on Career Services in the chapter on College Resources.)

Schools specialize in particular majors. Top-notch employers pay attention to how the schools are doing, and hope to hire top students from good programs. The match between employer and student—the hire—is made through the Career Services office.

There’s a detail you need to investigate as you decide whether to apply to a particular school. Learn which employers are hiring students from the school with your major. This level of detail in your education decision means you have seriously begun the process of building your chance to land one of those jobs.

The demand from employers looking to hire students from your major will of course relate to job availability, which in turn relates to basic economics: supply and demand.

An easy way to increase your chances of securing employment before you graduate is to familiarize yourself with majors and choose one with high job-offer rates.

 The chart below lists ten top college majors that offer jobs before graduation.

Academic Majors with at Least One Job Offer by Graduation[iii]
# Academic Major %
1 Computer Science 68.7%
2 Economics 61.5%
3 Accounting 61.2%
4 Engineering 59%
5 Business Administration 54.3%
6 Sociology/Social Work 42.5%
7 Psychology 39.2%
8 History/Political Science 38.9%
9 Healthcare 37.8%
10 Liberal Arts/Humanities 36.8%

Career Services will recommend that you apply and interview at certain companies, but it will be up to you to put forth the time and effort to secure a job.

Another route toward finding your first job is online research. Check Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, ZipRecruiter.com, Indeed.com, and SimplyHired.com.

The point to keep in mind: You are ultimately responsible for your future.

 Education Decisions and Income Results

What education decisions are you making? Every decision concerning your education must be a calculated decision—because your education decisions determine the amount of money you will make. Your salary must provide your living and also repay your student loans. Compare the principal you will owe and the salary you can expect to earn. In this way you make a good education decision…based on “Getting What You Paid For!”

Holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.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:

[i] Trends in College Pricing 2013 (2013): 3. CollegeBoard, 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

[ii] Hershbein, Brad, and Melissa Kearney. “Major Decisions: What Graduates Earn Over Their Lifetimes.” The Hamilton Project. The Hamilton Project, Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

[iii] Adams, Susan. “The College Degrees That Get The Most Job Offers.” Forbes Magazine, 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

What Trump Supporters Believe: Hyperbole, Dissembling, and Falsehoods


It’s time to Break It Down!

Back during the spring and summer, when political campaigns initially heated up, there were a hand full of Democratic candidates, and a host of Republicans who fancied themselves as possessing the Right Stuff to talk, fund raise, and politic their way to the White House in 2016. In the ensuing 5-6 months, as spring gave way to summer, only to be replaced by fall, the end of Daylight Savings Time, and soon to be winter, a lot has changed. Two of the five Democrats have thought better of their efforts and shelved their aspirations, at least for this cycle. Slowly, but surely, the republican field is winnowing too, though admittedly, at a slower pace.

There is one thing, against all odds, at least those of prognosticators, that has not changed. Donald Trump shot out of the gate as the leader of the GOP pack, early on. Almost everybody who knows anything about the subject, and quite a few folks, who like me, do not profess to be so insightful, presumed, guessed, and in a number of instances even argued that the Trump phenomenon was a fleeting thing; indeed, a fluke.

The typical reasoning went along the lines of two or three key thematic scenarios.

  • It’s the political silly season; it will quickly come to an end.
  • The Republican base is tired of “politicians,” but they will revert to a mainstream candidate before the proverbial schiznit hits the oscillating air mover.
  • Who was leading in the polls at this time in 2007; where are they now?

The reality is, any or all of the above could still come to pass, and Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio…OK, maybe not Bush, but Cruz or Rubio, just to name a couple of traditional politicians, could, if not exactly catapult, gradually overtake the duo of anti-politicians, Donald Trump, and Dr. Ben Carson, and assume the lead position for the prize of the GOP Nomination for President.

While I’ve already conceded not to be an expert in matters such as this, I must take a moment to say, I have been an outlier from the beginning. That is to say, I say as long ago as June, I believed…not in Donald Trump; I don’t, but I did, and still do believe that he could capture his Party’s nod for the nomination.

My belief is tied to the observation that there is a hugely frustrated segment of Americans that did not want Barack Obama to become President, hate the fact that he won, hate it more that he won twice, and over seven years later still can’t figure out how he did that.

That segment of the population views Hillary Clinton, whom most of them consider the likely Democratic nominee, as an extension of President Obama. Even though they don’t think either Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley will beat Mrs. Clinton, they view them, or anyone else who might be the Democratic standard bearer as anathema.

One of the things I find most curious about prospective Republican voters, and Trump supporters in particular, is their apparent propensity to embrace fact-free arguments, debate points, and by definition, illogic. From my vantage point, Mr. Trump could benefit from a few doses of Pentothal, but I digress. The Trump Campaign has thrived, and has done so, not so much because it has been controversy averse, but rather because the candidate appears not only to like it, but to immerse himself in it, one after another, the more the merrier.

He utilized hyperbole right out of the gate to engender support from what has proved to be an adoring and loyal following. During the announcement of his candidacy in June, he engaged in a number of racist, xenophobic rants about Mexican immigrants. In his initial foray, he exclaimed:

“They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

As a generalization, that was bad enough. But The Donald was not through. In a post announcement interview, he doubled down:

“And it’s people from countries other than Mexico also. We have drug dealers coming across, we have rapists, we have killers, we have murderers.”

I’m not quite sure what distinction he was making between killers and murderers, but, once again, I digress. There was unquestionably some expectation, by traditionalists, if not reasonable thinking people, that surely the uproar over such a blatant and unbridled derisive commentary on an entire country would result in Mr. Trump walking back at least some measure of his assertion. I guess those people weren’t watching the personality that is Trump during his run on “The Apprentice.” Retreat is simply not his style; apologies are for losers.

Mr. Trump quickly glided from the Mexican controversy to insisting that John McCain is not a war hero, and from that to revealing Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number on national TV. All of this unrepentant, over the top behavior, while historic in its own right, constituted only the prelims. Pulitzer Prize winning POLITIFACT reports a litany of claims that Mr. Trump made, repeated, and defended, are found wanting…of facts and truth. I understand the Right routinely dismisses facts as Left-leaning concoctions that are inequitably applied between Democrats and Republicans. However, to paraphrase that great political figure Mitt Romney, when speaking of President Obama, Mr. Trump may be entitled to his own plane, but he is not entitled to his own facts.

To bring this discourse down to the brass tacks, here are a few examples of Mr. Trump’s loose relationship with truth, according to POLITIFACT. Mr. Trump said:

  • Our real unemployment [rate] is anywhere from 18 to 20%. Don’t believe the 5.6. Don’t believe it. … The real number is anywhere from 18 to 19 and maybe even 21%.”

POLITIFACT says we see no factual basis for this claim. Trump is going well beyond the exaggeration that Mitt Romney made during the 2012 campaign that the “real” unemployment rate was 15%. And back then, the official rate was 8.3%, compared with the current rate — which is actually 5.5%, not the 5.6% Trump cited. Mr. Trump said:

  • He would have blocked new Ford plants in Mexico by threatening to impose a 35% tax on vehicles and parts made in Mexico and shipped to the U.S.

But only Congress can impose taxes and such a tax would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Trump said:

  • The five Taliban leaders exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “are now back on the battlefield trying to kill us.”

But all five remain in Qatar, where they continue to be monitored and are subject to a travel ban, according to the State Department. False. Mr. Trump said:

  • In a misleading claim that health care premium costs are going “up 29, 39, 49 and even 55%.”

He’s talking about some proposed rate increases on the individual market that still need regulatory approval. There are also proposed rate decreases or single-digit increases that did not have to be submitted for review. Mr. Trump said:

  • “Last quarter, it was just announced our gross domestic product — a sign of strength, right? But not for us — it was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It’s never below zero.”

Trump messed up his economic terms; the gross domestic product was not “zero.” The size of the U.S. economy — which is what gross domestic product is — is in the trillions of dollars and not anywhere close to zero. The growth in the gross domestic product has been zero, but it’s been below zero 42 times over 68 years. That’s a lot more than “never.” We rate his claim Pants on Fire! Mr. Trump said:

  • “Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger, by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker. Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work,” Trump said. “It came out recently they have equipment that is 30 years old. They don’t know if it worked.”

There have been problems with the U.S. nuclear program, but they have tended to be problems of people—either mismanaging the moving of weapons or personal behavior. The weapons themselves appear to be functioning fine. The Defense Department and the Energy Department are required by law to certify the safety, security, and effectiveness of the arsenal on an annual basis. While some of the weapons are aging, the United States has been engaged in a modernization effort that will cost roughly $35 billion a year during the next decade, which comes to 5 percent to 6 percent of planned national-defense spending. The bill could reach $1 trillion over the next 30 years. We rated Trump’s statement False. Mr. Trump said:

  • “When did we beat Japan at anything?” Trump asked. “They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn’t exist, folks. They beat us all the time.”

There aren’t many Chevys in Japan, but they do exist. In 2014, Chevrolet sold 597 cars in Japan. No, we are not forgetting any zeroes at the end of that figure. Granted that’s not a lot, and Trump has a point that Japan does better in the United States on car sales. But he should have used more accurate words to make his point. We rated his statement Mostly False. Mr. Trump said:

  • “Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them,” Trump said. “They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken.”

Trump has facts muddled here, too. The Islamic State didn’t build a hotel in Syria; they took over an existing hotel in Iraq. And they’re not using it to lure luxury travelers; it houses Islamic State commanders. We rated his statement False.

And then there are more recent statements by Donald Trump:

POLITIFACT: Not even close. Pants On Fire!

POLITIFACT: Totally wrong stats. Pants on Fire!

  • “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed.”

POLITIFACT: No one remembers this but Trump. Pants on Fire!

POLITIFACT: One controversial program was shuttered. Half True!

POLITIFACT: Private and faith-based groups decide, not President Obama!

  • “There are no jobs to be had.”

FactCheck.org: In fact, there were 5.4 million job openings recorded at the end of April, the most in 15 years.

There are a host of items not touched in this quick run down. Mr. Trump, like most GOP Presidential candidates, has inveighed ardently against Planned Parenthood. He has attacked at least a couple of women, including Fox News Journalist Megyn Kelly, and fellow GOP aspirant, Carly Fiorina. Recently, he appeared to mock a reporter with a disability. As usual, he just denied it, and claimed he didn’t know the reporter. In turn, the reporter claims to have interviewed Trump a number of times in his office. You know whom Trump’s supporters believe.

His antics have incited little resistance from his Republican competitors. That is in part because early on, when a few of them exercised the temerity to speak up, their poll numbers tanked. Somewhat as a result, most of the remaining candidates refrained from taking on Goliath. Then, at least one, Ted Cruz, treated him with kid gloves, allegedly operating under the theory that Trump would eventually fade, and he would be the beneficiary of those free agent voters.

As Christmas approaches, soon to be followed by the early primaries, candidates, the Party apparatus, and more than a few voters are beginning to contemplate the potential harsh reckoning of Trump, the GOP Nominee. It has been rumored that there is even a draft Romney movement being considered, if not already underway. I don’t know what will happen. I do know I will not be shocked if Donald Trump is the last (GOP) man standing. However, if he should advance, we already have a pretty good idea about the essence of Donald Trump. The far more revealing intel, in my ever so humble opinion, is what that possibility says about…”What Trump Supporters Believe: Hyperbole, Dissembling, and Falsehoods!”

I’m done; holla back!

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